Thursday, August 1, 2013

Target Field has been kind to Sam Deduno

Entrenched in the middle of another losing season, it can be tough to look at the Twins roster and find some positives. There are going to be disappointments but sometimes there can be good mixed in with all of the bad.

Sam Deduno fits this mold.

He was a surprise for the 2012 Twins team and this still didn't save his spot on the 40-man roster in the offseason. Every MLB team had a chance to claim him and no one took the opportunity to add him to their club. Deduno went back into the Twins minor league pool and a successful World Baseball Classic might have given him the confidence he needed to make some adjustments.

It has been a new and improved Deduno in 2013. His career walk rate entering this season was 6.1 BB/9 and he has cut that number almost in half to 3.3 BB/9 this season. He averaged 1.2 HR/9 at the end of last year and he has reduced that number to 0.5 HR/9. With seven wins to his name, he already has a career high. Decreasing walks and keeping the ball in the park have helped to make Deduno a more effective pitcher.

One of the things that might have helped Deduno the most could be his numbers while pitching in the friendly confines of Target Field. So far this season, his ERA at home (2.33) is more than 1.30 point lower than on the road (3.65) and his 0.963 WHIP at home is outstanding. He has given up one home run at Target Filed compared to three home runs on the road.

These numbers are great so let's jump into them a little deeper.

Opponents put up pretty decent numbers against Deduno when it came to hitting against him in the past. From 2010 to 2012, opposing batters hit .248/.371/.399, which translates to a .769 OPS. He has actually been worse than that on the road this year. In eight games, the opposition has hit .262/.340/.383 including 14 extra-base hits. When Mr. Deduno gets on the mound at Target Field this year, he has limited the opposing team to a .212/.278/.293 batting line.

While the above numbers have improved for Deduno at Target Field, opponents have also found it more difficult to make hard contact. At home, the opposition has a line drive percentage of 14.4% and that number goes up to 19.1% on the road. He is also getting more ground balls at home, as his ground ball percentage is 64.4% compared to 61.8% on the road.

When Deduno is at Target Field, men reach base against him at a lower rate but he is also better at leaving them on base when they do reach. At home, he has posted an 80.4% left on base percentage. On the road, he has only been able to post a LOB% of 74.9%. Deduno's home numbers could look even better if he wouldn't have hit four men with pitches. In fact, he hit three men at Target Field in his second start of the season. If those hit bats men were taken out of the equation, Deduno would be even more impressive at home.

Overall, Deduno has looked greatly improved in front of the hometown crowd but there are plenty of games left in the season. He has started four more games on the road than at home and this difference in sample size could play a role in the numbers described above. Most surprising might be the fact that Deduno has shown some semblance of being a quality addition to the Twins starting rotation.

Not too bad for a guy that no teams wanted to claim when he was made available in the offseason.

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