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Front Page: Who is the Twins Team MVP?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:04 AM
2019 has been a bit of a Hollywood season for the Minnesota Twins. After finishing 2018 with a record below .500, and losing a player who...
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VOTE NOW: Team captain nominations

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:04 AM
Surprised to discover that the Twins have not had a team captain since Harmon Killebrew. Leadership counts when a team is playing for the...
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Front Page: Twins Game Recap (9/15): Bad Defense Costs Tw...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:04 AM
The Twins lost the series finale to the Indians 7-5 after taking both games of the doubleheader the day before. Leaving Cleveland with a...
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Front Page: Will Minnesota Get Raided This Off-Season?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:39 AM
It can’t be argued that Minnesota is having one of their best seasons in the Target Field era. Rocco Baldelli and his coaching staff have...
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Are we done with Gibson? Once and for all

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:55 PM
I'm hoping this is one of last times we see Gibson. He has had one good year and every other year has been above 4 ERA. He actually broke...
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3 Unexpected Players the Twins Have Been Able to Rely Upon

The Twins have needed a lot to go right for them in order to hold the lead in the AL Central. For every playoff team, that includes getting production from unexpected players. The Twins have had many notable players help them win this season, but I will be highlighting three players who have dramatically out-performed expectations coming in to 2019 to help put the Twins in the spot they are in today.
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Duffey: 3.07 ERA, 29.6 K%, 1.15 WHIP, .211 AVG

As you all probably know, the Twins bullpen has been the main area of concern all season with guys like Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejia (I could do this all day), and many more competing for high leverage spots behind Taylor Rogers. Only one guy has been able to firmly hold his spot and that has been Tyler Duffey.

Duffey entered his third season in a relief role in 2019 and something finally clicked for him. The last two seasons were about as bad as could be for him, as he could never take that final step. His career as a reliever had a rough start with him having a 4.94 ERA in 2017 and a 7.43 ERA in 2018. There definitely were some changes made this season, but the most notable has been the large increase in his fastball usage from 36% to 51% in just one season. He also dropped the changeup and sinker and throws the curveball as his only secondary pitch.

His value to the team is a bit under-appreciated because of all the hate the bullpen has received, but Tyler Duffey had quietly helped stabilize it until the trade deadline reinforcements showed up. Among all AL relievers he ranks 19th in K%, 25th in ERA, and 23rd in opponent AVG. He is currently the Twins fourth reliever on the depth chart, so that shows just how deep this bullpen has become.

Mitch Garver: .263/.343/.597 (.940), 139 wRC+, 23 HR

The third surprising performance comes from catcher Mitch Garver, and his breakout has been equally impressive, if not more so, than the other two on this list. After ending last season with a lot of criticism about his defense not being good enough to be a major league starting catcher, Mitch set out with a mission and came back improved in the defensive aspect of the game by notably dropping his catching ERA from 4.60 to 3.82, along with putting up some elite offensive numbers to go with it.

The season began with Castro as the number one catcher and Garver as the backup, but Garver has blown away every single projection or expectation by becoming one of the premiere hitting catchers in baseball. Among MLB catchers, he ranks second in home runs (23), first in OPS (.937), and first in wRC+ (138). With Castro mashing against right-handed pitchers, the Twins have the best catching platoon in all of baseball.

Mitch Garver is looking like the catcher of the future for the Twins, and there were some arguments made that he should have been in the All-Star Game this season. If he continues to hit like he currently is, there will be a lot more opportunities for him to lead AL catchers in the All-Star Game.

Luis Arraez: .348/.416/.456 (.872), 133 wRC+, 1.50 BB/K

I’m sure you’re all well aware of rookie sensation Luis Arraez by now. He could even be in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award. Since being called up in the middle of role May, he has done nothing but get hits in whatever situation he is put in. He is well known around baseball for his outstanding walk against Edwin Diaz after coming into the game down two strikes in the count. He has one of the most professional approaches you will see at the plate.

Luis Arraez’s impact came at the perfect time for the Twins, as Opening Day second baseman Jonathan Schoop has fallen into a huge slump since June. Arraez has performed better than anyone could have expected and to see him filling the everyday second base in August is still surprising. To put his impact into one number, his Win Probability Added (WPA) is already third among Twins hitters at 1.61 despite him missing a couple of months.

So can he win the Rookie of the Year Award? Among all AL rookies, Arraez is first in AVG, first in OBP, fifth in SLG and second in OPS. The Twins pulled a hidden gem out of the minor leagues this season and he was ranked down at 22 in the Twins Daily top 30 prospects to open the season. For a 22-year-old in the middle of a pennant race, his performance has been nearly perfect so far and his approach at the plate looks like he has been here for ten years already.

The way he walks up to the box, scans the field, and then pokes a single wherever the defenders aren’t standing is a rare skill that people who say “I’m tired of all these home runs! Where did the sacrifice bunt and hit-and-run play go?” really like to watch.

Overall, there have been many players to step up this season like Ehire Adrianza, Devin Smeltzer, Michael Pineda and more but I tried picking the three that had the largest impact while having low expectations coming into the season. Every playoff team has to rely on some unexpected key players in order to win and this year’s Minnesota Twins team has plenty.

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30 Comments

Can’t argue with the list.

I’m not sure he’s any more unexpected than the theee mentioned, but Sano May have a place here. A large portion of the fan base had written the guy off. But, he’s been our best hitter behind Cruz for going on two-three months now. He’s provided some monster clutch ABs (the most exciting against the Yankees for naught, but still amazing). He’s working deep into the count and punishing mistakes. Without his re-emergence, thus team likely wouldn’t be in first place right now.
    • Tibs, Minny505, Original Whizzinator and 3 others like this
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Cooper Carlson
Aug 21 2019 09:16 PM

Defin

 

Can’t argue with the list.

I’m not sure he’s any more unexpected than the theee mentioned, but Sano May have a place here. A large portion of the fan base had written the guy off. But, he’s been our best hitter behind Cruz for going on two-three months now. He’s provided some monster clutch ABs (the most exciting against the Yankees for naught, but still amazing). He’s working deep into the count and punishing mistakes. Without his re-emergence, thus team likely wouldn’t be in first place right now.

Definitely agree. I would have put him on here if the list was around five or six but there were a lot of people including myself who expected Sano to be quite productive. Maybe not as good as he has been, but still not a huge surprise to a lot of people.

    • dbminn and Minny505 like this
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twinssporto
Aug 21 2019 09:24 PM

I'd also add Buxton and Sano. Both had horrible seasons last year but have come through beautifully. A number of us had written them off (Sano for me) but very impressive when they are on the field.

    • DannySD likes this

Good picks :)

    • Cooper Carlson likes this
Keplers power surge is a big surprise for me also. But the biggest surprise is that third comes before second? :) :) :)
    • USAFChief, DocBauer and TheRealCupOfJoe like this
Biggest unexpected impact player this year? The Twins training and physio staff!! With the exception of Dyson, who had a preexisting issue and honestly we should have gotten a discount on him, the days seem to be gone where guys would go down for some benign issue, disclose that they’ve been sore for a long time and need a month or two to recover. Actually, I think that’s why everyone got upset when Dyson showed up as, apparently, damaged goods using the same language that Twins players previously had used to justify why they wouldn’t tell coaches about their injuries; we just aren’t seeing that kind of nonsense this year! Sure, the boys have had their issues (I won’t mention a certain CF, as that’s sure to start a war) and sometimes it’s taken a little longer to come back from an injury, but by and large problems have been dealt with in a pro-active way with a long-term outlook in mind.
Way to go unsung heroes!
    • Minny505, DannySD, Nine of twelve and 1 other like this
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yarnivek1972
Aug 22 2019 06:49 AM

I'd also add Buxton and Sano. Both had horrible seasons last year but have come through beautifully. A number of us had written them off (Sano for me) but very impressive when they are on the field.


Hard to “rely” on someone not in the lineup more than 1/4 of the season. Which will be the case for Sano and Buxton by the end of the year.
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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 22 2019 09:11 AM

The biggest surprise for me is Duffy. I thought he was toast, soon to be on the organizational shuttle, then released, and a nomad going from org to org.Boy was I wrong. I guess he's a good reminder for all do us that guys take time to develop, some more than others. You can't give up on them too early when they fail initially or have initial success and then failure. . 

    • DocBauer and Platoon like this

Surprises this year include:

Harper (no one expected anything from a 30 year old rookie who was in AA the previous year)

Duffy (no one expected anything)

Arraez (no one expected .350 AVE)

Sano (no one expected .900 OPS)

Castro (no one expected .800 OPS)

Garver (no one expected .900+ OPS)

Kepler (no one expected 40 HR)

Cruz (no one expected 1.000 OPS)

Adrianza (no one expected an .820 OPS)

 

honorable mention Zack Littell (no one expected a 3.60 ERA in half a season of relieving) 

 

I like that this list is long.

    • 70charger, Otwins, DocBauer and 4 others like this
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Battle ur tail off
Aug 22 2019 11:42 AM

 

The biggest surprise for me is Duffy. I thought he was toast, soon to be on the organizational shuttle, then released, and a nomad going from org to org.Boy was I wrong. I guess he's a good reminder for all do us that guys take time to develop, some more than others. You can't give up on them too early when they fail initially or have initial success and then failure. . 

 

You might be right and he has been pretty good this season. That said, I don't want him anywhere near the mound in a playoff game if it is close. Sorry, but I just don't trust him. 

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Nine of twelve
Aug 22 2019 11:46 AM

 

Dyson showed up as, apparently, damaged goods using the same language that Twins players previously had used to justify why they wouldn’t tell coaches about their injuries; we just aren’t seeing that kind of nonsense this year!

The tough-guy approach athletes have traditionally taken is counter-productive. The training and medical staffs should be aware of any and all ailments. These people are highly-trained professionals and their job is to keep players on the field, performing as well as possible. Don't let a minor issue become a major one because it was ignored or hidden. Let them determine what you can play through and what you can't.

    • Minny505 likes this

 

Keplers power surge is a big surprise for me also. But the biggest surprise is that third comes before second? :) :) :)

 

Well Arraez already occupies second* so Garver had to move to third.

 

 

 

 

*base

    • ashbury, DocBauer, Platoon and 1 other like this
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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Aug 22 2019 12:06 PM
I never thought Duffey would ever get it figured out. He looked for all the world like just another twins reliever that was horrible it would never get better. Nice surprise!
Just a side note in regard to the wonderfully surprising Duffy: I thought he had developed a slider on the fly that was also making a huge difference?
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LA VIkes Fan
Aug 22 2019 01:53 PM

 

You might be right and he has been pretty good this season. That said, I don't want him anywhere near the mound in a playoff game if it is close. Sorry, but I just don't trust him. 

I hear you on that. Frankly, I of the same mind on May. Both fine in the right situation, but not with the game on the line.The problem is that Romo, Rogers and Dyson can't handle all of the situations, especially when our starters rarely go even 6 innings against good teams.  

    • Battle ur tail off likes this
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yarnivek1972
Aug 22 2019 02:01 PM
I’m not sure why so many are ready to trust Dyson over Duffey and even May.

Even just since his IL stint, 6 baserunners in 5 IP doesn’t suggest dominance. It suggests serviceable, which is how I would describe Duffey and May.
    • Brandon and Original Whizzinator like this

Fangraphs published an article on Arraez today and it's awesome. I suggest checking it out. Lot's of pretty infographics.

They pointed out that of all players in MLB with 200 PAs, Arraez is 5th(!!!) in OBP. Wow! I did not realize he was in that kind of territory. And he is still sporting more BB than K.

Can we start leading him off please? PLEASE!!??

Fangraphs published an article on Arraez today and it's awesome.

Did FG identify Arraez before he reached the majors, as anyone special? I don't have a lot of patience with bandwagon jumpers, TBH.

    • SQUIRREL and DocBauer like this

 

Did FG identify Arraez before he reached the majors, as anyone special? I don't have a lot of patience with bandwagon jumpers, TBH.

 

Not super high, but higher than most. They ranked him as the number 12 prospect in the Twins system coming into the 2019 season. Not many other outlets even had him in the top 20, including Twins Daily.

 

So, as far as national outlets are concerned, Fangraphs was probably the highest on him. I haven't dug back into it, but I suspect he ranked well on their KOTAH system as a minor leaguer, which would explain why he ranked well in their team prospect rankings.

    • ashbury likes this

Surprises this year include:
Harper (no one expected anything from a 30 year old rookie who was in AA the previous year)
Duffy (no one expected anything)
Arraez (no one expected .350 AVE)
Sano (no one expected .900 OPS)
Castro (no one expected .800 OPS)
Garver (no one expected .900+ OPS)
Kepler (no one expected 40 HR)
Cruz (no one expected 1.000 OPS)
Adrianza (no one expected an .820 OPS)
 
honorable mention Zack Littell (no one expected a 3.60 ERA in half a season of relieving) 
 
I like that this list is long.

The long list is nice, and productive. But so many surprises means so many are possibly over performing their talent level? Regression coming? Or will enough carry forward those improvements. I can see Garver, Sano and Kepler doing so. Some of the others suffer from either very SSS, age, or a longer history of lower outputs than successful ones. Time will tell.
    • 70charger and DocBauer like this
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jorgenswest
Aug 22 2019 06:20 PM
Brandon Warne wrote about Duffey in March or April. Tunneling. Warne offered us a reason to believe. I bought in.

The Twins must have had some belief in him as several others were removed from the roster last winter while he stayed.
    • Sconnie, DocBauer and Original Whizzinator like this

Fangraphs published an article on Arraez today and it's awesome. I suggest checking it out. Lot's of pretty infographics.

They pointed out that of all players in MLB with 200 PAs, Arraez is 5th(!!!) in OBP. Wow! I did not realize he was in that kind of territory. And he is still sporting more BB than K.

Can we start leading him off please? PLEASE!!??

How could you ignore that the article quotes Twins Daily author Mariana Guzman?!

https://blogs.fangra...itting-machine/

http://twinsdaily.co...g-machine-r8003
    • ashbury likes this

 

Can’t argue with the list.

I’m not sure he’s any more unexpected than the theee mentioned, but Sano May have a place here. A large portion of the fan base had written the guy off. But, he’s been our best hitter behind Cruz for going on two-three months now. He’s provided some monster clutch ABs (the most exciting against the Yankees for naught, but still amazing). He’s working deep into the count and punishing mistakes. Without his re-emergence, thus team likely wouldn’t be in first place right nowt

The extraordinary thing about Sano is....He still has the same problems at the plate. He still puts too much waggle into his bat. He still waves at balls low and outside. He still swings under too many pitches.

 

But in each of those aspects, Sano has improved, and the results have been extraordinary. To me this suggests that Sano could get considerably better than he is right now. A little less waggle, and he could be pounding baseballs like a hammer pounds nails. A little more willingness to go oppo late in counts, and he could become a monster oppo homer hitter. A little narrower vertical zone, and he could get even more walks. Best of all, all these things are achievable. If Sano keeps refining his technique, he could reach superstar status. 

    • LA VIkes Fan, DocBauer, Original Whizzinator and 1 other like this

The extraordinary thing about Sano is....He still has the same problems at the plate. He still puts too much waggle into his bat. He still waves at balls low and outside. He still swings under too many pitches.
 
But in each of those aspects, Sano has improved, and the results have been extraordinary. To me this suggests that Sano could get considerably better than he is right now. A little less waggle, and he could be pounding baseballs like a hammer pounds nails. A little more willingness to go oppo late in counts, and he could become a monster oppo homer hitter. A little narrower vertical zone, and he could get even more walks. Best of all, all these things are achievable. If Sano keeps refining his technique, he could reach superstar status.


THIS!

Two seasons ago, Rosario was a 4th OF candidate in some people's opinion. This past off season, some opinions had Kepler as a 4th OF. Other opinions also had Polanco as a future 2B, no doubt, before he made the All Star team as the starting SS. (I am deliberately ignoring nit picking further growth and development for reasons that should be obvious).

And here we are, despite a plethora of expectations and just weird injuries and general "crap" about the history of a 26yo 3B wondering who and what we have. And he is not only producing, but producing at an almost .900 level despite an abbreviated and weird start to his season, coupled with a maddening awefull couple week stretch.

Perspective is important. So is patience. If you don't see what time and patience is offering up now, then I don't know what else to say.

Brandon Warne wrote about Duffey in March or April. Tunneling. Warne offered us a reason to believe. I bought in.
The Twins must have had some belief in him as several others were removed from the roster last winter while he stayed.


Duffy was a closer in college.

Duffy was converted to a SP and tantalized for half a season at the ML level before being exposed.

Duffy was converted back to a RP again.

Duffy showed glimpses, but generally showed he couldn't get the job done. We all thought he was done. But the FO, Rocco, Johnson, saw something beyond options. I ABSOLUTELY get why some don't want to trust Duffy at this point. And except for the absolute cream of the crop, there is volatility for any RP. Even the very best allow a run or two or blow a game or two. It happens.

I would invite anyone and everyone to take a look at the 28yo Duffy's season numbers...IMO about the time most pitchers reach their prime...and then state the Twins don't have something here.

Again, every RP will have a bad day or stretch. But honestly look at what he has done.

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