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Let's Talk About Logan Forsythe

Logan Forsythe’s 19-game run with the Minnesota Twins has been fairly remarkable.

In the time since he came over from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade, Forsythe has led the team in batting average (.377) and on-base percentage (.434). Yes, a little over two weeks is the poster child for small sample size enthusiasts and having half of your hits come on ground balls isn’t exactly a roadmap for sustainability, yet Forsythe has looked good considering he was flotsam in LA.

While the hits have been nice, it’s a far cry from his days with the Tampa Bay Rays where he was hitting double-digit dingers.
Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
If there is one thing you should remember from this article it is that Logan Forsythe rarely swings the bat. Over the last two seasons, Joe Mauer offered at 36 percent of pitches thrown his direction. The only person who swung less than that was Logan Forsythe. He deemed just 34 percent of pitches worthy of his lumber. So when a rare event like a Logan Forsythe swing transpired, you would want results that were worthy of the wait.

He is sort of the infield version of Robbie Grossman -- likes to gamble that the pitcher can’t throw two consecutive strikes when down in the count. The Dodgers, however, were not fans of this passive approach of letting very hittable pitches scurry by.

If there is a second thing you should remember from this article it is that Logan Forsythe did hit a healthy number of home runs, once upon a time.

In 2015, Forsythe hit 17 home runs with the Rays. He followed that up with another 20 in 2016. His play was enticing enough that, when the Twins balked at trading Dozier in 2017, the Dodgers flipped a solid pitching prospect for Forsythe instead.

However, upon his arrival to Los Angeles, he stopped hitting for power. There were various ailments cited -- a toe injury in April 2017 and a shoulder injury in April 2018 -- that zapped some of his power potential and limited his time on the field.

While those are all factors for the power outage, there is also a component of his swing that changed significantly between 2016 and now. Watch the clip of his swing in 2016 (right) compared to 2018 (left):

Attached Image: FSFrameGIFImage (4).GIF


Both swings are against 93 MPH fastballs away from left-handed pitchers, thrown in plus-counts when a hitter should be hunting. For the most part the swings are similar but Forsythe has toned down his pre-launch bat movement since 2016.

Attached Image: FSFrameGIFImage.GIF


The added movement before the launch equated to more bat speed. It's simple: less bat speed, less exit velocity.

For whatever reason -- a coach’s instruction, a tip from a player, his own development and feel, etc -- Forsythe has removed this element of his swing. In doing so, his average exit velocity has dropped, his average launch angle has decreased, and his ability to drive the ball to right field for power has declined as well (he hit 10 home runs to right in 2015-2016 and has zero since).

There is a lot to like about Forsythe’s ability to get the barrel to the ball. He’s a barrel turner (as opposed to someone who hacks down). Watch as his hands turn the barrel rearward before rotating forward to contact. This gets the barrel on plane longer and allows for him to stay back longer instead of drifting toward the pitcher.

Attached Image: FSFrameGIFImage (1).GIF


The other thing to appreciate is that Forsythe actually has a two-strike approach -- something that isn’t always shared by his contemporaries. In two-strike situations Forsythe tones down, eliminating the leg kick and long distance hand load, to try to wait as long as possible and adjust on off-speed pitches:

Attached Image: FSFrameGIFImage (3).GIF


Forsythe rarely chases breaking balls out of the zone. According to ESPN/TruMedia’s data, since 2017 he’s reached on just 14.3 percent of breaking balls outside of the zone whereas the average hitter has done so on just over 30 percent. For comparison’s sake, Joe Mauer has even chased after 23 percent of breaking balls in that time. Forsythe will swing through some (8 percent, same as Mauer) and the results aren’t great when he does make contact (a .588 OPS vs .657 MLB average) but with baseball’s increasing reliance on nasty breaking balls, being able to wait back and keep from chasing after those pitches is rare skill set.

Since coming over to the Twins, Forsythe has been some sort of bizarro Shannon Stewart and has been a spark plug for the offense. The offense, of course, isn’t going anywhere except home in October but Forsythe’s play has at least kept the team from improving its draft position.

This isn’t meant to read as a sales pitch to the Twins to try to retain Logan Forsythe. A week ago, Seth Stohs asked “What To Do With Logan Forsythe” and the prevailing sentiment seemed to be “drive him to the airport”. When he was acquired, it was accepted that Forsythe was a placeholder until the end of the year. That should probably stay, but night after night he’s piled on the hits and has given the front office, at the very least, a mild case of the considerations.

Truthfully, this is probably more of a sales pitch for contending teams interested in an additional bench bat or utility player. If someone is willing to surrender a prospect or project to have a high-contact right-handed bat on the bench for the playoffs (there’s got to be a team interested in a player who can put the ball in play in a pinch) the Twins should absolutely move him. What’s more, Forsythe would also come with untapped power potential if someone could convince him to rekindle his 2016 swing.

If there is a third thing you should remember from this article it is that it ended.

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51 Comments

Logan Forsythe’s 19-game run

maxresdefault.jpg

 

(Bet he and Morrison are plenty tired of this reference.)

 

Rarely swings. Home runs. Ended. Got it.

 

It's enjoyable to watch one of our players do well, but he's not part of the future and probably will be part of our past soon enough.

    • Parker Hageman, Mike Sixel, James and 3 others like this

One more thing in his favor - Gordon has not impressed in AAA and seems to have that same half season record that Dozier did.Lewis probably still needs to work up the minor league ladder and no one else is ready to grab 2B or force Polanco to move over.So who plays second in 2019?

 

 

    • DocBauer and tarheeltwinsfan like this

My first choice, and hope, for second base next year is Eduardo Escobar.Should he not be available, I have no problem with them signing Forsyth to a short contract...one year or one year with an option.In my opinion, there isn't anyone in the system who will be available to play second before mid-season, at the earliest.So they will need to get somebody.

    • glunn, ThejacKmp, USNMCPO and 10 others like this

I'd have to agree. I really don't think he would be a bad placeholder for next year if he was willing to sign a one year dear with a possible (team friendly?) option. He seems a lot happier here that he was in LA. Maybe that helps him be a useful part of the 2019 roster. We shall see I guess.

    • DocBauer, Original Whizzinator and Aerodeliria like this

See what the off-season has to offer.

 

And let's give NICK GORDON at least a good looksee for the final month of the season. See if he MIGHT be ready in 2019 mid-season. Or if major league life sparks him up a notch. And if he will take coaching.

 

This is probably the most important season eending assessment the Twins need to make (besides maybe doubling up on rotation arms for the final games...nine arms in a six-man rotation).

 

Yes, we want to hit .500. But we also want to get a jumpstart on 2019 and see who SHOULD be considered a mainstay for future seasons (not just placesetters).

    • DocBauer and tarheeltwinsfan like this

I'd like the team to aim higher than "he's ok as a placeholder" next year at every position. 

    • Carole Keller, USAFChief, glunn and 6 others like this

Forsythe was counter-rotating the bat in what I think of as the "Cuban style." Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers is a typical example. That extreme waggle of the bat gives you great wrist snap, but as you might expect, it's hard on the wrists. 

    • glunn and Original Whizzinator like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 24 2018 08:29 AM

So who's the 2B next year? Let's assume that we can't get Machado and go with a Machado at SS, Polanco at 2B combination. Ironically, the choice may very well come down to 3 guys we all should know pretty well, Escobar, Dozier and Forsythe. You look at the list of availble middle infield free agents and there is NOBODY else.Even with that, here's my rank ordering:

 

1. Machado SS, Polanco 2B (pipe dream, but a guy can dream, right?).

2. Starlin Castro - trade with Miami, give them one of the AAA starters not named Romero or Thorpe. Yes, I would give up Gonsalves, Stewart or Littel, etc. and would throw in Gordon to give up a lesser pitcher. 

3. Eduardo Escobar - ideally would like him in a 1B/3B/Dh cluster iwth Sano and Mauer, Austin as the 4th wheel, and at 2b...

4. Logan Forsythe

5. Brian Dozier - only if #1-4 fail. 

 

What say you?

 

 

So who's the 2B next year? Let's assume that we can't get Machado and go with a Machado at SS, Polanco at 2B combination. Ironically, the choice may very well come down to 3 guys we all should know pretty well, Escobar, Dozier and Forsythe. You look at the list of availble middle infield free agents and there is NOBODY else.Even with that, here's my rank ordering:

 

1. Machado SS, Polanco 2B (pipe dream, but a guy can dream, right?).

2. Starlin Castro - trade with Miami, give them one of the AAA starters not named Romero or Thorpe. Yes, I would give up Gonsalves, Stewart or Littel, etc. and would throw in Gordon to give up a lesser pitcher. 

3. Eduardo Escobar - ideally would like him in a 1B/3B/Dh cluster iwth Sano and Mauer, Austin as the 4th wheel, and at 2b...

4. Logan Forsythe

5. Brian Dozier - only if #1-4 fail. 

 

What say you?

My opinion differs here, as I think there are a lot of reasonable middle-infield FA options available this upcoming offseason. Players I would include in the Escobar/Forsythe/Dozier bucket:

Asdrubal Cabrera

DJ LeMahieu

Jed Lowrie

Daniel Descalso

Jose Iglesias

Jordy Mercer

    • blindeke and Minny505 like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 24 2018 09:51 AM

I'll give you LeMahieu. I'd forgotten about him and would rank him above Forsythe/Dozier but below Castro.Mercer is OK but frankly less valuable than Forsythe or Dozier, IMHO. I have no interest in the rest. Cabrera is 33 and can't field or really hit much, Lowrie is 35, Descalso is almost 33 and a long term guy in Arizona unlikely to leave, and Iglesias is having his best year ever and still barely hits enough to start for a lousy team.  

 

I'd be happy with LeMahieu instead of Forsythe or Dozier and could live with Mercer if they can't make the other options happen. The rest of those guys aren't a good fit for this team. 

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Winston Smith
Aug 24 2018 09:51 AM

I hope they go after Iglesias to play short and move Polanco to 2B. He is a better fielder and hits ok and he likely won't be real expensive. Plus he's much younger then Forsythe.

    • markos likes this

Forsythe has an impressive run going, with an .850 OPS in August.

 

Has Forsythe ever done this before? Yes.

Months with 1.000+ OPS: 1 (2016)

.900 - 1.000 OPS: 2 (last time in 2016)

.800 - .900 OPS: 4 (not including current month, last time in 2016)

.700 - .800 OPS: 12 (last time in 2017)

.600 - .700 OPS: 10 (last time in 2018)

Under .600 OPS: 14 (last time in 2018)

 

He's pretty bottom heavy if you look at this way and the trend is downward. Other ways to slice it:

 

Productive months, including this month (OPS .700+): 19

Unproductive months: (OPS .700-): 24

 

Productive months in past 2 years/3 years (including current month): 4/7

Unproductive months in past 2 years/3 years: 7/10

 

Ideally a "productive month" would be more like a .725 OPS or higher, but I'm not going to slice the data again, .700 is close enough for a discussion board.

 

Verdict: Forsythe can be good from time to time but overall he is a net negative. His SO/W ratio is terrible so he should not work from the bench, as the Dodgers have learned. He peaked 3 years ago right at age 28 as would be expected. Trade if possible, do not offer contract for next year. As he is hot right now he could be useful to a contender looking for a short-term infielder, but on the Twins he is just a placeholder.

"Small sample size" is a cliche. Luckily we have a huge sample with Forsythe and we can dismiss the small sample from his time in a Twins uniform.

    • scottz, Vanimal46 and Original Whizzinator like this

I'll give you LeMahieu. I'd forgotten about him and would rank him above Forsythe/Dozier but below Castro. Mercer is OK but frankly less valuable than Forsythe or Dozier, IMHO. I have no interest in the rest. Cabrera is 33 and can't field or really hit much, Lowrie is 35, Descalso is almost 33


Why do you care about age that much, to completely dismiss Lowrie? If it's for a 1 or maybe 2 year deal, does it really matter? All else being equal, sure you prefer the younger player, but all else is certainly not equal here. Forsythe will be in his age 32 season, coming off a 78 wRC+, compared to Lowrie in his age 35 season, coming off a 128 wRC+.
    • markos and Original Whizzinator like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Aug 24 2018 11:12 AM

Why don't we just put Rosario at 2B, since no one in this article, nor in this thread, has mentioned fielding. Not one word about fielding. Therefore I can only conclude fieldingmust not be important at 2B...so just slide Rosie to 2B, where he has some experience (not that it matters apparently) and bring up Kirilloff to play LF.

    • weitz41 likes this
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Parker Hageman
Aug 24 2018 11:13 AM

Forsythe has an impressive run going, with an .850 OPS in August.

 

Has Forsythe ever done this before? Yes.

 

 

While I can see your overall point but this is a bit of a flawed evaluation exercise.

 

If we just look at 2015-2016, when Forsythe was swinging with more intent, those categories shift slightly. 

 

Months with 1.000+ OPS: 1 

.900 - 1.000 OPS: 1

.800 - .900 OPS: 4

.700 - .800 OPS:3

.600 - .700 OPS: 1

Under .600 OPS: 2 (and one of those months includes just 7 games)

 

That's a valuable player. 

 

It's certainly bottom heavy when you factor in the last two years (this year especially) and changing his swing. This year he's had shoulder issues and hasn't played regularly -- which has to play a role. 

 

Personally, I think his current month's OPS is overrated (there's a high amount of BABIP gods smiling down on him) but, going forward, if someone can get in his ear about returning to his previous swing then you might have something. He's going to be very affordable and has potential to post 2015-2016 type numbers.

 

Frankly, I don't think he can do it at Target Field (the right field configuration makes it difficult of opposite field home runs) but he's got rebound potential. 

    • glunn likes this

 

While I can see your overall point but this is a bit of a flawed evaluation exercise.

 

If we just look at 2015-2016, when Forsythe was swinging with more intent, those categories shift slightly. 

 

Months with 1.000+ OPS: 1 

.900 - 1.000 OPS: 1

.800 - .900 OPS: 4

.700 - .800 OPS:3

.600 - .700 OPS: 1

Under .600 OPS: 2 (and one of those months includes just 7 games)

 

That's a valuable player. 

 

It's certainly bottom heavy when you factor in the last two years (this year especially) and changing his swing. This year he's had shoulder issues and hasn't played regularly -- which has to play a role. 

 

Personally, I think his current month's OPS is overrated (there's a high amount of BABIP gods smiling down on him) but, going forward, if someone can get in his ear about returning to his previous swing then you might have something. He's going to be very affordable and has potential to post 2015-2016 type numbers.

 

Frankly, I don't think he can do it at Target Field (the right field configuration makes it difficult of opposite field home runs) but he's got rebound potential. 

 

That's three years ago.

 

Are you really saying he can do what he did at age 28 when he is 32?

    • Vanimal46 and Original Whizzinator like this
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Parker Hageman
Aug 24 2018 11:41 AM

 

That's three years ago.

 

Are you really saying he can do what he did at age 28 when he is 32?

 

Yes and no. I'm saying he's capable of doing more. 

Daniel Murphy, who is currently on rental to the Cubs.

Murphy, a veteran, is no stranger to October baseball. He has hit eight home runs in 24 postseason games. In 2015, he became the first player in MLB history to homer in six consecutive playoff contests.

Murphy, a three-time All-Star, will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year.

Murphy is your placeholder until Royce or someone steps up.

 

Daniel Murphy, who is currently on rental to the Cubs

I don't think he will ever play 2B again full time. He might be okay at 1B/DH, but he was never very good defensively, and now he's been dealing with knee issues. 

 

All that said, depending on where the Twins end up with Mauer/Sano/etc next year, I could see a scenario where he makes sense on a 1-year deal.

I don't think he will ever play 2B again full time. He might be okay at 1B/DH, but he was never very good defensively, and now he's been dealing with knee issues.

All that said, depending on where the Twins end up with Mauer/Sano/etc next year, I could see a scenario where he makes sense on a 1-year deal.

—-

Murphy has been playing 2B all week for the Cubs and, before that, with the Nats.

You are right that he had knee surgery that held him out for much of the season, but the Nats and Cubs have faith is his 2B defense. Cubs have him batting lead-off.

And, we might get him at a discount.
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Winston Smith
Aug 24 2018 01:00 PM

Polanco is not a good fielding SS so move him to 2B and sign and good fielding SS.

    • Carole Keller likes this
Also neil walker, and kinsler will be fa too. Not sure about kipnis. But i know there will be lots of options available to play 2b.
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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 24 2018 02:45 PM

 

Why do you care about age that much, to completely dismiss Lowrie? If it's for a 1 or maybe 2 year deal, does it really matter? All else being equal, sure you prefer the younger player, but all else is certainly not equal here. Forsythe will be in his age 32 season, coming off a 78 wRC+, compared to Lowrie in his age 35 season, coming off a 128 wRC+.

You have to factor in age because recent experience shows us that players tend to fall of the cliff quickly after age 33 or 34 now that steriods and greenies are less prevalent. Lowrie has been good the last 2 years, mediocre before that. Plus, why would he leave Oakland now that they're a playoff team? Also, at his age he's clearly only a 1 or 2 year guy transitioning to ... well, who, exactly?Gordon hasn't shown that eh can handle AAA.We can't really project him as ready in 2020 or even 2021 given his AAA performance to date so we may be looking at a need of more than just one year. I just think a 35 year old is the wrong move.Castro is a long term play and Forsythe and Dozier could go longer than one year if necessary. 

I'd like to see him resigned at a reasonable wage.1 year with an option. With Gordon taking his lumps in AAA. another year in Rochester may be what's best for both him and the Twins. Buxton I believe has had at least a year wasted because of the rush to bring him up. I don't want to see that happen to what could be an outstanding infielder. He's still only 22 years old. I realize we all want an instant fix at 2nd base but I don't think overwhelming Gordon with expectations or comparisons to Dozier is fair or wise. Let the young man get there on merit not projections.. 

    • Aerodeliria likes this

You have to factor in age because recent experience shows us that players tend to fall of the cliff quickly after age 33 or 34 now that steriods and greenies are less prevalent.


So instead you want to sign a 32 year old who has already shown signs of falling off a cliff?

Players don't all age the same. Again, if all else was equal, sure I take the 32 year old over the 35 year old. But all else isn't equal here. Just from their current performance levels, you could apply a steeper aging curve to Lowrie and he could still out-perform Forsythe next year.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

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