Minnesota Twins has the best record in baseball. This record is due to the way they pitch. They have cut their ERA from 4.50 last year to 3.74 this year. Their 21-9 rotation is also the best in baseball with more winning than any other rotation.
While this is not a surprise to them, they have heavily invested in the analytics-based approach of pitching. The advanced in technology and data analysis helped in run prevention. The Twins invested $5.3 million on high tech startup which has rewarded the team with analysis — the staff works along with the analytics department in a collaborative effort.
Minnesota jumped from 25-14 start. Now, they are allowing less than four runs per game for the first time in the DH era. They ranked among the worst three in strikeout from 2011 to 2014. Credit should be given to Derek Falvey, the president, and Levine for breaking away from the norms when hiring staff. Johnson, 47, became the first coach to be hired out college, Hefner, 33. Who just retired from pitching, Bill Garver, 65, never played in major and Rocco Baldelli, 37, as a coach with no managing experience.
The Twins pitchers are not throwing any different from the previous years. So what has changed? They are now throwing more confidently and staying in the strike zone. They have risen in league ranking from 13th last year to 2nd this year. Levine credited the improvement to the change. Last year, Minnesota took 74 games to win 21 games compared to this year where they took 38 games. With the rotation remaining with only a few changes the like of Martin Perez. Here is a short player’s performance analysis;
He is throwing curveballs double the rate of the previous year. He is now throwing up and down from his elevated balls. He has moved from second to 22rd in average height pitching this year.
He has improved his striking rate from 58% to 67% in the first-pitch strike which is the best strikeout rate in his career.
He played an old school way by keeping the ball down. He has been able to maximize pitching by fastball throwing. He turned his sinker into a cutter which is his best-used pitch. He now work the ball up and down in the zone.
He has learned to trust his stuff by pounding the strike zone. He has improved to the 3rd best strike thrower among all starters in the league with 68 percent.
It is good to note that:
Those four pitchers were 31-41 last year and, entering the season was nobody’s idea of an elite rotation. With a new coaching staff, the same four pitchers are 19-4.
The entire rotation is between 25 and 31 years old–the sweet spot of pitching–and all of them have made 32 starts in a season, so innings limits do not apply.
Under new pitching coach Wes Johnson, the Twins aren’t throwing harder or spinning the ball faster or throwing a lot fewer fastballs: The difference is that the Twins are pitching much more aggressively.