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Bollinger: Answers Questions, Addresses Twins Ability To Compete

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:07 PM

Most of the story is about the farm system, but he does address the following question:

If the Twins do not sign any more players this offseason, can they compete in the American League Central?
-- Steve R., Tomah, Wis.


He doesn't say "no" but he sure gives plenty of reasons why they probably can't.

But even if Twins starters give up 100 fewer runs than last season, they'd still rank near the bottom of the American League in ERA.


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#2 Nick Nelson

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 12:23 AM

But even if Twins starters give up 100 fewer runs than last season, they'd still rank near the bottom of the American League in ERA.

He borrowed this talking point from Mackey, who has said it several times this offseason. It doesn't really make sense to me. If the Twins shave off 100 runs, they would allow 732. It's true that figure would have ranked near the bottom of the league in 2012. The last two years have been noticeably great ones for pitching leaguewide, which only serves to magnify the Twins' struggles.

In 2010, 716 was the league average for runs allowed. Heck, 732 would look great compared to the playoff-caliber Twins teams in 2008 and '09. Baseball goes through its phases; who knows what the new year will bring.

I fail to see how this regurgitated hypothetical contains any substance. If the Twins shave 100 runs from last year's total and field a good offense they could be in pretty decent shape. Not a championship contender, but relevant.

#3 LoganJones

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

And why is 100 runs the magic number to shave off? In 104 starts covering 542.1 innings, the 'Bad' starters (as in anyone with a 5.3 or higher ERA) last year surrendered 383 earned runs. That's an ERA of 6.36!! Sure it's possible that the guys they got to correct that will be just as bad. Even if that mob just pitched to a 5 ERA -and that's still pretty bad- in those bad innings, it would shave 83 runs off the board. This is to say nothing of the fact that if they're pitching on average 1.3 runs better, they'll also likely be going a little longer into games. Just 1/3 of an inning more per start and we've got 34 fewer Jeff Gray innings. There's 11 fewer runs right there. 94 Runs saved, just by pitching 20% worse than average vs 36% worse.

Naturally, to improve by 16% would also mean fewer base runners, thus fewer unearned runs as well. We'll take a 16% reduction in unearned runs, 11. 103 Runs Saved just by starters pitching one more out and to a 5 ERA. Funny thing is, Correia's haters are hating on him for likely pitching to 4.7-4.9 ERA. So the pessimist's projection is better still than even that bleak calculation.

If we do the same with a 4.7 ERA, It's an additional 17 runs off the board from the starters, and 3 more unearned runs, pushing the total to 123 fewer runs. That works out to around 80 Wins with exactly the same offense. Two of the key members of the offensive attack are missing, but on the other hand, the team won't be behind by as much and as often. The current bunch stands to be able to score more than last year, particularly if motivated by a good start to the season.

Sure, it's only barely .500 team projection, but last year the Orioles won with a similar projection. It can happen, but it's probably best not to be getting yourself ready for the playoffs just yet.

Edited by LoganJones, 07 February 2013 - 11:24 AM.


#4 TheLeviathan

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:28 PM

So if we only do all of that we still finish short of .500? Wow!

And you wonder why people are pessimists.

#5 70charger

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 05:28 PM

First of all "all of that" isn't that much (kind of the point of the post), and second of all, if the Orioles can make the playoffs with this same kind of projection (also mentioned explicitly in the post), why would you assume that the Twins would necessarily end up short of .500? You can be a pessimist, but don't misinterpret what people are saying.

#6 TheLeviathan

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:42 PM

why would you assume that the Twins would necessarily end up short of .500? You can be a pessimist, but don't misinterpret what people are saying.


Because he concluded with that? And yes, it is a lot to ask for that much improvement and no reduction in offense. It's a lot having to go right and we aren't even talking injuries.

#7 Nick Nelson

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:53 PM

Because he concluded with that? And yes, it is a lot to ask for that much improvement and no reduction in offense. It's a lot having to go right and we aren't even talking injuries.


You're too jaded by the last two years if you're incredulous at the notion that more things can go right than wrong for a baseball team.

#8 TheLeviathan

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:04 PM

You're too jaded by the last two years if you're incredulous at the notion that more things can go right than wrong for a baseball team.


Sure, that can happen. My point was that when you lay out what all needs to happen (just the basics) it's daunting. So all this "pile-on the pessimists because they aren't real Twins fans" nonsense should at least have a basic understanding of odds before doing so.

Even this analysis - which is slightly optimistic - has them a .500 team But it assumes a BETTER offense despite losing two key cogs, relying on a near 40 year old infielder, two star players with recent serious injury concerns, and a lot of unproven talent. AND it utterly ignores the fact that the one defensive strength this team had was not only hurt, but totally decimated. (I'm not sure you can quantify the difference in range/fielding of Span/Revere vs. Unknown/Parmalee but unless "Unknown" is Superman I doubt it matters)

Look, I'm not saying it's impossible. I've stayed out of the "bright side" thread because people are entitled to optimism if they choose to ignore the odds. But Bollinger is right about a great many things here - it's an unfortunate, sobering dose of reality.

#9 worm33

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:35 PM

You're too jaded by the last two years if you're incredulous at the notion that more things can go right than wrong for a baseball team.


You are without a doubt the most optimistic Twins guy out there and I respect that. But this team is the 2nd or 3rd worst team in the AL without a doubt. They have the worst rotation in the AL, (Yes I will take Astros current Norris Lyles Harell Bedard with Humber/Peacock but just barely) and the 2nd worst bullpen behind only the Astros. Everybody in the AL is loaded in the bullpen this year, and the Twins 4th best reliever is a guy gave up 2.59 HR/9 in AAA in 2011 (Fien).

Their defense will also be one of the bottom 3 worst in the league with Plouffe Willingham and Parmalee (RF) all weak spots and Doumit catching 40-50 games or so. This does not bode well for a team who will again have the least strikeouts of anybody in baseball this year (and by a wide margin again. Last year Twins were 5.9 K/9 and 30th in the league. Indians were 29th at 6.78!)

I do believe this team will hit. If Hicks starts the year in CF and can at least post a .330 OBP 1-7 (assuming Mauer hits 2) will be pretty decent. IF everything breaks just right this team could be .500 but thats if we catch a ton of breaks AND stay healthy.

#10 silverslugger

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

Let's assume Hicks makes the team. What's your batting order beyon Hicks, Mauer? Is Morneau third, or Willingham, or possibly even an insanely good Parmelee (yeah, i know, a reach). What about when Carroll plays, do his on-base skills mean he bats 2 and Mauer moves back to 3? Does Butera have more value as a RP or a C? Oops, I digress.