Who's the Most Likely Twins Hitter to Be a Thorn in Each Opponent's Side?
Image courtesy of © Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY SportsWhile I agree Donaldson should absolutely be able to have success against the White Sox, there is another Twins hitter that I think will have even more success against the Southsiders. That caused me to wonder which Twin hitter is a candidate to especially have success against each of the teams opponents for the upcoming season.
Chicago White Sox: Nelson Cruz
Cruz holds a combined .930 OPS against all current White Sox pitchers. That includes an overall line of .287/.364/.566 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI’s. In 53 plate appearances against Dallas Keuchel the ageless wonder holds a 1.063 OPS and has collected five home runs. Cruz has also handled Giolito well. Adding another three home runs and posting a 1.583 OPS.
Cleveland Indians: Marwin Gonzalez
The problem in this exercise is small sample sizes and so we are only working with just over 50 plate appearances for Gonzalez, but he has success against some key Indian pitchers. In 11 plate appearances against Mike Clevinger he has slashed .333/.455/.333 and a .788 OPS. Better than that is his performance against Shane Bieber where in nine plate appearances Gonzalez has hit for a 1.889 OPS.
Detroit Tigers: Mitch Garver
Garver hasn’t had a whole lot of time to bat against the Tigers but he has made the most of it. Out of the pitchers he has faced from the fighting Gardenhire’s he has slashed .433/.500/1.067 with a 1.567 OPS and four home runs. Leading the way to pushing those numbers as high as they are is his head to head matchups with Matthew Boyd. In 15 plate appearances Garver has a double, triple, two home runs, and a 1.700 OPS against Boyd.
Kansas City Royals: Josh Donaldson
Technically Cruz should take this spot too, but in an attempt to not duplicate we will give this spot to Donaldson. Donaldson boasts a .903 OPS against the current Royals pitching staff and has specifically had success against Danny Duffy. In 17 plate appearances he has hit one home run and holds a 1.027 OPS.
As we take a look at the National League opponents we get very small sample sizes. So be prepared for this to get a bit weird.
Milwaukee Brewers: Alex Avila
Avila is here mainly because of his success against the Brewers staff ace. Living within the confines of the cheese state, I have heard lots of love for Brandon Woodruff as we have waited for the 2020 season to begin. Avila has faced Woodruff seven times and has tagged him for a home run and three walks. Nothing too impressive, but again these NL teams give us very small sample sizes.
Chicago Cubs: Jorge Polanco
A majority of Polanco’s numbers against Cubs pitchers comes from Jose Quintana’s time with the White Sox. In 13 plate appearances he has collected five hits including a home run on his way to 1.128 OPS. That gives Polanco a .945 in all his appearances against the current Cubs staff.
St. Louis Cardinals: Eddie Rosario
With some good games against Miles Mikolas and Carlos Martinez, Rosario is the current Twins poised to perform the best against the Cardinals based on past experience. Three hits against both Marinez and Mikolas as well as another against Flaherty gives Rosario a .913 OPS in 23 plate appearances against current Cardinal pitchers.
Cincinnati Reds: Max Kepler
This one almost isn’t even fair. Kepler’s dominance of Trevor Bauer makes him the Twins leader when it comes to the current Reds’ pitching staff. Kepler’s five home runs and 1.211 OPS in 40 plate appearances against Bauer almost doesn’t make it fair. Kepler also has decent numbers against Sonny Gray with a slash line of .300/.364/.300 and a .664 OPS for an overall OPS of 1.043 against the Reds staff.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nelson Cruz
I didn’t want to repeat a hitter but it was just hard going for anyone else against the Pirates. Cruz has performed well against Chris Archer (.931 OPS) and Keone Kela (1.750 OPS) with a home run against each of the Pirates pitchers. He will look to keep that streak going and improve his overall .981 OPS against their staff and make Derek Shelton wish he still had Cruz on his side.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email