FanPost

These Twins will hit (at least they should, darn it)

We really, really, really shouldn't be hitting this badly. Really, darn it.

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

zipsAVG

zipsOBP

zipsSLG

zipsOPS

Span

169

0.289

0.361

0.349

0.710

0.280

0.355

0.377

0.732

Kubel

155

0.331

0.387

0.489

0.876

0.278

0.349

0.469

0.818

Valencia

150

0.230

0.307

0.341

0.648

0.261

0.311

0.380

0.691

Cuddyer

148

0.252

0.318

0.370

0.688

0.261

0.330

0.421

0.751

Morneau

135

0.228

0.296

0.333

0.629

0.279

0.369

0.491

0.860

Casilla

92

0.190

0.242

0.262

0.504

0.250

0.312

0.339

0.651

Young

76

0.203

0.250

0.246

0.496

0.283

0.323

0.435

0.758

Butera

74

0.113

0.149

0.141

0.290

0.202

0.252

0.300

0.552

Hughes

73

0.217

0.260

0.304

0.564

0.236

0.293

0.364

0.657

Tolbert

67

0.175

0.200

0.254

0.454

0.242

0.289

0.343

0.632

Thome

66

0.214

0.333

0.375

0.708

0.246

0.366

0.500

0.866

Mauer

38

0.235

0.289

0.265

0.554

0.310

0.396

0.454

0.850

Tosoni

38

0.171

0.237

0.257

0.494

0.226

0.304

0.339

0.643

Repko

29

0.208

0.296

0.208

0.504

0.221

0.294

0.338

0.632

Plouffe

28

0.318

0.464

0.545

1.009

0.241

0.290

0.380

0.670

Revere

19

0.158

0.158

0.158

0.316

0.278

0.329

0.336

0.665

Holm

18

0.118

0.167

0.176

0.343

0.230

0.311

0.338

0.649

Rivera

14

0.083

0.214

0.083

0.297

0.225

0.269

0.350

0.619

wAverage

0.232

0.296

0.325

0.621

0.260

0.328

0.402

0.730

Ok, so the first five columns are actual stats for 2011 and the last four are updated projections by ZIPS. ZIPS knows how terrible the Twins have played so far in 2011, and these projections have been updated accordingly. Now, the bottom row. These numbers are all averages weighted by plate appearance, so they show how the Twins have hit as a team so far this year (poorly) and how ZIPS would expect these Twins to have hit, given the number of plate appearances each guy on the team has actually had. (Nishioka is left out because ZIPS doesn’t project him. He doesn’t make a big impact on the overall picture.)

The basic idea here is that if we could somehow repeat the first 38 games of the season with the exact same uninspiring bowl of limp noodles that we’ve served up so far, ZIPS would expect us to hit far, far better than we actually did. The ZIPS line of .260/.328/.402 is a full .109 points of OPS over our actual team line and is very close to what the Angels, Cubs, and Tigers have hit in 2011. Those teams have scored 171, 158, and 189 runs, or about 173 runs on average. That’s about 52 runs more than the league-worst 121 runs Twins have scored, and 173 runs would put our offense right around the MLB average (although a little below average for the American League). So even without personnel change, we should be much better than this.

But what if we get healthy? Here’s a look at what ZIPS would project if we can get all our guys healthy. The far right column is my guess at what percentage of plate appearances each player would get if everyone was more or less healthy, and the weighted averages at the bottom are based on that.

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

projAVG

projOBP

projSLG

projOPS

idealPA%

Span

169

0.289

0.361

0.349

0.710

0.280

0.355

0.377

0.732

11%

Kubel

155

0.331

0.387

0.489

0.876

0.278

0.349

0.469

0.818

10%

Cuddyer

148

0.252

0.318

0.370

0.688

0.261

0.330

0.421

0.751

10%

Morneau

135

0.228

0.296

0.333

0.629

0.279

0.369

0.491

0.860

10%

Young

76

0.203

0.250

0.246

0.496

0.283

0.323

0.435

0.758

10%

Mauer

38

0.235

0.289

0.265

0.554

0.310

0.396

0.454

0.850

9%

Plouffe

28

0.318

0.464

0.545

1.009

0.241

0.290

0.380

0.670

9%

Valencia

150

0.230

0.307

0.341

0.648

0.261

0.311

0.380

0.691

8%

Hughes

73

0.217

0.260

0.304

0.564

0.236

0.293

0.364

0.657

5%

Thome

66

0.214

0.333

0.375

0.708

0.246

0.366

0.500

0.866

5%

Casilla

92

0.190

0.242

0.262

0.504

0.250

0.312

0.339

0.651

4%

Butera

74

0.113

0.149

0.141

0.290

0.202

0.252

0.300

0.552

3%

Tolbert

67

0.175

0.200

0.254

0.454

0.242

0.289

0.343

0.632

2%

Repko

29

0.208

0.296

0.208

0.504

0.221

0.294

0.338

0.632

2%

Revere

19

0.158

0.158

0.158

0.316

0.278

0.329

0.336

0.665

1%

Rivera

14

0.083

0.214

0.083

0.297

0.225

0.269

0.350

0.619

1%

Tosoni

38

0.171

0.237

0.257

0.494

0.226

0.304

0.339

0.643

0%

Holm

18

0.118

0.167

0.176

0.343

0.230

0.311

0.338

0.649

0%

0.266

0.333

0.415

0.748

100%

That gets us up to a projected line of .266/.333/.415, which is pretty similar to what the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Royals have hit. Those teams have averaged 186 runs and are all top-10 offenses in baseball.

The advantage of looking at something like ZIPS projections in this era of epic Twins misery is that it is dispassionate and systematic. It’s a cool, calculating baseball robot immune to the miasma of 9-game losing streaks and, for that matter, starry-eyed Twins homerism. That said, I can think of two pretty good reasons it may be overestimating our offense by a little bit. First, I suspect that the overall offensive environment is weaker than ZIPS expects. It takes awhile for projection systems to digest things like that, and if offense is really down as much as it seems, that would lower hitter projections across the board. Second, ZIPS relies on selection bias to make projections. It assumes that no one will hit .105 or even .170 over the long term not because it’s unlikely anyone would ever suck that badly, but because anyone who sucks that badly is unlikely to play in MLB very long. But on a team that’s really struggling and has already tapped out its farm system like the 2011 Twins, options for culling slackers are limited.

But even if you tick a bit off of these projections to be conservative, all reasonable indicators point toward a major offensive upturn. I guess it could be that we’re in that inner circle of the black-hole death spiral where the laws of the ordinary physical world break down and everyday expectations are irrelevant...but short of that: We should be playing better, confound it! It would likely take more than just hitting our ZIPS projections to get back in contention, but my expectations are low enough at this point that I could actually get excited to see a team with a league-average offense, let alone top ten. Heck, I might even pay to see that.

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