Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Twins Killings

If you've been following the Twins this season, no doubt you have been part of the chorus of voices wondering, "Why can't these guys get a hit with runners in scoring position?" Or maybe it's not for you to wonder why, but just to pull at your hair and scream G'AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

In any case, it's been the great aggravation to us all lately, wasted chances to drive runners in. So would it surprise you to know that the Twins lead the league in OPS with runners in scoring position?

It's true. Not only that, but they lead the AL in both on-base pct. and slugging pct. with RISP, and also home runs. The team batting avg. in that situation is right up at the top, as well. Through Monday, the Twins are hitting .331/.412/.535 with 10 HR with runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base. I am not making this up, nor am I talking about the Twins in Bizarro World. See for yourself.

Yet the team ranks 8th in RBI with runners in scoring position, and sits at 9th in total runs per game.


One might guess that the Twins are also running themselves out of too many innings, but the team has stolen 13 bases in 17 tries, a productive success rate of 76 percent. The problem isn't strikeouts, either. The Twins have struck out fewer times than any other team in the AL, and barely the second-fewest with runners in scoring position.

The apparent answer explaining the subpar run production probably doesn't surprise you: we know almost by osmosis that the Twins lead the AL by grounding into 14 double plays with runners in scoring position, 6 of them coming with the bases loaded. And while the team has generally done exceptionally well with runners in scoring position, they have hit a measly .154/.138/.154 when the sacks are full.

By checking the Run Expectancy Matrix at the Tangotiger site and looking at each situation in which the Twins have hit into a double play, we can gauge that the team should have scored 28.5 runs, on average, from the runner situations just before hitting into the double play through the end of the inning. After hitting into a double play, however, the Twins scored just 4 runs from there to the end of those innings. So, assuming the average run potential for each situation, these double plays possibly cut down on the team's scoring by about 24-25 runs.

In four losses to the White Sox alone, Twins batters stepped up to situations which should have led to 11 runs scored through the rest of the inning, on average, and yet hit into 8 double plays and the team had to settle for 3 runs instead. Six of the double plays came in the two losses last week, decided by 5-4 and 3-1 scores, when the situations should have led to 7.75 runs on average for the Twins, yet the team had to settle for 2 runs.

The twin killings are killing the Twins right now, or at least it looks like the primary difference in the division race so far. Well, that and the excessive amount of home runs allowed by Twins pitching: 26, second most in the AL. Despite holding opponents to a .294 obp (3rd lowest) and a 1.15 WHIP (2nd, a hair behind Chicago), the 3.99 ERA by the staff rates a mediocre 7th in the league. But that's another topic, perhaps for another time.


At 4/26/2005 6:56 PM, Blogger SBG said...

Man, I have to hand it to you. You have the best thing going. While I'm wondering about site hits, you are churning out some seriously good stuff. Great analysis.

What a roll you are on.


At 4/26/2005 6:58 PM, Blogger TwinsJunkie said...

I wonder why they are so great with RISP yet cant get a hit with the bases loaded. They must be getting all the hits with just a guy on second, or second and third. This would be a reward for the stolen-basage.

At 4/27/2005 12:29 PM, Anonymous YankeeFan said...

I think TJ must be on to something. The thing I have long admired about the Twins organization is that it builds families, not just teams. Players are genuinely sad to be traded or to have to leave through free agency, and other players are genuinely sad to see them go.

This leads to an actual point, however. It seems that good teams pick up their teammates and perform best in that role. Perhaps upon seeing a successful stolen base attempt, the player at the plate feels the need to come through for him teammate -- why strand him on second base after he worked so hard to get there?

Also, I wonder where in the batting order these bases-loaded at-bats are occuring. Obviously, if the 3-4-5-6-7 hitters are the ones ending up on base while the 8-9 hitters keep hitting into DPs, or if it was the same player (e.g., a ground-ball hitter) hitting into the DPs, it would make more sense than if the DPs were distributed throughout the lineup.

Excellent analysis frightwig.

With a tip of the cap,


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