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Entries in Minnesota Twins (25)

Monday
Mar282011

Well Played, Mauer

Very few major league catchers have been more selective at the plate over the last three years than Minnesota's Joe Mauer.  His swing rate of 36.6% ranks him in the bottom 4% of all catchers since 2008, and his 88.5% contact rate puts him in the top 5% of catchers over that span. 

(Click to enlarge)

Mauer's fantastic batter's eye has resulted in an exceedingly high three-year OBP of .420, highest among all catchers with a minimum of 500 plate appearances, and third among all position players behind Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez.  Mauer avoids swinging at balls down in the zone which is one of the reasons he's managed to mantain a high OBP.  No player has a higher on base percentage on balls hitting the lower quarter of the plate, and only Bobby Abreu has a lower swing rate on low pitches since 2008.

Wednesday
Feb232011

Blackburn's Issues vs. RHP

Over the weekend, John Shipley wrote about Nick Blackburn’s arm issues last season.  He noted that things fell apart for Backburn in June, and elbow issues may have had something to do with it.

The one glaring difference between his numbers before and after June of last year was his performance against right-handed batters.

Nick Blackburn vs. RHB
AVGOBPSLGwOBA
4/1/2009 - 5/31/2010.286.317.419.326
6/1/2010 - 10/3/2010.323.354.497.371

I checked his PitchFX data and there was very little difference at all in movement on his off-speed pitches over that time period.   However, Shipley does note that Blackburn’s elbow became more of a problem as the 2010 season progressed, and as a result he had to abandon his secondary pitches.  While the numbers on his fastball weren’t much different from June on (his wOBA increased only 18 points), Blackburn’s increased reliance on the pitch hurt him the most against RHB, where his fastball wOBA jumped 59 points. 

If his arm is in good shape and he can lean on those secondary pitches once again, look for Blackburn to pick up where he left off in May of last year.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Twins and Young Agree to Deal

Delmon young avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.375 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. Was this a good deal for the Twins?

Young was the 4th most valuable hitter on the Twins last year in terms of weighted on-base average, 2nd most valuable behind Joe Mauer if you leave Justin Morneau and Jim Thome off the list for only having 340 PA each. Young also hit .318/.370/.582 versus lefties last year which put him in the 92nd percentile in all of baseball.

Young’s biggest issue is his proclivity to swing at nearly every pitch. He ranked in the top 1% of all players in swing percentage last season, among company like Jeff Francoeur and Vladimir Guerrero. He still managed a .333 OBP that, while not great, still ranked in the top half of the majors last season among all players with at least 300 PA. However, with only a 4.5% walk rate (19th worst in all of baseball last year), that OBP is likely not going to improve unless Young starts taking pitches more.

At age 25, it’s not too late for him to make some significant changes to his approach at the plate. Should he become even just a little more selective this year, that $5.375 million could turn out to be a steal for the Twins.