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  • Twins Must End Revolving Door At Shortstop

    The Twins' shortstops woes continue.
    In recent seasons, it has seemed like a revolving door at some key positions for the Twins. One of the most problematic areas has been their search for a shortstop. This search continues and it's hard to see an end in sight.

    In the last decade, the Twins have used eight different Opening Day starters at shortstop. The only men to make the list twice in the last decade were Cristian Guzman and Jason Bartlett. What's more, in four of the last five seasons, the man to earn the job for Opening Day has failed to start the most games at shortstop over the course of the season.

    The revolving door of Twins shortstops over the past decade.


    When the Twins traded away Bartlett and Matt Garza to get Delmon Young and Brendan Harris, it ended a nice run of consistency at shortstop. For the early part of the 2000s, the Twins had Guzman consistently leading the team at the shortstop position. Bartlett was there to take over after the team parted ways with Guzman. Since that point, it has been a hodgepodge of players at one of the most important positions on the field.

    The only year in recent memory with a semblance of consistency at shortstop was in 2010 after the Twins traded for JJ Hardy. He was the Opening Day starter and he led the team in games played at the position. There were still injury concerns with Hardy as he only played in 101 games but it was still more consistent than the last two years.

    But in 2011, the Twins put a lot of stock into Tsuyoshi Nishioka - and this plan failed miserably. He didn't work out at second base and he was even more of a disaster when they moved him to shortstop. After spending almost all of last season being less than mediocre at Triple-A, he went back to Japan. One of the biggest regrets (besides Nishioka being horrible) might be that the team parted ways with Hardy to make room for their Japanese import.

    Last season, the Twins started the year with newly signed free agent Jamey Carroll at shortstop. Brian Dozier was coming off a very good season in the minor leagues after being named the team's minor league player of the year. Carroll didn't exactly hit the cover off the ball so the Twins handed the reigns to Dozier. It wasn't pretty for Dozier either and he ended the year in the minor leagues.

    The future doesn't look any better. Pedro Florimon has the upper hand as the Opening Day starter in 2013 but there is still plenty of time before the Twins face the Tigers. Carroll, Dozier, and others might be in the mix for the starting role but the long-term solution doesn't seem like it will be in camp when the Twins head to Fort Myers.

    As far as prospects go, Daniel Santana is the next best potential shortstop in the organization. He spent all of last season at High-A with the Fort Myers Miracle. He put together the best season of his professional career by batting .286/.329/.410 with 38 extra-base hits. Levi Michael, the 2011 1st round draft pick, split time at both middle infield positions for Fort Myers. Baseball America also named him the best defensive infielder in the Twins system.

    If Santana or Michael is the long-term solution at shortstop, they are still multiple levels away from cracking the line-up for the Twins. There is always a chance the Twins could get a shortstop back in a trade this offseason, but starting pitching is most likely the priority. At this point, any hope for 2013 looks a little bleak.

    Revolving doors have their uses, but eventually one needs to leave get out or one becomes nauseous. Similarly, the Twins revolving door at shortstop needs to stop or the rest of Twins Territory is going to continue to have a sick feeling in their stomach.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins must end revolving door at shortstop started by Cody Christie
    Comments 82 Comments
    1. rgslone's Avatar
      rgslone -
      Trade Revere to the Reds for Cozart = problem solved.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Sign Stephen Drew...Problem Solved.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ScottyB View Post
      What may be the main problem for the Twins is that in this key position in the middle of the infield, the Twins don't realize that you can't get a decent SS for less than $5-$7M (not good or great, but decent). They have a knack for drafting decent to great CF'ers, so they've had a good pipeline of those since Puckett. They can't draft a SS to save their lives, and when they get a decent one like Hardy, they trade him because he's too expensive. As much as I hate the Yankees, they invested in Jeter and built around him, and because of that they have nearly constantly been in the playoffs during his tenure. The Twins need to make SS a cornerstone position - which they never have in over 50 years of existence.
      The Red Sox have two ready-to-emerge potential cornerstone SSs and are ready to deal. Why not get both of them in trade for Mauer?

      Problem solved for the next decade and a half.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Yeah, Hardy was the best fielding shortstop around here since Gagne. He even made those around him better by getting to balls in their zones. Valencia had a +13 UZR that year. Now he's out of a job. And say what you want about Hardy's offense, it was better than the shortstops we've had around here before or since. The Delmon deal, the Capps deal and the second Hardy deal were each worse than any trade Ryan ever made.
    1. Cris E's Avatar
      Cris E -
      This hole is probably more important than a third SP. As mentioned, CIN has shortstops and pitchers and MIN has CF to move, so that could work. I'd love to see S Drew contacted. There are options.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      That Valencia "had a +13 UZR that year" says more about UZR than it does about Valencia, or Hardy for that matter. And it doesn't say anything good.

      i do agree it was a head scratching mistake to dump Hardy though.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      No, it says more about the misuse of a small sample than it does about UZR.


      And he was +6, not 13, in said sample (roughly the equivalent of one month's worth of PA's).
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      You can;t buy everything and you can't buy a ss. Play the one you got you got plenty now to choose from.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      No, it says more about the misuse of a small sample than it does about UZR.


      And he was +6, not 13, in said sample (roughly the equivalent of one month's worth of PA's).
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      If anything suggests that Valencia is good defensively... It is wrong!
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
      Drew Butera has hit incredibly well over short stretches of time, but given a large enough sample, it inevitably regresses to his true level of putridity. It's no different for something like UZR, odd things can happen in small samples.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      No, it says more about the misuse of a small sample than it does about UZR.


      And he was +6, not 13, in said sample (roughly the equivalent of one month's worth of PA's).
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_large_numbers

      Roll a six-sided dice once and you may get a six. Terribly inaccurate if you're trying to average a dice roll.

      Roll that same die 10,000 times and that average moves to 3.5. The roll of six was not representative of a typical dice roll but it still counts. Other times, you'll counter it with a roll of one if you repeat the process enough times. At the end of the day, you'll end up where you expect to be: 3.5. An accurate representation of an "average" dice roll.

      For your "1+1=3" comparison to work, you have to assume that all methods of recording defensive metrics are wrong. If that's the case, so be it... I'm not going to argue that point with you because it would take days and math I don't care to calculate. But if you believe them to be *generally* accurate, then the Law of Large Numbers applies.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
      Drew Butera has hit incredibly well over short stretches of time, but given a large enough sample, it inevitably regresses to his true level of putridity. It's no different for something like UZR, odd things can happen in small samples.
      Except nobody says, "I know the numbers say Butera hit .350 over the last month. But that's not what happened. I know he's a bad hitter, therefore that couldn't have happened."

      But that's exactly what the inventor of UZR, and others, say about defensive metrics.

      Either Valencia saved 6 runs that year, or the metric is extremely unreliable at best, worthless at worst. Which is it?

      BTW, do you agree with the idea (as implied above) that Valencia's UZR was positively influenced by playing next to Hardy? Or, as I've seen stated here that Span's UZR benefitted from Revere? If that's the case, wouldn't that be another reason to question whether UZR actually measures anything?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
      Drew Butera has hit incredibly well over short stretches of time, but given a large enough sample, it inevitably regresses to his true level of putridity. It's no different for something like UZR, odd things can happen in small samples.
      Except nobody says, "I know the numbers say Butera hit .350 over the last month. But that's not what happened. I know he's a bad hitter, therefore that couldn't have happened."

      But that's exactly what the inventor of UZR, and others, say about defensive metrics.

      Either Valencia saved 6 runs that year, or the metric is extremely unreliable at best, worthless at worst. Which is it?

      BTW, do you agree with the idea (as implied above) that Valencia's UZR was positively influenced by playing next to Hardy? Or, as I've seen stated here that Span's UZR benefitted from Revere? If that's the case, wouldn't that be another reason to question whether UZR actually measures anything?
      We've been through this sooooo many times, Chief. Nobody says "that didn't happen". They say "that was a statistical variance". It happened. Just as Butera hitting a homerun is not indicative of his usual performance, Delmon Young making an out-of-zone diving catch is not indicative of his usual performance. That doesn't mean it did not happen, it states that it is outside the statistical mean.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It is not a question of if it measures"anything". It is a question of how well it measures things. The formulas do not yet know how to factor in defensive shifts, or the effect of other players.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      It is not a question of if it measures"anything". It is a question of how well it measures things. The formulas do not yet know how to factor in defensive shifts, or the effect of other players.
      And those are absolutely valid criticisms of the metrics. I don't think anyone would argue that there isn't room for improvement. Defensive metrics are barely out of their infancy; they have a lot of room to grow and improve. Even I try to avoid relying on them too much. WAR is a good quick-and-dirty metric but I wouldn't base my entire opinion on the metric because of its reliance on somewhat flawed defensive ratings.

      But we're off to a good start and the metrics continue to improve as they are refined.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I've never understood the theory that something which everyone says is inaccurate in small samples is suddenly accurate if you pile enough of those inaccurate small samples on top of each other.

      That seems to me like saying "I know 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3, but if I add 1 + 1 = 3 enough times, I'm sure it will be correct."

      A large sample size doesn't get accurate by adding together a bunch of inaccurate small samples.
      Drew Butera has hit incredibly well over short stretches of time, but given a large enough sample, it inevitably regresses to his true level of putridity. It's no different for something like UZR, odd things can happen in small samples.
      Except nobody says, "I know the numbers say Butera hit .350 over the last month. But that's not what happened. I know he's a bad hitter, therefore that couldn't have happened."

      But that's exactly what the inventor of UZR, and others, say about defensive metrics.

      Either Valencia saved 6 runs that year, or the metric is extremely unreliable at best, worthless at worst. Which is it?

      BTW, do you agree with the idea (as implied above) that Valencia's UZR was positively influenced by playing next to Hardy? Or, as I've seen stated here that Span's UZR benefitted from Revere? If that's the case, wouldn't that be another reason to question whether UZR actually measures anything?
      Though I am not a fan of your UZR bashing, I will say that over the years I have grown to trust UZR less and less but it still has plenty of value when used to show the WHOLE picture of what a player does, this includes: Sabr stats, traditional stats, scouting reports and the good old eyeball test. Anyone who only uses UZR or WAR to claim a player is great is almost as foolish as someone who only uses RBI to state the same thing.

      You are correct with Span, his UZR doubled by having Revere in the OF along side him, which makes perfect sense.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      It is not a question of if it measures"anything". It is a question of how well it measures things. The formulas do not yet know how to factor in defensive shifts, or the effect of other players.
      And those are absolutely valid criticisms of the metrics. I don't think anyone would argue that there isn't room for improvement. Defensive metrics are barely out of their infancy; they have a lot of room to grow and improve. Even I try to avoid relying on them too much. WAR is a good quick-and-dirty metric but I wouldn't base my entire opinion on the metric because of its reliance on somewhat flawed defensive ratings.

      But we're off to a good start and the metrics continue to improve as they are refined.
      The fact is, until we get FieldFx defensive statistics will continue to be pretty flawed.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post

      We've been through this sooooo many times, Chief. Nobody says "that didn't happen".
      We have been through this, and I've explained why "the law of large numbers" isn't applicable, when you don't know the accuracy of the data you're inputing.

      As for "that didn't happen," From Mitchel Lichtman ("MGL" on various chat boards, the man responsible for UZR):


      People often say something like, “Well, he had a +10 UZR last year, which means that he actually played well, even though he might be an average or even below average defender.” For example, Jeter had a very nice UZR in 2009, a decent one in 2008, and some terrible ones for many years prior to that. So, he is a perfect example of a below-average defender who played excellent defense last year and pretty good defense the year before, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. A player’s UZR does not necessarily tell you how he actually played just as it does not necessarily tell you what his true talent is. That is a very important point. It is not like we pulled a coin from our pocket and flipped it 100 times and came up with 60 heads (which is entirely possible, even though we presumably have a fair coin). In that case, we can safely say that, yes, we did in fact get 60 heads (Jeter did in fact play well last year), even though we know that the true heads percentage of our coin is around 50% (Jeter’s true talent at SS is very likely below-average). UZR does not work that way. Why is that?That is because it is not measuring something that is categorized, like a coin flip which either comes up heads or tails, or BA, whereby a player either gets a hit or he doesn’t, or even simple Zone Rating, where a fielder either fields a ball within his zone or he doesn’t.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I like using multiple seasons of UZR to determine if a player is excellent, above average, average, below average or awful defensively but I have issues with its weighting in WAR equations and I don't like WAR much as a result.

      It would be great to address the SS issue but it's just not going to happen. The Twins have limited resources to trade or to spend and that needs to focus on starting pitching since that is a far bigger issue than addressing SS longterm. I am hoping that the Twins at least get a guy like Drew, YEscobar or Kelly Johnson to at least give the Twins one competent MI'er instead of a herd of utility players.
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