Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jason Tyner: DH Savior?

In last night's game, one of the heroes in 9-1 Twins victory over the Devil Rays was Jason Tyner, who went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. I admit, I'm not a very big fan of Tyner. I think there is good reason for that. He has a career .318 "slugging" percentage to go with patience Jacque Jones would be jealous of, with a .310 OBP. For a hitter with no power and no patience, he doesn't steal very many bases either, with just 56 over a span of 1100 at-bats, with 31 of those coming in his 2001 season.

He's also been a .319 hitter in 326 Minnesota at-bats. This year, he's been pretty solid, with a .346/.382/.442 line. Obviously it's quite unlikely that he'll keep up the average, but he has hit as many doubles this year (5) as he did all of last year. He also needs to show some more speed, as he has only stolen nine bases in his time in Minnesota.

However, if he continues to produce at a similar rate, he'll remain a good backup and even a decent option at DH. Consider the alternatives: right now, it's Jeff Cirillo, who has been hurt, and Josh Rabe, who has also has no power and does not hit anywhere near .300. If Jason Kubel isn't in the outfield, he remains a superior option and when Rondell White comes back, he'd remain the better option despite his overall poor numbers with the Twins.

Of course, Tyner wasn't the only story of last night, as Sidney Ponson had his best game in a Twins uniform. Ponson had a quality start, going seven innings, allowing only five hits, one run, and two walks while striking out five. However, the run he gave up was a home run to Delmon Young and Ponson gave up plenty of deep fly balls, allowing several warning track outs and posting a GB/FB ratio of 7/8. Getting lucky doesn't make me feel much better about Ponson and now he gets a longer lease in the rotation, as manager Ron Gardenhire was ecstatic about Ponson's start.

Gardenhire told reporters that, "As the game went along, (Ponson) made an adjustment. We talked to him about getting on top of the ball a little more and his last couple innings the ball was really diving. We were excited about that, his adjustment during the game more than anything else." I don't know that his ball was really diving that much if he gave up so many deep fly balls, but obviously Gardenhire is more than ready to put him out there again. Ponson's next start will come against the potent Boston offense and I have to imagine that isn't going to be too pretty.

The best news, though, is that the offense came out against the hapless Devil Ray pitching staff, as they scored nine runs on 17 hits, with Tyner, Luis Castillo and Joe Mauer collecting three hits apiece. Hopefully, the Twins can use this series against the Rays to heat up their bats before their weekend series against the Red Sox. However, the Twins did get some bad news, as Michael Cuddyer hurt himself on a baserunning tumble and now has a bruised back. Let's hope he gets back soon. If he misses a game, I'm all for Justin Morneau moving into the cleanup spot, as if that wasn't the obvious move.

Tonight, the Twins face the terrible Jae Seo and his 9.51 ERA. If the Twins play their cards right, maybe they can raise Seo's ERA to a Jeff Weaver level.

10 comments:

Ray Felix, III said...

"Ponson's next start will come against the potent Boston offense and I have to imagine that isn't going to be too pretty."

His opponent in his next start is some guy named Schilling. Sounds like a pushover.

Anonymous said...

anyone know if there is a clip of Cuddy's summersalt on the basepath online somewhere?

ubelmann said...

The difference between Tampa's offense so far and Boston's offense so far has been pretty small. .262/.353/.426 for Boston, and .264/.324/.434 for Tampa. More walks for Boston, which helps, but the same average and actually less power than Tampa. These Devil Rays aren't to be confused with the 2003 Tigers.

Also, I would posit that Ponson's warning track fly balls could be interpreted as evening out his luck than they were a totally flukish occurence. Ponson's had a ridiculous number of fly balls leave the yard and very few warning track fly balls, even for a bad pitcher.

w/r/t Tyner: His PrOPS of .280/.318/.340 suggests that he's been lucky given his ball-in-play types so far, and also matches up pretty well with his (poor) career line. Given the Twins' sucktastic options right now, I'm not totally opposed to seeing him against RHP, but he's hitting .262/.296/.266 career vs. LHP (with just one extra-base hit), and at .267/.313/.267 this year vs. LHP, he hasn't done anything to make us think he's figured out lefties.

Nick N. said...

I agree with you on Tyner, ubelmann. The thing is, we are always talking about how he's been lucky to keep his batting average up and that is the only reason his stats have looked reasonably decent; yet, he's been able to keep that average up during the entirety of his time with the Twins. As much as I complain about seeing him in the lineup, he continually seems to get the job done. I totally agree that he should be kept out against lefties, but vs. righthanders he really does seem like a solid option at this point considering the alternatives.

Nick M. said...

Far enough ubelmann, but with Cirillo back, I have to assume he starts getting DH at-bats against lefties. As for Ponson and the Red Sox, the patience will hurt Ponson big time. His control has not been outstanding and it wasn't all that great last night. I just see a few David Ortiz homers in his crystal ball, that's all.

ubelmann said...

The thing is, we are always talking about how he's been lucky to keep his batting average up and that is the only reason his stats have looked reasonably decent; yet, he's been able to keep that average up during the entirety of his time with the Twins.

Last year, he was hitting better than he has so far. His PrOPS numbers from last year were .311/.343/.380, which was basically in line with what he hit. A big part of the difference between the two seasons is that last year, he was hitting 27% line drives, and this season he's hitting just 15% line drives. So while I think Tyner's been lucky so far this season, I don't think he was that lucky last year.

...but vs. righthanders he really does seem like a solid option at this point considering the alternatives.

Given the alternatives, I think he's a fine choice to be in the lineup against RHP. I just don't think that makes him a solid option. Even hitting .312/.345/.353 last year, that's only good for a .239 EQA, which would make him a replacement level DH. And unless he starts hitting more line drives again, he's probably going to do worse than that going forward.

It's not Tyner's fault that Terry Ryan hasn't found any better options, and it's not Gardy's fault for putting him in the lineup--it's just that Tyner's not really valuable as a DH and the Twins' alternatives are pretty crappy.

ubelmann said...

His control has not been outstanding and it wasn't all that great last night.

That's true.

I just see a few David Ortiz homers in his crystal ball, that's all.

And that's certainly a possibility.

Nick M. said...

Ubelmann - I have to say that your stats does make more sense of Tyner's season so far. As I pointed out, he has as many doubles this year so far as he did all of last year. And last year he only had two other extra-base hits and those were both triples. That's why his slugging is up and of course, it seemed a bit unusual.

I don't really endorse Tyner as a DH, as it usually makes me want to puke when he is the DH. But, considering the options, he might be the best we have right now. Hopefully that will change.

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