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A Defense of the Twins Defense?

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: October 4, 2011 - 8:47 AM
It seems that I start pretty much of the blogs I’ve written lately by saying, “It was a really frustrating 2011 season for the Twins.” That’s kind of an old theme. But, I did want to explore more of the reasons that the team struggled. The injuries. The lack of offense. Sure, the pitching staff struggled, starters and relievers. But to be fair to the pitchers, the defense was pretty bad.
 
So, half of the purpose of my research was to take a look back and see who did play well defensively, statistically, and who didn’t. Secondly, as we start looking to 2011, it is clear that the defensive issues do need to be address. So again, using the below numbers can be a part of that discussion.
 
UZR is short for “Ultimate Zone Rating.” It is a good defensive metric that takes things like range, arm, etc, into account, and then compares is to the rest of the league. UZR/150 is a metric to normalize players based on playing time. It’s a way to compare a player who plays 150 games at a position to a guy who plays 50 games at the same position.
 
Fairness in conversation, I’m still not a huge believer in any defensive statistic at this point. You can try to talk me into it. Many believe that UZR is a good way to determine. Many believe that no matter the sample size, it is too small to gain any real solid opinions based on it. But it is something, and for today, I wanted to take a look and include the defensive numbers for each of the Twins position players in 2011. Please note that a 0 is average. Greater than zero is above average. Less than 0 is below average. Please note that I only included stats for players who spent 50 or more innings at any position.
 
First Base
  • Justin Morneau – 4.0 UZR, 11.3 UZR/150, 479.1 innings
  • Michael Cuddyer – 2.1 UZR, 6.4 UZR/150, 352.2 innings
  • Luke Hughes – 2.1 UZR, 11.0 UZR/150, 274 innings
  • Chris Parmelee – 1.4 UZR, 8.1 UZR/150, 173.2 innings
  • Joe Mauer – 3.0 UZR, 27.8 UZR/150, 141 innings

Summary – All five of these guys were above average. Mauer’s numbers certainly look good.  

Second Base
  • Alexi Casilla – 0.9 UZR, 2.2 UZR/150, 470.2 innings
  • Luke Hughes – 1.3 UZR, 4.9 UZR/150, 301.1 innings
  • Matt Tolbert – 0.9 UZR, 5.1 UZR/150, 244 innings
  • Michael Cuddyer - -2.8 UZR, -20.8 UZR/150, 140 innings
  • Trevor Plouffe – -4.9 UZR, -41.8 UZR/150, 127 innings
  • Brian Dinkelman - -0.2, UZR, -2.9 UZR/150, 89.1 innings
Summary – Again, a little surprising how well Luke Hughes grades out at both positions on the right side of the infield. Casilla was solid at second base. The numbers for Cuddyer and Plouffe weren’t so good.
 
Third Base
  • Danny Valencia - -6.1 UZR, -6.2 UZR/150, 1,280.2 innings
  • Luke Hughes - -0.9 UZR, -9.0 UZR/150, 104 innings
In 2010, in about 709 innings, Valencia had a 5.9 UZR and a 10.2 UZR/150 which was very good.
 
Shortstop
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka - -6.3 UZR, -14.2 UZR/150, 508.1 innings
  • Trevor Plouffe - -7.7 UZR, -20.4 UZR/150, 464.2 innings
  • Alexi Casilla - -1.1 UZR, -4.4 UZR/150, 306.2 innings
  • Matt Tolbert - -0.4 UZR, -3.2 UZR/150, 210 innings
Summary – If you believe that shortstop defense is pretty important (and I think everyone does), this speaks to some of the Twins problems in 2011.
 
Left Field
  • Delmon Young - -2.8 runs, -3.7 UZR/150, 994.1 innings
  • Rene Tosoni - -1.4 UZR, -3.8 UZR/150, 321 innings
  • Jason Repko – 1.6 UZR, 13.3 UZR/150, 128 innings
  • Ben Revere - -0.2 UZR, -3.1 UZR/150, 127.1 innings
  • Joe Benson – 0.6 UZR, 9.1 UZR/150, 88 innings
  • Jason Kubel - -0.1 UZR, -4.2 UZR/150, 70 innings
Summary – Young’s numbers are combined between the Twins and the Tigers, but he likely improved his numbers during his stint in Detroit. Repko again showed that in the corners, he is terrific defensively. Benson did well in limited time in left field.
 
Center Field
  • Ben Revere – 8.5 UZR, 15.1 UZR/150, 776.1 innings
  • Denard Span – 9.0 UZR, 17.6 UZR/150, 585.1 innings
Summary – I think, based upon these numbers, it’s fair to say that the Twins got some really, really good defense in center field in 2011!
 
Right Field
  • Michael Cuddyer – 0.1 UZR, 0.1 UZR/150, 639.1 innings
  • Jason Kubel - -2.7 UZR, -8.3 UZR/150, 413.2 innings
  • Jason Repko – 2.9 UZR, 21.7 UZR/150, 157.2 innings
  • Trevor Plouffe - -3.1 UZR, -51.4 UZR/150, 72 innings
  • Joe Benson - -0.5 UZR, -5.9 UZR/150, 59.2 innings
Summary – Cuddyer was apparently a pretty average right fielder in 2011, which is a great improvement over what he had done in previous seasons. Repko was tremendous.
 
Not a ton of analysis here. It’s really a blog with numbers for people to make their own thoughts. I would say that the Twins got great defense in centerfield, but absolutely horrible defense at SS. The left side of the infield was statistically pretty poor while the right side was pretty good. Jason Repko is tremendous in the corners.
 
Any thoughts?
 
Quick Minor League Notes
  • Tom Stuifbergen picked up a two-inning save as Team Netherlands beat Taipei 2-1 in the World Cup yesterday in Panama. He isn't the only Twins minor leaguer playing in the tournament. My Twins minor league relief pitcher of the year, Andrew Albers, started for Canada in their first game against Puerto Rico. He threw five one-hit innings. Marcus Solbach and Max Kepler are playing for Germany. Kepler was 0-1 with 3 walks in their first game while playing CF. James Beresford, Allan de San Miguel and Todd Van Steensel are all representing Australia. Beresford is leading of for them and is 2-6 in the first two games.
  • Today is Opening Day for the Arizona Fall League. The Twins are represented by pitchers Cole DeVries, Bret Jacobson, Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts and hitters Brian Dozier, Chris Herrmann and Aaron Hicks.
  • Hicks was ranked by Baseball America yesterday as the #18 prospect in the Florida State League. Fellow outfielder Oswaldo Arcia ranked #15.

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