Friday, September 23, 2011

Most disappointing Twins

Joe Mauer's lost season was, at least in the eyes of USA Today,
not as disappointing as the seasons of Pedro Alvarez,
Jason Hayward or Brian Matusz. Really.
USA Today on Thursday printed a list of the 10 most disappointing players of the 2011 season. (The link is to a slideshow.) Incredibly, none of the paper's 10 are Twins, and I therefore regard the list as fatally flawed. None of the 10 had good seasons, none lived up to expectations, but ... I'm much closer to being a Joe Mauer apologist than critic, but he has to be one of the top two or three disappointments in all of MLB.

The Twins 2011 season -- only seven games to go -- has been so dismal that one can make a Top 10 disappointments list for the team that would stack up pretty well to the USA Today list.

10) Danny Valencia: Lower in every percentage from last season, and a brutal season in the field by the defensive metrics. He leads the team in RBIs, but WAR (Wins Above Replacement) says he's easily replaceable.

9) Denard Span: Was the team's best player until his concussion. Since then, he's either been out of action or completely ineffective -- so ineffective that he now has the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of his career.

8) Brian Duensing: 5-1, 2.73 as a starter in 2009; 7-2, 3.05 as a starter in 2010; 9-13, 5.29 this year.

As difficult a season as Matt Capps
has had, he's not nearly the most
disappointing Twin of 2011.
7) Matt Capps: Didn't thrive in the closers role, and his strikeout rate dropped sharply this year.

6) Justin Morneau: He's not ranked higher because nobody was really sure what to expect from him in his return from 2010's concussion. As we wind up 2011, nobody can be sure what to expect from him in his return from 2011's concussiion.

5) Kevin Slowey: As a starter, he was always flawed by a lack of durability, but he was still generally effective. Shifting him to the bullpen this spring didn't work, and the failure brought on an avalanche of other problems. He's been in the rotation in September, and that isn't going well either.

4) Delmon Young: The Tigers apparently are delighted with Young, but he followed last season's 21 homers, 112 RBIs and .294 batting average with 4, 32 and .266 before the Twins dumped him -- and a lower slugging percentage than Alexi Casilla.

3) Tsuyoshi Nishioka: Even discounting his stellar 2010 season in Japan, it seemed reasonable to expect him to provide league-average play at second base. He broke a leg in the first week of the season, played shaky defense at both second and short, and didn't hit at all.

Far too many walks for Francisco
Liriano this season to maintain
2010's success.
2) Francisco Liriano: Yes, he had a no-hitter. He also went from 14-9, 3.63 to 9-9, 4.77 -- which understates how poorly he pitched.

1) Joe Mauer: Career lows in virtually every category, excluding his 2003 rookie season -- and even then he had better slash stats. His absence behind the plate, I believe, played some unmeasurable part in the decay of the pitching staff.

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