The Twins took 2 of 3 from the Phillies in Philadephia, smashing home runs and recovering from ugly starts by both Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey to win a wild one on Saturday and kind of cruise to victory on Sunday behind a strong start by Carl Pavano, aka Luigi.
After two young and relatively inexperienced starters were forced out very early over the first two games of a series in a tough opposing ballpark, Pavano faced off against one of the game’s most dominant pitchers and delivered a masterful complete-game victory, relieving a beleaguered bullpen and salvaging a series that at one point looked completely lost.Pavano has completed seven or more innings in 11 of his 14 starts this season and has accumulated more innings than all but four starters in the AL. It’s no coincidence that he has factored into the decision each time he’s pitched this season; he’s routinely lasted deep into games and he has heavily impacted their outcomes. Talk about earning your paycheck. (That last sentence can be read with a not-so-slight tinge of irony by my friends who follow the Yankees.)
Bllomberg Sport’s blog here at MLBlogs evaluates the evidence surrounding Joe Mauer’s power outage.
Target Field’s low home run
rate and the new approach by pitchers may be hurting Mauer’s home run numbers.
But the statistical variation in his HR/FB rate also helps explains the drastic
difference between 2009 and 2010. That rate suggests that Mauer’s MVP-type
numbers may have been affected by a statistical outlier, and that fans and
teams may have to reassess their expectations for Mauer’s power numbers. In
regards to how pitchers are approaching Mauer, it seems unlikely that the
recent adjustments can explain this year’s low home run total, as he has been a
top player in the league since 2004, and pitchers have been adjusting to his
tendencies every year. Meanwhile, Target Field has been playing like a large shopping
mall – but it does not explain Mauer’s low road home run total, or the fact
that he has yet to hit any homers at home.
Expect a middle ground to
emerge between the home run binge Mauer showed last season and the drought he’s
experienced in 2010.
Note: a “straight
run differential projection” is based on a team’s actual runs scored and
runs allowed. A “component runs projected” is based on basic runs created and component ERA without the adjustment to make it an ERA figure (i.e. IP and
the multiplication by 9 not included). I then applied the Pythagorean
Formula with an exponent of
In American League Central
Division news, the supine Pirates and the battling Braves combined to help
knock a couple of games off the margin between the second-place Tigers and the
division leading Twins. The White Sox may yet make a move, but whether
it’s towards the division lead or in the trade market remains an open question.
The Royals and the Indians appear a bit lost, but more on that below.
The Indians are 25-40
with a .385 winning percentage, 12.5 games behind the division lead. They
are 11th in the AL in scoring at 4.25 runs/game, and they are 12th in the AL in
run prevention at 5.05 runs allowed per game. Their straight run differential
projection is for 65 wins with a .404 winning percentage; their component run
projection puts them with 61 wins and a .378 winning percentage. Cover
your eyes, Indians fans, it kind of gets worse from here.
Over the past two
weeks, the Indians are 6-8 and, though things were looking up as they went 6-5
over the first eleven games of that stretch, they just got swept by the Mets. In fact, the Tribe has dropped four straight games.
(Informally and on a sad note: the curse of Rocky Colavito sure is living
on.) In the last fourteen games, the Indians have scored 80 runs, 5.71
runs/game, which is impressive, and they have allowed 69 runs in that stretch
(4.93 runs allowed per game). They have been unlucky, since they scored
11 more runs in the past two weeks than they’ve allowed, but, on the other
hand, they have “wasted” some other offensive output, winning two
blowouts, 10-1 over the White Sox and 11-0 over Red Sox. Outside of those
two games, and over the other twelve, they have scored 59 and allowed 68, which
projects out to a .429 winning percentage, or about two games under .500 over
that stretch, which mirrors their actual record. Clearly, however, their
runs scoring and run prevention has been better over the past two weeks has
been better than it has been over the season as a whole. I don’t know if
this a reason to be optimistic in Cleveland, as their component run
differential is pretty sad (a net [that is runs scored – runs allowed] of -86
versus -66 in the actual runs scored vs. runs allowed figures), which bodes ill
for the future. And then there’s that whole Rocky Colavito thing…(hey,
I’m a Twins fan, and I still hate Frank Lane just for Cleveland’s–and Terry
The Indians’ upcoming
schedule has them headed to Pittsburgh–which, given the pathetic, Orioles-like
mess that is the Pirates, could help the Tribe out–then on to Philadelphia and
Cincinnati before retuning home to face the Blue Jays in bringing June to a
Indians fans may again
want to hide their eyes, for the Royals have quietly crept out of the cellar
and passed them for fourth place in the division. In fact, it looks like
Cleveland will be preparing for the old player roulette once again; that is,
they will likely be dealing, and Matt Kaassen at FanGraphs makes the case for just such action. John Parent also makes the argument, and I really like the
idea of Russell Branyan going to the Angels.
Rookie catcher Carlos
Santana has experienced both the good and bad in his first week of Major League experience.
Mitch Talbot is experiencing some growing pains, though he’s been one of the few real rays of sunshine in
Cleveland so far this season, aside from the awesome and underrated Shin-Soo Choo. My problem with Talbot is his, well, terrible K/BB rate.
watching Sunday’s game, Is there trouble with the mound in Progressive Field?
The Royals are 29-38,
with a .433 winning percentage, 9.5 games behind the division lead.
Despite having an exceptional team batting average (.278 to lead the AL),
they are only 8th in the AL in scoring at 4.62 runs per game. They are
13th in AL in run prevention at 5.14 runs allowed per game. Their
straight run differential projection is for 72 wins and a .445 winning
percentage, with a component run projection of also 72 runs and a .445 winning
percentage. Hey, the Royals actual run differential and component run
differential actually match up.
Over the past two
weeks the Royals are 7-6. They have scored 74 runs, or 5.69 runs per
game, while they’ve allowed 67 runs, which would 5.15 runs allowed per game.
First of all, their run prevention is as consistently bad as it had been
all season. Second, while their offense appears to have performed much
better over the past two weeks, they did put 15 on the board in just one of those
games, meaning they scored 59 in the other twelve games, or slightly less than
5 per game. With their consistently dismal run prevention, it is actually
quite impressive that they are over .500 in the last two weeks. Having
crept out of the cellar and passed the Indians for fourth place in the
division, the Royals’ month-ending series with the White Sox may have some
(small) significance, most likely for trade-market activity by one or both of
those teams later this summer.
The Royals’ upcoming
schedule takes them first to Atlanta for the weekend before traveling to
Washington; they will then return home to face the Cardinals and the White Sox
to end the month of June.
Fortunately for the
Royals and their woeful run prevention, Zach Greinke may be getting back on track. With the Royals actually giving him some run support
Greinke might well chalk up more wins for Kansas City. Greinke will start
Sunday in Atlanta against their unknown new rotation piece, Kris Medlen.
Most of the news out
of and/or concerning the Royals, however, concerns their willingness to deal. GM Dayton Moore apparently said he expects to be busy. One point of concern will be maximizing
the value the Royals can get for David DeJesus. Matt Klaassen considers what the Royals should do, and it makes for some bleak reading since
the best piece Klaassen identifies as potential trade-bait is the Royals pride
and joy, closer Joakim Soria.
The Tigers are 34-29
with a .554 winning percentage. The 1.5 games behind the division lead.
They are 9th in the AL in scoring at 4.41 runs/game, and they are 5th in
the AL in run prevention allowing 4.40 runs per game. The Tigers’ straight
run differential projection is 86 wins and a .532 winning percentage; their
component run projection is for 89 wins and a .550 winning percentage.
Over the past two
weeks, the Tigers are 9-4, and they’ve scored 73 runs (5.63 runs/game) while
allowing 60 runs or 4.62 runs allowed per game. One thing to consider is
that they allowed 15 runs in one of their losses, meaning that if we exclude
that game they have allowed an average of 3.75 runs/game over that two week
period. The Tiger are hot, the winners of six straight, and they have been scoring a lot more runs per game and
allowing a lot fewer than they have over the season as a whole.
The Tigers’ upcoming
schedule has them hosting Arizona this weekend; the D-Backs that just got
swept by Boston. Following that series, the Tigers visit the Mets, Braves
and Twins to finish June. Now, that’s a challenging road-trip. Leyland will be chaining
them down for the duration.
In their last win, the
Tigers got both a strong start from Jeremy Bonderman while also bashing 19 hits. Bonderman’s strong performance in their latest win must
be encouraging for both the Tigers and their fans, for given that they trail
the Twins by only a game and a half, consistent pitching from another starting
pitcher would be a happy sign.
In a surprising item,
one that defies the baseball conventional wisdom as filtered to us by color
analysts and lazy columnists, Jim Leyland completely dissed the concept of team chemistry in
a fashion–and language–that reminds of certain sabermetric analysis that
similarly disses that unmeasurable intangible–clubhouse chemistry–in almost
the same terms.
The Twins are 38-20
with a winning percentage of .576, and they lead the AL Central Division,
though their lead is down to only 1.5 games. They are 5th in the AL in
scoring with 4.75 runs/game, and they are 2nd in the AL in run prevention
allowing only 3.88 runs/game. The Twins’ straight run differential
projection is 94 wins and a .582 winning percentage. Their component run
projection is 90 wins and a .558 winning percentage. Component run
projections thus have the Twins and Tigers neck-and-neck for the division
Over the past two
weeks the Twins are 7-6, scoring 54 runs (4.15 runs/game) while allowing 50
runs (3.85 runs/game). So, the offense has been down over the past two
weeks, and while Delmon Young has
had a great June (.937 OPS) so far, both Denard Span (.526
OPS) and Joe Mauer (.773 OPS which isn’t bad, but it’s not Joe
Mauer-ish) have not, and in the absence of Orlando Hudson, the second spot in
the lineup has been absolutely awful, and is a glaring concern. The upcoming schedule has the
Twins on the road versus Philadelphia, Milwaukee and the New York Mets before
they return home to close the month by hosting the currently second-place
While Francisco Liriano has been spectacular, and while there has also been some talk
among the Twins’ faithful regarding whether or not Liriano deserves to start the All-Star Game, Liriano was outdueled by Rockies’ super-stud Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday morning. Scott Baker overcame some recent
inconsistency to pitch a true gem on Wednesday night, contributing a mammoth .430 WPA as the Twins edged the Rockies 2-1.
The Twins are currently sizing up their needs entering summer and the heart of the pennant
race. One rumor making the rounds is whether or not the Twins should
pursue Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox; Aaron Gleeman ponders here, noting that’s he’d be a definite upgrade over what the Twins
have now, while Parker Hageman discusses over here, noting that Target Field will not help
Lowell’s power figures at all.
The White Sox are
31-34, with a .477 winning percentage, and they are 6.5 games behind in the
division They are 10th in the AL in scoring at 4.33 runs/game, and also
10th in the AL in run prevention at 4.76 runs allowed per game. Their
straight run differential projection is for 76 wins with a .471 wining
percentage, while their component run projection is for 74 wins and a .455
Over the past two
weeks, the White Sox are 9-4, including taking 2 of 3 from the Tigers, 2 of 3
from the Cubs, and sweeping the supine Pirates in their last three series. They
have scored 64 runs (4.92 runs/game) and they have allowed 50 runs (3.75 runs
allowed per game) over that period of time. Clearly they have been much better at scoring and preventing runs
over the past two weeks than over the season as a whole. This improved
performance is the likely cause for GM Ken Williams walking back earlier
indications that he might be willing to turn over the roster, and his recent
indication that he’ll stand pat rather than trading pieces off. (Williams is also downplaying reports of friction between him and manager Ozzie Guillen.)
schedule has them heading to Washington, where they will have the delight of
facing Stephen Strasburg on Friday; they will then return home to host the
Braves and the Cubs before heading to Kansas City to end the month of June.
While Quentin has been
surprisingly bad, Alex Rios has also been a surprise as
he’s been performing extremely well.
In bad news, Jake
Peavy has been experiencing right shoulder pain.
notes that former Twins’ pitchers Carlos Silva and R. A. Dickey are a combined 12-0; it should be pointed out that both are now pitching in the National League.
Scott Baker’s flirtation with inconsistency continued Thursday night. His start against the Royals was less than impressive and the Twins lost 8-9 despite a late comeback, dropping the final game of the series. Nevertheless the Twins took 2 of 3 from Kansas City before opening up a weekend interleague series against the Atlanta Braves.
What if we compare the cleanup hitter to the #2 hitter? Here, it gets interesting. The cleanup hitter has a .02 run advantage per extra-base hit (double, triple, home run), while the #2 hitter has a .02 run advantage per walk or hit batter. This is not much of a difference. What does this mean? This means that the overall quality (as measured by wOBA) of your #2 and #4 batters should be about the same!That’s right. The advantage that the cleanup hitter has over the #2 hitter (all those runners on base) is mitigated by the 5% extra P[late] A[ppearances] that the #2 hitter has. Five percent may sound small, but everything we’ve seen so far shows that we’re dealing with small differences anyway.When deciding between the #2 and #4 slots, if you have two batters of similar overall quality, put the guy with more extra-base hits in the #4 slot, and the guy with more walks in the #2 slot.Let’s compare the #2 and #3 hitters. The run values of each event favor the #2 hitter over the #3 hitter by .02 to .03 runs. And this is across the board, except for the HR (which is even). Likewise, the run values of the #4 hitter’s events are all higher than those of the #3 hitter. This means that the #3 hitter should be worse than the #2 and #4 hitters. For most teams, the gap in talent between the hitters in the #3 and #2 slots is enormous and that talent is concentrated in the #3 slot. This is simply wrong.
The Twins beat the Royals 6-2 Wednesday night in front of the largest crowd in Target Field History. The Twins are averaging attendance of 38875 at home, good for 3rd in the AL, and hosted over 40000 in their 26th consecutive sellout.
Despite injuries hampering their starting middle infielders and having to face Kansas City’s Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award Winner, the Twins soundly beat the Royals 7-3 at Target Field on Tuesday night using help freshly brought up from the farm.