Twins up to date on stats, but not loud about it

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2011 - 1:11 AM

2011 BASEBALL PREVIEW The Twins pride themselves on scouting but say they also are in line with trends about statistics.


A statistic known as UZR — ultimate zone rating — determines how many runs a player saves or costs his team defensively. For example, Delmon Young cost the Twins 9.7 runs last season compared with the average left fielder.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins haven't been ignoring baseball's statistical revolution. They're just not out front talking about it all the time.

Many analysts have paid special attention to the Red Sox, Athletics, Rays and other teams viewed to be on the cutting edge of statistical analysis.

The 2003 book "Moneyball," by Michael Lewis, is being turned into a movie, with Brad Pitt set to play Athletics General Manager Billy Beane. The Red Sox have statistical guru Bill James working for them as a consultant.

Meanwhile, the Twins, who pride themselves on their scouting, are sometimes seen as a team falling behind the curve.

"We've been using stats as long as anybody," said Mike Radcliff, the team's vice president for player personnel. "We don't have three full-time guys from MIT crunching stats like a few teams do. Most of us do it on our own. That's just the Twins way."

The Twins have themselves to blame for the perception that they're stuck in the dark ages. Former GM Terry Ryan, who remains part of current GM Bill Smith's inner circle, is viewed as one of baseball's top talent evaluators. But Ryan and other Twins officials almost seem to relish their old-school image.

"Terry Ryan spends at least two hours of statistical analysis before he ever sees a game," Smith said. "He's got so much information on his [scorecard] that he can watch a team and he's got everything he needs."

The Twins insist they aren't just using basic stats, such as a player's splits against righthanders and lefthanders.

"We had runs created as part of our equation the first year Bill James published it in his 'Baseball Abstract,' " Radcliff said.

James began self-publishing his abstract in the mid-1970s, and his hard-cover "Historical Baseball Abstract" appeared in 1985. He dissected baseball's traditional stats -- batting average, home runs, RBI, walks -- and produced metrics, such as runs created, that explained more about a player's actual production.

The sabermetric community's influence has grown steadily in recent years. Now, whenever a team makes a move, readers flock to websites such as and to understand the statistical merits, or lack thereof.

The Twins have left themselves open to criticism because they have yet to hire a full-time statistical expert, as many teams have done. Last year, Smith hired an intern in the baseball operations department with an emphasis on statistical analysis, but the Twins did not seek another stats expert to fill that role this year.

"We're constantly tinkering with the right formula with how our office staff sets up, what support we need to provide to our people," Smith said.

The Twins have bolstered their IT support staff to streamline scouting reports and other data they collect on amateur and professional players.

"We have tremendous confidence in our scouts," Smith said. "These guys are relentless. And each scout has statistical analysis that he goes through as he's writing those reports. So it's not that we just get blind reports without any thought going into it."

Many of baseball's recent statistical breakthroughs have focused on defense, and this is where the Twins remain skeptical.

John Dewan, author of "The Fielding Bible" (volumes I and II), runs a company called Baseball Information Solutions, with a team of video analysts who track every pitch in every major league game, recording heaps of data. uses that data to calculate its increasingly referenced fielding statistic, ultimate zone rating (UZR).

"I've read both of John's books twice now," Radcliff said. "We've looked at UZR and recognize it. It's just not something we're completely comfortable with yet. It's just so abstract. It's not quite definitive enough, but [defensive statistics] will continue to evolve."

The Twins will keep evolving, too, even if others perceive them as being stuck in time.

  • related content

  • Sabermetrics and the Twins: An analysis

    Wednesday March 30, 2011

    Looking at the Twins through traditional statistics, compared to those preferred by sabermetricians.

  • Advanced statistics: a glossary

    Wednesday March 30, 2011

    For some, this might look like alphabet soup, but here are a few of the advanced statistics that modern analysts...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Baltimore «00053100X970
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:M.Gonzalez(7-7) L:T.May(0-4)
HR: MIN- T.Plouffe (11) BAL- D.Young (7), C.Davis (24)


Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 3
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 7:30 AM
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question