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Minnesota Twins Preview

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The Minnesota Twins finished second in the division after losing a one game playoff with the White Sox. Their record was 88-75, and had a pythag record of 89-74, though that is a little misleading as the Twins scored far more runs than expected due to their abnormally high batting average with runners in scoring position. BPro’s third order wins had them at 83-80.

Let’s start out by looking at their positional players:

Position

Age

’08 Triple Slash

OPS+ (‘06-08)

+/- (’06-08)

Comment

C-Joe Mauer

26

.328/.413/.451

144, 117, 137

N/A

+/- doesn’t rate catchers but it’s generally thought that Mauer is good defensively.

1b-Justin Morneau

28

.300/.374/.499

 

140, 121, 137

+1, 0, -1

I think because the media overrates him so much, I’ve underrated him. He’s good.

2b-Alexi Casilla

24

.281/.333/.374

 

N/A, 39, 94

Only 204 PA in ’07.

N/A, -4, -3

Kind of nitpicky, but there might be a durability issue with Alexi.

3b-Joe Crede

31

.248/.314/.460

107, 49, 98

Only 178 PA in ’07.

+31, +11, +13

Not nitpicky at all, there are major durability issues with Crede.

SS-Nick Punto

31

.284/.344/.382

90, 52, 99

+4, +5, +4

These are his numbers at short, all small samples.

PECOTA projects a serious drop off in his offense, about halfway between his’07 and ’08 numbers.

Lf-Delmon Young

23

.290/.336/.405

N/A, 91, 102

N/A, -7, -25

In ’07, he played right.

One could argue that Young is an example of the prospect mavens not placing enough of an emphasis on position, defense, and approach.

Cf-Carlos Gomez

23

.258/.296/.360

N/A, N/A, 79

N/A, N/A, +32

Gomez got 90 starts in the leadoff spot last year; let’s hope that he and his sub .300 OBP see more time there this year.

Rf-Michael Cuddyer

30

.249/.330/.369

124, 111, 92

-28, -22, -9

Last season was a partial season.

It will be interesting to see how Gardenhire doles out the playing time in the outfield as Span and Cuddyer do not have significant splits, though Cuddyer’s health might make this moot.

DH-Jason Kubel

27

.272/.335/.471

72, 109, 118

N/A

Projected to be the third best hitter on the team with a .766 OPS. The Indians have five players projected to best that mark.

OF-Denard Span

25

.294/.387/.432

N/A, 125

+12 in right. -3 in center.

He’s not nearly as good as he was last year but his defense suggests he should get plenty of playing time.

INF-Bendan Harris

28

.265/.327/.394

N/A, 106, 97

His defense at short is really bad, decent at 2b and 3b.

Harris is a useful back-up . He was part of the disastrous Garza-Young deal.

 

This offense is incredibly reliant on Morneau and Mauer.  They need both of them to be healthy and productive if they are to contend. In ’07, they weren’t and they finished below .500. They are a very good baserunning team, but they are not a good defensive team. The farm probably won’t be able to help them much this year as their two stud prospects (Revere and Hicks) are a ways away.

The starters. This time around, I have computed GB+, which is 100 * GB% (player) / GB% (league), K+, which is 100 * K% (player) / K% (league), and BB+ = 100 * BB% (league) / BB% (player). Jay gets the credit for this idea. One thing to keep in mind, these categories aren’t created equally. It is better to be above average in K+ than to be above average in BB+, and better to be above average in BB+ than to be above average in GB+.

Pitcher

Age

ERA+ (’06-08)

IP (’06-08)

GB+ (’08)

K+

(’08)

BB+

(’08)

Comment

Scott Baker

27

70, 102, 118

83, 143, 172

76

119

131

Baker is the oldest and most experienced of the rotation.

Francisco Liriano

25

 207, N/A, 104

 121, 0, 76

96

121

81

People claim that it takes two years to return to prior form after TJ surgery. Let’s hope that isn’t the case here.

Kevin Slowey

25

N/A, 92, 102

0, 66, 160

83

111

213

Slowey’s BB rate is in Cliff Lee territory; it’s actually better by one tenth of a percentage point.

Nick Blackburn

27

N/A,  100

0, 11, 193

103

69

168

Blackburn gave up 15 unearned runs last year. I guess that happens when you strike out so few.

Glen Perkins

26

N/A, 138, 92

5, 28, 151

87

66

134

I don’t think he is going to end the year in the rotation.

 

The Twins stress throwing strikes and that is reflected by the fact they are all above average in BB rate, with the exception of Liriano. Baker, Liriano, and Slowey make a very nice trio at the top of the rotation, but after them, the quality drops off dramatically. Also, unlike in years past, they don’t have a wave of pitching prospects coming up through the farm system. The other rotation options, which include Boof Bonser, Phillip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey aren’t very good.

The pen is similar to the Royals in that they have a nasty closer but not a whole lot in front of him. Jesse Crain is solid, Matt Guerrier and Craig Breslow are decent, but that’s pretty much it. They have been rumored to be in on Juan Cruz. That would be a good idea.

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