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Thursday, January 19, 2012

On Base Patheticness

Any self respecting Twins fan knows that the reason the small to now mid market Twins have garnered so much respect for their success in the last decade is their simple execution of 3 central tenets; play good defense, pitch to contact and get on base. The Twins failed miserably in all three respects last season but while perusing the team batting statistics from a miserable 2011 campaign one of the most alarming breaks from this norm was the teams’ failure to get on base.

In 2011 the Twins team OBP was a putrid .306, good for 27th in the majors. If we can pause just a second to aim a snort of derisive laughter in Seattle’s direction, (who only managed a team OBP of .292), that figure from the Twins is really alarming. To put it in perspective, the next worst in the AL Central was the White Sox at .320. In the AL Central winning campaign of 2010 the Twins managed .341, good for 2nd in the majors behind the mighty New York Yankees. Indeed, between 2006 and 2010 the Twins average team OBP has been .341. To give a little more perspective still, some major leaguers who finished with an individual OBP of around .306 that made a decent number of plate appearances include the White Sox Mark Teahan, the Astros Angel Sanchez, ex-Twin Jason Bartlett, the Mets Scott Hairston and our own Trevor Plouffe. The list goes on, but you get the idea. These are just sub-par offensive individuals, but for last years Twins, this OBP – or On Base Patheticness was truly a team effort.

While the Twins had significant turnaround in the clubhouse and on the field this off-season we can perhaps expect the opening day lineup to look something like this.

Career OBP
Carroll/ SS
Team OBP

Now obviously this figure is not where the Twins will end up in 2012 with regards to team OBP. This figure assumes that the same starting lineup will be healthy for and play all 162 games in the 2012 season, which is of course, ridiculous. Interestingly substituting Drew Butera in for Joe Mauer alone would drop that Twins team OBP to .323! This figure also makes a number of assumptions regarding players’ health, adapting to new leagues, divisions, ballparks and pitching etc. It is however, a fascinating indication of how bad the Twins were last year at what they did better than anyone for so long, getting on base.  If this ballpark OBP figure of .341 was to be realized that would result in around 200 extra base runners over the course of the seasons – what a difference that would make!

Terry Ryan hopes Jamey Carroll will continue his consistently excellent OBP in a Twins uniform.

While clearly there are a number of flaws with this data and with my many assumptions, these numbers really do highlight how far the Twins drifted from their norms last year, through injury, under performance and inexperience. I think Terry Ryan should be complemented on his three main position player acquisitions this off-season; Jamey Carroll the everyday shortstop, Josh Willingham the pull-hitting outfielder and Ryan Doumit, our new DH and backup catcher. Between them they harness a career OBP of .350, now that’s Minnesota Twins baseball.

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