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Will this team be the worst of the last four years?

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#211 jokin

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 04:45 PM

So Zips is negative for all the teams....meaning they could/are in the right order.....or are you trying argue that Zips has a bias agains the Twins. To me, the absolutes aren't the key....they key is, are they league median, or close to the worst. That's the question. I can't see how they can be projected to be league median. If they are, it proves money can buy wins, btw.


No bias against the Twins, just an overall tendency by ZIPS to lowball projections. And since they have one of the worst rosters in baseball, coming off of a lousy year, the lowball estimates kind of create a cascading effect? You're right Mike, they are close to the worst team overall in baseball, but there were significant moves made to the rotation, significant dollars added to SP relative to the overall payroll, and potentially positively consequential developments that ZIPS failed to account for both with a guy like Hughes, and from a couple returnees and rookies who offer reasonably possible significant improvements over last year, rather than the ZIPS assumption that EVERYBODY will be the same or even worse than last year or even their career averages, ie, Mike Pelfrey projected at last year's numbers, and only 118 innings pitched. Really?

#212 Hugh Morris

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:58 PM

Stumble further ? They improved by 5 wins in 2013, so is that like falling up the stairs? Or do you mean some of the lesser projections for their 2014 based on offseason moves.



Wasn't referring to 2013 or any projections, more to a variety of the offseason moves, the injury bug that's struck and the idea that Castellanos has any business playing 3rd. Obviously, I don't expect the Twins to compete with the Tigers for the division title this year (would be thrilled to be proven wrong), but I think they've left the door open for a possibly competitive Cleveland and Kansas City much moreso than in years past.

Do people expect other teams to be worse, even though they gradutated guys from the minors, traded for players, and signed free agents? Or, could some of those teams also have gotten better in the off season? Are the Twins so far behind, does it matter if they are better, or does it matter if they are A LOT better?


Some teams will certainly be worse than last year. Some teams will certainly be better. For a variety of reasons, it looks like the Twins will be in the "better" category. Yes, it's possible that they're so far behind everyone that whatever improvement over last year they made will be lost behind the improved records of other teams.

Though- "wins" aren't my only metric for a successful season (unless you're a starting pitcher. Then it's the only worthwhile thing to judge ;) )-similar to others, I'd take another 66 wins if it's because Willingham, Kubel and Suzuki posted Buteraesque numbers and Correia was atrocious if Dozier, Pinto, Arcia, Hicks, Gibson and Meyer all had successful years that showed meaningful and lasting development.

Regarding money buying wins, who is that directed towards? Is that even controversial? I've followed (and mostly lurked) this site from day 1. I can't say I've seen a single post stating that money CAN'T buy wins.

#213 CRArko

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:21 PM

Regarding money buying wins, who is that directed towards? Is that even controversial? I've followed (and mostly lurked) this site from day 1. I can't say I've seen a single post stating that money CAN'T buy wins.


I do have it on good authority that money can't buy me love. Wins? That's anybody's guess.

#214 LaBombo

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:23 PM

Wasn't referring to 2013 or any projections, more to a variety of the offseason moves, the injury bug that's struck and the idea that Castellanos has any business playing 3rd. Obviously, I don't expect the Twins to compete with the Tigers for the division title this year (would be thrilled to be proven wrong), but I think they've left the door open for a possibly competitive Cleveland and Kansas City much moreso than in years past.

My bad, but in my defense, after 3 years of conspiracy theories that a relatively young team with arguably the best rotation in baseball and a strong offense is 'ripe for a fall', my patience has worn thin. Perennially underrating the Tigers is nowhere the tradition that the downgrading of the Packers is for Vikings fans, but it's certainly gained some ground the last few years.

#215 spycake

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 07:48 PM

By your own admission, the Royals got career years from a couple of their guys. My estimate doesn't take that into account- is there a 2012 Scott Diamond year in one or two of our guys this year? (And why didn't we sign Bruce Chen when we had the chance to do so?:confused: )


Perhaps you missed my point about the Royals. They had a massive turnaround, but they needed two super durable ace level performances, plus another 200 IP, 100 ERA+ guy to do it because A) almost every pitching staff suffers some injuries, and B) almost every pitching staff will have some underperformers in any given year.

Your forecast of the Twins top 7 to all be healthy and have zero underperformers is highly unlikely, even if none of the individual forecasts seem all that crazy. That's just not a reliable way to predict things in aggregate. (It might be part of the reason for your dissatisfaction with ZiPS too -- quantitative mean projection systems mostly have to work in the aggregate, young guys improve and older guys decline -- there's just no way you can quantitatively predict certain mean results, like a non-elite prospect with 70 IP above A-ball tearing up MLB in his first go-around.)

Remember last spring? A common refrain around here was

- Worley and Correia can repeat their modest 2012 numbers
- Pelfrey can rebound to his modest career averages
- Deduno can be an effective fill-in
- Gibson comes up midseason and pitches effectively, maybe even Meyer or May by season's end
- Diamond can even regress a bit from 2012, and we will still have a nice deep average starting rotation! And anything we get from Hendriks, Hernandez, or Walters will just be a bonus!

See what I did there? All of those things seem perfectly reasonable, and in fact some of those things actually happened (or even exceeded those marks), yet the staff as a whole still struggled.

Now, we're probably not that far apart. I certainly believe the 2014 staff will be better than 2013. Near league average, +8 wins from SP alone is a best-case scenario, however. Part of the reason Hughes and Pelfrey came so cheap (and Nolasco signed early, and Correia signed cheap last year) is the inconsistency and volatility of their performances. If signing a handful of guys like this gave you a mean projection of a league average staff, the Twins would have "fixed" the staff long ago, and in fact no one would ever have staffs as bad as the Twins recent ones.

#216 spycake

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:01 PM

BTW, can someone explain to me how WAR can differ so drastically from ERA? My understanding is that wins and losses were determined by runs scored versus runs allowed. Detroit has an ERA of 3.72 with 18.8 WAR. Rays have a 3.70 ERA with 12.3 WAR.


Detroit's ballpark is rated as hitter friendly right now, and Tampa's is just the opposite. So it's harder (and more valuable) for Detroit pitchers to achieve the same ERA. I'd guess that's a big factor.

Tampa is also generally regarded as having better defenders too, which makes it easier for their pitchers to achieve a lower ERA.

See here for other factors:
http://www.baseball-...ned_pitch.shtml

And as Chief mentioned, FanGraphs uses FIP instead of ERA for their WAR calculations (fWAR). Detroit's pitchers had better peripherals last year, so that's probably another factor in their fWAR favor.

#217 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:01 PM

I'll make this short hopefully, and this is not meant to be a "Thread Jack".

I am pretty sure Nick Castellanos is thought to have a super great chance of sticking at 3B. The only reason he was moved to the OF last year was because he was blocked by Cabrera.

Castellanos not only improves Detroit's defense a strong amount... besides Cabrera, he is their franchise offensive player of the future and probably now.

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.


#218 Hugh Morris

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 09:32 PM

Remember last spring? A common refrain around here was

- Worley and Correia can repeat their modest 2012 numbers
- Pelfrey can rebound to his modest career averages
- Deduno can be an effective fill-in
- Gibson comes up midseason and pitches effectively, maybe even Meyer or May by season's end
- Diamond can even regress a bit from 2012, and we will still have a nice deep average starting rotation! And anything we get from Hendriks, Hernandez, or Walters will just be a bonus!

See what I did there? All of those things seem perfectly reasonable, and in fact some of those things actually happened (or even exceeded those marks), yet the staff as a whole still struggled.

Now, we're probably not that far apart. I certainly believe the 2014 staff will be better than 2013. Near league average, +8 wins from SP alone is a best-case scenario, however. Part of the reason Hughes and Pelfrey came so cheap (and Nolasco signed early, and Correia signed cheap last year) is the inconsistency and volatility of their performances. If signing a handful of guys like this gave you a mean projection of a league average staff, the Twins would have "fixed" the staff long ago, and in fact no one would ever have staffs as bad as the Twins recent ones.


While I appreciate the point you're trying to make, I'm struggling to find a connection between Worley/Correia/Pelfrey and Hughes/Nolasco beyond "Starters who the Twins acquired over an offseason and people I disagree with were optimistic about".

Pitchers are volatile and inconsistent. Nearly all of them. "Inconsistent" shouldn't be taken as synonymous with "bad", however, nor should one assume that "inconsistent twins pitching acquisition A" and "inconsistent twins pitching acquisition B" are comparable based on the words before the capital letter.

If there's something I've missed that suggests Nolasco has a propensity to be Correia/Pelfrey/Worley redux or anything else that makes the preceding (or following) statement unfair, I apologize-but as it stands, I can't find the validity in any iteration of that comparison I've seen in the thread.

Regarding ZIPs/Mean Projection generally, fans have to tread a fine line. Using additional information to explain why a projection you dislike is too high/low is very tempting but done at too large a scale, it tends to miss the basic truth that ballplayers and their statistics generally behave in a certain manner. On the other hand, players out-or-under perform their projections every year. ZIPs isn't aware that this specific catcher who has reached the age where stats and skills tend to drop off is no longer catching and has shown abnormal ability at the plate throughout his career, or that this specific pitcher is an extreme flyball pitcher with a tendency to get hammered and is going from a home park with one of baseball's shortest rightfield porches to one of baseball's tallest right field wall.

PS Barks-I'd like to hear your insight on the subject since it goes against pretty much everything I've read or watched, but we can take it to PM :)

#219 jokin

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:38 AM

Remember last spring? A common refrain around here was

- Worley and Correia can repeat their modest 2012 numbers
- Pelfrey can rebound to his modest career averages
- Deduno can be an effective fill-in
- Gibson comes up midseason and pitches effectively, maybe even Meyer or May by season's end
- Diamond can even regress a bit from 2012, and we will still have a nice deep average starting rotation! And anything we get from Hendriks, Hernandez, or Walters will just be a bonus!

See what I did there? All of those things seem perfectly reasonable, and in fact some of those things actually happened (or even exceeded those marks), yet the staff as a whole still struggled.

Now, we're probably not that far apart. I certainly believe the 2014 staff will be better than 2013. Near league average, +8 wins from SP alone is a best-case scenario, however. Part of the reason Hughes and Pelfrey came so cheap (and Nolasco signed early, and Correia signed cheap last year) is the inconsistency and volatility of their performances. If signing a handful of guys like this gave you a mean projection of a league average staff, the Twins would have "fixed" the staff long ago, and in fact no one would ever have staffs as bad as the Twins recent ones.


How common was that "common refrain", really? "perfecly reasonable"? Certainly not from me and the large chorus of doubters who expressed their discontent in the previous offseason and ST. Consider this counter-perfectly-reasonable-evidence, presented a year ago:

-Most of us were actually down on the Correia signing- he was the upside surprise to most everyone- the "pretty good pitcher" that Ryan had promised he'd deliver and then he produced pretty predictable #5-level SP numbers, whoopee!
-Most of us questioned what Worley brought to the Twins, what with his injury, down year in 2012 vs 2011 and showing up to ST overweight.
-Most of us were aware that Deduno was a "found money" journeyman pitcher only, certainly not one to count on over a season, as he'd never done it before, and likely never will.
-Most of us wanted Gibson, on an innings limitation and a speculative contributor as a rookie and coming off of TJ, called up right after his May arb date, not so much expecting he'd rock the baseball world, but that that is what a rebuilding team with woeful pitching depth should be doing- getting their former #1 pick and next great hope, Gibson, some major league experience once he proved healthy.
-Most of us expected regression from Diamond, but I didn't hear anyone say we had a "nice, deep starting rotation!" to pick up his regresson slack. Unless they were drunk when they wrote it.
:P
-Rather than suggesting that Pelfrey could put up past numbers with the Mets, most of us questioned how the Twins could possibly have considered Pelfrey for the opening day rotation, attempting to do something completely unprecedented. If they had signed another discount arm like Bruce Chen, they could have stashed Pelfrey first in Ext. ST and then some minor league time to properly rehab instead of getting free service time from the Twins- It was a bizarre notion, at best, Pelfrey himself has admitted that it was a huge mistake to come back so soon- but he was quite effective for the first 2 months after his demotion in June.
- Virtually all of us questioned how guys like Hernandez, Walters, Hendriks, Blackburn, DeVries, et al, were actually considered as legitimate SP depth- and the Twins passed on waiver wire guys for free- like Todd Redmond.

As you said, we're not that far apart on the belated upgrade in 2014, but the team's rotation is far removed from last year's Rotation flim-flam, it's not realistic to compare the expectations in ST in each year as being similar. Obviously, my projection of improving to slightly below league average was for demonstration purposes only- something to shoot for, projecting what each player could, only slightly optimistically, achieve when staying healthy and not having a complete performance collapse like many of the arms did in 2013. I would argue that based on the durable track records for some, and others being in the normally much-better and healthier 2nd year after TJ, that this group of arms is much less likely to sustain an instance of utter collapse- but it certainly could happen. Only now, they have at least 2 arms in Deduno and Meyer (and possibly Diamond) at the ready, who project far better than last year's alleged "depth", to be able to pick up the slack for someone that goes on the DL for 15-60 days. And again, talking about the luck factor finally favoring the Twins again, it is certainly within the realm of possibility given the overall upgrade in quality, that the Twins get a career-year performance like Diamond's in 2012, from someone on this staff- which could also bolster the overall numbers should one of the others perform below expectations.

And finally, the #7-10 guys in the depth chart for the first time in my memory, don't appear to be holding on to their baseball dreams by a frayed thread.

Edited by jokin, 26 March 2014 - 01:05 AM.


#220 stringer bell

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 06:21 AM

The floor of the pitching staff has been raised considerably. The Twins will start four veterans, all with more than six years of service and long track records before they start a "wildcard" (Gibson). Their ceilings wouldn't project to be very high, but they have all been mostly serviceable pitchers in their careers. The bullpen is pretty good and (especially if Thielbar is sent out) reinforcements from Rochester may be better than the guys pitching in the middle. The lineup isn't good and the players haven't impressed in ST. The success of the offense will depend on how many times Joe Mauer trots around the bases after a home run IMHO. What? No! What I am saying is that because of having so many low OBP guys on their team and little speed, the Twins aren't going to produce many runs by bunching hits and walks or moving guys around with productive outs. Their key to scoring runs will be hitting homers, specifically from the middle of the order. If Mauer gets on at a 40% clip, and Hammer, Kubel or Arcia, and Plouffe hit a lot of homers (100 between the four?) maybe the Twins can score a few more runs and Joe will be jogging around the bases as a runner on board when those guys connect. It's kind of a long shot plan, but so would having the OBPs jump for most or all of Suzuki, Dozier, Hicks, and Florimon. I hope by midseason that Hammer is traded, Suzuki is demoted or traded, and that new DH Kennys Vargas has already made his considerable presence felt. We won't see Sano this year, and Buxton is a long shot, but there are other guys in the system with a chance to be good big leaguers.

#221 spycake

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:20 AM

While I appreciate the point you're trying to make, I'm struggling to find a connection between Worley/Correia/Pelfrey and Hughes/Nolasco beyond "Starters who the Twins acquired over an offseason and people I disagree with were optimistic about".


Perhaps I wasn't clear again. That's a common problem for me.

I invoked the 2013 starter list specifically as a response to Jokin's 2014 projections, not to compare the pitchers themselves, but to show an example of how you cannot project a group by going through the list and assigning good but not great outcomes to each one. There are bad outcomes, injury and ineffectiveness, and they happen to virtually every team, all the time. I agree the 2012-2013 Twins had more bad outcomes than most, but that doesn't mean the 2014 Twins will be devoid of such outcomes. They should be improved. But this is nowhere near a league average starting staff unless we get a lot of luck.

#222 spycake

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:26 AM

Finally, I don't believe this staff or team will be the worst of the last 4 years. Even with a mostly stagnant offense, I think they should improve by a couple games as a mean projection, maybe they creep into the low 70's win range with some good fortune.

It's probably more likely they lose 100 than win 81, however -- the starting staff is still full of high-variability guys with modest upsides (a couple coming off low ebbs on their variability), and we all know the sorry state of the offense.

#223 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:35 AM

Near league average, +8 wins from SP alone is a best-case scenario, however.


Considering that last year's staff was roughly -3 WAR (including Corriea and Deduno's positive WAR), it's really not the best-case scenario.

To get +8 wins from the rotation, we need less than 1 win over replacement level from each starter.

That's far from a best-case scenario.

#224 cmathewson

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:50 AM

Considering that last year's staff was roughly -3 WAR (including Corriea and Deduno's positive WAR), it's really not the best-case scenario.

To get +8 wins from the rotation, we need less than 1 win over replacement level from each starter.

That's far from a best-case scenario.


This. I'd say +8 is the floor. +12 is about the best we can reasonably expect, giver or take.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#225 spycake

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:18 AM

Considering that last year's staff was roughly -3 WAR (including Corriea and Deduno's positive WAR), it's really not the best-case scenario.

To get +8 wins from the rotation, we need less than 1 win over replacement level from each starter.

That's far from a best-case scenario.


That was in response to Jokin, who was using fWAR. Twins starters had 4.6 fWAR last year, and Jokin posited a mean-type projection of around 12. Hence the +8.

12 fWAR from SP would be 2013 Royals, Reds, Pirates, White Sox, Rays, Athletics territory. Very good starting staffs, all. I think that's clearly best case for the 2014 Twins SP.

#226 spycake

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:23 AM

Quick link to Twins 2013 SP fWAR:

http://www.fangraphs...=8&rost=0&age=0

It would be hard for Pelf or Correia to improve on those 2013 fWAR figures, same with Deduno and whoever replaces Albers as a fill-in, and that's nearly 3/5 of the rotation right there.

How it all translates to rWAR, I don't know. Does B-Ref have a nice table of SP only WAR by team, like this?
http://www.fangraphs...lter=&players=0

Would be great to get some context around that -3 rWAR total...

Edited by spycake, 26 March 2014 - 08:32 AM.


#227 TheLeviathan

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:51 AM

Given this group's question marks (more talented and more likely, sure, but still huge question marks), +8 is most certainly not the floor for this staff, it's much lower than that.

Or we might, once again, have an issue with people not understanding what a "floor" is in a projection. If you think worst case with this group is +8 WAR you are definitely overly optimistic.

#228 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:53 AM

That was in response to Jokin, who was using fWAR. Twins starters had 4.6 fWAR last year, and Jokin posited a mean-type projection of around 12. Hence the +8.

12 fWAR from SP would be 2013 Royals, Reds, Pirates, White Sox, Rays, Athletics territory. Very good starting staffs, all. I think that's clearly best case for the 2014 Twins SP.


Yeah, I think that's best case or close to it.

#229 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:58 AM

Quick link to Twins 2013 SP fWAR:

http://www.fangraphs...=8&rost=0&age=0

It would be hard for Pelf or Correia to improve on those 2013 fWAR figures, same with Deduno and whoever replaces Albers as a fill-in, and that's nearly 3/5 of the rotation right there.

How it all translates to rWAR, I don't know. Does B-Ref have a nice table of SP only WAR by team, like this?
http://www.fangraphs...lter=&players=0

Would be great to get some context around that -3 rWAR total...


I had to eyeball it. Ran through the starters from 2013, tallied their rWAR numbers.

I really don't like fWAR for pitchers as a metric of past performance. Pelfrey was a bad pitcher for most of the year but because fWAR uses FIP (what should have happened if you remove fielding and uncontrolled elements from the equation), it makes him look like a productive starter.

And that simply wasn't the case. If you want to suggest that Pelfrey should post a 2014 WAR somewhere around his 2013 fWAR numbers, I could get behind that argument.

But in no way, shape, or form was he a 2 WAR player in 2013.

Personally, for pitchers I use this:

rWAR as a gauge of past performance because it's closer to what actually happened, luck be damned. fWAR as a predictive tool of future performance because it's closer to what should have happened if luck was removed from the equation.

Of course, Pelfrey could post another good fWAR season but stink up the field. The outfield isn't exactly full of Willie Mays this season, just as it wasn't last season.

#230 Sconnie

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:43 AM

Of course, Pelfrey could post another good fWAR season but stink up the field. The outfield isn't exactly full of Willie Mays this season, just as it wasn't last season.

I think you hit the nail on the head, the pitching is vastly improved over last season. The hitting is about even trading Morneau for Pinto+Suzuki so bad, but by no means historic. Fielding was bad last year, and the Twins took at step back, and I think fielding was a significant part of how bad the season was in 2013. Not having Mauer behind the plate will hurt. Mauer will need time to become a first baseman, he won't be Morneau's quality defensively right away, but might get there by ST 2015. Plouffe is still at 3rd which isn't horrible, but certainly not good either. If Willingham and Arcia are in the same outfield (and I've heard speculation about letting Presley go, yikes) it's still terrible. Hicks could be a very good center fielder, but can't make up for the Hammer. It sounds like Kubel will get a lot of time in the outfield as well. If Kubel or Parmellee are your defensive substitutions, that's ugly.

#231 Shane Wahl

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:00 AM

I had to eyeball it. Ran through the starters from 2013, tallied their rWAR numbers.

I really don't like fWAR for pitchers as a metric of past performance. Pelfrey was a bad pitcher for most of the year but because fWAR uses FIP (what should have happened if you remove fielding and uncontrolled elements from the equation), it makes him look like a productive starter.

And that simply wasn't the case. If you want to suggest that Pelfrey should post a 2014 WAR somewhere around his 2013 fWAR numbers, I could get behind that argument.

But in no way, shape, or form was he a 2 WAR player in 2013.

Personally, for pitchers I use this:

rWAR as a gauge of past performance because it's closer to what actually happened, luck be damned. fWAR as a predictive tool of future performance because it's closer to what should have happened if luck was removed from the equation.

Of course, Pelfrey could post another good fWAR season but stink up the field. The outfield isn't exactly full of Willie Mays this season, just as it wasn't last season.


Can you, like, put this post on the homepage here? It's precisely accurate and important given the issue at hand (Mike Pelfrey!).