Phil Miller's Sunday Insider: Twins not stealing or hitting triples

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 4, 2013 - 8:44 PM

They had two triples and a stolen base Saturday — both rare sights for them.

hide

Eduardo Escobar slid into third base for a triple against Washington on June 9.

Photo: Chuck Myers, McClatchy Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After picking up a triple as part of his 4-for-4 night in Tampa Bay last month, Aaron Hicks expressed a little empathy for Rays right fielder Wil Myers, who had to run more than 100 feet to retrieve the baseball after it hit an oddly angled wall near the Tampa Bay bullpen.

“The ball hit that wall where it juts out,” making his triple a simple matter, Hicks said. “It almost wasn’t fair.”

The Twins must feel the same way about triples in general, because they avoid them like they’re illegal. Hicks’ wall-aided three-base-hit, back on July 8? It was their lone triple of the month. Brian Dozier and Oswaldo Arcia both tripled Saturday, their first two since Hicks’.

Those two gave the Twins 12 triples all year. With Hicks and Eduardo Escobar in the minor leagues, the current roster has a collective total of seven. With a little more than one-third of the season remaining, the Twins are on pace to collect 18 triples — easily the fewest in franchise history. (The previous low: 23 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.)

So have the Twins become a team of turtles, dragging themselves from base to base?

Their general manager doesn’t think so. “We’ve got guys who can run. ... I’m not saying they’re burners — they’re not,” Terry Ryan said. “But I think our team speed is fine. That’s not something I’m worried about.”

Still, it’s quite a change from last season, and not just because the Twins collected 30 triples. They also led the American League in stolen bases in 2012, racking up 135, on a 78.4 percent success rate; this season, they rank 14th. Four different players swiped at least 17 bases — but none of the four are on the team this year. Ben Revere (40 steals) and Denard Span (17) were traded, Alexi Casilla (21) was allowed to walk away as a free agent, and Darin Mastroianni (21) had ankle surgery that has kept him out of all but eight games.

With those players gone, the Twins have only 35 steals (the 35th coming Saturday), ranking ahead of only the power-laden Tigers, and their 61.4 percent success rate is worst in the AL. Hicks leads the team with nine steals, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier eight apiece. No other Twin has more than two.

Those numbers are merely a symptom, though, Ryan says. The problem isn’t speed, it’s opportunity, he points out.

“We aren’t stealing bases because we’re not getting on base,” Ryan said. “When Hicks was in the leadoff spot, he couldn’t use his speed because he couldn’t get on base. But Hicks can run every bit as well as Revere and Span. He doesn’t look like it, but he can fly.”

Steals and triples don’t necessarily correlate to victories anyway, although first-place Boston leads the AL in both. And as Ryan pointed out, all those steals didn’t do much good last year, when the Twins scored only 701 runs.

“Doesn’t matter if you steal them, if you can’t get them across,” Ryan said.

But the Twins, like several teams, believe the running game is about to undergo a resurgence.

“It looks like the game may be trending more toward speed again, because of the efforts to get PEDs out,” said Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president for player personnel. “So [fast] guys have a real shot, because the running game is going to pick up.”

The farm system isn’t loaded with speed, but there are some good prospects, Byron Buxton (and his 38 steals) chief among them. The Twins drafted speedy center fielder Zach Granite in June, and he has 11 stolen bases at rookie-level Elizabethton. Shortstop prospect Danny Santana has 21 steals for Class AA New Britain, and 29-year-old journeyman outfielder Antoan Richardson has stolen 36 bases at New Britain and Rochester.

“Everybody is always looking for speed, and we are too,” Ryan said. “But that’s not our biggest problem now.”

Central Intelligence

With the White Sox on pace to suffer their first 100-loss season since 1970, grumbling has begun about manager Robin Ventura. But General Manager Rick Hahn said Ventura is not to blame. “The effort hasn’t changed. The level of communication and energy hasn’t changed,” Hahn said on the team’s flagship radio station. “At this time, we don’t feel changes are merited in the near future.”

***

The deadline-day trade for Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell could pay off in several ways for Kansas City. He could give left fielder Alex Gordon, who has missed only four games, an occasional day off. He’s good insurance behind center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who has a history of injuries. And he could form an effective platoon with right fielder David Lough, a lefthanded hitter.

• • •

Acquiring Jose Iglesias at the deadline marks a philosophical change for Detroit, which has tried to get by with below-average infield defense for several years. Iglesias, scouts say, is a future Gold Glove defender, which would be unusual in Detroit: The last Gold Glove winner at short was Alan Trammel in 1984, and only one other Tiger, Ed Brinkman in 1972, ever won the honor.

• • •

Cleveland equaled its 2012 Progressive Field victory total on Thursday, winning their 11th consecutive home game to improve to 37-19. Last year, the Indians were 37-44 at home.

Statistically speaking

Problem innings

The Twins’ first-inning problems, acute in May, have improved, though they still have allowed more first-inning runs (and been outscored by 34 runs) than any other team. But Toronto’s problems in the second inning have been worse. Entering the weekend, here are the leaders for most total runs allowed in an inning:

Runs Team Inning

97 Blue Jays Second

84 Astros Fourth

82 Twins First

78 Astros Eighth

76 Giants Third

76 Orioles Sixth

Not-so-mighty Giants

The Giants’ fall to last place, entering the weekend, puts them in danger of joining the 1998 Marlins as the only defending World Series champion to finish in the basement. They also need to rally in order to avoid becoming the 15th world champ to finish with a losing record the following year. The past five:

Year Team Finish Record

2003 Angels 3rd 77-85

1998 Marlins 5th 54-108

1994 Blue Jays 3rd 55-60

1991 Reds 5th 74-88

1989 Dodgers 4th 77-83

Source: beyondtheboxscore.com

 

  • related content

  • Sunday Insider: Central intelligence

    Sunday August 4, 2013

    With the White Sox on pace to suffer their first 100-loss season since 1970, grumbling has begun about manager Robin...

  • Sunday Insider: Statistically speaking

    Saturday August 3, 2013

    Problem inningsThe Twins’ first-inning problems, acute in May, have improved, though they still have allowed more first-inning runs (and been...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
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 optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close