Archive for June, 2011

Identifying The Ace of Spades

June 24, 2011

When the Philadelphia Phillies shocked the baseball nation by signing coveted free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, many Phillies fans turned to the phrase “Four aces!” to describe their pitching rotation this season. No doubt, the Phillies had Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Lee, and Roy Oswalt, all pitchers that easily could be aces of their respective staffs had they not been assembled on the same roster. At the same time, Joe Blanton became the butt of many jokes, despite being a solid starting pitcher himself.

This season, the Four Aces have lived up to the moniker, as Halladay, Hamels, and Lee all have ERAs under 3.00, and Oswalt has a 3.79 ERA despite playing through a bad back. These pitchers certainly have helped lead a Phillies squad that is currently possessing the best record in the majors this season.



Ben Revere: Catalyst and Offensive Liability?

June 21, 2011

There seems to be two types of leadoff hitters employed in the major leagues: speedy, low OBP hitters, and slightly above-average speedsters with good OBP numbers. Ben Revere’s energy, both on the base paths and in the field, have led the revival of the Twins this month.

We haven’t received a lot of news regarding Denard Span since he was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list, but he presumably will return to the team at some point this season. This creates an interesting conundrum, as Span could be considered the prototype of the latter group mentioned above, whereas Revere leads the former.

On a whole, the second group is really what you want in a leadoff hitter. However, this doesn’t always happen. Twins fans remember Jacque Jones. Corey Patterson’s had a significant number of at-bats in the first two spots in the order, despite having a career .292 OBP. Joey Gathright was even thrust into the leadoff spot several times in his career, and the most significant moment of his career was likely hurdling Hiroki Kuroda in a 2008 spring training game.


Notepad Scribbles, 6/17/11

June 17, 2011

What a nice little streak the Twins have put together over there last 13 games (11-2). Owners of the worst record in the league for most of the season, they’ve now moved up to third-worst, passing the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, and they are now just a game behind the Kansas City Royals for 4th place in the AL Central. With Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka back, along with Jason Kubel and Jim Thome arriving soon as well, the Twins should continue their winning ways.

Nishioka and the Batting Order

Tsuyoshi Nishioka made his first appearance since breaking his leg against the Yankees before the season was even a week old, and the results were mixed. Despite making an error on a potential double play, he looked very fluid on most other plays. I know that one of his criticisms was his throwing arm, but it looked just fine to me. As for at the plate, Nishioka did get a single in four trips, but it was an infield single on a slow chopper, and he did tally 2 strikeouts.

I know he’s still adjusting to MLB pitchers and has only played in 7 games so far, but I’m definitely not a fan of him batting in the top half of the order right now. He hit third yesterday, though Joe Mauer’s return should prevent that from happening again. However, Ron Gardenhire has to choose between Nishi and Alexi Casilla batting second, and I’m a little worried that he might make this decision more difficult that it should be.


Usher Update

June 14, 2011

Hello all. With the end of college finally here (well, a few weeks ago) and the Twins in town, I’m finally working home games again! As of right now, I’m still going to be in Section 238 in the right field grandstand, so feel free to stop by and say hi if you’re at a game. I won’t be at every single game, so I have a box in the column on the right labeled “Looking for Andrew at Target Field?” which will announce all games I will not be working. If I am not in Section 238, I won’t be able to announce anything on here, but you can check out my Twitter feed about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before game time to see if I will be somewhere else.

I hope to see you at the games, and hopefully the Twins keep on winning!

Cuddyer Needs To Stop Being Grounded

June 11, 2011

It may seem at first glance that I’m asking for Michael Cuddyer to become a little more vocal, but I’m actually focusing on his batted ball profile. Despite leading the Twins in home runs this season, Cuddyer is also near the top in ground ball percentage. For starters, let’s take a look at the major league leaders in percentage of batted balls hit on the ground this season.

1. Derek Jeter, 66.8 %

2. Ichiro Suzuki, 62.3 %

3. Jose Tabata, 61.3%

20T. Michael Cuddyer, 51.9%

Right now, 166 players qualify for the batting title, so Cuddyer is in the 88th percentile for hitting grounders this season. Now look at the Twins leaders in home runs with their respective ground ball percentage in parentheses.

1. Michael Cuddyer, 8 (51.9 %)

2T. Jason Kubel, 5 (33.5 %)

2T. Danny Valencia, 5 (47.9 %)

4T. Jim Thome, 4 (36.8%)

4T. Justin Morneau, 4 (35.9 %)


Don’t Blink

June 5, 2011

It should be obvious that I’m a fan of sabermetrics, but I love the traditional statistics as well. I especially love when I think I’m paying attention to the team, and yet sometimes I look at a player’s stats and think, “How did that happen???” So don’t blink, or you might miss the following.

– Alexi Casilla has drawn the ire of many Twins fans this season, but he’s now batting .262 after heating up in May and continuing his success through the first few days of June. But is that going to be enough for everyone, since many people were unsatisfied with J.J. Hardy’s .268 last season?

– Ben Revere was batting .167 after May 17th (10 games). Nine games later, he’s now batting .280.

– After being “freed” from Triple-A Rochester, Chuck James has pitched only twice in 8 games, so take note whenever he makes an appearance. You may not see him again for another 4 days.

– Brian Dinkelman’s first career plate appearance ended after 1 pitch, as he was hit in the foot by a breaking ball.

– Prior to Sunday’s game, Delmon Young was hitting .221/.255/.264 with only 4 extra base hits. His .519 OPS is 6th worst in the major leagues for players with at least 140 plate appearances.

– Sticking with Demolition Delmon, he somehow has a positive UZR in left field this season.

– Trevor Plouffe only trails Jim Thome in ISO and walk percentage so far this season, and yet is back in Triple-A. Shows you what happens when you have a few defensive miscues and the guy replacing you (Casilla) is on fire.

– Finally, the Twins just swept the Kansas City Royals in a 4 game set despite missing Jim Thome and Jason Kubel, and averaged 6.5 runs per game in the series. Prior to the Royals series, the Twins were averaging 3.5 runs per game.