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TwinsCentric: Did You Know?

Posted by: Parker Hageman Updated: October 4, 2013 - 11:03 AM

This is now the third edition of the year-end mishmash that is the Twins at a statistical glace:

It was the Year of the Strikeout for pitchers in baseball and more than any team the Twins hitters were their greatest victims. The offense saw strike three 1,430 times – a new franchise record.

That 1,430 finish represents the third-highest team total since 1961. Only the 2013 Houston Astros (1,535) and the 2010 Diamondbacks (1,529) have finished with more strikeouts than the 2013 Twins.

When the Twins did get runners on base, they managed to bring that runner in just 12% of the time – tying them for the worst baserunner scored percentage (shared with Seattle, Miami and Chicago Cubs).

The obvious reason for the lack of production was the lineup’s inability to gather hits with runners in scoring position. The Twins .225 batting average with runners in scoring position was the lowest in the American League and the second-lowest in baseball. They also led the league in strikeouts with runners in scoring position (407).

For the first time in his career, Joe Mauer was Average Joe when it came to his strikeout rate. After many years of finishing well below the norm, Mauer finished 2013 (albeit prematurely) with a strikeout once every five at-bats (MLB average 5.0).

Joe Mauer had the third-highest line drive rate at 27.7%. Trevor Plouffe wasn’t far behind at 24.7%. One difference between the two is while Mauer finished with a .717 batting average on his liners, well above the league average of .657, while Plouffe held a .667 batting average on his liners. A bigger difference was that Mauer hit .238 on his fly balls in play while Plouffe hit just .066.

The Twins did not run much on the bases this year, attempting just 85 stolen bases. It was for the best that they didn’t try for more as their 61% stolen base success rate (52 for 85) represented the second-lowest total in the game. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks (60%) were worse at base thievery. Both were well below the league average of 73%.

Pedro Florimon finished the year with 15 swipes to lead the team. That was the lowest team-leading total since Kirby Puckett took 14 bases to lead the 1984 club in steals.

Oswaldo Arcia led all American League rookies with 14 home runs.
With a .339 second-half slugging percentage, Trevor Plouffe finished in the bottom-25 in slugging among qualified hitters in the second-half.

Brian Dozier hit 18 home runs on the year, giving him the Twins’ second base home run title after he surpassed notable sluggers like Rod Carew (14, 1975) and Tim Tuefel (14, 1984).

Splitsville, man. Dozier also was a manimal against left-handed pitching. His weighted On-Base Average against lefties was .421, the eighth-highest in the game. Of course, Dozier’s .288 wOBA against righties was the 11th lowest in the game.

Aaron Hicks’ rookie season was one of the poorest performances by a center fielder in Twins history. Ranking by weighted On-Base Average, Hicks’ .266 wOBA was just slightly better than former Twin Ted Uhlaender’s .256 wOBA season in 1966. Oh, and Hicks’ eventual replacement, Clete Thomas, fared no better as he was the team’s third-worst offensive performer in center with a .270 wOBA.

The Twins were very good at avoiding hitting into double plays. In 1,149 double play opportunities, they banged into the two-for-one just 103 times. That 9 percent rate was the lowest in baseball.

The Twins outfield was tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for most outfield assists (44). Aaron Hicks led the team with nine while Clete Thomas and Chris Parmelee had six each.

While the fielding percentage was one of the game’s best at .991, Baseball Info Solution’s Plus/Minus statistic says the outfield unit at minus 53 runs was the worst group in baseball. If you ascribe to the theory that 10 runs equals one win, the outfield could have cost the team a little over five wins.

The Twins shored up the shortstop position defensively as they finished second among all teams in the Plus/Minus statistic at plus 19. Pedro Florimon was third in baseball at plus 12 just behind Pittsburgh’s Clint Barmes (plus 13) and Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons (plus 37!!!).

After his abysmal 2012 campaign at third, Trevor Plouffe actually completed the year in the black according to Plus/Minus: plus 1. 

In an era of unbridled strikeout totals, the Twins pitching staff broke the mold. The league’s 36,710 strikeouts were the most in baseball history. Yet the Twins eschewed that and rang up just 985 – the only staff in the league to not crack 1,000 strikeouts.

That strikeout mark was 24% below the league average.

Isolating just the starting rotation, the Twins front five were exceptionally bad at being able to miss bats. Their 477 strikeouts were the fourth lowest total in the past 10 years. Only the Royals (470 in ’05 and 463 in ’06) and the Tigers (422 in ’03) completed their seasons with fewer K’s.

There’s a running joke on Twitter that involving Glen Perkins and Bruce Springsteen’s description of a fastball as a “speedball” (see: #speedball). Unlike the Boss’s description, the Twins do not have many pitchers who can “throw that speedball by you” but Perkins, however, has been one example of a Twins guy who does have a speedball that he can throw by you. According to Fangraphs.com’s Pitch Value metric, Perkins’ fastball has been worth 16.7 runs above average on the year – the second-highest among all relievers.

(Perkins also holds the third-highest average fastball velocity among all qualified left-handed relievers. At 94.9, Perk will need to add some MPHs to catch up to the Reds’ hard-throwing southpaw Aroldis Chapman, who pumps heat at 98.3.)

Just a few spots below Perkins in the fastball pitch value is bullpen buddy Anthony Swarzak. This Sasquatch loving right-hander’s heater is 12.4 runs above the average (9th highest). Perhaps nobody noticed because of the team’s overall record, but Swarzak’s second-half was outstanding (37.2 innings, 1.91 ERA, 5 extra base hits and a decent 28-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio) compared to his first-half output (58.1 innings, 3.55 ERA, 16 extra base hits and a 41-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio).

Swarzak’s 96 innings pitched was the most in baseball among relievers. It was the most innings thrown by a reliever since Scott Proctor threw 102.1 with the Yankees in 2006. That was also the most among Twins relievers since Juan Berenguer’s 100.1 innings in 1990.

** Thanks to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for the numbers.

Past Did You Knows:

2012

2011

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(1) Alabama
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