Monday, August 21, 2006

Hunter is showing patience at the plate

There has been a lot of talk about Torii Hunter and his inability to add anything to the Twins offensively. I will have to admit that I have been on that band wagon too.

I have been sick and tired of Torii grounding into a double play after swinging at the first pitch he sees or swinging and missing at the slider 2 feet outside.

Part of the problem of relying on what we see is that we don’t see every at bat or every game. So it is important to look at the whole picture when determining if a player is a detriment to the team.

I am not going to look at Torii’s defense on this article. It is obvious that his defense is not at the level it has been in the past. Also, most people I talk to or I read complain about Torii’s prowess with the bat.

It is my belief that mostly people are angry with the fact that he is not contributing offensively while he is eating up a large part of the salary budget. Otherwise I see no other reason to be so angry with him.

The fact is that he is really having a good year with the bat, almost a career year. If he had not been hurt he would be having a much better year with the bat. Right now he is batting .270/.343/.446. His career averages are .267/.323/.457. He is having a better year than his average year. His BA & SLG are career norms and his OBP is at a career high!!!

He is has been learning patience at the plate. I know I know I am surprised too. He is on pace for a career high of walks.

So he is actually having a better year than normal (offensively). But how is he compared to other centerfielders? He is average. Among all centerfielders with at least 300 at bats, he ranks 14th in OPS and16th in Runs Created per game.

Torii is what he is, an average hitting centerfielder who normally is one of the best defensive centerfielders.

There is a lot of talk of letting him go next year. I think that would be a mistake unless the Twins can get a quality replacement. There are no quality replacements in the organizations right now.

Some people think that Lou Ford is the answer. He hasn’t been a quality hitter in 2 years. And he only had 1 good year. I don’t think he is the answer.

Some say Tyner is the answer. He doesn’t walk and he doesn’t hit extra base hits so to be worthwhile he has to hit about .330. He won’t. He is a career .270 hitter with no patience and no power. But he doesn’t strike out much, so what. Strikeouts have a very small effect on run production compared to other outs.

This year Tyner has been a nice replacement but I don’t think there is anything in his past to show that he can continue to hit .300. There is a reason he is a 29 year old minor leaguer.

He creates about a ½ a run per game less than Torii does.

I’ll take a gimpy Torii over those two any day.


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