Twins Daily Roundtable: Minnesota's All-Star Selection
Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsJohn Bonnes
There isn’t a lot of separation. Eduardo Escobar has arguably been the most valuable position player, given his offense and his defensive position. Jake Odorizzi has the lowest ERA of the full time starting pitchers. Fernando Romero has been unbelievable, albeit for only five starts. And if Joe Mauer was healthy, I’d love to have him represent the Twins one last time.
However, to me, it comes down to Eddie Rosario versus Jose Berrios. They’re both very good - maybe a half stride better than any of the other candidates on the team - but I’m voting for both mostly because they’re going to be incredibly entertaining. Berrios might throw a curveball that makes John Smoltz' head explode and Rosario might do something so non-traditional/un-Twins-Way-like that it will make Jack Buck’s head explode.
That settles it. I’d rather see Jack Buck’s head explode. Eddie Rosario is the Twins representative.
All-Star Eddie Rosario, it just rolls right off the tongue. If there’s any one player who most deserves to represent the Twins in the Midsummer Classic, it’s Rosie.
Here’s the problem: Outfield is loaded in the American League. Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge and J.D. Martinez are having insane seasons, and I’d be willing to bet Giancarlo Stanton will get voted in as a starter given the name recognition and Yankee-ness. With that being the case, it may be tough for Rosario to crack the roster, let alone Max Kepler, who also warrants consideration.
Eduardo Escobar may have a better case, given his defensive flexibility. That certainly helped Josh Harrison last year and Eduardo Nunez the year before that.
The Twins also have a few pitchers who deserve consideration. As of Tuesday afternoon, Jose Berrios ranked 12th in the AL in WAR among qualified starters and Fernando Rodney’s 11 saves put him in a tie for sixth in the league. There’s also a legit argument to be made that Ryan Pressly has been the best middle reliever in the AL.
But, with their record, I suspect the Twins may only have one representative. It should be Rosario.
Every team gets a representative and few players on the Twins have separated themselves from the pack. According to FanGraphs, Jose Berrios leads the pitching staff in WAR with Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly currently sitting in second and third. Offensively, Eddie Rosario leads the team (1.3 fWAR) and he is followed by Eduardo Escobar (0.9 fWAR) and Max Kepler (0.9 fWAR).
On my list, I cross off Rosario and Kepler because of the depth of outfielders in the American League. Escobar has some position flexibility and some managers like this option for the late-innings. Pressly has been the team’s best relief option and managers have recently been more willing to use non-closers in the All-Star Games. I could see Pressly getting the nod or even Fernando Rodney because he is the team’s “proven closer.”
At the beginning of the season, I made some crazy predictions and not many of them are going to come true. However, I picked Jose Berrios to be an All-Star so it’s tough to go back on that early season prediction. He could be a dominant option out of the bullpen when he doesn’t have to hold anything back. Berrios played in multiple Futures Games including starting in front of the Target Field crowd back in 2014. For me, the future is now and I believe Berrios will be the club’s selection.
If the teams were announced today, I'd have a hard time believing the Twins would be more than a one-bid team. I would think that Jose Berrios would get that bid.
A case could be made for Eddie Rosario, and deservedly so. He's 10th among qualifying AL outfielders in OPS, 8th in batting average and tied for 11th in home runs with only Betts, Trout and J.D. Martinez ranked higher in all three categories. But there are other bigger names that push Rosario down and probably out.
Fernando Romero has been lights-out for five starts and he'll have a chance to improve his case with another handful of starts as well. Only Justin Verlander has thrown more innings and has a lower ERA. But one subpar outing changes that stat in a hurry.
Which brings me back to Berrios. He's one of only ten AL starting pitchers - along with BarolofreakingColon - with a sub-1.00 WHIP, averages just short of a strikeout an inning and would be electric in a one inning relief role. While he struggled through a rough patch, he's still got the resume to suggest he's an All-Star... and hopefully an All-Star for many years to come.
With the All Star Game like six weeks away, it's really hard to predict who might represent the Twins. In large part, it's difficult to know how many Twins might be participants. Right or wrong, that is sometimes based on how well the team is doing. If they were to get hot now, they might have two or three. If not, they may end up with just one.
So, as of this date, I'll guess that the Twins will be represented in the All-Star Game by Jose Berrios. If they continue to play well as a team, then a case could (hopefully) be made for Eddie Rosario or Max Kepler at that time.
The Twins are facing a situation unlike 2017 when it comes to a representative at the All-Star Game. After Miguel Sano was nearly voted as the top player at 3B a year ago, Minnesota is looking at a likely skunking across the board in 2018.
Needing a representative in the contest, I think the honor gets split one of three ways. Eddie Rosario has been the team's best player, and you could make a very strong case for him to go. There's a significant number of big names when it comes to American League outfielders however, and Rosario's exploits pale in comparison to most of them. From there, the choice for me falls in between one of two pitchers.
Jose Berrios represents an up and coming star who's been much more good than bad. At times he's looked like a true ace, and an All-Star nod would hardly be a reach. If you'd like to go the relief route, it has to be Ryan Pressly. He's looked the part of a lock down type this season, and a continuation of this performance will quickly have him being named among the best in the game.
Despite their overall record and performance as a team thus far, I think the Twins still have quite a few candidates to represent them at the All-Star Game.
On the position player front, Eddie Rosario stands out as an overall performer and is on par with many top players in left field. Eduardo Escobar leads all MLB shortstops in doubles, Max Kepler continues to have some great at-bats, and Miguel Sano even leads the Twins hitters in Win Probability added (WPA).
As far as pitchers go, I think cases could be made for Addison Reed and Ryan Pressly as set-up men. After a rough start, Fernando Rodney has been hardly an experience, now with eleven saves. Jake Odorizzi has had his moments as well.
But if I’m picking only one, and I would be with how the year has gone, the nod would go to Jose Berrios. He leads the team in innings pitched, strikeouts, WPA, WAR, has struck out nearly 9 per 9IP, and walked fewer than 5% of hitters he’s faced. He’s been electric most of the time this season, blossoming into the team’s ace, and should get his first of hopefully many more opportunities in this July’s summer classic.
I think there are a few in consideration here. Kepler and Rosario have played really well, but they play at incredibly competitive positions. I'd have to go with Ryan Pressly. Pressly ranks 14th in MLB in fWAR (0.7). He's 18th in K/9 (12.18), 24th in xFIP (2.90). All of this while carrying a pretty inflated BaBIP of .348. This is even more impressive when you consider where Pressly was in 2017. Using the same categories, he put together an fWAR of 0.1, K/9 of 8.95, xFIP of 3.81, in spite of a stingy .264 BaBIP. You don't win awards for most improved, but Pressly has to have taken the biggest step forward of almost any relief pitcher at the big league level.
Pressly has always had the stuff, including one of the most devastating curveballs of all relief pitchers in the majors. He's put it all together and turned himself into a top 20 relief pitcher. He's a deserving All-Star.
At this point Jose Berrios is the clear cut favorite to represent the Twins in the All-Star Game. On merit alone Berrios might not be an All-Star as things stand today, but if he keeps up the way he has been pitching of late his All-Star selection will be well deserved. However, with the rule that each team must be represented Berrios should be the Twins representative. Really the only other player I see having a shot is Eddie Rosario if he can put together a big month in June.
If you missed any of the previous roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Romero’s Rotation Spot (Ervin Santana is on his way back)
Top Prospect Timelines
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