Molitor's impact

Paul Molitor's managing style is becoming more evident as we finish the first month of the baseball season. One completely underrated aspect of the game (mainly because you don't often see it on TV) is defensive positioning. Molitor is a student of statistics, and if an opposing batter hits the ball to the right side 90% of the time, he moves his defenders to the right side. What's more, he moves the defenders during the at-bat according to the count. Hesitant to shift defenders early in the count due to the threat of a bunt to an empty spot at third base, Molitor sometimes shifts them only after the batter has two strikes, at which time a bunt isn't a safe play (if you bunt a ball foul with two strikes, you are out). 

Last night against the White Sox, a right-handed batter hit a ball hard up the middle. Brian Dozier, who was shifted to the left, snagged the ball behind second base and recorded the out. In a traditionally-aligned infield, the ball would have been a hit.

At the plate, the Twins are absorbing Molitor's approach as well. Two days ago, Arcia, seeing Detroit's extreme shift to the right, tapped a little dribbler to the empty spot at third base. What would have been an out turned into a hit that barely reached the outfield. A hit is a hit, and three other Twins players bunted for hits that day, and even though the Twins eventually lost, they scored more runs than they would have if they had continued to slash the ball towards the concentration of fielders. 

Statistics show that the most important aspect of winning baseball is simply getting on base. It doesn't matter how you do it. Walks, errors, bunt singles, dribblers, bloopers--all are equal to line drives if you get on base. 

Back to defense: Although there have been too many dropped balls in the outfield, at least the outfielders are throwing the ball back to the infield properly. Robinson has three assists already. You can lead the league with 12 in a season. The Twins have nailed several runners at the plate this season. If that keeps up, opposing third base coaches will stop sending the runners, which is the whole idea. However, if there is a good chance the outfielders are going to let fly an ill-advised throw, the runners will try to score every time. 

On the Twins' side, Tony Glynn has a reputation as an aggressive third base coach. Last night, when the defense of the White Sox let up as if the play was over before the ball was safely in the inner infield, Glynn sent Danny Santana home for an important score. 

Another welcome change: Twins pitchers are being told to make the batters dance a bit. In other words, throw the ball low and inside and let them jump rope. The batter will have that pitch in their mind for the rest of the at bat and won't dig in with such confidence. 

The Twins are still a leaky ship. Their outfielders have to hit. Torii Hunter is in the lineup only for his bat and if that doesn't come to life, his tenure in right field should be short. He is giving up runs with his glove, and that is not enough to make up for his generally smart throws from the outfield.

It is possible that by the end of the season, the Twins will have three new starting outfielders. 

Kurt Suzuki's play behind the plate has been great. He, more than Torii Hunter, is the team leader on the field. 

DH/first baseman Kennys Vargas needs to go to the minor leagues to get his batting stroke back. They have a first baseman named Hicks down at AAA who is batting .360. I hope they swap the two within the next few days.