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Article: Expectations and Phil Hughes

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:59 AM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...and-Phil-Hughes

#2 Willihammer

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:25 AM

I expect marginal improvement. Hughes actually gives up more of his HRs to righthanders, which is still probably easier in NYS but the difference doesn't appeat to be as great.

I appreciate that Hughes figures to be an improvement over whoever he displaces, but on a contending team he's probably in the pen.

#3 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:42 AM

I expect marginal improvement. Hughes actually gives up more of his HRs to righthanders, which is still probably easier in NYS but the difference doesn't appeat to be as great.

I appreciate that Hughes figures to be an improvement over whoever he displaces, but on a contending team he's probably in the pen.


He is homer-prone from both sides of the plate, for sure... But we all know RF in Target Field is a tough place to put one out of the park. LF is probably marginally harder to hit one out than Yankee Stadium as well.

Phil Hughes is going to give up homeruns. Anyone who thinks he'll magically stop is deluding themselves. The question comes down to two things, IMO:

1. Will the move to TF help his homer rate significantly enough to matter

2. Will the move out of NYC help Hughes center himself a bit

I think both things will happen... But to what degree is very much up for debate and we'll have to wait for games to be played to know for sure. There's a reason Hughes was signed for $8m a season at the age of 27 years old, after all. He's not a perfect pitcher by any stretch of the imagination. The question now is whether Anderson, Minnesota, and Target Field will be enough to turn him into a 4.00 ERA pitcher or whether he's destined to float around a 4.50 ERA for his career.

#4 Thrylos

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:02 AM

Good stuff.

A few more points:

- getting out of New York City, by itself, can do wonders for one's career (ask AJ Burnett and Carl Pavano and even Javier Vasquez - twice)

- In addition to the general Yankee Stadium Mark III vs Targer Field numbers, lefties hit .298/.354/.509 (that would be .219 IsoP, and if a qualified batter had that IsoP, he would rank 20th in the majors last season; Mike Napoli territory) last season off Hughes. I suspect that this would be suppressed at Target Field as well. Do not have his HR/FB by LHB numbers, but I suspect that was high as well.

- His complementary pitches have been an interesting story. That curve-slider change is not totally accurate. He is a different P against LHB and RHB (and you can see the data here): In 2012 he threw his fastball and curveball pretty much equally to lefties and righties but his slider/cutter (which I think that it is the same pitch based on the fact that the Vs of what PitchF/X calls a cutter are more like those of a slider) pretty much exclusively to righties and his change pretty much exclusively to lefties. In 2013 He started throwing the slider to everybody and he kept the slow curve pretty much exclusively for lefties. I don't know how much difference that made, because all his secondary stuff have been pretty much horrible, but the point is, that if you look at pretty much every season, he has changed his pitching mix often. To me this says that a. he is not comfortable with his secondary stuff and/or someone has been "messing" with him (pitching coaches, teammates etc.) and once he finds and gets the feel for a good secondary pitch (or 2, paging Bobby Cuellar), he will be better.
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#5 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:09 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]That curve-slider change is not totally accurate.[/COLOR]


Yes, it is.

http://www.sportsone...ticle/47103196/

But I think that you are right in the sense that time with a different coaching staff may help in being able to harness a pitch - or game plan - better.

#6 mike wants wins

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:16 AM

Give me 3-5 starters that can usually get 2-3 runs given up in 5-6 innings....that is a HUGE improvement over last year. But, this offense still needs a lot of help, imo.
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#7 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:18 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]I expect marginal improvement. Hughes actually gives up more of his HRs to righthanders, which is still probably easier in NYS but the difference doesn't appeat to be as great.[/COLOR]


This is true, but the bulk of his savings in the transition would occur in right field at Target Field, which is why it was outlined in the article. After all, right field plays much more even at Target Field.

For comparison sake, StatCorner.com's HR Factor had this split between left-handed and right-handed batters the two ballparks in 2013:

NYY: 122 RHB/116 LHB
MIN: 95 RHB/79 LHB

(To those unfamiliar, a Park Factor of 100 is neutral while anything above that favors the hitter while anything below favors the pitcher.)

#8 Thrylos

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:19 AM

I love Jorge A's stuff, but that was written 40 days into the 2013 season and contains this:

The slider is now arguably Hughes' best pitch.



which might have been true in early May 2013, but looking at pitch values, it was a horrible pitch for him as a whole for 2013....

And he did not stop throwing the curve. He threw 222 of them, as well as 603 sliders. The ratio of curve/slider was reversed and then some from 2012

Just another indication that coaches have messed up with the guy.

Edited by Thrylos, 02 December 2013 - 10:22 AM.

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#9 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 11:17 AM

which might have been true in early May 2013, but looking at pitch values, it was a horrible pitch for him as a whole for 2013....


Right, which is exactly why I wrote this:

"Previously armed with a cutter, the terrible outcome with that pitch convinced him to reduce its use and he increased the usage of his slider to 23.8%. Early, the results were strong. In the first-half of last season, opponents hit just .160 off the newly resurrected pitch. However, perhaps with the element of surprise removed, in the second-half of the season, hitters began to recognize the slider more and hit .324 on it."

The point is, he went from a guy who threw his curveball 18% of the time to one who used it just 9% of the time while increasing his slider from 4% to 24%. He essentially abandoned his curve for his slider. True, he threw the slow curve sporadically in 2013 but it definitely feel out of favor.

What will be interesting to monitor is whether or not the Twins attempt to get him to throw a balance of the two pitches instead of leaning on one or the other.

#10 Willihammer

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:06 PM

This is true, but the bulk of his savings in the transition would occur in right field at Target Field, which is why it was outlined in the article. After all, right field plays much more even at Target Field.

I downloaded the data posted on fangraphs a couple weeks ago in their batted ball tableau chart for 2012-2013. If the run values they used (1.41 for a HR, 1.07 for a triple, etc.) are accurate then TF actually played slightly better for RH bats than NYS:

[TABLE="width: 152"]
[TR]
[TD]min[/TD]
[TD]nya[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0.073[/TD]
[TD]0.067[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

These are average run values for all fly balls.

For LH hitters, the avg run value of fly balls are:
[TABLE="width: 152"]
[TR]
[TD]min[/TD]
[TD]nya[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0.044[/TD]
[TD]0.113[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

So sure, Hughes should clean up his fly ball luck when he faces LH at home (about 1/6 of PAs). But he's not going to have Gardner or Ichiro out there to shag balls that stay in the park and so overall I think its reasonable to expect a pretty marginal improvement. And again I'll take a ~4.3 ERA starter over the 5s that we've gotten used to seeing.

Edited by Willihammer, 02 December 2013 - 12:10 PM.


#11 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:10 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]But he's not going to have Gardner or Ichiro out there to shag balls that stay in the park and so overall I think its reasonable to expect a pretty marginal improvement. [/COLOR]


Sure, at least in the first year, however, he could be looking at Buxton/Hicks in year two/three.

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:11 PM

But he's not going to have Gardner or Ichiro out there to shag balls that stay in the park and so overall I think its reasonable to expect a pretty marginal improvement.


No, but he could have Hicks out in right as soon as Opening Day 2015.

The OF defense is probably going to be bad for most of 2014... But that could rapidly change in late 2014 or early 2015 as Buxton slides Hicks out of center.

#13 thetank

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:23 PM

If the signing keeps a young pitcher from coming up earlier than he should this signing is fine. Hard to believe his ERA won't be under 4.9.

#14 twinsfan34

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

Sure, at least in the first year, however, he could be looking at Buxton/Hicks in year two/three.


A 3rd Outfielder is kind of a bonus at that point...

#15 mcrow

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:00 PM

I think Target Field will make his life easier that is for sure. The TF is more pitcher friendly and he comes to MN where there is almost zero pressure in comparison to NY. We all know how much the mental part of pitching affects a pitcher.

Even if the change of stadium and having less pressure help, I'm not sure it makes him better than a #4 starter.

His ERA since becoming a fulltime starter is something like 4.85 with a WHIP of 1.37 or so.

If he can get to around a 4.5 era or less I think that will be better than I expect, if we get 4.85 out him then we have a decent 5th starter.

#16 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:30 PM

There was a time when Phil Hughes was the top pitching prospect in baseball. He was the Dylan Bundy of 2007.

He had stuff and that stuff worked quite well in the bullpen setting up for Mariano.

As as a starter though... I haven't seen decent use of his secondary pitches to make him a quality starter for multiple innings.

I've seen some decent starts from Hughes but usually I've watched him fold when it gets tough.

I'm excited about his potential and ability. I'm happy he is here because of that potential and ability... It's something that just might be realized down the line.

But... I've watched him throw too many cookies when a cookie was a bad idea to be completely comfortable.

The downside is quite low but I hope he figures it out because his upside is as high as is downside is low. In my opinion... Of course.
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#17 cmb0252

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:43 PM

When Hughes was drafted he had a solid two pitch mix of a low 90s fastball and a potential out pitch for a curve ball. Hughes crushed the minors, was named BA's #4 prospect in all of baseball, and debuted shorty after. Here is Keith laws analysis of his current stuff:
[COLOR=#333333][FONT=verdana]
"His fastball is pin straight and he tries to work up in the zone with it, so he's been line drive- and homer-prone throughout his career. The Yankees tried at various times to get him to work with a two-seamer or cutter so he'd have a fastball option with life or sink, but neither was ever consistent for him and he remains a fastball-heavy guy who is regularly beaten on his primary pitch because it doesn't move and he can't locate it well side-to-side. [/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#333333][FONT=verdana]
Hughes spent most of 2013 working with a short, soft slider that he couldn't command, losing the low-70s curveball that was his potential out pitch when he was still a prospect so many years ago, and he's never had a solid third pitch."

He goes on to note, which most have, Hughes has historically underperformed relative to his peripherals. Hopefully not only will he benefit from moving to Target Field but works hard with our development staff, which is one of the best at developing change ups, to get a solid third pitch.[/FONT][/COLOR]

#18 frightwig

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:22 PM

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]"Going back to the 2013 Baseball Prospectus comment, it is the hype that clouded the previous judgement on Hughes rather than seeing him for what he is, which is an above average starter.[/FONT][/COLOR]"
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He has a 4.74 career ERA as a starting pitcher. His xFIP's in each of the last 3 years (during which he had a 4.85 ERA): 4.39, 4.35, 4.90.

Yeah, he has a good fastball which has helped him rack up a decent strikeout rate, and I'm sure the Twins like that he "throws strikes." But he's not an above-average starter. If a "change of scene" helps him record an ERA closer to his xFIP levels, he's probably going to give the Twins an ERA in the low-to-mid 4's. Which would make him a back-end starter, Kevin Correia with a nicer strikeout rate.

For some reason, the Twins thought it's worth betting a 3-year deal on that kind of pitcher. Even stranger, Twins bloggers are trying so hard to get psyched about it.

#19 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:52 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]For some reason, the Twins thought it's worth betting a 3-year deal on that kind of pitcher. Even stranger, Twins bloggers are trying so hard to get psyched about it.[/COLOR]


I posted this on Twitter recently but I'll share it here:

http://www.fangraphs...ayers=1767,7450

Over the past three years, Hughes and Correia have provided strikingly similar results. The main difference, is that the leagues and the park play a significant role in their WAR totals. You have cited xFIP, and rightly so, but that does not adjust for the competition nor the environment (although it attempts to in neutralizing the HR rates).

While there is a chance Hughes never achieves the expectations that "bloggers" are "psyched" about (which I think was clearly outlined in the post above at length), Hughes' age, the shift in league competition (away from the AL East) and to a pitcher's park has people thinking he can provide better results in 2014 and beyond.

#20 orangevening

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 06:07 PM

Whoa...all those stats and splits and fastballt this and "soft slider" (love) that.... I'm getting a headache. Hughes might be good, he might be injured all season. Who knows. We don't know what will happen til it happens. Just glad T.R. is spending some $ on pitching, he (&we) might get burned, but at least he is doing something different.

#21 sconnytwinsfan

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:00 PM

I like that the approach so far has been to get veteran arms, who are in their prime, who fit well as mid-rotation guys. That doesn't mean that I'm not hoping they pull off a Homer Bailey trade or Matt Garza signing. It would be amazing and I think getting a guy like Bailey (who has already "arrived) is likely worth the thought of including Gibson or May or Berrios in the deal. But for now the idea should still be that Meyer & Gibson (or maybe May) are intended to fill that 1 & 2 slot in 2015 or 2016 with Nolasco & Hughes moving down the line. If you think about it that way, then Hughes even settling in as a .500 pitcher making 28-33 starts and pitching 175-200 innings at a 4.10-4.25 ERA would make him a steal on this deal. Put another way....remember Nick Blackburn of 2008-2009? 22-22 with a 4.04 and 402 innings? Is there anyone who wouldn't pay $8 million a year to get that production from a starter on this rotation now? Is there anyone who doesn't at least like Hughes' chances of getting close and vastly outperforming the 28 & 29 year old Nick Blackburn? I know he's a completely different kind of pitcher, but he misses WAY more bats. The big question is can Rick Anderson revive his reputation by helping Hughes develop a plus second pitch.

#22 sconnytwinsfan

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:05 PM

Here's my other question:

There have been rumors about the Nats shopping Denard. Right Field defense looks like it's going to be more essential to team success right now. The lack of a lead-off guy also hurt the lineup last year. Wouldn't it make sense to go out and get him back if he's available? Willingham and Doumit are likely to be trade bait this year. And ultimately, whoever you give up to get him back, will essentially be ALL that you gave up to get Alex Meyer. I'm fairly certain the Nats aren't thinking they'll get that kid of return back. But even one of the A level starters might be worth the move. He's a great clubhouse guy and putting him in right will instantly mean less runs scored against us than sending Arcia out to patrol that wall.

#23 Badsmerf

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:50 PM

I'm excited about Hughes. If the figures of the deal are 3/24 I don't see how there is anything to not like. The worst you're getting is a below average starter, with his potential being much higher. I don't think he can be considered potential top of the rotation arm, but he is young enough and has the talent to be pretty good for the Twins. If he can sit around a 4 ERA I would be pretty happy his production.

#24 howieramone1406390264

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:17 PM

Here's my other question:

There have been rumors about the Nats shopping Denard. Right Field defense looks like it's going to be more essential to team success right now. The lack of a lead-off guy also hurt the lineup last year. Wouldn't it make sense to go out and get him back if he's available? Willingham and Doumit are likely to be trade bait this year. And ultimately, whoever you give up to get him back, will essentially be ALL that you gave up to get Alex Meyer. I'm fairly certain the Nats aren't thinking they'll get that kid of return back. But even one of the A level starters might be worth the move. He's a great clubhouse guy and putting him in right will instantly mean less runs scored against us than sending Arcia out to patrol that wall.


You can google 2 or 3 scouting reports which project Arcia as no worse than an average outfielder. The Twins don't seem concerned.

#25 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:38 PM

So, when Target Field opened, I thought I remember there being a dearth of opposite field homeruns, like only a couple for the entire season. Now, Yankee Stadium, for a right handed hitter, how many have we seen from Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and company? Point is: Yeah, Hughes gives up his homers, and then "bloggers" list RH vs LH, pointing out how many are hit by RH, but what about the opposite field homeruns in each park? Especially a straight fast ball pitcher would be subject to opposite field homeruns, and I can remember Hughes giving up some big ones, even one Ichiro should have caught that hit the very top of the wall against the hated Red Sox. Won't happen that much at Target Field, especially in cold weather. I can guarantee it.

#26 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 11:34 PM

So, when Target Field opened, I thought I remember there being a dearth of opposite field homeruns, like only a couple for the entire season. Now, Yankee Stadium, for a right handed hitter, how many have we seen from Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and company? Point is: Yeah, Hughes gives up his homers, and then "bloggers" list RH vs LH, pointing out how many are hit by RH, but what about the opposite field homeruns in each park? Especially a straight fast ball pitcher would be subject to opposite field homeruns, and I can remember Hughes giving up some big ones, even one Ichiro should have caught that hit the very top of the wall against the hated Red Sox. Won't happen that much at Target Field, especially in cold weather. I can guarantee it.


That all depends on whether the stadium concrete has cured yet. At least that's what we've been told.
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#27 Sleestax

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:07 AM

Ah heck. Glad to have him. Didnt Frankie Viola give up the most home runs in the league for a few years? Hughes is just hitting his prime with a hell of a lot of experience. I agree..this is a win signing for the Twins. By midseason next year people may find it hard to imagine the rotation without him. go twins. Trade for Stanton.....trade for Price..one of the two!

#28 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 07:30 AM

So, when Target Field opened, I thought I remember there being a dearth of opposite field homeruns, like only a couple for the entire season. Now, Yankee Stadium, for a right handed hitter, how many have we seen from Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and company? Point is: Yeah, Hughes gives up his homers, and then "bloggers" list RH vs LH, pointing out how many are hit by RH, but what about the opposite field homeruns in each park? Especially a straight fast ball pitcher would be subject to opposite field homeruns, and I can remember Hughes giving up some big ones, even one Ichiro should have caught that hit the very top of the wall against the hated Red Sox. Won't happen that much at Target Field, especially in cold weather. I can guarantee it.


A very valid point that isn't brought up often enough. Ballparks favor different hitters despite, on paper, looking like the Grand Canyon for other same-handed hitters.

For example, Joe Mauer might OPS .950 every season in Fenway, despite the park profiing pretty similarly to TF for left-handed pull hitters.

For right-handed spray or oppo-field hitters, Yankee Stadium prints money. Lefties aren't the only players who get to take advantage of that right field porch.

#29 spycake

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:45 PM

I kind of like that Hughes is a flyball pitcher. The Twins always seem to target groundballers, and I think that has backfired on them a few times. Good to know the front office is keeping an open mind in that regard. (Though I wonder if we'll hear "Hughes needs to get the ball down in the zone" all the time, like we did with Baker :) )

It would have been nice to get one guy among our major acquisitions whose rWAR/bWAR matched his fWAR, but if nothing else, this should be a lot more interesting to watch and discuss than the last couple seasons rotations (whose rWAR may have matched their fWAR but both were pretty lousy!). The Twins seem to have staked out a position for once, in favor of xFIP... never thought I'd say that...