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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.