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Game Thread: Twins @ Milwaukee, 8/12/2020, 6:10PM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:32 PM
      Good evening and welcome back to the always fun Twins Daily Game Thread! Get ready for some exciting baseball actio...
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Ump Jerry Meals is Unstoppable!

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:20 PM
I figured the star of the show last night deserved some special attention.  
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Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:20 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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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:11 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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Marlins: 14 positive Covid cases, home opener cancelled...

Other Baseball Today, 02:25 PM
Before the season started, I was wondering about what would happen if the virus started spreading like wildfire in a clubhouse. Well here...
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Twins Win the Universal DH Battle

We’ll we’ve arrived. Back in May I wrote about the designated hitter being universally adopted by Major League Baseball for 2020. It now appears that will be the case going forward as well, and the Twins immediately vault to the top of the class.
Image courtesy of © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
This was supposed to be Nelson Cruz’s age-39 season, but before any games are played, he’ll be for. A man, over the hill, or any other way you’d like to dice it he is not. Maybe it’s a credit to his elite napping skills, or maybe it’s because he was a late-blooming prospect. Whatever “it” is though, Cruz has absolutely still got it.



Minnesota’s designated hitter played zero games in the field during 2019 and has played five or less in each season dating back to 2016. When he shows up to the ballpark there is one focus, to hit. Last season Cruz did plenty of that. He posted a career best 1.031 OPS while blasting 41 dingers. His .311 average was a high-water mark since 2010 and the .392 OBP was easily a career high.

Counting stats are certainly gaudy for the Dominican native, but it’s the inputs that truly jump off the board. Cruz was 1st in baseball when it comes to barrels per plate appearance at 12.5%. He was third in average exit velocity (93.7 mph) behind on Aaron Judge and teammate Miguel Sano. He also ranked third in hard hit rate, trailing the same duo, and his average dinger came in at a whopping 411 ft.

It wasn’t as though Cruz made any drastic changes in 2019 either. His swing profile remained virtually unchanged from career norms. No out of whack BABIP or walk rate were in play either. What the Twins have is a professional hitter with a single goal of destroying the baseball. Pretty nice asset for a position entitled “designated hitter.”

So, if the Twins have the best one in the league, and everyone else is chasing them, it’s certainly going to be suboptimal when Nelson hangs them up in a year or two right? Well, maybe not. Enter Miguel Sano and the rest of Minnesota’s pipeline.

Patrick Wozniak wrote a really great piece regarding the Twins draft strategy in recent years. Under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the focus has appeared to be on projectable bats. The system now has boppers like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato, while a bit more versatile options such as Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Matt Wallner all exist.

The goal is never for a draftee or prospect to be psotionless. Value is derived from opportunity, and it’s largely why the Twins have strayed from locking Sano into a sole DH role at this point. However, if you look at it as a starter turned reliever, it’s hardly a bad fall back option. Knowing that one spot in the lineup, as has been the case in the American League for quite some time, is going to be taken solely by a bat allows the Twins flexibility.

Not often do players age as well as Nelson Cruz has. Former Twins first basemen David Ortiz is probably the most glaring example, and he retired while still producing at an elite level. Time remains undefeated and eventually Cruz will turn the page, but it’s more than evident he’s at the top now and Minnesota could be for the considerable future.

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5 Comments

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Nash Walker
Jun 18 2020 11:19 PM
Good work, Ted. Also makes me wonder about Nelly’s FA market. 15 more teams will be interested. He wouldn’t dare (*gasps*) leave MN would he?
I'm a National Leaguer. I hate the DH.
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twinsfanstreif
Jun 19 2020 03:25 AM
Suddenly their recent draft strategy is making a ton of sense. These type of hitters are likely to succeed at the next level and now there's 15 more teams in the market for bat first type of prospects. Now if the Twins can corner the market on these guys they hold the upper hand. Genius
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Doctor Gast
Jun 19 2020 05:28 AM

The stock of all our young DHers has just up especially if remains permanent! Let`s see what happens

It makes Larnach and Rooker better trade bait - maybe our new draftees too.Start trading before the positions gets filled.

 


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