The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat that Matters (Pt. 3: The Pitchers and Staff)

This is the first in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduced the stat, then we used it to analyze hitters, finally we'll use it to analyze pitchers and staff members.

Anyone can evaluate a player's performance in the field, but what about their performance in the field of entertainment?

The Twins completed their third straight 90-loss season, but rather than chastise the unproductive and cheer the talented, I'm here to praise the players who made it fun to watch games in an otherwise lost season, and punish those who made it tough to be a Twins fan. Using the totally-made-up revolutionary new statistic, AARP (Amusement Above Replacement Players) I'll quantify the contributions made by a few note worthy Twins this year.

Few areas of the Twins organization were as woebegone and bedraggled as the pitching staff. For the third straight year the rotation was abominable, the ERA's were up and the bullpen was overtaxed. Criticizing the pitching staff has passed "going to the lake" and "enjoying three days without storm windows" in top summer pastimes in Minnesota.

Alongside the pitching staff, the front office and managerial staff of the Twins has been similarly critiqued by everyone from my grandma to new born infants. Whether it's Ron Gardenhire's exhausted answers at post-game press conferences, Terry Ryan's intransigence with free agents, or Jim Pohlad's perceived salary dump midseason, the only thing less popular than a Twins pitcher is a Twins executive.

But surely, they aren't all that bad! With that I present a break down of the Twins Pitchers and Staff by AARP.

Vance Worley
Play: Let's keep this simple: Vance Worley stank.  -1.2
Nickname: "Vanimal" is still a pretty solid nickname, even if it captures more of his erratic, irresponsible, total uncontrollable nature 0.5
Traits: Faux-hawk is at least some kind of style 0.3
Demeanor: Given how little time he spent at the big league level, it's hard to tell -0.1
Oddities: A little bit punk, a little bit of quirky history, a whole lot of awkward silence 0.2
AARP: -0.3

Liam Hendricks
Play: The Aussie had the best winning percentage of his career...it was 1-3 and came along with an absurdly high ERA and WHIP, but still! -0.4
Nickname: I don't think "Crocodile Hendree" is going to work, but it's better than nothing 0.1
Traits: He's Australian!! And apparently the accent is catnip to lady Twins fans 0.7
Demeanor: He seems like a nice enough guy, but also a terribly self defeated one -0.2
Oddities: Again, he's AUSTRALIAN!! 0.1
AARP: 0.3

Brian Duensing
Play: Now that he doesn't have to face a line up more than once, Duensing is more frequently effective, especially against lefties...except for all the times he's not 0.3
Nickname: Twins Centric calls him "The Duenslinger" I prefer "You Make me Feel Like Duensing!", they're long ways to go for a joke...but I'm amused by it. 0.3
Traits: A Nebraskan? Yeah, not much to set him apart -0.1
Demeanor: A Nebraskan? Yeah, not much obvious attitude -0.1
Oddities: He was in line to be a high school English teacher, so I like him; and he did out perform fellow Husker Joba Chamberlain, so that's a plus 0.2
AARP: 0.6

Kevin Correia
Play: Our pre-season designated scapegoat actually turned out to be our most consistent and reliable starter...which says a lot...sadly 0.5
Nickname: He couldn't really live up to scape goat status or win any new ones -0.2
Traits: Despite going the whole season with us, I kept forgetting he was due to pitch 0.0
Demeanor: Durable, willing to keep trying even when he's pitching for the Twins 0.2
Oddities: He wasn't totally awful, which qualifies as odd in Twins Territory 0.1
AARP: 0.6

Anthony Swarzak
Play: He came through with one of his best seasons ever, thank god for long relief 0.6
Nickname: We're staying satisfied with calling him the Swarzak duck...god I need better pitcher nicknames 0.1
Traits: He was once suspended for pot... 0.1
Demeanor: A strong armed reliever...like all our strong armed relievers -0.1
Oddities: Pretty much just the pot thing... 0.1
AARP: 0.8

Glen Perkins
Play: In his first all-star season, Perkins was far and away the best pitcher on the staff...if only he was still a starter 1.4
Nickname: "Perky" "Perk-Dogg" "Perkins Pancake Special" "Dread Pirate Joe Nathan (because the real Dread Pirate Nathan retired to Texas a little while ago) -0.2
Traits: Minnesota born and bred, and looks like it 0.2
Demeanor: Steady and sure on the mound and in interviews, a nice combination after our recent...unpleasantness 0.9
Oddities: Uses SABR-metrics to study his own work 0.3
AARP: 2.4

Samuel Deduno
Play: Despite an injury that delayed the start of his season, Deduno performed well when he started his season--or as well as a crazily inconsistent Deduno can 0.8
Nickname: "It's Not Delivery, It's Deduno" and "Samuel De-dude-bro"; If only something summarized how wild he can get 0.4
Traits: Permanently grizzled, but with a body the width of a tooth pick  0.3
Demeanor: Willingly goes cuckoo banana pants when he pitches well  1.1
Oddities: Wild as he is, Deduno is apparently the last best Dominican pitcher left in the bigs  0.6
AARP: 3.2

Ron Gardenhire
Performance: Helped the team overachieve in the spring and underachieve in the fall 0.3
Nickname: "Gardy" "The Unhappy Gnome" 0.4
Traits: Fuzzy, scruffy, as rosy cheeked as Santa with none of the sanity 0.4
Demeanor: Either heavily sedated or in a rage 0.2
Oddities: Ended the year 2 wins short of 1,000; leads current managers in ejections; does tend to use "y" or "ie" in lieu of a nickname: ex. Doumsy, Perky, Benny, Baracky 0.3
AARP: 1.6

Terry Ryan
Performance: Much as we love Terry Ryan and drink his Kool Aid, his inability/disinterest in finding starting pitchers is a little grating 0.1
Nickname: TR, Ol' Bluff and Ready -0.2
Traits: Totally bald, I sometimes wonder if he wears sunglasses to avoid too much reflection from his head 0.0
Demeanor: "Placid" is an understatement, more like "perpetually dormant" 0.0
Oddities: Has a fondness for dressing up and going on Let's Make a Deal...at least in my imagination 0.1
AARP: 0.0

Jim Pohlad
Performance: A hands off owner, it doesn't really matter much 0.0
Nickname: "Mr Money Bags Jr." -0.1
Traits: None noticed 0.0
Demeanor: Mostly calm, slightly irritated by the teams failures...hey, like most Minnesotans! 0.1
Oddities: None...hey, like most Minnesotans! 0.0
AARP: 0.0

Put it all together and you have a pitching staff that's as hard to appreciate as players, and even harder to appreciate as fan favorites. Please, let there be a quirky pitcher out there somewhere...anywhere...


The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat That Matters (Pt. 2: The Hitters)

This is the second in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduced the stat, now we're using it to analyze hitters, finally we'll use it to analyze pitchers.

Anyone can evaluate a player's performance in the field, but what about their performance in the field of entertainment?

The Twins completed their third straight 90-loss season, but rather than chastise the unproductive and cheer the talented, I'm here to praise the players who made it fun to watch games in an otherwise lost season, and punish those who made it tough to be a Twins fan. Using the totally-made-up revolutionary new statistic, AARP (Amusement Above Replacement Players) I'll quantify the contributions made by a few note worthy Twins this year.
A player with a high AARP should appreciate this meme
Coming into this season there were lots of high hopes for the offense. If they did what they had done the year before and the pitching made even a marginal improvement the Twins might be on the outskirts of the playoff race by the time July rolled around.

Instead, the pitchers were on point early on in the season, while the bats were stone cold. And though the pitchers turned into pumpkins around about May, the offense remained as sluggish as the crowd at a Sons of Norway Meatball supper all throughout the summer. In an effort to improve things, management jettisoned underperforming veterans (Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau) and played the revolving door call-up game with underperforming prospects (Aaron Hicks, Chris Parmelee and Oswaldo Arcia). It wasn't terribly successful and in the end of the year a concussion for Joe Mauer saw our one consistently potent weapon spending weeks in rehab rather than an inning on the field.

Going forward the Twins need to find some kind of offensive identity: piranha style slash and dash? Mauer-powered double carousels? Pull happy homer fests? All are possibilities. But however they choose to play the game, they'll need amusing players to sell it to fans, and we're here to evaluate just how amusing current players were this season, so we can tell if they'll be useful long term.

Here now, the Twins hitters, as measured by AARP.
(Remember -8 to -.6 is an unlikable player; -.5 to .5 is a forgettable player, .6 to 2.0 is an every day major leaguer, 2.1 to 5.0 is a fan favorite 5.1 to 8.0 is a nationally recognizable talent, 8.1 to 10.0 is a national favorite)

Chris Parmelee
Play: Parmelee just didn't have the bat that we hoped he did, and now it's clear why his defense made him such an intinerant fielder throughout his minor league career. 0.1
Nickname: We were rooting for calling him "Chicky Chicky Parm Parm" in a Parks and Rec reference, but I don't think Parmelee deserves it 0.2
Traits: Mostly bland and unrecognizable 0.1
Demeanor: Just a work a-day ball player -0.1
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP:  0.3

Trevor Plouffe
Play: From time to time his bat clicks in the perfect way, but more often than not his defense is so bad that watching it through a bag on your head seems to be the only viable option 0.4
Nickname: "Plouffe Daddy" "Plouffe Diddy" "Plouffe There It Is"--all great signs of Plouffe's cool yet irritating double nature. Harry Potter Fans may still just call him "TREVOR!!" 0.5
Traits: As you'd expect of a close friend to Delmon Young he's both cocky and seemingly oblivous to his failures -0.3
Demeanor: Quiet, distant, nonchalant -0.1
Oddities: None...other than the really weird plays -0.1
AARP: 0.4

Darrin Mastroianni
Play: Hampered by injury, Mastroianni went from a starter to a footnote this season  -0.5
Nickname: None 0.2
Traits: None noticed 0.3
Demeanor: None noticed 0.4
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: 0.4

Oswaldo Arcia
Play: Statistically, Oswaldo doesn't seem that impressive. By league wide standards he's below average (-.4 WAR), but given his youth, potential and the awesome sight of home runs leaving his bat, his play has a slightly different feel for fans who watched him regularly 0.8
Nickname: I tried "Blizzard of Os" or "Blizzard Wizard" but neither of those really work and "Where's Waldo" is just odd -0.2
Traits: Tall, bulky, with a hesitating and thick Spanish accent. 0.2
Demeanor: Quiet beyond the field, a little proud on it 0.1
Oddities: None, a typical quasi-cocky kid 0.0
AARP: 0.9

Josmil Pinto
Play: Though he only made it up briefly at the end of the season, and has a skewed sample size (see Parmelee, Chris) he was pretty impressive when he was there 0.3
Nickname: None...yet -0.2
Traits: None noticed -0.1
Demeanor: Pretty self amused, full of aww shucks surprise at his good fortune to be in the game 0.4
Oddities: Walks up to the plate to Mumford and Sons...making him the Twins first "Hipster- American" player and my wife's new favorite 0.6
AARP: 1.0

Ryan Doumit
Play: I'm awfully amused by Ryan Doumit, but I get the sense that few others are. A back up catcher who doesn't catch, Rightfielder who doesn't field and designated hitter who had only a few good weeks of hitting this year -0.1
Nickname: I like calling him "Ryan Suave" but I'm alone on that one 0.1
Traits: Permanently scruffy, often quiet, usually distant 0.3
Demeanor: Seemingly cranky when he doesn't get his shot -0.1
Oddities: I may be the only one to notice or care, but Doumit's propensity for leaving three or more buttons undone is something out of Magic Mike 0.8
AARP: 1.0

Pedro Florimon
Play: Awful hitting, really good fielding 0.6
Nickname: None, maybe "Flor-E-mon" for those who aren't satisfied with his defense -0.3
Traits: So quiet and distant that you forget he's out there, seems to have inherited Alexi Cassila's role on the team and his goofy little goatee 0.2
Demeanor: Silent during the game, happy enough to do the jump at the end of the game 0.1
Oddities: He does the same unbuttoned shirt thing as Ryan Doumit, albeit less frequently  0.4
AARP: 1.0

Josh Willingham
Play: After a tremendous first season in Minnesota, Willingham's injury plagued sophmore showing had some looking for a way to get rid of him 0.3
Nickname: "The Hammer" "Willing Hammer" and other hardware puns--I still think the blonde bomber looks like Thor, but I haven't been able to sell that one yet 0.6
Traits: Big, eye black wearing beast of a hitter, easy-going 0.4
Demeanor: Southern-fried courtesy, has some good old Deep Thoughts moments 0.4
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: 1.7

Brian Dozier
Play: In addition to competent fielding (a rare thing in a Twins second baseman) Dozier had above average hitting (a very bizarre thing a Twins second baseman) 1.4
Nickname: "Brian Dozer", "Bull Dozier", "Tupelo Two Bagger" 0.7
Traits: Beautiful flowing mane of hair, awesome southern accent 1.1
Demeanor: Calm, happy go lucky, easy to talk to and willing to make a few small jokes 0.2
Oddities: None really, other than coming from the same town as Elvis and a recent anthrax mailer 0.3
AARP: 3.7

Joe Mauer
Play: After all the razzing and jokes at the expense of his "bilateral leg weakness", #7 came back with a great season, at least until the concussion knocked him out of the last month of the year 1.9
Nickname: "Chairman Mau-er", "The Joebot" 1.4
Traits: The sideburns have been shaved, but the standard issue Minnesota humility is still on display 1.0
Demeanor: He's got charisma in commercials, in average interviews he sounds like a plate of mashed potatoes  0.4
Oddities: Since we know him, we know about some of the weirder quirks--only because he's our own Prince William. So the "rap" career, the "Twin" babies, the fan mail mom are all endearing oddities to us, even if they're missed on a more national scale  0.5
AARP: 5.2

So by my reckoning, the current Twins line-up has one nationally recognizable talent (Mauer, naturally) one local favorite (Dozier), and five players who are about as amusing as the average major league you watch close to 100 times a year. I'm not even trying to count guys like Alex Pressly, Eduardo Escobar, or Chris Colabello (all of whom have to rank about near Parmelee levels right now.

Sure, Buxton and Sano have all the potential to be interesting and engaging players when their times come, but in addition to a decent middle infielder and a slugging first basemen, the Twins should put some time into developing a little personality in the batters box.

Think my ratings are bogus, you're probably right, they are totally subjective and made up...but unless you say something I'll never know. Offer your revised AARP ratings in the comments below.


The 2013 Twins by the Only Stat That Matters (Pt. 1: The Stat)

This is the first in a series of three articles evaluating the Twins 2013 Season. First we introduce the stat, then we use it to analyze hitters, then we use it to analyze pitchers.

There's plenty of time to dissect the Twins' season, and there are plenty of people to do it. Rather than crunch the numbers or analyze the trends, I prefer to dissect it in the best way I know how: poorly!

It's in that spirit that I offer the following new statistic: AARP or Amusement Above Replacement Player. [I am well aware that AARP is also the name of the American Association of Retired People, which gives AARP a 8.43 AARS (that's Amusement Above Replacement Statistic) score.]

Why invent such a meaningless statistic you ask? Why not? I answer.

Statistics are not fixed or holy things, they get to be whatever we want them to be. While much of baseball is designed to be measured and quantified (from the 90 feet between the bases, to every degree of drop on a curve), much of it has yet be measured or quantified (from how important it is to have "good guys" in the clubhouse to how willingly we as fans will watch bad baseball because the way a hitter waggles his bat makes us giggle). And since no one else was doing it, I figured I might as well.

Assigning a number to something like "amusing antics" may seem unnecessary or even stupid. Of course it's stupid. So is measuring the degree of drop on every pitchers curveball. This is America, and this is the internet. If you're looking for necessary and intelligent things, you've clearly come to the wrong place.

So, what is AARP and how do we measure it?

As I envision it (and since I'm making it up, that's all that matters), AARP measures a player's contributions, on the field and off, to provide amusement and enjoyment to fans. Certainly a player's actual performance has an effect on that: hit a homer, boost your AARP, come into a tie game and give up five straight hits, your AARP takes a hit.

We like successful players, but we also like players just because they are themselves. So the statistic also considers things like: a player's ability to earn and maintain a nickname (and no, adding -y/-ie to the end of a name doesn't make it a nickname--sorry fans of "Frankie" Liriano); their notable physical and personality traits (thereby giving credit to the short, the squat, the bearded and the crazy); their general attitude and demeanor (the more personable and interesting and less robotic the better); and miscellaneous oddities (i.e. Delmon saying his favorite book is The Great Gatsby or Eduardo Escobar's at bat music being a song from Grease).

Like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) or VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), AARP can have a positive or a negative score. Each category has a range of -2 to +2 and totals up to give their overall AARP. A positive score reflects a player who makes the game enjoyable to watch (however mildly), zero reflects someone whose existence you forget about between games, and a negative one reflects a player who leaves you so bored, depressed or upset that anything (even Kardashians, Ginsu knife infomercials, and "Channel Not Available" notifications) seems to be a more valuable source of entertainment.

How would the stat work? Consider these examples

Eric Fryer: The Forgettable type (-.5 to .5)
Play: Below average at an inconsequential time -0.1
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: None noticed 0.0
Demeanor: None noticed 0.0
Oddities: None 0.0
AARP: -0.3
Jason Bartlett: An everyday major leaguer (.5-2.0)

Play: Adequate (slightly better once he left the team) 0.7
Nickname: None -0.2
Traits: Little scruffy goatee 0.2
Demeanor: Calm 0.2
Oddities: Name might remind you of The West Wing or a book of quotations. 0.4
AARP: 1.3

Ben Revere: A local favorite (2.1-5.0)

Play: Great in the field, great base runner, terrible at hitting 0.8
Nickname: None (Save for maybe Midnight Rider) 0.0
Traits: Big smile, giddy laugh 0.7
Demeanor: Happy and excited 0.4
Oddities: Superman style leaps after balls, summersaulting triples 0.4
AARP: 2.3

Michael Cuddyer: a nationally notable player (5.1-8.0) 

Play: Impressive arm, above average bat. 1.7
Nickname: "Cuddles" "Magic Man" 1.8
Traits: Big dimples, fondness for magic 2.0
Demeanor: Personable, engaging, happy to talk with fans 1.3
Oddities: Not many--typical dude. 0.0
AARP: 6.8

Carlos Gomez: A player who captivates casual and serious fans alike  (8.1-10)

Play: Phenomenal defense (recently, good offense) 1.5
Nickname: "Gogo" "Mojo Gogo" "Go, go, Gomez" "Rin-go!" 1.8
Traits: Hyperactivity, silliness, goofiness, sporadic bouts of petulance, funny little beard 1.9
Demeanor: Happy, excitable, willing to talk about anything even if you don't understand him 1.7
Oddities: Smelling bats, raptor yells in dug out 2.0
AARP: 8.9

Alex Rodriguez: A player who irritates casual and serious fans alike (< -.5)

Play: Very good at the plate, above average in the field 1.9
Nickname: A-Rod, A-Hole .2
Traits: Really toolish, egotistical, self-obsessed, obnoxiously pretty -2.0
Demeanor: Egotistical, better than thou, convinced of massive conspiracy against him -2.0
Oddities: Supposedly has a portrait of himself as a centaur, has movie star girlfriends feed him popcorn -2.0
AARP: -3.7

Sure there's room to debate the accuracy of these scores, especially since what is amusing to me may not be amusing to you. After all, if a statistic is subjective, is it really a statistic anymore?

Then again, this is a totally made up statistic that doesn't actually exist beyond the confines of this weird little corner of cyber space, so maybe we shouldn't spend too much time worrying about that, and just use this as a mildly amusing way to pass the offseason.

In that spirit I'll use AARP to analyze how the Twins did in 2013, staring with a few notable hitters, then moving on to the pitchers and front office staff. And while the management seems generally disinclined to consider statistics in their evaluations of talent, maybe a made up statistic will have more credence with them and we'll build for a future when the Twins are both talented and fun!


An Alternate Reality Solution to the Twins Problems

I read this in the Economist last week
Cuban athletes in all sports will now be allowed to compete in foreign leagues, as long as they pay taxes of around 20% at home and remain available to play for their country in major competitions.
Unfortunately for MLB, however, the new policy will have only a minimal impact on the league’s access to Cuban stars....The United States’ trade embargo bans any transaction that would fund the Castros’ government. As a result, the requirement that Cuban athletes playing abroad pay local taxes on their income would prevent MLB clubs from signing players who plan to comply. 
So naturally I came up with this simple, totally impossible, utterly unfeasible, only in an alternate reality solution. I hope you enjoy it: dare to dream fans, dare to dream.

New Nation Lends Support to Cuban Regime

Puckettsburgh, TT

In a stunning announcement yesterday, a section of the country known as Twins Territory announced that they would secede from the United States of America and form their own sovereign nation.

"The time has come for, you know, action," said newly appointed supreme Chairman Mauer. "And, huh, you know, It's best for us all to separate ourselves from the bickering and squabbling over debt ceilings and Obamacare and acknowledge that while America has had a good run, it's best for us to get out while the getting is good."

Chairman Mauer then added, "I mean, how much worse could it be than our current system?"

The new republic will encompass large sections of what was formerly Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. Concerns that those who live in the demarcated region may not be Twins fans were immediately allayed by Minister of Martial Redistricting Ron Gardenhire, "we're going to do one of those partitionsies. Mauersy and I talked about it and feel real good about it. It was kinda rough for India-y and Pakistan for a while, but you know, they battled and got through it and uh, real proud of them."

As for how the nation will sustain a functioning economy Minister of Financial Oversight Jim Pohlad was quick to explain. "We figure that a lot of people will keep coming to support us, and without American taxes to hold us back we can spend as much as we like. Beyond that, we've got some great corporate partners lined up, oh...and Best Buy...we've got them too. Plus the Wilfs said we could just have "personal living licenses to raise revenue, that seems like a winner."

But the shocking first act of the new country was to appoint Tony Oliva as official Twins Territory Ambassador to Cuba. As Chairman Mauer said: "It's a, ummm, no-brainer, you know. Uhh, Tony has the experience and the commitment and the willingness to do what it takes to win, so...yeah."

Oliva's first task will be to reopen trade negotiations between the two states, the result of which will be that Cubans can play in Twins Territory without the hassle of often dangerous attempts to defect. Players would be able to return home and improve the lives of their families and loved ones rather than being forced to remain alienated in a foreign land indefinitely. 

"I don't know if they'll remember me," said Oliva, "but hey, it's no crazier than signing Nishioka, and a whole lot faster than waiting for us to develop a pitcher."

Adopting a large portion of Cuba's talent pool into the Twins Minor League system already has Baseball experts salivating. "First Sano, then Buxton and now this?" said ESPN's baseball/foreign affairs analyst Keith Law. "The Twins might be the craziest pack of lunatics outside of North Korea, but crazy has its benefits."