Catchers at the Outfield? The 2014 Twins and respectability

If anyone thinks that playing shortstops, first basemen, catchers and DHs at the outfield did not hurt the Twins, here is a pretty astonishing set of numbers allowed to us by the new technology that tracks hit balls.   I am just showing the significant departures from league averages:

Up the Middle RHB:

Twins: PA against: 1339 Slash line: .336/.330/.498 (.826 OPS)
AL: PA against:  19461 Slash line:  .308/.303/.439 (.742 OPS)

Opposite field RHB (i.e hit at the Twins RF):
Twins: PA against: 404 Slash line: .332/.326/.532 (.858 OPS)
AL: PA against: 6191 Slash line: .279/.274/.408 (.682 OPS)

That is a huge difference (from average and not from league best too).  I hope that someone at the Twins looks at that and adjusts accordingly.  If you are a defensive stats minded person, here are plus/minuses (which is actually appropriate for the sample size; devised by Bill James and indicates runs saved from average) and UZR/150 (which is not appropriate for numerical calculation, but the direction gives a sense of what is going on.) 

Santana (CF) plus/minus: -2, UZR/150: -12.2
Mastroianni (OF) plus/minus: -3, UZR/150: -9.2
Hicks (OF)  plus/minus: -6, UZR/150: -8.2
Schafer (OF) plus/minus: -3, UZR/150: 1.2
Herrmann (OF)  plus/minus: -4, UZR/150: -21.9
Kubel (RF)  plus/minus: -7, UZR/150: -29.1
Parmelee (OF)  plus/minus: -7, UZR/150: -7.4
Colabello (RF)  plus/minus: -6, UZR/150: -73.8
Bartlett (OF)  plus/minus: -2, UZR/150: -293.1
Arcia (OF)  plus/minus: -12, UZR/150: -6.9
Willingham (LF)  plus/minus: -5, UZR/150: -6.6
Escobar (OF) plus/minus: -1, UZR/150: -27.2
Nunez  (OF) plus/minus: -1, UZR/150: 19.9

Adding those plus/minuses is 57.  Which means that the Twins' outfield gave up 57 more runs than an average outfield.  In 2014 the Twins scored 715 runs and gave up 777 for a 62 run differential.  If they had an average outfield, that differential projects at -5, which projects to an 80-82 record, which, albeit not competitive, is respectable.

The 2014 outfield defense was not the reason the Twins did not compete, but it was the reason the Twins were not respectable. 

I really cannot believe that anyone should use the adjective "solid" to describe any of the above players - maybe with the exception of Schafer - as outfielders.  Some of them are young enough and they can learn and improve, but "solid" they are not.   Nope.  Mr Parmelee is not a solid outfield.  . Mr Herrmann is not a solid outfield.  Mr Santana is not a solid centerfielder.  Mr Hicks is not a solid centerfielder.

Yes, starting pitching beyond Hughes and Gibson (and maybe Pino, his FIP and WHIP are close to Gibson's) was a problem, but it was not the only problem in opponent scoring.   The Twins need to address outfield defense in 2015 as a top priority.