Today’s Baseball Prospectus newsletter just arrived, and pointed out the following statistic:
Bottom 5 AL Team Defenses, by Defensive Efficiency
Minnesota Twins, .683 Seattle Mariners, .684 Texas Rangers, .684 New York Yankees, .696 Kansas City Royals, .698
That’s defensive efficiency, and the Twins are the worst in the American League. This from an organization that has historically keyed on excellent defense.
The Rangers and Yankees have powerful offenses and are built to outscore their opponents, so their defensive woes are “part of the plan” and aren’t that big a deal to them. The Mariners and Royals are the worst two teams in the AL.
That leaves the Twins, with a worse defense than all of them, an offense that isn’t built to outscore anyone, and a pitching staff that pitches to contact rather than trying to strike people out.
It’s not a recipe for winning ballgames, and the current 6 game losing streak is testament to that.
The problem, in large part, is the new faces. The ones that didn’t come up through the Twins system, taught to value defense over all else. Delmon Young, Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris … they were brought in to upgrade the offense while admittedly sacrificing defense. I don’t disagree with the decision — the offense definitely needed to be upgraded.
The issue is that their defense is worse than expected, and their offense is worse than what we were getting from those positions last year.
Delmon Young 2008: .266/.315/.357 (OPS: 672) Jason Tyner 2007: .281/.331/.355 (OPS: 686)Each of these players is a significant downgrade defensively from their predecessor, AND a downgrade offensively. (And no, the fact that Mike Lamb’s OPS is 15 points higher than Punto2007 does NOT impress me. Note that Lamb is the biggest position player free agent signing in the history of the Minnesota Twins. He should be able to hit considerably better than the WORST PLAYER IN BASEBALL.)
Mike Lamb 2008: .228/.267/.310 (OPS: 577) Nick Punto 2007: .210/.291/.271 (OPS: 562)
Brendan Harris 2008: .245/.314/.320 (OPS: 634) Jason Bartlett 2007: .265/.339/.361 (OPS: 700)
More than anything else, this abysmal defensive efficiency rating — coupled with the fact that the worst transgressors also happen to be dragging down the offense more than the anemic ass bats they replaced — is a reason to be worried about this team. Without defense, offense, OR pitching, how can we be expected to compete with anyone?4 comments