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Analyze This: Jose Abreu Is the Bat Minnesota Needs


Nick Nelson
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For Twins fans who buy into analytics, as the front office does, Jose Abreu presents a paradox. 

He's an aging slugger with no defensive value – major red flags for a free agency pursuit. At the same time, there's plenty of (statistical!) evidence to suggest Abreu can provide exactly what Minnesota was missing in 2022.

Image courtesy of Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

 

When you think back to this past year's team, and where it came up short, what comes to mind first? Some might point to late-inning bullpen lapses. Others will call out starters who couldn't stay healthy or pitch deep into games.

These are valid answers, but for me, it's an offense that woefully underproduced because of a perpetual inability to cash in on scoring opportunities and keep key fixtures in the lineup. Despite generally a fielding a good group of hitters – at least up until the position corps became completely depleted late in the year – the Twins were shut out with stunning frequency, and they often gave their pitching staff no margin for error, which bit them time and time again.

Enter: Jose Abreu. He's spent the past nine years terrorizing the Twins and other teams around the league from the heart of Chicago's lineup. Now he's a free agent, likely to be available on a shorter-term, high-AAV deal.

When you look at the qualities that were amiss from Minnesota's lineup in 2022, you basically find them all present in Abreu's profile. The 35-year-old has been ridiculously durable, playing in 528 of a possible 546 games (97%) since 2019, with 145+ games played in all but one full season since he debuted in 2014. He obliterates left-handed pitching, with a career .925 OPS against southpaws. 

And above all, the man produces runs like an absolute machine. Last year he slashed .268/.366/.471 with RISP and in his career he's at .311/.389/.554. This, along with his reliable everyday presence in the lineup, helped him generate some of the gaudiest RBI totals in baseball over the course of his career. Since 2014 he ranks second among all MLB players with 863. Abreu has driven in 100-plus runs six times and led the league twice, including his MVP season in the truncated 2020.

Of course, RBI is not a metric that's going to get a lot of resonance from the analytically inclined crowd. Including me! It tends to be a very overrated stat, reflecting opportunity and circumstance much more than individual excellence. 

In Abreu's case though, it does help tell the real story. He has been one of the most dependable, consistent run producers in all of baseball for nearly a decade. He is the prototype for an effective cleanup hitter. There's a reason the guy has received MVP votes in seven of his nine seasons.

The analytical case against Abreu doesn't end with RBIs inflating his value. There's also the matter of his one-sided impact. As a defensively limited first baseman, Abreu doesn't add much in the field, helping explain why metrics like WAR view him in a relatively negative light despite his durability and production.

Consider this: according to fWAR, Abreu has been a less valuable player on whole than Byron Buxton (12.3 to 11.1) since 2019, despite playing in literally almost twice as many games (528 to 279) and winning an MVP during that span. 

There's validity to this arithmetic. Baseball is a two-way sport, and you certainly can't build a whole team of Abreus. But there's evidence you kinda need at least ONE of those guys.

One might look at Abreu's numbers at surface level and perceive a hitter in decline. In 2022 he hit a career-low 15 home runs, his total of 75 RBIs was his second-lowest for a full season, and his .824 OPS was down 36 points from his career mark. However, these figures need to be colored by the context of a depressed offensive environment and an underperforming lineup around him.

Abreu's 133 OPS+ was his highest in a full season since 2017. His 40 doubles ranked sixth in the AL. A quick glance at his Statcast sliders does not give the impression of a guy who is wearing down in his mid-30s, with elite measures for exit velo and hard-hit rate. 

 

abreustatcast2022.png

 

In the past season, Abreu produced an fWAR of 3.9. It was the second-highest since his rookie campaign back in 2014. Not exactly the most reassuring for a player who figures to command somewhere in the $20 million range annually.

But consider this: Abreu's fWAR in 2022 was higher than Justin Morneau's (3.8) when he won the AL MVP in 2006. It was higher than Jim Thome's (3.1) in 108 games when he helped lead the Twins to a division title. It was in the same range as Nelson Cruz's (4.3) when he powered the Bomba Squad to 101 wins.

These were the three best Twins teams of the past two decades, and all were supported in essential ways by cornerstone sluggers whose contributions are somewhat downplayed by advanced metrics. 

You can argue Morneau didn't deserve the MVP award in '06. You can argue Cruz's one-sided contribution prevented him from being the team's MVP in '19 (we named Max Kepler for that reason). But can anyone, from the oldest-school to newest-age mentality, plausibly claim these players were not integral to their team's resounding success? 

At its core, analytics is about analyzing what has happened to form insights for the future. We've watched Cruz – who had the same value-oriented quibbles back in 2019, as an aging slugger with no defensive value – become the most impactful free agent signing in franchise history. Incidentally, Cruz ranks right behind Abreu at third among MLB hitters in RBIs since 2014. 

No, runs batted in are not predictive indicators of value. But they are indicators of something: the demonstrated ability to stay on the field and consistently generate offense. Minnesota has been lacking for these traits since Cruz left – in 2022, they had only three players reach 500 plate appearances, and no one drove in even 70 runs. (Jose Miranda's 66 RBIs were the lowest total to lead a Twins team in a full season since John Castino's 64 in 1980.)

Abreu is the elixir this lineup needs to reach the next level, and the Twins are well equipped to handle his defensive limitations, since they have no full-time DH and all of their current options at first base – Miranda, Alex Kirilloff, Luis Arraez – are capable of playing elsewhere. 

The fit here is very obvious once you zoom out past a myopic lens of what constitutes value. Abreu is in the same mold as the most celebrated and difference-making free agent signings in Twins history, and he's precisely what their lineup was missing in 2022.

You can read more about Abreu, plus many more options available at positions of need for the Twins, by download the complete Offseason Handbook, now available to Caretakers!


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It would be nice to have a more traditional first baseman over Arraez.  I think the line-up needs a power bat from that position and Abreu could bridge the gap to AK getting healthy.  I'm not certain the Twins can compete with the Padres and others in need of his services and the fact that the 1B need is not high on the Twins list.

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Spot on Nick!  I've watched Abreu here in Chicago for years.  He is Mr. Clutch, as you noted, great leadership abilities, and an iron man, to boot.  For a team with supposed above-average offense in 2022, 66 rbis to lead the team is a joke.  All the stat heads can sneer at RBIs but someone has to drive in the runs when the opportunity exists.  That's the definition of a cleanup hitter - a position sorely lacking in 2022.  Abreu would be a great replacement for Cruz!

All this hype about resigning Correa is just mystifying.  For a bit more than the price of Correa we could probably sign Abreu, Contreras, and Haninger - and having an adequate starting SS in Farmer.  In any case the Twins have at least $50MM to spend - enough to sign these 3.  While I think Rodon should be our #1 priority,  the likelihood of this particular FO running that "risk" of adding him  for a minimum of $130MM over 5 yrs. seems remote.  The offense needs attention and signing at least 2 of the 3 named above would go a long way to catapulting this lineup into a top 3rd in the league.  With trading some of our excess like Kepler, maybe Martin and one of our younger starters like Ober, Winder, etc,,  they should be able to land another front line starter, albeit not an ace.  

The offseason is one of choices. With all the current holes in the rotation, the pen, and the lineup, I would hate to be in Falvey's shoes this offseason.  He needs to pull an inside straight to get this team back into legitimacy for the playoffs.  But this is where he's put himself after 7 years of failure to build a pipeline.

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I read this article and found the stats for Abreu's past performances to have been very impressive. But I have doubts about his future performances. Also the Twins promising young players need experience and can't get much of that by watching from the bench or playing in St. Paul. Therefore I am not interested in attempting to sign an aging veteran DH, who only hit 15 home runs last year and who won't play in the field, but if he does, can only play at the one position where the Twins have three (3)  promising young players, all of whom need to play on a regular basis. Plus the Twins would be paying a high salary based on Abreu's past performances, which appear to be declining.  Sorry, but I can't see the justification for this proposed signing. 

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1 hour ago, Heistyman said:

It would be nice to have a more traditional first baseman over Arraez.  I think the line-up needs a power bat from that position and Abreu could bridge the gap to AK getting healthy.  I'm not certain the Twins can compete with the Padres and others in need of his services and the fact that the 1B need is not high on the Twins list.

1st off I do agree about Arraez.   He was a GG winner (I believe) and don't mind him over there for 80 or so games.    He is kind of the Escobar type where he isn't great at any one position but plays all over the infield well (if that makes sense).

If Twins were to sign Abreu, I am guessing they would only want him at 1B for 20-30 games.    Kirilloff/Miranda would fill in the other 50-60 games at 1B.

As far as competing with the Padres, I think he is familiar with the Twins so that should help.  Also, the Twins stay around 50% (or less) of revenue so they could easily fit the salary.  My guess is one or both of Polanco and Kepler would be traded to make this work.  I don't see losing those two hurting too much if Correa/Bogearts were brought in.  I honestly would lean XB, I really like guys that hit over 300 and if you got Abreu and XB there would be, at least 3.  

 

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1 hour ago, Heistyman said:

It would be nice to have a more traditional first baseman over Arraez.  I think the line-up needs a power bat from that position and Abreu could bridge the gap to AK getting healthy.  I'm not certain the Twins can compete with the Padres and others in need of his services and the fact that the 1B need is not high on the Twins list.

Let Arraez play 1B. Find a power bat for another position, like SS  ( Correa would be an answer to this Presbyterian's prayer). Let the 2022 young batting champion,  the 2022 gold glove finalist, the 2022 silver slugger, play 1B.

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55 minutes ago, mike8791 said:

Spot on Nick!  I've watched Abreu here in Chicago for years.  He is Mr. Clutch, as you noted, great leadership abilities, and an iron man, to boot.  For a team with supposed above-average offense in 2022, 66 rbis to lead the team is a joke.  All the stat heads can sneer at RBIs but someone has to drive in the runs when the opportunity exists.  That's the definition of a cleanup hitter - a position sorely lacking in 2022.  Abreu would be a great replacement for Cruz!

All this hype about resigning Correa is just mystifying.  For a bit more than the price of Correa we could probably sign Abreu, Contreras, and Haninger - and having an adequate starting SS in Farmer.  In any case the Twins have at least $50MM to spend - enough to sign these 3.  While I think Rodon should be our #1 priority,  the likelihood of this particular FO running that "risk" of adding him  for a minimum of $130MM over 5 yrs. seems remote.  The offense needs attention and signing at least 2 of the 3 named above would go a long way to catapulting this lineup into a top 3rd in the league.  With trading some of our excess like Kepler, maybe Martin and one of our younger starters like Ober, Winder, etc,,  they should be able to land another front line starter, albeit not an ace.  

The offseason is one of choices. With all the current holes in the rotation, the pen, and the lineup, I would hate to be in Falvey's shoes this offseason.  He needs to pull an inside straight to get this team back into legitimacy for the playoffs.  But this is where he's put himself after 7 years of failure to build a pipeline.

I agree.  More likely to go after a guy like Lopez (Marlins).

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I really want Abreu in the Minnesota Lineup, but I don’t see it happening without trading away a different 1B. Arraez is most likely to be traded but he shouldn’t in the slightest, Miranda could be the next Abreu and Kirilloff looks the most fit for First if his Wrist heals up. Chase after Xander Bogaerts, he’s got an Impressive RBI count and his offensive production has stayed consistent for 5 years now, and fills a position where you need an everyday guy for at least a year.

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Kind of funny.  You, and many others, describe RBIs as a stat of opportunity and then decry the Twins lack of taking advantage of opportunity.  RBI is the first thing I look for when it comes to player production.  Yeah, you gotta have opportunities to get them but you also have to take advantage of those opportunities.  I'll take the big RBI boppers every time.  I'll go to war with a lineup of Judge, Alonzo, Ramirez, Goldschmidt, Tucker, Alvarez, Lindor, Turner & Realmuto any day of the week and you can pick whichever one you want using whatever metric you want.  I'll bet on mine to beat yours.

 

 

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If the Twins as a team has "woefully underproduced" and has had a "perpetual inability to cash in on scoring opportunities", I don't see how that is fixed by signing one aging and expensive hitter who is not a solid fielder. We have options at 1B. To me it sounds more like they need an effective hitting coach.

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Look at our current roster. Make up a batting order with the current guys on the roster. Stare at the lineup a while.

If you still don't see it.

Add 2022 stats to each name in the order. Look at the lineup awhile. 

If you still don't see it.  Just quit trying.  

Below is how Roster Resource has our offense currently ordered.

Kepler is currently slated to bat 4th. 

We NEED at least two bats that can join the Arraez, Buxton and Polanco group at the top of the order. 

Abreu is the type of hitter who can join that group.

Sharpen the top of the lineup, lengthen the rest of batting order, deepen the overall hitting talent. 

                                             
  ORIGINAL SIGNING INFO Prospect Rank Power Rank
2022 STATS
more_vert
ORDER POS # PLAYER BATS AGE HOW ACQUIRED Options MLB Service Time Year Team Rd Pick Ovr Rank ('22) Org Rank ('22) Org Rank ('21) Ovr PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
1 1B 2 Luis Arraez L 25.6 Amateur FA (VEN) Nov'13 2 3.121 NOV 2013 MIN           52 603 8 4 .316 .375 .420
2 CF 25 Byron Buxton R 28.9 Drafted 1st Rd (2) '12 n/a 6.160 2012 MIN 1 2       144 382 28 6 .224 .306 .526
3 SS 11 Jorge Polanco S 29.4 Amateur FA (DOM) Jul'09 n/a 6.024 JUL 2009 MIN           134 445 16 3 .235 .346 .405
4 RF 26 Max Kepler L 29.8 Amateur FA (GER) Jul'09 n/a 6.152 JUL 2009 MIN           164 446 9 3 .227 .318 .348
5 3B 64 Jose Miranda R 24.4 Drafted 2nd Rd (73) '16 2 0.157 2016 MIN 2 73     14 129 483 15 1 .268 .325 .426
6 2B 1 Nick Gordon L 27.1 Drafted 1st Rd (5) '14 0 1.136 2014 MIN 1 5       166 443 9 6 .272 .316 .427
7 LF 13 Trevor Larnach L 25.7 Drafted 1st Rd (20) '18 2 1.101 2018 MIN 1 20       357 180 5 0 .231 .306 .406
8 DH 19 Alex Kirilloff L 25.0 Drafted 1st Rd (15) '16 1 1.141 2016 MIN 1 15       399 156 3 0 .250 .290 .361
9 C 27 Ryan Jeffers R 25.5 Drafted 2nd Rd (59) '18 2 2.089 2018 MIN 2 59       323 236 7 0 .208 .285 .363
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6 hours ago, Finlander said:

If the Twins as a team has "woefully underproduced" and has had a "perpetual inability to cash in on scoring opportunities", I don't see how that is fixed by signing one aging and expensive hitter who is not a solid fielder. We have options at 1B. To me it sounds more like they need an effective hitting coach.

When I look at those options at first I see three.  1.  A guy who might not be able to play the field at 3rd.  2.  A guy who maybe shouldn't play the field anywhere.  3. A guy who can't stay on the field.  Bring on the old guy.

 

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9 minutes ago, Riverbrian said:

Look at our current roster. Make up a batting order with the current guys on the roster. Stare at the lineup a while.

If you still don't see it.

Add 2022 stats to each name in the order. Look at the lineup awhile. 

If you still don't see it.  Just quit trying.  

Below is how Roster Resource has our offense currently ordered.

Kepler is currently slated to bat 4th. 

We NEED at least two bats that can join the Arraez, Buxton and Polanco group at the top of the order. 

Abreu is the type of hitter who can join that group.

Sharpen the top of the lineup, lengthen the rest of batting order, deepen the overall hitting talent. 

                                             
  ORIGINAL SIGNING INFO Prospect Rank Power Rank
2022 STATS
more_vert
ORDER POS # PLAYER BATS AGE HOW ACQUIRED Options MLB Service Time Year Team Rd Pick Ovr Rank ('22) Org Rank ('22) Org Rank ('21) Ovr PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
1 1B 2 Luis Arraez L 25.6 Amateur FA (VEN) Nov'13 2 3.121 NOV 2013 MIN           52 603 8 4 .316 .375 .420
2 CF 25 Byron Buxton R 28.9 Drafted 1st Rd (2) '12 n/a 6.160 2012 MIN 1 2       144 382 28 6 .224 .306 .526
3 SS 11 Jorge Polanco S 29.4 Amateur FA (DOM) Jul'09 n/a 6.024 JUL 2009 MIN           134 445 16 3 .235 .346 .405
4 RF 26 Max Kepler L 29.8 Amateur FA (GER) Jul'09 n/a 6.152 JUL 2009 MIN           164 446 9 3 .227 .318 .348
5 3B 64 Jose Miranda R 24.4 Drafted 2nd Rd (73) '16 2 0.157 2016 MIN 2 73     14 129 483 15 1 .268 .325 .426
6 2B 1 Nick Gordon L 27.1 Drafted 1st Rd (5) '14 0 1.136 2014 MIN 1 5       166 443 9 6 .272 .316 .427
7 LF 13 Trevor Larnach L 25.7 Drafted 1st Rd (20) '18 2 1.101 2018 MIN 1 20       357 180 5 0 .231 .306 .406
8 DH 19 Alex Kirilloff L 25.0 Drafted 1st Rd (15) '16 1 1.141 2016 MIN 1 15       399 156 3 0 .250 .290 .361
9 C 27 Ryan Jeffers R 25.5 Drafted 2nd Rd (59) '18 2 2.089 2018 MIN 2 59       323 236 7 0 .208 .285 .363

Not to mention Gordon batting anywhere and that one of both of Larnach or Kirilloff will likely be on the IL by mid April.

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8 hours ago, MTV said:

I really want Abreu in the Minnesota Lineup, but I don’t see it happening without trading away a different 1B. Arraez is most likely to be traded but he shouldn’t in the slightest, Miranda could be the next Abreu and Kirilloff looks the most fit for First if his Wrist heals up. Chase after Xander Bogaerts, he’s got an Impressive RBI count and his offensive production has stayed consistent for 5 years now, and fills a position where you need an everyday guy for at least a year.

Most important word in your whole statement is the smallest one.  The "if" in the statement about Kirilloff's wrist.

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Fun speculation, but I say no.  Let our young players develop the RBI role - I think Miranda is ready and hopefully Larnach and Kiriloff will be too.  Abreu would be DH not 1B if I were to sign him, but I think we have plenty of bats that just need the coaches to get them mentally ready to drive in runs. 

My favorite part of the essay was the suggestion that RBIs do count.  Yes they do Runs and RBIs are essential statistics.  Sorry Analytic guys, but winning teams score more runs that the opposition (and of course the pitchers have to hold the other team which is why I still like ERA for SP).  

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I realize analytics is all the rage now and I "get" how it can be helpful.  But I'm still old school enough to see the value of a guy that can consistently drive in runs.  Yes, I agree that opportunity has a lot to do with RBI's but there's certainly something to be said about a guy that takes advantage of those opportunities (and who does so at a high rate).  It's kind of like debating the value of "Wins" for pitchers.  Pitchers that "WIN" are pretty rare nowadays.  But in the final analysis, it's all about who scores the most runs and how many games you win.  Abreu would be a good acquisition.  But I agree with the idea that a guy like Bogaerts could accomplish much of the same while still playing a position on the field that contributes to success.  

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12 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

I read this article and found the stats for Abreu's past performances to have been very impressive. But I have doubts about his future performances. Also the Twins promising young players need experience and can't get much of that by watching from the bench or playing in St. Paul. Therefore I am not interested in attempting to sign an aging veteran DH, who only hit 15 home runs last year and who won't play in the field, but if he does, can only play at the one position where the Twins have three (3)  promising young players, all of whom need to play on a regular basis. Plus the Twins would be paying a high salary based on Abreu's past performances, which appear to be declining.  Sorry, but I can't see the justification for this proposed signing. 

Bingo Tarheel! Analytics & stats are great in their place but we have to step back from solely focusing on analytics & look at reality. And the reality is this year's philosophy was to keep the player on the field as long as possible no matter what, totally backed fired.

Offense was not the problem in the 1st half of '22. Even with Correa's less than sparkling bat and the implosion of the rotation & short relief, due to injuries & ineffectiveness, our offense always kept us in the game & quite often pulled out a win.

The problem came in the 2nd half, when this new philosophy of play until you drop took effect. My philsophy is when there is something wrong, fix it, Don't put a bandage on it and put it back on the field at less than 50% effectiveness where the problems get worse & breaks down.

Buxton hurt his knee early instead of taking care of the problem by putting him on the IL & treating it, they'd periodically gave him rest & DHed him, didn't work, Polanco who in the 2nd half of '21 singlehandedly carried the team. But around the All-star break he hurt his knee sliding, they kept playing him with his defense & offense hurting, until he could no longer make on the field and we missed his  2nd half heroics.

Arraez in the 2nd half, it was obvious to me that he needed periodic rest, he got none. His #s nosedived through the half to the point of him losing his firm grip on the Batting title. Only when the management religuished their mindset and gave him some rest that he able to hold onto his crown.

Royce Lewis came onto the scene early the 1st half with both guns blazing. In '22 FO came to the conclusion that Arraez (who had no danger of running into anything) was not to play OF because of his knees. Yet they put Lewis in CF, just coming off rehab from a very serious knee surgery. He reinjured his knee & he was lost for most of the season and half of the next .

Buxton, Polanco, Arraez and Lewis production was sorely missed in the 2nd half. If all of these players were managed differently, they'd have joined Correa to bring us to a division title & play offs.

So, should we target Abreu? Arraez's best position is 1B, I don't see him recoup enough range to be a valid 2B. 3B? maybe if you give him a ton of blazing GBs in spring training. I wouldn't consider taking on Abreu unless you are considering trading Arraez. And I wouldn't consider trading Arraez unless you can get a much needed quality talent.

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I'd be concerned about the dramatic drop in power last year, not to mention they already have multiple guys who likely need the 1B/DH spots.

But I guess, if they miss on the shortstops and Rondon, they really have nowhere else to spend their money, so go for it. It would almost certainly be an overpay, but you don't get a trophy for allotting your payroll the most appropriately. The Twins have had quite a bit of success with these long-in-the-tooth legacy type hitters in the past.

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I want to take a moment to talk about the RBI stat.  Many all in analytic people point to it and say it is dumb stat as does not reflect real value.  In a short stint I would say okay.  You know the whole drove in x runs in x games is not a huge deal, the player got hot when runners were on.  However, over the length of a career it does tell a story.  That story is they know how to drive in runs.  The only way you win a baseball game is scoring runs.

People forget hitters get pitched different in different situations.  When we look at a full season, or career of stats, we can compare strike outs, walks, HR, slugging, OPS. and all the stats people love to point to for "real" value, and leave out how often they had chances to drive in a run.  Some guys hit about the same with RISP, or runners on base, where others do worse. I feel very few do better. 

I want to compare two all time greats, completely different style hitters for the Twins.  Mauer and Puckett.  Both played similar amount of games, similar bWAR of 55. for Mauer, and bWar of 51 for Puckett.  Over their careers Mauer had 2107 PA with RISP.  Puckett had 2146 PA with RISP, so pretty similar amount of PA over the years.  If you want to break down to runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, Mauer had 479 and Puckett had 530, a little bit more for Puckett in his career but not crazy amount. 

In the runner on 3rd less than 2 outs, Joe had 311 RBI, Puckett had 383, which is to be expected a little bit with the extra 51 PA, but still extra 72 RBI.  They hit very similar slashes.  When you look at 3rd and 2 outs though, Mauer had 370 PA and Puckett had 343, but Mauer had 153 RBI and Puckett had 162, which means Puckett more often drove in the run percentage wise with 2 outs than Joe did.  It does not break down how often runners were on other bases in those situations so that could affect it. Puckett did hit 5 more HR, but the big difference is Puckett took much less walks, trying to drive in the run, where Joe, would take over twice as many walks.  

Again, they are 2 different types of hitters, and Puckett would expand zone all the time, and Joe would take a fastball down the pipe half the time.  Both had amazing careers, and with the small difference in power, Puckett hitting 64 more HR over career, than Mauer that could account for the near 150 more RBI over career, but when you look at run scoring situations, Puckett was trying to drive in the run more often with approach, where Joe was just not wanting to get out.  

Not saying either was better way to play, but point is, the difference in RBI when you look at full career was not just chances.  They had similar amount of similar chances, Joe even more with 2 outs, but Puckett produced a higher number of RBI in those situations.  

In conclusion, RBI does not tell a full story, but when you look deeper, it can show if a guy is more prone to drive in runs in similar situations compared to others.  So when people dismiss RBI as a meaningless stat, maybe look deeper. 

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22 minutes ago, Trov said:

I want to take a moment to talk about the RBI stat.  Many all in analytic people point to it and say it is dumb stat as does not reflect real value.  In a short stint I would say okay.  You know the whole drove in x runs in x games is not a huge deal, the player got hot when runners were on.  However, over the length of a career it does tell a story.  That story is they know how to drive in runs.  The only way you win a baseball game is scoring runs.

People forget hitters get pitched different in different situations.  When we look at a full season, or career of stats, we can compare strike outs, walks, HR, slugging, OPS. and all the stats people love to point to for "real" value, and leave out how often they had chances to drive in a run.  Some guys hit about the same with RISP, or runners on base, where others do worse. I feel very few do better. 

I want to compare two all time greats, completely different style hitters for the Twins.  Mauer and Puckett.  Both played similar amount of games, similar bWAR of 55. for Mauer, and bWar of 51 for Puckett.  Over their careers Mauer had 2107 PA with RISP.  Puckett had 2146 PA with RISP, so pretty similar amount of PA over the years.  If you want to break down to runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, Mauer had 479 and Puckett had 530, a little bit more for Puckett in his career but not crazy amount. 

In the runner on 3rd less than 2 outs, Joe had 311 RBI, Puckett had 383, which is to be expected a little bit with the extra 51 PA, but still extra 72 RBI.  They hit very similar slashes.  When you look at 3rd and 2 outs though, Mauer had 370 PA and Puckett had 343, but Mauer had 153 RBI and Puckett had 162, which means Puckett more often drove in the run percentage wise with 2 outs than Joe did.  It does not break down how often runners were on other bases in those situations so that could affect it. Puckett did hit 5 more HR, but the big difference is Puckett took much less walks, trying to drive in the run, where Joe, would take over twice as many walks.  

Again, they are 2 different types of hitters, and Puckett would expand zone all the time, and Joe would take a fastball down the pipe half the time.  Both had amazing careers, and with the small difference in power, Puckett hitting 64 more HR over career, than Mauer that could account for the near 150 more RBI over career, but when you look at run scoring situations, Puckett was trying to drive in the run more often with approach, where Joe was just not wanting to get out.  

Not saying either was better way to play, but point is, the difference in RBI when you look at full career was not just chances.  They had similar amount of similar chances, Joe even more with 2 outs, but Puckett produced a higher number of RBI in those situations.  

In conclusion, RBI does not tell a full story, but when you look deeper, it can show if a guy is more prone to drive in runs in similar situations compared to others.  So when people dismiss RBI as a meaningless stat, maybe look deeper. 

I agree that RBI is still a very important stat. You looked a lot at runner on 3rd  but I would like to see stats with runner on 2nd and how effective guys are. 

I personally like Abreu but don't think I would spend a huge contract on him, due mainly to his age and lack of defense, & position he plays.

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Again, we are back to what the Twins are truly expecting to accomplish this year.  If they are in win-now mode, Abreu makes sense on a two year. high AAV deal.  He can rotate in and out of the DH/1B slot with Arraez.  The downside is that Arraez would need to play other positions for 30ish games over the year.  Not sure it f the Twins want to do that.  It would also help if the Twins could bring in another strong defender for the 3B/SS slot to help take some of the heat off of Abreau when he is in the field.

Outside of positional defense, he fits almost every hole the Twins are looking to fill.

If this is a reload year (not rebuild, we have too many pieces), then makes no sense at all.

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9 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Kind of funny.  You, and many others, describe RBIs as a stat of opportunity and then decry the Twins lack of taking advantage of opportunity.  RBI is the first thing I look for when it comes to player production.  Yeah, you gotta have opportunities to get them but you also have to take advantage of those opportunities.  I'll take the big RBI boppers every time.  I'll go to war with a lineup of Judge, Alonzo, Ramirez, Goldschmidt, Tucker, Alvarez, Lindor, Turner & Realmuto any day of the week and you can pick whichever one you want using whatever metric you want.  I'll bet on mine to beat yours.

 

 

So, you're happy to go to war with a lineup featuring (in order) the reigning AL MVP, a former RoY and 2-time all-star, a 4-time all-star and cleveland's best hitter, the reigning NL MVP, a 25 year-old all-star & GG winner, a former RoY current all-star & silver slugger (who is 25), a 4-time all-star and 2-time GG winner, a 3-time all-star (I'm assuming you're talking trea Turner?), and a 3-time all-star and 2 time GG winner. Yeah, i think I'd be pretty happy with that lineup too, and it has basically nothing to do with RBIs: you've simply picked a lineup of 9 of the best players in baseball. (BTW, the payroll for the starting lineup would be at least $180M in 2023; if you can spend $20M per spot in the lineup, your team should be pretty effin' good) You didn't just pick a bunch of Abreus: you took MVPs and gold glove winners. You took some of the most complete players in all of baseball.

Abreu is an interesting fit for the twins: there's opportunity at 1B & DH for him in the lineup and he provides serious hitting ability from the right side, which would help balance the lineup. He's been very consistent and healthy, which could mitigate the risk of signing an older player. But my interest in him has little to do with his RBI totals and more in what he could do as a hitter overall: good average, very good OBP, slugging that varies from good to elite...there's a lot in Abreu to like as a RH hitter who nukes lefties and is still very very good against righties. He has no defensive value and can only play 1B or DH, but the Twins have room there, even if we might prefer to get a guy who could give some time in the OF. But he also has the advantage of taking away a great hitter from a division rival.

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Yes I agree.  Abreu would be fine but at what cost?  I don't see it happening.  IMO we still need pitching.  The White Sox have far better starting pitching than the Twins and they just added Clevinger.  Good or bad I don't know.  But Sox value starting pitching.  I think the Twins should too.  And for the analytical geeks:. Congratulations!  You have done your part in aiding to the downfall of MLB.  You Tell us Pagan is analytically a very good pitcher when statistically he's been one of the worst relief pitchers in baseball over the past three years.  When you support a player like Correa by saying how many RBIs he had you go right around and say how RBIs aren't important.  I for one find it repugnant that this new analytical wave has taken over.  The grand old game was grand until the new generation of analytic lovers come in and change the whole foundation of the game as if they know better than the people who oversaw the game for decades.  Today's game is very slow, boring, and has lost its personality.

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Abreau will be 36 years old when the season starts. If he was the final piece of putting a contender on the field this next year, could be a good move to sign him. But that's not the situation the Twins are in and I think resources are better spent on a shortstop, catcher, righty hitting corner outfielder that can also field and of course pitching.

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Don't understand the love for aging veterans clearly showing decline in their game. You list multiple reasons why the Twins should stay away from a guy like Abreu. His career BA is .311 yet in 2022 he hit .268. Both of his OBP and SLG% are also clearly dropping off. His 15 HR are a career low and RBI's 2nd lowest. He is a defensive liability. I guess if you want more unproductive hitters that can't play defense then he'd be a perfect fit. I'd rather they kept Urshela and used a Miranda, Arraez, Urshela rotation for 1B,3B,DH than bring in another washed up veteran, which is what they've been doing with the rotation. How well has that worked out?

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Some basic numbers to begin with:

$150M payroll if the Twins are willing to bump about 7% over last season. With Urshela and Kepler moved, that'd leaves $80M approx to spend.

Keep Pagan and add Farmer, the Twins have approx $70M to spend. 

Keep Kepler and the Twins have approx $60-62M to spend. 

There is no absolute, gaping hole on the roster. However, there are small holes that need to be looked at, if not addressed, to put the best team on the field. Hey, I'd love a Correa or Bogaerts at SS, Rodon in the rotation, add at least one more $6M arm to the pen and then a strong RH bat for the OF, but would settle for the right fit at DH/1B. Oh, we also need another catcher.

But, you can't add ALL of that even with $60-$70M unless you skimp everywhere, or go big on a couple and then do your best to work the margins for the other spots.

I'm not a huge fan of adding Abreu. But I am a fan of adding a couple of quality bats for 2023. Those bats can be anywhere, SS, OF, 1B/DH, etc, but we need a pair. Abreu fits at 1B/DH on a short term deal with Arraez and AK able to be the primary 1B if needed. AK can also play a decent OF corner. Of course, potentially, there remains Larnach, Wallner, and Kepler, all from the LH side. But since when is everyone healthy and proven and "guaranteed" to go? So again, there's room for Abreu. (Not sure about the $20M number but we'll see.) 

I think I'd prefer an OF and a top SS, for several reasons, and not grab Abreu. But he does fit depending on how everything shakes out, on a short term deal. 

Not sure where the Twins are going to add, but they need to add. Can't just trust in 100% health and readiness for what is a very young lineup. 

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If Abreu had been on the 2022 Twins with those stats, he'd be just another guy we'd be complaining about not coming through.  And rightly so.

The Twins for the season got 83 RBI from the #3 spot in the batting order.  The vaunted Abreu got 75, in almost as many chances; his RBI rate was lower.  (The Dodgers, if you want to aim high, set the 2022 benchmark at 110, while the average team got just shy of 90.)

He's the wrong guy to be making a righteous stand about.

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