Intro and Playoff Preview

October 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

Hello, world. My name is Hans and this is my first foray into the world of sabermetric baseblogging. I’ve been a blogger for several years now but my writing hasn’t been focused on baseball analysis to this point. I kind of felt as if my friends would hate me for that and thus, would never read any of my posts unless to make fun of me. I have wonderful friends.

But in spite of this, I have been a student of blogging based baseball analysis since the Twins’ historic 2006 season. I sometimes wonder, had that season been any less epic, would I have 16 different baseball oriented sites in my quicklinks?

Probably. I’m obsessed with statistics, the game itself, the countless variables in analyzing the game, and  blogging in general. Firejoemorgan was my shit until it went defunct (Crime of the new century). Now I read Baseballmusings, John Sickels’ Minor League Ball, Joe Posnanski, Umpbump, Aaron Gleeman and countless other local Twins blogs quite religiously. Wonderful forms of procrastination are blogs these days.

I should also run down my many biases. I will forever be madly in love with the Minnesota Twins. I’m not naïve; I don’t consider Ron Gardenhire a particularly good manager (Not letting Mijares face Granderson last Tuesday? C’mon!), I’m aware that Nick Punto doesn’t deserve a starting Major League job, Matt Tolbert is NOT a prospect ,and no I don’t have any hope for Delmon Young despite his September/October surge (Including 3 whole walks!). The Twins simply represent everything that is appealing to me in a baseball team. And I won’t go on a diatribe about “playing the game the right way” or anything. They’re just perpetual underdogs regardless of the circumstances. The players’ egos seemed subdued, even if they’ve come from a different organization; look at Delmon and O-Cab. Maybe that’s a result of media suppression, but in any case I always feel I can be proud of the Twins, which is quite a bit more than I can say about The Evil Purple Empire, and those mismanaged kinder-woofies. Hockey isn’t a sport in my mind, if you were wondering.

Other favorites include the Red Sox, Braves, Marlins and Athletics. I very much respect the job those teams do from a business standpoint.

** BUT BILLY BEANE IS OVERRATED! Not really; pretty much every move he made this offseason made a ton of sense, but in baseball, so much is left up to chance. You couldn’t have predicted that Matt Holliday would have an OPS+ of 125, that Giambi couldn’t bat .200, that Justin Duchscherer was composed of styrofoam, or that Jack Cust would regress for the second season in a row. Beane did fine.**

I may have been a tad influenced by this article, but I do respect Theo Epstein as a true genius of the game. He’ll have the Sox winning for decades simply due to the depth he builds with his low risk-high reward contracts as well as his feel for modern statistical analysis. He would never have signed A.J. Burnett because that would have been retarded. You know that Burnett hasn’t ever performed to the money he was demanding last offseason.. in his entire career. Not that he has many full seasons to compare to because he’s ALWAYS INJURED. Epstein has quite the knack for letting the Yankees buy the most overpriced free agents and then subtely building really balanced teams of his own. J.D. Drew is secretly awesome! But no one knows because they’re too busy complaining about him getting hurt and striking out sometimes. Well enough with that Epstein love song.

Seriously, enough with all that. The Twins have just won one of the most thrilling games in their history. When Bobby Keppel (THE Bobby Keppel) fell behind 3-1 to Gerald Laird (Yes, THE Gerald Laird), I probably had the capacity to crap myself. But now in about an hour they play the Yankees. Those 103 win best at everything Yankees. Here’s their order:

1. Derek Jeter, SS – Not by any means an MVP, but damn he’s still a .406 OBP with power while rediscovering how to play defense at a premium position. At 35??
2. Johnny Damon, LF – Picked a nice year to have his best power numbers.
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B – Picked a nice year to be just as awesome as he was. But now he’s on a really good team.
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B – Chose the last day of the year to hit 2 home runs and drive in 7. To put him exactly at 30 and 100 in those categories, respectively. No I don’t think he did that in purpose.
5. Hideki Matsui, DH – Immobile, but productive.
6. Jorge Posada, C – Old as hell but still can OPS in the mid .800’s while catching.
7. Robinson Cano, 2B – Helped my fantasy team to bludgeon the opposition with a .320 average and 25 home runs. But batting where he is, how come he only had 85 RBI when he slugged .520?
8. Nick Swisher, RF – Great bounce back season. 29 home runs from your 8th place hitter? Jesus, good luck Duensing.
9. Melky Cabrera, CF – The only player in their lineup who isn’t at least somewhat awesome.

So there. Deal with that. Here’s who the Twins will throw at them:

Brian Duensing – I have a feeling I was cooler in high school than Brian Duensing was. And that is not saying much. He’s pitched decently this year though, at least since joining the rotation, where he has a sub 3.00 ERA. His peripherals aren’t great and he’ll probably be destroyed by the Yankees lineup by the second time through the order.

Nick Blackburn – He seems to pitch extremely well in big games. Well that’s what everyone’s been saying. I watched him his last two starts. The first one, against Detroit and Rick Porcello round one, he was pretty bad; he had very little in the way of stuff. But when runners got on base, he went crazy and shut those bitches down. The second game against Kansas City (Who in all honesty had a better offense than the Tigers in September, at least) he had tons of movement on his fastball and was great at keeping it down in the zone. Both results ended up in wins and pretty nice boxscore lines for Blackburn. In fact, the Twins have won all 4 starts by Blackburn since the 16th of September. That’s valuable, and even against an offense like the Yankees I have some implicit trust in Blackburn. Or at least more trust than I have in Carl Pavano. He’ll make the pitches he’ll need to, he’ll have the right mindset and the right approach. The Yankees still might get 5 runs but that’s only because they’re ridiculous, not because Blackburn didn’t pitch a good game.

Carl Pavano – His FIP is 3.56, which is rather remarkable. Maybe he could do decently. It certainly would be a good story considering his history in New York. He has a pretty good K/BB ratio and he’s had success in his career prior to being a Yankee. We’ll see, I guess.

Scott Baker – I love Scott Baker. I remember in ’07 when the Twins had about as pathetic an offense as was possible with Torii Hunter, Mauer and Morneau on board. They were somehow still in contention into August, and pulled off some impressive wins against the division leading Indians. On August 5th, Baker tossed 8 innings of 4 hit ball and no runs allowed. Which was good, because the Twins scored one whole run off an Alexei Casilla ground rule double. In the 8th inning, with one out and clinging to that 1 run lead, Trot Nixon got a bloop hit. Than Jhonny Peralta got a bunt airborne. Baker dives for it, catches it and then flips to first for a double play. I will always trust him in a big game because of that, even though he likes to give up home runs. At least his start against the Yankees will come in the Metrodome.. which, if nothing else, doesn’t have a 200 ft left field fence.

That was long. Bear with me.

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