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Teflon

Projecting the Twins Starting Pitching Upgrade in 2014

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Pythagoras

The polar vortex seems to have abated but I’m still left cold when I think about the Twins winning only 66 games last year, pairing a frozen offense with a starting rotation that compiled an ERA so far north of 5.00 that Robert Peary should have led an expedition to it. In an effort to warm their fans’ waning interest, Minnesota uncharacteristically spent a real chunk of money in the off season (okay, it was the additional MLB TV money chunk) to acquire free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and re-sign Mike Pelfrey.

My question is: What does that additional chunk of MLB TV money get us?

To answer it, I attempted to quantify the changes to the starting pitching staff into runs allowed and then plug the new totals into the Pythagorean calculator – the elegant Bill James equation that estimates winning percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed.

Example:
The Twins scored 614 runs and gave up 788 on their way to those 66 wins last year. The Pythagorean calculation with those numbers looks like this:

(614 ^ 1.83)/((614 ^ 1.83) + (788 ^ 1.83))

The final result from above produces a winning percentage of .388 – which would translate to 62.8 wins in a 162 game season. In the Pythagorean view, this means the Twins won a couple more games than expected given the respective run totals.

How to quantify the change in runs? This is by no means detailed or precise. More of a ballpark estimate, if you will. I looked at the career averages per 162 innings for our new pitchers and assumed those as somewhat rough and slightly optimistic estimates for 2014 even though I expect Nolasco to have a bit of a fall-off from his averages pitching in the A.L. His averages were 202 innings and 106 runs allowed – so that’s what I took. Hughes has averaged 169 innings and 91 runs, Pelfrey 198 innings and 105 runs, Correia 167 innings and 88 runs. The remaining innings to be pitched by starters in 2014 I estimated based on the average performance of the holdovers from last year such as Diamond, Deduno, and Gibson – removing the numbers from the likes of Hendricks, Worley, Albers, and De Vries. I assume this collective remaining group fills out the rest of the starts with an ERA close to 5.00.

The result of all this is that I expect the starting pitchers to pitch an additional 75 innings compared to last year and to give up around 40 fewer runs. (42, actually, with an ERA around 4.8) If we assume the relief corps pitches to the same standards as last year, with 75 fewer innings worked, they’ll give up about 30 fewer runs. (30.5) My net result is a reduction of 73 runs allowed.

If we run the Pythagorean equation again with the new runs allowed,

(614 ^ 1.83)/((614 ^ 1.83) + (715 ^ 1.83))

The Twins winning percentage improves to .431 which is a 70-win season or about 7 wins more than the Pythagorean estimate with the actual numbers. This is with the assumption of the same dilapidated offense as last year. It will take about 50 more runs scored to get to 75 wins. Is that in the realm of possibility? Stay tuned.

Comments

  1. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Thanks for the reasoned assessment.

    Long term, any investment of innings into Meyer, Gibson or any of the three under team control out of options guys will help in future years. What's is this year's cost (in wins) risk in giving them starts over Correia or even Pelfrey?
  2. Minn_Twins's Avatar
    A "ballpark" estimate eh? No pun intended. Well it seems that the money didn't really get us anything. Strange. I wonder when management will go out and spending some real money to get some fresh talent again. I think we've got first round this year which will help. According to the editor at http://minnesota-twins-store.cooplocale.com, the twins haven't made decent investments in awhile. Looks like this assessment is in line with that thinking.
  3. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    I am on record as predicting 75-77 wins for the club this year, but I think anything over 70 and 2014 will be a success in Twins Territory. I'm more concerned about young players developing, maturing and finding their groove at the big league level.
  4. h2oface's Avatar
    Great article! Pythagoras and the Twins. teflon twins and pythagoras. pythagoras and teflon twins. I like how it all projects! Well, kind of, in the sense that it is not a 60 win season. I enjoyed the read a lot.

    I am increasingly amazed that it is erroneously stated that the twins "uncharacteristically spent a real chunk of money in the off season". The payroll, as it stands right now, is virtually the same as last year. They didn't actually spend a real chunk of money! Have they really fooled so many astute observers? If they would have taken the payroll up to 100 million or more, THEN they would have brought the payroll up to where it should be. If they would have raised the payroll to what is has been before, without additional chunk of MLB TV money, and up to around 110 million........ THEN they would have uncharacteristically spent a real chunk of money in the off season. As it is, Terry Ryan has loaded the pitching staff with high hopes, and dreams with potential. The smoke screen is in effect, and apparently working for the front office. Now it may happen, that is true. And the team may hit. That is true, too. But let it stop, please, let it stop........ this dogma that the Twins have spent a real chunk of money.
    Updated 02-15-2014 at 04:02 AM by h2oface
  5. Jim H's Avatar
    The Twins bought, potentially, about 270 or 9 seasons worth of starts this off season. They have spread them out over 4 seasons with 3 pitchers, Nolasco, Hughes and Pelfrey. I don't expect the Twins to get anywhere near 270 starts out of these 3 guys and ideally at least 2 of them will be replaced by better young emerging talent before they make all their starts. Assuming they all stay healthy, which they likely won't.

    I think I expect that if the Twins get 150 to 180 starts out of these guys, that would be pretty good. Especially if the reason they are replaced is that the Twins have better options rather than total ineffectiveness.

    This year I would just like the 3 of them to be healthy and for all 3 to pitch in the range of a mid-rotation starter, which is pretty much their upside anyway. If that happens, well the sky isn't the limit, but the Twins could have a pretty good year. There will still be room for young guys like Meyer and May, if they show they are ready. Decent pitching might allow some of the young hitters to develop without the need to try to hit 5 run home runs.

    It is really hard to guess what the offense will do this year. There are so many youngish guys who haven't quite shown themselves to be big regulars yet, but still might. There is the very young talent that might start arriving this year, but may or may not be ready to really help yet. I am fairly optomistic about this team, but what I want to really see is some progress.
  6. Teflon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by h2oface
    I am increasingly amazed that it is erroneously stated that the twins "uncharacteristically spent a real chunk of money in the off season". The payroll, as it stands right now, is virtually the same as last year. They didn't actually spend a real chunk of money!
    Good point. Last year's opening day obligation was $82 million and the Twins current 2014 obligation is currently around $76 million although that doesn't factor the returning ex-Twins Kubel, Bartlett, or Guerrier who signed minor league deals. The $22 million in salary they rid themselves of in jettisoning Morneau, Doumit, and Carroll was essentially redirected to Nolasco, Hughes, and Suzuki. To be more accurate, what's "uncharacteristic" is - not the money being spent in total - but the money being spent on free agents.

    Of course this raises the question of what the Twins are actually planning on doing with the additional $25 million they received as their share of the renegotiated national TV deal with MLB, doesn't it? They could have gone harder in pursuit of a top-tier pitcher or major-league quality shortstop.
  7. h2oface's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Teflon
    Of course this raises the question of what the Twins are actually planning on doing with the additional $25 million they received as their share of the renegotiated national TV deal with MLB, doesn't it? They could have gone harder in pursuit of a top-tier pitcher or major-league quality shortstop.
    Exactly. So from this perspective, it appears that if they dedicate half of the TV money to salary, (and of course pocket the other half like they have been doing with the salary money the last two years.....), they are still say 20 million plus 12.5 million (32.5 million!) short of spending money on salary that they should. That is pretty characteristic of what they usually do, and the team is left with 2,3, and 4 years of mediocre starting arms.
  8. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Teflon
    Good point. Last year's opening day obligation was $82 million and the Twins current 2014 obligation is currently around $76 million although that doesn't factor the returning ex-Twins Kubel, Bartlett, or Guerrier who signed minor league deals. The $22 million in salary they rid themselves of in jettisoning Morneau, Doumit, and Carroll was essentially redirected to Nolasco, Hughes, and Suzuki. To be more accurate, what's "uncharacteristic" is - not the money being spent in total - but the money being spent on free agents.

    Of course this raises the question of what the Twins are actually planning on doing with the additional $25 million they received as their share of the renegotiated national TV deal with MLB, doesn't it? They could have gone harder in pursuit of a top-tier pitcher or major-league quality shortstop.
    I am not sure it is really 25 million.

    I think the 25 million is the yearly average of the current deal compared to yearly average of the previous deal. Since the money increases every year, the last year of the previous deal in 2013 was the greatest amount and 2014 will be the least amount of the current deal. The difference in TV money from 2013 to 2014 is much less than 25 million and reportedly closer to 5-10 million.

    from Kansas City Star

    Most relevantly, there is no $25 million-per-team jump in revenues from 2013 to 2014. That figure (which doesn’t account for a share that MLB takes) comes from the average of the new contract compared to the average of the old contract. But the old deal increased every year, just like the new deal is scheduled to. The highest total of the old contract was last year, and the lowest total of the new contract is this year, so the raw increase from last year to this year is thought to be more like $5 million to $10 million, before MLB takes its share.


    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/14...#storylink=cpy
    Updated 02-16-2014 at 06:24 PM by jorgenswest
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