Due For Some Mean Regression: Part 2
By Chris Hannum
And last but not least, the Twins:
The Twins, as we all know, were a tremendous disappointment in all aspects of the game in 2012. Of course the pitching staff will be no exception. A few things have to be pointed out, though. Carl Pavano was significantly worse in 2011 than in 2010 – but this was expected, nobody thought he was actually as good as his 2010 numbers. Like Pavano, Nick Blackburn was no better or worse than projected and is expected to be worse and not better in 2012. Though Scott Baker was injured midway through the season, he pitched very well when healthy and going into 2012 he’s just as likely to miss time but probably won’t be quite as good when he does take the mound. Kevin Slowey didn’t make many starts, though he was pretty awful when he did, and is no longer with the Twins. The true ‘bad luck’ for the Twins rotation has to come in the forms of Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano. Duensing had a projected ERA of only 3.50, which his true 5.23 clearly did not match. However, Duensing’s projection was based on the expectation of a lot of relief appearances and the occasional spot start while in actuality he made 28 starts and only came in out the the ‘pen 4 times. That 5.23 is likely not representative of the true Duensing – as a starter – but neither is the 3.50. Bill James projects only a relatively slight regression for Duensing, down to 4.53 for 2012. Francisco Liriano played with pain in 2011 and that likely led to poor control and an ERA a run higher than projected. His projected for 2012 is virtually identical to his projection for 2011.
In the bullpen, it’s hard to say what improvement one can expect from Minnesota. Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares and 2011 swingman Kevin Slower were bad in 2011 and might have reverted to form, but they aren’t on the roster any more. Matt Capps was bad, might bounce back, and has been re-signed to close for them again. Glen Perkins came out of nowhere with an exceptional 2011, but (at least according to Bill James) isn’t likely to keep it up – and the same can be said for Phil Dumatrait. Swarzak is expected to regress, Hughes isn’t projected as a major leaguer and while Alex Burnett should return to form I’m not sure that form is anything worthwhile. If anything ‘mean regression’ should be expected to make the Twins miserable bullpen worse than it was in 2011 and not better, particularly with their continuing personnel losses, which might offset the expected recovery of Duensing and Liriano.