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Article: Final Week Of The Mauer Era? Let's Enjoy It

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Mike Berardino Moving On

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That’s Offensive: Did Morrison’s Signing Fix Minnesota’s Biggest Flaw?

Pitching, pitching, and more pitching had been the story of Minnesota’s offseason. The bullpen was bolstered with multiple pieces including closer Fernando Rodney and set-up men Addison Reed and Zack Duke. Minnesota traded for Jake Odorizzi last week to help solidify the starting rotation. There have also been rumors of the Twins adding another pitching piece before Opening Day.

Logan Morrison signed over the weekend to help solidify Minnesota on the offensive side of the ball. Even with his signing, there are plenty of question marks surrounding the Twins and their offensive players.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Infield Veterans
Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier have plenty to prove as they both are set to hit free agency at season’s end. Dozier is coming off some of the best seasons of his career and he seems to be hitting free agency at a good point in his career. Mauer has admitted this spring that he would like to finish out his career in a Twins uniform. Both of them still need to help lead the offense in 2018.

Dozier’s strikeout rate stayed steady last season at 20 percent but he improved his walk rate from 8.8 percent in 2016 to 11.1 in 2017. He posted a career-high .271 average that was boosted there because of a .300 BABIP. He’s averaged 38 home runs over the last two seasons and he’s continued to improve his batted-ball profile.

Mauer’s offensive output struggled after suffering multiple concussions. Last season, Mauer started to look more like the pre-concussion Mauer. He hit over .300 for the first time since 2013, the year his concussion occurred. His strikeout rate had been increasing at an alarming rate as he averaged over 100 strikeouts from 2014-2016. Mauer was also one of the best players in the American League at avoiding pitches out of the zone.

Newly signed designated hitter Logan Morrison is coming off a breakout season. His 38 home runs helped him to finish in the top-10. He also changed his swing mechanics as he increased his launch angle from 12.1 degrees in 2016 to 17.4 degrees in 2017. As a lefty, left-handed pitchers held him to a .233 average and only six of his homers came against lefties. Morrison is going to need to prove that 2017 wasn’t a fluke.

Dozier, Morrison and Mauer will need to continue these recent trends to help the Twins offense.

Inexperienced Infield
Jorge Polanco showed his inexperience during the first half of last season. He struggled by hitting .224 with a .596 OPS. He was benched near the end of July and this seemed to wake him up. From August 1 to season’s end, he hit .316 with a .931 OPS and 10 home runs. He’s shown the ability to limit strikeouts.

Sano’s power tool has been touted throughout his professional career. Last season, he seemed to put it all together before a shin injury forced him to miss the season’s last two months. He was elected to the All-Star Game in Miami after slugging 21 homers and compiling a .906 OPS in the first half. As a big swinger, he strikes out in over a third of his plate appearances but he has a 12.3 percent walk rate.

There are also reports of Sano showing up to camp out of shape. He’s always been a bigger player but this season is important to show he can be an elite power-hitting threat. So which versions of Polanco and Sano will surface in 2018?

Inexperienced Outfield
Buxton’s poor start to 2017 was well documented. Through the season’s first month, he was striking out at an alarming rate (37% of his plate appearances). May turned into a transition time for Buxton as he got rid of his leg kick and rebuilt his swing. In the season’s second half, he hit .300 with an .893 OPS and 11 home runs. This was a great finish but Buxton’s pitch recognition needs to improve to cut back on his strikeouts and draw more walks.

In his sophomore season, Max Kepler struggled mightily against lefties with a .453 OPS. Paul Molitor even went so far as to bench Kepler against some left-handed pitchers. He showed the ability to hit off of lefties during his minor league career so he needs to figure it out at the big league level in 2018. He could continue to grow in multiple areas including his power hitting.

Over the last two seasons, Eddie Rosario has cut his strikeout rate from 25.7 to 18 percent. His career-high .289 batting average allowed him to get on base almost 31% of the time. Rosario has a career .325 BABIP but he only posted a .312 BABIP last season. This could be a sign that he was unlucky last year.
This outfield trio might let only raindrops fall on the defensive side of the ball but there are plenty of questions about their contributions on the offensive side of the ball.

Which offensive player has the most to prove in 2018? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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32 Comments

Did Morrison’s Signing Fix Minnesota’s Biggest Flaw?

 

Not, unless he is a top of the rotation pitcher...

    • birdwatcher, gil4, Twins33 and 12 others like this
The biggest question mark is Sano. I think we've begun to see what everybody else has to contribute and we know the potential that Sano has. But his health and his desire to cut down on strikeouts remains a serious question. If he can be an intrical part of the infield and the batting order I think the team has their lineup in great shape. If we look at the players who had Up Kicks last year we can expect a few will fall backwards but hopefully not so much that at all make a big difference when we still have some who may just make a jump forward. It's really hard to predict young players. It took a long time for Dozier to make a transition to the player that we've seen the last few years. Maybe the most important question Beyond Sano is Mauer. It would be great to think that he turned his corner to being a walking 300 hitting player again.

So, a headline with a question that the article doesn't even attempt to answer. Was mentioning Morrison in the headline just an attempt to draw clicks? And suggesting that the Twins' offense is their biggest flaw? The Twins were ranked #7 in the MLB in batting in 2017 (3rd in the AL).

 

I appreciate that TwinsDaily doesn't typically use clickbait headlines, but this one is pretty egregious.

 

 

 

 

    • Twins33 and caninatl04 like this

I wonder what Mikelink45 thinks is the biggest question mark.I agree that Sano is the biggest question mark. I have no worries about the rest of the team. We had a question mark at DH and now we don't.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, TheLeviathan and 12 others like this

Clearly he doesn't solve the #1 starter question.He also is not right-handed.But, bottom line is instead of running out a Vargas/Grossman platoon at DH most days, they're sending out a guy who hit 38 bombs last year.Does he address their biggest weakness?Of course not.Does he make their lineup better?Absolutely.

    • howieramone2 and RegularJoe62 like this

I was wondering the same thing when I got up this morning.

 

I wonder what Mikelink45 thinks is the biggest question mark.I agree that Sano is the biggest question mark. I have no worries about the rest of the team. We had a question mark at DH and now we don't.

 

    • Dantes929 likes this

Not, unless he is a top of the rotation pitcher...


Maybe we are going the contrarian route and pulling a “greatest show on turf” strategy. We won’t stop the other team, we will just try to outscore them. Now we just need a Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk HOF type 3 & 4 hitter and we might have a chance at this working.

In all fairness, I still think we get to watch a wild card game this year for the twinkies. And maybe Berrios really is a dominant guy. Only have a 162 games to watch and see. Is it April yet?
    • Dantes929 and howieramone2 like this

 

Maybe we are going the contrarian route and pulling a “greatest show on turf” strategy. We won’t stop the other team, we will just try to outscore them. Now we just need a Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk HOF type 3 & 4 hitter and we might have a chance at this working.

In all fairness, I still think we get to watch a wild card game this year for the twinkies. And maybe Berrios really is a dominant guy. Only have a 162 games to watch and see. Is it April yet?

 

Toronto and Texas has tried that strategy.Did not really work well for them :)

 

I think that the Twins will be competing for the wild card and even possibly for the division.They could make the post-season, but to go far in the postseason Berrios have to take it up a couple of notches from last season (and he might be well in the way,) Odorizzi has to be a very dependable number 3, and someone (likely Fernando Romero) will have to pull a c2006 FranKKKKKKKKKKKKie performance (without getting hurt in the process)...

    • Platoon likes this

On the down side, we are light a RH batter and we have a bunch of 3-4-5 type starters and OK relief.On the Bright side, the Offence was good last year and should be better and we have some Bright young starters and relief pitchers at AAA.In fact the starters at AAA could be better then the Bigs (minus Barrios)

I would say this is important year for Kepler to show improvement in his hitting. I believe he could turn into one finest Right Fielders in MLB if his bat catches up with the rest of his skills. Last year made big strides on defensive side of baseball but struggled more offensively. I believe that he will make strides this year it takes couple years for players like Kepler to figure it out. I also was going to say Vargas this year but it looks like the Twins are going another direction. I just have gut feeling here that he could be one players that could really blossom into bigtime hitter after he leaves MN. Also his value being a switch hitter problem here in MN is getting consistent playing time behind Mauer, Sano, and Grossman. Could be good year for MN but it also be another step back year with this group learning how to win and produce.

    • caninatl04 likes this

Who came up with this headline?Did you write about the Twins biggest weakness and how Morrison did/did not address it?I think the biggest weakness is starting pitching (as others have noted) but based on the headline I assumed that another weakness was going to be discussed.Disappointed.

 

Toronto and Texas has tried that strategy.Did not really work well for them :)

 

I think that the Twins will be competing for the wild card and even possibly for the division.They could make the post-season, but to go far in the postseason Berrios have to take it up a couple of notches from last season (and he might be well in the way,) Odorizzi has to be a very dependable number 3, and someone (likely Fernando Romero) will have to pull a c2006 FranKKKKKKKKKKKKie performance (without getting hurt in the process)...

Worked well for the 27 Yankees though. Just kidding maybe they had great pitching as well. Saying it didn't work well for Toronto and Texas is like saying having great pitching didn't work well for the Dodgers this year or like sayingSantana can't win a playoff game because look,he pitched in a playoff game and didn't win.Give me Toronto's team that year every year into the the playoffs and I would be happy to take my chances. They won the wild card and the Division Series but lost 4 games to 1 in the AL championship. In those losses they averaged less than a run a game and gave up exactly 2 runs a game.Theyhad no ace but giving up just 2 runs a game will win most of your playoff games. They had a great offense but scoring less than a run a game will not win any games for you.

    • ThejacKmp and SF Twins Fan like this
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TheLeviathan
Feb 28 2018 12:43 PM

No.But he's a clear upgrade at a great price.

    • USAFChief, diehardtwinsfan, Twins33 and 3 others like this

The Twins biggest flaw is the same as it was before, but on paper the Twins definitely look better than they did a year ago.

 

 

    • USAFChief, Twins33, DocBauer and 2 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Feb 28 2018 01:51 PM

What are we going to do when the other team pitches a lefty?

 

What are we going to do when the other team pitches a lefty?

K and/or 4-3 a lot.

    • tarheeltwinsfan and Platoon like this
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terrydactyls1947
Feb 28 2018 02:08 PM

I'm not sure in which article to place this comment.I retired to Maine where only one baseball team exists on the planet - the Red Sox.I watched the Twins/Boston preseason game last night which featured the Red Sox announcers.In the second inning, one of them said to the other, "last fall, if you asked 20 major leaguers who would win the Golden Glove in center field, every one of them would have been wrong."The other announcer said that would have been wrong also.They went on for two innings how Jackie Bradley Jr. was by far the best center fielder and how Buxton got the award was unimaginable.They talked about how in one game alone he made three spectacular plays that saved the game.The showed all three plays.On one he ran towards right field and caught a liner without having to jump.Whoppee.The next play they showed was Bradley running towards shortstop and diving for a line drive.Not bad.The last play was Bradley running towards the fence in left center field and catching the ball about 20 feet before he hit the warning track.If that's the highlight reel, I don't know how he got any votes.I had to turn off the broadcast.I think Buxton would have made all three catches easily and they would not have even been thought of as outstanding.These announcers epitomize the term "homer" and I don't mean a four-base hit. 

    • ThejacKmp likes this

Yay for clickbait! 

 

 

 

I'm not sure in which article to place this comment.I retired to Maine where only one baseball team exists on the planet - the Red Sox.I watched the Twins/Boston preseason game last night which featured the Red Sox announcers.In the second inning, one of them said to the other, "last fall, if you asked 20 major leaguers who would win the Golden Glove in center field, every one of them would have been wrong."The other announcer said that would have been wrong also.They went on for two innings how Jackie Bradley Jr. was by far the best center fielder and how Buxton got the award was unimaginable.They talked about how in one game alone he made three spectacular plays that saved the game.The showed all three plays.On one he ran towards right field and caught a liner without having to jump.Whoppee.The next play they showed was Bradley running towards shortstop and diving for a line drive.Not bad.The last play was Bradley running towards the fence in left center field and catching the ball about 20 feet before he hit the warning track.If that's the highlight reel, I don't know how he got any votes.I had to turn off the broadcast.I think Buxton would have made all three catches easily and they would not have even been thought of as outstanding.These announcers epitomize the term "homer" and I don't mean a four-base hit. 

You ever heard the Bruins announcers??

 

YOu want to talk about the biggest homers ever

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terrydactyls1947
Feb 28 2018 02:50 PM

You ever heard the Bruins announcers??
 
YOu want to talk about the biggest homers ever



The only time I hear them is when the Wild play the Bruins and it's on NESN. Bad....

 

The only time I hear them is when the Wild play the Bruins and it's on NESN. Bad....

 

Trust me when I say it is actually BETTER than it used to be when they had Derek Sanderson

 

 Is it April yet?

#March29

    • gil4 likes this
Absolutely love this move and it came out of nowhere! Yes, the team still leans too much toward the left, but I don't think it's as big a negative as some believe. Sorry, don't have the stats in front of me, but the Twins weren't grossly overmatched against LH pitching last season from what I've read. Sano and Dozier obviously provide big RH bats. I'm still expecting more from Buxton overall, and I think we all feel the same there. I believe Garver will prove to be better than Giminez as the second catcher and a bat off the bench on occasion.

And we all know RH pitching is still far and away the most dominant. Morrison provides another big bat in an already potent lineup that has yet to reach its full potential. (I want to say most runs scored in the ,league the second half of the year in 2017?) The lineup is deep and flexible, with multiple options. The bench may lack a thumper, but also holds versatility offensively and defensively.

We didn't come away with a #1 SP, but the FO has made a lot of great moves to create a roster that is deep and potent, along with some nice adds to the pen, plus Odorizzi for the rotation. My only real quibble is I'm not enthused by the position players at Rochester. I think a mark was missed there.

What are we going to do when the other team pitches a lefty?


Lose 4-2?

Click bait aside (and I did try the "three simple rules to lose 40 pounds" he suggested), the ultimate question is a good one

 

First, I want to concur with ND-fan that Kepler needs to prove he can carry his own against LHSP.

 

But, if he can't, I'm not sure if there is a dominant Plan B.

 

This is contrast to Polanco.If he hits / fields like he did in the later half of 2017, then there is not a problem.If, however, he more reflects his mid-season swoon, well, the Plan B's are legion.

 

This is a roundabout way of saying that one dimension of "proving it" involves minor leaguers nipping at ones heels.


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