The focus across Twins Territory is squarely on adding pitching, and rightly so, but improving the defense would also help maximize the team’s ability to prevent runs. Matthew Trueblood’s recent article in which he pointed out some concerns regarding the Twins defense and athleticism really got my wheels turning. Here's some additional information on how the Twins defense stacks up to the rest of the league.
Take a look at how the 2019 Twins ranked in comparison to the rest of the league:
If you’re not familiar with those stats, here are the FanGraphs Library entries: FIP, xFIP, SIERA, DRS, UZR, DEF.
The Twins clearly need to add arms, especially considering their expected departures, but it’s not entirely fair to point to pitching as a weakness of the 2019 Twins. Metrics that attempt to isolate pitching independent of defense actually look highly upon the ‘19 staff.
The Twins had the worst ranking in Defensive Runs Above Average among all the postseason teams this season. Just one team that ranked lower in that metric had a record above .500. The Twins also had the eighth-largest gap between their team ERA and FIP. Again, none of the teams with a larger gap qualified for the postseason, and just one had a winning record.
That’s not keeping good company.
While the Twins ranked ninth in ERA (4.18), they were 14th in total runs allowed per game (4.65). They gave up the fifth-most unearned runs in the league, 74. League average was 59 unearned runs, but Oakland led the league with just 34 unearned runs.
Under normal circumstances, I’d happily sacrifice some defense to improve offensive firepower. Afterall, there’s a much stronger correlation between run scoring and overall team success than there is with fielding alone. But did the 2019 Twins take things too far?
If the Twins fail to take steps forward in the field next season, their return on any pitching investments will be somewhat diminished.
This story originally appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration between Twins Daily and Bring Me The News.