TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.

Read more about them.

TwinsCentric: Will Willingham continue to hammer?

Posted by: Parker Hageman Updated: January 11, 2013 - 12:36 AM

 For a significant portion of the year, Josh Willingham fueled the Twins offense and gave the fans something to watch while the team sank deeper in the standings.

He proved that Target Field was not resistant to home team home runs. In fact, his 21 home runs at home easily trumped long-standing fan-favorite Michael Cuddyer’s 17 hit in his two years at Target Field (2010-2011). Jim Thome managed to swat 21 home runs as well but needed 14 more plate appearances than him to do so.  

Fan looking for a reason to believe in the 2013 team will be interested to know if Willingham will continue his vicious pace set last year. Unfortunately, indications suggest that his home run total is almost certain to decrease in 2013. And here’s why:

Stats.

[Drops mic; leaves the stage.]

But stats kept hometown hero Jack Morris out of the Hall of Fame even though he single-handedly won the World Series for the Minnesota Twins and once saved a baby seal or something. So why should we believe stats?

[Walks back on stage. Picks mic back up.]

True and I totes agree that we should burn down all stats and calculators and stuff right after I finish this piece but, for now, hear me out.

One measurement that suggests the Willinghammer will see a dingers decline in 2013 is because of his home run distributions -- as captured by HitTrackerOnline.com.

For those unfamiliar, Hit Tracker charts all home runs hit and, through methods that go beyond my mathematical capabilities, calculates their “true landing spot.” Whereas ballpark present distances that are based mostly on the architecture of the existing facility and projecting where the ball would have landed had it not have been stopped by, say, the batter’s eye in center field, HitTrackerOnline.com factors in atmospheric data and speed off the bat to generate their data. This, in theory, should be a more accurate representation of a player’s true abilities to hit and sustain home runs.

With their data, Hit Tracker has made three classifications for home runs. Those which clear the fence by 20 vertical feet and pass it by 50 feet are considered a “No Doubt” home run. Think Giancarlo Stanton’s 494-foot bomb off of new Twins pitcher Josh Roenicke. At the other end of the spectrum are home runs which exit the field by 10 vertical feet or land one fence height past the wall. These are labeled as “Just Enough” home runs. Just Enough home runs are wall-scrapers like Tampa’s B.J. Upton’s 323-foot home run off of Ervin Santana which nearly grazed the foul pole and the left field wall at Tropicana. Finally, everything else in between is considered “Plenty.”

Based on their figures, a standard distribution of home runs have been 18% No Doubt, 55% Plenty and 27% Just Enough. If a player is well above the Just Enough 27% threshold, the prevailing assumption is that he had good fortune of having a few additional balls escape the playing surface thanks to weather, ballpark configurations or simply the blessings of the baseball gods. In Willingham’s case, he had a whopping 45% of his home runs fall under the “Just Enough/Lucky” category.

What this means, if the Hit Tracker theory holds water, is that Willingham’s home run totals will start to slide back to his career norms – which had been 22 heading into last season. Furthering this idea that he is poised for home run decline is the fact that Willingham is coming off a career year in terms of home runs-to-fly ball ratio. In 2012, 21.2% of his fly balls left the yard - which was well above his career average of 15%. This will almost assuredly regress back to the mean as well.

In terms of his home run totals, Willingham is almost a text book case for regression. That said, it does not mean he will drop drastically in value. As I stated prior to his signing, he is almost the ideal hitter for Target Field – a right-handed pull-hitter with power. More than that, Willingham stresses patience in his approach at the plate leading to a healthy walk rate and on-base percentage. Perhaps it went unnoticed because of his power numbers, but he chased after just 21.7% of out-of-zone pitches, the fifth lowest rate in baseball last year. That was lower than such plate discipline luminaries as Denard Span and Joe Mauer.

That skill set should ensure that he continues to provide a great deal of value even if a few fly balls fall short on the warning track in 2013. 

Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How confident are you the Twins will improve in 2015?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT