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Front Page: Official Twins Winter Meetings Day 4 Thread

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The big news yesterday was superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon agreed to a deal with the Angels, but we also heard Eddie Rosario’s nam...
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Trade for Josh Hader?

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The article linked below suggests that the Brewers might be willing to trade him to the Yankees for prospects. Hader is a top reliever wh...
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Front Page: The Twins Should be Dealing With the Marlins

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Hot stove season is in full swing and that means rumors are swirling around everywhere. Jon Heyman said the Marlins are looking to acquir...
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Front Page: Let's Talk About Willians Astudillo

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There’s a certain phrase in the Braun family household that gets tossed around often. We (somewhat) affectionately like to call each othe...
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Front Page: Twins Front Office Playing with Patience this...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:58 AM
It’s December 12, the snow is falling in Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Twins contingent is headed home from the Winter Meetings. They br...
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Series Preview: For Whom The Schedule Tolls

The first three-game losing streak of the Twins’ season sets them up for a four-game series against one of the hottest teams in baseball; the Oakland Athletics. The Twins have played some uninspiring ball recently and as the Indians continue to win, the Twins will need to put something together sooner rather than later if they want to continue to hold onto the division crown.
Image courtesy of © Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Brief Overview:

The A’s came into the season fresh off a wild card loss and as usual, had a somewhat quiet off-season that was more shuffling cards than anything. Because they play in the AL West with the Astros, many wrote off a division title as impossible, but they currently are in striking distance of first place and now actually have a better run differential than the Astros (this could change if the Astros blow out the Angels this Wednesday night but you get the point). They are hot and they are ready to play any team in baseball.

What They Do Well:

This is an offense that refuses to strike out as their team K% is the third lowest in baseball at 20.0%. Legendary tweeter, Trevor Plouffe, struck out 20.0% of the time with the Twins for reference. As a whole, their offense is ninth in baseball with a Shannon Stewart wRC+ of 105 that has been a Michael Cuddyer 110 since the beginning of June. So this is an offense that does not strike out easily and will hit well.

They also hold the second-best bullpen fWAR in baseball with a 4.4 mark. This comes from a 3.93 FIP that suggest that everything is fine but a 4.82 xFIP says otherwise. The difference is that xFIP is adjusted for home run per fly ball rate and Oakland’s bullpen’s HR/FB rate is at an astonishing low 9.3% (which is also Scott Baker’s HR/FB %). No other team in baseball has a number lower than 12.2% so either the Oakland relievers have found the secret for not giving up homers (unlikely) or there should be some regression coming in that field (oh, hell yes).

What They Do Not Do Well:

In an era of strikeouts, the Oakland A’s have been hipsters as their starting rotation holds the lowest team K/9 at a hilariously low 6.85 K/9. Freaking Jose Mijares had a higher K/9, what in the world. They also lost their best starter and strikeout artist in Frankie Montas thanks to an 80-game PED suspension, so expect their starting pitchers to be a rarely used frozen yogurt card and not punch out much. This also comes with the second lowest starting rotation BABIP and a FIP higher than their ERA, so there could be some regression ready for the Twins offense to take advantage of.

That’s actually pretty much it, their rotation is a bit sketchy but they have a great offense and a (currently) pretty damn good bullpen, a well-rounded team indeed.

Individuals Of Note:

The best star who is not talked about enough, Matt Chapman, is on his way to having another elite season. Dating back to the beginning of 2018, only one 3rd baseman has more fWAR (Alex Bregman) and he ranks fifth in all of baseball with a 10.7 mark. This year, he has improved even more as he has struck out less, walked more, hit for a higher average, raised his OBP, and is hitting for a higher slugging %. Oh, and he still has elite defense, good lord what a player.

Marcus Semien has quietly been one of the best shortstops in all of baseball this year as his 3.5 fWAR mark is only behind Xander Bogaerts for all full-time shortstops in baseball. Much like Chapman, Semien has improved in basically every facet of his offensive game while also putting up great defensive numbers, making the left side of Oakland’s infield pretty good.

Now, you know there is a giant elephant in the room as I move to the pitching side of things. I don’t want to talk about it as much as you don’t want to read about it but they pay me the big bucks here at Twins Daily to deliver what needs to be heard. So with a heavy heart, I must talk about the fact that Liam “literally Liam Hendriks” Hendriks is having a great season where he participated in the All-Star game. He is second in all of baseball in reliever fWAR and his average fastball velocity is 95.8 (it never was above 92 for the Twins). He has been the best reliever in the Oakland pen which can only prove that we all know nothing and are frauds (but you already knew this).

If you held a gun to my head and asked me to name three or more starters from the A’s, well first I would wonder why you are demanding such a specific thing from me, but ultimately I would probably accidentally say “Mark Mulder” and then not survive. So to aid you, the reader, in case you find yourself in this situation, let’s get to know Chris Bassitt. Bassitt is currently throwing harder than ever with an average fastball velo of 93.4 MPH and the result has been almost a full jump in K/9 (7.74 in 2018, 8.71 in 2019). His 3.98 ERA reflects his other positive movements but his FIP of 4.42 does suggest some regression. Bassitt is set to start one of the games this series so you can use this knowledge when he is on the mound.

Recent History:

The Twins played a three-game series in Oakland starting on July 2 and lost two of three. The lone win came in extra innings and Oakland solidly outplayed them then.

Recent Trajectories:

The Twins are just 6-8 over their last five series while the A’s are 12-3 over their last five series.

Ending Thoughts:

The Twins haven’t played well recently which I’m going to assume is something that everyone here knows, while the A’s have been absolutely on fire. Throw in the recent hot streak from the Indians, and this now becomes an important and difficult series for the Twins. They’ll need a split at the very worst to tread water and anything worse will put them in immediate danger of dropping out of first. I predict that they will split the series and I have been a perfect 4-for-4 in my predictions so far so you can take this to the bank.

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19 Comments

We had better double check our seat belts because could be rough riding ahead. Twins have had all decent starting pitching and overall pitching until yesterday but offense is collectively struggling. I don't understand why Rocco seems to believe that starters can only go 5 and after that the leash is about 1 inch long. Thank goodness Twins took 2 of 3 against the Indians or they would basically be tied now. Gibson up again tonight and Twins need to get him an early lead. Early second half gut check time. Should be interesting.

    • mikelink45, Dave The Dastardly and Richard Swerdlick like this

Very well done. I liked the punch card bit the most.

    • Sconnie and DannySD like this
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MMMordabito
Jul 18 2019 08:05 AM

I like theses series previews.Thanks for doing them.

 

One suggestion:Can you add the expected pitching matchups?I realize that it may be TBD a lot, but it's good info.

 

Thanks again!

 

    • Dantes929, mikelink45, Sconnie and 1 other like this
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MMMordabito
Jul 18 2019 08:08 AM

 

Gibson up again tonight and Twins need to get him an early lead. Early second half gut check time. Should be interesting.

 

I don't feel good about this matchup today.Nibbling Gibson plays right into the strength of Oakland: Patience.

    • JW24 likes this

Matt Chapman left yesterdays game with an ankle injury. Availability is unknown.

I’m less worried about the schedule than I am about the Twins playing better. It’s been about a month of sloppy baseball and it seems to be getting worse.
    • USAFChief, PDX Twin, KidBro and 1 other like this

So what is the confidence level of the fans?I suspect Twin Tension is rampant.When do we get the turtle back?We need him as a good luck charm.  

 

Are the A's once again about to teach baseball a lesson.After everyone read Moneyball the advantage was completely over.The other teams all knew what they were doing and now the teams have as many on their statistical team as they do on the field, but are there new lessons to learn to offset those advantages - is there an advantage when everyone is doing the same thing?

 

The A's are 5th in the league in runs, but only 22 behind the Twins, which equals two of our blow out games.They are third in home runs - the Twins are first.The difference is 16.In OPS Minnesota leads the league with 828 and Oakland is 6th with 774 - a big difference.The As are putting the ball in play with the 13th most Ks by batters, but the Twins are 12th so the difference is only 22.Thanks to Arraez and Astudillo for putting the ball in play.

 

However, the drive to not strike out is really an interesting new part of the As strategy and I think that might be the new trend.How many times do we praise an Arraez AB and anguish over a Sano K?  

 

Oakland is 8th in walks 324 and Minnesota is 11th with 285 that is a whopping 39 difference.Strike out less, walk more sounds like a good strategy. Oakland has 1093 ground balls hit by their batters and are 7th in the league.Minnesota is 13th with 979.So how are we swinging the bats - for HRs of course.We lead the league in fly balls hit - 1626.Oakland is 3rd - 1527.  

 

So what does that say about the Oakland offense?We have 99 more HRs but with their commitment to not strikeout and to walk they are still third just 22 HRs less than us.Hits of any kind put pressure on the opposing pitcher, on base by walk is almost as good as a hit.  

 

Despite their no name pitching rotation (outside of MN how many could name our rotation?) their era is just 0.03 behind us.They have figured out the BP like KC did during their championship seasons.  

 

I will not analyze other pitching stats or fielding except to end on this point - when I look at the difference between runs allowed and ER - Oakland has a 24 run difference, Minnesota has 48.I consider that as good an indicator of fielding influence as anything and our fielding has really gotten sloppy. 

 

So pull it together Twins - we need this series.

    • MMMordabito likes this
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yarnivek1972
Jul 18 2019 08:46 AM

So what is the confidence level of the fans? I suspect Twin Tension is rampant. When do we get the turtle back? We need him as a good luck charm.

Are the A's once again about to teach baseball a lesson. After everyone read Moneyball the advantage was completely over. The other teams all knew what they were doing and now the teams have as many on their statistical team as they do on the field, but are there new lessons to learn to offset those advantages - is there an advantage when everyone is doing the same thing?

The A's are 5th in the league in runs, but only 22 behind the Twins, which equals two of our blow out games. They are third in home runs - the Twins are first. The difference is 16. In OPS Minnesota leads the league with 828 and Oakland is 6th with 774 - a big difference. The As are putting the ball in play with the 13th most Ks by batters, but the Twins are 12th so the difference is only 22. Thanks to Arraez and Astudillo for putting the ball in play.

However, the drive to not strike out is really an interesting new part of the As strategy and I think that might be the new trend. How many times do we praise an Arraez AB and anguish over a Sano K?

Oakland is 8th in walks 324 and Minnesota is 11th with 285 that is a whopping 39 difference. Strike out less, walk more sounds like a good strategy. Oakland has 1093 ground balls hit by their batters and are 7th in the league. Minnesota is 13th with 979. So how are we swinging the bats - for HRs of course. We lead the league in fly balls hit - 1626. Oakland is 3rd - 1527.

So what does that say about the Oakland offense? We have 99 more HRs but with their commitment to not strikeout and to walk they are still third just 22 HRs less than us. Hits of any kind put pressure on the opposing pitcher, on base by walk is almost as good as a hit.

Despite their no name pitching rotation (outside of MN how many could name our rotation?) their era is just 0.03 behind us. They have figured out the BP like KC did during their championship seasons.

I will not analyze other pitching stats or fielding except to end on this point - when I look at the difference between runs allowed and ER - Oakland has a 24 run difference, Minnesota has 48. I consider that as good an indicator of fielding influence as anything and our fielding has really gotten sloppy.

So pull it together Twins - we need this series.


Unless I am misreading stats, the Twins have 16 more HR than the Athletics.

 

Very well done. I liked the punch card bit the most.

Same here.  But to clarify, is this like a punch card of the customer loyalty type--buy 12, get the 13th free?  And then it would follow that Matt does not frequent the ol' Froyo Shop that much?  Regardless, excellent entertaining writing.

 

As a Twins fan, I relate to your statement about Chapman.  There are probably a lot of moneyballish things that account for the A's success--like Liam Hendriks, but having a true superstar at third certainly helps, even though it may not fit the popular narrative.

 

Unless I am misreading stats, the Twins have 16 more HR than the Athletics.

No question about - I said that in my third paragraph.But the point is that the As who are third in the league in HRs have also concentrated on other points of hitting that has given them the ability to challenge in the West. 

 http://www.espn.com/...Runs/order/true

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yarnivek1972
Jul 18 2019 10:40 AM

No question about - I said that in my third paragraph. But the point is that the As who are third in the league in HRs have also concentrated on other points of hitting that has given them the ability to challenge in the West.
http://www.espn.com/...Runs/order/true


Then apparently I’m misreading your post. In the segment I highlighted it says in different spots that the Twins have 99 and 22 more HRs than the A’s.

I just cringe these days when Sano comes to the plate. Sano and Buxton (out, of course) are such key players, but seem to be outplayed (at least offensively) by everyone else on the team. The ability of the team to manufacture runs is also questionable. Stopping at second rather than pushing towards third. Of course, doesn't matter if a player after strikes out rather than put a ball in play.

 

You can speak ill of the starters. Buit besides Taylor Rogers, you don't know what to expect from any otehr bullpen arm (although Littell has been a great spark). Was hoping Trevor May had turned the corner.

 

The only plus about the next 7 games is that the Indians will have a similar series later.

 

 

    • MMMordabito likes this

I like theses series previews.Thanks for doing them.
 
One suggestion:Can you add the expected pitching matchups?I realize that it may be TBD a lot, but it's good info.
 
Thanks again!


Yeah we’ve talked about adding this to the preview, sometimes it can get difficult because the matchups aren’t fully known (and teams like the Rays like to be annoying) but if people want it then we could add it.
    • Dantes929 and MMMordabito like this

Same here.  But to clarify, is this like a punch card of the customer loyalty type--buy 12, get the 13th free?  And then it would follow that Matt does not frequent the ol' Froyo Shop that much?  Regardless, excellent entertaining writing.
 
As a Twins fan, I relate to your statement about Chapman.  There are probably a lot of moneyballish things that account for the A's success--like Liam Hendriks, but having a true superstar at third certainly helps, even though it may not fit the popular narrative.


Can’t say that I frequent the frozen yogurt shop too much, Taco Bell is a different story however.
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Cooper Carlson
Jul 18 2019 11:27 AM

This will be your first prediction loss. The Twins are taking 3 of 4. 

This is a must-have series.

Give this one away with awful defense and pitch selection and we could be out of a playoff spot all together in short order. It’s insane that this is where we are. What an epic collapse (yes playing .500 ball for two months is collapsing for a team once in the hunt for the best record in baseball).
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MMMordabito
Jul 18 2019 11:45 AM

 

You can speak ill of the starters. Buit besides Taylor Rogers, you don't know what to expect from any otehr bullpen arm (although Littell has been a great spark). Was hoping Trevor May had turned the corner.

 

I very much agree with this take.I'm usually fairly calm when Harper goes in as well, although I do think he does have to be used in the correct situations.He's not a high pressure setup guy or anything.If he's deployed as a change-of-look/pace fireman or sent out to get an inning or inning+ worth of outs against a group of hitters that maybe don't fair as well against the off-speed, he can be effective in any game.

 

One of May, Duffey or Magill is OK for me as the #7 or 8 guy, because they do have big league stuff.I just find myself asking the TV too many times, "Why did you throw that there?" with those three.None of them ever looks comfortable either.  

 

I hope they pass on offering Parker arbitration.I just don't see any upside.  

 

Littell has been great in every game except one.He walks a bit more and Ks a bit less than I'd like, but he has been able to induce the GIDP at decent rate.Definitely need a larger body of work before anointing him as a fix.

 

So, yeah, they need three guys.I hope they trade for at least one who is controllable past this year.Internally, I'd like to see more Poppen in a shorter role and then Stashak. I'm not sure if this is the season for looking at both though.

 

So what is the confidence level of the fans?I suspect Twin Tension is rampant.When do we get the turtle back?We need him as a good luck charm.  

 

Are the A's once again about to teach baseball a lesson.After everyone read Moneyball the advantage was completely over.The other teams all knew what they were doing and now the teams have as many on their statistical team as they do on the field, but are there new lessons to learn to offset those advantages - is there an advantage when everyone is doing the same thing?

 

 

 

 

 

Despite their no name pitching rotation (outside of MN how many could name our rotation?) their era is just 0.03 behind us.They have figured out the BP like KC did during their championship seasons.  

 

I will not analyze other pitching stats or fielding except to end on this point - when I look at the difference between runs allowed and ER - Oakland has a 24 run difference, Minnesota has 48.I consider that as good an indicator of fielding influence as anything and our fielding has really gotten sloppy. 

 

So pull it together Twins - we need this series.

I believe one year the Jays had 100 more HRs than the Twins but the Twins still scored more runs. I have always liked OBP. It has seemed at least as predictive of runs scored as any other stat.Teams win championships in many variety of ways. Speed, average, power, OBP, starting pitching, relief pitching, defense. I can point to many WS champions and point out how they were weak in some areas but strong in others.The one word that never seemed to apply was sloppy and I agree.The Twins have been sloppy.In the field, running the bases, wild pitches, decision making, etc. Everything that I do not associate with talent but rather skill, focus and discipline.They have just not played well as of late. Does not mean they cannot play well going forward.. 

 

Then apparently I’m misreading your post. In the segment I highlighted it says in different spots that the Twins have 99 and 22 more HRs than the A’s.

You are right - I have the correct count in the top and somehow made a egregious error, but I can no longer edit it.Thanks for catching it. 


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