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.


Third base revisited

In order to give an objective (see: measurable) application of the criteria, I previously suggested for potential third basemen targets, I devised a measurement that combines the performance of a player as a batter and as a fielder. This measurement (let's call it Batting and Fielding Effectiveness, BFE for the lack of a better name) is defined as (OPS+/100)*(FP)*(ZR).

As a reminder the 3 criteria for a potential third baseman target were defined as:

a. the Twins should not look at anyone with less production than the current Buscher/Harris platoon

b. Danny Valencia is thought by many insiders and fans to be the Twins 3rd baseman of the future, so any choice should potentially leave the door open for him

c. Any new third baseman should provide better power (in the numbers below expressed as SLG%), be right handed batter and provide better defense.

The definition of a "third baseman" I am using here is a player with at least 250 AB and at least 250 innings at third base. 56 players in the majors satisfy this definition, here is how they rank according to BFE (potential targets discussed before are indicated with italics, the Twins' third basemen are indicated with bold) :

Chipper Jones, Braves: 1.390
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 1.168
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 1.167
Russell Branyan, Brewers: 1.087
David Wright, Mets: 1.052
Aubrey Huff, Orioles: 1.032

Evan Longoria, Rays: .998
Ty Wiggington, Astros: .973
Troy Glaus, Cardinals: .966
Chris Davis, Rangers: .948
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: .923
Carlos Guillen, Tigers: .903

Adrian Beltre, Mariners: .887
Hank Blalock, Rangers: .873
Melvin Mora, Orioles: .865
Ron Belliard, Nationals: .848
Mike Lowell Red Sox: .828
Scott Rollen Blue Jays: .825
Casey Blake, Indians/Dodgers: .810

20. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals .794
Gregg Dobbs, Phillies: .783
Ramon Vasquez, Rangers: .773
Omar Infante, Braves: .773
Willie Aybar, Rays: .765
Jorge Cantu, Marlins: .756
Ian Steward, Rockies: .755
Joe Crede, White Sox: .744
Edwin Encarnancion, Reds: .738
Alex Gordon, Royals: .736
Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays: .736
Garett Atkins, Rockies: .728
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres: .726
Rich Aurilia, Giants: .708
34. Brian Buscher, Twins: .704

35. Brendan Harris, Twins: .699
Blake DeWitt, Dodgers: .686
Chone Figgins, Angels: .681
Jose Bautista, Pirates: .680
Jed Lowrie, Red Sox: .679
Brandon Inge, Tigers: .677
Doug Mientkiewicz, Pirates: .676
Jeff Blum, Astros: .666
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks: .659
Craig Council, Brewers: .656
Pedro Feliz, Phillies: .632
Jamie Caroll, Indians: .609
Bill Hall, Brewers: .606

Jose Castillo, Giants: .599
Juan Uribe, White Sox: .595
Jack Hannahan, As: .586
Wes Helms, Marlins: .560

German Duran, Rangers: .467
Rob Quinlan, Angels: .456
Mike Lamb, Twins: .432
Andy Marte, Indians: .414

Andy LaRoche, Dodgers/Reds: .276

There were a few surprises:

  • The Twins situation at third base, which is thought as "serviceable" by many is more dire than thought, with the Twins' platoon ranking 34th and 35th out of 56 players

  • Players like Russell Branyan, Chris Davis and Ron Belliard, who flew under the radar had surprisingly good years

  • Players like Garrett Atkins, Edwin Encarnancion and Kevin Kouzmanoff, who are touted as the potential 3B solution for the Twins are not that much better than what the Twins currently have

Do the results make me amend my list of 4+1 real targets? Based on the above 3 criteria (RH batter included), and the fact that to make a serious difference the Twins should not look below the top 20 players (#20 is Ryan Zimmerman), I would gladly add Melvin Mora, Ron Belliard and Casey Blake to the list that includes Troy Glaus, Ty Wiggington, Adrian Beltre, Scott Rolen and Mike Lowell.

I will use the same analysis to the 2B/SS situation