Monday, May 26, 2014

The Twins outfield mess

Chris Parmelee heads back to the dugout Sunday
after another strikeout, one of four from the Twins
outfielders for the game.
Ron Gardenhire on Sunday deployed an outfield of infielders — two shortstops and a first baseman — all of whom opened the season in the minors. Eduardo Nunez, Danny Santana and Chris Parmelee combined to go 2-for-10 at the plate and make a hash of several catchable flyballs.

It was just another day in the continuing disaster that has been the Minnesota outfield, which has been rangeless and mistake-prone in the field and punchless at the plate.

Today the Twins get back their "regular" corner outfielders, Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia.

Willingham and Arcia aren't a defensive upgrade, but at least they figure to hit. Minnesota's outfielders have been abysmal at bat, a truth that has been largely overlooked amid the well-based complaints about the slipshod fielding.

According to Baseball Reference on Sunday evening, the average American League outfielder has a slash line of .255/.322/.395, an OPS — On-base Plus Slugging — of .717. (This is referring to players who are playing left, right or center; it would include, for example, Chris Colabello's at-bats as a right fielder but not his at-bats as a first baseman.)

The Twins' outfield slash line: .214/.301/.298, OPS .599.

The Twins' left fielders (mostly Jason Kubel) entered Sunday hitting .250/.340/.331 — a solid on-base percentage, but little power. The AL left field average is .262/.327/.416.

The Twins' center fielders (mostly Aaron Hicks) were hitting .190/.306/.225. There's no way to find a positive in that slash line. The AL average: .251/.326/.379.

The Twins' right fielders (Colabello with the most PT in a very divided field) were hitting .202/.260/.303. That's almost as bad as the center fielders. The AL average: .253/.314/.391.

The outfield production has been so bad that all three positions have a lower OPS than shortstop (.678) — and shortstop for much the season was Pedro Florimon making outs.


Colabello and Chris Herrmann were optioned out to make roster space for Arcia and Willingham. The Herrmann demotion led to this tweet from the Pioneer Press's Mike Berardino:

Great. Playing shortstops in center hasn't worked, so let's try a catcher.

It's easy for me to excuse Herrmann's confusion. He's spent most of the season so far on the big league roster but he hasn't had even an inning behind the plate. And now he's going to spend time in center field.

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