Robbie Grossman

Though his accomplishments are largely uncelebrated, Twins player Robbie Grossman (pictured at spring training in 2015) has been phenomenal at finding ways to get on base this year.

Amidst all of the complaining and frustration about yet another disappointing season of Minnesota sports, dedicated Twins fans have been consoling themselves with the success of Eduardo Nuñez, while less avid followers have been avoiding the subject of baseball as a whole. 

Nuñez has certainly been a highlight for the Twins this year and, fittingly, he was selected to represent the team at this year’s All-Star Game. Nuñez has been hitting .321 thus far this season, placing him sixth in the American League for batting average. He has reached this high a batting average with no sacrifice to his power – he is on pace for a season with 30 doubles and more than 20 home runs. However, Nuñez is not the only player that Twins fans should be celebrating this season. 

Robbie Grossman, a player the Twins signed in May after he opted out of a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians, has been providing just as much support to the Twins’ offense as Nuñez or anyone else on our team. 

Grossman has only played 48 games this season, slightly more than half of the team’s total games thus far, so his counter stats (statistics that increase as more games are played) are not very impressive at first glance. However, Grossman is currently hitting well enough that if he played an entire season at this rate, he would hit 20 home runs and nearly 40 doubles. 

Though these figures are impressive, they fail to represent Robbie Grossman’s most valuable contribution to the Twins lineup. 

On July 6, I went to see a Twins game with my dad, my long-awaited first game of the season. I was most excited to see Eduardo Nuñez, as well as Miguel Sanó, who had just recently returned from the disabled list. 

When a hitter at a Twins game steps up to the plate, their basic season stats are displayed on the jumbotron. When I saw the stats for Eduardo Nuñez and Robbie Grossman, something grabbed my attention. I noticed that Grossman had a higher on-base percentage than Eduardo Nuñez, despite Nuñez having a batting average that was 40 points higher. This means that although Nuñez was getting hits 4 percent more often, Grossman was still reaching base more consistently. 

Those who have seen the movie Moneyball may remember that Billy Beane, portrayed by Brad Pitt, valued a player’s knack for getting on base over anything else. Robbie Grossman has been phenomenal at finding ways to get on base this year, and he is leading not only the Twins, but the entire American League in walk percentage. 

Only two players in Major League Baseball have a walk percentage above 18 percent. One is Robbie Grossman (18.3 percent), and the other is reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper (18.8 percent). Unfortunately for Grossman, drawing a walk is arguably the most boring play in baseball. Additionally, the batter almost never receives an RBI, so the action is overlooked by all three of the most traditional statistics (AVG, RBI, HR). These two factors lead baseball fans nationwide to underappreciate players like Grossman. 

Although Grossman has not been receiving the recognition he deserves, he is continuing to produce heavily for the Twins on just $515,000 per year. To put that into perspective, Ricky Nolasco, a complete flop in his time with the Twins thus far, is making $12,000,000 per year. 

Grossman’s yearly salary accounts for a measly .5 percent of the Twins payroll, yet he has been accounting for a significant portion of the team’s run production. In fact, in only 50 games this season, advanced statistics show that his hitting has already produced 13 more runs than the average major league outfielder would have in the same time span. 

Unfortunately for the Twins, Grossman’s current contract only keeps him on the roster for the rest of this year. The Twins, in their effort to build a competitive team for years to come, should put forth a strong attempt to re-sign Robbie Grossman. If they do, he might someday walk the Twins to their third World Series title. 

Linder Wendt is a soon-to-be sophomore at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. He grew up in Marine and lived there until he was 16, when he moved to Stillwater. He’s a baseball enthusiast whose dream job is to be a statistical analyst for a professional team.

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