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Excruciating Pain With Numbers


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Let me try again. Some people are assuming the Twins are better than their current record. Perhaps they believe based on their assessment of the talent on the team or perhaps some set of metrics.

My point is perhaps the Twins just aren’t that good. Perhaps their record is a ballpark indicator of how good they really are. 2011 started with great expectations and ended up a disaster. That’s how baseball works sometimes.

I’m normally optimistic but this club has enough holes that I’m starting to think it’s going to be a disappointing season.

 

You're forgetting an important point...

 

The Twins can win this division without being particularly "good." Are the Twins yet in any danger at all of not winning the division? Not at all. If you are responding to people writing the Twins can still win the division: yes, they can. Many would say the Twins still have the inside edge, even pundits outside of Minnesota. You can bank other divisional teams are not betting on the slow start continuing. No one in baseball believes Sano will be a .111 hitter for the rest of his career, and that's just one example of many.

 

In a division of flawed teams, the Twins have the most power, and it seems strange to say after years of endless "prospects" and other AAAA players on the roster, but they are also the team with the most experience. The Twins winning the division would surprise exactly no one.

 

Now, are the Twins good enough to deserve being in the playoffs, and good enough to win a playoff game? That remains to be seen. That's not impossible either, but for this too it is too early to tell.

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shows how misleading some stats can be. 65% of the Twins games they have scored 3 or fewer...so to lean on an average of 4.25 runs per game is disingenuous. Take out the 12 they scored, in a loss BTW, and the numbers will be different overall. The pen is a huge problem, but the offense is huge problem 1-A. The inability to put bat on ball and produce runs has been pretty sad. it has been so long, I have totally forgotten they scored 15. (did they really?..yeah thats right, they gave up a bunch of meaningless runs in the 9th...harbinger of things to come?)

 

Misleading how? The point of using the average is that over time the teams offensive results should bell curve around that average. So far, they haven't. If anything that says the Twins have gotten unlucky with their offensive output distribution, not the point you tried to make, which was that the Twins are actually worse than their scoring average

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Misleading how? The point of using the average is that over time the teams offensive results should bell curve around that average. So far, they haven't. If anything that says the Twins have gotten unlucky with their offensive output distribution, not the point you tried to make, which was that the Twins are actually worse than their scoring average

Offensive results "should" settle into an average but it often doesn't happen, even in a 162 game season.

 

Which is why I generally prefer using BaseRuns, which treats each game as a discrete event and "averages" runs based on what happens within that game, over using a basic pythagorean W/L. Even BaseRuns has its flaws, I'm sure, but it gets us somewhere closer to what happened than a basic X-Y/Z formula because what happened in game 27 shouldn't influence what happened in game 93.

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Offense is general and balls put in play in particular are a recognized major problem in today's MLB. You don't need a spread sheet to figure that out. All you need to do is watch a few innings of practically any game. A recent article mentioned that this so far compares with 1968 after which they lowered the height of the pitchers' mound to give hitters a better chance. Twins will not finish the season with a .385 winning percentage. They are a middle of the pack team that should win around 75 games. The real problem is baseball in general and overall more and more Who Cares? Watching these games can literally be brutal.

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Offense is general and balls put in play in particular are a recognized major problem in today's MLB. You don't need a spread sheet to figure that out. All you need to do is watch a few innings of practically any game. A recent article mentioned that this so far compares with 1968 after which they lowered the height of the pitchers' mound to give hitters a better chance. Twins will not finish the season with a .385 winning percentage. They are a middle of the pack team that should win around 75 games. The real problem is baseball in general and overall more and more Who Cares? Watching these games can literally be brutal.

The Twins should be a lot better than 75 wins. That would be an immense disappointment this season and 15+ games under their PECOTA/FanGraphs projections.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/3/2021 at 3:30 PM, Brock Beauchamp said:

 

The Twins should be a lot better than 75 wins. That would be an immense disappointment this season and 15+ games under their PECOTA/FanGraphs projections.

looking at the lineups the Twins have been running out there and the continuous shuffling of the bull pen I think 75 wins might be a very optimistic forecast. Now Polanco is the hot hitter. What does that tell you? Baldelli's refusal to allow a starter to go more than 6 innings regardless of his performance is truly perplexing. What is he doing, saving then for the Yankees in the playoffs?

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32 minutes ago, twinbythebay said:

I see this complaint a lot from Twins fans, so I looked a little deeper into the (indeed, excruciating) pitching numbers this season. Twins starters have pitched 59.6% of the team's total innings so far this season, which ranks 12th in MLB, so pretty much league average. Given the bullpen's struggles, it's reasonable to suggest that the Twins should be giving more innings to their starters.

I don't think it's a major issue, but considering the 2021 Twins have:

- not used openers

- only 3 games without the DH (first 3 games of the season, when SP are often more restricted anyway)

- excellent SP health

- one of the most experienced rotations in baseball

I would expect them to rank a bit higher in SP utilization.

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1 hour ago, twinbythebay said:

However, the ERA of Twins starters in the 5th inning and beyond this season is 5.01 (25th in MLB), so you can see why Rocco might be hesitant to let his starters pitch deeper into games. This is a bit better than the bullpen's overall ERA of 5.26 🤢 but not by much. Looking a little deeper, the starters' FIP in innings 5+ is 5.72 (29th in MLB) compared to 4.85 for the bullpen, and the starters' xFIP in innings 5+ is 4.91 (27th in MLB) compared to 4.1 for the bullpen. Looking at these numbers, it's hard for me to conclude that letting the starters pitch deeper into games will lead to better results for the team. Right now, they just desperately need anyone who can pitch capably in the latter half of games.

I think this could be a sample size issue too. If Rocco's not using his SP past 5 innings in most games, then the effects of each bad 6th inning performance are magnified.

Plus some of those runs charged to SP were inherited runners allowed to score by the bullpen. And the bullpen collectively gets to soak up easier low-leverage innings beyond the 5th, while SP can't do that -- if they're in after the 5th, it's usually a more competitive game. (Witness the collective 6.2 shutout innings from Smeltzer, Farrell, and Astudillo this season.)

Twins SP rank only 24th in IP and 23rd in batters faced after the 6th inning (and I recognize at least a couple teams behind them that have used openers -- Tampa and Toronto):

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders/splits-leaderboards?splitArr=42,49,50,51,52,53&splitArrPitch=&position=P&autoPt=false&splitTeams=false&statType=team&statgroup=2&startDate=2021-03-01&endDate=2021-11-01&players=&filter=&groupBy=season&sort=2,1

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9 minutes ago, spycake said:

I think this could be a sample size issue too. If Rocco's not using his SP past 5 innings in most games, then the effects of each bad 6th inning performance are magnified.

Plus some of those runs charged to SP were inherited runners allowed to score by the bullpen. And the bullpen collectively gets to soak up easier low-leverage innings beyond the 5th, while SP can't do that -- if they're in after the 5th, it's usually a more competitive game. (Witness the collective 6.2 shutout innings from Smeltzer, Farrell, and Astudillo this season.)

Twins SP rank only 24th in IP and 23rd in batters faced after the 6th inning (and I recognize at least a couple teams behind them that have used openers -- Tampa and Toronto):

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders/splits-leaderboards?splitArr=42,49,50,51,52,53&splitArrPitch=&position=P&autoPt=false&splitTeams=false&statType=team&statgroup=2&startDate=2021-03-01&endDate=2021-11-01&players=&filter=&groupBy=season&sort=2,1

Definitely fair points. I didn't consider the inherited runners issue until after I posted that, but that has indeed been a big issue for this bullpen. The starters do deserve some blame for putting those runners on base, but the bullpen has been especially awful about letting those runners score this season.

The bullpen's Inherited Score % (proportion of inherited runners that they allow to score) is a ghastly 64% this season, which is by far the highest in MLB. The next highest Inherited Score % is 51% (PHI), and the league average is 35%. If the Twins bullpen allowed inherited runners to score at just a league average rate, the team would have given up 13 fewer runs than they have so far this season already! Talk about excruciating numbers...

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5 hours ago, twinbythebay said:

I see this complaint a lot from Twins fans, so I looked a little deeper into the (indeed, excruciating) pitching numbers this season. Twins starters have pitched 59.6% of the team's total innings so far this season, which ranks 12th in MLB, so pretty much league average. Given the bullpen's struggles, it's reasonable to suggest that the Twins should be giving more innings to their starters.

However, the ERA of Twins starters in the 5th inning and beyond this season is 5.01 (25th in MLB), so you can see why Rocco might be hesitant to let his starters pitch deeper into games. This is a bit better than the bullpen's overall ERA of 5.26 🤢 but not by much. Looking a little deeper, the starters' FIP in innings 5+ is 5.72 (29th in MLB) compared to 4.85 for the bullpen, and the starters' xFIP in innings 5+ is 4.91 (27th in MLB) compared to 4.1 for the bullpen. Looking at these numbers, it's hard for me to conclude that letting the starters pitch deeper into games will lead to better results for the team. Right now, they just desperately need anyone who can pitch capably in the latter half of games.

Thanks for doing the legwork, but I am another who thinks you are discounting  the small samples and the inherited runners scoring charged to the starter.

Letting starters pitch into games longer has to be part of the solution if anything is to become of the 2021 season. It’s not the whole solution, but it’s part of it. 

For example, as awful as the first two innings were for him, I think Maeda settled down nicely (an old school expression :) forgive me) and could have pitched another inning last night. 

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11 minutes ago, Hosken Bombo Disco said:

Thanks for doing the legwork, but I am another who thinks you are discounting  the small samples and the inherited runners scoring charged to the starter.

Letting starters pitch into games longer has to be part of the solution if anything is to become of the 2021 season. It’s not the whole solution, but it’s part of it. 

For example, as awful as the first two innings were for him, I think Maeda settled down nicely (an old school expression :) forgive me) and could have pitched another inning last night. 

Inherited runners scored on starters is a really good point. I can’t remember the exact number but I know the bullpen is, unsurprisingly, WAY below average in that regard. 

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22 minutes ago, kydoty said:

The Twins have a team OPS of .389 in the 9th inning or later, worst in baseball.  
 

Second worst?  San Francisco with .510.

San Fran is a first-place team, so all we need to do is become second-worst at this ourselves and the pennant is ours!

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26 minutes ago, kydoty said:

The Twins have a team OPS of .389 in the 9th inning or later, worst in baseball.  
 

Second worst?  San Francisco with .510.

Maybe so, but even if they doubled that number it would not make much of a difference.  We are talking about the OPS in 1/9th of a game.

Maybe someday the Twins will play another team like them -- in that I mean a team without a closer -- and they can tee off in the 9th.  Until then, the hitters are at a disadvantage and I don't blame them for wanting to hit the showers in a pointless effort, trying to claw back when sometimes against the best pitcher on the opposing team's roster.

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