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Article: With Machado Gone, Eduardo Escobar Becomes The B...

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Twins, OAK a good match? Gibson & Odorizzi available

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Game Thread: Twins @ Kansas City, 7/20/18 @ 5:15 PM PT (7...

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Twins Daily Roundtable: Fixing the Offense

Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

In an off-season where the front office made plenty of moves, Minnesota’s only big offensive addition was Logan Morrison. Last season, the Twins ranked seventh in runs and on-base percentage, ninth in batting average, and sixteenth in home runs. Things haven’t been nearly as good this year as the club has dropped in runs (23rd), home runs (23rd), OBP (20th), and batting average (20th).

Players like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton haven’t lived up to their high production throughout different parts of the 2017 campaign. Jorge Polanco was supposed to take the next step but his suspension means he has yet to play a game. Other players like Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer have also struggled at times.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “Who's the most important player for invigorating the Twins offense?"
Image courtesy of Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
John Bonnes
The bad news is that Brian Dozier has not been good. And I’m not talking about “versus expectations.” I’m talking about straight up “not good”. He isn’t (.223 BA) hitting. He isn’t (.300 OBP) getting on base . He isn’t (.394 SLG) hitting for power.

The good news is it’s not unusual for Dozier to pair a pretty mediocre or crummy half season of hitting with a fantastic half season of hitting:
Brian Dozier, 2017, 2nd half: 985 OPS (1st half: 745)
Brian Dozier, 2016, 2nd half: 990 OPS (1st half: 786)
Brian Dozier, 2015, 1st half: 841 OPS (2nd half: 639)

You can make a case for a lot of bounceback candidates to give the Twins lineup a surge. Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Logan Morrison, Byron Buxton – an optimist can foresee a flicked switch on any of them. But the path of least resistance is for Dozier to do what he has done each of the last three years: go on a three-month killing spree.

Nick Nelson
To me, it's clearly Byron Buxton. If he gets back into the same zone he was in last July-through-October, when he hit .309/.358/.538 with 12 homers while going 16-for-16 on steals, he completely transforms the offense.

Not only is that stellar individual production, but it also can infuse a contagious type of energy that reverberates. I think we saw that dynamic play out to some extent in the latter months of 2017 as Minnesota made its run. A healthy and thriving Buxton is exactly what this sleepwalking unit needs.

Tom Froemming
Lots of valid answers to this question, but I'm going with Brian Dozier for three reasons.

1) The absence of right-handed hitters Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton makes this team even more unbalanced than it already was. Without Dozier being a threat, the offense is susceptible to being shut down by even pedestrian southpaws.

2) It's easier to play with a lead, and when Dozier's hot he's causing damage early. He had a .908 OPS in the first three innings last season. If the runs don't come early, this 2018 team seems to tighten up as the game unfolds.

3) He's a great baserunner. How many outs have the Twins run themselves into over the past few weeks? Brian's not the fastest guy around, but something that sets him apart from some of the other potential answers to this question (Mauer, Morrison) is they're base cloggers. It'd be great to see Dozier go on one of his homer binges, but at this point I'd even settle for him simply sparking some rallies.

Cody Christie
To me, there are three candidates who could take over this line-up in the months ahead and propel the team towards a division title. Those three names are Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, and Miguel Sano. In the first half of last season, Sano showed how dangerous he can be if he is making consistent contact. Fast forward to the end of last season and Buxton seemed to have it all figured out at the plate. It wouldn’t surprise me if either of these players impacts the offense in the second half but…

Brian Dozier has to be the spark plug. He is the one that needs to get this offense moving in the right direction. There have some signs of life for the club against some good pitching in Cleveland and the first game with the Red Sox. Dozier still has dug himself quite the early season hole but you know he wants to snap out of it. Especially since he is in a contract year.

Jamie Cameron
For me, it's undoubtedly Brian Dozier. Dozier is remarkably streaky, has had monster second halves in the last two years, and may well do so again in 2018. Currently, he's virtually a non-contributor to the Twins offense. Consider the following numbers comparing Dozier in 2017 to 2018 Dozier:

2017
.359 OBP, .498 SLG, .362 wOBA, 125 wRC+, 5.0 WAR
2018
.309 OBP, .397 SLG, .309 wOBA, 93 wRC+, 0.7 WAR

Dozier has carried the Twins offense for much of the last two years. This year he's a 7% below average hitter for his position. His numbers are brutal for someone the Twins expected to rely on and who gets the most at-bats for the entire team. While Dozier may have made the Twins thoughts on extending him to a long term contract much more clear, they have zero postseason hopes unless he gets hot and stays hot the rest of the way.

Jeremy Nygaard
When the lineup has been as collectively bad as it has been (besides Escobar and Rosario), it would be really hard to put that on one guy.

But I will: Brian Dozier. Career low batting average, 19 points below his career average. 17 point below his career OBP. Lowest slugging and OPS since his rookie year.

The leadoff hitter sets the tone for the offense and he isn't getting it done.

Now Dozier isn't alone when it comes to disappointments. Logan Morrison has been really bad. Miguel Sano has been disgusting at the plate. Byron Buxton could be a spark, but he hasn't been healthy. Jason Castro, before the knee injury, was a disaster. Robbie Grossman provides nothing.

But it comes down the Dozier. Unless he gets right, the Twins have no shot (and it's already only a slim shot).

Seth Stohs
I mean, there are so many pieces to the offense that are important. Coming into the season, the assumption was that the Twins offense would be one of the best in the league. To this point, Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario have been the two that have gone above and beyond expectations. They (probably) can't provide more than what they have done. It would be nice if they kept it up.

It's clear that having Joe Mauer around is also important because it seems the quality of at bats up and down the lineup has improved through osmosis. If the Twins are going to make a run, Brian Dozier is the key. We've seen what he can do in the 2nd half. He's done it four straight years. Hopefully it can happen again.

The other key might be Jorge Polanco. Almost forgotten since spring training, the Twins could really benefit from Polanco putting up the kind of numbers he put up over the final two months of the 2017 season.

Steve Lein
Even with Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar hitting at elite levels so far, the rest of the Minnesota Twins lineup has been so lacking that it hasn’t mattered much. Their collective OPS ranks ninth in the American League and they’re scoring only 4.26 runs per game, good for tenth.

Even worse is their performance near the end of games, demonstrated by their 3-13 record in one-run contests and that they’ve endured eight walk-off losses already. From the seventh inning on, Twins hitters have managed just a .668 OPS, which is basically Miguel Sano level production this year and he just got demoted all the way to A-ball as he’s seemingly forgotten how to hit a baseball.

So, what’s been missing? I’d argue it’s an All-Star caliber #3 or cleanup hitter as those spots in the Twins lineup currently rank in the bottom third of nearly every hitting category in the AL.

Know who that guy is? You should, because he was one of their All-Star representatives last year and I’ve already mentioned his name. Sano clubbed 21 home runs and had a .908 OPS in the first half of 2017 and they’re going to need him to step back into that role, and soon, for there to be any hope in 2018.

Ted Schwerzler
With Miguel Sano out of the picture currently, I think the answer has to be Brian Dozier. Getting Joe Mauer back is great, but he’s more of a defensive asset. Dozier bringing some semblance of his offensive prowess is a must.

He’s always been a streaky hitter, but it’s time for him to get going. In a contract year, I’d have hoped for a bit more consistency. After Dozier, I think getting a level of fair production out of Logan Morrison would be nice. He’s flashed reason to be optimistic that things will turn around, but the production hasn’t followed just yet.

Steve Buhr
I don’t think we can expect much, if anything, from Miguel Sano for a while and it would probably be unfair to load up Byron Buxton with that kind of responsibility before he even shows up for a rehab game.

I’d go with Max Kepler.

Kepler has been streaky, but the talent is there. I think if he can start consistently contributing some pop and getting on base with regularity, that would do a lot for the Twins’ offense.

Andrew Thares
The most important player for invigorating the Twins offense remains Brian Dozier. Dozier has been the Twins' offensive leader over the last four seasons and his performance so far this year has been sub-par to put it nicely. However, as Dozier has show in the past, he has the potential to get hot and carry the offense. With Dozier's recent move down to the five spot in the order, it might help him regain his focus and become the All-Star level hitter he has been over the past few years.

If you missed any of the previous roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Romero’s Rotation Spot
Top Prospect Timelines
Minnesota’s All-Star Selection
Extension Candidates

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44 Comments

I don't think it's a coincidence that the offense looks better with Mauer back in the lineup... There's something to be said about having a seasoned pro lead off, make contact and get on base.

He's more than a defensive asset Ted!
    • Yoke, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 8 others like this
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howieramone2
Jun 20 2018 11:13 AM

Getting Mauer back is a good first step, but we still need Buxton and Polanco in the lineup every day to stay in the hunt. I would leave Sano in the minors until he becomes a world beater again. 

    • dbminn and wsnydes like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Jun 20 2018 11:43 AM

I submit that the most important Twin to ignite the Twins' offense is the one in the batter's box. Now wait a moment before you dismiss my comment. Think of all theTwins' "swing for the fence" swings that have been fanning the air. Think of the grounders straight into the shift by Twins' hitters, resulting ineasy ground outs or a line drive right into the shift. Think of all the runners stranded on 1B and 2B because the Twins' batter would not/could not "bunt them over" or hit behind the runner.We have mentioned lack of power (except the 2 Eds who lead the American League in extra base hits by a teammate duo). How about some more singles, some more walks, and some more hitting to the opposite field from all the Twins' batters. How about playing for 1 run, instead of everyone trying to hit homers. We have better pitching than in recent yearsso small-ball will produce better results, since our opponents are scoring less runs per game. With good pitching, low scoring games will be more frequent. Look at the Twins' record this year inone run games (3-13). I submit this pitiful record in one run games is a clue. The Twin in the batter's box needs to get on base by any means, advance the runner, knock the runner in by any means possible, and then score that one run that each batter represents...not by constantly swinging forhome runs, but by playing as a team.  

    • glunn, mikelink45 and mattk like this

The Twins are missing four players from the opening day lineup, three of whom were expected to be major offensive contributors this season. Step One is to get two of them back and contributing positively on offense: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. I don't care what two. Just two.

 

It would also help if someone not named Ed that is on the current lineup could step up and elevate their game. Again, pick two from a group that includes Logan Morrison, Brian Dozier or Max Kepler. 

 

Invariably, one of the Eds is going to slow down some. So you need three or four guys to step up and make a difference.

    • glunn, 70charger, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

Dozier needs to step it up and Mauer needs to be healthy for the Twins to stay in the Central race. That's the key right now.

 

Polanco, Buxton and Sano all have to contribute if they are going to compete in the 2nd half. At least one of them has to return to his best offensive form. That's doable but they have to stay within 5 games of the Indians before the break.

    • glunn and howieramone2 like this

Dozier has the track record, they really need him to step up. 

    • glunn, Twins33 and TheLeviathan like this
I don't think any of this is especially surprising, or something that shouldn't have been foreseen by the FO.

Deep down, I think everyone knows it's inevitable that Dozier just won't break out of the "slump." I use quotes because he "slumps" so often I'm not sure you can really call it that. It's more his norm.

Kepler, Buxton, Garver, and Morrison should come as surprises to no one. None of the young guys has had a significant track record of production that you can point to, and I think we're seeing why nobody wanted to sign Morrison (he's useless when he's not hitting HRs, and he's in a park tough on lefties).

Nobody should be surprised when Mauer misses time with an injury at this point. Any games he can give you is basically a bonus. The next slide into a base or dive for a ball might be the last time he's on an MLB diamond as a player.

The rest of the lineup was clearly sub par from the jump (LaMarre, Adrianza, Wilson, Grossman, Petit, etc).

How can we count on Polanco for anything? He was awful for a while, and his hot stretch was promptly followed by a positive PED test. Also, Escobar filled his role for a while before Sano went down, likely a lot better than Polanco would have.

As far as Sano goes, we've been hearing these rumblings and concerns for years. Nothing shocking there.

The surprises to me are: Rosario, and Escobar. But, they are a positive development that is helping, not hurting.

So, my point is, I'm sure there is some flabbergasting question on how to get this group of personnel to perform. The problem isn't a mystery out there in the ether. The problem is that a lot of these guys just aren't that good. The second half of last year was a result of an ridiculously unlikely alignment of the stars. Expecting this group of guys to be the top offense in the American League was always an extremely flawed supposition.
    • mikelink45 likes this

Sano -- If they're really intent on 'rebooting' him, I don't think we'll see him until August.

 

Buxton -- I have no confidence that he'll figure anything out anytime soon, not before September. He was flailing away before he got hurt, he needs lots of at bats to get his confidence and swing back.

 

Dozier -- past history says he'll have a rebound in the second half but he's getting older, the pressure of a contract year is getting to him, I think we'll see some rebound but not like the past few years.

 

Kepler -- he'll start hitting again, he's too smart and athletic not too, but he won't be the big spark they need.

 

Polanco is the best hope. He's been working hard for three months, will have something to prove, he could do it.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel and mikelink45 like this
Nothing like an unaligned, flawed suppository to ruin your season.
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LA VIkes Fan
Jun 20 2018 12:50 PM

This team needs not ONE but TWO bats to go with Escobar, Rosario and Mauer. The candidates are obvious - Dozier, Kepler, Polanco, Morrison, Sano and Buxton. 

 

Buxton or Sano - Nope. It's unlikely that Sano and/or Buxton will really step up given their performance so far this year. It would be great, but unlikely. More like the cherry, not the Sundae. 

 

Morrison - Morrison was a guy that before last year hit .235-.260 with 11-17 HRS and a .685-.735 OPS. It's looking like last year was the aberration. I'd advocate that he be sent down or DFA'd if we can find a RH DH type in trade. 

 

Kepler - Nice player who may some day become an above average MLB OF. Right now, he hits like a below average MLB OF and he was below average last year.We should be thrilled if improves to end the year at .260/.330/.420 (.750) with 18-20 HRs. Nice in the 6 or 7 spot and his defense definitely plays up but he isn't the middle of the order guy we need, at least not yet, and he won't be this year.  

 

That leaves Dozier and Polanco as the guys that have to step up. We can compete if they step up. If not, very unlikely that we will have any kind of meaningful games in September from a playoff sense. 

    • mikelink45 likes this

Short Term - Dozier

 

Long Term - Sano

    • USAFChief, USNMCPO and Platoon like this

I feel compelled to go against the trend and say that the batter that they need is not on the club.The analysis through the comments and posting are really clear on many things.Sano is a mess that needs a lot to get on track and that might start until August - September, Buxton has been a guess and swish hitter throughout his career except for his 1/2 year surge.In fact if the Twins can play only half a season we can half Polanco and his PED half, Buxton's out of no where half and Dozier having his half season and we are excellent.But 81 games takes care of the NBA not the MLB.  

 

Kepler has only an occasional one or two weeks and has fallen far below my expectations.Morrison was covered by LA Vikes Fan who looks at his career, not his exception and gives us just what we have got - not much.Adrianza is a utility player who is playing too much. 

 

LaMarre and his revolving partner - Cave is not the answer.And Garver and Bobby Wilson give us a black hole at Catcher.Grossman's big offensive contribution is a walk and his best defense is when he plays DH.

 

Which obviously leads us to the one player/batter left on the roster - Taylor Motter.That must be what we are needing.Go Taylor. 

 

There is no one else on the 40 man roster.

Lets start with whats wrong with the offense.

2B Dozier is slumping
SS Polanco was suspended but will be back im two/three weeks and his replacement has actually been ok, Adriannza with a .725 ish OPS. This looks bad because we need bats so bad but he is about a league average bat with good defense and baserunning...
DH Morrison slumping with power and average.
C Castro Injured and out for the season
3B,1B,DH Sano lost and in A Ball to loose weight and regain batting swing.
CF Buxton slumping and injured.
RF Kepler and Grossman. Both are not far from being productive. Both need improvements in average.

3 things need to occur to fix the offense.
1. Buxton needs to come back with an .800-.850 OPS minimum.
2. Either Morrison or Dozier or both need to decide to step up and hit .800-.850 OPS minimum
3. C is as close to an automatic out as can be. We need a hitter who can have a .750 OPS and we probably need to aquire him. Tampa has this guy and we can probably trade for him. Or Garver has to step up and decide to hit.

If these three things happen our lineup will score a lot more.

Bonus. I think we will see a Sano that is 15-20 lbs lighter and ready to go come August 1-15th ish...

Bonus. I think we will see a Sano that is 15-20 lbs lighter and ready to go come August 1-15th ish...


Losing 15 lbs in ~2 months is quite the task. Unless they hired Jillian Michaels to put him through a Biggest Loser program that may be too aggressive of an ask.
While it's one of the most unlikely, the one guy who would totally ignite this bunch is Buxton. His speed turns a simple walk into a double. He has gap power plus. Operating like he did last half last year, this is a completely different offense. But I am not sure if he will reach that level this year, although I still think it will happen in his career. The guy with the best track record of half season resurrections is of course Dozier. He can certainly hang up the stats, even though I have never been convinced he can do it consistently in high leverage situations. The reason I didn't consider Sano is I don't think he will be in contention for the task this year. He isn't going to go down to FL, then to Rochester and mash MiLB pitching and be back anytime soon. This is likely the FO giving Sano his last chance to resurrect his career in MN. They aren't going to rush the process, frankly I think they will slow walk it.
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LA VIkes Fan
Jun 20 2018 02:31 PM

I agree. I don't think we'll see Sano back in MN/MLB this year unless we're out of contention and he gets up in September. Escobar is the 3B for the rest of the year barring injury.

    • glunn likes this

 

He's more than a defensive asset Ted!

 

Agreed. Take that, Ted!

    • Vanimal46 likes this
Why is everyone piling on Ted? :(
    • Vanimal46 and bighat like this
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Kelly Vance
Jun 20 2018 03:36 PM

The Twins hitters , except for Joe, and the Eddies, all suffer from Big Dawg envy.  Sano and Dozier seem to only look for a pitch up and in that they can hit out. That means they are conceding 3/4 of the strike zone to major league pitchers. Dumb, that. Buck was doing the same thing. Wanting to pull everything. Buck, more than anyone should be an opposite field hitter. Hey Buck, do you have any idea how many triples you can hit if you looked for outside pitches you can hit the other way?

 

These guys want to pull everything. Sheesh, didn't their little league coaches teach them ANYTHING?  Which brings me to the point.... what is the hitting coach teaching them about situational hitting?  Looks like NADA. 

 

The Eddies and Joe look for a pitch to hit. And they go with the pitch to make good contact on the sweet spot. Buck, Doze and Sano, and to a lesser extent Keps, all look to pull the ball.  They wanna hit homers like the big kids. But it is extremely rare that you can pull an outside pitch and pitchers know that.  You don't think major league pitcher see film? 

 

The Twins are in a collective slump because their hitting coach is focused on mechanics instead of hitting strategy and logic. These guys go up to the plate trying to put a square peg in a round hole, because they wanna be big dawgs. If they looked for a fat outside pitch --- which they will see every time up -- they could get good contact. But they wanna hit homers like the big dawgs, so they end up down in the count and waving at strike 3. 

 

As for LoMo. Methinks he needs glasses. 

 

    • glunn, jimbo92107 and Major Leauge Ready like this

Lots of comments here about players not playing small ball, or whatever you want to call it.

 

that is today's game, and is why Escobar is doing what he's doing.

Everyone on the team needs to change their name to Ed.
    • Mike Sixel, 70charger, Danchat and 6 others like this

One of the problems with the Twins offense going on several years is that Brian Dozier should never have been the leadoff hitter.Joe Mauer should have been.Dozier should have hit 3rd with Sano (assuming hitting well) 4th.  

 

You put your best OBP player at the top of the lineup.YOu put a guy like Dozier with good power but mediocre OBP and high K rate 3rd.Your high OBP slugger hits 4th.  

 

Bill James has taught from Day 1 of Sabermetrics, the key to scoring runs is getting guys on base. Putting Dozier at the top of the lineup was always a mistake.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this

Got to agree that Dozier is "the most important player for invigorating the Twins offense".  The faster the Twins get rid of him, his mediocre production, and his mopping about not getting an extension, the better they will be.

 

Got to agree that Dozier is "the most important player for invigorating the Twins offense".  The faster the Twins get rid of him, his mediocre production, and his mopping about not getting an extension, the better they will be.

 

That axe of yours is already plenty sharp, contribute to the discussion, or move on.

    • Brock Beauchamp, ashburyjohn, Nick Nelson and 5 others like this
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Aerodeliria
Jun 20 2018 07:49 PM

Surprisingly, it seems that Sano and Buxton have ended up swinging at the same pitch for strike three constantly throughout the first half. It is good that they are not in the line-up at this point. 

 

Maybe Buxton feels as if he should be be vogueing Andre Dawson because everyone keeps reminding him of that. Maybe they should be telling him to think more like Mickey Rivers. He's so fast that putting the ball on the ground will cause defenses all kinds of problems. Let the home runs come when they come, but don't press for the long ball. Get on base and create havoc. He's shown that he can steal on almost anyone, so just getting to first base is almost like hitting double. If he starts doing that and perfecting it, he'll likely end up getting more walks as well.

 

That's my two yen worth.


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