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GAME THREAD 8/9/2020: Minnesota Twins @ Kansas City Royal...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:05 AM
Is it time to panic yet?   Of course not! Honestly, after the last three games, I am just as confident in this team being a contende...
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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 03:16 PM
There haven't been many yet, but I'll start this today...   The Twins just announced that Zack Littell (hamstring) has been placed o...
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Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 03:16 PM
I said in the 2019 thread that I would start this forum thread...    Let's start populating it. How many former Twins are on ro...
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Option C(astellanos)

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 02:33 PM
We missed out on our big money aces. A big impact 3B will either cost age/money (Donaldson) or top prospects and money (Arenado/Bryant)....
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Future Roster Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:41 AM
Jake Odorizzi gets activated today to face the Royals, filling out the 28-man active roster which will include 16 (!) pitchers. The way t...
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Top-Tier Talent: Already in Minnesota?

The Twins won with a roster of players ranging from solid to fantastic in 2019 and will return in 2020 with much of the same. While being a powerhouse in 2019, the Twins could ascend into full blown juggernaut status on the backs of a few players reaching their ceilings. Three such players stand out as the most obvious to take this step.
Image courtesy of © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Hill
Plenty has been discussed when it comes to Rich Hill and how good he can be when he’s on the mound. Since 2015, Hill has amassed a 2.91 ERA and an 11.2 K/9 and ranks in the top 10 in several major categories in that same span of time for all of the MLB. The obvious issue is Hill’s health, as he’s put together these numbers in a bit over 500 innings and is returning from elbow surgery. Not only is Hill’s health always in question, but his effectiveness upon his return is far from a sure thing.

The fact remains however that on a pure performance basis, Hill is capable of more than anything any other Twins starter has achieved. If firing on all cylinders, he could be in the conversation for the Twins #1 starter, and we’ve currently got him pencilled in as the #5. At just a $3m base deal (with incentives), Hill is a potentially season altering ceiling play.

Max Kepler
Kepler has had comparisons drawn between him and Christian Yelich in the past at TwinsDaily. Both lefty corner OFs, both increased how hard they impacted the ball and had breakouts in their age 26 seasons. Yelich may be a more well rounded hitter at this time, but Kepler is a few short strides from becoming a superstar himself.

Kepler can get too aggressive and swing at pitches out of the zone resulting in poor contact at times. His career batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .253 also reflects that his pull happy ways may limit his batting average. The adjustments he’s made in his career however suggest he could develop his approach and pull-happiness as he matures more which isn’t uncommon in good hitters. He’s already one of the best all around players on the Twins, at times carrying the team in 2019. Another adjustment or two could transform him into a downright elite player for a team that would become even more formidable as a result.

Byron Buxton
The most obvious option when you think of ceiling on the Twins, Buxton’s career has had its fair share of ups and downs. He has always been in contention for one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, but just as his offense appeared to be on the ascent in 2019 it was cut short by labrum surgery. He was on pace for over 5 fWAR, surpassing the next most valuable Twins player with ease.

We’ve seen how game changing Buxton can be when he’s on. He’s a transcendent talent with physical tools that simply dominate the opposition when challenged. Injury and mechanics stand in the way of being mentioned with Christian Yelich and Mike Trout. Make no mistake, this is no over exaggeration. On a team full of young stars with bright futures, nobody’s has the possibility to shine as bright as Buxton’s regardless of the roadblocks his career has had to this point.

The scary thing about the Twins is that for all of their 2019 success and bright future, they still lack that true top of the MLB talent. In 2019, 18 players amassed 6+ fWAR which is where you find your Verlanders, Betts, Rendons etc. (Ignore Lance Lynn please). Make no mistake, players like Cruz, Donaldson, etc. are proven studs at what they do. Having a player in the true top tier of all of the MLB however would simply elevate the Minnesota Twins to heights beyond our wildest imagination, and the best part is they have several candidates to make that leap. Do you agree that the Twins already have a player that can take this next step? Is it somebody not on this list?

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15 Comments

With fewer games maybe Buxton can actually play a whole season. 

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Agree with your list. Wondering due to age, injury and being a half season performer...no matter how good...is this Hill's swan song? Whatever luck, pull factors, etc, are involved, there is another level to Kepler's game if that BABIP can just rise up to normal levels. And Buxton just NEEDS to find a way to preserve his body, or find a rabbits foot that works, and just stay on the field. Even if he never achieves the Griffey and Mays kind of level projected for him, he is a stud and All Star caliber player as is as long as he is healthy.

Were this a 162 game season I would have included Berrios. His second half issues are well known, though he rebounded late in 2019 to indicate growth and changes coming. And changes to his in-season routine were coming this year before the covid stop that I think would have paid big dividends. In a 60 game season, none of this should be a factor for 2020.

But I would have included Sano on this list as a 4th. His 2019 was slowed initially due to his freakish injury in winter ball. He looked good, slumped, worked through it, and began to look like the hitter/ force we all thought he could be. I think he has really matured and is ready to step forward, though he may defer to Cruz and Donaldson in the lineup for a season or two.

What I find so interesting about this team is something touched on in the last paragraph. The comment being no matter the success of the team in 2019 they still lacked that true top ML talent. (With the exception of Cruz, I would say). Of course, Donaldson on board raises that talent level. But it's easy to forget how young some of these guys really are, mostly because it just seems they've been around for so long. I don't have exact ages in front of me, but Sano, Arraez, Polanco, Kepler, Buxton and Berrios are all still around 27yo or younger. Just coming in to their prime. Despite fighting some injuries and various wild aspects to his game, Rosario has been highly productive and I believe won't turn 29 until late in the season. Garver is a late bloomer that doesn't have a ton of mileage on him. We could argue/debate Odorizzi, Rogers, May and Duffey all around 29-30yo, but especially for relievers, seems to me these guys are just entering their 3-5yr prime where stuff and experience will have them at the top of their game.
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notoriousgod71
Jul 12 2020 05:58 AM

 

With fewer games maybe Buxton can actually play a whole season. 

Or none of the season.

    • DannySD likes this

Sano is still the one that jumps out at me. He had 34 HR, 76 R and 79 RBI last year in 380 AB! Extend that out to over 500 and you get something like 45 HR with over 100 Rs and RBIs. That is a super-star year.

Granted, he has to be able to keep himself in shape and healthy, and he's had problems with that. he still seems the candidate who has put up amazing half year (or less) stats on more than one occasion.

    • Major League Ready, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this
Agree on Sano.

People get worked up about his strikeouts, but if you look at things like avg. exit velocity, barrel rate, etc., its impressive. In terms of a full, healthy 162 game season, you’re looking at a guy who could score 100, drive in 100, walk 75 times, hit 40+ homers, etc.

Just in terms of offense skill set, he’s right in the Aaron Judge neighborhood given 600+ PAs. Judge will carry a slightly higher average thus a slight edge, though in the neighborhood.
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Doctor Gast
Jul 12 2020 08:09 AM

Donaldson, Hill,& Cruz have pretty much peaked, hoping to remain healthyw/ Donaldson being top tier (offense& defense) . Rosario & Garver could better some; Berrios, Kepler,Polanco, Sano & Buxton have not come close to peaking yet, All have proven themselves & could become top tier but Buxton has much more up side. Arraez needs to prove himself his sophomore year but he could be an elite contact hitter.

Kepler reminds me of Bob Allison - a really good, but not great player.BR has his comps as Phil Plantier Rick Ankiel, and Travis Shaw.None are really star level.  

 

Buxton is a Devon White comp now, but could be a Kenny Lofton with health. at this point BR has his comps as Cliff Mapes, Manuel Margot and Ryan Thompson - a collective who are they? 

 

Hill is 41 and has accumulated 65 wins total in his career - BR has Rich Harden and Odorizzi as comps. Nice to see this late in life surge, but age still continues to erode our physical talent. 

 

I look for Berrios to continue to rise and shine.I think Arraez can start a Carew/Gwynn career.  

 

I wish Garver was younger and Cruz too.  

 

Rosario will stay the same

 

Polanco is the next question - BR comps for him are Tim Anderson, Junior Spivey and Ozzie Albes.Could he continue to rise to stardom?

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Great article that I agree with in its entirety. As I read, kept thinking that every starting position player on the Twins is amongst the top half at his position in MLB. The more I thought about that, may even top third...Top 10. 

 

Here's to a summer, albeit short, of both Buxton and Kepler becoming top three. As I have often said, we could be watching a future Hall of Famer in Kepler.

    • Sconnie, DocBauer and wabene like this

Kepler reminds me of Bob Allison - a really good, but not great player. BR has his comps as Phil Plantier Rick Ankiel, and Travis Shaw. None are really star level.

Buxton is a Devon White comp now, but could be a Kenny Lofton with health. at this point BR has his comps as Cliff Mapes, Manuel Margot and Ryan Thompson - a collective who are they?

Hill is 41 and has accumulated 65 wins total in his career - BR has Rich Harden and Odorizzi as comps. Nice to see this late in life surge, but age still continues to erode our physical talent.

I look for Berrios to continue to rise and shine. I think Arraez can start a Carew/Gwynn career.

I wish Garver was younger and Cruz too.

Rosario will stay the same

Polanco is the next question - BR comps for him are Tim Anderson, Junior Spivey and Ozzie Albes. Could he continue to rise to stardom?

Some of these comps are pretty rough, in terms of being used in a conversation about potential going forward (not saying that’s what you’re doing, but some may).

Kepler has already surpassed Ankiel’s career WAR. His most recent season was much more impressive than anything Ankiel every accomplished, not even close really. Kepler possibly hasn’t even hit his prime (he’ll be 27 this year, which is supposed to be the magic year).

Same for Polanco vs. Spivey.

Devon White was a nice player. He had a few years in his prime where he sat around 6 WAR. Many years well below that. Buxton, as a 25 year old, just put up 3.1 WAR in 295 PAs in 2019. For reference, in Trout’s 2014 MVP season, he put up 7.7 in 705. That’s .0105 vs. .0109 per plate appearance, putting Buxton at about 7.4 in the same number of PAs.....and he wasn’t even hitting as well as we’d seen in the past (fall of 2017, I believe, he was raking). Buxton could realistically win an MVP soon. Another consideration is that White stole a lot of bases (topped 40 once or twice, almost 500 in his career). The game has changed a lot in that regard. Buxton is the kind of guy who could’ve stolen 100 had he played then.

Each current Twin above, if healthy, will be better than the career year for each of those comps. They are better players.

Also, not sure I agree that Rosario can’t get better. The impact of the ankle injury has been well documented. He’s entering his age 28 season. If he can stay healthy (the caveat with everyone on this club, it seems), he could certainly see an uptick in production.
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SkyBlueWaters
Jul 12 2020 03:46 PM

 

 

Polanco is the next question - BR comps for him are Tim Anderson, Junior Spivey and Ozzie Albes.Could he continue to rise to stardom?

 

I've heard people compare Polanco to Versalles: top-tier offense, hamstrung by the defense. 

 

I feel a bit defensive about Zoilo, because of how much he meant to the '65 team. People think of him as one of the weaker MVPs in MLB history (someone once told me he wasn't even the best on the team, it was Oliva). I believe that's belied by his contribution that year: leading off daily for 728 PA, leading the league far and away in runs scored, but also in extra base hits--as a shortstop.

 

Yet the defense at times was ... exasperating.

 

Polanco was 13th last year in MVP voting. Yet Fangraphs has him as a negative defender, far behind shortstops like DeJong, Baez, Story, Semien, Rojas and Lindor. 

 

With all the clout in our lineup, Polanco could easily be among the best table-setters in baseball, among the top ten this year in numerous categories. Lately the guys I see ranked highest in national listings of best SS are guys like Story, Semien, Lindor, Baez, among others. If Polanco could tighten up the defense, he deserves future consideration for breaking into that group of top 3-4 SS in MLB.

 

postscript:By the way, those BR comps you mention are for batting, and 9th on that list is catcher Stephen Vogt. Which leaves me flabbergasted--hadn't really thought of Polanco and Vogt as that similar in anything except maybe ... they both play baseball?

    • mikelink45, DocBauer and DannySD like this
This is a good list. The fact that I could make another list with three or four other names tells you just how good this team can be if everyone is going and stays healthy! Sano, Berrios, Arraez, and lets not forget a healthy Donaldson! I’d argue that you have to consider Rogers as already there.
    • DocBauer and DannySD like this

 

 

 

Polanco was 13th last year in MVP voting. Yet Fangraphs has him as a negative defender, far behind shortstops like DeJong, Baez, Story, Semien, Rojas and Lindor. 

 

With all the clout in our lineup, Polanco could easily be among the best table-setters in baseball, among the top ten this year in numerous categories. Lately the guys I see ranked highest in national listings of best SS are guys like Story, Semien, Lindor, Baez, among others. If Polanco could tighten up the defense, he deserves future consideration for breaking into that group of top 3-4 SS in MLB.

 

I think the consensus is that Tatis and Bogaerts will also be better than Polanco this year. Semien was an absolute monster last year. I don't see Polanco taking that step but hope I'm wrong. There are a lot of elite shortstops in the A.L. right now. Tim Anderson is really good too. 

 

 As I have often said, we could be watching a future Hall of Famer in Kepler.

As much as I love Max, have to disagree here. Through four seasons he's been barely an above average hitter, and he's already 27. He was arguably the team MVP last year though. (I would go Cruz but you could make the argument) 

Some of these comps are pretty rough, in terms of being used in a conversation about potential going forward (not saying that’s what you’re doing, but some may).
Kepler has already surpassed Ankiel’s career WAR. His most recent season was much more impressive than anything Ankiel every accomplished, not even close really. Kepler possibly hasn’t even hit his prime (he’ll be 27 this year, which is supposed to be the magic year).
Same for Polanco vs. Spivey.
Devon White was a nice player. He had a few years in his prime where he sat around 6 WAR. Many years well below that. Buxton, as a 25 year old, just put up 3.1 WAR in 295 PAs in 2019. For reference, in Trout’s 2014 MVP season, he put up 7.7 in 705. That’s .0105 vs. .0109 per plate appearance, putting Buxton at about 7.4 in the same number of PAs.....and he wasn’t even hitting as well as we’d seen in the past (fall of 2017, I believe, he was raking). Buxton could realistically win an MVP soon. Another consideration is that White stole a lot of bases (topped 40 once or twice, almost 500 in his career). The game has changed a lot in that regard. Buxton is the kind of guy who could’ve stolen 100 had he played then.
Each current Twin above, if healthy, will be better than the career year for each of those comps. They are better players.
Also, not sure I agree that Rosario can’t get better. The impact of the ankle injury has been well documented. He’s entering his age 28 season. If he can stay healthy (the caveat with everyone on this club, it seems), he could certainly see an uptick in production.


Nice post!

And I really want to speak about the Rosario portion of your comment. While he has always been a bit of an enigma and may always be, he is very talented and has been very productive, especially when healthy. While I don't recall a "serious" injury at the ML level thus far...one that would rob him of serious time...he has battled a shoulder issue in 2018 and the knee in 2019. There have been posts about age 27 being when a player begins to hit his peak. Still only 28yo until late September of this year, I think Rosario could argue he has mostly hit his peak years when healthy. Recent comments by him state he recognizes his need to be more disciplined in his approach and just lay off certain locations. (Though we all know Eddie has also delivered and crushed balls at times that he just shouldn't have been able to). Now, is this lip service or real maturation as a ballplayer?

Only time will tell.

We have all concluded, myself as well, that 2021 will be Rosario's last as a Twin simply due to economics and the talent behind him. And that may turn out to be true. But only 28, if healthy, what can he do the next 5-6yrs for us or someone else?

Despite the economics of baseball right now, I'd expect Rosario back in 2021 at this point. No matter how well the Twins manage development of Kirilloff, Larnach and Rooker without an actual milb season, don't you still bring back Rosario in 2021 for what will still be a pretty manageable contract? And couldn't any trade value only increase with a healthy 2020, short season or not?

I'm a fan! But somebody has to move eventually, whether it be Rosario or a prospect. But IMO, just like Buxton and Kepler, we haven't seen the very best of a still maturing Rosario yet.
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notoriousgod71
Jul 13 2020 06:26 PM

 

Or none of the season.

This aged well but it took a bit longer (just over one day) than I expected.

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