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  • Pedro Florimon's "Limbo Line"

    You’ve heard of the Mendoza Line. Named after Mario Mendoza, a shortstop for the Pirates, Mariners and Rangers in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was a career .215 hitter. To this day, when a hitter has a batting average hovering around .200, it is known as the “Mendoza Line.” In his era, that wasn’t good, but shortstop did not become an offensive position until the mid-1990s. So today, I have to ask one question for Twins Daily readers to consider. What is the “Limbo Line” as it relates to offense from a shortstop? How Low Can They (the offensive numbers) Go?

    No one is going to dispute the importance of the shortstop position defensively. The shortstop is the leader of the infield. It is important for a good defensive shortstop to have great range, going left or right. It is important for a good defensive shortstop to have a strong, accurate arm, particularly to make the long throw from the 5.5 hole. He must make the routine plays. The Twins shortstop, Pedro Florimon, is among baseball’s best on defense.

    OFFENSIVE NUMBERS

    However, although defense is immensely important for a shortstop, offense is also part of the game. It is the part that Pedro Florimon has not been able to do well. In his minor league career, he hit .249/.321/.354 (.675) over seven seasons. In AA, his OPS was .678. At the AAA level, he posted an OPS of .652.

    So when Florimon hit .221/.281/.330 (.611) in his first full season last year with the Twins, it is what should have been expected. The fact that he added nine home runs and 15 stolen bases was respectable, though certainly not as good as his 70 OPS+ would indicate.



    Florimon is obviously off to a bad start in the first two weeks of 2014. Through 35 plate appearances in 11 games, he enters Tuesday’s game hitting just .067/.176/.067 (.243) with just two hits. Of course, being extremely worked up about his .067 batting average is akin to getting really excited about the possibility of a hitter with a .450 batting average at this point in the season becoming the first player since Ted Williams over 70 years ago to hit .400. The sample is just too small.

    How much of that is due to missing about a month of spring training after his emergency appendectomy? There is no way to know that. Over the final two weeks of spring training, Florimon was playing daily, and as the season started, he was at 100%

    What is realistic to expect is that 2014 should be a little bit better than 2013. Nothing dramatic. Maybe an OPS above .630. What is the batting average, on base percentage of OPS line that you would find acceptable as it relates to Pedro Florimon at the shortstop position?

    DEFENDING DEFENSE

    As a reminder, Pedro Florimon’s defense is among the best in baseball. Any look at the 2013 defensive metrics will back that up. Looking at Baseball-Reference, Florimon’s defensive WAR was 2.2. That was second among all shortstops to the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons and his remarkable 5.4. Florimon’s 5.29 Range Factor per Nine led MLB, ahead of Simmons who came in at 4.92.

    One of the most important things about Florimon has been his ability to not take his struggles at the plate into the field. If you don’t want to buy the defensive metrics, Florimon certainly passed the eye test. He has the range in both directions and comes in on the slow rollers well. He has a very strong arm.

    Finally, when you consider the pitchers on the Twins staff, middle infield defense becomes pretty valuable. Phil Hughes has struck out a batter per inning through his first two starts. However, none of the five starters classifies as a strikeout pitcher. They will all likely give up a hit per inning. The ball will be put in play and defense does matter.

    SUMMARY

    I have been a proponent of Pedro Florimon through the offseason because of the defense. For me, the “Limbo Line” with Florimon is probably an OPS about where he was in 2013. Maybe a .610-.620 OPS. I’d love to see a .250 batting average or a .300 on-base percentage. I don’t think either of those is realistic.

    Danny Santana is at AAA. He’s hitting about .250 this young season. He is not ready, but he could be a possibility by September or more likely mid-2015. Last week, the Twins acquired Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees. Although he is more of a utility player, he could work his way from #2 utility man to starting shortstop at some point this season. His defense at shortstop is statistically horrific, but he could post a .700 OPS. Jorge Polanco is getting a chance to play shortstop consistently at the start of the 2014 season. He has six errors in 10 games. He is hitting very well. He has a long ways to go.

    So, for you, what is the value of great defense? I’m curious what your thoughts are for where the Limbo Line should be for the Twins shortstop. In your opinion, how low can Pedro Florimon’s batting average, on-base percentage or OPS go?
    Comments 118 Comments
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      It is more of a question on how many nopn-batters you can carry in a lineup. How long can you keep Dozier, who will give you the occasional homerun, although giving you a leadoff homer is not something to cheer about. Can you also afford to have a cenetrfielder who also hit the Mendoza line. And can you carry a catcher than hits the Mendoza line, even with power. You CAN have one batting hole, always, in a lineup (which in the National League is usually the pitcher). You can also have a light-hitter in the outfield of he has speed (also on the basis).
      While I agree with the sentiment (that the Twins have too many empty hitters), Dozier doesn't belong anywhere in this conversation. He has been an above average hitter for a full season now.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      It is more of a question on how many nopn-batters you can carry in a lineup. How long can you keep Dozier, who will give you the occasional homerun, although giving you a leadoff homer is not something to cheer about.
      I guarantee it is something that I would cheer about. Whether it is Dozier, Mauer, Florimon, Santana, whoever.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      Reference my earlier comment about pinch hitting for Florimon in the late innings - I said that is virtually impossible with thirteen pitchers on the roster. I think that is a misuse of the entire roster and I asked if any other MLB teams operates in such a manner, does anyone know and, if so, why do they do so?
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Florimon isn't a starter on a contending team. So unless you believe the Twins are a contender in 2014, the only reason to worry about Florimon is that he's blocking a shortstop who will be a worthwhile starter when the Twins do contend. Given the reports and defensive stats on Nunez and the holes in Santana's game, that would leave Escobar, but it's almost as hard to see him help the Twins contend as a starter down the road as it is to see Florimon do so.

      So if the Twins stick with Florimon if he hits like last year or even a little worse, he'll do his job just fine in my book. He'll help bail out the contact-friendly rotation, keep Gardy busy calling for bunts and steals, and hit in such a way that nobody in the front office worthy of a job can mistakenly believe that he's a starter on a major league contender.

      Maybe Florimon just needs a new job title to enhance fan appreciation of the role he fills this year. Let's call him... the shortstopgap.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      "You CAN have one hole in the lineup...(like in the) NL." The difference is, in the NL, every team has one hole in the lineup. T
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      If we had a interesting replacement at 2B, I would try Dozier back at SS in a second. That is another frustrating aspect to the Rosario situation.
    1. OldTimeTwinkie's Avatar
      OldTimeTwinkie -
      I don't understand hy the twins let him switch hit. Arguably hitting is one of the most difficult skills in sports to master so why when his tract record is what it is (around .200) do you think he can master both sides. Why not put all his reps on one side so he can develop a sound batting stroke. It defies logic. Hewould be better off hitting from the same side no matter who is pitching. If he ever gets one side down maybe he can then think about going back.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      The limbo line for me is when he hits bad enough that you'd prefer to DH him over the pitcher.
      The Hicks comparison, while valid from small sample size standpoint doesn't hold up in other ways, like the fact (already mentioned) that he just hasn't hit -- ever. The other reason it's bad is that Hicks was 23 last year and Florimon is 27 this year and this isn't his first exposure to major league pitching (though he doesn't have 1000 plate appearances yet).

      Is Escobar really that bad defensively? I realize his numbers don't look much better, but he wasn't getting regular at bats and he has a smaller number.
      Escobar is not that bad defensively at SS. His metrics are close to Florimon's and he just got the SS gold glove in VWL this past winter. He should be starting at SS.
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      This is one that numbers cannot tell offensively. Florimon is a rally killer. If he made outs while making some contact and moved up (or scored) runners, a low slash line would be acceptable. But he is truly horrible. Below the Butera line and that says a ton.
      A rally killer? Are you aware that last game, bottom of the 8th, Twins down 1. Florimon walks, steals second, then scores the tying run? Sounds like a gamer to me. The problem is, people look at stats, but they don't actually watch the games. People who watch the games would know that Florimon is playing with confidence and is battling at the plate, even if balls aren't missing gloves.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Reference my earlier comment about pinch hitting for Florimon in the late innings - I said that is virtually impossible with thirteen pitchers on the roster. I think that is a misuse of the entire roster and I asked if any other MLB teams operates in such a manner, does anyone know and, if so, why do they do so?
      Another variation on that is starting a Nunez type guy who can hit, and then at the manager's discretion, use Florimon as a late inning replacement after a late Nunez at bat. The defensive substitution that Kelly liked to do. Florimon could also be used as a late inning pinch runner though Gardy's judgment on how and when to use the PR is less than stellar.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      A rally killer? Are you aware that last game, bottom of the 8th, Twins down 1. Florimon walks, steals second, then scores the tying run? Sounds like a gamer to me. The problem is, people look at stats, but they don't actually watch the games. People who watch the games would know that Florimon is playing with confidence and is battling at the plate, even if balls aren't missing gloves.
      I'm sorry, but that is painting an absurdly rosy picture of the situation.

      Florimon isn't missing gloves, his bat is missing the ball. 10 strikeouts in 35 PAs.

      One does not attain a -30 OPS+ through bad luck. One attains a -30 OPS+ through bad play.

      And don't accuse the rest of us of not watching games. That's incredibly bad form, especially when the facts are directly opposing your argument.
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      While I agree with the sentiment (that the Twins have too many empty hitters), Dozier doesn't belong anywhere in this conversation. He has been an above average hitter for a full season now.
      Dozier is hitting below the mendoza line this year (.191). Those are not "above average" numbers.
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I'm sorry, but that is painting an absurdly rosy picture of the situation.

      Florimon isn't missing gloves, his bat is missing the ball. 10 strikeouts in 35 PAs.

      One does not attain a -30 OPS+ through bad luck. One attains a -30 OPS+ through bad play.

      And don't accuse the rest of us of not watching games. That's incredibly bad form, especially when the facts are directly opposing your argument.
      If you want to talk about bad form and painting pictures, then at least admit that Florimon's poor numbers are due to both hitting gloves and too many strike outs. It's not one or the other, it's a combination of the two, lets just be honest with ourselves here.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      Dozier is hitting below the mendoza line this year (.191). Those are not "above average" numbers.
      His OPS+ is 125. His OBP is .328. His SLG is .468.

      Batting average tells only a fragment of the story, which is why it should never be used in isolation.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      If you want to talk about bad form and painting pictures, then at least admit that Florimon's poor numbers are due to both hitting gloves and too many strike outs. It's a combination of the two, lets just be honest with ourselves here.
      A fine argument if his OPS was around .500 or better. It's not.

      His LD% is a meager 15%. He's not doing anything right at the plate except taking some walks.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      "Is anyone else interested in seeing if BullDozier can remedy the shortstop situation? " Not until a guy like Rosario is the one to replace him at 2nd. Then I would be really interested.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Reference my earlier comment about pinch hitting for Florimon in the late innings - I said that is virtually impossible with thirteen pitchers on the roster. I think that is a misuse of the entire roster and I asked if any other MLB teams operates in such a manner, does anyone know and, if so, why do they do so?
      The Twins are not alone in this. I checked two divisions in the AL. In the East, Toronto has 13 pitchers. In the Central, both Cleveland and the Twins do. So that's 3 out of 10. If you want to check the other 20 teams the rosters are available at mlb.com. I have no idea why they do it, other than their pitchers are struggling.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Actually Brock I wasn't aware of K-Flo's leadoff walk that inning til after the fact. Heck I wasn't even aware that during that 2-run rally the only batted ball the Twins put in play the whole inning was Herrmann's ground ball to the pitcher. I'm usually willing to look back and see who the leadoff guy was and give him some credit for getting a rally started.

      I think Florimon's BB+SB in question doesn't buy any slack from his skeptics but it does buy some slack from the folks who appreciate his glove and tolerate his failings as a hitter (if you can call him that).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
      I think Florimon's BB+SB in question doesn't buy any slack from his skeptics but it does buy some slack from the folks who appreciate his glove and tolerate his failings as a hitter (if you can call him that).
      Hey, it helped win the Twins a game. That's great.

      But it requires some pretty thick blinders to point out that moment and ignore the 30 other times he has failed to get on base that potentially cost the Twins a game earlier in the season.

      Pedro Florimon hasn't only been bad at the plate, he has been an embarrassment. So bad that he has made Drew Butera look like a competent hitter. There's just no way one can ignore that.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      If you want to talk about bad form and painting pictures, then at least admit that Florimon's poor numbers are due to both hitting gloves and too many strike outs. It's not one or the other, it's a combination of the two, lets just be honest with ourselves here.
      I think his impoosibly bad numbers are due to a small sample from a really poor MLB hitter. The problem is, when given a really large sample, he's still going to have really bad numbers, because he's a really poor MLB hitter.
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