Auditing The Minnesota Twins 2008 SeasonChristopher Reina. 18th October, 2008 - 8:29 pm
2008 Record: 88-75
2008 Pythagorean Record: 89-74
FIC Rank: 10th
2nd in AL Central
2008 Payroll: $56.9 million, 25th in MLB, 12th in AL
Cost per win: $647k, 4th in MLB, 3rd in AL
Twins Season Review
The Twins dealt away a future Hall of Fame starting pitcher in Johan Santana and an up and comer in Matt Garza, but as a unit their starters had a 4.32 ERA (15th in the MLB) and three of them had an ERA under 4.00 and another at 4.05. Minnesota starters were 6th in the MLB in quality starts with 86.
Offensively, Minnesota is very much still a NL-style team that likes to fill up the bases and manufacture runs. They were 4th in the AL in OBP (.340) and just 10th in SLG (.408), but were 4th in runs with better than 5.1 per game.
* Individual FIC Rank, Season FIC and Reina Value appear in parenthesis next to each player's name.
The FIC is a statistical system that attempts to objectively rank all players and the Reina Value determines how that performance relates to their contract.
A player with a positive Reina Value outperformed his contract while a negative one means he likely was overvalued.
Joe Mauer (37th, 240, +113%) managed to stay healthy in 2008, and although it wasn't 2006 all over again, it was a very good .328/.413/.451 making him the best offensive catcher in the game. Mauer made a major breakthrough against lefties this season, hitting for an OPS of .939 against them, which was up from .673 in 07 and .826 in 06.
Mike Redmond (827th, 17, -59%) did a solid job occasionally giving Mauer a day off, hitting for an OPS of .654 and the Twins were 18-14 in his starts.
Justin Morneau (22nd, 254, +81%) played in all 163 games this season and hit .300/.374/.499. The homer total dropped for the second consecutive season down to 23, but he had 47 doubles and four triples. His numbers against lefties were once again down, hitting for an OPS of just .778. During his MVP season in 2006, he hit .905 against them.
Alexi Casilla (302nd, 98, +541%) somewhat came from nowhere to hit .281/.333/.374 this season after hitting for an OPS of just .515 in 07. The numbers are a bit decising though because the majority of his damage was done in May, June and July, hitting for an OPS of .797 in the first half and .608 in the second. He scored just one run in his final 10 games.
Brendan Harris (626, 40, -6%) hit for an OPS of .721 and came on strong in the second half, hitting .324/.419/.459 in September.
Brian Buscher (618, 42, +4%) was a Rule 5 pickup in 2006 from San Francisco and he played much better at 3B than anyone on the Giants' roster. The position has been one of Minnesota's revolving doors, and I don't think Buscher is their guy long term, but as long as they keep him away from lefties, he is a serviceable stopgap.
Mike Lamb (755th, 23, -89%) was clearly a mistake signing by GM Bill Smith. He hit .233/.276/.322 in 236 at bats before they finally cut him loose in September. Lamb hit just one homer after hitting double-digits in each of the previous four with Houston. The breakout season he enjoyed in 2004 and decent followups in 06 and 07 were absolutely nowhere to be found with the Twins in the AL. He appeared uncomfortable in the dome, hitting for an OPS of .488 at home. Lamb, to give him credit, was actually playing good baseball (1.013 OPS) in limited action in August.
Nick Punto (582nd, 46, -83%) set a new career high for himself in OPS with a mark of .726. He's Minnesota's version of Marco Scutaro and is ideal in a role in which he plays under 100 games a year, as he did this season.
Adam Everett (703rd, 29, -86%) remains a light hitting shortstop, batting .213/.278/.323 in 127 at bats.
Delmon Young (322, 93, +42%) took a small step forward after being the 07 AL ROY runner-up with Tampa Bay by hitting .290/.336/.405. He reduced his strikeouts and increased his walks but had a drop in doubles from 38 to 28 and also had a decrease in homers. After an early adjustment period in which he didn't hit a homer over the first two months of 2008, he had an .800+ OPS in June, July and September.
Young could become the odd man out in the outfield with his second team, and the Twins appear amiable to part with him.
showed some flashes of being very good but struggled for most of the summer before having a nice close to the season. He won't turn 23 until December and his combination of speed and occasional power will both become increasingly refined as he matures. There have only been 13 other players (Cesar Cedeno twice) since 1970 to hit at least seven homers and steal 33 bases, including Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez, Roberto Alomar and Jose Reyes. He stole bases at a much better clip in the second half, as well as reducing his strikeout to walk rate, which was an abysmal 142/25.
Denard Span (189th, 138, +1,182%) gave the Twins a great charge when he became a regular in July. He hit .294/.387/.432 and they really didn't miss much not having Cuddayer. Span doesn't project to be the kind of guy who will hit 30+ homers, but with his speed (seven triples in 347 at bats) he will get his fair share of extra base hits.
Michael Cuddyer (560th, 49, -93%) was limited to just 71 games due to a whole slew of injuries (a couple of hands and broken foot). He hit .249/.330/.369, all essentially career lows. The Twins will need his steady bat healthy in 2009.
Jason Kubel (222nd, 127, +223%) tuned 31 doubles and 13 homers in 2007 into 22 doubles and 20 homers as he was given quite a few more at bats due to the Cuddyer injuries. He had a marked yet modest improvement against lefties even though the Twins are wise to limit those at bats.
Scott Baker (91st, 193, +2,149%) was the low ERA man with a mark of 3.45. He was 14th in WHIP, but his inability to throw ground balls will probably eventually catch up with him.
Nick Blackburn (134th, 169, +1,695%) was the biggest workhorse of the Twins' rotation, throwing a team-high 193.3 innings with an ERA of 4.05. But the Twins lost eight of Blackburn's final 10 starts and his ERA elevated from 3.73 to 4.05 in the process. Blackburn did pitch an excellent game in the one-game playoff against the White Sox, giving up just one run on three hits in six-plus innings, but got zero run support.
Francisco Liriano (371st, 83, +67%) returned to the mound after missing the entire 2007 season following Tommy John surgery, and although he couldn't replicate the mastery of his 2.16 ERA and 144 K's in 121 innings, his 3.91 mark and 67 K's in 76 innings is a promising sign that he'll reclaim at least a sizable chunk of it.
Kevin Slowey (117th, 181, +1,925%) became another dependable young arm for the Twins, giving up 71 earned runs in 160.3 innings. He continued to give up too many homers, especially against lefties.
Glen Perkins (176th, 147, 1,285%) had a 12-4 record, but had an ERA of 4.41. There have been only 17 other pitchers who have been that lucky in history, including the especially lucky Matt Harrison who had a 5.49 ERA but was 9-3 thanks to that offense in Texas. Perkins pitches to contact and, like Baker, he will need to throw more ground balls in order to have more consistent success.
Boof Bonser (334th, 91, +362%) was the 'third' player that came over in the A.J./Liriano/Nathan trade and he had a 5.93 in a mix of roles as a starter and reliever. The early promising glimpses of Bonser have all but entirely diminished, and he hasn't really cut it as a starter or a reliever.
Livan Hernandez (191st, 137, +0%) was Minnesota's opening day starter, and they won eight of his first nine starts, but that record was deceiving as his stuff wasn't too sharp. He ate innings for the Twins, but they no longer needed him and his 5.48 ERA when Liriano came back in August.
Joe Nathan (78th, 198, -11%) has the best ERA (1.83) among closers since 2004 when he joined the Twins and is third in saves with 199, just seven behind Frankie Rodriguez. He uncharacteristicly blew four of his 11 save opportunities over the course of a month in August and early September. In a race where every game mattered so much, the Twins can clearly look back on those with regret, but he has been far far better than he's been bad.
Dennys Reyes (517th, 56, -54%) wasn't as brilliant as he was in 2006 when he had a 0.89 ERA, but it was a big uptick from 2007 as he gave up just 12 earned runs in 46.3 innings.
Jesse Crain (451st, 67, -17%) had a 3.59 ERA with 50 K's in 62.7 innings. He continues to be an incredibly dependable young reliever and appeared fully recovered from surgery on his rotator cuff.
Brian Bass (399th, 75, +208%) gave the Twins 68.3 innings of 4.87 ERA ball before they traded him to Baltimore for a player to be named later. His strikeout rate and record in the minors suggest he'll be a fringe long reliever, at best.
Matt Guerrier (439th, 69, +0%) had a rough second half and finished the season with a 5.19 ERA after three seasons of 3.39, 3.36 and 2.35 between 05 and 07.