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Ex Twins in 2021: Where Are They Now?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:47 AM
One of my favorite annual threads on the site. Let’s stay updated on ex-Twins in the news... This is a start of a list, and feel free to...
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Joe West wins lawsuit against Lo Duca

Other Baseball Today, 09:06 AM
https://www.msn.com/...artan-dhp-feeds   I was a bit surprised he won this but good for him, I guess.
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Twins Moving Up Power Rankings (Week of April 11)

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:38 AM
MLB.com published their updated power rankings Sunday. The moved the Twins up from sixth to fourth. The Athletic (subscription required)...
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The 5 Rule Draft

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:08 AM
This year's Rule 5 draft we lost Akil Baddo and Tyler Wells. So I thought I'd check to see how they were doing. 1st I checked on Baddo, h...
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New Target field policy...no bags of any kind

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:00 AM
Thankfully we went before gates opened and were warned by a friendly security guy in advance that this year there are no bags of any kind...
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Minnesota’s Best Rebound Candidate

Earlier this offseason I noted that the Twins most important acquisition for 2021 was a healthy Josh Donaldson. That’s still true, but he’s not Minnesota’s best bet to rebound.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Suggesting there’s someone better for a comeback than Donaldson isn’t a knock on him, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Despite appearing in just 28 games due to his lingering calf issues, Donaldson posted an .842 OPS. That’s nothing to scoff at and isn’t far off from his .877 career mark. The Twins want to see something closer to .900, but that should be a pretty safe bet if he’s healthy.

If you’re looking for a rebound, it comes in the form of a 30-year-old with newly announced dad-strength. Enter Mitch Garver. Maybe cast aside a bit with the emergence of Ryan Jeffers a year ago, Garver getting right would give the Twins arguably the best backstop tandem in the game. The only question for Garver is what exactly constitutes “right?”

When Minnesota became the Bomba Squad in 2019 Garver contributed to the tune of a .995 OPS and 31 bombs. Last year he was available for just 23 games and posted a .511 OPS with only two longballs. The likely and most logical answer is that the real version of Mitch lies somewhere in between.

In the minors it was his bat that carried him, and Garv posted a .928 OPS back in 2017 for his final 88 Triple-A games. He’s got a career .791 OPS on the farm and that’s watered down some by stops in the Appy League and Double-A Chattanooga. It’s not that Mitch simply forgot how to hit a year ago as much as it’s the likelihood he was dealing with complications from the eventual intercostal strain before it landed him on the Injured List.

An intercostal strain does not have to happen in an instant and can be a gradual progression of pain in the ribs. It is problematic when twisting and taking deep breaths, as well as being a significant detriment to uncoiling while attacking a baseball. A 60-game season doesn’t provide much of a runway to properly heal or get back into action, and there was also no rehab assignment options available short of intrasquad action at the alternate site.

If you’ve studied the Twins at all, there’s arguably no more intelligently invested hitter than Garver. Josh Donaldson has been called a hitting savant, and it was Garver that immediately piped up with excitement to pick his brain a year ago. The Twins backstop is intellectually invested in perfecting his craft and finding ways to generate optimal outcomes will always be a part of his process.

When right in 2019 Garver saw success utilizing optimal launch with max velocity. His hard-hit rate sat at 47% and 29% of the balls he put in the air left the yard. Last season Mitch saw a 6% dip in his hard-hit rate, while dropping fly balls over the fence at just a 15% rate. He increased his pull percentage substantially as he sold out to get around on pitches, and the rollover caused a spike in medium contact.

It’s not so much that the outcome of contact waned, hard hit rates we’re still acceptable, but quality at point of impact dropped off a cliff. In 2019 Garver produced an elite 9.2 barrels per plate appearance rate, and a season later than number was all the way down to 3.7%. Again, needing to cheat through the zone to make up for a nagging side likely led to diminished timing windows for success.

Suppose Garver is healthy coming into 2021, as should be the expectation, I’m not going to tell you that a repeat of the otherworldly .928 OPS is in store. However, he should be able to go from an out of whack whiff rate (13%) back to career norms (8%), and in turn find greater windows of optimal connection points. Mitch has made substantial strides defensively, but it’s been his bat that has allowed for success at the big-league level. Unleashing the max effort once again, at opportune times, should see a catcher that may find himself in an All-Star Game for the first time.

Yes, I’d love a healthy Josh Donaldson for the Twins in 2021. The outcome of that player is all but determined. A healthy Mitch Garver is overlooked right now though, and his production could be equally as imperative.

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9 Comments

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tony&rodney
Feb 04 2021 08:10 PM

Right on. Garver could really snap back into prime time and the article excellently identifies the difficulties of last season for Garver. Nothing went right last year and now a fresh start brings a world of possibilities.

    • TopGunn#22, theJemmer and Joey P like this

100% agree Ted. Many people were ready to declare Jeffers the #1 and trade Garver in the early offseason. I predict he will have a great year and the more likely candidate for regression is Jeffers. Hope it doesn't happen, but not uncommon in the 2nd year in the league.

    • Twins33, TopGunn#22 and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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strumdatjaguar
Feb 04 2021 09:59 PM
Barber is the obvious pick. But another one to consider is Taylor Rogers.
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strumdatjaguar
Feb 04 2021 09:59 PM
Barber is the obvious pick. But another one to consider is Taylor Rogers.
My vote would be Polanco. He’s too good a hitter.

I think if this team is going to win the division, they need Donaldson to have a big year. I’m just not sure he can stay healthy. Garver bouncing back would be great, but with Jeffers there it doesn’t hurt as much. Another lost year for Donaldson would be a killer.
    • ashbury, TopGunn#22, Melissa and 1 other like this
Byron Buxton played in 140 games in 2017. If he manages that many games this year the impact for the Twins will be huge.
    • TopGunn#22 likes this
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Dodecahedron
Feb 05 2021 11:38 AM

Garver is better than he showed last year, that's for sure.

I believe in Garver mainly because he has an excellent swing Compact with no real holes.
    • TopGunn#22 and Doctor Gast like this

This is why there should be such optimism for the Twins.

No one expects a return of 2019 with a new season HR record.

But they have SO MANY players primed to bounce back:

Garver---The article says it all

Sano---30-35 HR's is NOT unreasonable.Must make more consistent contact.

Polanco---He's just a good hitter.2020 saw him flying open from the left side repeatedly.Hopefully playing a lot of 2B will keep him healthy.If he's healthy he will be productive.

Kepler---I think 2019 is what we should be expecting out of Max.He has the talent.

Buxton---As Eris stated, if Buxton plays 140 games the Twins will rejoice !!

Donaldson---This guy is too good not to have a major impact.Like Buxton, MUST STAY HEALTHY.

Simmons---also must stay healthy.Last 3-years have been tough.His "D" is elite and his bat will be O.K.

Arraez---If he hit at the top of the order and had 600 PA's he'd score over 100 runs.

He would possibly lead the league in runs scored.HEALTH is critical.

Cruz---I don't expect Nellie to be "All World" like he was in 2019 or even 2020.

But he will be good and he will need rest and probably spend a couple of weeks on the I.L.

Those are just the hitters.HEALTH is the bedrock necessity for all of them.

And for the fun of it---here's one Wild Card for 2021.

ALEX KIRILOFF !!He's got the talent to win Rookie of the Year.That would make a HUGE impact.  

    • DocBauer and Doctor Gast like this