The Addition of Postseason Experience Could Be Huge for the Twins in 2020
Image courtesy of © Jake Roth - USA TODAY SportsNaturally, all of the new players the Twins brought in are here because of their talent and the ability to make Minnesota better in 2020. However, the majority of the newcomers bring ample October experience along with great overall numbers. This is certainly not an accident, as last year’s team that was swept by New York in the ALDS was just getting its feet wet, and outside of a few veterans like Nelson Cruz and Sergio Romo, the team had very little experience beyond the regular season.
All that has changed with this offseason as the Twins have brought in plenty of veterans with playoff experience on both sides of the ball. Today we’ll take a closer look at each newcomer’s past postseason numbers and the extent of experience Minnesota has brought in.
The amount of experience may vary, but the numbers are really impressive across the board. Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda have toed the mound in each of the last four postseasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, including two World Series. Hill put up great numbers over 12 starts, while Maeda was used mainly out of the pen, making his three starts back in 2016. However, Maeda has been nasty as a reliever (2019: 4.1 IP, 1 hit, 7 SO, no walks), so the Twins can use him as they see fit (though he wants to start).
Reliever Tyler Clippard and starter Homer Baily don’t have Hill or Maeda’s workload, but both have pitched well in October. Clippard leads the group with a 0.43 Win Probability Added (WPA) and while we have to go back to 2012 for Bailey’s last postseason start, it was a good one (7 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, 10 SO).
Overall, the new pitchers give the Twins over 100 innings of postseason ball and along with Sergio Romo, provide the Twins plenty of experience on the big stage.
If the Twins had stood pat and done nothing, the offense would still be a force this year. But by bringing in Josh Donaldson and essentially replacing CJ Cron with Miguel Sano, Minnesota showed they’re all in. Donaldson’s ability to dominate on both sides of the ball is the reason he’s here, but his passion for the game and his extensive postseason experience will be extremely valuable as well. Donaldson is no stranger to October, as he leads the group with seven postseasons and has had some really good series.
Alex Avila’s numbers in the postseason don’t impress, but as Garver’s backup he’s unlikely to play much anyway. However, he’s been around the game for a longtime and comes from a baseball family, so he could be a valuable asset in the form of a mentor for the less-experienced Garver.
The addition of two experienced hitters should fit nicely with last year’s lineup, which with the exception of Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez had very little postseason experience. 2019’s experience should undoubtably help the younger core of Sano, Garver, Polanco, Buxton, Kepler, and Arraez, but having a few more veterans around who have been through the ups and downs of playing in October is invaluable.
Again, adding talented and impactful players is the important takeaway from the offseason and the front office should be given much credit for strengthening an already good ball club. Although getting swept by the Yankees hurt, being there mattered immensely for the younger players and adding postseason-hardened veterans should help to get the Twins over the hump this year.
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