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Front Page: Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:14 PM
With Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies for $118 million over five years, Minnesota’s interest turns to Madison Bumgarne...
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Morosi: Twins Showing Interest in Yohsitomo Tsutsugo

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:11 PM
      28-year-old infielder who has good OBP in his career and his hit 22 or more HR in Japan each of the last six years....
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Front Page: Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:09 PM
Zack Wheeler is one of the most sought after free agents this off-season and there will be not shortage of teams interested in his servic...
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Chasing Madison Bumgarner Thread

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:03 PM
Looks like the market is heating up for Bumgarner now, and the Twins are in. Post rumors and thoughts as they arise, please:  
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2019/2020 Twins Minor League Coaching Changes

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 11:55 AM
http://www.startribu...tes/562941602/   According to the Star Tribune, the Rochester Red Wings will have a new coaching staff in 20...
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Where’s the Truth in These Twins?

Right now, the Minnesota Twins are in their most trying stretch of the 2019 Major League Baseball season. After rushing out to a massive AL Central Division lead, and hitting dingers at a breakneck pace, and warming the hearts of Twins Territory things have begun to hit the skids. During this slide there’s been a lot made about what and where the problems lie. Some of the explanations are logical and fact based, others are more of a shot in the dark. Let’s look and try to find something substantial to latch onto.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
First and foremost, Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop have been a lightning rod for criticism of late. Sano turned in an 0-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox on June 27. Minnesota suggested they were working through some tweaks to his approach at the plate, and Parker Hagemen highlighted deficiencies in how he was being attacked. Since that game Sano has 51 plate appearances posting a 1.123 OPS with a 16/6 K/BB. He’s cooled a bit (.879 OPS) since July 1, but that mark is 4th on the team in that timeframe and he’s handling pitches in the same spots he wasn’t before. Playing league average defense analytically as well, Sano is going great for now.



Schoop came into the month of June with an .819 OPS and took quite the dive over 21 games last month. Posting just a .622 OPS and three dingers, his overall OPS tally dropped to .758. Through just eight games in July he owns a .934 OPS and has already homered twice. He trails only Mitch Garver from a production standpoint since the calendar flipped, and his 5 DRS at 2B trails only the Cardinals Kolten Wong this year. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but Schoop is keeping Minnesota above water now.

Michael Pineda and Martin Perez have been chided each time they take the mound and are the arms most often thought of needing replacing in the rotation. That may not be wrong in Perez’s case given his ability to shine in the pen and the slide he’s been on. Pineda is closer to overtaking a top spot in the rotation than he is sliding out of it, however. After being put on the IL at the end of May to skip a start, he’s pitched in seven games. Across 39.2 IP he owns a 2.95 ERA, is giving up a .641 OPS, and has a 37/13 K/BB. Jose Berrios would welcome numbers like that for a stretch.

As unfortunate as hanging curveballs have been out of the bullpen recently the bigger story is the flip in offensive production. During a series in which Minnesota and Cleveland set up their best starters to go at it, the Twins bullpen stole the show. Picking up teammates after short outings, the relievers routinely blanked Indians hitters to take a series victory. Since July began Nelson Cruz, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron, and Max Kepler rank 6th-9th in Twins OPS production. Only Cruz (.708) is above a .700 OPS. Having hitters at the top of the lineup perform that poorly is not something Rocco Baldelli can afford to become the norm.

Over the course of the entire 94 game stretch the Twins own the second-best defensive metrics in baseball. They trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by quite a bit, but Minnesota’s performance is strong, nonetheless. Playing .500 baseball for the past few weeks, defense has been a talking point. There’s been lackluster efforts and questionable plays not being made. Since the All-Star Break this has become even more apparent and was no more evident than Eddie Rosario dropping a routine fly ball on Wednesday afternoon against the Mets. As both pitching and hitting come and go, defense needs to be something the group continues to pride itself on.

While all the above areas of focus are individual or group centered, the reality is that a 162-game season allows a team to speak for itself. Minnesota isn’t the 110-win team they raced out to, but they are also not the mid-80’s win team they’re currently playing as. Getting everyone back on the same page in the lineup, re-engaging from a defensive standpoint, and filtering the outside noise out of the clubhouse is a trio of avenues to put the train back on the tracks.

Each day we can view the club’s exploits through the lens of a 9-inning performance but come time to declare Postseason participants the only thing that matters is a 162-game sample.

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12 Comments

Great taste of reality!

We're experiencing the truth of baseball ...

 

A team is never as good as it looks when it's on a roll, and never as bad as it looks when it's in a slump.

 

We're "in a slump" right now - and even then, it's a slump built to a great extent (in perception, IMO) on losing two to the Lowly Mets (is that their official name now?).

    • Aerodeliria and IAMNFan like this

Which team will we see in August and September?

 

Just as an observation while watching many of the games, it is clear the team has lost some of their early season mojo. Without looking at stats, many players appear to be less productive, especially situational hitting. The starting pitching has been pretty good (wish Rocco would leave them in a tad longer) and our bullpen has done well for the most part. But the magic isn't there we saw and felt earlier.

 

Since the 3-game series that started on June 4th in Cleveland, the Twins are playing .500 ball with an 18-18 record in 36 games; the Indians are playing .720 ball with a 26-10 record. As a fan that is not a scenario we wanted to see. However, the Twins are still in first place and this team, although not great, is good enough to win a division championship.

 

Cleveland comes to town Aug 8 for four games and the heat will be on, that's for sure. Before they arrive, I think we will see the Twins get some of that early season mojo back.

 

    • glunn and IAMNFan like this
oops, there goes gravity...
Photo
Aerodeliria
Jul 18 2019 10:08 PM

There are three things that will sink us faster than anything else IMHO: errors, base-running gaffes and walks by our pitchers.

 

We knew the Twins would come back down to earth a bit concerning the bombas, but the sloppy play of late has been disconcerting.

 

Culver's Crow Sandwich for my lunch (with crinkle fries to offset the feathers): I admit that my forecast about the Indians has been wrong. I truly believed that the White Sox were actually a better team than the Indians. I couldn't have been more wrong.

    • rkevin likes this
It seems to me that the catalyst for the Twins is Buxton. They were doing well when he played but have started slumping since he started getting injured. He is very productive for his batting average and dynamic defensively. He needs to besatdoneand shown videos of Ken Griffey Jr. and told to not kill himself trying to catch every ball.
    • glunn, bunt_vs_the_shift and IAMNFan like this

 

Which team will we see in August and September?

 

Just as an observation while watching many of the games, it is clear the team has lost some of their early season mojo. Without looking at stats, many players appear to be less productive, especially situational hitting. The starting pitching has been pretty good (wish Rocco would leave them in a tad longer) and our bullpen has done well for the most part. But the magic isn't there we saw and felt earlier.

 

Since the 3-game series that started on June 4th in Cleveland, the Twins are playing .500 ball with an 18-18 record in 36 games; the Indians are playing .720 ball with a 26-10 record. As a fan that is not a scenario we wanted to see. However, the Twins are still in first place and this team, although not great, is good enough to win a division championship.

 

Cleveland comes to town Aug 8 for four games and the heat will be on, that's for sure. Before they arrive, I think we will see the Twins get some of that early season mojo back.

Excellent first post. Welcome to TD.

    • In My La-Z-boy and rkevin like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Jul 19 2019 12:52 AM
Things are alright, thanks for the perspective. Really, a 4 game divisional lead isn't half bad.
    • rkevin likes this
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bunt_vs_the_shift
Jul 19 2019 06:06 AM

Nice article. Sano is still excruciating for me to watch at times, so this is very good perspective. I still contend that even if he shortens his swing with 2 strikes and opts for a little more contact, with his strength he can still hit 75% as many bombs and doubles as he could if he swings for St. Paul... I will say that he's been much more selective lately, which makes it much easier to watch and is shown in the numbers. I have less hope for Schoop, who seems to be an automatic out whenever someone is on base and would like to see Arraez continue to get reps. 

 

Wednesday aside, our pitching has been better and this is especially encouraging about Perez and Pineda. We're in a dogfight and we're going to need them both to continue to step up! 

    • IAMNFan likes this

 

Sano is still excruciating for me to watch at times... I will say that he's been much more selective lately, which makes it much easier to watch and is shown in the numbers.

I'll use the popular phrase "me too" about watching Sano, :P and I agree on him being more selective, which should hopefully lead to more pitches over the plate and a big kaboom.

I quoted Yogi Berra recently and I'll do it again by paraphrase: the truth of baseball and of our Twins is that you don't know nothin'.

It seems to me that the catalyst for the Twins is Buxton. They were doing well when he played but have started slumping since he started getting injured.

It's no coincidence, to my eye. I mentioned elsewhere, that this year they are 43-23 when Byron plays the full game. Only 15-14 in their other games.

 

Last year was a bad year for him and for the team. When he played a full game: 13-9. Other games: 65-75.

 

2017 was a good year for the Twins. They went 66-45 when he played the full game. 19-32 when he didn't.

 

I actually could play further slice-and-dice tricks with his partial games, which are a mixed bag of early departures or late insertions in the lineup, but this is sufficient to convince me: there's a ripple effect when he's not in there. I haven't done a similar analysis for any other players, but I'm pretty confident that nobody except a starting pitcher has had the positive impact on the Twins these past few years that Byron Buxton does.

 

Yeah, I realize I just got done saying I (like anyone else) don't know nothin'. Bear that in mind.

    • IAMNFan and rkevin like this

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