The only thing I have to say about last night’s game is this:
If your catcher records a passed ball on a pitchout that allows a runner who wasn’t going to steal to advance a base, you know your team’s going bad.
Anyhow, with that catching mishap and the imminent return of Mauer, Rob Neyer has decided to start pointing out that he’s really not all that important to the Twins.
First, he looks into the effects of a noodle arm behind the plate, pointing out that it doesn’t matter at all if the catcher throws out every runner who attempts to steal, or throws out none of them. Quoting famed Twins-hater Dave Cameron:
Last season, the Philadelphia Phillies only caught 24% of basestealers on their way to celebrating their first World Series title in 28 years. In 2008, 11 teams were able to throw out at least 30% of base stealers, but only one of those teams made the playoffs, and that team, the Milwaukee Brewers, lost in the first round.Neyer then says:
One, few teams run enough to make a big dent in the all-important runs columns. As Cameron notes, what matters most is the number of baserunners, not what they do (under their own power) once they’re on.But obviously if the catcher simply can’t throw runners out, then teams will run more against you. While it’s certainly better to just keep runners off base entirely, a catcher who allows a lot of steals just exacerbates the problem.
What does that have to do with Mauer and the Twins, you ask? Well, Mauer controls the running game better than any catcher in baseball, and Morales/Redmond can’t throw anybody out. Neyer’s just setting himself up for his “It won’t matter when Mauer comes back, the Twins still suck” argument.
Which, of course, he makes in his very next post:
Once again we’re reminded of how little difference the loss of one player, however great, can make. Mauer’s replacements could have been awful or they could have been just OK, but instead they were actually pretty good. No, a .759 OPS isn’t anything special, but it’s pretty darned good for catchers. I’ll bet that Mauer’s had months that weren’t as good. Shoot, I’ll go ahead and check …Sure, players have up and down months. So Morales is a reasonably good hitting catcher and is having a good month, and it’s possible to cherry-pick some months from Mauer’s sterling record that look worse, based solely on OPS? Clearly that means the Twins shouldn’t be that excited to get Mauer back, and he’s not going to make any difference. One player doesn’t make any difference, and replacing an annual-MVP-candidate/two-time-batting-champion/gold-glove-catcher with a minor leaguer will result in the same overall results. If you’re the Twins. If the Red Sox or Yankees did that, the sky would fall so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you.
Yep. Mauer wasn’t as good last April as his replacements this April. He wasn’t as good in June or August of ‘08, either.
But the real reason for the Twins’ good position isn’t Mauer’s replacements or Mauer’s return; it’s the abject weakness of the Twins’ division. With the exception of the Tigers — who are not exactly worry-free — no team in the American League Central looks like even a decent bet to finish above .500.So yes, it does all come down to this. Some more AL Central bashing, from someone who thinks that only the Tigers have a reasonable chance to finish above .500 … I don’t know exactly why he thinks that,* but I’ve got the Tigers as the worst team in the division, and the one most likely to finish below .500. And that’s just looking at the talent they have on the field, not taking into account the inevitable injuries they’ll suffer with their elderly team, and the fact that their minor league system is so devoid of talent that they’ll be unable to replace anyone who goes down.
* But I assume it’s because they have the highest payroll.
Once again, my message is to not listen to Neyer, who takes his hate-the-Twins-without-thinking-about-it straight from Cameron.
Of course, that’s a tough sell after yet another piss-poor performance. But in baseball, each individual game means nothing; put them all together and they mean everything. We just have to come out tonight and play well, and we’ll soon forget about this bad game. And we still get to look forward to getting Mauer back.
And my guess is that his presence will make a difference.5 comments