Middle infield revisited:

After devising the BFE measurement to apply to third basemen, I am examining the ranking of MLB second basemen and short stops based on their 2007 BFE numbers (Twins in bold, SS free agents in italics) Minimum 200 innings at the position and 250 AB:

Short Stops:

Rafael Furcal, LA: 1.331 (fewer than 250AB)
Hanley Ramirez, Fla: 1.194

Jerry Hairston Jr., Cin: 0.983
Mike Aviles, KC: 0.959
Jose Reyes, NYM: 0.949

J.J. Hardy, Mil: 0.890
Stephen Drew, Ari: 0.871
Jhonny Peralta, Cle: 0.854
Jimmy Rollins, Phi: 0.853
Derek Jeter, NYY: 0.852
Yunel Escobar, Atl: 0.848
Cristian Guzman, Was: 0.845
Jed Lowrie, Bos: 0.824
Clint Barmes, Col: 0.821
15.Nick Punto, Min: 0.808

Michael Young, Tex: 0.773
Miguel Tejada, Hou: 0.766
Ryan Theriot, ChC: 0.758
Marco Scutaro, Tor: 0.746
Troy Tulowitzki, Col: 0.717
Maicer Izturis, LAA: 0.716
22.Brendan Harris, Min: 0.701

Erick Aybar, LAA: 0.690
Orlando Cabrera, CWS: 0.683
Jason Bartlett, TB: 0.682
Yuniesky Betancourt, Sea: 0.672
Edgar Renteria, Det: 0.661
David Eckstein, Tor/Ari: 0.645
Jack Wilson, Pit: 0.629
Julio Lugo, Bos: 0.622
Bobby Crosby, Oak: 0.610

Cesar Izturis, StL: 0.558
Jeff Keppinger, Cin: 0.539
Khalil Greene, SD: 0.527
Angel Berroa, LA: 0.507

36.Adam Everett, Min: 0.497
Omar Vizquel, SF: 0.407

Juan Castro, Bal/Cin: 0.279

Second basemen:

Mike Fontenot, CHI: 1.131 (246 AB)
Chase Utley, Phi: 1.105
Ian Kinsler, Tex: 1.069
Dustin Pedroia, Bos: 1.042
Dan Uggla, Fla: 1.024

Brian Roberts, Bal: 0.967
Mark DeRosa, ChC: 0.953

Ray Durham, Mil/SF: 0.867
Kelly Johnson, Atl: 0.858
Placido Polanco, Det: 0.849
Orlando Hudson, Ari: 0.846
Alexei Ramirez, CWS: 0.834
Joe Inglett, Tor: 0.825
Jose Lopez, Sea: 0.824
Kazuo Matsui, Hou: 0.823
Ronnie Belliard, Was: 0.812
Clint Barmes, Col: 0.804

Howie Kendrick, LAA: 0.796
Aaron Miles, StL: 0.794
Mark Grudzielanek, KC: 0.782
Mark Ellis, Oak: 0.776
Akinori Iwamura, TB: 0.771
Mark Loretta, Hou: 0.770
Brandon Phillips, Cin: 0.760
Jeff Baker, Col: 0.755
Edgar Gonzalez, SD: 0.745
28.Nick Punto, Min: 0.744
Rickie Weeks, Mil: 0.739
Felipe Lopez, Was/StL: 0.737
31.Alexi Casilla, Min: 0.736
Marco Scutaro, Tor: 0.721
Asdrubal Cabrera, Cle: 0.720
Jeff Kent, LA: 0.719
35.Brendan Harris, Min: 0.716
Robinson Cano, NYY: 0.701

Adam Kennedy, StL: 0.693
Jamey Carroll, Cl: 0.689
Juan Uribe, CWS: 0.654
Damion Easley, NYM: 0.629
Freddy Sanchez, Pit: 0.604

Luis Castillo, NYM: 0.591
Eugenio Velez, SF: 0.573
Tadahito Iguchi, Phi/SD: 0.516

Some observations:

  • Surprisingly, second base seems to be a bigger problem for the Twins in 2008, than SS

  • Punto was an above average SS, ranking 15th out of 34 players, surpassing players like Michael Young and Miguel Tejada, while Harris at 23 was 3 spots below MLB average

  • Punto was the highest ranking 2B at #28 but still well-below the MLB-average. Castillo (despite the fact that he is projected as a lock for the position in 2009, in most people's minds) was ranked at #31 and Harris at #35.

  • Tolbert did not have enough innings or ABs to qualify for ranking in any position, while Everett was ranked close to the bottom in the SS rankings

How does this change my previous assessment of the middle infield needs? Not much. I did propose changes in both 2B and SS, and the numbers reinforce the need for change in 2B. I also think that Punto with his performance last year, plus the high contract offers for middle infielders (see: Ellis, Mark) has priced his way out of the Twins' organization. Steve Tolleson with a spectacular ALF performance (.426/.463/.590, 2HR, 16 RBI in 61 AB as of this post) and a solid minor league season will be in the mix and potentially fight with Tolbert for a position in the 25-men roster.


MVB said...

Hey thanks for the comment. Yeah, I know from a logical perspective Holliday is not the best move, but fun to think about. Sometimes wish we had the resources to do things like that, but it's so much more rewarding the way we win.

Great to learn about another Twins blog. I'll make sure to add you to my blogroll!

thrylos98 said...


I still am waiting for the Twins to win :) I hope they make the necessary changes now that they have some payroll flexibility

Anonymous said...


I like your blog. Lots of quality information. Here is the thing I would like you to explore in more detail.

Factor in stolen bases and gidp. Factor those into your analysis of the Twins offense (and correlations for success)...and any replacement players you think we should consider. I will look forward to your analysis.

OPS does not take these into consideration. But I think they are important, considering the Twins hit into so many DP's, and considering the Twins continue to make the argument that in the "post steroids era", speed will dominate.

Carlos Gomez, for example, might play excellent defense, but an OPS of .650 plus or minus a few points is not acceptable. Unless, of course, he steals 70 bases. then, his relatively low slugging % is enhanced. His singles become doubles pretty quickly. But OPS would not capture that.

It is interesting to me that Gomez basically took two months off from his stolen base campaign this year. Why?? Had he continued to steal bases during that run, he might have finished with 50 stolen bases or more. That would have made his low OPS more tolerable, and would have meant more runs scored.

There is more I would like you to discuss...but let's start with this.

thrylos98 said...


I will take a look at it, but stolen bases do not really make that much difference. Baseball Prospectus looked at the "break even point", which is the number of stolen bases a year a player should have to overcome the number of times he is thrown out, so the run expectancy would be higher than if he did not try to steal. The number was variable for season to season ranging from 68 to 76. This is Ricky Henderson numbers. What is most important with players like Gomez, Span and Casilla is the runner is more likely to score from first on a double and from second on a single than other players. I would look into the GIDP numbers.

Both of these variables really affect run expectancy. I am sure that Baseball Prospectus has some in-depth studies about them.

Anonymous said...

I am less interested in the stolen base issue. Obviously we stole more bases in 2007 than 2008 and scored a lot less runs in 2007. I agree, stolen bases will not explain runs scored...or run differential...or correlate to winning percentage...but I wanted you to prove that. So as to debunk the myth that speed will lead to more runs. I think the Twins are selling a bill of goods here. Fact is, Gomez must play off the charts defense to offset his low OPS.

If we subscribe to your correlation theory, that OPS is the best "single" factor to look at, and then compound that with your BFE measurements of players..then it strikes me that Gomez and Casilla are, in fact, not helping this team win. Obviously we could look at other stats..win shares, WPA etc...but to put this in a global context..what you seem to be saying is that the Twins should build a team that provides as high as OPS as possible and should have a greater focus on slugging percentage.

let's say I agree. (I still want someone to show that our bunting, stealing, hit and runs did not meaningfully add to our offense. That, we, in fact, are not a great small ball team. That the "moves" Gardy could make in a game..stealing, bunting..etc. did not offset his failure to negate our propensity to hit into DP's.)

We just happened to overperform in one category hitting with RISP. If we do not repeat that (and it is hard to imagine we will) then Casilla and Gomez will hurt us a lot more in 2009. Casilla destroyed our offense in the last 6 weeks...I find it impossible to believe that people have Casilla penciled in to the starting lineup and number 2 spot...clearly OPS matters..and we need to get runners on base..and I have huge doubts about him

Thus, your analysis of these players actually shows who is, combining offense and defense, the kind of player we should seek. And, it counters the notion that Uggla would be a bad choice for the Twins, because he plays bad Defense. Casilla should definitely be packaged in a deal for Uggla...that would dramatically improve the OPS of this team.

I would not, however, bat Young in the 2 spot...he swings at the first pitch too much, so no chance to steal bases...and he hits on the ground 50% or more...so lots of DP opportunities. but that's just me.

One last thing...I would prefer Beltre to Glaus...solely because his OPS against lefties is .900 over the last 3 years..and we desperately need that. Uggla and Glaus have been less dominant against lefties. So, for that reason, I think Beltre is a better fit..but again..that is just me.

thrylos98 said...

I got a new post ready that looks at SB and GIDP in the Twins' context throughout the Gardy era and whether it correlates with wins. The results are actually pretty surprising. It will be up in a while.

I have numbers about stealing. I cannot say much about hit and runs and bunting at this point.

I think that Young hits on the Ground about as much as Mauer hits on the ground. Not too many people complained about him in the #2 spot. Also, Young's speed can really help up there.

As far as 3B goes, my point is that there are 7 people who will be an improvement on what the Twins have now. Others, like Kouzmanoff and Atkins and Crede will not. I really would not mind them getting any of the top 4 or the other 3, but I would mind if the get Kouz/Atkins/Crede or someone not in the list.

Defense is necessary esp. in the middle spots (see: Tigers, Detroit). Gomez is the premier CF in the majors leading in +/- by a huge margin. He will improve and his bat will be fine in the #9 spot.

Anonymous said...

I think my point about Young in the #2 spot had more to do with him swinging at the first pitch (as opposed to Mauer, for example, who takes a lot of pitches..which would allow a runner to have a chance to steal) But..no big deal.

I think if Young has a future with this team, he must be a run producer in the 6-8 spot in the order. And he may be that some day.

I agree with your assessment of the importance of OPS...and BFE...which is why I do not think Gomez is all that valuable. I wanted you to prove that his stolen bases would not alter that...which you did...now..if he improves his OPS to, say for example, .700 or higher ,than his BFE rating would be much higher....so I am guessing you are higher on him, than I am, in terms of projecting his performance. I hope you are correct. If Gomez makes strides in slugging % terms, he will be very useful.

by the way..I don't know how to put my name on these posts..if you see me on other boards, I go by "NorthDakotaTwinsFan"

thrylos98 said...


I guess you might have to register with blogger to get a name. Not sure about that :)

Young does swing at the first pitch a lot. His Chase % Early in Count (Before 2 Strikes) is 32%. Here are some others for this team:

Gomez 35%
Ruiz 31%
Morneau 25%
Harris 25%
Kubel 22%
Casila 21%
Tolbert 20%
Punto 20%
Cuddyer 20%
Redmond 17%
Buscher 16%
Span 16%
Mauer 12%

Puckett and Gaetti were notorious 1st pitch hitters. Young needs to learn which pitches to take and which to hit. I think that both he and Gomez improved as the season went along.

Young and Gomez would be fine. Young as a 22 year old had better numbers with the Twins than Puckett did as a 24 year old. They need to learn plate discipline and they need to be let to try to pull the ball by the Twins field management.