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2010 Twins Projections - Infielders

Today at TwinsMix we’re doing 2010 Stat Projections. The format used will be BJ for the Bill James projection for each player, and BW for my projection for each player, along with a single stat picked out for emphasis. For those wondering about wOBA, please consult (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-joy-of-woba) for further explanation.

Here are the starting infielders:

C- Joe Mauer (.365/.444/.587 in ‘09)
BJ: .334/.422/.531 (wOBA .414)
BW: .335/.430/.525 (24 HR)

Predicting a .955 OPS from a catcher is difficult, but so is predicting a more than 100 point OPS drop-off for Mauer. It seems unlikely that he’ll reach a 1.000+ OPS this season; Mike Piazza only did three times in his career and twice it was by fewer than 10 points. This prediction for Mauer is set right in the middle of his mid .800s OPS (his career mark was .856 prior to 2009) body of work and his gargantuan 2009 campaign. It’s a relatively safe prediction, and hopefully an accurate one.

1B- Justin Morneau (.272/.363/.516 in ’09)
BJ: .282/.363/.510 (wOBA .376)
BW: .280/.370/.500 (32 HR)

Morneau enters 2010 with a decent amount to prove; from Aug. 1 until he was shut down for the season on Sept. 12, Morneau compiled a feeble .174/.273/.322 (.596 OPS) line that dropped his season OPS nearly 100 points during that 33 game span. When coupled with the fact that Cuddyer’s production at 1B skyrocketed in Morneau’s absence (.325/.398/.675 (1.073 OPS)) and that the Twins were ceremoniously manhandled in the ALDS by an offensively superior Yankee team, it becomes all too apparent that the Twins need a healthy Morneau if they’re ever going to move past the playoff slump they seem to have been mired in since early last decade.

2B- Nick Punto (.228/.337/.284 in ‘09)
BJ: .244/.330/.308 (wOBA .295)
BW: .265/.335/.340 (15 SB/1:1 K/BB ratio)

It’s unclear if the Twins are a very superstitious bunch, but if there’s anything to Nick Punto’s career path that someone should like, the Twins need to feel positive about what he can do for them in 2010. Punto posted a 90 OPS+ or better in 2006 and 2008; he followed each of them up with sub 70 seasons. If he can rekindle his even season magic, even just enough to post his typical walk rate and a slugging percentage that exceeds his OBP, his chances of another 90 OPS+ season and being a valuable commodity to the Twins improve immeasurably. In an ideal world, Punto would be a super sub, playing twice a week at 2B/SS/3B combined. In a less ideal world, Punto would be the starting 3B on this club because his career UZR/150 is 19.9 at 3B (compared to 3.9 at 2B). However, unless the Twins pull Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez off the free agent market, it appears the Twins will roll with Punto at 2B because they like his athleticism and Harris at 3B because of his level of comfort there (regardless of whether or not they’re superior defensive players at the opposite positions).

3B- Brendan Harris (.261/.310/.362 in ’09)
BJ: .273/.332/.398 (wOBA .320)
BW: . 265/.315/.400 (8 HR)

To predict Harris’ line is a difficult task; he rips lefties (.297/.356/.428 career line) and if used properly is a championship caliber role player. But, by virtue of his placement as the starting 3B, it’s difficult to project any sort of line that is close to that mark. The saving grace to his numbers are that he’ll likely be usurped by Danny Valencia at some point in the season, and thus will be allowed to return to the platoon role that allowed him success in the first place.

SS- J.J. Hardy (.229/.302/.357 in ’09)
BJ: .254/.320/.422 (wOBA .325)
BW: .260/.330/.440

By adding J.J. Hardy, the Twins appear to have solidified the SS spot that has been an eyesore since the club dealt Jason Bartlett. Hardy may never again replicate his 2008 numbers (.283/.343/.478), but he doesn’t have to do so to be a valuable addition to the Twins. In fact, in spite of his wretched 2009 numbers (.659 OPS/.292 wOBA in 465 PA), he still managed to provide a 1.4 WAR mark for the Brewers, primarily riding his 6.7 UZR in the field to provide most of his value. If Hardy can even have his hitting numbers meet somewhere halfway between 2008 and 2009, he’s going to be a very solid pickup for the Twins and help anchor an infield that desperately entered the offseason needing an overhaul. As long as he doesn’t hit second (which he says he prefers), he should still prove to be an asset in the lower third of the order.

3 comments:

  1. P.S. I authored this post. Not sure why it didn't show up! Thanks for reading!

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  2. seems like I've seen this before.

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  3. If that means you're reading my content elsewhere, then I think that's a good thing :)

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