Friday, June 27, 2014

June Minnesota Twins Power Rankings!

This good sweep, bad sweep thing is getting stressful.  The Twins are going to be inconsistent, but do they have to be so rollercoastery-consistent.  I know, that's not a word, but it feels accurate.  Anyway, we have reached the end of the month, so it is officially time for some POWER RANKINGS!  Remember, these are cumulative, so quit it with your recency bias. 

Considering I wanted to throw this guy in a dumpster about a month ago, I'd say the number 10 ranking is pretty darn special.  It's a neat thing, if you will.  Correia owns a 3.21 ERA in his last seven starts and he's only walked six batters in 42 innings over that span.  Last season, when Correia was effective, he limited walks much like he has over these last few weeks.  If he's trending in the right direction, the Twins might actually be able to get something of value if they decide to trade him.  Let's just never bring up the word "extension" around him. 

Santana left Wednesday night's game with a strain or sprain or tweak...a messed up knee.  Hopefully, he doesn't miss significant time as he has been one of the most fun players to watch on the entire team.  I thought Santana would join the Twins in 2014, but I didn't think he'd make it as a part-time center fielder.  Now mostly playing short, Santana hasn't looked lost or anything like that.  He's made just one error in 18 games and range was never really a concern.  His speed appears to be a legit weapon and I think he's going to be a guy who is really fun to track as he matures. 

Plouffe hasn't played since June 14, but appears to be close to returning.  In a way, having a player ranked this high who hasn't played in two weeks says more about the team than the player, but Plouffe has been a solid C this season.  Of concern is his nearly .200 batting average since May 1, but he's also been a relatively stable defensive player for the first time in his career.  Plouffe hasn't been great in 2014, but he's been serviceable.  On a team that still has many holes, serviceable works. 

Willingham is pretty much being Willingham in 2014.  He's hitting for power, walking a lot and making little contact.  This should come as no surprise as people tend to perform like the people that they are, if that makes any sense.  Having a consistent power threat in the middle of the lineup is pretty neat.  Personally, I even enjoy his defense.  It never seems like he's going to make the play, but sometimes he does.  It's an adventure!  Plus, he never changes his facial expression. 

After Perkins had back-to-back tough outings against Chicago last weekend, I saw a few folks who were expressing some concern regarding the performance of the Twins' closer.  As far as things Twins fans should worry about, here's where Perkins would rank:
  • 4,978.  Robot Bees
  • 4,979.  Glen Perkins
  • 4,980.  Denny Hocking's hand coming back to haunt the Twins a la the movie Idle Hands, which no one has seen
  • 4,981.  Does one italicize a movie title or put quotes around it?
Please do not be worried about the elite closer.  He's great. 
I tentatively had Gibson ranked third earlier this week, but his awful start on Tuesday dropped him two slots.  It wasn't that one game, it's the bigger issue of Gibson's home/road splits.  Home/road splits make no sense to me.  Sure, Target Field tends to favor the pitcher (not true, 101 park factor, actually benefits hitters), but Gibson's an extreme ground ball pitcher who does not benefit from Target Field (which actually does not favor the pitcher at all, with the exception of home runs allowed). 

His ERA is nearly five runs greater on the road, but his peripherals are actually slightly better on the road.  GUUUUUUH?!?   Well, his BABIP is lower at home and his strand rate is comically low on the road.  The reality is that it probably isn't the too hard mattress (or too soft if that's his bugaboo) in his hotel room, but just some odd luck and a small sample.  I imagine his road stats will improve over time.  His home stats will likely get worse as well.  He's not a 6.00 ERA pitcher or a 1.50 ERA pitcher, he's somewhere in the middle, just like every non-Scott Aldred pitcher. 

The Eddie 400 movement is a juggernaut, but Escobar himself is not a .320 hitter.  He isn't going to slug .500.  He's probably going to hit 30 doubles, which is pretty cool.  The main reason I wanted to see more from Escobar in 2014 was that I felt he could do more with his playing time than Pedro Florimon.  I like Escobar's defensive versatility and I think the Twins appreciate it as well.  I think it's fair to say that he has a role on the Twins for the next few years.  He might not always start, but I think he's the type of player who can start if needed and the team won't lose a lot wherever they put him. 

Suzuki has never had an OPS+ greater than 98 and that career-best figure came way back in 2007.  Suzuki is on pace to wallop that number and post his finest offensive season of his career, somehow at the age of 30.  The Twins signed Suzuki for peanuts and are getting great return on that investment.  I still find it hard to believe that Suzuki, at age 30, is suddenly a better hitter than he's ever been, but it's hard to argue with three solid months of good production.  I'm not sure how I feel about a long-term extension or anything like that, but I could easily be talked into re-signing Suzuki for another year.  Of course, I would have to borrow a lot of money to pay his salary.

Hughes is now the Twins' ace and the two biggest reasons cited are his improved control and a decrease in home runs allowed.  His walk rate is microscopic and he's only given up seven home runs all season.  However, another reason for his success is a significant increase in his ground ball rate, from just under 31% in 2013 to just over 36% in 2014.  While he is still significantly below the league average of 45.3%, six points of ground balls is a great way to keep even more balls in the park.  Will these gains last?  If they do, he might continue to perform as an Ace.

His batting average doesn't really move, but he just keeps racking up value.  His fWAR is now comfortably above 3 and he appears to be a pretty solid All-Star candidate.  I wrote all about Dozier's odd statistical output on Wednesday, if you want to read it.  Dozier and Hughes are clearly the two standout players in 2014.  If just two or three more players could join them in this category, the Twins would be a lot less rollercoastery.  Regardless, watching Dozier grow into a star player has been really fun. 

That's all I have as there is no number lower than one.  Well, zero, but that's lunacy.  Have a great weekend, everyone!


  1. A few things:

    1. Obviously, it's #4981 of things one should worry about, but italicize movie titles when possible.

    2. Hughes, I think, is really benefiting from playing at Target Field, just because it's harder to hit home runs there (well, at least for Mauer and Morneau). If Hughes had pitched in the Dead Ball Era, he'd be a Hall of Famer.

    3. Who will represent the Twins in the All Star game? Hughes, if only one, I'm guessing, but anyone else? Dozier or Suzuki or Perkins?

    1. 1. Yes! I remembered that without Googling!

      2. Yes, Target Field isn't an actual "pitchers' park" but it does suppress HR greatly and that was always Hughes' biggest issue.

      3. I'm guessing Perkins for sure, mostly because once you make an AS team, it seems you get looked at as an AS going forward. Dozier's batting average is going to be hard to overcome. I'd have to look at AL catchers more closely, but I think Suzuki has a decent chance. He's a veteran and the opposing manager will likely like that.

  2. You know, with Wieters being out for the season with Tommy John, Derrick Norris is likely the starter at catcher (and deservedly so). For #2, you gotta go with Suzuki. Sure, McCann has more votes, but he's a jerk, and only batting .221. Plus, there will be other Yankees.

    Also, when it comes to All Star voting, I reckon that fantasy baseball is the best thing that has ever happened to the process. It used to be pure popularity contest, but now, fans make intelligent choices for the most part (McCann being #3 at Catcher being the exception).

    1. I completely agree, the fans are voting in more deserving players now.

      I think the AL catchers will be Norris, Salvador Perez and then either Yan Gomes or Kurt Suzuki. I'd say Suzuki has a pretty good chance because he's a vet. McCann should only get in if voted in. He looks really old this year.