I wrote a few weeks ago about the Twins, and how they have apparently used hard take signals and a drilling in of patience and working counts to wring some value out of bad hitters, and to maximize the value of average ones. In many ways, they are building a lineup in the very image of their homegrown, hometown superstar, Joe Mauer.
I wanted t0 update that piece here, because a development just before the All-Star break threw the organization’s commitment to that philosophy into sharp relief. On Sunday, the Twins demoted Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee and Eduardo Escobar to Triple-A, recalling no one as important to the team as the least of those.
Arcia is the interesting one to me. Parmelee fits, too. They rank second and third, respectively, among the 10 Twins who have substantial at-bats this season, in swing rate on the first pitch of a plate appearance. Only Justin Morneau swings more in those spots than Arcia. Morneau is also the only Twin who swings more overall than Arcia.
Despite their hyper-aggressive approaches (relatively speaking), both players are outperforming Aaron Hicks. The organization has every bit of the incentive to option Hicks as they have to farm out Arcia, from a service-time and budgetary perspective, and maybe more. Yet, Hicks will remain the starting center fielder, and Arcia is headed back to Rochester.
Why? Because the Twins are not giving in. It’s clear that they consider the philosophy of selectivity and plate discipline a mandate, not a suggestion. If a player goes off the reservation in that regard, it’s mash or die. Hicks is working hard to maintain his approach despite his struggles, and the team is rewarding him with the chance to work through his problems at the big-league level. Arcia is not going to be afforded the same chance unless he makes the same effort to conform, and Parmelee could be left out of the team’s plans permanently.
I think this is a wise course. Developmental process should matter more than results at the big-league level right now in Minnesota, and if a team has a firm idea of how they want to attack opposing pitchers, there’s no reason not to insist that players important to the future of the franchise accede to that approach. Anyway, we have more information now about the club’s commitment to its collective approach, and I wanted to pass it along.Next post: The Dodgers’ Greatest Weakness, and Why They Can’t Easily Fix It
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