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Twins Rule#2 on building a team...Defense makes a below Ave rotation Ave

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#1 Brandon

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 08:58 AM

Last week I posted the 1rst rule here if you want to go back and review http://twinsdaily.co...see-part-i.html

Basically it stresses the importance of a bullpen and going for average starting pitchers. To make the starters better or to give them a better chance to succeed the Twins stress 2 things, do not walk anyone and do not make defensive mistakes. While there is plenty of statistics out which are able to help determine who is good defensively and who isn't. There is no statistic developed yet to determine how each defensive play affects the outcome of the game. The closest one to that is the one Twinsgeek has written about more than once regarding runs scored in these situations with runners on base and number of outs. (I can see that as being one of the major stats the Twins use too as we'll talk about that more on offense). (Also if Twinsgeek is reading this can you provide a link to your study below in comments) If there is a runner on 1rst and the batter hits a ball to right CF and Hicks is able to make a running grab with an outstretched dive and get the 2nd out vs being an ave defensive CF who misses the ball and it turns into a 2b with runners at 2nd and 3rd and one out. How will that affect the pitcher and how will that affect the hitter coming to bat, this is how a team falls into a hole they cant get out of with that next hit they give up, which could turn into another.....or with the catch we now have the 2nd out and a runner on first.

The Twins have always been known as being a good defensive team. That is a big part of the term "doing things the Twins way" that has been attributed to them. In the early 2000's when the team started winning we had Torri Hunter in CF and Jacques Jones in LF, Koskie at 3rd who went from being below average to near elite, Mientkewicz who probably should have won a gold glove, Guzman and Rivas weren't bad either. then we added Punto who was great defensively, Morneau replaced mientkewicz and became above average defensively until his injury. Crede who was signed as a FA was excellent defensively if he could play. Looking forward there is real promise as we have Buxton for CF and hopefully Hicks for LF, Dozier and Florimon are both above average and borderline elite at 2nd and SS. The Twins are really pushing defense on Sano in the minors with the hope he can be average to slightly above average with the glove as he already has a game changing bat, imagine his value if he was elite defensively too. Mauer is also gold glove candidate the question seems to be will he still be behind the plate when the Twins are restructured to win again? That gives the future Twins 5 potential gold glove candidates on the field all at premium defensive positions (Mauer C, Buxton CF, Hicks LF, Florimon SS, and Dozier 2B) 1b is still a major ? moving forward so we don't know how the defense is going to play out. same with RF will it go to Arcia? will he move to 1b or DH and will Rosario be in RF?

The overall point is that a strong defense will convert more batted balls into outs thus limiting runs scored further. This plus limiting walks will help make average starting pitchers better. This also makes it more likely that the average starter will succeed when he pitches, and that validates the 1 rule on pitching. And now you know how and why Ryan goes after the pitchers he does. Whether you agree with it or not this is his philosophy based off of his actions of play acquisitions . But there are more rules to building a winning team to come....

Edited by Brandon, 13 October 2013 - 09:03 AM.


#2 Riverbrian

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 09:33 AM

Good D is huge... Games are often decided by the big inning.

Just like the bunt can prevent your team from producing a big inning.
Bad Defense... A bad play or a Bartman can extend an inning and help the other team produce a big inning.

Good defense... A play made... Stops the big inning.

D is huge in my opinion.
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#3 TheLeviathan

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 10:19 AM

I would agree defense is an emphasis of the team. And a good one IMO.

Just think how much better a good defense would make good pitching rather than average? Even a good defense will make mistakes and fail the pitchers when they are constantly on the hook for making the play. (Rather than the pitcher getting an average or above average number of outs by themselves)

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 10:33 AM

Good D is huge... Games are often decided by the big inning.

I think this is proven biblically..."In the big inning...".

#5 Shane Wahl

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 10:49 AM

". . . there was the error . . . and the error was the Twins and was with the Twins."

#6 Oxtung

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 10:58 AM

I think the stat you're looking for is Win Probability Added (WPA). It can be found at fangraphs. There are a couple other similar stats but that seems to be the most respected.

#7 Riverbrian

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 12:33 PM

I would agree defense is an emphasis of the team. And a good one IMO.

Just think how much better a good defense would make good pitching rather than average? Even a good defense will make mistakes and fail the pitchers when they are constantly on the hook for making the play. (Rather than the pitcher getting an average or above average number of outs by themselves)


Great defense behind great pitching would be demoralizing to the offense facing it.

It would be like boarding a Cruise Ship that you knew was going to sink.

Nervously... You board the ship and the ship doesn't sink but you drown in the pool.
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#8 Badsmerf

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 02:12 PM

Brandon, this is just a continuation of your regurgitation of Twins propaganda, prove that defense is so important. The Twins were, by different metrics, a top 10 team defensively. Didn't seem to help the pitching staff too much IMO.

What you're trying to control with a good defense is BABIP, which is a pretty volatile stat. Average pitchers that pitch to contact, or ground ball pitchers, have a lot of balls put in play. By rule of averages, you can only control so much. The BABIP of the MLB (starters) this year ranged from .272 to .324. Guess who had the highest? I can't find the amount of attempts specific for starters, so I can't tell you how many hits would have to be stolen, but it is quite a bit. Combined, in order to drop .030 the Twins would have had to steal 50 hits.

I don't think the defense made this staff horrible. The defense was ok. A better defense might have made a few more outs, but when you had Florimon and Dozier having elite years (in the most important positions) you'll be splitting hairs if you think defense is going to going to effect a pitching staff that much. That doesn't mean defense doesn't matter, but if you have guys that are competent at SS, 2b and CF.... you are going to have an ok defense.

What is the culprit for the horrible performance of the starting staff? Stikeouts. The Twins had 477 SO, the league leader Detroit (funny they are in the ALCS and up 1-0) had 981. More than double the Twins. That is 500 less balls put in play. Detroit had a .307 BABIP, so by that logic that is over 150 hits the Tigers took away in comparison to the Twins because of strikeouts.

Defense doesn't win games. Never has. It helps win games, but it doesn't turn a below average rotation into an average one. Regardless of how elite a defense is, if a pitching staff puts a bunch of balls in play, many of them (.270 to .300) are going to fall as hits. Trying to compensate a poor rotation by getting the best defense possible is foolish.
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#9 Brandon

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 02:54 PM

Brandon, this is just a continuation of your regurgitation of Twins propaganda, prove that defense is so important. The Twins were, by different metrics, a top 10 team defensively. Didn't seem to help the pitching staff too much IMO.

Absolutely that is what I am doing ...sort of. I am stating plane and simple what the Twins do to build their teams and how they go about it and why they go this route so that you understand their why as much as how.

What you're trying to control with a good defense is BABIP, which is a pretty volatile stat. Average pitchers that pitch to contact, or ground ball pitchers, have a lot of balls put in play. By rule of averages, you can only control so much. The BABIP of the MLB (starters) this year ranged from .272 to .324. Guess who had the highest? I can't find the amount of attempts specific for starters, so I can't tell you how many hits would have to be stolen, but it is quite a bit. Combined, in order to drop .030 the Twins would have had to steal 50 hits.

I don't think the defense made this staff horrible. The defense was ok. A better defense might have made a few more outs, but when you had Florimon and Dozier having elite years (in the most important positions) you'll be splitting hairs if you think defense is going to going to effect a pitching staff that much. That doesn't mean defense doesn't matter, but if you have guys that are competent at SS, 2b and CF.... you are going to have an ok defense.

I am not saying that a good defense will make any staff good. I am saying it will make an average staff better. As I think the Twins focus on finding average starters as a baseline and make the staff above average by defense, low walk totals, and great bullpen. read the first rule.

What is the culprit for the horrible performance of the starting staff? Stikeouts. The Twins had 477 SO, the league leader Detroit (funny they are in the ALCS and up 1-0) had 981. More than double the Twins. That is 500 less balls put in play. Detroit had a .307 BABIP, so by that logic that is over 150 hits the Tigers took away in comparison to the Twins because of strikeouts.

Defense doesn't win games. Never has. It helps win games, but it doesn't turn a below average rotation into an average one. Regardless of how elite a defense is, if a pitching staff puts a bunch of balls in play, many of them (.270 to .300) are going to fall as hits. Trying to compensate a poor rotation by getting the best defense possible is foolish.


Defense doesn't win games is absolutely wrong. and I am not saying having a better k rate wouldn't help the staff. The bullpen k's people at a pretty good rate and it is good. What I am saying is:

The Twins build their staffs by looking at the aggregate team Run Average and go after a less expensive shorter contract requiring starter who will be around a league average type (Corriea, Pelfry, Pavano, Livian Hernandez, even the ones in trade Silva, Mays, Blackburn, Rick Reed) Hernandez won 10 games with us a few years back. He needed all the offensive and defensive help he could get to get there but he also gave us innings, did not strike out that many, didn't walk many, did have a high ERA, He was successful because he had enough successful starts that resulted in a win than he had horrible starts that resulted in losses. Would I advocate signing him again? no but his signing is explained by the rules above whether you agree with them or not they are what they are. All of the starts listed fit the mold of the types of pitchers the Twins acquire...Scott Backer, Slowey, Radke also fit that list.

#10 TheLeviathan

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 04:39 PM

Brandon, you keep insisting that you are posting an unbiased explanation of these rules, but these posts are anything but unbiased. If you truly intend just be explaining them, a better attempt at the pros and cons might help. These posts are littered with justifications for why these rules are sensible, but no attempt to present a counterpoint.

You are welcome to be biased as well, but your implication of being unbiased in the post above doesn't mesh with the content of your two rules posts.

#11 Alex

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:24 AM

Defense doesn't win games is absolutely wrong. and I am not saying having a better k rate wouldn't help the staff. The bullpen k's people at a pretty good rate and it is good. What I am saying is:

The Twins build their staffs by looking at the aggregate team Run Average and go after a less expensive shorter contract requiring starter who will be around a league average type (Corriea, Pelfry, Pavano, Livian Hernandez, even the ones in trade Silva, Mays, Blackburn, Rick Reed) Hernandez won 10 games with us a few years back. He needed all the offensive and defensive help he could get to get there but he also gave us innings, did not strike out that many, didn't walk many, did have a high ERA, He was successful because he had enough successful starts that resulted in a win than he had horrible starts that resulted in losses. Would I advocate signing him again? no but his signing is explained by the rules above whether you agree with them or not they are what they are. All of the starts listed fit the mold of the types of pitchers the Twins acquire...Scott Backer, Slowey, Radke also fit that list.


Livian Hernandez had a 5.58 ERA, an ERA+ of 77, and threw 140 IP. He won 10 games solely because of offensive support and he shouldn't be the kind of guy that supports any pitching theory. He would have fit perfectly on the 2013 Twins, and his record would have been much worse. It also seems that using pitcher wins to justify aggregate ERA theory is a kind of contradiction. If anything, his signing explains the flaw in the rules, that flaw in the theory.

Finally, I'll say that while I find your theories interesting and good for generating discussion, the tone of the posts comes across as if they are some kind of indisputable facts.

#12 drivlikejehu

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:09 AM

TL; DR. Ryan has nowhere indicated that his "strategy" is to have a below-average rotation bolstered by a good defense. So the OP is fan fiction.

#13 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:11 AM

Livian Hernandez had a 5.58 ERA, an ERA+ of 77, and threw 140 IP. He won 10 games solely because of offensive support and he shouldn't be the kind of guy that supports any pitching theory. He would have fit perfectly on the 2013 Twins, and his record would have been much worse. It also seems that using pitcher wins to justify aggregate ERA theory is a kind of contradiction. If anything, his signing explains the flaw in the rules, that flaw in the theory.

Finally, I'll say that while I find your theories interesting and good for generating discussion, the tone of the posts comes across as if they are some kind of indisputable facts.


If you go back through the game logs of when Hernandez pitched for the Twins. He only gave up 4 runs in 1 of the 10 wins and 3 earned runs in 2 of the other wins. the other 7 wins he had with the team he gave up 2 runs or less. Hernandez was not a great pitcher in terms of stuff but he did have the ability to compete and with the defense behind him he won more than he lost. yes he did have a lot of games where he pitched 5 innings and gave up 7 runs. But he was able to chew innings in a lot of those games to help save the bullpen too. He is a perfect example of the type of pitcher the Twins go for.

#14 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:14 AM

I think we can all agree with the take that finding a good defense would be beneficial to the staff, but using the same line of reasoning, the opposite is also true. Building a strong pitching staff who have the ability to strike batters out will minimize defensive shortcomings.

I would much prefer they upgrade five pitchers as opposed to eight defenders.

#15 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:16 AM

Livian Hernandez had a 5.58 ERA, an ERA+ of 77, and threw 140 IP. He won 10 games solely because of offensive support and he shouldn't be the kind of guy that supports any pitching theory. He would have fit perfectly on the 2013 Twins, and his record would have been much worse. It also seems that using pitcher wins to justify aggregate ERA theory is a kind of contradiction. If anything, his signing explains the flaw in the rules, that flaw in the theory.

Finally, I'll say that while I find your theories interesting and good for generating discussion, the tone of the posts comes across as if they are some kind of indisputable facts.


I am sorry if you are somehow offended by how i try to communicate my observations. they are meant to create discussions. but i still have not seen anyone yet show a better observation of how the Twins operate. I have been watching this for years trying to find the patterns and nail down the system as every offseason we all clamor for certain acquisitions and then get something else and wonder what the Twins were thinking. I am putting my observations out there to see if anyone has better insights to their system cause they definately have a school of thought as they don't very from their plan.

#16 mike wants wins

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:16 AM

If this is his strategy, why did he sign Willingham?

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :)


#17 JB_Iowa

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:18 AM

What difference does it make WHAT the system is?

It's not working.

#18 ThePuck

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:19 AM

Whether it's true or not, seems the Twins have often favored pitchers who have a lot of balls put in play to make outs, as opposed to pitchers who strike out more batters, because those type of pitchers are less expensive. Those kind of pitchers also require players who are glove men first...they are also cheaper than offense first type players. A combo necessary when we were truly budget crunched.
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#19 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:19 AM

I think we can all agree with the take that finding a good defense would be beneficial to the staff, but using the same line of reasoning, the opposite is also true. Building a strong pitching staff who have the ability to strike batters out will minimize defensive shortcomings.

I would much prefer they upgrade five pitchers as opposed to eight defenders.


I agree and i have more on that subject in the last rule of how i see them operate. This all ties together, you can't have 1 rule in their system it takes all of them working together to be more than the sum of their parts. How often have the Twins record been better than the sum of all parts for lack of a better term.

#20 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:21 AM

If this is his strategy, why did he sign Willingham?


the other 2 outfielders were Revere and Span. we already had the speed in the OF. we needed some offense. Offense is the next installment.

#21 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:25 AM

What difference does it make WHAT the system is?

It's not working.


the system works but it needs to be firing on all cylindars and we do need better starting pitchers. I am not debating that.

#22 Siehbiscuit

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:19 AM

A really good defense is still just a Band-Aid for a terrible pitching staff. Our staff brings out the defensive playmakers in Dozier and Florimon, but it also exposes Plouffe, Willingham and Arcia. The Twins OF led baseball in assists. Is that because everyone had a cannon for an arm or because there were SO many baserunners on and the ball continued to be hit a high rate? The pitchers are the problem. If we had the Tigers or Cardinals pitching staff but our same lineup, there would be far less clamoring for defensive replacements for Willingham and Arcia, because their exposure would be far less. Bad pitching equals more opportunities for or guys to make mistakes. Defense is important, but even an elite defense won't stop the other team from hitting the ball hard.

#23 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:23 AM

I am sorry if you are somehow offended by how i try to communicate my observations. they are meant to create discussions. but i still have not seen anyone yet show a better observation of how the Twins operate. I have been watching this for years trying to find the patterns and nail down the system as every offseason we all clamor for certain acquisitions and then get something else and wonder what the Twins were thinking. I am putting my observations out there to see if anyone has better insights to their system cause they definately have a school of thought as they don't very from their plan.


I think most people on the site will agree that your posts do demonstrate how the Twins opporate for the most part. However, the tone and some of the verbiage often comes off as your advocating that this is the proper way to build a team and that is a completely different discussion.

Many of us do not agree that the Twins are currently valuing the correct kinds of statistics, players or baseball theories. So while there is little disagreement that this is HOW the Twins opporate, the disagreement lies with the endorsement that this is how the Twins SHOULD opporate.

#24 Brandon

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:30 AM

I was thinking of trying to offer ways to upgrade their formula at the end but i wanted to atleast explain it in full detail I figured the title "as i see it" would imply that i am distancing myself from what they are doing. as far as writing goes, it is not my strongest suit.

#25 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 10:20 AM

Brandon: Agree, disagree, or something in between, I appreciate the effort and the attempt at generating thought provoking discussion.

#26 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 11:16 AM

Brandon: Agree, disagree, or something in between, I appreciate the effort and the attempt at generating thought provoking discussion.


Yes agreed. I was not trying to discount anything Brandon says, I simply wanted to point out where I believe the disconnect was.

#27 Alex

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 12:11 PM

the system works but it needs to be firing on all cylindars and we do need better starting pitchers. I am not debating that.


But part of the problem with "the system" (or the theory of this one) is that it requires multiple areas to work in cohesion. If all of your pitchers are contact pitchers, you must have a lot of good fielders. This limits the kinds of players that you can pursue in free agency, and even the draft, too. For example, I think this played out in the fact that the Twins tend to struggle to develop middle infielders that can hit and cut players like Cabrera and Hardy loose while keeping Florimon as the answer at SS.

When you have more variables that rely on and affect each other, the loss or weakening of that one variable decreases the final result dramatically.

Edited by Alex, 14 October 2013 - 12:14 PM.


#28 Riverbrian

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:04 PM

I don't know if I can add anything to this discussion.

I agree with Chief... Thanks Brandon for the topic and I look forward to your other points.

When it comes to defense... I've always been a defense guy so I'm always going to be biased in that direction.

I've tried to swim in the different defensive metric waters out there and come away as not impressed with them. I believe they are half baked... So to me... It comes down to this.

I don't think you can really quantify defense when taking it as a whole across a season or career.

To me... It's individual moments inside a game. Many games go by with routine play after routine play and defense good or bad just doesn't matter but every once in awhile a moment of defensive definition happens and when it does it influences ERA and it influences Wins and Losses when it happens.

I guess I've seen it too many times. Just like Bartman in Chicago... A potential out was not an out and the floodgates opened. No error was given on the play but if a catch was made at that time the result may have been different.

You can go through a season and determine that Ben Revere made 15 catches(for example) that he shouldn't have made. When you calculate how many catches he made it isn't going to look like a big whoop. But in that individual game... One of those 15 catches may have prevented a double and that double may have been followed by 2 Singles and a home run that didn't happen because the catch allowed the team to go sit in the dug out instead.

One catch can keep 5 runs off the board. Those 5 runs will lower ERA. Defense is always going to be huge in my mind.

One ball that gets through the hole on Trevor Plouffe that Brett Lawrie would have had will not show up as an error and it sometimes happens when Pitchers NEED IT. With the Bases loaded and One Out. Follow that missed double play ball with a home run and ERA's will climb and pretty soon we hate our pitchers.

Look at the Tigers Ninth Inning Last night. Who knows what the outcome would have been but... I have no problem saying that we won't know what the outcome would have been because Prince Fielder cost them the game right there in the ninth.

Iglasias probably should have hung on to that ball but Fielder should have knocked it down.

Fielder also should have made that catch by the stands. The Fans were causing a problem but it went off his glove first... That was on Prince.

Prince is amazing and his bat has won some games for Detroit but his defense was an issue in the loss last night. For that Game... His defense mattered.
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#29 Boom Boom

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:31 PM

No one would say that defense doesn't matter. The theme from the OP seems to be that the Twins value good defense over good pitching, because defense is cheaper to get, and a good defense will make a bad pitching staff look better. But when your pitching staff allows a ridiculous amount of balls in play, the potential increases for errors, bad plays, miscues, fielders out of position, home runs, laser line drives, and 12-hoppers through the hole. Even with a good defense, with that much contact there's going to be a bunch of plays that even the best defense couldn't make.

As for Fielder... he should be the DH and Cabrera should be at first. It's weird, but I think Cabrera is a better 3B than Fielder is a 1B.

#30 nicksaviking

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:01 PM

To me... It's individual moments inside a game. Many games go by with routine play after routine play and defense good or bad just doesn't matter but every once in awhile a moment of defensive definition happens and when it does it influences ERA and it influences Wins and Losses when it happens.

I guess I've seen it too many times. Just like Bartman in Chicago... A potential out was not an out and the floodgates opened. No error was given on the play but if a catch was made at that time the result may have been different.


I've used Bartman as an example before. The only way to prevent Bartman, seeing-eye-singles, Texas-Leaguers, check-swing infield hits, sac flies, moving runners over, come-backers off the pitchers face, Jose Canseco noggin homruns, right fielders tossing the ball to fans in the stands with only 2 outs or incorrect bang-bang plays at the plate is to strike the damn batter out.

It always comes down to pitching and a strikeout takes out 99% of the variables a team couldn't or at least shouldn't have to plan for.