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Article: Twins Trade Rumors Roundup: Teams Pondering Selling

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:34 PM
The rumor mill has been pretty dry lately, so Bob Nightengale’s recent story with trade talk rumors was a tall glass of water. The revela...
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Article: Internal Relief Help Could Provide Second-Half U...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:34 PM
Minnesota is likely looking to add pitching to their roster before the July 31st trade deadline. While multiple moves could be made in th...
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Matt Magill DFAd

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:33 PM
The Minnesota Twins just announced that RH RP Matt Magill has been DFAd. Kohl Stewart recalled, likely in a new role.    
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Jim Pohlad with Sid - is it really not about the money?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:33 PM
http://www.startribu...2/?refresh=true   It's a good read, and kind of a relief that if a newspaper with an editorial staff and a se...
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Twins stuff from around the Web (Fangraphs, Twitter, Athl...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:28 PM
Per request.....new thread! this seems like a really odd post to start with, which makes sense for a thread about the Twins and Internet....
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The 5 Biggest Twins Surprises at the All-Star Break

Needless to say, the Twins have – in general – been a huge surprise this year. Even the most starry-eyed optimist could not have predicted in March that at the All-Star break, they'd be ahead in the division by 5 1/2 games, on pace to win 102 and shatter the MLB home run record.

Within this shocking success, there have been several unexpected developments. Here are my picks for the five biggest (good) surprises so far in 2019.
Image courtesy of Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
1. Twins catchers lead the American League in OPS... by a mile.

Minnesota's backstop position, fueled primarily by the production of Mitch Garver and Jason Castro, has yielded a .913 OPS through 89 games. That's 41 points higher than second-place Seattle, and 111 higher than the third-place White Sox. Twins catchers lead all counterparts with 24 home runs.

This, to me, is the runaway winner for most surprising twist of the 2019 campaign. Back in the spring we were viewing this unit as a relative question mark, with Garver trying to back up a solid (concussion-punctuated) rookie campaign, and Castro coming off major knee surgery at 31. It's almost unfortunate that Castro's remarkably resurgent season – his current .860 OPS exceeds his previous career-best of .835, set when he was a 26-year-old All-Star back in 2013 – has been overshadowed by the theatrics of Garver, who's already almost doubled his rookie home run total in just 44 games. Not only has Garver been an all-around beast, rocking a .984 OPS that ranks 10th among MLB hitters with 150+ PA, but he's been incredibly clutch, slashing .417/.475/.778 with RISP, and his defensive improvements have been staggering.

2. Jake Odorizzi has allowed only 10 home runs.

He hasn't been the best in the rotation at limiting the long ball; Martin Perez has given up only seven. But that's always been a strength for the groundballing left-hander. Odorizzi has always been an extreme fly ball pitcher and, by the time Minnesota acquired him, it appeared his susceptibility to the home run might derail his career. In 2016, he gave up 29 homers in 188 2/3 innings (1.4 HR/9) and in 2017 he surrendered 30 in 143 1/3 innings (1.9 HR/9).

This year, Odorizzi has given up just 10 home runs in 88 2/3 innings, good for a 1.0 HR/9 rate. And that's AFTER allowing six in his past four starts. That Odorizzi has managed an above-average HR rate while giving up the most fly balls of any starter in the league (50.9%), in an era where balls are flying out of the park like never before, is completely bonkers. Consider that Justin Verlander, who will start Tuesday night's All-Star Game for the AL, has already given up 26 bombs at the break. His previous career high is 30. (He's uh... none too happy about this.)

Odorizzi's proclivity for keeping it in the yard seems plainly unsustainable from a statistical standpoint, and maybe it is. Perhaps his recent flare-up is a sign of what's to come in the second half. But I will point out two things: 1) He's been dealing with a blister lately, and 2) His stinginess extends back beyond this year, to the bulk of 2018. Odorizzi allowed only six homers in 20 starts after June 1st last year. Add those innings to this year's sample and he's surrendered just 16 bombs in his last 190 innings, all while yielding a constant stream of fly balls in the most homer-happy era in MLB history. Nuts.

3. Ryne. Freaking. Harper.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to him, but that just speaks to the ridiculous nature of the two accomplishments above. Harper has been nothing short of a godsend and, all things considered, one of the best Twins signings in memory. At a time where the team desperately needed right-handed relief help (especially because, unbeknownst to them, they'd be getting almost nothing collectively from Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Romero), the front office landed an absolute stud in the form of a 30-year-old minor-league signing, with zero major-league experience.

Harper has been fantastic from any perspective. His 2.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP are pristine, as is the 38-to-8 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. Major-league batters are slashing just .223/.267/.353 against him, and this is all with his numbers being negatively skewed by a June outing where he gave up three runs in the 18th inning because Rocco Baldelli was forced to call on him for a third straight day.

This is an instance of self-scouting more than anything, as the Twins had Harper all last year in the minors. But they deserve plenty of credit for bringing him back, giving him a spring training invite, and believing in the validity of his stellar Grapefruit League results. His final appearance before the break, in which he notched a career-high four strikeouts with seven swings-and-misses on 15 pitches, looked to be an emphatic statement that his amazing first half was no flash in the pan.

4. Luis Arraez has all but locked up the second base job for 2020.

Coming into this season, Arraez was more of a fun novelty than legitimate prospect. He didn't make our preseason Top 20 Prospects list, appearing instead as an honorable mention, because the general sentiment was that – despite his undeniably amazing contact skills and lovable scrappiness – he lacked the power and athleticism to be an impact guy at the next level. Arraez has spent his entire season proving us all wrong.

In 54 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit .344/.409/.401. And it's a little tough to envision him going back down, given his .393/.453/.524 line in 95 plate appearances with the Twins. Despite having turned 22 in April, he looks mature beyond his years at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone than any Minnesota batter other than Garver, with a lower whiff rate than even Willians Astudillo. As a result, he's drawn more walks than strikeouts, and he sprays liners all over the field.

In other words, there's been nothing artificial about Arraez's instant success, although obviously he's not gonna be a .400 hitter. And the sudden emergence of a hinting power – he has two home runs with the Twins, after totaling six in 367 minor-league games – suggests that further upside may be lurking. As a point of comparison, the previous tenant at second base, Brian Dozier, was hitting zero home runs in 58 games at rookie ball when he was the same age as Arraez is now. As we've seen time and time again, pop tends to come on late. It wouldn't take much to turn Arraez – who was on basically no one's radar four months ago – into a young MLB star.

With Jonathan Schoop due for a free agency after the season, I'm thinking Minnesota's plans are all but set for next year at second.

5. Byron Buxton is striking out at lower rate than the MLB average.

For years, we all dreamed about how fun it would be if Buxton – someway, somehow – could turn himself into a contact hitter, fully weaponizing that elite speed by putting the ball in play at a high clip. Sadly, the notion seemed to be just that: a dream, of the pipy variety. In parts of four previous MLB seasons, Buxton had posted the following strikeout percentages: 31.9%, 35.6%, 29.4%, 30.0%. From 2015 through 2018, his K-rate was seventh-highest out of 287 hitters to make 1,000+ PA in the majors.

It seemed the best realistic hope was a modest decrease, into the solidly higher-than-average range. This still could've easily made Buxton a star (he gained MVP votes with a 29.4% K-rate in 2017). Instead, he has completely remade himself at the plate, cutting down on whiffs to a drastic degree with only 59 strikeouts in 260 plate appearances. That's a 22.7% rate – fractionally lower than the big-league average of 22.8%.

As a guy who lifts the ball at a higher rate than anyone else on the team, and has otherworldly speed, I'd expect a higher BABIP for Buxton than his current .302. Which is to say I think there's more in the tank, even though he's been tremendous as is, with an .816 OPS and 24 doubles at the break. As long as he can stay healthy, I believe Buxton will be the team's top MVP contender without question by year's end.


~~~


I've obviously left plenty of other surprises on the table. Jorge Polanco is an All-Star. Max Kepler has already set a career high in home runs (this one wasn't THAT surprising to me). Ehire Adrianza has raked. Eddie Rosario is on pace for 36 homers and 109 RBIs. Eight different players are on pace for more than 3.4 fWAR, which was Rosario's final mark last year when we named him team MVP.

What positive developments have caught you off-guard in the first half? Sound off in the comments.

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31 Comments

 

Add Marwin into that group as a good signing. And Pineda turned out to be a good signing as well.

 

Dumping Addison Reed closed the circle a pretty rough group that were signed before last year. But this year, the FO got free agent signings about as right as possible. Just goes to show that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And just because many free agents don't work out, it doesn't mean you never spend money on free agents to help build your team.

In any short term there is a fair amount of luck involved.Last year we brought in Lynn, Reed, Odorizzi and Morrison. I thought these were great pickups but they didn't work out last yearSome credit to front office, some luck, good and bad. In the past year we got Cruz, Marwin, Pineda, Perez, and Cron.Also traded Lynn and Pressly. Some credit, some fault and some luck, good and bad.I am not against free agency but sometimes I wonder if all we did was draft well and made sure we kept our players throughout their productive years we might be just well off and maybe even better.Constantly see our former players do well for other teams. If we had kept Hicks, Hendricks, Pressly,and others would that offset the acquisitions that have worked out. Of course we haven't done that well with starting pitching but that is why I said if we draft well.

 

In any short term there is a fair amount of luck involved.Last year we brought in Lynn, Reed, Odorizzi and Morrison. I thought these were great pickups but they didn't work out last yearSome credit to front office, some luck, good and bad. In the past year we got Cruz, Marwin, Pineda, Perez, and Cron.Also traded Lynn and Pressly. Some credit, some fault and some luck, good and bad.I am not against free agency but sometimes I wonder if all we did was draft well and made sure we kept our players throughout their productive years we might be just well off and maybe even better.Constantly see our former players do well for other teams. If we had kept Hicks, Hendricks, Pressly,and others would that offset the acquisitions that have worked out. Of course we haven't done that well with starting pitching but that is why I said if we draft well.

 

No great teams are made up only of draft picks and IFA signings. Are they? I can't think of any.

Photo
Halsey Hall
Jul 10 2019 05:37 PM
The biggest surprise for me is the contracts Max and Jorge received.

 

No great teams are made up only of draft picks and IFA signings. Are they? I can't think of any.

1927 Yankees.   

 

No great teams are made up only of draft picks and IFA signings. Are they? I can't think of any.

 

I was just talking theoretically. Before 1975 there was no free agency and there were still great teams. It would still be possible if a team were to draft real well and never lose their guys when they become free agents. Twins right now could have Ramos, Garver, Sano, Planco, Arraez, Kepler, Rosario, Buxton and Hicks.  They would also have Hendricks, Rogers, Pressly, Berrios and Gibson.  Like I said our drafts have not yielded great starting pitching. Other teams may have great starting pitchers but lack in quality position players. Some would get both right and some would get neither right. I know they will never go backwards but I think no free agency is a better model for competitive balance for the league. Trades would still be in the mix. No, great teams do not happen in modern baseball with out free agents because every team has some and loses others.

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https://blogs.fangra...megrown-talent/

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