Entrenched in the middle of another losing season, it can be tough to look at the Twins roster and find positives. Disappointment abounds, but there is good mixed in with all the bad.
Sam Deduno fits here.
He was a pleasant surprise for the 2012 Twins team and that still didn't save his spot on the 40-man roster in the offseason. Every MLB team had a chance to claim him and no one took the chance. Deduno went back into the Twins minor league pool and a successful World Baseball Classic may have given him the confidence he needed to make some adjustments.
It has been a new and improved Deduno in 2013.
His career walk rate entering this season was 6.1 BB/9; he has cut that number almost in half to 3.3 BB/9 this season. He averaged 1.2 HR/9 by the end of last year and he has reduced that number to 0.5 HR/9. With seven wins to his credit, he already has a career high. Unsurprisingly, decreasing walks and keeping the ball in the park have helped make Deduno a more effective pitcher.
One of the things that has helped Deduno most is pitching in the friendly confines of Target Field. So far this season, his ERA at home (2.33) is more than 1.30 runs lower than on the road (3.65) and his 0.963 WHIP at home is outstanding. He has given up one home run at Target Filed compared to three on the road.
These numbers are great; we'll jump into them a little deeper.
In the past, opponents have put up pretty decent numbers against Deduno. From 2010 to 2012, opposing batters hit .248/.371/.399, which translates to a .770 OPS. This year on the road, the opponent batting average been has worse than that, though the OPS, at .723, is quite better. In eight games this year, the opposition has hit .262/.340/.383 including 14 extra-base hits. When Mr. Deduno has been on the mound at Target Field this year, he's limited the opposing team to a .212/.278/.293 (OPS-.571) batting line.
The above numbers have improved for Deduno at Target Field and opponents have also found it more difficult to make hard contact. At home, the opposition has a line drive percentage of 14.4% and that number goes up to 19.1% on the road. He is also getting more ground balls at home, as his ground ball percentage is 64.4% compared to 61.8% on the road.
When Deduno is at Target Field, men reach base against him at a lower rate and he is also better at stranding them when they do reach. At home, he has posted an 80.4% left on base percentage. On the road, he has only been able to post a LOB% of 74.9%. Deduno's home numbers would look even better if he hadn't had four HBP. In fact, he hit three men at Target Field in his second start of the season. If those hit bats men are taken out of the equation, Deduno is even more impressive at home.
Overall, Deduno has looked greatly improved in front of the hometown crowd but there are plenty of games left in the season. He has started four more games on the road than at home and this difference in sample size could play a role in the numbers described above. Deduno has shown some semblance of being a quality addition to the Twins starting rotation.
Not too bad for a guy who no teams wanted to claim when he was made available in the off-season.