92 thoughts on “May 6, 2021: Watch Your Six”

  1. This might be one of those uncomfortable truths.

    1. Out of curiosity, I took a look at a guy synonymous with TTO this morning — the Big Donkey himself. Sanó has exactly one season (2015) below the highest single season strikeout rate Adam Dunn ever posted.

      Guy PA ISO SO% BB%
      Dunn 6065 .253 28.6% 15.8%
      Sanó 2318 .252 36.9% 12.0%

      I’m not sure I agree with Nelson’s assessment of Kepler, who had been hitting the ball hard and just got off the COVID list, but I wonder if Polanco’s ankle has permanently kneecapped his foundation. Interesting to see someone as levelheaded as Nick Nelson with that take, though.

        1. It really feels like Twins bloggers/tweeters went from being ahead of the game in the mid-00s to being a mob of reactionary hot-takers presently. I've unfollowed a ton of them over the past few months.

          1. For someone out of the loop on social media, but who still reads articles of interest, who would still fit in the level-headed camp? I read Gleeman & Hayes, but outside the Athletic Trueblood is the only one I’m still confident in my general impression of at this point.

            I used to read Brandon Warne’s stuff, which seemed fairly level-headed, but he’s disappeared behind the Substack paywall and fifty bones per annum is an awful lot for access to one writer’s analysis. I pay about that to each of the Athletic & FanGraphs.

            1. Warne is decent, but I unfollowed him too. Don't remember why.

              Gleeman tends to have very reasonable takes if he's not with the Geek. One thing that bothers me is that while he's not exactly contrarian, he does focus a lot on tempering fan views. If fans are overly excited, he tries to bring them down. And if the fans are GOSO he tries to argue with them too.

              Trueblood is the best. Do-Hyoung Park is growing on me.

              1. I'm obviously partial to Trueblood, but I like Park a lot too. I feel like MLB.com content used to be more homer-ish, and with Park it feels more balanced.

                1. I’m going to give Park a shot, then. I got away from reading anything team-specific on MLB.com years ago (pre-Park) because it felt like I was reading Pravda. I assumed that editorial slant was by design instead of one writer’s approach.

      1. Kepler put up 1.1 rWAR last year and 4.0 the year before. He fields well and can handle centerfield. His wRC+ since 2016, his first full season, go: 93, 94, 98, 121, 107. I can't fathom how he would be "garbage".

        I understand Polanco better. His 2019 season sticks out in retrospect. Then he had twice had ankle surgery. But, 0.4 rWAR so far this year. ROS projections have him adding on another 1.2 WAR. Puts him below average but a ~1.5 WAR player isn't exactly garbage either.

        1. Kepler isn't garbage but he's definitely plateaued. An OPS under .800 isn't great for a corner outfielder although his defense helps. (I don't count 2019.)

          1. League average OPS for corner outfielder is .670 this season. In 2020 it was .732. He was above league average for the position last year.

    2. I don't agree with the premise entirely, but I don't think it's completely wrong either. Are they stars? No. But they're valuable components for the team. I think it's also a different story for both players.

      Kepler - Started the year hot, after being ice cold in spring training. Then was out for 2 weeks or whatever. I think he is very much a player who needs those consistent ABs in order to work himself into a rhythm. It's also worth pointing out that he's a good defender. Yeah, he plays RF, but he also makes a better CF sub than the other players we run out there, so I think he is a very workable piece to this team.

      Polanco - He's a slightly above replacement value infielder who had one great year, and some lengthy stretches where he was pretty good. If Polanco is batting in the bottom third of our lineup and providing average defense as 2B (which is looks from small sample size that his 2B defense is about average, whereas his SS defense was a negative), that's a pretty reasonable player to keep around too. Especially at $5m/season.

      I know that we love FA because they're new and shiny, but so far Donaldson and Simmons haven't been improving the team all that much...

      1. First off, I'd strongly disagree that Simmons hasn't made the team better. His presence in the infield is almost as stabilizing as Buxton's is in the outfield. He's been good. Donaldson hasn't exactly been an MVP so far, but he's been very good when he's been on the field as well.

        Second, just so we're all clear, there's zero chance the Twins are going to cut Sano, Kepler, or Polanco this year (or next, probably -- there's simply no reason at all to eat $9.2MM for Sano, $13MM over the next two years for Polanco, and $15+MM for Kepler over the next two years). Like it or not, these three will be wearing Twins uniforms until the end of 2022 at the very least. There's reason to believe that all three could come around.

        The problem with this team is not in the offense that has scored the fourth most runs per game in the AL. The bullpen is a disaster, and it needs to be stabilized before this team has any chance of competing.

        1. I guess I feel like, at least in the games I've watched, both Donaldson and Simmons have specifically choked in key moments. I don't trust either of them to deliver a hit or make a play when it really counts. That's frustrating.

            1. I don't really know what to think of Rocco's usage. He's kind of had his hands tied by the fact that they've all been pretty bad.

              * Rogers has been good, but he's slipped a few times, and you can't hand it to him every day.
              * Alcala is lights out against righties and almost impossibly bad against lefties.
              * Duffey has been fine, but inconsistent.
              * Everyone else has been merely okay, situational, or terrible.

              1. Far be it from me to be a get off my lawn guy, but one of the worst things you can do with a terrible bullpen is keep yanking your starters so early.

                1. This.

                  I'd also think a lot more carefully about the situations he's creating than pitcher/batter matchups. Look, Rogers might be your best reliever, but if you have him get the third out in an inning, next inning he won't be your best. He's proved that enough times, right? Stop using him that way. Has Duffey ever not allowed an inherited runner to score? Put him into clean innings every time. Etc.

                  1. Rogers is fine across multiple innings. He's horrific when pitching on consecutive days.

                    Give Rogers an inning or two every third day rather than 5 days off followed by consecutive games.

                    1. Maybe I'm always seeing him across multiple innings on consecutive days?

                  1. They've only cost them three wins over a league average bullpen.

                    In 28 games.

                    That's about 17 wins in a season, the difference between 81-81 and 64-98.

                    Ouuuuuuuch.

    3. Seems kind of odd to single out offensive players on the team with the 7th best OPS in the league as the problem with the team when its clearly bad pitching.

      1. Agreed. That OPS has been translating to runs, too (fourth in the AL). The biggest problem is that there's not a lead big enough to be safe with the bullpen right now, and there's no one person you can hand the ball to that you can trust as a stopper.

      2. I think the offensive numbers are skewed because of a few big games. In 29 games, they've scored 10 or more five times. But they've scored three or fewer seventeen times. That's not winning baseball unless you have a really good pitching staff, and so far the Twins have not had that.

        1. Exactly. We can all agree that the bullpen is the number 1 culprit for the Twins lousy record (3rd most losses in all of baseball), but 17 out of 29 games with three or fewer runs does not help.

          1. I upgraded WordPress recently so I wonder if my patch to allow images in comments got lost. If you're not at least an editor, you can't include images. I need to figure out a better way to keep that functionality across upgrades.

            Edit: yes, it was. I patched WordPress to restore the feature.

  2. Angels decided five months left was their limit on the Pujols contract.

          1. Even without reading the article, which I now have done, the fall off starts at "30" or "31", which is while he was still a Cardinal. They knew. If you look at the chart in the article where it shows Pujols being born in 1978, his decline looks... normal. Peaking right around 30 and then starting a long slow decline. It's just that perhaps Pujols defrauded the Angels to the tune of about $50 million.

            Then again, the Angels had access to Pujols' numbers as a Cardinal, too.

        1. Well, yes, there were other falls. But like, fell to "shouldn't be playing" levels... and I meant to call attention to the age part, more than the cliff part.

          1. There's that, but there's also the cliff where "he shouldn't be paid $25 million a year for a decade" cliff and he was falling off of that in his last two years with the Cardinals.

              1. Oh, absolutely. And fans were PO'd at his lame departure -- if he'd just said, "The Angels threw seriously stupid money at me, how could I say no?" everyone would have agreed and got on with their lives.

  3. I don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but batting average is really a percentage and slugging percentage is really an average.

    1. They're all averages. A .300 "percentage" would be shown as 30.0%. Technically, even a percent is an average, it's just an average per 100 (cent = 100). If someone actually had a .400 on base "percentage" that would mean they reach base on average 4 times every 1,000 PAs. Batting average was correct when it first was used. I'm guessing when whoever first started using percentage for on base and slugging, they actually used percentages, but that was confusing for people used to averages (numbers less than 1), so they switched to averages per PA or AB and kept calling it percentage to drive mathematicians nuts.

      1. Well, no. Batting "average" is a proportion expressed in decimal form...like a percentage.

        "Average" really has no sensible meaning in what are binary outcomes. You can't get 0.33 hits. You either get a hit or not.

        SLG is bases per at bat. It is an average.

    1. Even in '16 when they lost 103 games, they averaged well over 20K per game. I suppose if a lot of people are still too afraid to be out in large crowds, that could keep attendance down, but I would think there's still a lot of people that haven't been to a game since '19 and would come regardless of how well the team is doing, especially when the weather warms.

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