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A Twins fan since 1969 and a copy editor for The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.) since 1985, I've written a weekly column on baseball since 1989.


Latest Content from Baseball Outsider

Happy Thanksgiving
via Baseball Outsider November 23, 2017 at 07:43 PM

This blog's Thanksgiving photo tradition continues.Have a good holiday, and thanks for reading.

From the Handbook: Shifting
via Baseball Outsider November 22, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Combining two sections here, complilations of how often teams shifted and how successful those shifts were.By Baseball Info Systems' accounting, the Twins shifted 906 times in 2017, an increase of 71 shifts from 2016. This includes the at-bats in which the hitter gets to two strikes and THEN Miguel Sano trots over to the first-base side of second base. It might be a one-pitch shift, but it counts

Adding to (but not filling) the 40
via Baseball Outsider November 21, 2017 at 07:43 PM

The Twins added three prospects to the 40-man roster Monday, the deadline to protect them from the Rule 5 draft next month.The three: Stephen Gonsalves, Zach Littell and Lewis Thorpe. All are starting pitchers; Gonsalves and Thorpe are lefties, Littell a right hander. Gonsalves and Littell shone in Double A in 2017; Thorpe got back on the mound after a series of lost seasons to injury and again sh

From the Handbook: Win Shares
via Baseball Outsider November 20, 2017 at 07:43 PM

I'm going to skip ahead again today because last week, in conjunction with the AL MVP announcement, Bill James posted this essay dissecting what he sees as a fundamental problem with WAR -- Wins Above Replacement -- and then Joe Posnanski posted this piece to amplify James' points, and ... well, here I am.WAR was developed about the same time -- maybe a little later -- that James concocted Wi

The Sunday Funnies
via Baseball Outsider November 19, 2017 at 07:43 PM

The news this week that the Twins radio broadcasts were returning to WCCO brought to mind the legendary Halsey Hall, who was in the radio and TV booths for the first decade or so that the team was in Minnesota.That's long enough ago that I barely remember him, and I'm old.Hall smoked cigars in the booth. Herb Carneal used to say: "I don't mind the smell of a good cigar. Unfortunately, those weren'

Notes, quotes and comment
via Baseball Outsider November 18, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Regarding the pursuit of Shohei Otani: There is currently no posting system for Japanese players to come to the American majors, and the MLBPA -- the players union -- is apparently deeply unhappy that as matters stand, Otani will get a pittance compared to what his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, will get.The union on Thursday set a Monday deadline for an agreement on the matter. If no dea

From the Handbook: Defensive Runs Saved
via Baseball Outsider November 17, 2017 at 07:43 PM

On Monday I took note of the "runs saved" by position for the Twins. As a team, the Twins had 28 runs saved -- and 27 of them came from centerfield.A few pages deeper into the book we get to the individual leaders. Byron Buxton had 24 runs saved in center -- most of any individual center fielder in baseball, but not the most of any outfielder. Mookie Betts, who plays right field for the Red S

Jelfry Marte, Shohei Otani and $3 million
via Baseball Outsider November 16, 2017 at 07:43 PM

There was a brief, if misplaced, stir in the Twins twitterverse Wednesday regarding Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani.It started with this report from Baseball America's Ben Badler, who has developed quite the speciality in covering the Latin America prospect market. It was the first time it had been reported that the Twins had negated their major signing in that market this summer, shortstop Jel

From the Handbook: Paul Molitor, manager (of the year)
via Baseball Outsider November 15, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Paul Molitor was named American League Manager of the Year Tuesday. So we'll jump ahead to the the manager stats section of the Handbook.To repeat a core philosophy about evaluating managers: the in-game aspect of the job may be the most visible, and it may be the least important.That was true 10 years ago, and it's even more true now, with the analytics having pretty throughly peremated the game.

Notes, quotes and comment
via Baseball Outsider November 14, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Carlos Beltran announced his retirement Monday.It's not a great surprise. He turns 41 in April and 2017 was the least productive season of his distinguished career. The Astros kept him on the roster for the playoffs and World Series, but perhaps the best postseason player of his generation (16 home runs in 256 playoff and World Series at-bats) seldom got off the bench.His will be an interesting Ha

From the Handbook: Team Statistics
via Baseball Outsider November 13, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Quick question: Which part of the Twins pitching staff did better in 2017, the starting pitchers or the relievers?Answer: Depends on what your standard is.The Twins starting pitchers had a markedly worse ERA -- 4.73 for starters, 4.40 for relievers. But in comparison to the rest of baseball, the starters were slightly better. Their ERA ranked 19th among the 30 teams. The relief ERA ranked 20th.Nei

The Sunday Funnies
via Baseball Outsider November 12, 2017 at 07:43 PM

We resume today The Sunday Funnies, baseball stories and quips that tickle my sense of humor. They may not all be historically accurate, but the point is more amusement than truth.With any luck, I'll avoid repeating tales told in previous winters, but I make no guarantee of that.---Al "The Bull" Ferrara was a slow-footed right-handed slugging outfielder of the 1960s and early '70s. A bench piece f

Notes. quotes and comment
via Baseball Outsider November 11, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Byron Buxton caught some more love for his glove Friday.The Twins centerfielder was voted the "Platimum Glove" in online fan balloting as baseball's best defensive player; the award is an offshoot of the long-established Gold Gloves, which are voted on by managers and coaches, were named earlier in the week and are sponsored by Rawlings.Another glove manufacturer sponsors another set of awards. Th

From the Handbook: Starting pitcher rankings
via Baseball Outsider November 10, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Another new item in the Handbook this winter (and it suddenly feels like winter in southern Minnesota) is a system of ranking starting pitchers.By their methodology -- complex enough that the book refers readers to the subscription Bill James Online site for a complete explaination -- Ervin Santana is currently the 14th best starter in baseball. (The Top 5: Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kers

From the Handbook: Hard hit balls
via Baseball Outsider November 09, 2017 at 07:43 PM

OK, Twins fans: Who on this team was most likely in a random plate appearance to hit the ball hard? Now, hold that thought.The second topic in the 2018 Bill James Handbook is on hard-hit balls. James wrote a essay introducing the topic, which is new to the annual reference work, delving into the meanings, implications and distortions of the metric. As always, context is key.For example: When Gianc

Gold Gloves, Tonk Out and RIP Doc
via Baseball Outsider November 08, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Both Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier were named winners of the Gold Glove Award on Tuesday.Buxton, no question. Dozier, not so much. At risk of spoiling what I might comment on when my Handbook series gets to the Fielding Bible Awards section, Dozier wasn't in the top 10 of second basemen in that more-metric oriented approach. As the BIS-arranged voting has it, Ian Kinsler was by far the best fieldi

More roster moves and a new coach
via Baseball Outsider November 07, 2017 at 07:43 PM

One day of the Handbook and back to news. The Twins front office, after taking the weekend off, got back to the roster shuffle on Monday, clearing three more spots on the 40-man roster and filling out their coaching staff.Pitcher Nik Turley was claimed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.Catcher Chris Gimenez and pitcher Ryan O'Rourke were outrighted.None of these cuts were particularly surprisin

From the Handbook: Mauer and the Hall of Fame
via Baseball Outsider November 06, 2017 at 07:43 PM

The annual Bill James Handbook arrived last week in my mailbox -- year 29 and counting of its publication. I have 'em all, which is probably indicative of something wrong with me, but so be it.The bulk of the book -- identified in the table of contents as the Career Register -- is, frankly, obsolete. When the Handbook begin, it served as an annual update to the Baseball Encyclopedia, the best plac

Pic of the Week
via Baseball Outsider November 05, 2017 at 07:43 PM

World Series MVP George Springer rides in the Astros'victory parade through downtown Houston on Friday.The Twins drafted George Springer out of high school in 2008 but didn't sign him. He went to his homestate university (UConn) and was a first-round pick of the Astros three years later.Worked out pretty well for him.This concludes the Pic of the Week theme for the year. Next week I'll resume the

Reducing the 40
via Baseball Outsider November 04, 2017 at 07:43 PM

Five Twins became free agents Friday. Later the Twins announced that three others had been removed from the 40-man roster.There will be more deletions, and additions, to come.The free agents are pitchers Matt Belisle, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Glen Perkins and Hector Santiago. Multi-position guy Niko Goodrum cleared waivers and was outrighted; I think he's been in the organization long enough to