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Thread: Article: Not Missing Bats & Big Impact: The 2013 Twins Rotation

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Article: Velocity to blame? That's not Twins rotation's biggest problem.


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    Thanks, this was really interesting.

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    Senior Member Double-A
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    Is it possible that the Twins pitchers' "off-speed" pitches lack velocity? I know that sounds ridiculous but if a curve does not have bite, it can get smacked. Not sure that means velocity exactly but both Liriano and Burnett do throw their soft stuff hard, if I can say it like that. Besides Deduno, who else on the Twins has decent breaking stuff? Scherzer, Verlander, Wainwright, -- nothing wrong with getting some zip on the breaking stuff in MLB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
    Is it possible that the Twins pitchers' "off-speed" pitches lack velocity?
    It is probably more likely the Twins pitchers' "off-speed" pitches lack movement.

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    Senior Member Triple-A h2oface's Avatar
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    Thanks! Great article.

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    Aaaaah... so the moral is; don't throw hanging curve balls.

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    Senior Member Triple-A Paul Pleiss's Avatar
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    Also, throw hard, miss bats, to some extent.

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    Maybe that the Twins pitchers don't have good enough fastballs to get ahead of the count so they have to try and throw their off-speed stuff for strikes, which get wacked being to close to the hitting zone.

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    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    As the Twins attempt to fix the rotation this winter, a key component of that could be identifying talent which has different approach than last year’s staff had. Namely, pitchers able to keep their “soft” pitches out of the middle of the zone. Those available include the likes of Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir – both of whom attack the strike zone with their fastball and supplement it with below-the-zone breaking pitches. On the other hand, pitchers like Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes tend to allow their “soft” offerings to hang up in the zone, leading to above-average well-hit averages in 2013.
    That's one way to look at things. Another is to look for pitchers who a. throw hard and b. have high K/9.

    Part of the reason the Twins' SPs are throwing soft stuff in the zone is that: a. they do not throw hard and b. Anderson's philosophy is to "throw strikes and let your defense do their job".

    So, since Anderson is still around, I'd rather see pitchers who have fast fastballs and strike people out. This is part of the reason that I smirk when I see people suggesting that Thielbar or another soft tosser can replace Duensing in the 'pen...
    Last edited by Thrylos; 11-06-2013 at 08:49 AM.
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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Maybe that the Twins pitchers don't have good enough fastballs to get ahead of the count so they have to try and throw their off-speed stuff for strikes, which get wacked being to close to the hitting zone.
    Right and that might be a part of it. There is also the element of variation and pattern which may have led to what we see in the chart above. Did they fall behind in the count and -- instead of trying to sneak a fastball past in a fastball count -- simply spin an off-speed pitch up there? Lots of additional questions.

    That's one way to look at things. Another is to look for pitchers who a. throw hard and b. have high K/9.
    I like velocity a lot and definitely think the Twins should continue their pursuit of power arms in the draft and, hopefully, in free agency. I would add, however, that velocity does not necessarily equate to strikeouts. The Twins' rotation had a fastball velocity (90.0 mph) that finished 25th out of the 30 teams. The five teams behind them on the velocity leaderboard had varying levels of success but they all maintained strikeout rates much higher than the Twins' rotation based on their ability to miss bats by keeping their secondary offerings out of the middle of the zone.

    Braves...89.9...3.51...7.4
    Angels...89.9...4.30...6.9
    A's.......89.9....3.72...6.9
    Blue Jays...89.5...4.81...7.0
    Giants....89.4...4.37....7.8

    PS, as statistically-oriented people, let's agree to stop referencing K/9, m'kay?

    Stop using K/9 and BB/9! - Beyond the Box Score

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    Senior Member All-Star Willihammer's Avatar
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    It should come as no surprise to those who watched any of the Twins pitchers last year and kept an eye on the radar gun readings that the speed numbers did not impress anyone. The Twins starters averaged 90 on their fastball. Just a tick below them was the Atlanta Braves’ staff that averaged 89.9 with the cheese. Yet, unlike the Twins, the Braves’ staff held a pristine .150 well-hit average – the fifth-best in the game last year. So the pitching woes cannot be entirely explained simply by lack of velocity – but it could possibly be explained by the lack of velocity in critical locations.
    How many of the green globs in the middle of the strikezone are not actually offspeed pitches but fastballs or cutters from the Twins soft tossing starters? Many of these pitches clocked at 85-89 esp. Albers, Diamond, Worley, Correia.

    If those are in fact a lot of fastballs, then I wonder if starters are being forced to throw them in those locations, because of what you wrote last spring about Mauer being a poor framer of the low strike (and a good framer of the high strike).

    By contrast Brian McCann was tied for 4th in framers of the low strike.

    Baseball Prospectus | Overthinking It: This Week in Catcher Framing, 4/12

    edit: In other words, might the Twins staff pitch higher in the zone overall (not just with off-speed pitches) because their catcher is squeezing them on the bottom of the zone?
    Last edited by Willihammer; 11-06-2013 at 10:51 AM.

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    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
    The Twins' rotation had a fastball velocity (90.0 mph) that finished 25th out of the 30 teams.
    This is kind of misleading, because Pelfrey's and Gibson's FBs were high pushing the rest up...

    Here are the numbers:

    Mike Pelfrey 92.2
    Kyle Gibson 92.1
    Kevin Correia 90.4
    Samuel Deduno 90.3
    Liam Hendriks 90.0
    Vance Worley 89.5
    P.J. Walters 89.4
    Scott Diamond 88.4
    Pedro Hernandez 88.4
    Andrew Albers 85.

    And Pelfrey is one of these rare guys with high FB velocity but very low K/9 or K/PA and he really skews the situation...

    part of the low K/rates is Rick Anderson's pitch to contact philosophy for sure. Some part is the personnel
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinsin17 View Post
    It is probably more likely the Twins pitchers' "off-speed" pitches lack movement.
    Phil Mackey had a piece about the sorry state of the staff yesterday.
    How to fix the Twins, Part 1: The biggest problem among many problems | 1500 ESPN Twin Cities ? Minnesota Sports News & Opinion (Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild, Gophers) | Sportswire: Minnesota Twins

    In it he listed many of the things the Twins pitchers were last in. One catagory was curveball break. League average was 6.3 inches. Twins pitchers curveballs average a 2.9 inch break.

    Why would a pitcher bother with that pitch? May I be so bold to suggest that a pitch that doesn't even break three inches should not even be considered a curvball?

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    In it he listed many of the things the Twins pitchers were last in. One catagory was curveball break. League average was 6.3 inches. Twins pitchers curveballs average a 2.9 inch break.
    Just an FYI, ESPNtrumedia's stats has -5.5 inches as the MLB average vertical drop for a curveball but they maintain the same -2.9 for the Twins. While Mackey's point is well taken, it is a bit skewed because of Scott Diamond's struggles with his curve. By far, Diamond threw the bulk of the curveballs on the staff (26%) and had a break of 1.1, meaning it stayed up in the zone (a year prior it was at 0.1 and very effective). Frankly, I attribute to his elbow issues.

    This is kind of misleading, because Pelfrey's and Gibson's FBs were high pushing the rest up...


    Why is it misleading? Pelfrey, Correia and Deduno were three of the four starters who threw the most pitches...

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    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
    part of the low K/rates is Rick Anderson's pitch to contact philosophy for sure. Some part is the personnel
    The philosophy isn't bad. Pitch to contact just means "don't be afraid to throw strikes early in the count so you don't get behind". It's nothing every pitching coach in the league wouldn't recommend.

    The problem is the philosophy became a way to drive personnel decisions.

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer
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    Is the WHAV for all pitches or only fastballs?

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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Is the WHAV for all pitches or only fastballs?
    All pitches.

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