October 23, 2023

The not-so-secret stylings of ex-Twin Robbie Grossman

How many major league players have parlayed a .244 batting average with limited power into a career that stands at 11 seasons and counting?

Not many, I suspect, but that is precisely what Texas Rangers outfielder Robbie Grossman has accomplished, perhaps prompting many to lift their caps, scratch their heads and ask: What’s so special about that? 

At face value, there’s nothing special about it. But take a closer look at the numbers and it’s easy to see why Grossman has found a role in the analytically driven machine that is the modern game today.

Put succinctly: Grossman can get on base and he does it better than most. For his career, his percentage of plate appearances that resulted in a walk checks in at 12.9 percent, compared to the major league average of 8.3 percent. And that percentage has been even higher.

When Grossman was with the Twins (2016-2019) he set a career high for base on balls percentage at 14.7 percent in 2017. In his three seasons with the Twins his on base percentage was .371.

Grossman’s ability to get on base wasn’t lost on Star Tribune reporter Phil Miller for an Aug. 14, 2016, story.

“On base percentage is Grossman’s specialty, a talent he displayed in the minor leagues that he’s been able to bring with him to the Twins this season,” Miller reported, adding that his .389 on base percentage at that point in the season led the Twins and was fifth best in the American League.

Another personal best for Grossman: In 2021, when he was with the Detroit Tigers, he earned 98 walks, second most in the American League. He has a career on base percentage of .346.

Extra innings …

-I decided to look up how the Minneapolis Morning Tribune covered the very first Twins game on April 11, 1961, a surprising 6-0 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Tribune lede:

“Pedro Ramos yielded only three hits Tuesday to earn the Minnesota Twins a 6-0 opening day victory over the New York Yankees, defending champions in the American League.”

Well, the Tribune gets credit for putting the story on the front page of the paper, which makes sense, but that lede displays a shocking misunderstanding of the moment. This wasn’t Game 162 of the season, but the first game of the first season of major league baseball in the state. Good grief.

The New York Daily News lede:

“The Yankees have had trouble beating even one team this spring, so it was really too much to expect them to handle the Twins in yesterday’s frosty opening at the Stadium. The Bombers, showing their Florida form in the Arctic air, managed only three singles in a 6-0 blanking by Pete Ramos, the Cuban curver.

“So, the Twins from Minnesota were born into the bright new world of major league baseball with a happy and blessed event. They showed lusty power, kicking Whitey Ford out of sight in the seventh inning and biting Ralph Terry and Jim Coates on the fingers as they scored all their runs in the last three innings.”

Advantage: Daily News. And it wasn’t close.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.