Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Twins vs. The Evil Empire

Friends keep asking me how I could start a Minnesta sports blog and not have anything about the Twins. Before the Randy Moss news, they were unquestionably the biggest news in town. Since I'll be attending the game tonight, I had planned to wait until tomorrow for my first Twins post.

Here are a couple notes on what I feel is the key to game 1, starting pitching:
  • Francisco Liriano must find a way to get through the first inning.  His struggles out of the gate have been well documented as he seems to get "too amped up," struggles with his control, and has a hard time getting runners out.  According to Baseball-Reference, Frankie's 2010 numbers stack up like this:
    • 1st inning: 5.81 /. 328 / 2.50 (ERA / BA / SO/BB ratio)
    • 2nd inning: 4.40 / .225 / 3.40
    • 3rd inning: 2.70 / .243 / 5.60
    • 4th inning: 2.79 / .220 / 4.71
  • Get ahead in the count!  Yankees hitters are not going to chase a lot of 0-0 or 1-0 sliders in the dirt, and Liriano is going to have to find a way to get strike 1 if he's going to be effective. Let's hope he is able to locate his fastball and mix in a change up or two early in the count to keep the hitters off-balance.
    • 2010 after 1-0 count: .304 BA / 1.63 SO/BB ratio.
    • 2010 after 0-1 count: .214 BA / 7.88 SO/BB ratio. 
  • Keep the ball down.  This is important not only because of the obvious power threats in the Yankees lineup, but also because we are clearly a much better defensive team in the infield.  There is a lot of debate about how to judge defensive performance in baseball, but UZR (ultimate zone rating) takes a very impressive and ambitious shot at it.  Essentially, this statistic attempts to show how much better (or worse) a fielder is compared to the major league average at that position. Higher is better, zero is average, and a negative number is below average.  If you're curious about how UZR is calculated, Fan Graphs has a very detailed explaination here.  Based on that, here is how the Twins starters stack up:
    • 1B (Cuddyer): -5.9
    • 2B (Hudson): 10.4
    • SS (Hardy): 8.0
    • 3B (Valencia): 5.2
    • LF (Young): -9.6
    • CF (Span): 5.7
    • RF (Kubel): -9.5
More to's hoping for a quick top of the 1st, lots of first pitch strikes, and a plethora of ground balls anywhere other than 1st base!  Go Twins!!

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