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  • Offensively, Twins Remain Uneven

    "We have holes. And some of it is pitching, and some of it is not. There are other areas we need to address."
    - Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan as reported by Phil Mackey


    If you squint hard enough, you can see a very tiny Tsuyoshi Nishioka smack dab in the middle.The Twins rotation currently ranks 29th in the majors in ERA and 28th in innings pitched. But Ryan is right – they aren’t the only sore spot that will need to be addressed this offseason.

    The decision to promote and play Tsuyoshi Nishioka at second base highlights one such area. The Twins rank 29th in the majors in OPS(On Base Plus Slugging) from that position. Even if their best option, Jamey Carroll, had played there the entire season, his OPS would only rank 25th. Similarly, the shortstop position ranks 27th overall.

    The Twins are likely to use the rest of the year to further evaluate this offseason’s priorities. They might start be looking at where each position ranks offensively versus the rest of the league:


    OPS MLB Rank
    Left Field 938 2
    Catcher 822 5
    Designated Hitter 845 8
    Third Base 765 11
    Center Field 718 17
    First Base 749 19
    Right Field 692 25
    Shortstop 575 27
    Second Base 571 29

    2B – Let’s start with the worst and get more optimistic. Most of the damage has been done by Alexi Casilla whose overall OPS is 580, which is one hundred points below his OPS last year and 50 points below his career OPS. He’ll likely get better, if he hasn’t already played himself out of the picture. (Again.)

    SS – Either you believe Brian Dozier will get better or you don’t. I think he will. He certainly needs to.

    RF – Even if Ben Revere had all the at-bats here, his 738 OPS would only rank 22nd. However, according to Ultimate Zone Rating, he has also saved another 10 runs with his glove. Using WAR, which tries to include defensive value, he ranks 12th overall.

    1B – Parmelee (667 OPS) and Mauer (752 OPS) are responsible for about 40% of the at-bats here.

    CF – The Twins have only given 15 at-bats to players other than Revere and Denard Span in center field. Those players have gone 0 for 15, which drags down the number about 20 points.

    3B – Imagine where the Twins would rank if Danny Valencia and his 522 OPS hadn’t eaten up about 1/3 of the at-bats this season.

    DH – The at-bats have been split four ways, but Ryan Doumit gets most of the credit. His OPS is 939 as a designated hitter, just 766 as a catcher.

    C – Not that the Twins two-headed catching monster isn’t working well. They only rank behind St. Louis (Yadier Molina), Milwaukee ( Jonathan LuCroy), San Francisco (Buster Posey) and Philadelphia (CHOOOOCH!)

    LF – Speaking of monsters, ladies and gentlemen, Josh Willingham, version 2012.

    Certainly, the Twins pitching has been an issue. But Ryan is correct to not overlook the uneven production from the lineup, too.
    This article was originally published in blog: Offensively, Twins Remain Uneven started by John Bonnes
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I agree that there are areas that need improvement besides pitching. I don't if your chart really clarifies things or not. A lot of the issues center around the infield both offensively and defensively. Is Plouffe the real thing? The power seems to be there. He looked ok defensively for a guy who hadn't really played 3rd much. I still wonder if he can hit for enough average.

      I like Dozier. I believe he will be good enough defensively and offensively to hold shortstop down for a few years. A bigger question is 2B. Carroll is a utility infielder. Casilla has played himself off the team. Nishioka seems to be going that direction, again. There is nobody else remotely close to the big leagues to be excited about.

      I think that if you believe that the last few are the real Morneau, which I kind of do, then 1B is in very good shape.

      It would be very easy to get excited about next year if the Twins can acquire a couple of front line starters this winter. Of course, they have to do it without trading away too much offense.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Yes, the Twins are uneven. There is consensus that the top seven hitters are good enough to staff a contender and I agree. The remaining two positions would be short and second. I think good production from one and slightly improved from the other would be enough to move the Twins to the top half of attacks in the AL. The major problem here is there is not much behind the top seven. The only guy that gives any indication of being a high-OPS hitter is Parmelee and he did produce nearly identical numbers to Valencia when both were sent down. Parmelee has responded by laying waste to AAA, so I think he could come back a put up decent or better numbers. The fact is I would like to see Parm in the lineup already, but unless someone is traded or injured, there is no place for him to play. The relatively low OPS ratings for Revere and Span are mitigated by their on-base skills, defense, and in Revere's case, prowess on the bases.

      All told, there is a risk that the offense would go backward with a similar cast of characters next year, but the real issue remains starting pitching.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Good post as I didn't know how truly bad offensively both SS and 2b have been this year. If we could get average offense and defense out of the short position next year out of Dozier, and above average defense and below average offense out of the other (guy who was acquired from the White Sox who's name I won't be able to remember due to too much Scotch Guard), I would be very pleased.
      I know that's a lot of improvement to expect from Dozier next year, but I think that's what the Twins will do.
      I also wish the Twins would use the next 7 weeks to see if Casilla can produce instead of Nishi.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      It's a positive that Terry Ryan would SUGGEST we have other holes, as opposed to Billy Smith, who would refuse to ADMIT it.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      The issue here is depth and the fact that you quote a season's worth of numbers without any real context behind them. 1B and 3B in particular are NOT the same positions now than what they were in the spring. On the depth side of things, if Mauer was playing catcher a bit more (and moving Butera out of the lineup alltogether), the catching position improves (though I'm not sure management supports the idea of keeping Mauer behind the plate more).

      I'd be more inclined to use the guys who will be startinga these roles in 2013 and extrapolate their numbers based on the context... If Plouffe is for real, 3B is a top 5 position. If Morneau has returned, 1B is a top 5 position. I realize that these are "ifs", but there's plenty of evidence that should give the FO hopes that these are reasonable gambles. With 25M to spend, the Twins won't be able to "fix" every position, so counting on Morneau and Plouffe is very defensable.

      The problem beyond this though is depth. Next year's depth of guys that can help on the offense will be Parmelee and Hicks/Benson/Arcia. There's no depth in the middle or on the mound for that matter, and the guys manning it now certainly don't inspire confidence (though I do think there's very good reason to think Dozier will eventually earn one of those positions)
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      I agree about the depth issue, but think the quality issue at SS and 2B is more problematic (broken record). When your options are Dozier, Casilla, Carroll, Escobar, and Florimon (am I missing someone for 2013?) it appears logical to me to go outside the system for a fix at one of the two positions. Maybe, for the first time in a long long time, they'll trade a prospect for......nah. Never mind.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      I agree about the depth issue, but think the quality issue at SS and 2B is more problematic (broken record). When your options are Dozier, Casilla, Carroll, Escobar, and Florimon (am I missing someone for 2013?) it appears logical to me to go outside the system for a fix at one of the two positions. Maybe, for the first time in a long long time, they'll trade a prospect for......nah. Never mind.

      You forgot Nishi

      Though I'll say this, every time this team has had a decent middle infield, the MI players manage to find their way into Gardy's dog house and get run out. Bartlett and Hardy are more recent examples. Both were good players at their position. Both were sent away for nothing.
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      i believe the twins are closer to competeing than most....simply trade span for whatever(maybe a 2nd baseman) move revere to center...then you have 2 ways to go either sign a power guy for RF or simply play doumit or parmalee in RF and the other DHs...upgrade at 2B & sign a true ace (there arent many to choose from)..with a rotation like wainright,diamond,baker, low level free agent, #5 innings eater, walters,blackburn,devries...(of those i believe walters has the best stuff & could be a very good #5, his change up sets him apart from the others) deduno has a good enough slider he could be a weapon out of the pen ,but not a option as a starter , he has no idea where his FB is going.....just to clear up i am not down on span but his replacement is better defensively & at the plate & cheaper....
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The Twins biggest problem offensively is moving runners and bringing them home, especially with limited outs. And a solid bench so you can have a better chance to get that fly ball, keep out of a double play, sacrifice, or run like hell (Mastro does serve that purpose).
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Completely valid criticism on the Bartlett and Hardy decisions, diehard.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      i believe the twins are closer to competeing than most....simply trade span for whatever(maybe a 2nd baseman) move revere to center...then you have 2 ways to go either sign a power guy for RF or simply play doumit or parmalee in RF and the other DHs...upgrade at 2B & sign a true ace (there arent many to choose from)..with a rotation like wainright,diamond,baker, low level free agent, #5 innings eater, walters,blackburn,devries...(of those i believe walters has the best stuff & could be a very good #5, his change up sets him apart from the others) deduno has a good enough slider he could be a weapon out of the pen ,but not a option as a starter , he has no idea where his FB is going.....just to clear up i am not down on span but his replacement is better defensively & at the plate & cheaper....
      The Twins need at least 2 pitchers, and I'd prefer a 3rd on a 1 year high upside prove it type deal. We shouldn't be counting on too many guys like Deduno and Walters for next year. We just shouldn't. Those guys belong in AAA for depth. They'll be needed at one point, but should not be counted on as starters. This team also shoudln't be counting on Hendriks and Gibson either for this season. One or both of them should likely emerge at one point during the season, but expecting both to is dangerous.

      If you flip Span (or Revere), I don't think you do it for a 2B. You do it for a pitcher, as I don't see this team spending 25M and getting 2 or 3 decent pitchers this offseason. I agree that Dozier needs to improve, though there's good reason to think that he can. There's not a lot of hope for both spots though, as Carol is what he is. Nishi's collosal failure might buy Casilla one more year to put things together, but like most I don't have the confidence he can do that. It might be better to take a flier on guys like Kelly Johnson or Jeff Baker to man that spot for a year or two until one of Santana, Arcia, or Michael is ready.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      You forgot Nishi

      Though I'll say this, every time this team has had a decent middle infield, the MI players manage to find their way into Gardy's dog house and get run out. Bartlett and Hardy are more recent examples. Both were good players at their position. Both were sent away for nothing.
      Nothing? You're calling the offensive juggernaut SS called Brendan Harris and the flame thrower Jim Hoey nothing? Plus weren't there a couple more guys thrown in that almost made AA?

      Seriously, I think the problem with Gardy / SS is that Gardy was a very good div 1 SS, gotten old, tryin' to tell plus/plus major leaguers their business.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      It's a positive that Terry Ryan would SUGGEST we have other holes, as opposed to Billy Smith, who would refuse to ADMIT it.
      I would SUGGEST that it's very telling that the woeful Cleveland Indians have higher quality positional depth in the MI than the Twins. Though I ADMIT not huge talents, DFA'd Jose Lopez, Cord Phelps, Jason Kipnis, Juan Diaz and Jason Donald would be inexpensive upgrades at 2B or SS and could be easily acquired for little-to-nothing in return.
    1. RickSchuette's Avatar
      RickSchuette -
      This is Minnesota. We can't move Son of Sal out of the lineup. Baseball is now an international sport, with thousands of players on hundreds of teams spread across nearly every continent. Is Drew Butera really among the top 60 catchers on the planet?
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      OPS isn't a very good stat as it totally undervalues players who get on base as opposed to players that do not but hit home runs. Slugging % is a way more important piece in the calculation thatn OBP. Ben Revere is mentioned as crud except he plays well on the Defensive side. The guy has an OBP % over 350 and may win the batting title while stealing 40+ bases. Right there that shows you how weak OPS is. It impacts Mauer as well when is OPS relates him to the same category as Trevor Plouffe despite a 70 pt difference in Average and 90 point difference in OBP. WAR is a MUCH better stat which is briefly mentioned for Revere. The lineup is perfect minus one addition to SS or 2B. Most likely get rid of Dozier who sucks and get a utility guy like Carroll that can give you defense and a 1-1.5 WAR which would be sufficent.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      OPS is a perfectly fine stat.
      Also Plouffe has played better then Mauer this year. That isn't a knock on Mauer as much as it is the fact that Trevor Plouffe has been playing out of his mind.

      OPS like most every other stat doesn't obviously tell the full story, as you have to take things such as speed, and defensive value into effect as well. However OPS is miles ahead of "traditional" stats like batting average, RBI's and Runs.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      WAR is a MUCH better stat which is briefly mentioned for Revere.
      "WAR- What is it good for?" [To many folks, "absolutely nothing"]
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      diehard, i agree with your comments....and i also said they need 2 pitchers... you spend money on a ace, then you fill #2&3 with baker & diamond, sign a free agent #4 or trade then you have a walters that can match up with other teams #5....i agree you cant rely on a walters ,deduno ,devries as 1,2 or #3 guys but they can be #5s.....as far as gibson maybe...hendricks does not have the stuff to start or help in the pen....
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      OPS isn't a very good stat as it totally undervalues players who get on base as opposed to players that do not but hit home runs..
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      OPS is a perfectly fine stat.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_Production_Average
      Gross Production Average or GPA is a baseball statistic created in 2003 by Aaron Gleeman, as a refinement of On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS). GPA attempts to solve two frequently cited problems with OPS. First, OPS gives equal weight to its two components, On Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). In fact, OBP contributes significantly more to scoring runs than SLG does. Sabermetricians have calculated that OBP is about 80% more valuable than SLG...

      Unlike OPS, this formula both gives proper relative weight to its two component statistics...
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      If you're talking about only the offensive contribution of a player, it doesn't make much sense to use normal WAR, as it factors in defense.

      OPS is a decent quick and dirty stat but I prefer OBP/SLG splits. Either way, OPS isn't a bad baseline stat to use in a comparison like this.
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