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Sid: Ryan And Gardenhire Expected To Return For 2015

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:01 PM
According to Sid Hartman (who has many close, personal friends), the Minnesota Twins' general manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhi...
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THE END IS NEAR: Ron Gardenhire Knows About Fangraphs.com

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:00 PM
According to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, Minnesota Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged that the extensive statistical online wareho...
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Jeff Luhnow on bridging the gap between FO and field pers...

More Baseball Today, 11:55 AM
Really interesting readhttp://grantland.com...rics-gets-soft/
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Are you a Vikings fan? We've launched a new site!

Questions About MinnCentric Today, 11:47 AM
In case you haven't noticed links popping up over the past 24 hours, we're expanding into Vikings coverage. The site is live, though we'r...
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Tables in posts

Questions About MinnCentric Today, 11:47 AM
Is there a way to place a table in a post any more?  I can't seem to find that function anymore and since much of my analysis is dat...
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The Store


Early Surprises in the 2014 Season

The fact that the Twins sit at 6-6 after two weeks could be viewed as a surprise in and of itself, given their low expectations and some of the rough patches we've already seen.

Of course, anything can happen over the course of 12 games, and that applies to individual players as well as the team as a whole. Still, the first half of April has been marked by some surprising developments -- from my perspective, at least.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Jason Kubel's Defense

Coming in, my expectation was that Kubel would prove to be a superior option in the field to Josh Willingham and perhaps Oswaldo Arcia. That spoke more to the height of the bar being set than to Kubel's actual defensive prowess.

Not only has Kubel shown in these first few weeks that he's clearly better than both Willingham and Arcia in the corner spots, he's actually looked quite good. He's not fast by any means, but he moves around well out there and generally takes good routes. Plus, his arm is a cannon. I've been impressed by a few of the rockets he's unleashed toward the infield.

During Kubel's previous time in Minnesota, I always felt he was underrated as a defender. Even at 31 and after battling a leg injury, that remains true.

Brian Dozier's Power

Last year Dozier went deep 18 times to lead the team. That was two more home runs than his total in 365 minor-league games. The power outburst was so sudden and stark that it seemed there was no way he'd repeat it this year, even if you assumed he'd continue to be a strong offensive contributor.

Yet, rather than regressing, Dozier has been launching dingers at an even higher rate in this young season. Through 12 games, he has already tallied four long balls. That would extrapolate to 54 homers in a full season, and while he's obviously not going to sustain that rate, it's a promising sign that his increased pop in 2013 was legit.

Trevor Plouffe's Plate Discipline

Attached Image: plouffe.jpg Over the past two seasons, the same primary issue has been apparent in Plouffe's offensive game: lack of pitch recognition. Outside of a few stretches where he was really locked in, the third baseman consistently chased and played into the pitcher's hand. He entered this season with a career 289-to-96 K/BB ratio in 351 MLB games.

When I talked to him in spring training, Plouffe called out pitch recognition as one of his main focuses entering this year, and so far the efforts appear to be paying off. In the first two weeks, he actually has more walks (9) than strikeouts (8), which is a radical and refreshing change. In just 12 games, he has already drawn more than a quarter of last year's walk total (34).

The improved approach hasn't yet resulted in a home run for Plouffe, but he is batting .326 with a .446 on-base percentage, justifying his recent presence in the lineup's No. 3 spot.

Joe Mauer's Strikeouts

Whereas Plouffe has cut down on the whiffs, Mauer continues to veer away from his previous standing as one of the game's foremost contact hitters. Last year he struck out in 17.5 percent of his plate appearances -- a noticeable leap from his career 10.4 percent rate. Early this year, he's striking out in a whopping 24.6 percent of his trips.

For a standard major-league player, that's not an extraordinarily high rate (the league as a whole is at 21 percent) but for a guy like Mauer it is striking, even in a small sample.

I'm sure there are plenty of fans out there who would trade more strikeouts for more power from the franchise's premier player, and perhaps Saturday's impressive three-run blast pulled high over the wall in right-center is an indication we're headed that way.

Mike Pelfrey's Control Problems

Say what you will about Pelfrey's performance last year; at least he was decent at throwing strikes. He didn't issue more than two walks in a game for the first time until May 26th (his 10th start). This year he has done so in each of his first two turns, notching seven walks against six strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work.

Pelfrey is always going to give up a lot of hits, so he simply cannot afford to be handing out a bunch of free passes to further jam up the bases. Obviously it's been hurting him plenty so far.


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