Friday, August 24, 2012

The Twins Get A Bargain With Willingham

After having one of their worst seasons in recent memory the Minnesota Twins went into the 2012 off-season in need of major help. Justin Morneau only played in 69 games due to concussion symptoms and compiled an abysmal .274 wOBA. Joe Mauer dealt with a number of ailments, most notably bi-lateral leg weakness, and played in only 82 games. In those 82 games he only managed to have a .319 wOBA. That's not exactly what you want from the two highest paid players on your team. As a result the Twins went out and signed free agent, Josh Willingham, to a three year deal worth twenty one million dollars. To date that was the most expensive free agent contract that the Twins have given out, so they needed it to be a good deal. After the jump we will see how it's turned out so far.

 Like I mentioned above, the Twins badly needed offensive help. In 2011 they only managed to accumulate 9.8 offensive WAR. That put them second to last and only ahead of the Seattle Mariners. Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel were also free agents so the Twins desperately needed to make a move. Enter Josh Willingham. Willingham always had a ton of power, and posting an ISO above .200 was nothing new for him. He had never posted more than 3 WAR though and in the past he's struggled with injuries. The Twins saw something they liked though and decided to make an offer.

Boy, did that pay off. This season Willingham ranks ninth in wRC+ with 146 wRC+. He's done most of his damage at home, which is expected but Target Field has been known as a notorious pitchers park. At home he has a wRC+ of 179 and on the road he has a wRC+ of 114. He's also showing tremendous power numbers at Target Field, which is also surprising. His ISO at home is .327 compared to a .237 ISO at opponent's ballparks. Like I mentioned before Willingham has always had power numbers above league average. Here's a graphic to show you.

Source: FanGraphs -- Josh Willingham

Overall Willingham's ISO is all the up to .279. This year that's put him number five in all of baseball, not bad for a guy who's previous career high was .237. He's been a big part of their offensive success this year to say the least. The Twins rank thirteenth with 18.3 WAR and their 100 wRC+ ranks eighth.

With a little more than a month left in the season Willingham is having his best season to date. His 3.8 WAR is a career high and by the time the season's finished he should easily eclipse 4 WAR. He's giving the Twins a great return on his investment, he's already been worth $17 million of the $21 million that he's owed. Since it's highly unlikely that he repeats his performance the Twins should highly consider trading him for pitching help or any other type of prospects that teams are willing to give. The Twins signed this 33 year old outfielder and hoped that he would give them the boost they needed, and so far it's been an excellent signing.


  1. Willingham's performance is sustainable, there may be a slight decline due to age, however I wouldn't be surprised if his deal ends up producing 10+ WAR.