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Article: Miguel Sano's Struggles

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:30 AM
MIguel Sano has been a hot mess at the plate pretty much all season. Statistically, he has had career highs and lows in all the wrong cat...
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Article: Dozier’s Days Numbered, Then What?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:24 AM
Despite sweeping the hapless Baltimore Orioles, and then taking a series from the equally terrible Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twin...
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Article: MIN 11, TB 7: Dozier Grand Slam Ends Wild Game,...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:24 AM
There was an entire season’s worth of moments in just this one game Sunday afternoon at Target Field. A run scored on a balk, there were...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (7/15): Lewis Collects...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:29 PM
Prospects took center stage on Sunday with the MLB’s Future Game being played to kick off this week’s All-Star festivities. The U.S. Futu...
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Twins, Brewers Talking Trades

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:09 PM
Got any favorites in Milwaukee's system?
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The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 4 (1-5)

We've reached the top five.

Over the past week we have run through our choices for 6-through-10, 11-through-15, and 16-through-20. Now, it's time to round out our rankings of the 20 most valuable Minnesota Twins assets. Looking beyond performance to account for age, contract, and future impact, the idea is to determine which players will be most vital to the team's ongoing success (or, most useful as trade chips).

Scroll past the break to learn who we view as the franchise's five most absolutely indispensable players, and why.
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker, USA Today
5. Eddie Rosario, OF (26)
Baseball is a game that can sometimes require a frustrating among of patience. For the better part of three seasons in the majors, Rosario tantalized with his immense potential. He had all the physical tools to be a star: good speed, outstanding arm, quick wrists, stunning strength, and – perhaps above all – that aggressive and fiercely competitive edge that often separates the great from the good.

For the first 250 games of his career, however, Rosario's output was suppressed by an almost legendary lack of discipline.

Entering this past season, the outfielder had drawn only 22 unintentional walks in 828 plate appearances, a mind-boggling 2.6 BB%. He continued to swing away in the early portion of 2017, but somewhere along the way there was an epiphany. Rosario certainly didn't become a patient hitter by any stretch, but he suddenly was laying off those truly unhittable offerings with unprecedented consistency. And then, he was an absolute monster.

After putting up a .660 OPS in April, Rosario finished at .810 or above in every following month. He showed a flare for the spectacular: a three-homer game in mid-June, a five-hit effort in July, a two-run homer at Yankee Stadium in the AL Wild Card Game.

Knowing Eddie, we can expect plenty more of that sort of bravado over the next four seasons before he's eligible for free agency.

4. Miguel Sano, 3B (24)
It feels strange to have Sano outside the top three in these rankings. As recently as July, he was on top of the world – an All-Star, Home Run Derby runner-up, on pace for 35 jacks and 100 RBI... all before his 25th birthday. But since then, it's been a rough go.

He hurt his shin in early August and barely played afterward. He missed the team's postseason appearance and subsequently had a titanium rod surgically placed in his leg. His commitment to diet/conditioning was publically called into question by a local columnist, and it wasn't the first time. And more recently, Sano was in the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons.

I've always counted myself as a huge Sano fan – I love the enthusiasm, the ferocious cuts, the fiery competitiveness – but even I can't deny that his stock has taken a significant ding, causing him to slide down at least two spots from where he'd have been a few months ago. Sano possesses the rare stuff that superstars and MVPs are made of, but at this point he's got some work to do in order to get back on that trajectory.

3. Jose Berrios, RHP (23)
The lean, mean, fireballing machine. A beyond-shaky 2016 arrival in the majors generated plenty of concern around Berrios. Were his spinning frisbee pitches too uncontrollable to keep in the zone (5.4 BB/9)? Would his short stature – often cited by doubters as a fatal flaw while he rocketed through the minors – make him too homer-prone (1.9 HR/9)?

It takes us back to the Rosario thing... patience. In 2016, Berrios was an overmatched 22-year-old kid struggling to stay afloat. He was openly determined to erase memories of that inauspicious debut, and in 2017 the right-hander did just that. Sent to the minors to open the year, Berrios torched Triple-A for a month, then burst onto the scene in Minnesota with back-to-back gems in May.

He had his ups and downs thereafter, but ultimately Berrios had himself a very strong year, holding opponents to a .239 average and sub-700 OPS while notching nearly a strikeout per inning. He doesn't turn 24 until late May and has been amazingly durable. The Twins can own his services through 2022 at least.

2. Royce Lewis, SS (18)
The baseball world was taken by surprise when the Twins selected prep shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in June, bypassing multiple players who were widely ranked above him by analysts. Six months later, the decision looks brilliant, not just because the club applied slot savings to load up later in the draft, but also because early evidence makes a good case for Lewis being the best player taken.

He went to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and dominated with his advanced plate approach and blazing speed. Then he made the rare jump straight to Single-A as an 18-year-old, and more than held his own there (.296/.363/.394 in 18 games). Lewis ranked 39th on Baseball America's mid-season Top 100 list, released shortly after he was drafted, and his impressive work the rest of the way will surely move him further up the pre-2018 list.

Lewis is still extremely young but has already entered a rapid ascent. His athleticism is off the charts and his Year 1 performance in the pros helps validate his pedigree as a #1 draft choice. It's unknown whether he'll ultimately end up being a shortstop or center fielder, but either way Lewis stands out as one of the game's most prized assets and (thus far) a slam dunk signature addition by the new front office.

1. Byron Buxton, OF (24)
The 2011 Twins season was a pit of utter malaise. Colossal expectations that cratered early on, bilateral leg weakness, the Tsuyoshi Nishioka fiasco, Morneau's lingering concussion effects, Matt Capps... it all amounted to a 99-loss campaign that set off a half-decade of misery.

And yet... it was all worth it. Because that catastrophe enabled the Twins to land Byron Buxton in the 2012 MLB draft.

After being selected second overall, Buxton quickly gained distinction as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Despite some injury setbacks while rising through the system, he still was in the major leagues by age 21.

While his offensive game took a bit longer to acclimate at the highest level than we'd hoped, by the latter half of 2017, Buxton looked like a comfortable, discerning hitter with power and game-changing speed. And he has already established himself as the most valuable defensive player in the league.

Buxton impacts games in so many ways, bringing entirely new levels of entertainment and excitement for the viewer. He received MVP votes and a Gold Glove at in his age-23 season, and I'm guessing he'll be getting plenty more of both in the coming seasons. Humble, likable and hardworking, he's a perfect face for the franchise.

The Twins own his rights for the next four years, and if they're smart, they are actively working on an extension right now that will keep him around for even longer. Buxton will be the centerpiece of Minnesota's efforts to forge a World Series winner through 2021 at least. You'll find few superior building blocks around the league.

OVERALL RANKINGS

20. Alex Kirilloff, OF (20)
19. Trevor May, RHP (28)
18. Wander Javier, SS (18)
17. Jason Castro, C (30)
16. Tyler Duffey, RHP (27)
15. Taylor Rogers, LHP (27)
14. Adalberto Mejia, LHP (24)
13. Nick Gordon, SS (22)
12. Fernando Romero, RHP (23)
11. Trevor Hildenberger, RHP (27)
10. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (23)
9. Ervin Santana, RHP (35)
8. Brian Dozier, 2B (30)
7. Max Kepler, OF (24)
6. Jorge Polanco, SS (24)
5. Eddie Rosario, OF (26)
4. Miguel Sano, 3B (24)
3. Jose Berrios, RHP (23)
2. Royce Lewis, SS (18)
1. Byron Buxton, OF (24)

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55 Comments

 

But I'm not assessing based on last year, I'm assessing based on their value to the franchise going forward. I realize this requires a good bit of subjectivity, and I get why people disagree based on 2017 outcomes, but Duffey and May are both highly capable arms under control for 3-4 more years. I think they'll both be big contributors to the staff during that span while Mauer is (hopefully) a marginal 2018 upgrade over what they'd otherwise run out at first base for 2018, and he also occupies about a quarter of their payroll. 

That fair and I am not trying argue, so based on that where does Pressly fit? His is a bit older and we have him for a year less I think, but it seems he has proven more than either of those two?I wonder if the Twins could only keep Duffey for Busentiz who would they take? I respect your opinion but when I think assets I think if would I rather have player A this year and going forward than Player B. Example I would take Littell and Thorpe going forward over Duffey, which IMO means they are better assets. Again love reading your stuff.

    • Nick Nelson and laloesch like this
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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Jan 04 2018 02:37 PM

 

Question for you: If the Twins suddenly didn't have Mauer available to them, how much worse off are they? Move Sano to first, start Escobar at 3rd, find a DH or just use Grossman. And then you've got an extra 23 mil to spend elsewhere. 

 

He's a fine player but he's just not indispensable to the franchise in any way at this point.

 

 

Other than maybe Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, do we have anyone who's "Indispensable"? I would not argue that Mauer is indispensable, but I respectfully disagree with your premise; They would be much worse off without Mauer. He's not indispensable, but he is important - especially for his defense and his on-base skills.  

 

Sano does not have the defensive skills at 1B that Mauer has. He's fine at 3B, but not at 1B. Mauer digs balls out of the dirt and reaches high for balls thrown by other infielders. He makes Dozier, Polanco and Sano much better, because they know he will get their throws. 

 

On other teams, how many throws (that Mauer gets now) go down as throwing errors because the !B could not dig it out of the dirt? 

 

And who's going to replace his on-base ability, and his ability to hit with 2 strikes? 

 

Mauer may not be indispensable, but he's very important to the Twins. Has he been overpaid during his contract? Sure. But i'd be willing (if I were the Twins GM) to offer him three or four more years at $10-$12 million a year. He brings a lot of value to this team.

    • h2oface likes this

That fair and I am not trying argue, so based on that where does Pressly fit? His is a bit older and we have him for a year less I think, but it seems he has proven more than either of those two?I wonder if the Twins could only keep Duffey for Busentiz who would they take? I respect your opinion but when I think assets I think if would I rather have player A this year and going forward than Player B. Example I would take Littell and Thorpe going forward over Duffey, which IMO means they are better assets. Again love reading your stuff.


Was waiting for someone to post this. I think Thorpe and Littell deserve an honorable mention. Both pitched well in 2017.
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Nick Nelson
Jan 08 2018 09:29 PM

 

That fair and I am not trying argue, so based on that where does Pressly fit? His is a bit older and we have him for a year less I think, but it seems he has proven more than either of those two?I wonder if the Twins could only keep Duffey for Busentiz who would they take? I respect your opinion but when I think assets I think if would I rather have player A this year and going forward than Player B. Example I would take Littell and Thorpe going forward over Duffey, which IMO means they are better assets. Again love reading your stuff.

Nothing wrong with those takes. They're very reasonable. I personally don't hold Pressly in quite the same regard as Duffey in terms of realistic upside from the bullpen, and I still view May as a quality starter candidate. Just need to see a little more from Busenitz, Littell and Thorpe although they have solid cases no doubt.  

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Nick Nelson
Jan 08 2018 09:36 PM

 

Other than maybe Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, do we have anyone who's "Indispensable"? I would not argue that Mauer is indispensable, but I respectfully disagree with your premise; They would be much worse off without Mauer. He's not indispensable, but he is important - especially for his defense and his on-base skills.  

In a vacuum, yes. But you on the open market you could acquire a top-tier younger player for Mauer's $23M, and you'd control him for more than one year. These are the primary factors in this evaluation. Mauer plays a position where offense is abundant, and defense is relatively less important, for a restricting price.

 

By no means am I trying to say Joe Mauer is worthless, or not an integral part of the 2018 lineup. This is a big picture type of analysis. 


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