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Twins 2018 Midseason Report - Where Did All the Wins Go? (p1/2)

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#1 Danchat

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 11:19 PM

The Twins finished with 85 wins last year. At the current moment (writing as of 7/2/18), the Twins are on pace to win just 70 and lose 92. You can only scratch your head and wonder:

 

Where did all the wins go? 

 

This is the first part of two articles focusing on the Twins pitching through Game 81 (July 2nd). In this statistical analysis, I'll be comparing Twins' WAR from 2017 to 2018, trying to match up position by position to see how things have changed. WAR is obviously not a perfect stat, so I've included others as a way to measure if WAR does things right. (all stats taken from Baseball-Reference.com)

 

 

First, the starting rotation:

 

qKDLMXw.png

 

The first thing to note: I'm comparing 81 game stats to 162 game stats. I am making the assumption that the current 2018 players will repeat their first half performances in order to compare them to their 2017 peers. Obviously there's no way they'll all play the exact same and it's likely none of them will double their WAR like I've projected, but for the sake of the analysis, we'll have to roll with that assumption.

 

So, for example, Jose Berrios is projected to be exactly as valuable as 2017 Ervin Santana was if he continues his 2018 performance at the exact same pace. Berrios has the better peripherals, however, so I expect he could top Santana's 2017 season.

 

Meanwhile, 2018 Kyle Gibson is projected to be twice as good as 2017 Berrios... I haven't supplied sample sizes here, so Berrios' 2017 looks lower WAR-wise, but that seems to be because he pitched several games at AAA, and you're not going to accumulate WAR there. Jake Odorizzi has been a small improvement from Mejia, as the two pitchers have surprisingly similar stat lines. Odorizzi has been better at getting Ks and keeping a few more runners off the bases.

 

Do you think the Twins could use Fernando Romero back in the big league rotation? I sure do. I think he could easily top his current 7.7 K/9 and improve as the season wears on, but the inning limit is concerning. They're not going to be getting better starts from Mejia or Slegers. Meanwhile, Lynn brings up the rear and he's the only one who's lagging behind a 2017 peer - yup, Bartolo Colon! That's embarrassing.

 

I've summed up all the rest of the Twins starters (which was a massive list in 2017) into just their WAR, so guys like Phil Hughes, Tim Melville, Nick Tepesch, Aaron Slegers, and the crew netted -2.2 WAR... yuck. The 2018 Twins scrub starters (Mejia/Littell/Hughes) were a far more tolerable -0.5 WAR, which projects to finish at -1.0 WAR on the season.

 

All in all, the rotation appears to be worth nearly 3 more wins than it was in 2017. Does that sound right to you? In my opinion, that seems about right. They're a definite improvement on 2017 but the back end (Odorizzi/Lynn) have left me wanting more.

 

 

Next up, the bullpen:

 

J8Fsdht.png

 

Before Rodney blew his last two saves, he was around where Kintzler was (at 0.5, projected to finish at 1.0), but he's dropped closer to replacement level as he's struggled lately. While Rodney gets strikeouts, he allows too many baserunners and he's got a fine margin for error - something Kintzler never seemed to struggle with. Remember Kintzler only played 4 months for the Twins in 2017 as he was traded, and his WAR in Washington doesn't count here.

 

A full season of Hildenberger seems to be worth a full win according to my calculations. While his strikeout numbers are down from 2017, he's been mostly effective with a few bouts of incompetence early on. Speaking of that, inconsistency seems to plague Reed, who was untouchable in April but is now nearing replacement level. Not good for the reliever making $7.5M this season. Taylor Rogers was great for the first half in 2017, but his second half was mediocre to average. Current Rogers is just OK and his numbers against both lefties and righties have declined.

 

Duffey was the mop-up guy last year, but even in low leverage situations, he wasn't good. Zach Duke was a solid signing who should end up netting at least 0.4 WAR, though his WHIP concerns me. Ryan Pressly, on the other hand, seems to fluctuate by month whether he's totally dominant, totally hittable, or something in between. That's at least better than what we got from him last year.

 

Matt Belisle somehow ended up adding positive value in 2017 as he defied the odds as the Twins closer down the stretch after an awful first half. Unfortunately, current Belisle seems to be nowhere near that form. I've lumped up all of the rest of the 'pen arms together, and the news isn't good - the motley crew from 2017 comprised of Gee, Boshers, Busenitz, Breslow, Tonkin, Haley, Turley, and the rest somehow projects to be a full win better than 2018's crew of Hughes, Magill, Belisle, Duffey, Busenitz, Slegers, and the rest.

 

Added all up, the 2018 bullpen projects to be just 0.2 wins better than the 2017 'pen... which is a definite disappointment after adding Rodney, Reed, and Duke in free agency, but at least that's not a negative number.

 

So all in all, the pitching appears to be 3.1 wins above where they finished in 2017. Not bad, and if you told me at the beginning of the season that this was the case... I'd be ecstatic. Clearly the Twins would be able to at least take on the Yankees and Astros in the playoffs...

 

But a bloodbath awaits. Tune in tomorrow (actually later today (July 4th)) for part 2 where we do what could be considered an autopsy of the offense. From what I've calculated so far... I think WAR does it justice. Until then, Danchat out!

 

 

-- Feel free to leave a comment and ask about the process to calculate this, which WAR stats look questionable, or any other notable notes. --

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#2 ashburyjohn

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 07:25 AM

This analysis matches the eyeball test regarding the pitching being better. Let the bloodbath begin.

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#3 spycake

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 07:39 AM

Thanks for the research!

Curious about the effect of defense? Maybe including FanGraphs WAR (based on FIP) would have been interesting additional info? And actually, if you are lazy like me, you could use FanGraphs RA9-WAR too, as a substitute for B-Ref WAR, and largely skip B-Ref.
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#4 Sconnie

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 09:05 AM

Thanks for the research!

Curious about the effect of defense? Maybe including FanGraphs WAR (based on FIP) would have been interesting additional info? And actually, if you are lazy like me, you could use FanGraphs RA9-WAR too, as a substitute for B-Ref WAR, and largely skip B-Ref.

looks like Erv really benefitted from “nothin falls but raindrops” where Odorizzi would as well but of course Buck is replaced by significantly worse fielders.

#5 Danchat

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 09:52 AM

 

Thanks for the research!

Curious about the effect of defense? Maybe including FanGraphs WAR (based on FIP) would have been interesting additional info? And actually, if you are lazy like me, you could use FanGraphs RA9-WAR too, as a substitute for B-Ref WAR, and largely skip B-Ref.

I've already included Fangraphs' defensive stats for the hitters, so I'll try out Fangraphs' WAR there, but I don't think I'll go back and add it to the pitchers.


#6 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 10:19 AM

Your analysis really matches up well with my instinct from watching the team play. The starting staff is significantly better, the bullpen slightly better but not as much better as we had hoped. I think we all kind of know what the hitting analysis will show; we just don’t know how bad the numbers will be. I will join the others in asking if you can analyze the defense. It seems like the outfield defense has been worse, but the infield may be better with Adrianza getting more playing time. These are great data points. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Data helps you get to an answer, but it isn’t the answer by itself. The big question is where from here. Who’d do we keep, who goes, and when? From this, it would seem like we should trade Duke, Lynn and Rodney to make way for Busenitz (?), Romero and maybe Moya, Curtiss or Bard, with one of the latter three getting Belisle’s current spot. Odorizzi probably stays although he sure looks pretty close to last year’s Mejia so I would put him out there and trade him if there’s a good return to be had. Unlikely, so he probably stays. Thoughts?

#7 Danchat

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 10:27 AM

 

I will join the others in asking if you can analyze the defense. It seems like the outfield defense has been worse, but the infield may be better with Adrianza getting more playing time. These are great data points. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Yep, I've already analyzed defense for each hitter and you'll see the results in part 2 (which should be out tonight). If you'd like to know, I used both Baseball-Reference's dWAR and Fangraphs' encompassing Defense stat.


#8 jimbo92107

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 01:05 PM

More support for using the second half for extended tryouts. P-p-playoffs?? Ain't gonna be no playoffs, broheims! Time for the Twins to dump the placeholders and start a game of musical roster spots.

I wanna see Gonsalves come up and lose his cool after a fielding error.

I wanna see Gordon whiff on fifty outside curves and throw a few balls into the stands from SS and 2B.

I wanna see Rooker blast a few homers, then whiff on a bunch of change-ups.

I wanna see Wade miss the cutoff man and get thrown out stealing. 

 

In short, bring up the kids, let them make their mistakes, and let them learn from veterans like Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. 

Edited by jimbo92107, 04 July 2018 - 01:22 PM.

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#9 DocBauer

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 01:51 PM

Of course, it's pretty hard to really know how the second half will play out and how it will affect final calculations. Of course, there could be trades and promotions to further complicate matters.

A very interesting analysis! And I agree the pen hasn't nearly been as improved as hoped for or expected. I do find some of the rotation numbers questionable, with my limited understanding of metrics. After his horrible start, Lynn has been quite good as of late. My eye ball test would have the rotation higher than what your numbers seem to dictatate.

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#10 spycake

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 02:21 PM

Yep, I've already analyzed defense for each hitter and you'll see the results in part 2 (which should be out tonight). If you'd like to know, I used both Baseball-Reference's dWAR and Fangraphs' encompassing Defense stat.


Careful with dWAR and Defense at Fangraphs, as they also include the positional adjustment.

Might be better just to look at Rfield or Fielding Runs by position.

#11 Danchat

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 02:30 PM

 

Careful with dWAR and Defense at Fangraphs, as they also include the positional adjustment.

Might be better just to look at Rfield or Fielding Runs by position.

Oh, I see... that explains why some of the stats have seemed off to me. I will try using one of those other fielding stats.

Edited by Danchat, 04 July 2018 - 02:31 PM.


#12 jimmer

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 04:15 PM

While I definitely didn't think it'd be this bad, I did figure our record would be worse this year than last year. I've been saying it for awhile. We just don't have the talent here yet.
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#13 jimmer

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 04:16 PM

Oh, I see... that explains why some of the stats have seemed off to me. I will try using one of those other fielding stats.

or look at DRS at Fangraphs instead.

#14 Danchat

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 05:23 PM

 

While I definitely didn't think it'd be this bad, I did figure our record would be worse this year than last year. I've been saying it for awhile. We just don't have the talent here yet.

Agreed, I'll address this in part 2.

 

or look at DRS at Fangraphs instead.

I decided on UZR after doing some reading on it. DRS seemed like a fine option, maybe at some point I'll research them and pick a favorite.




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