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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:49 PM
Free agency is likely going to be a really slow burn this year, but I still think it's worth having a thread to discuss signings. ...
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Caesar Hernandez a Marwin replacement option

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:08 PM
A contact hitter with speed who has played mostly 2b the past 3seasons but has some experience at 3B and SS. Probably is just a 3B and 2...
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Is Cruz a MUST signing? And what if he doesn't fit?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:08 PM
Let me state I love Cruz and want him back if possible. I not only believe he brings class, experience, knowledge and leadership to the t...
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Blake Snell a trade target or not

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:15 AM
I would personally be happy to offer up Kirilloff and a few other prospects for him!!! What do you guys think he would cost and would you...
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2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook Available NOW!

Twins Minor League Talk 28 Nov 2020
The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook will be now available.By clicking here, you can order the paperback version of the PDF/E-Book...
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Twins Blogosphere


A Decade of Difference from Twins Walkoff Ways

Providing some semblance of the sport last week, Major League Baseball gave us #OpeningDayAtHome. While COVID-19 has thwarted the 2020 season thus far, we were taken down the path of yesteryear. With the Twins and Tigers game 163 epic being shown, it was hard not to be in awe regarding the differences in respect to how the game is now played.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The 2009 squad hit a grand total of 172 round-trippers. Only four guys launched more than 15 on the year, and in the decisive 6-5 walkoff victory just two balls left the park for the home team. One of them came from a traditional slugger in the form of Jason Kubel, while the other was deposited into the very first row of the left field seats by Orlando Cabrera. No, the 2009 Ron Gardenhire club was not a Bomba Squad in any right, and how they played would be seen as a massive outlier today.



In watching the replay of that game, it became increasingly obvious just how much of an extinct skillset guys like those defined as Piranhas encapsulated. Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris, and Alex Casilla are all defined by that mold. Speedy, defense first, light hitting bats were littered throughout that Minnesota lineup. Although bunts weren’t entirely prevalent over the 12 innings played that evening, they were a staple of the season.

The aforementioned Punto dropped down a whopping 13 sac bunts on his own in 2009. Denard Span was on his heels with 12, while Tolbert rounded out the top three reaching double digits with 10. Fast forward to the analytical age, and objectively the launch angle revolution that was 2019, and the decade couldn’t have produced a more opposite result. Last season Minnesota had a grand total of 10 sac bunts, and no one player owned more than two of them.

Obviously, it makes little sense for the likes of Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver, or Nelson Cruz to cede and out in an at bat, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been encouraged in previous seasons. As a guy who’s always been viewed as a bomber, Cruz has a total of just two sac bunts to his credit in more than 6,900 career plate appearances. Sano has never been asked to drop one down in just north of 2,000 trips to the dish.

Being shocked that home run hitters aren’t dropping down bunts is rather unimpressive. Where the trend is positive though comes through in a guy like Jorge Polanco. During his first full big-league season back in 2017 there we seven instances in which he gave up an out. That number dropped to three the next year and was just two in 2019. Obviously, Jorge has grown a substantial amount as a hitter, but the climb to a .773 and eventually an .841 OPS is reflective of a guy that should be swinging the lumber.

If there’s a guy cut from a cloth that early-2000’s Ron Gardenhire would have salivated over, it’s definitely Byron Buxton. Although it’s clear he’s got pop in his bat, the speed profile and slow start would likely have caused him to be utilized differently. Buck’s largest total of sac bunts, five, came in the 2017 season under Paul Molitor. Since then, he’s been asked to drop down outs just three times in the past two campaigns.

The takeaway here seems to be two-fold. One, it’s painfully obvious that there wasn’t a more drastically different set of Twins teams than the two separated by 10 years. The Bomba Squad became synonymous with pulverizing the baseball and beating teams into submission. The 163 group played 44 one-run games and nearly split them down the middle. Two, we can see that the sport has continued to move away from a station-to-station approach. You can effectively advanced bases in a multitude of ways, but by giving up the one finite commodity in the game to do so is a losing proposition.

Thanks to Out of the Park Baseball 21 we're getting a glimpse of the 2019 and 1991 Twins squaring off. It'd be a pretty stark difference to see the style of the 2009 club thrown into the ring as well. Eras change how competition is handled, and it'll be interesting to look back after advancements take place ten years from now.

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3 Comments

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theBOMisthebomb
Apr 01 2020 05:33 AM
After recently watching games from the 1970s and 1980s, it truly looks like a completely different game compared to today. I can do without the strikeouts in abundance and miss the strategy of (yes, bunting) stolen bases, hit and runs, etc. Today's game is exciting and beautiful in its own right as well.
    • DocBauer likes this

Watching the replay of that 2009 game 163, the thing that stuck out to me was that the Twins had nowhere near enough talent to be in that position. Maybe some of the players just had not developed yet but wow. Tolbert? Punto? Harris? And the pitching staff?

I miss situational baseball at times, and feel there is still a place for it in today's game. But agree today's game has it's own beauty.

I really miss the SB aspect of the game. The runner jumping and the catcher exploding out of his crouch for the throw and those brief moments of safe/out are exhilarating.

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