Search This Blog

Friday, January 6, 2012

What the Twins Really Lost to the DL in 2011

There has been much discourse on how the DL limited the 2011 Twins, the team having to use it 27 times, second most in the majors. Thus far, however, no one has really discussed exactly what the Twins lost in terms of pitching and offensive production and where that may have landed them at the end of the season if they had managed to stay healthy.

It became tiresome throughout the season to see the beleaguered and underwhelming Twins AAA team take to Target field and become the whipping boys of almost every team in the league. Even more tiresome was the morose despondency of Twins fans who blamed the teams first to last fall on everyone from the Twins brass, to Gardy, to the players and to the injury bug itself.

For the purposes of this entry, let us make a few assumptions. Assumption number 1: Twins starters that spent significant time on the DL would have played around 130 games for the big league club had they remained healthy. Assumption 2: If they had remained healthy the Twins big league starter’s numbers would have been roughly in line with their major league career averages. These are certainly large assumptions, as it was obvious that many Twins suffered from down years last year, but I think these assumptions will make for an interesting projection on where the Twins might have finished.


Let us start with some bottom line figures about the Twins offense in 2011: Cumulatively, over 5989 plate appearances the Twins managed a line of 247/306/360 in 2011, taking just 440 walks (compared to 559 in 2010 and their lowest total since 1994), striking out 1048 times, committing 119 errors (most since 1985), finishing with an OPS of .666 (lowest since 1981) and scoring a paltry 3.82 runs per game (also lowest since 1981). Wow, those are hard numbers to swallow, especially given the Twins reputation for getting on base, playing small ball and having stout defense.

Now let’s take a look at the key offensive contributors and the time they missed:

Joe Mauer played an injury plagued 93 games in 2011 and made only 254 plate appearances, Drew Butera took his place and although not for the whole season, Mauer’s other primary replacement, Rene Rivera, was equally pathetic – let us compare their offensive production, all stats being a 162 game average of their major league careers thus far:


Nothing else needs to be said regarding this comparison, just seeing Butera’s line makes my skin crawl and makes the Wilson Ramos trade even more of a blow. Now the same process for Denard Span and his replacement Ben Revere instead substituting HR and RBI for runs scored and stolen bases:


A more interesting comparison here, with Revere’s stolen base ability being intriguing the key difference really coming in OBP, a category Revere drastically needs to improve as I commented on in my last entry.

Making a comparison between Morneau and his platoon of replacements is difficult given the sheer amount of them. Through the 2011 season, first base was manned by a combination of Joe Mauer (18 games), Michael Cuddyer (46 games), Morneau himself (56 games) and Chris Parmelee (20 games). For this comparison the most representative statistics will be taken from converting these players’ contributions to a 162 game average, according to the proportion of games they played at 1B. Despite the fact that these numbers are slightly skewed from excellent 1B contributions from Mauer and Parmelee over a very limited time at the position this comparison fields the following results:

1B Platoon

The most obvious drop off here despite a decent combined season from the Twins platoon at 1B is a power outage. If we put all of these statistics together to compare what the loss of a healthy Mauer, Morneau and Span cost the Twins compared to their replacement players we see the true magnitude of their constant injuries. From these injuries the Twins lost;

21 HR
73 RBI
31 Runs

We also see the contrast in batting lines between these 3 starters and their replacements:

Mauer, Morneau and Span

The DL was all too familiar to Twins fans throughout the 2011 season. While my guess would be that a similar comparison between Twins pitching staff would show us what Twins fans have known all along (that the majority of our starters are simply not good enough to mount a serious challenge in the playoffs), this simple comparison highlights the importance of a healthy Mauer, Morneau and Span to the success of the Twins as well as their alarming lack of depth behind them. Needless to say, the success of the 2012 Twins will rest upon the good health of this impressive nucleus. If the Twins are to rebound from the humiliation of last season, these three are the key.

No comments:

Post a Comment