Is Nick Punto a "Winner"?
by, 03-07-2012 at 08:54 PM (937 Views)
Original post from twinsrubes.blogspot.com.
The following is dedicated specifically to baakre's mother-in-law, a.k.a. Nick Punto's #1 Fan. Having taken the winter off from even thinking much about the Twins after last season's 99-loss performance; I am just now getting around to racking my brain to figure out what happened between 2010 and 2011. This morning, the solution came to me: the Twins lost Nick Punto! Could it be? Is Punto a "winner"? Was he a significant piece of this roster for all those years and all those Central Division titles, so much so that it caused a first-to-worst debacle? Let me see if I can prove this idea true...or even close.
First of all, the Twins with Nick Punto on the roster from 2004-2010 were 619-517 (.545 win percentage). During those 7 seasons, the Twins won 4 division titles. It's pretty hard to argue with that. Without Nick Punto last season, the Twins were 63-99 (.389), losing the 2nd most games in Twins history. That was good for last place in the division. Punto, meanwhile, played 63 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 while battling a few injuries. If you remember, the Cardinals did pretty decent last season.
Punto hit a solid .278 in 166 plate appearances last season, with an impressive OPS of .809. He struck out only 21 times, drawing 25 walks, and posting a .388 OBP. Punto made only 3 errors in the field posting a .984 fielding percentage. If not for multiple injuries, which tend to be a pretty consistent issue for Punto, he was headed for a pretty solid season with the World Champs. Punto has played only 4 seasons where he appeared in more than 100 games. 2 of those 4 seasons were Central Division championship seasons for the Twins.
Punto's replacements in the middle infield last year were mainly Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, and Trevor Plouffe. The combination of those 4 players hit for a .234 average (243/1037), with an on-base percentage under .300. Thanks for that Nishioka. They also combined for 41 errors and a fielding percentage of .963.
This is about as extensive of research I needed to do to realize I was wasting my time trying to prove Nick Punto's worth. I never was a Punto-basher, but I wouldn't say I was a fan. I did appreciate him, though. I actually enjoyed watching him dive for ground balls, line drives, and 1st base. I always wanted him to be that player that every good team needs - a jack-of-all-trades 110% kind of player. The fact is, Nick Punto's absence was not the reason for 63-99. I wish I could have uncovered something here, but there just isn't that much difference between the guys we had and Punto. It's hard to compare statistics with Nick's lack of playing time last season. Could the Twins have used Punto last season? Absolutely. Would the Twins have won even 70 games with Punto? Probably not. I do miss Nick Punto a little, though.
Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.