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The Twins Way

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#1 jorgenswest

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 10:07 PM

While they were winning, wasn't defense part of the Twins way?

It seems like all they care about is avoiding errors and limiting fundamental mistakes. Make a fundamental mistake and we are sure to hear about it. However, repeatedly show inept defensive skill and play every day.

It all starts last tear with the decision to commit three years to two guys that should not bring a glove to the field. It continued a year later by trading their players the best defensive skill.

The outfield range has been so inept this year, but somehow the Twins have found a way to play guys with even poorer range the last two games.

You might argue that the Twins collection of ball in play pitchers, they should seek players for their defensive skill. Not the Twins. With every roster decision the defense gets weaker.

Defensive metrics would support how awful the defense has been in the OF. Beyond the OF, Plouffe and Doumit can join them at the bottom of the league in their defensive skill. Metrics would only distract from the conversation. We don't need their poor metric numbers to know that the Twins have some of the worst defensive players in the game.

As the Twins are rebuilt and remodeled, I hope that defensive skill and range become a priority. Let's give our young pitchers the best possible chance to be successful. Let's move our defensive liabilities to anyone who will take them.

#2 whydidnt

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:08 AM

You hit the nail on the head. I like to see the Twins score as much as the next guy. But, if you're going to build your staff around pitch to contact types, then you probably should make sure the gloves are up to it. If they had just a league average staff in terms of balls in play, though, putting a guy like Willingham in left isn't that damaging. You can afford to have guys in left or 1B that aren't great with the glove..just not when every ball is scorched to the field.

#3 mike wants wins

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:12 AM

*nm
Lighten up Francis....

#4 birdwatcher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 08:04 AM

I'm with you on this, jorgenswest. My least favorite players to watch are Plouffe, Doumit, and Willingham.

#5 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 08:09 AM

As the OP alluded to, the Twins seem to have a completely different view on what good or bad defense actually is.
The things that seem to be important to them seems to be limited to things like: hitting the cut off man every time, calling out "i got it" 3 times before you catch a pop up, etc.
Things like range, mobility, good first step, good angles/jump on fly balls, etc. don't seem to hold much weight with this organization.

#6 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 08:13 AM

As the OP alluded to, the Twins seem to have a completely different view on what good or bad defense actually is.
The things that seem to be important to them seems to be limited to things like: hitting the cut off man every time, calling out "i got it" 3 times before you catch a pop up, etc.
Things like range, mobility, good first step, good angles/jump on fly balls, etc. don't seem to hold much weight with this organization.


Can extend that to the pitching side of things...so proud of their throw strikes at all time, no walk policy while discarding the whole batting average, and slg% against. The last part is an exaggeration of course, but I've never seen a organization brag so much about how few walks it gives up while ignoring the fact that there's a reason for that. The teams are pounding the ball instead. I doubt there is a veteran team out there, or really any team,that fears getting behind on our pitchers. Always going to see a hittable pitch.

#7 stringer bell

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

While I agree that "pitch to contact" and bad range is a lethal combination, I think the Twins are moving away from both but the changes haven't hit the major league club yet (or Rochester for that matter). I have thought how cool a defensive OF of Arcia/Benson, Buxton and Hicks would be for a while. They will be able to run down a lot of line shots and gappers that the current group has no chance of catching. I will submit that Parmelee has been a much better than advertised outfielder as well. The only position in the infield that has yielded negative fielding results is third base. Plouffe may never be a gold glover, but he isn't a statue over there either. The pitchers on their way to the majors aren't all command and control guys. It will take a while before they make a mark, but the club is moving in the right direction, especially in the lower levels of the minors.

#8 spideyo

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 11:28 AM

Interestingly enough, the Twins actually lead the league in OF assists.

In some ways, it's almost like the team took to heart all the criticism of having a guy like Punto around (and to a lesser extent the CONSTANT bitching last year about how Revere will never be more than a singles hitter and his range can't possibly make up for that) and decided that instead of slick-fielding "put me anywhere and I'll make highlight reel defensive plays" guys, they are going with guys who can slug and trying to find a spot for them where they won't screw up too many plays.

Basically, it seems like it used to be a philosophy of counting on the defense to keep the score low, scrape together a few walks/bunts/singles, and expect one of our few mashers to knock in just enough to win.

Now it seems like its a lot more offense first, score a lot of runs and then count on the pitcher to limit the exposure of the defense.


This shift really started with the move to Target Field, when they got rid of Carlos Gomez (which ultimately meant a whole lot more playing time in LF for Delmon Young), and signed Thome. Now, I like Thome, but when we already had Kubel, Mauer, and Morneau, it never really made sense to grab another left-handed power bat, particularly one who couldn't play ANY defense. Essentially what they lost was a spot for a guy like Brian Buscher, who wasn't the greatest bat off the bench, could at least cover 1B/3B when needed.


It seemed like a very clear indication that they were saying "ok, we don't want to be a small ball team anymore, let's hit some dingers in our fancy new stadium"


The main problem I see with this "offense first" mentality, is that players are far more likely to go through slumps as batters than as fielders. Even the best hitters will go through stretches where they just can't seem to find their swing. Not very often do you see normally fantastic fielders suddenly start missing routine plays.

The other big problem is that without really good defense, it puts ENORMOUS pressure on the pitcher, and if you don't have top-flight pitching, you are screwed. Detroit has sacrificed defense for power, but they can get away with it because they have Verlander and his pals. We don't.

#9 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

Their defense isn't that bad. Its hitting and pitching that's the problem.

#10 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 11:41 AM

Their defense isn't that bad. Its hitting and pitching that's the problem.


Twins rank 28th in defensive efficiency according to Baseball Prospectus. When adjusted for park, we're dead last.

Baseball Prospectus | Statistics | Custom Statistics Reports: Team Pitching

Edited by ThePuck, 23 May 2013 - 11:44 AM.


#11 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 11:52 AM

Twins rank 28th in defensive efficiency according to Baseball Prospectus. When adjusted for park, we're dead last.

Baseball Prospectus | Statistics | Custom Statistics Reports: Team Pitching


Which would be consistent with them being dead last in strikeouts. Naturally they will give up a more hits than other clubs, regardless of who is defending. Look at the formula:

Defensive Efficiency = 1- (H-HR)/(AB-SO-HR+SH+SF)

#12 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:31 PM

Which would be consistent with them being dead last in strikeouts. Naturally they will give up a more hits than other clubs, regardless of who is defending. Look at the formula:

Defensive Efficiency = 1- (H-HR)/(AB-SO-HR+SH+SF)


Except that the Tigers are 1st in Ks and last in defensive efficiency.

It's about the amount of balls put into play converted to outs. The AB that results in Ks are taken out (hence the -SO). It's also not just about more hits given up, since Detroit's BAA is 10th and yet, again, last in defensive efficiency.

Edited by ThePuck, 23 May 2013 - 12:39 PM.


#13 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:21 PM

Right, the inverse of BABIP, that's what DE is. And it suffers from the same flaws. Primarily not accounting for where/what angle/how hard balls are hit. But in general, the guys who miss more bats will miss more barrels, and get weaker contact. The Tigers seem to be bucking that trend somewhat (they also have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on defense).

And the fact that the Tigers are perhaps lousy defensively while being the best team in teh AL is just fodder for my point. Its more important for a team to hit and pitch better than it is for them to cleanup a handful of runs on defense.

#14 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:25 PM

Right, the inverse of BABIP, that's what DE is. And it suffers from the same flaws. Primarily not accounting for where/what angle/how hard balls are hit. But in general, the guys who miss more bats will miss more barrels, and get weaker contact. The Tigers seem to be bucking that trend somewhat (they also have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on defense).

And the fact that the Tigers are perhaps lousy defensively while being the best team in teh AL is just fodder for my point. Its more important for a team to hit and pitch better than it is for them to cleanup a handful of runs on defense.


and that's fine, but that doesn't mean their defense isn't lousy...not does it means the Twins defense isn't lousy as well...cause it is.

#15 spideyo

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:37 PM

If we had a perennial Cy young candidate leading a pitching staff of strike out machines, and Willingham and Morneau slugged like Fielder and Cabrera, our defense would be totally adequate

#16 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:37 PM

Good defense is certainly preferable to bad defense but nobody here has proven their defense is especially bad. Certainly BABIP doesn't prove it.

This has been a running line from the FO since 2011, "we got away from the fundamentals." Well no, not really. You stopped pitching and hitting, that's what happened.

#17 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:44 PM

Good defense is certainly preferable to bad defense but nobody here has proven their defense is bad. This has been a running line from the FO since 2011, "we got away from the fundamentals." Well no, not really. You stopped pitching and hitting, that's what happened.


depends on what you think proof is. Eye test shows it, at least to some.

You're discounting defensive efficiency which shows it.

They're in the negative for defensive runs saved. They're 26th in plays made outside of zone. They're 26th in UZR.

I guess I don't know what kind of proof you want....or what you have to show they aren't lousy, since you say they aren't. You say they aren't as if it's fact. What's the basis for that?

#18 snepp

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:46 PM

UZR has them in the bottom 5 as well.


Fantastic in the arm category, decent in the error category, putrid in range. My 'eye' metric concurs.

#19 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:53 PM

I'd agree they don't have many rangy fielders on the team. Dozier is probably the rangiest, by my eye. But I don't think they're particularly bad at converting the "routine play" and stats like RZR concur.

#20 jorgenswest

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:00 PM

Good defense is certainly preferable to bad defense but nobody here has proven their defense is especially bad. Certainly BABIP doesn't prove it.

This has been a running line from the FO since 2011, "we got away from the fundamentals." Well no, not really. You stopped pitching and hitting, that's what happened.


You need metrics to prove that the defense in LF, RF and 3B as well as Doumit's defense at catcher is at the bottom?

I think there are teams that understand the impact of a defense on runs scored. The Twins, based on the decisions they have made since Ryan had returned, don't see it the same way.

It is easier to blame the pitcher as solely responsible for giving up runs.

The Twins give them a few handicaps.

Some throw to a catcher consistently inept at getting strikes called when pitchers throw in the bottom of the zone. I find it ironic that Gardy has followed a few of those outings with "___________ needs to get the ball down" on his radio show. I wrote about Hendriks starts and how he wasn't getting any strike calls on balls low in the zone only to have Gardy report that he needs to keep the ball down. I think you can listen to last Sunday's show and here something similar for another pitcher.

All pitchers have the handicap of Twins corner outfielders positioned deep in the outfield. How many singles have fallen in front of Willingham or Parmelee? Metrics tell us that the Twins get to fewer balls hit to the outfield than any other team. We don't need metrics though. We can see how deep they need to position themselves to compensate for their lack of range. We can see their lack of range.

Instead it is every starting pitcher. If only they could keep the ball down in the zone...

#21 Willihammer

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:53 PM

Should probably bench the Hammer in favor of someone who can cheat in a few steps. Benson maybe

#22 TheLeviathan

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

If you're going to have a heavy contact staff - wouldn't the ability to turn extra outs in the field be a priority? To me, if you're going to be cheap in the pitching in favor of contact/no walk guys - you should be prioritizing a defense that can really help them.

We have just about the exact opposite. We have the same approach to defense - minimalist - just don't make obvious mistakes (walks, errors) and we can tolerate that you don't do other things well. (Strikeouts, range)

To me that combination is ass backwards.

#23 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:20 PM

If you're going to have a heavy contact staff - wouldn't the ability to turn extra outs in the field be a priority? To me, if you're going to be cheap in the pitching in favor of contact/no walk guys - you should be prioritizing a defense that can really help them.

We have just about the exact opposite. We have the same approach to defense - minimalist - just don't make obvious mistakes (walks, errors) and we can tolerate that you don't do other things well. (Strikeouts, range)

To me that combination is ass backwards.


You know, what I used to say (and got slammed for) is that the Twins prefer pitchers like we have cause they are cheaper...and as an added bonus, having those type of pitchers require defense-first type players...which are also cheaper.

#24 jokin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:42 PM

You know, what I used to say (and got slammed for) is that the Twins prefer pitchers like we have cause they are cheaper...and as an added bonus, having those type of pitchers require defense-first type players...which are also cheaper.


Funny how scarce the "slammers" are around these parts lately?

#25 Kobs

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 05:11 PM

There is no Twins Way, other than never firing anyone (unless they are black). There was Tom Kelly's way, and that left with him.

#26 TheLeviathan

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 05:47 PM

There is no Twins Way, other than never firing anyone (unless they are black). There was Tom Kelly's way, and that left with him.


It's not quite the same, but I say it lives on in a bastardized form. But alive nonetheless.

#27 ThePuck

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 05:56 PM

Funny how scarce the "slammers" are around these parts lately?



In fairness, it wasn't here that I said that...well, until now :-)

#28 jokin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 06:00 PM

It's not quite the same, but I say it lives on in a bastardized form. But alive nonetheless.


True dat. Remember, it was during Spring Training that Andy was allowed to revise and amend his remarks and (alleged) theory on "Pitch to Contact"....that somehow the media and public had misinterpreted what he meant....only now, unfortunately for Andy, the "bastard child" has come to full fruition.

Edited by jokin, 23 May 2013 - 06:26 PM.


#29 The Wise One

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 06:21 PM

The contact, no walk pitchers are fine if they can pitch like Lackey did the other night against the Twins. Doesn't matter if they are strikeout pitchers or not, the Twins need no fat pitchtossers.

#30 notoriousgod71

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 06:23 PM

Interestingly enough, the Twins actually lead the league in OF assists.

In some ways, it's almost like the team took to heart all the criticism of having a guy like Punto around (and to a lesser extent the CONSTANT bitching last year about how Revere will never be more than a singles hitter and his range can't possibly make up for that) and decided that instead of slick-fielding "put me anywhere and I'll make highlight reel defensive plays" guys, they are going with guys who can slug and trying to find a spot for them where they won't screw up too many plays.

Basically, it seems like it used to be a philosophy of counting on the defense to keep the score low, scrape together a few walks/bunts/singles, and expect one of our few mashers to knock in just enough to win.

Now it seems like its a lot more offense first, score a lot of runs and then count on the pitcher to limit the exposure of the defense.


This shift really started with the move to Target Field, when they got rid of Carlos Gomez (which ultimately meant a whole lot more playing time in LF for Delmon Young), and signed Thome. Now, I like Thome, but when we already had Kubel, Mauer, and Morneau, it never really made sense to grab another left-handed power bat, particularly one who couldn't play ANY defense. Essentially what they lost was a spot for a guy like Brian Buscher, who wasn't the greatest bat off the bench, could at least cover 1B/3B when needed.


It seemed like a very clear indication that they were saying "ok, we don't want to be a small ball team anymore, let's hit some dingers in our fancy new stadium"


The main problem I see with this "offense first" mentality, is that players are far more likely to go through slumps as batters than as fielders. Even the best hitters will go through stretches where they just can't seem to find their swing. Not very often do you see normally fantastic fielders suddenly start missing routine plays.

The other big problem is that without really good defense, it puts ENORMOUS pressure on the pitcher, and if you don't have top-flight pitching, you are screwed. Detroit has sacrificed defense for power, but they can get away with it because they have Verlander and his pals. We don't.


I disagree. Buscher had zero value. Thome was the best hitter on the team in 2010. The problem is when you sacrifice defense for sluggers that don't slug like Delmon, Doumit, and Plouffe.