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Thursday, May 22, 2003

Bi-Weekly Review: A.L. Central

The A.L. Central through May 20th.




































































MINNESOTA TWINS (25-18 ? 1st Place)

What happened since the last "Bi-Weekly Review":

Guess who’s back, back again

Minnesota’s back, tell a friend

Guess who’s back, guess who’s back

Guess who’s back. guess who’s back

Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back

The Twins swept the Devil Rays, took two out of three from the Red Sox, split a four game series with the Royals and then swept three straight from the White Sox ? giving them a 10-3 record since the last "Bi-Weekly Review."  In that time, they gained 5.5 games on the Royals, overtaking them for first place in the process.

Who?s playing (and where) and who?s not (and why):

Despite piling up wins, the Twins have been bombarded with minor injuries over the past couple of weeks and the result has been a lot of roster changes and a lineup that is constantly in flux.


First, Denny Hocking went down with an elbow injury, forcing him to the disabled list.  The Twins called up Todd Sears to take his spot on the roster.  Then, when Hocking was ready to return, the Twins decided to keep Sears and sent Michael Cuddyer down to Triple-A.


Meanwhile, Doug Mientkiewicz missed time with a wrist injury, giving extended playing time to the newly-arrived Sears.  Mientkiewicz came back, but is going to miss some more time because of an ankle injury he suffered on the 18th.  This will again give Sears some additional playing time.


Matthew LeCroy was starting to really catch fire offensively (.353/.389/.794 in May), but was struck in the face with a Runelvys Hernandez pitch on the 14th, broke his nose and missed three games, before returning on the 18th as a pinch-hitter.


Bobby Kielty pulled a muscle in his ribcage chasing down a fly ball on the 11th and has been limited to DH and pinch-hit appearances ever since.


Jacque Jones strained a muscle in his leg on the 12th and was limited to pinch-hitting until he returned to the lineup on the 17th by going 3-4 against the White Sox.


All of the strains and pulls and brokes noses have resulted in some funny looking Twins lineups, with Doug Mientkiewicz, a Gold Glove first baseman, and Denny Hocking, a light hitting utility man, both making several starts in right field.

Stats, stats and more stats:

While Minnesota?s pitching has been very good over the past two weeks, their offense has been absolutely on fire.  They averaged 6.4 runs per game during their 10-3 stretch, including an 18-3 shellacking of the White Sox on the 16th.


The team is hitting .318/.371/.496 in the month of May, after hitting only .247/.308/.388 in April.  Some of the main contributors in May:


Dustan Mohr - .394/.420/.561

Jacque Jones - .382/.382/.600

Cristian Guzman - .319/.333/.458

Doug Mientkiewicz - .389/.477/.639

Matthew LeCroy - .353/.389/.794

Todd Sears - .355/.462/.548


Heck, even Luis Rivas is hitting .341/.370/.409 in May.  Of course, a .370 OBP and a .409 SLG aren?t exactly extraordinary coming with a .341 batting average, but who?s gonna complain about that (besides me)?


The Twins had a team OPS of .696 in April.  The only player with more than 25 at bats and an OPS under .700 in May is Torii Hunter, who is hitting .214/.286/.386.


Minnesota starting pitchers have a 4.52 ERA overall and are striking out 5.4 batters per nine innings. Minnesota relievers have a 2.68 ERA overall and are striking out 7.8 batters per nine innings. The pitching staff as a whole has given up only 10 homers in 162 May innings after allowing 36 in 220 April innings.


Minnesota?s defense has been the second-best in all of baseball at turning balls in play into outs this season.  They have converted 73.8% of BIP into outs, which ranks second to only Oakland and well ahead of last year?s percentage of 71.4. 


Their outfielders, as always, have been especially impressive.  Torii Hunter leads all major league centerfielders with a .952 Zone Rating and Jacque Jones leads all major league left fielders at .962.  However, Minnesota right fielders have a combined Zone Rating of .809 (including a .500 for Doug "I?m not an outfielder!" Mientkiewicz in three games), which is the worst of any team in the American League and may suggest that Hunter has decided to catch everything he can get to this year, instead of letting some "in-between" balls go to the right fielders, which some people (including myself) felt he did some last year.


As a team, the Twins lead the AL in Zone Rating in LF (Jones and Mohr) and CF (Hunter), and are second in the AL at 1B (Mientkiewicz and Sears) and 3B (Koskie).  They are dead last in RF (Mohr, Cuddyer, Kielty), seventh at SS (Guzman and Gomez) and 10th at 2B (Rivas and Gomez).


The Twins, as they typically do, have commmitted very few errors and rank second in the AL with only 25 in 43 games.  They committed the fewest errors in baseball last season.  The lone exception this year is Luis Rivas, who has the lowest fielding percentage of any second baseman in major league baseball.

Fun with paces:

Cristian Guzman ? 607 at bats, 0 homers, 19 doubles, 26 triples, 23 walks, 98 strikeouts

Jacque Jones ? 565 at bats, 196 hits, 11 homers, 41 doubles, 11 walks, 121 strikeouts

Torii Hunter ? 22 homers, 26 doubles, 8 triples, 102 RBIs, 60 walks, 109 strikeouts

Luis Rivas ? 430 at bats, 3 homers, 15 doubles, 7 triples, 15 walks, 56 strikeouts

Bobby Kielty ? 430 at bats, 23 homers, 26 doubles, 75 walks, 98 strikeouts, 79 RBIs, 83 runs

Dustan Mohr ? 400 at bats, 15 homers, 23 doubles, 7 walks, 106 strikeouts

Johan Santana ? 120 innings, 132 strikeouts, 60 walks, 94 hits, 4 homers

Latroy Hawkins ? 70 innings, 93 strikeouts, 11 walks, 38 hits, 4 homers

J.C. Romero ? 73 innings, 53 strikeouts, 57 walks, 45 hits, 4 homers

Eddie Guardado ? 63 innings, 53 strikeouts, 4 walks, 38 hits, 4 homers, 34 saves

Brad Radke ? 228 innings, 278 hits, 122 strikeouts, 40 walks, 48 homers, 22 wins, 11 losses

Coming up:

5/20-5/22 ? @Oakland

5/23-5/25 ? @Seattle

5/26 ? Off Day

5/27-5/28 ? Oakland

5/29-6/1 ? Seattle


A very tough stretch of games coming up for the Twins.  In addition to the 12 games against the A?s and Mariners shown here, they also have a three-game series against the Giants, in San Francisco, to begin inter-league play on June 3-5.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS (24-18 ? 2nd Place)

What happened since the last "Bi-Weekly Review":

Well, it was fun while it lasted. 


Since starting out 16-3, the Royals are 8-15, including 5-9 since the last "BiWR."  During their last 14 games they have been outscored 97-63, including an 18-1 loss to the Blue Jays on the 16th.

Who?s playing (and where) and who?s not (and why):

Jeremy Affeldt rejoined the rotation after missing some time with blister problems.  In his three starts since returning, Affeldt is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings, striking out 17 while walking two.


The Royals went to a six-man rotation for a short time, but have since gone back to a five-man rotation, with Darrell May getting bumped to the bullpen.


With Jason Grimsley and Mike MacDougal struggling a little bit, rookie and Rule V pick D.J. Carrasco has taken on a more important role in the team?s bullpen.  Carrasco is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 11 1/3 May innings.


While MacDougal has kept his job as closer, the combination of his struggles and the team?s lack of wins have kept him fairly inactive.  He has only made six appearances in May, pitching a total of six innings.


Carlos Febles? minor hand injury gave Desi Relaford a chance to play everyday at second base and he responded well.  Febles recently returned to action, but Relaford has remained an everyday player, splitting time between the infield and the outfield.  Relaford is hitting .303/.382/.424 in May.

Stats, stats and more stats:

Kansas City hitting:


April ? .277/.349/.458, one homer every 25.3 at bats

May ? .254/.317/.378, one homer every 42.0 at bats


Kansas City pitching:


April ? 3.84 ERA, one homer every 12.0 innings

May ? 5.85 ERA, one homer every 7.8 innings


?Nuff said.


The Royals are ninth in the AL in BIP-out%, converting 70.4% of BIP into outs.  That?s the exact same percentage that they had last season, when they ranked 11th in the AL.


Almost every Kansas City defender ranks right in the middle of the pack in Zone Rating for their position.  The team as a whole has the following positional American League ZR ranks:

8, 5, 5, 8, 8, 11, 5.  The "11" ranking is in centerfield, where Michael Tucker filled in for Carlos Beltran while he was injured.  Tucker has a .857 ZR in 194 CF innings, while Beltran is at .926 in 174 innings.


The Royals have committed the second-most errors in the AL (35), fewer than only Toronto (38).  The main offenders are the Sweeney/Harvey first base-combo, who have a league-leading seven errors, and Angel Berroa, who has 10 errors, trying him for the most by any shortstop in the AL.

Fun with paces:

Raul Ibanez ? 616 at bats, 19 homers, 39 doubles, 73 RBIs, 92 runs, 62 walks

Angel Berroa ? 516 at bats, 8 homers, 31 doubles, 23 walks, 27 HBPs

Mike Sweeney ? 474 at bats, 27 homers, 19 doubles, 104 walks, 69 strikeouts

Jason Grimsley ? 92 appearances, 110 innings, 92 strikeouts, 31 walks, 4 homers

Coming up:

5/20-5/22 ? @Seattle

5/23-5/25 ? @Oakland

5/26 ? Off Day

5/27-5/28 ? Seattle

5/29-6/1 ? Oakland


The Royals get the same tough stretch as the Twins, as they try to remain a contender into June.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX (20-24 ? 3rd Place)

What happened since the last "Bi-Weekly Review":

The White Sox went 5-8, including dropping 2/3 to both Oakland and Seattle and then three straight to the Twins, in Minnesota.  They were outscored 73-44 during those 13 games, including losses of 18-3 (to Minnesota) and 12-2 (to Toronto).

Who?s playing (and where) and who?s not (and why):

After sending their opening day centerfielder, Aaron Rowand, down to Triple-A, the Sox called up Willie Harris to take his place.  Harris made 11 starts in his first 13 games with the team, before hurting his shoulder making diving catch in the team?s 18-3 loss to the Twins on the 16th.  With Harris out, Magglio Ordonez has moved over from right field and has started several games in center.


Rookie catcher Miguel Olivo has gradually started to take playing time away from veteran Sandy Alomar.  In April, Olivo had 45 at bats to Alomar?s 41.  Thus far in May, Olivo leads Alomar in ABs 34 to 22.  Olivo is hitting .294/.351/.500 in May.


Danny Wright rejoined the team and the starting rotation on the 9th and is 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA in two starts.

Stats, stats and more stats:

The Chicago offense has struggled tremendously against right-handed pitching all year, while doing very well against lefties.


Their OPS of .702 against righties ranks 12th in the AL while their OPS of .825 against lefties ranks 1st in the AL.


Some of the main culprits:


Player         vs LHP   vs RHP

Frank Thomas     1.236     .823    

Magglio Ordonez   1.186     .744

Miguel Olivo     1.131     .513

Paul Konerko     1.073     .420

Tony Graffanino   1.036     .700

In a related story, the Sox fired their hitting coach, Gary Ward, on the 18th.  They replaced Ward with Triple-A hitting coach Greg Walker.


The White Sox have a reputation for being horrible defensively and, while that may be true at times, their overall defense has been decent this season (and quite good last season).  They are turning 71.6% of balls in play into outs, which ranks sixth in the AL.  They ranked second in the AL with a 72.1% BIP-out% last year.


White Sox third baseman Joe Crede ranks first in the AL in Zone Rating.  On the right side of the infield, D?Angelo Jimenez and Paul Konerko are both near the bottom of the rankings at their position.  Jose Valentin, who gets the most heat about his D, ranks fifth among AL shortstops with a .869 ZR, ahead of guys like Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada and Rey Ordonez.  Of course, he has committed nine errors, which is among the league-leaders.

Fun with paces:

Magglio Ordonez ? 582 at bats, 26 homers, 33 doubles, 7 triples, 48 walks, 103 RBIs

Carlos Lee ? 556 at bats, 26 homers, 33 doubles, 29 walks, 118 strikeouts

D?Angelo Jimenez ? 541 at bats, 11 homers, 33 doubles, 15 triples, 81 walks, 66 strikeouts

Paul Konerko ? 515 at bats, 7 homers, 29 doubles, 44 RBIs, 41 runs,

Frank Thomas ? 504 at bats, 33 homers, 29 doubles, 114 walks, 96 strikeouts

Mark Buehrle ? 204 innings, 83 strikeouts, 76 walks, 7 wins, 23 losses

Esteban Loaiza ? 217 innings, 178 strikeouts, 59 walks, 11 homers, 26 wins, 4 losses

Billy Koch ? 70 appearances, 60 innings, 59 strikeouts, 22 walks, 22 homers

Coming up:

5/19-5/21 ? Toronto

5/22 ? Off Day

5/23 ? 5/25 ? Detroit

5/26-5/29 ? @Toronto

5/30-6/2 ? Cleveland


While the Twins and Royals each battle two of the elite teams in the league, the White Sox get two series with the suddenly hot Blue Jays and one each with the lowly Tigers and Indians.  Definitely a chance for the Sox to make up some ground in the division.


CLEVELAND INDIANS (15-28 ? 4th Place)

What happened since the last "Bi-Weekly Review":

The Indians, who had gone 7-20 after taking 2/3 from Baltimore in the first series of the season, have gone 6-7 since the last "BiWR."  After losing three straight to the Angels, they took 2/3 from Texas, 1/3 from Seattle and 2/3 from Oakland.  They also beat Detroit 10-9 on the 20th, in what has to be one of the most unlikely slugfests of the year.

Who?s playing (and where) and who?s not (and why):

Milton Bradley is back from the disabled list and playing everyday in centerfield.  He is hitting .185/.421/.185 (10 walks!) in nine May games.  Karim Garcia, who had been getting a lot of time in right field and center field (when Bradley was out), injured his wrist and was put on the DL on the 8th.  In his place, Shane Spencer and Jody Gerut have been getting more playing time.


Rookie first baseman Travis Hafner, who was off to a bad start (.206/.280/.392), injured his foot and was also placed on the DL.  The Tribe called up Ben Broussard, whom Hafner beat out for the first base job in the spring, to replace him in the lineup.


The opening day rotation remains intact, with C.C. Sabathia, Ricardo Rodriguez, Jason Davis, Brian Anderson and Jake Westbrook making all but one of the team?s 43 starts, including all 16 in May.

Stats, stats and more stats:

The Indians have the second-worst offense in the American League this year.  Aside from the Toothless Kitties in Motown, the Indians rank last in the AL in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  They have been particularly bad against lefties, hitting just .230/.301/.375 against them.


The team?s awful numbers against lefties are despite some very good individual performances against southpaws.  Ellis Burks is hitting .353/.450/.647 against lefties, while Milton Bradley is at .459/.545/.703 against them.  The majority of the other performances against left-handers are too scary to even reprint here, so proceed to stats page at your own risk.


Cleveland?s overall defense is eighth in the AL in BIP-out%, which is a huge improvement over last season, when they ranked dead last in all of major league baseball.


Some of the obvious improvements (thus far) have been Brandon Phillips at second base, who ranks third in the AL in ZR.  Casey Blake at third base, who ranks fourth.  And Milton Bradley, who has been injured, but ranks fifth in centerfield Zone Rating.


The strength of the team?s defense is obviously the infield.  While the infielders (Phillips, Blake, Omar Vizquel, John McDonald, etc) rank third in the AL in overall Zone Rating, the outfielders (Bradley, Matt Lawton, Shane Spencer, etc) rank 13th.

Fun with paces:

Ellis Burks ? 558 at bats, 23 homers, 38 doubles, 72 walks, 128 strikeouts, 98 RBIs

Brandon Phillips ? 490 at bats, 8 homers, 34 doubles, 23 walks, 94 strikeouts

C.C. Sabathia ? 222 innings, 141 strikeouts, 70 walks, 15 homers, 7 wins, 7 losses

Coming up:

5/19-5/22 ? Detroit

5/23-5/25 ? @Boston

5/26-5/28 ? @Detroit

5/29 ? Off Day

5/30-5/2 ? Chicago


The bottom two teams in the AL Central square off seven times in the next two weeks, with the winners having a definite leg up on fourth place.


DETROIT TIGERS (9-33 ? 5th Place)

What happened since the last "Bi-Weekly Review":

Believe it or not, the Tigers have actually started playing somewhat respectably ? for them at least.  After starting the season 1-16, they went 3-9 between the first and second "BiWR" and have gone 5-8 since then.  I?m pretty sure that, if they keep this pattern up, they could have an above-.500 two week-stretch by 2009 or so.

Who?s playing (and where) and who?s not (and why):

Right around the time the Tigers gave Craig Monroe a full-time job, he stopped hitting.  Monroe started 16 games straight games before sitting out Tuesday?s loss to Cleveland, but is hitting only .226/.279/.387 in May.


Andres Torres, who was called up at the end of April, has continued to start most days in centerfield, but is hitting only .209/.264/.269 on the season and .210/.269/.274 in May.  The man he replaced as the starting CF, Eugene Kingsale, has played sparingly in May, starting only six games, while playing centerfield, left field and designated hitter.  Kingsale has the second-best on-base percentage (.337) on the team.


Detroit?s starting five-some of Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Cornejo, Mike Maroth, Gary Knotts and Adam Bernero have started every one of the team?s 41 games this season.  They have a combined record of 6-27 with a 5.18 ERA in 239 2/3 innings.


Long-time MLB veteran Steve Avery, a former 2-time 18 game-winner with the Braves, was recently called up from Triple-A and has been making appearances out of the bullpen.  He had a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings at Triple-A.


Closer Matt Anderson lost his job several weeks ago and was demoted to Triple-A on May 7th.  He had a 6.17 ERA in 11 2/3 innings at the time of the demotion and has made three appearances at Triple-A, pitching a total of 8 2/3 innings with a 4.15 ERA.  There haven?t been a whole lot of save opportunities in his absence, so the identity of the new "closer" in Detroit isn?t really known.

Stats, stats and more stats:

With his loss to the Mariners on the 18th, Mike Maroth dropped to 0-9 on the season and appears well on his way to being the first 20 game-loser since Brian Kingman went 8-20 for the A?s in 1980.  Like Kingman in ?80, Maroth has been a reasonably effective pitcher this season. 


While his ERA is 5.73 (definitely not good), he has five "quality starts," which ties him with guys like Jamie Moyer (6-2), Brad Radke (5-3), Jason Johnson (4-2) and Roy Halladay (4-2), and puts him ahead of guys like Tim Wakefield (4-1), Joe Mays (4-3), Andy Pettitte (4-4) and Gil Meche (5-2).


Maroth?s DIPS ERA is 4.59, which is decent.  The Tigers have scored a total of 24 runs in his 10 starts (2.4/game), while averaging 3.25 runs per game in their other 32 games.


All-time "leaders" in least wins in a 20-loss season:


                   YEAR     W      L     

Jack Nabors     1916   1   20  

Les German       1896   2   20  

Joe Harris       1906   2   21  

Kaiser Wilhelm   1905   3   23  

Don Larsen       1954   3   21


(Thanks to Lee Sinins? Sabermetric Encyclopedia

If Maroth doesn?t get to 20 losses this year, Adam Bernero might.  Bernero is 0-6 with a 6.04 ERA in eight starts.


While the Tigers have pulled way ahead of National League pitchers in the hitting department (don?t laugh, they were close a little while ago), their team EqA of .213 is far below the average performance of any position in baseball.  The Tigers are hitting .212/.282/.318.  The least offensive position, shortstop, is hitting .266/.329/.402 as a group, which is an EqA of .257.


The Tigers have the worst offense in baseball (by far) and the worst on-base % in baseball (by far), and when they actually get someone on base, they tend to even screw that up.  They are 16/33 (48%) on stolen base attempts, which is the worst success-rate in baseball.


Rookie pitcher Jeremy Bonderman has a 4.09 ERA if you ignore his first two starts of the season, which were disastrous (11 runs in 6 1/3 IP).


Carlos Pena:

Before May 19th ? 3 homers, 9 RBIs (39 games, 130 at bats)

May 19th ? 3 homers, 7 RBIs (1 game, 4 at bats)


The Tigers have come a long way defensively since they started last season with one of the worst defensive teams in recent memory.  Their 2002 Opening Day lineup included Shane Halter at SS, Damion Easley at 2B, Craig Paquette at 3B, Jose Macias in CF and Mike Rivera behind the plate.  Their 2002 defense also included long stretches of Randall Simon at first base and Wendell Magee in centerfield.


This year, the Tigers have gone to a much better defensive unit, including Carlos Pena at first base, Ramon Santiago and Omar Infante up the middle and Kingsale and Torres in CF.  The always-solid Bobby Higginson is back from 2002, but made the switch from LF to RF.  They do have Eric Munson (a former 1B/DH) at third base, but he has actually been better than expected there thus far. 


It?s still not a great defensive unit, but it?s certainly not a horrible one.  As a whole, they rank fourth in the AL in BIP-out%.  They ranked 13th in the AL last year.

Fun with paces:

Bobby Higginson ? 575 at bats, 15 homers, 15 doubles, 96 walks, 81 strikeouts

Dmitri Young ? 575 at bats, 19 homers, 15 doubles, 12 triples

Carlos Pena ? 517 at bats, 23 homers, 23 doubles, 39 walks, 135 strikeouts, 12 steals

Mike Maroth ? 197 innings, 96 strikeouts, 36 walks, 26 homers, 0 wins, 30 losses

Adam Bernero ? 195 innings, 82 strikeouts, 78 walks, 20 homers, 0 wins, 24 losses

Coming up:

5/19-5/22 ? @Cleveland

5/23-5/25 ? @Chicago

5/26-5/28 ? Cleveland

5/29 ? Off Day

5/30-6/1 ? New York


The Tigers get some winnable games with the Indians before the Yankees come to town.


Aaron Gleeman Posted: May 22, 2003 at 06:00 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. GregD Posted: May 22, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611058)
I also think the fun with projections are great. Can Radke pass Bert Blyleven, Robin Roberts, and Denny McLain to have the most wins for a 45+ home run season? Can Paul Konerko really come in with 40 or fewer runs scored? Will someone actually end up with more HBPs than BBs? Enquiring minds want to know.
   2. Chris Dial Posted: May 22, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611063)
*all* CFs take balls from RF in non-zone plays. The RF for the Twins will get plenty of plays on his own. Overall, teh CF will not significantly affect the RF's ZR.
   3. Dudefella Posted: May 22, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611066)
Chris Dial wrote: "*all* CFs take balls from RF in non-zone plays."

Chris, as a fellow Mets fan - after 1+ seasons of Roger Cedeno in CF, how can you possibly write this? ;)
   4. BP Posted: May 23, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611067)
I would love it if Cristian Guzman could in fact end the year with more triples than doubles. For that matter, if Cuddyer were still in the majors he'd be on pace for 11-12 triples and ZERO doubles, which would have looked great on the pace chart.
   5. Marc Posted: May 30, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611151)
It certainly looks like the Twins should cake-walk this disaster of a division. Is any team playing with less heart right now than the pale Sox? And as to paces--how many pennant winners have ever had a leadoff hitter with 121 Ks and 11 BBs?

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