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11/3/11

Can the Twins rebound? Part III: Quick ranking of MLB middle infielders and not only free agents

Yesterday I examined the Twins' performance in 2011 and indicated that fielding and hitting were subpar and really needed to improve. Outfield defense with Span and Revere will be fine and also indicated 3 free agent additions (2 OF/DH and a C) who are power right hand bats and will be able to improve both fielding and hitting (and in case of one, base running) if they join the team in 2012.


Looking at potential middle infield targets is a necessity, because the overall Twins' middle infield defense was a very sore point in 2011. So the requirement is that a new acquisition should not field worse than what the Twins have in house. In other words, we want to improve the defense. So players with less than average (0) fielding are not included


Thus, I am listing all MLB SS and 2B who had positive "Fielding" (Fangraphs value. I am also listing their "Hitting", "Base Running" and Wins Above Replacement values. 2012 Twins' players are in Bold and free agents are underlined.


Here are the short stops ranked by decreasing fielding:
(Name/Batting/Base Running/Fielding/WAR)

Alexei Ramirez -0.7 5.1 11.9 4.9
J.J. Hardy 10.7 -0.3 10.7 4.8
Alcides Escobar -16.5 0.4 10.2 2.2
Jhonny Peralta 16.0 -1.9 9.9 5.2
Craig Counsell -11.9 1.3 8.6 0.5
Clint Barmes -2.0 1.9 7.9 3.1
Brendan Ryan -7.4 2.8 7.6 2.6
John McDonald -13.2 1.6 7.4 0.6
Troy Tulowitzki 28.2 -2.8 7.3 6.3
Elvis Andrus -0.4 7.7 7.0 4.5
Ronny Cedeno -15.7 2.6 6.1 1.4
Sean Rodriguez -2.2 1.3 5.1 2.3
Stephen Drew -3.4 1.3 4.5 1.9
Elliot Johnson -8.3 0.8 4.4 0.5
Paul Janish -25.0 0.6 4.2 -0.4
Zack Cozart 1.0 0.2 4.1 0.7
Miguel Tejada -16.3 -1.5 4.0 0.0
Justin Sellers -5.0 3.0 3.9 0.8
Ramon Santiago -3.0 1.4 3.3 1.4
Brandon Crawford -9.5 1.1 3.1 0.5
Jimmy Rollins 6.2 0.1 2.9 3.8
Cesar Izturis -2.9 -0.5 2.9 0.1
Donnie Murphy -6.1 0.5 2.6 0.1
Alberto Gonzalez -15.1 0.9 2.3 -0.2
Alex Cora -7.7 0.8 2.0 0.2
Mike McCoy -8.9 1.3 1.9 0.3
Chris Valaika 0.1 0.1 1.6 0.3
Yunel Escobar 13.5 0.2 1.6 4.3
Eric Sogard -3.5 -0.8 1.5 0.0
Jack Wilson -11.1 0.0 1.3 0.0
Erick Aybar 8.5 1.3 1.2 4.0
Omar Quintanilla -4.6 0.0 1.1 -0.3
Ruben Tejada 1.0 -0.3 1.1 1.8
Pedro Ciriaco 0.3 -0.2 0.8 0.2
Edgar Renteria -7.4 0.2 0.8 0.9
Mike Fontenot -3.0 1.8 0.6 1.0
Marco Scutaro 7.2 -0.3 0.6 2.9
Eduardo Escobar -0.4 0.1 0.5 0.0
Andrew Romine -2.2 0.0 0.4 -0.1
Angel Sanchez -11.3 2.3 0.4 0.5
Julio Lugo -5.5 -0.6 0.2 -0.4
Reid Brignac -22.4 0.1 0.1 -1.1
Josh Wilson -3.2 1.0 0.0 0.1
Cody Ransom -2.0 0.3 0.0 0.0
Tommy Field -2.6 0.6 -0.1 0.0
Alexi Casilla -0.8 -0.4 -0.2 1.4
Matt Tolbert -14.4 1.3 -0.3 -0.5
Alex Gonzalez -15.5 -0.1 -0.3 1.1




Here are the second basemen ranked by decreasing fielding:
(Name/Batting/Base Running/Fielding/WAR)


Dustin Pedroia 31.7 -0.9 17.9 8.0
Howie Kendrick 16.2 3.2 16.7 5.8
Ian Kinsler 26.9 5.8 15.0 7.7
Brandon Phillips 17.1 3.2 11.4 6.0
Ben Zobrist 27.0 2.9 10.2 6.6
Craig Counsell -11.9 1.3 8.6 0.5
Chase Utley 9.9 2.2 8.4 3.9
Omar Infante -6.9 0.8 8.2 2.7
Darwin Barney -11.8 5.0 6.1 2.2
Mark Ellis -16.1 3.7 5.9 1.3
Chris Getz -13.3 1.2 5.6 1.0
Sean Rodriguez -2.2 1.3 5.1 2.3
Gordon Beckham -16.4 1.1 4.9 1.1
Logan Forsythe -7.0 0.6 4.0 0.4
Nick Punto 5.0 1.4 4.0 1.8
Justin Sellers -5.0 3.0 3.9 0.8
Ramon Santiago -3.0 1.4 3.3 1.4
Kelly Johnson -3.0 -1.4 2.5 2.2
Luke Hughes -8.5 1.6 2.5 0.4
Dustin Ackley 8.9 0.9 2.3 2.7
Alberto Gonzalez -15.1 0.9 2.3 -0.2
Robert Andino -5.8 0.9 2.2 1.8
Rickie Weeks 17.8 -3.0 1.6 3.7
Jack Wilson -11.1 0.0 1.3 0.0
DJ LeMahieu -3.9 -0.3 1.3 -0.1
Maicer Izturis 0.7 0.3 1.2 2.0
Omar Quintanilla -4.6 0.0 1.1 -0.3
Jonathan Herrera -13.8 1.0 1.1 0.0
Ruben Tejada 1.0 -0.3 1.1 1.8
Peter Kozma -0.6 -0.5 1.1 0.1
Danny Espinosa 5.2 2.9 1.0 3.5
Brad Emaus -3.8 0.2 0.9 -0.1
Chris Woodward -2.5 0.7 -0.2
on Hill -11.8 -2.1 0.7 0.8
Brooks Conrad 0.2 0.8 0.7 0.6
Mike Fontenot -3.0 1.8 0.6 1.0
Esteban German 2.2 0.2 0.5 0.3
Angel Sanchez -11.3 2.3 0.4 0.5
Taylor Green -1.3 0.7 0.3 0.1
Steve Lombardozzi -2.9 -0.4 0.2 -0.2
Josh Wilson -3.2 1.0 0.0 0.1
Eugenio Velez -8.0 0.0 0.0 -0.7
Lopez -10.7 1.1 -0.1 -0.2
Manny Burriss -10.7 -0.4 -0.1 -0.6
Juan Castro -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Adam Kennedy -10.6 0.6 -0.2 0.1
Danny Worth -1.1 -1.5 -0.2 -0.1
Alexi Casilla -0.8 -0.4 -0.2 1.4
Pete Orr -6.2 0.6 -0.2 -0.2
Matt Tolbert -14.4 1.3 -0.3 -0.5
Brian Roberts -6.4 2.2 -0.4 0.2


So what do the Twins do? Ideally, they want to improve the fielding but do not not want a player who has a large negative impact in the lineup as far as hitting and base running goes(i.e an all glove no bat player.) If you look at the free agents Clint Barmes, Ramon Santiago, Jimmy Rollins (not really a realistic possibility), Cesar Izturis, Kelly Johnson and Nick Punto fit the bill. There are not many good or even average bat better than average middle infielders in the majors and I cannot imagine that the ones who are under team control are realistic trade targets for the Twins. Just look at the list. There is another option, that might sound a bit counter-intuitive (and it is very similar to my contrarian starting pitching opinion:

The Twins have an average fielding and average hitting shortstop (Alexi Casilla) and an above average fielding and below average hitting second baseman (Luke Hughes). The problem is that they did not play much in those positions and additional players (Cuddyer, Nishioka, Plouffe, Tolbert) took a lot of innings. So unless the Twins get one of Barmes, Santiago, Johnson, Rollins, Izturis or Punto, they will be better of starting the season with Alexi Casilla in SS and Luke Hughes in 2B, instead of lesser fielding alternatives.


What do you think?

11/2/11

Can the Twins rebound? Part II: Quick ranking of MLB position player free agents

Looking at what went wrong with the 2011 Twins club and try to prioritize changes that would help the 2012 club rebound, I have previously examined the starting rotation, and concluding that despite the conventional words of wisdom, it should not be a priority, if the best pitchers are used and if they stay healthy. The bullpen is a different story, which I will try to examine in a later day; so let's examine the position players.

Here is the Twins "Batting Value" (Fangraphs metric) :




as you can see only 2 current non-pitchers had positive value with the bat (Jim Thome was traded and Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are free agents). And with Parmelee probably starting at AAA Rochester, Joe Mauer is the only 25 man roster in 2012 who had a positive batting contribution. This is a problem. We also know that this team is practically devoid of power right hand bats, especially with Cuddyer a free agent and Delmon Young traded. With Morneau healthy and potentially Parmelee in some role, left handed power might not be much of an issue, and this team is slated to have at least 4 LH hitting strarters (Mauer, Span, Revere, Morneau) so more balance is needed


Here is the Twins "Fielding Value" (Fangraphs metric) :




From the remaining 2012 players there are stong outfield fielders (Revere and Span), catching is not a problem, first base is not a problem if Morneau is healthy, but infield is a problem, other than Luke Hughes (2.6) and Casilla (-0.1 league average). Also a 3rd outfielder is needed.

Here is the Twins "Running Value" (Fangraphs metric) :




Running was supposedly the strong suit of the team, but the data indicate that only a 3 players (Revere, Span and Hughes) were above average, several were average and a lot were not that great. So this element should be upgraded as well.


Surprisingly, Luke Hughes was both an above average runner and defender, and he should have a role in the 2012 team.


So hitting is a problem. Kubel and Cuddyer are free agents. Should the Twins be knocking at their doors and signing them as fast as possible? Especially Cuddyer who is a power right hand bat? Let examine how Cuddyer and Kubel stack with the other availbable 2012 free agents. The following list is ranking free agents by IsoP (Isolated Power) and also displays the Fangraphs Defence and Running values (Minimum 100 PA) for their 2011 seasons:



Prince Fielder isoP .267 Fld -5.1 BsR -5.4
Andruw Jones isoP .247 Fld 2.7 BsR -2.2
David Ortiz isoP .246 Fld -0.1 BsR -5.4
Albert Pujols isoP .242 Fld 2.4 BsR -3.6
Carlos Pena isoP .237 Fld 0.7 BsR -1.0
Scott Hairston isoP .235 Fld -3.2 BsR -0.1
Josh Willingham isoP .232 Fld -5.4 BsR -2.7
Carlos Beltran isoP .225 Fld -7.3 BsR 1.1
Jim Thome isoP .220 Fld 0 BsR -2.7
Wily Mo Pena isoP .212 Fld -0.2 BsR 0.5
Aramis Ramirez isoP .204 Fld -9.4 BsR -4.9
Jason Varitek isoP .203 Fld -5.0 BsR -2.5
Laynce Nix isoP .201 Fld -5.0 BsR 1.2
Rod Barajas isoP .200 Fld -1.0 BsR -3.2
Grady Sizemore isoP .198 Fld -5.8 BsR 0.8
Kelly Johnson isoP .191 Fld 2.5 BsR -1.4
Jonny Gomes isoP .180 Fld 3.4 BsR 1.7
Derrek Lee isoP .179 Fld 1.4 BsR -2.5
Mike Cuddyer isoP .176 Fld -0.7 BsR -1.1
Ryan Doumit isoP .174 Fld -1.0 BsR -2.7
Raoul Ibanez isoP .174 Fld -18.9 BsR -1.6
Russell Branyan isoP .173 Fld 1.2 BsR -1.2
Wilson Betemit isoP .167 Fld -8.7 BsR -1.2
Cody Ross isoP .165 Fld -5.5 BsR -0.1
Ramon Hernandez isoP .164 Fld 0.0 BsR -2.6
Kelly Shoppach isoP .163 Fld -1.1 BsR 1.1
Jason Kubel isoP .161 Fld -2.8 BsR -0.3



Clearly the Twins will not make a run for Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder (and they don't need to). Signing Andrew Jones and Jonny Gomes to replace Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, would provide better power and better fielding and in Gomes' case better base running (his 2011 runnning value would rank him second in the 2011 Twins behind only Ben Revere). In addition, there will be some money left over to sign Ryan Doumit upgrading the C position offensively and providing some 1B insurance (the other argument about re-signign Cuddyer.) An outfield of Revere,Span, Gomes/Jones (with the other one at DH) will also provide superior defense for the Twins' flyball starters.


What do you think?