Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Posts about Twins fans

Monday (Patient Twins hitters getting rewarded) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 21, 2014 - 9:14 AM

The Twins' collective approach at the plate this season doesn't always make for the most aesthetically pleasing brand of baseball, but through 18 games -- one-ninth of the season -- it's hard to argue with the results.

Minnesota is among the top-10 teams in MLB  in strikeouts, having whiffed 162 times this season. That's exactly nine per game, putting them on a pace for 1,458 this season -- even more than the 1,430 they had a season ago.

But when you go to a lot of deep counts and take a lot of pitches, you are also going to walk a lot (hopefully). The Twins were seventh in that category a year ago. This year, they lead MLB in walks with 96, and those walks have helped the offense average close to 5.5 runs per game -- putting them very near the top in all of baseball after many of us thought this would be an historically bad offense.

The sample size is still small, but it gets larger by the day. The Twins had eight more walks against the Royals on Sunday, helping them score eight runs to even their record at 9-9. Three of their runs yesterday were directly linked to walks.

The Twins have done pretty well with runners in scoring position, hitting .253 this season to rank 10th in MLB. But that's not such an absurdly high number to think it's unsustainable.

If Minnesota can keep taking free passes, maybe their offense will be better than we imagined.

Mid-day talker: Twins catchers worst in MLB at framing pitches in 2014

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 18, 2014 - 12:46 PM

The Twins are above .500 through 15 games. That's good! They are getting a ton of unexpected contributions on offense (Chris Colabello and Jason Kubel leading that charge), their starting pitching has been at least contributing in a lot of games lately and they have been aggressive on the bases in key situations.

But despite dispatching Ryan Doumit in the offseason, who was one of the worst pitch-framers in MLB from 2008-2013, the Twins are still lagging seriously behind in that department.

In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, they are dead last (H/T Jeremy Nygaard from Twins Daily for the link on Twitter).

BP tracks this with what it calls a "Regressed Probabilistic Model" of framing (RPM for short). In brief, RPM works by calculating the combined probability (and associated run value) that each pitch will be called a strike; summing those probabilities (and run values) across opportunities; attributing those values to a player (catcher or pitcher); and regressing "career" values to the mean.

So far this season, Twins catchers -- primarily Kurt Suzuki -- are the worst in MLB at essentially stealing strikes ... or, if you prefer, getting borderline pitches called strikes instead of balls. The calculations from BP say this has cost the Twins at least four runs already this year.

The Yankees, by contrast, are at the top of the food chain when it comes to gaining "extra" strikes on borderline calls. That has gained the Yankees more than six runs, per the site.

That sounds like a lot of runs so early in the season, but it is conceivable when you think about it. Let's say a 2-1 borderline pitch is called a ball instead of a strike. Using the larger sample size of 2013, Twins pitchers had a whopping 1.093 OPS against them after a count went to 3-1. But they had an OPS of just .659 against them after a count went to 2-2. Not every borderline call matters. But we can see how enough of them matter to add up to a significant number of runs.

Let's play two: Farewell, Blue Jays, after frigid doubleheader at Target Field

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 17, 2014 - 11:40 AM

The temperature should be around 34 degrees at first pitch of the day-night doubleheader beginning at 12:10 p.m. today at Target Field between the Twins and Blue Jays. There is a good chance it will be right around that mark -- two degrees above freezing -- when the last pitch is thrown somewhere around 9 or 9:30 tonight in Game 2.

In between, it might get as warm as 40.

We were over at Target Field for an announcement this morning on members of the Twins organization being named ambassadors for the All-Star Game, which is being held in a few months at Target Field when it will hopefully be a few dozen degrees warmer.

We went outside near field level right afterwards, around 10 a.m., and not long after manager Ron Gardenhire popped into the dugout, looked around and simply mouthed the word, "wow." Pitching coach Rick Anderson did the same thing. The field itself looked great; at that point, though, there was snow on top of both dugouts and plenty of wet spots along the edges and warning track.

It's somewhere between impressive and crazy that the Twins will likely pull this off today and get both games in. The unbalanced schedule means this is Toronto's only visit to Minnesota this year, so the Blue Jays clearly have an interest in getting in all three games and not having to wedge in an extra game somewhere later in the year. But we have to imagine actual butts in seats will be hard to find.

TFD: Apathy in full force now that Twins' roster appears set

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: March 27, 2014 - 5:07 PM

Is the sky falling? The sky is falling

Is the sky falling? The sky is falling

Barring any late developments, the Twins' 25-man opening day roster is set. The 12-man pitching staff should be decent, with upgrades among the starting staff and holdovers in a functional bullpen.

The 13 position players? Well, as we've discussed at length, this is where the real problem begins. And now that the team has pretty much decided on the 13 it will keep, apathy is reaching record levels.

Granted, the battles for spots were not between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Any 13 they would have kept probably would have generated this very same post.

But a typical starting lineup of Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Trevor Plouffe, Aaron Hicks, Kurt Suzuki and Pedro Florimon (or something like that), with Josmil Pinto, Chris Colabello, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Escobar off the bench ... well, we really have no idea how that lineup is going to score runs. No clue. And neither, do we imagine. does Ron Gardenhire know what to do with them.

This is perhaps the most pessimism we have detected over a recent Twins team, which is hard to do when you lose 95 games three years in a row. At the very least, it's the most apathy.

There will still be nice crowds on warm summer nights. But there will be many long, gray days at Target Field as well.

Mid-day fun: Pavement's 'Cut Your Hair' re-imagined as a song about the Twins' lineup

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: March 24, 2014 - 12:04 PM

This started as a weird little back-and-forth on Twitter between us and RandBallsStu. It ended as a full-blown parody. We stole a couple lines from Stu's tweets, but otherwise the inspiration is all ours (and the Twins). Here is Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" re-imagined as a song about the Twins' offense. This is from the CD "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," which is much better thought of as "Crooked Numbers, Crooked Numbers?" Also, the original song and video are at the top for inspiration. Here we go:

Darlin’ go ahead and cut your roster

Do you think it’s gonna make things change?

You’re just a team with the same lineup,

And that’s a pretty bad lineup.

Scoring is a puzzle, offense getting muzzled, batter missed a sign

Look on deck, pinch hit, it’s 3-1 in the sixth

The bullpen phone is found.

Baseball scene's crazy, guys sent down each and every day

I saw another one just the other day 

A special new call-up

I remember scoring

I don't remember why

I don't remember where 

But I don't care, I care, I really don't care 

Did you see the second baseman’s hair? 

High OBPs and some pop a must.

No retreads!   

Runs mean a lot 

When runs are bought 

Or so, I’ve heard 

Rob, run down to the office phone 

Deal some pitching for some bats. 

Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia!


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