Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Delmon vs. Revere

Does Revere's Defense Make Up For Delmon's Offense?

Last week in a thought exercise, I wondered if who we could expect more out of this year – Delmon Young or Ben Revere. One offensive, one defensive. One defensively laughable, one offensively infuriating. So let’s look, sabrmetrically, at what each should be worth offensively and defensively next year.


I like using a very basic sabremetric stat to measure offensive production for players: Bill James’ Runs Created (or RC). Basically James discovered that by looking at the number of walks, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns and at-bat a team had, he could give a pretty good estimate of how many runs they scored that year. Then he used that same formula for players.

(If you’re looking for more on Runs Created, I did a short story on it back in April you might want to check out. That theory is that basis for a huge chunk of the sabremetric work out there. It also started the alphabet statistical soup that people like to mock. If you want to be able to explain the basics of this stuff to people, it’s a good start.)

Runs Created has been through all kinds of formulas and there are all kinds of pet derivations for it. I’m going to just pull mine from for both players.

Delmon Young created 51 runs last year, 89 the year before and 76 &45 in his first two years with the Twins. My gawd, was he really here four years? I guess time flies when you’re flailing at first pitches. He’s probably good for somewhere between 50 and 90 runs, so I’ll go with 70 as a nice round figure.

Revere played in 117 games with 481 plate appearances and created 46 runs. It’s not safe to assume he’ll be playing full time this year, but just so we can compare apples to apples, let’s assume he gets another 90 AB. That would give him about 55 runs of offense, about 15 less than Delmon.

The most widely used defensive metric, Ultimate Zone Rating (or UZR) also uses runs as its measuring stick, though this time it is runs in comparison to the average defender. We’ll take that number and add it to (or subtract it from) our offensive runs. We’ll get those numbers from

Young has been bad defensively, but did you know that according to UZR he has really improved over the last two years? Last year he only cost the Twins three runs compared to the average left fielder, seven runs better than 2010 and 11 runs better than the year before that. My guess is that Young costs between 0 and -15 runs, and so I’ll got with -5. Overall that leaves him with 65 runs.

Revere is also a little hard to measure. His UZR in left field was also negative, but he only played there for a few games, so it’s hard to count on UZR. However, in center field he saved 10 runs, and that translates to 15 runs if he had played there full time. Generally, you would see that number go up in left field, just because the average left fielder is worse defensively than the average center fielder. So 15 runs seems safe, and it could be as high as 20. Let’s stay with 15.

And the cry goes up: But WHAT ABOUT HIS ARM? Well UZR takes an outfielder's arm into account. So for now, let's go with it.

Parenthentically, it should be a fascinating year for Twins fans as they watch a thought experiment play itself out in reality. Enormous range. No arm. Which is more important to an outfielder? I think it’s going to be “range” in a landslide, but I wonder if I’ll feel the same way after this year.

That gives Revere 70 runs and Delmon 65. I wouldn’t take it as definitive proof that Revere is going to be more valuable than Young, but they’re a lot more comparable than I would have thought.

Picture this: it’s June and you just heard about a Twins AA reliever who was named player of the week. You wonder: could he be the help the Twins bullpen needs? But you know almost nothing about him other than last week’s stats. Is he really a prospect, or some AAAA veteran who is dominating younger competition?

Fortunately, you thought ahead and bought Seth’s Twins Prospect Handbook which lists 160 guys in alphabetical order. So you look him up and get the full scoop. Wouldn’t that add a little enjoyment to your baseball season?

So, start thinking ahead and looking under those couch cushions for loose change. It’ll be out soon, and we’ll have all the details.

Have you checked out the Gleeman and the Geek podcast yet? This week Aaron and I spent the first 20 minutes dissecting the Twins dip in payroll, including why the explanations either don’t work or make us all the madder. Then we go through our listener’s questions about all things Twins. It’s like a warm blanket on this cold offseason day. Curl up and enjoy.

Gleeman & The Geek Episode 23: Mailbag!

In episode 23, Aaron & I turned to our readers for their Twins questions. Here are:
Or click on the image below to listen. Thanks!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Gleeman & The Geek Mailbag

It's time for a mailbag episode of Gleeman and the Geek, so please send in your questions/comments below so we can read them on the podcast and respond.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Who Was 1987’s 25th Man?

I was born in 1967 which means for the first 30 years of my life, there was no internet. Those were my formative years – so how come it almost seems inconceivable to have a world where there isn’t one?

But occasionally, it still surprises me, usually around a topic from my youth. Like a month ago, when I realized I could find the song from the movie Hopscotch that I had been humming to people for a couple of decades. (It’s Rondo in D, K382 by Mozart).

The latest example was generated by the local SABR chapter’s message board. It turns out that in the 1987 World Series, 24 players appeared for the Twins ( But the postseason roster (as far as we know) is 25 players. So who didn’t get to play?

I used this question as an excuse to truck around the internet for an hour and become amazed at everything you can find out. Bear with me on the tour.....

Only nine pitchers pitched for the Twins in that series , so I though it would have had to have been a pitcher. The ones who did are starters Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven, Les Straker and relievers Jeff Reardon, Juan Berenguer, Dan Schatzeder, Keith Atherton, Georg Frazier and Joe Niekro.

In the ALCS, only seven pitchers appeared: the nine above minus Frazier and Niekro. That doesn't help.

The Twins who threw the most innings in 1987 (other than those nine) were Mike Smithson (21 G, 109 IP), Mark Portugal (13G, 44 IP), Steve Carleton (9G, 43 IP) and Joe Klink (12G, 23 IP). Nobody else had more than 16.1.

Smithson pitched all year, including a long relief stint on 9/25. Portugal didn't pitch for the Twins past 6/5 in the regular season. Carlton pitched all year, including on 9/30. Plus, he was veteran and left-handed and Schatzeder was the only southpaw in the bullpen (or other than Viola, on the staff.) Klink was also left-handed, but didn't pitch past June 3rd in the regular season.

So my best guess was that it was Carlton, but his wikipedia bio says he was never on the Twins postseason roster along with another interesting tidbit about the team picture at the White House:

"He was traded to the Minnesota Twins, where he was yet again ineffective. He went a combined 6-14 with a 5.74 ERA for both the Indians and Twins. However the Twins, who had been a bad team for most of the 1980s, would go on to a surprising win in the 1987 World Series, albeit without Carlton on the postseason roster, to earn him a third World Series ring and a trip to the White House to meet President Reagan along with his teammates. Interestingly, when Carlton was photographed with his teammates at the White House, newspapers listed each member of the team with the notable exception of Carlton. Instead, Carlton was listed as an "unidentified Secret Service agent."[12] The Twins brought him back in 1988 but he lasted only a month (0-1 16.76 ERA in four games) before the Twins released him."

So I looked into Smithson, but it states on John Swol’s website that Smithson was never on the 1987 playoff roster. That link includes a 31-minute audio interview with Smithson which I didn't listen to, so I can't tell you if he confirms that in the interview or not.

Ok, how about the other guys? There were four other guys who pitched at some point in 1987: Roy Smith, Allan Anderson, Jeff Bittiger & Jeff Niemann. Niemann & Anderson were lefties, and I gotta think Tom Kelly would've have wanted more than one southpaw in that bullpen. Niemann didn't pitch past June (or even again in the majors, so I think he's out.) And Anderson didn't pitch in the regular season for that team past May, so I doubt it's him. (BTW, If you would like to ask Anderson, you might be able to do so through his facebook page.

So maybe it was Bittiger or Smith, but I wondered what other position it might be. Hmm, maybe TK might have had a 3rd catcher on the roster for the World Series? Other than Tim Laudner and Sal Butera, the other catcher that year was Tom Nieto. He was on the roster in September, so he was certainly an option. (Yes, that’s the same Tom Nieto who the Twins recently fired as their AAA head coach.) A search on google for "Tom Nieto 1987 World Series" turned up a 1987 Tom Nieto World Series jersey. That's far from definitive proof, but that's my best bet right now.

But one of the other powers of the internet is that it can bring people together, so let’s try opening this up to TwinsCentric’s esteemed readers. If you remember or have any other thoughts or information, please let me hear it in the comments. Or share your favorite obscure 1987 Twins trivia.