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  1. MIN 3, STL 0: Hill Pitches 5 Shutout Innings in Twins Debut

    Box Score
    Hill: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    Home Runs: Rosario (1)
    Top 3 WPA: Hill .281, Cruz .123, Rosario .064
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
    [attachment=14523:Winchart.png]

    Rich Hill finally made his first start in a Twins uniform, after being scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday. For Twins fans who didn’t know what they could expect from the 40-year-old Hill, they should take nothing but positives from this start. Hill pitched five scoreless innings with two strikeouts, all while allowing just two hits and one walk. Hill barely had to work up a sweat, throwing just 68 pitches before Rocco Baldelli decided that was a job well done, and turn the game over to the bullpen.

    His catcher on Wednesday was fellow veteran Alex Avila who said, "With him (Hill), it's not too difficult to call a game. Two pitches. Knowing when to go in, stay away, go up, stay down." He later added, "He was great. I barely broke a sweat."
    Hill noted, "It felt great to get back out there."
    Hill tipped his cap to the doctors that completed his surgery, then noted the work put in to come back. "There were a lot of days at home, throwing by myself at a field with a net to throw my bullpens."

    Luis Arraez got his first start in the leadoff spot this season and played the role to perfection, drawing a leadoff walk in the first. However, he was still stranded at first with two-outs when Nelson Cruz came up and drove him in with a double into the right-field gap, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. A big part of this at-bat was Cruz working the count full, after falling behind 1-2. This allowed Arraez to leave early from first and scored easily on the Cruz double.

    The Twins added to their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the 4th. They got their first run of the inning on Eddie Rosario’s first home run of the season.

    Rosario said after the game, "In the last couple of games, I wanted to select good pitches to hit, but I felt a little late on strikes. So today I wanted to be a little more aggressive tonight."

    The bottom of the order was then able to put together a two-out rally, as Jake Cave and Marwin Gonzalez reached on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, respectively, before Alex Avila picked up his first RBI with the Twins on a soft single to left, scoring Cave from second.



    Tyler Duffey looked very impressive in his inning of work, sitting down the top of the Cardinals’ lineup 1-2-3, all three coming on strikeouts. Dick Bremer and Roy Smalley mentioned on the broadcast how confident Duffey looks when he is out there pitching, and it is hard not to be with the success he has had since the beginning of the 2019 season. At this point, an argument can be made that Duffey is the second-best reliever, behind Taylor Rogers, in what is a very deep Twins bullpen.

    After Duffey worked the 6th, Baldelli called on Sergio Romo in the 7th for his second consecutive night of work, and like Duffey, Romo set the Cardinals hitters down 1-2-3. The second and third outs of the inning came on flyballs to newly inserted centerfielder Aaron Whitefield, who replaced Miguel Sano in the lineup, and moved Jake Cave over right and Marwin Gonzalez in to first.

    Regarding the move, Baldelli said it was all planned out, "Everything is great with Miggy. There's a few reasons why we make that move. While we have a 30-man roster, we're able to take advantage of some real strengths of our guys. Today's a day where - we weren't going to talk about it before the game - but a day we were going to try to keep Buck off of his feet. A day were were going to keep Kep off his feet. What were were able to do is bring in a really fast, really good outfielder and play him out there for a couple of innings, in Whitefield and he went out there and did a really nice job. In order to do that, we have to make a move during the game. You look at our lineup, and you really don't want to take any of our guys out of the game, but today it was going to be Miggy. I'm sure we'll see him back in there very soon. He's doing fine."

    In the bottom of the inning the Twins had an excellent chance to add onto their lead, after getting 1st and 3rd with only one out, after singles from Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez. However, the Twins were unable to get a run across, as Josh Donaldson grounded into a fielder’s choice, getting Gonzalez out in a rundown between home and third, before Jorge Polanco fly out to end the inning.

    Tyler Clippard got the call in the 8th inning and gave the Twins a bit of a scare to start the inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler, Clippard fell behind Matt Carpenter 3-0 before coming back to strike Carpenter out. He then got the pinch-hitter Matt Wieters to pop out to Luis Arraez, who doubled-up a stealing Fowler at first to end the inning.



    In the 9th, Taylor Rogers came in for his first appearance of the season, picking up the save in what was an easy inning of work for the Twins closer. The brass of the Twins bullpen, which includes Rogers, along with Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Tyler Clippard and Cody Stashak have been very impressive to start the season. So far, they have combined to pitch 13 innings, while allowing just one run and striking out 19 batters.

    Baldelli acknowledged after the game, "Our guys are really good baseball players. They know that we're not going to come out and put up five or ten runs every single game. That's not how it works. Especially when you play good teams."

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    [attachment=14524:Bullpen.png]

    Postgame Pint
    After the game, Nick Nelson, Matthew Braun, Lucas Seehafer and John Bonnes discussed the game, looked forward to the Cleveland series and answered questions from a live virtual audience. You can download the podcast or watch the video below:



    Seth Stohs contributed the post-game player and manager quotes to this article.

    • Jul 29 2020 10:32 PM
    • by Andrew Thares
  2. 20 Twins Predictions for the 2020 Season

    Here are 20 predictions for the 2020 Minnesota Twins season.


    #1 - The 2019 Twins will hold on to the MLB record for most home runs in a season with 307.

    You read it here first. Even with the juiced ball, no team is going to approach the Twins MLB record of 307 home runs. I feel quite confident in that.

    That said, the Twins averaged about 1.9 home runs per game in 2019. They will be shy of that, but the Yankees will be over 2.0 home runs per game in 2020.


    #2 - Nelson Cruz will lead the Twins with 17 home runs.

    That is the equivalent of about 46 home runs in a 162 game season. Obviously with Cruz, he will need to continue defying Father Time and stay healthy, but he’s such a powerful, professional hitters. Other candidates to lead the team include Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. Yes, the Twins will still hit a lot of home runs.


    #3 - Eddie Rosario will have a monster season.

    Eddie Rosario can be incredibly frustrating to watch, yet he is a guy who can carry a team for months. The Twins obviously hope this sixty-game stretch is one in which he’s on fire. Until he was hurt last year, he was putting up All-Star caliber numbers. He’s driven, knowing that he could be a free agent at the end of the season.


    #4 - Jose Berrios will be the Twins best starting pitcher.

    I know. Choosing the Opening Day starter and two-time All Star to be the Twins best pitcher isn’t going out on a limb, but there isn’t anyone who outworks Berrios. Also, his only struggles throughout his career have come in late July and August, but that’s when those months are the fourth and fifth month of the regular season. There won’t be a fourth or fifth month this season, so look for Berrios to have a great year.


    #5 - Kenta Maeda will lead the rotation in Wins (8).

    I know. It’s a meaningless individual stat. I included the words “the rotation” because it’s very possible that some reliever will vulture a bunch of Wins during this short stretch. And while I think Berrios will be the Twins top starter in the stats that speak to actual pitching (ERA, WHIP, FIP), as the #1 starter, he will often match up against Lucas Giolito, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger or even Matthew Boyd. Meanwhile, Maeda is currently slotted as the team’s #3 starter. He’s nearly as good as Berrios statistically over the past few years, but he should match up with other team’s #3 and #4 pitchers often. He should get plenty of run support.


    #6 - Randy Dobnak will get the first opportunity to make starts when needed.

    That might be due to an injury. It could be a starter struggling. Once he gets that opportunity, he’ll take advantage and keep the rotation spot. However, his ERA will be higher than the 1.59 ERA he posted in 28 1/3 innings last year.


    #7 - Luis Arraez will not hit .400.

    Again, not really going out on a limb here, but there are so many - including national writers/reporters - who have mentioned him as a candidate to reach that milestone in the shortened season. That’s not to say that Arraez isn’t capable of doing that over a 60-game stretch, it’s just not easy. And again, the Twins will face Bieber, Clevinger, and Giolito often while lefties like Matthew Boyd and Dallas Keuchel will also make it difficult.


    #8 - Luis Arraez will hit .300, but barely.

    This one I’m not as confident in. In fact, when I was on WJON radio in St. Cloud earlier this week, I predicted that Arraez would lead the team with a .308 batting average. He hit .334 in 92 games in 2019, but hitting isn’t as easy as he made it look in 2019. And frankly, he’s made it look easy at every minor league level too. But this is the big leagues. Teams and pitchers will adjust. I’m not willing to say that he will have a sophomore slump, but making those adjustments isn’t always easy.


    #9 - The Twins will have two Gold Glove winners in 2020.

    Byron Buxton may miss a game or two at the beginning of the season, but if he can stay healthy the rest of the way, he should win his second Gold Glove, and maybe even his second Platinum Glove. Jose Berrios will pass Dallas Keuchel and win his first Gold Glove. Josh Donaldson will be tremendous defensively at third base, but Matt Chapman will win another at the hot corner. Also for consideration, Max Kepler should win in right field now that Mookie Betts in in the National League.


    #10 - The Twins will have three Silver Sluggers again in 2020.

    Well, if I have Nelson Cruz hitting 17 home runs, then I must believe that he should win another Silver Slugger, though at DH there will certainly be competition. I think Josh Donaldson gets robbed of a Gold Glove, but he will win another Silver Slugger Award. I also think Eddie Rosario will win a Silver Slugger Award since I predicted above that he’d have a monster 2020 season. That said, Max Kepler is a candidate, and the Mitch Garver vs. Gary Sanchez debate will be a thing for the next few years. I’d love to have said that the Twins would have four or even five Silver Slugger winners, but that doesn’t quite seem realistic… which means we will be disappointed for at least one or two Twins players.


    #11 - When Michael Pineda comes back, it’ll be in the bullpen.

    As you all know, Michael Pineda’s suspension will be through the team’s first 36 games. He will give the team a “trade deadline acquisition” that can really have an impact. I also think that the Twins starting rotation will be really good, one-through-five, especially with my note that Dobnak jumps into it and pitches well. Because of the timing of his return, I think that Pineda would most help the Twins in 2020 out of the bullpen, easing him in. Maybe there are opportunities to piggy-back him with Rich Hill to help the 40-year-old through this strange season and be strong for a potential postseason run.


    #12 - Rocco Baldelli will not win AL Manager of the Year again in 2020…

    … even though what he does in 2020 may have a much bigger significance. Baldelli’s calm demeanor, thoughtful comments and encouragement of open communication allowed the 2019 team to thrive. Those same managerial traits are likely to be even more important in 2020 with the constant threat of COVID as well as other issues beyond the game of baseball. It may not show up always as Wins, but it should be (and will be) noticed by players and front office. Of course, 2019 didn’t present the Twins and their first-year manager with a lot of issues, so it might be interesting to see how the team handles a rough patch. My sense is they will handle it fine because of Baldelli and his coaching staff, but also because this team has a strong veteran presence.


    #13 - Mike Bell will be an MLB Manager by 2022. Will interview for jobs after 2021 season.

    Obviously new Twins bench coach Mike Bell has the pedigree to be a big leaguer. His grandfather Gus played in the big leagues. His father, Buddy, played for a long time and then was a successful manager in the majors. His brother David is currently a manager with the Cincinnati Reds.

    But while those connections might get him interviews, it will be his demeanor and intelligence that will get him jobs. Prior to coming to the Twins, Bell spent the previous eight years as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league director. He had a long playing career. He got some time in the big leagues. Bell’s resume is already impressive, and now he will get on-field work with Rocco Baldelli’s crew. And as we saw last offseason, successful teams often lose good coaches. Former bench coach Derek Shelton is now the Pittsburgh Pirates manager. Last year’s bullpen coach, Jeremy Hefner, is now the Mets pitching coach.


    #14 - Two Twins pitchers will receive Cy Young votes.

    Depending upon who is doing the voting and their personal views, either Jose Berrios or Kenta Maeda will receive some Cy Young votes. However, I think that in the shortened season, the role of the relievers could be viewed by some as vital. Taylor Rogers has made himself on of baseball’s best relievers, and the Twins should have a lot of close games with Cleveland, Chicago and those NL Central teams. Rogers could finish in the top three despite likely only pitching 25-30 innings.


    #15 - Taylor Rogers will be great, but Trevor May and Tyler Duffey will be even better.

    How would this be measured? ERA? FIP or xFIP? WPA? You pick. Rogers will get all the credit, and deservedly so. He’ll have the saves and he’ll be shaking hands with Mitch Garver or Alex Avila often. But May and Duffey both had something click the last two months of 2019 and it will carry into 2020. I’d like to predict that the Twins will lock them both up to long-term deals. May is a free agent at the end of the season, and as much as I’d love to see him sign a four-year, $13-14 million deal to stay, I can’t blame him if he wants to test free agency and see what offers he gets. While Duffey still has three years before becoming a free agent, but I’d be good with signing him to a four year, $12 million deal.


    #16 - Miguel Sano will be just fine at first base.

    In Wednesday’s exhibition game, Miguel Sano showed his athleticism and ability to play first base well. He went wide to his right to make a nice play. He also scooped a couple of balls in the dirt, which will obviously be crucial to the team’s success. Sure, there will be some moments where we shake our heads, but those are plays he just has to experience. By Game 30, Twins fans will hardly even be talking about his defense, other than statements like, “It’s hard to remember when it was something we worried about.”


    #17 - Prospects may have to wait until 2021

    It is really hard to know which players will get hurt and which players might get COVID, and I certainly will not be attempting to predict those. The Twins did a nice job of having depth at each position. Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez can play multiple positions. They have several MLB-ready outfielders on the 30-man Opening Day roster. So it’s hard to envision scenarios where the team’s top prospects will debut in 2020. However, it’s possible that they could pick a prospect to add to a potential playoff roster. Travis Blankenhorn, as a 40-man roster guy already, should make his debut in 2020.

    So, I don’t think prospects like Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach or Ryan Jeffers to debut. They don’t need to be added to the team’s 40-man roster after the 2020 season. However, Alex Kirilloff does need to be added after this season, so he could be a late-season add. Another prospect who needs to be added to the 40-man roster is Brent Rooker, so he’s also got a shot, as well. But I will also add this. If a player like Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario is lost for the season, and they believe Trevor Larnach is the best option to help them win, this front office will not hesitate to do that. The reality is Larnach (And each of these guys) is very close and shouldn’t need three options anyway.


    #18 - The Twins will win the American League Central, but it will be close!

    Minnesota 37-23
    Cleveland 35-25
    Chicago 34-26
    Detroit 21-39
    Kansas City 20-40


    #19 - The Twins finally top the Yankees in the playoffs

    Frankly, if I didn’t believe that this was possible, then why even watch? (The answer is just to enjoy baseball, to enjoy the season and because they should be a great team that is fun to watch.) The Yankees are loaded again, but so are the Twins.


    #20 - Twins vs Dodgers in a rematch of the 1965 World Series

    The Twins have Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. The Dodgers have Brusdar Graterol. What a fun matchup this would be. The Dodgers lost in two straight World Series before losing a round earlier to the eventual champion Nationals. I want the Twins to win a World Series, but I think that the Dodgers would be tough to beat. The Twins can beat them, but since I need to make a prediction, I will go with the Dodgers in seven games.

    So, there are 20 predictions, several with sub-predictions included in the comments. Feel free to discuss my predictions, but also add yours. Maybe they’re similar to mine. Maybe they’re some other topic completely.

    Happy Opening Day!! Enjoy the season!

    • Jul 23 2020 10:05 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. Do the Twins Really Have Baseball’s 2nd-Best Lineup?

    MLB.com annually ranks the top line-ups, starting staffs and bullpens. While Minnesota didn’t crack the top-10 in the starting pitcher rankings, the club did rank as the second-best line-up in all of baseball. To some, this might have been a surprise and others might have expected it. So, let’s dive in and see if the Twins have MLB’s second-best line-up.

    Weighted Runs Created
    MLB.com main statistical focus for their article was on weighted runs created (wRC). If you aren’t familiar with this statistic, wRC helps to quantify hits and times on base while also considering park effects and the current run scoring environment. League average is 100 so if a team/player is above 100, they are better than the league average.

    For fans looking at the Twins and wRC, it can be a bit overwhelming, because FanGraph’s Steamer projections paint the team in a very good light. Before Buxton’s injury, the Twins had ten players projected to play in 35 games or more and post a wRC above league average. Minnesota’s top five in projected wRC are Josh Donaldson (137), Nelson Cruz (135), Miguel Sano (122), Max Kepler (118), and Eddie Rosario (111).

    Weighted On-Base Average
    Another statistic fans might be unfamiliar with is weighted on-base average (wOBA). According to FanGraphs, wOBA “combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.” Batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have flaws and wOBA helps to alleviate some of those discrepancies. A typical hitter will finish the season with a .320 wOBA.

    Guess what? The Twins are projected to very well when it comes to wOBA as well. Every player scheduled to be a regular has a wOBA north of .320. Even Willians Astudillo in a short 10-game stint falls into this category. Minnesota’s top-five in projected wOBA include Donaldson (.379), Cruz (.375), Sano (.356), Kepler (.350), and Rosario (.340).

    Offensive Runs Above Average (OFF)
    There is no perfect measure of offensive performance and Offensive Runs Above Average (OFF) attempts to combine a player’s batting runs and base running runs compared to the league average. This results in a combination of the weighted stolen base runs, weighted double play runs, and ultimate base running. League average ends up being set to zero and 9-10 runs results in one win of value according to FanGraphs.

    Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz rank well above the rest of the Twins line-up when it comes to OFF. Donaldson’s 10.6 OFF ranks as the best on the team and he’s two points higher than Nelson Cruz (8.6 OFF). Max Kelper (5.8 OFF), Miguel Sano (4.6), and Eddie Rosario (3.7) have the other top five OFF totals for the Twins. Sano is likely starting the year out of the line-up as he has failed to pass the league mandated COVID-19 protocols since summer camp opened.

    Do you think the Twins have baseball’s second-best line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Jul 15 2020 02:21 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Projecting the Opening Day Roster: 29-Players! Yes, Please.

    Major League Baseball was already planning on expanding rosters for the 2020 season from 25 players to 26 players. Now, it sounds like MLB will add even more roster protections with rosters being expanded to 29 players, at least for the beginning of the season. So how does that impact the Twins. Let’s find out.

    Editor's Note: The originally posted article did not include a designated hitter spot. The author went back and added Nelson Cruz and took a pitcher out of the bullpen.

    Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo

    With a likely scenario that includes multiple doubleheaders and possibly back-to-back doubleheader days, it will be critical for the Twins to carry a minimum of three catchers. My original plan included Astudillo heading to Rochester to start the year, but that won’t be possible now. Garver and Avila could rotate through a regularly scheduled season like Garver and Jason Castro did in 2019. Astudillo has an option remaining so he could be sent down later in the year if roster sizes change as the season moves on.

    Infielders (5): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano

    Minnesota’s infield projection is pretty clear with four regulars and Ehire Adrianaza serving as a replacement for players when the need an off-day. Marwin Gonzalez is another middle infield option, but Adrianza is a far superior defender and Gonzalez can be used in the outfield as a replacement. Minnesota might have the best offensive infield in the American League, and it will be fun to see what these players can do in a shortened season.

    Outfielders (5): Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario

    Byron Buxton was a question mark for the original Opening Day, but a delayed start means he should be healthy and ready to go. Max Kepler is looking to build off a tremendous 2019 campaign and it’s hard to know if Eddie Rosario will be on the Twins beyond 2020. After Sano’s spring injury last year, Gonzalez found himself in a starting role. That likely won’t be the case this year and he will have to slide into a bench player role, especially in a shortened season.

    Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

    Cruz will be entering is coming off a year where he was named the team's MVP, but he is only under contract through the end of the year. Can he match last year's production, even if the season is shortened?

    Rotation (6): Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill, Jhoulys Chacin

    Major League Baseball hasn’t clarified how the 29-man roster would be designated. It seems likely for there to be fewer off-days and more scheduled doubleheaders. This will make it important to carry more starting pitchers, especially with Michael Pineda still serving his suspension. This allows Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin to slide into Minnesota’s newly created six-man rotation. Hill won’t be ready until June, at best, but MLB baseball might not be ready until that time either. Other players in the bullpen could also fill in for a spot start if doubleheaders are expanded.

    Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler, Devin Smeltzer

    This bullpen is good; like really good. It’s too bad a shortened season is going to take away from the impact this bullpen could have over a 162-game season. That being said, this group could be lights out in the post-season. Taylor Rogers was one of the most reliable bullpen arms in 2019. The trio of Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, and Sergio Romo were dominant at season’s end. Adding the other arms listed above will make this bullpen fun to watch no matter how many games are played in 2020.

    How would this roster fare in the newly proposed division realignments? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Apr 13 2020 11:53 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Left Field

    Projected Starter: Eddie Rosario
    Likely Backup: Marwin Gonzalez

    Depth: Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr.
    Prospects: Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach

    THE GOOD

    I have ridden the Rosario rollercoaster. After the 2018 season, I wrote an article honoring him as Twins Daily's MVP. A year later, I was openly wondering if his dramatic drop-off in performance might cause a valuation rift with the team. I've seen people say he is the team's most essential player, and I've seen people say he's the team's fourth-best outfielder.

    Clearly, there are a lot of differing views on Rosario. But I do know of two people who clearly view him very highly: Paul Molitor and Rocco Baldelli. The left fielder was Opening Day cleanup hitter in Molitor's last year as manager, and in Baldelli's first.

    As a matter of fact, Rosario batted fourth in a whopping 127 of Minnesota's 162 games last year, plus all three in the playoffs. He anchored an offense that scored 939 runs and set the MLB home run record. Yes, this did inflate his gaudy RBI total (109) but still, hitting 32 home runs and slugging .500 in a down year is pretty telling.

    Baldelli never wavered in making him a central lineup fixture, because Rosario kept rewarding his faith. There was no inherent loyalty influencing the decisions. Eddie simply produced when it counted, slashing .340/.370/.538 with runners in scoring position and a nearly identical .324/.360/.539 in high leverage.

    Over the two seasons preceding 2019, Rosario was second among Twins players in fWAR, edged slightly by Brian Dozier. His built-up cred and a continuing flair for clutchness kept him high in the manager's esteem, even while Rosario battled through a campaign that was undeniably trying in some ways. There's evidence his lapses may have been injury-impacted.

    The really good news is this: If Rosario can't buck his downward trend, the Twins are absolutely loaded with outfielders. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. are readily available, and could hold their own as big-league starters. In the minor-leagues, Brent Rooker is ready to step in now after mashing as Rochester's left fielder last year. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are also top-tier hitting prospects verging on MLB-readiness, and while both have played much more right field than left in the minors, there's little doubt the Twins would be fine rolling either one out to LF if Rosario falters.

    The organization's corner outfield depth is phenomenal, and will likely come into play here much sooner than in right. One way or another.

    THE BAD

    On June 26th, Rosario rolled his ankle while charging around first base in a home game against the Rays. Coming up with a limp, he spiked his helmet into the ground, immediately recognizing the gravity of a season-altering injury.

    His frustration was understandable. Rosario was in the zone at the time. His OPS sat at .841 and was heading north, thanks to a patented hot streak: In his past 10 games, he had a .413 average.

    Despite the seemingly serious nature of the injury, he returned to action a mere three weeks later. But he wasn't the same. Rosario slashed .268/.286/.465 the rest of the way, and his already iffy defense completely tanked alongside his sprint speed, as chronicled in an excellent column from Dan Hayes and Aaron Gleeman at The Athletic.

    Healthy after a winter of rest, Rosario has vowed to recapture his previous form. But his running and defense weren't really strong points beforehand, and late-season dropoffs have now become a trend; in 2018 a first-half .890 OPS gave way to a .622 OPS in the second half. Rosario's 2018 tailspin also carried injury implications – a quad strain he fought through before it ended his season in mid-September – but in both cases, the outfielder's well-intentioned tenacity ended up hurting more than helping.

    Another flaw in Rosario's 2019 cannot be attributed as cleanly to a limited ankle. He showed zero patience at the plate, giving in to his worst tendencies by chasing a league-high and career-high 46.3% of pitches outside the zone. This surprisingly didn't translate to an avalanche of swings-and-misses (Rosario's whiff rate and K-rate were actually both career lows), but it did result in a TON of weak contact as he constantly offered at pitcher's pitches.

    The occasional big blasts were enough to keep his slugging numbers afloat, but Rosario finished with a horrendous .300 on-base percentage, seventh-worst among qualified hitters. Modern statisticians generally agree that OBP is more valuable than slugging, and that's all the more true in this power-laden era. Rosario's .500 SLG ranked 61st among qualified hitters last year, whereas great on-base guys are harder to come by.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    If Rosario is making outs at a 70% rate and playing sub par defense in left field, he's really not much an asset, theatrics aside. His 1.2 fWAR in 2019, which ranked 11th among Twins position players, might understate the totality of his impact, but an energetic presence and flare for dramatics won't offset Eddie's negatives if they persist – not with his price rising (he'll make $7.75 million this year), his free agency approaching (he's eligible after next season), and premier talents increasingly pushing from below.

    I haven't been shy about expressing my disappointment with Rosario's 2019 campaign, but I think it's a mistake to write him off. He's a tremendously skilled player, still only 28 years old, humbled and determined. I like his chances to bounce back, and even if he doesn't, the number of quality fallback options is reassuring.

    Left field is in good shape for the Minnesota Twins. One way or another.


    ~~~


    Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Catcher
    Twins 2020 Position Analysis: First Base
    Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Second Base
    Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Third Base
    Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Shortstop

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    • Mar 11 2020 05:47 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  6. Rosario’s Return to Relevance in 2020

    If you’ve followed me on Twitter for any length of time, you’ll note that I’ve had a rollercoaster of emotions in regard to the Twins left fielder. He was someone I found myself incredibly high on as a prospect, eagerly anticipating his call up. As a big leaguer he’s been deeply rooted in surface statistics, rarely contributing in more than an individual manner. As we venture into his age-28 season, a merging of all aspects would be more than a great development.

    Recently Tom Froemming did an amazing job diving into the injury issues that plagued Eddie last season. While it was reported that Rosario dealt with an ankle issue, the magnitude was probably never truly understood. Rocco Baldelli told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs, “that was a fairly significant injury that he was playing with last year. I can't say that at any point during the regular season last year that he was 100 percent running around out there.” With that in mind, it stands to reason a rebound solely due to health would be in store.

    What’s more for Rosario is that there’s been a steady decline across the board for the past three seasons. After posting an .836 OPS in 2017 he dropped to .803 in 2018 and .800 last season. He’s remained the same free-swinging player he always has been, making a bit more contact, but generating a career worst 46% chase rate. Those, at least to a certain extent, are isolated issues from injury.

    So why should we believe he turns things around? Well, again, it starts with health. If Rosario is back to 100%, he’s working with a more athletic profile. In 2015 he posted a 28.5 ft/sec sprint speed. That season he ripped off 15 triples and a career best 9 DRS. He was down at least a 0.5 ft/sec to a full 1.0 ft/sec in recent seasons.

    Pressing in the outfield may also have translated to the plate. After debuting with strikeout rates up near 25%, he’s dropped that all the way to a career best 14.6% in 2019. That falls in line with his whiff rates as well, but that’s where the good news ends. Rosario’s chase rate spiking, alongside a career high contact rate last season, is indicative of a Willians Astudillo-esque approach. The K/BB inputs aren’t as exaggerated, but the reality is he’s executing on poor pitches too often.

    Should a return to 2017 plate discipline take place (and that’s a big ask in dropping chase rate 10%), Eddie’s batted ball profile is as good as it’s ever been. He posted a career best 39% hard hit rate last year, yanked the ball nearly 50% of the time, and was in the air 42.2% of the time. As a lefty he’ll need loft to clear the Target Field wall in right, but 328 down the line is the quickest way to exit the stadium. There’s work to be done here for sure, but a guy entering his prime should not be in over his head when it comes to execution.

    Projection systems are on board with a slight rebound as well. ZiPS has Rosario at 1.9 fWAR in 2020, while Steamer sees him at 2.2 fWAR. Neither of the OPS marks represent career highs, but the further he can clear the .800 bar the better. Assuming injury was a key part of the defensive setbacks, a return to positive DRS marks makes sense. He consistantly contributes with his arm in terms of assists, but too often Rosario was looking to make a spectacular play with the throw in response to a miscue with the route or glove.

    At the end of the day it’s hard to scoff at a guy who put up 32 dingers and 109 RBI in one of baseball’s best lineups. He did it while batting cleanup though and left so much more on the table in all facets of the game. Rather than being enamored by somewhat hollow surface numbers, hoping Rosario’s clean bill of health takes him to the next level in a less pressure-filled role this season could be a get Minnesota didn’t know they’d be getting.

    It’s a pretty big swing year for Eddie, and the guy who once had me in awe as a prospect could again produce at a level that makes him more than just a fan favorite in Twins Territory.

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    • Mar 03 2020 11:22 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  7. Cut to the Chase: Can Twins Hitters Avoid Balls Out of the Zone?

    Players are going to continue to chase a higher number of pitches especially with launch angle and exit velocity becoming more prevalent in the baseball vernacular. Last season, the MLB average was 28.8% for chase percentage with a 57.6% chase contact percentage. Compared to previous seasons, chase percentage has gone up each year from 27.3% in 2017 to 27.6% in 2018.

    Not all Twins hitters need to improve their chase rate. Mitch Garver was much better than the league average with a 17.4 chase % and it was no surprise for Luis Arraez to be better than league average (24.3 chase %). Other Twins better than league average included Miguel Sano (26.2%), Jorge Polanco (26.6%), Nelson Cruz (27.2%), and Max Kepler (27.6%). These players could certainly make improvements this year, but they were already better than or close to league average.

    Sano might be a surprising name to be included in the list above, because of his offensive profile. He is a larger player that is considered a power hitter and this player type typically has big swings that can result in a lot of strikeouts. Sano’s chase % was less than two points lower than Arraez, who became well known for his eye at the plate during his rookie season. Sano was even a full point better than Cruz, his hitting mentor, in relation to chase %.

    Newly signed Josh Donaldson has fared well with chase percentage even though, like Sano, he fits the profile of a power hitter. For his career, he has a 22.6 chase % while last season he was slightly higher at 23.1%. Last season, he also made more contact outside of the zone (60.0 chase contact %), a career high. His veteran approach at the plate could help other players especially some of the younger players in the organization.

    Eddie Rosario is an interesting case when it comes to chase percentage. He led all Twins players with a 43.1 chase % and it placed him fifth in all of baseball. What makes him interesting is the amount of contact he makes outside of the zone (over 70% of the time) and that puts him in baseball’s top 20. It’s hard to imagine Rosario changing his offensive approach at this point in his career, but it would be nice if he could get his chase % below 40%.

    Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez had similar profiles when it came to chase % with Buxton’s chase percentage (33.9 %) only 0.4% higher than Gonzalez. Prior to the 2019 season, Buxton’s career chase % was under 32% and it seems like he could get back to that mark if he is healthy. Gonzalez had his career best chase % with the 2017 Astros and most fans are familiar with the cheating scandal surrounding that club. His chase % last season might have been the best of his career when excluding the 2017-18 seasons.

    Baseball is continuing to evolve, but some small changes for Twins batters could help the club reach their ultimate goal. Which Twins batters can make the biggest changes with chase % in 2020? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 24 2020 10:23 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  8. Is Eddie Rosario Facing a Make-or-Break Year With the Twins?

    According to FanGraphs, Eddie Rosario has provided the Twins $83.7 million worth of value over the course of his five big league seasons. His best season was 2018 when he accumulated a 3.5 WAR and FanGraphs valued him at $27.6 million. He was worth $20.6 million in 2017 and $19.6 million in 2015, his rookie season. These are some great seasons, especially since the Twins have only paid him $5.89 million throughout his career.

    Last season was Rosario’s least valuable season besides the 2016 campaign where he was limited to 92 games. He set career highs in home runs and RBI while having less than 90 strikeouts for the first time. Even with those positives, his defensive decline is drastically impacting his value to the Twins.

    SABR’s Defensive Index ranked Rosario as the third worst AL left fielder last season with a -5.7 SDI. Only Seattle’s Domingo Santana and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi ranked lower than Rosario. Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, a newly released statistic, ranks Rosario even worse. Among the 92 qualified outfielders his -17 OAA is the lowest total by four outs.

    Even with his positive offensive numbers, FanGraphs puts Rosario’s value at $9.3 million last season. He will cost the Twins nearly $8 million in 2020 and his salary would increase for 2021, his age-29 season. It could be getting to the point where Rosario’s on-field value doesn’t match the salary he is being paid. Minnesota’s front office is smart enough to look at his overall value and it could be in the best interest of the team to cut ties with Rosario.

    Back in 2016, the Twins went through a similar situation with Trevor Plouffe. He was projected to earn $8.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Instead Minnesota cut ties with him, because the roster had other first base/DH options and Miguel Sano was ready to take over at third base. Plouffe had been limited to 84 games in 2016 and he would only play 107 more games at the big-league level.

    To take the place of Rosario, the Twins could have other prospects waiting to take over a corner outfield spot. Players like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach could both be ready for a full-time role on the 2021 Twins. Each would be making the minimum salary and they could be able to provide more value without being as much of a defensive liability.

    Rosario has provided some dramatic moments throughout his Twins tenure, but his days in a Twins uniform could be numbered. Do you think the Twins keep Rosario beyond the 2020 season?

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    • Jan 20 2020 02:19 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  9. Twins and 2020 Arbitration

    Earlier in the offseason, the Twins had to make decisions on which players they would offer arbitration to. Players with less than six years of service time, and more than three years (and the top 30% of players with more than two years of service time are Super-2 players) are eligible for salary arbitration.

    At that time, the team non-tendered RHP Sam Dyson early in the process. They also non-tended CJ Cron, who has since signed with the Tigers. They also agreed to terms with infielder Ehire Adrianza and RHP Matt Wisler.

    Below are the players that will know a lot more about their 2020 salaries by this afternoon. They will either agree to terms before 11:00 (which is usually what happens), or at that time, the team and the player will make their "bids" for their 2020 salaries. If they are unable to agree to terms before their arbitration date, the two sides will go in front of an arbitration panel and have the 2020 salary determined. This also does not happen often.

    So let's get to the players. What you will see below is the MLB Trade Rumor projection, and also the Twins Daily projection (found in the Offseason Handbook). When we see that an agreement has been reached, we will also post that under each player's name.

    UPDATE (5:00 pm.) - more specifics will be posted below when details are available.



    Trevor May

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2.1 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $2.5 million
    Actual: $2.205 million

    Eddie Rosario

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $8.9 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $7.5 million
    Actual: $7.75 million

    Miguel Sano

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $5.9 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $5.5 million
    Actual: Agreed to multi-year deal through 2022, with option for 2023.

    Byron Buxton

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2.9 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $3.5 million
    Actual: $3.025 Million (per Jon Heyman)



    Taylor Rogers

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.9 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $4.0 million
    Actual: $4.45 million

    Tyler Duffey

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million
    Twins Daily Projection:$1.25
    Actual: $1.2 million.



    Jose Berrios

    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $5.4 million
    Twins Daily Projection: $4.5 million
    Arbitration: No agreement yet.
    Twins offer: $4.025 mlillion, Berrios asked: $4.4 million.



    https://twitter.com/...803718043684864


    Feel free to discuss.

    • Jan 11 2020 09:22 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  10. Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets of 2020: Part 1 (16-20)

    First, here are the parameters and stipulations:

    • Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally).
    • Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. (Sorry Willians.)
    • The idea is to assess their importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this respect, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.)
    • This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2019.
    • Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion?
    Any questions or quibbles, holler in the comments. Let's start the countdown.

    TOP 20 MINNESOTA TWINS ASSETS OF 2020 (16-20)

    20. Ryan Jeffers, C
    2019 Ranking: NR

    An early example of positional scarcity playing a role in these rankings. There are better Twins prospects than Jeffers who will not appear on this list, but his presence in the system is especially vital. The 2018 second-round draft pick is a 22-year-old catcher who has already reached Double-A, hitting at every level. Folks in the know rave about his defensive skills, and pitch-framing especially.

    Thus far Jeffers has done nothing but validate the team's belief in him. A catcher who shines both ways is among the game's most coveted assets. Luckily, the Twins already have one of those in place at the major-league level, which is one of the only reasons Jeffers is even this low. (Spoiler: Fellow high-grade catching prospect Ben Rortvedt didn't make the Top 20, but is a short step behind Jeffers and is definitely an honorable mention.)

    19. Eddie Rosario, OF
    2019 Ranking: 8

    I found Rosario's 2019 campaign a tad disappointing, despite the precedent-shattering HR and RBI totals, and I know I'm not alone. But we shouldn't be totally consumed by recency bias in evaluating him. The prior two years he was the team's second-most valuable player behind Brian Dozier (per fWAR) and I hope we can all agree his practical impact in 2019 was greater than OBP/defense-hampered metrics suggest. (To what extent is debatable.)

    The fact remains: Rosario has yet to put together a completely transcendent season, and he's now 28 with two years of team control remaining. His expected salary via arbitration in 2020 (~$7-9 million) is reasonable – hardly a bargain. Rosario absolutely a guy you like to have around, but with all the corner outfield depth, and crystallizing deficiencies to accompany his almost unparalleled "unstoppable when hot" dynamic, he slides down in this ranking.

    18. Michael Pineda, RHP
    2019 Ranking: NR

    Two years of team control at an extremely reasonable cost. When signed, I estimated that Pineda's newly minted contract will be looked back at as the best one executed by Minnesota's front office this offseason, and that's why he ranks here despite the evident drawbacks.

    Yes, he'll miss ~12% of those two years due to suspension. But this might actually be beneficial in terms of workload management, and Pineda's established high-end performance level in the rotation is critical for the Twins. His injury history can't be ignored, but the mix of ability, recent health record, and contract appeal make him an essential short-term fixture.

    17. Nelson Cruz, DH
    2019 Ranking: NR

    Cruz has some major things working against him on a list like this. He's 39. Offers zero defensive value. Nagging wrist problem lingers as a concern. Only under contract for one more year. As you zoom out to the big-picture view, the designated hitter's significance diminishes. But when it comes to 2020 – a critical year brimming with opportunity – few figures on the roster loom larger.

    Cruz was one of the best hitters in the American League this year. The two players ahead of him in wOBA were Mike Trout and Alex Bregman, who finished 1-2 in the AL MVP voting. Even with his circumstantial detriments, Cruz's elite hitting ability and elder statesmanship – in a clubhouse where he's older than the manager – are irreplaceable at this moment.

    16. Tyler Duffey, RHP
    2019 Ranking: NR

    There are a lot of players on this year's list who were not on last year's. (This speaks to both the volatility of pro baseball and my general ineptitude in such endeavors.) I don't think any newcomer would've ranked lower last year than Duffey, a 28-year-old failed starter who was failing to catch on as a reliever, and nearly out of options.

    In 2019, he completely flipped the narrative. Suddenly, the tantalizing upside that long intrigued onlookers surfaced. Armed with a 94 MPH fastball and a harder, sharper version of his ever-impressive breaking ball, Duffey became an overpowering force in the late innings. Over 57 2/3 innings with the Twins, he posted a 2.50 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 12.8 K/9 rate while holding opponents to a .201 average. His 5.86 K/BB ratio ranked 14th among MLB relievers.

    Duffey is entering his first turn at arbitration and has three years of team control remaining. This puts him solidly ahead of the similarly impactful Trevor May, who is one year from free agency and a narrow miss in the Top 20.

    Check back in tomorrow for Part 2 of these rankings.

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    • Jan 05 2020 07:02 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  11. 10 Years at Target Field: The Best Moments of the Decade

    10: Outdoor baseball returns to Minnesota (4/12/10)

    On April 12th, 2010, the Twins christened their new ballpark, hosting the Red Sox on a cloudy and cool Monday afternoon. It wasn't the team's first game at Target Field (a pair of exhibitions against the Cards had been played there 10 days earlier) but this one made it official. For the first time in almost 30 years, Twins fans were able to watch meaningful baseball at home under blue skies rather than a Teflon roof.

    It was a crisply played 5-2 victory for Minnesota, keyed by Carl Pavano's six strong innings along with three-hit games from Jason Kubel and reigning MVP Joe Mauer. The Twins went on to win their first four series at Target Field and finished 53-28 (.654) at home in the new stadium's inaugural season.

    9: Byron Buxton races for record-setting inside-the-park home run (8/18/17)

    As with many of the moments on this list, I picked this one because it is emblematic of the man behind it. Buxton has had plenty of amazing moments at Target Field since debuting there in 2015, but his inside-the-parker against Arizona in August of 2017 epitomizes the electricity and incredible athleticism that make him such a tremendous joy to watch.

    Blazing around the bases in 13.85 seconds after his towering drive caromed off the wall in right-center, Buxton set a new Statcast record for the feat, breaking... his own. (Of course.)



    8: Ben Revere channels Willie Mays in center field (8/22/11)

    Target Field has seen its share of phenomenal defensive plays, and Mr. Buxton has been responsible for quite a few of them. In my humble opinion, however, none can top this dazzling catch from Revere, which to me is one of those "You remember where you were and who were you with when you saw it" kinds of moments. Defensive play of the decade for Minnesota, from my view.



    7: The Rally Squirrel becomes legendary (8/21/19)

    The beauty of outdoor baseball is that it brings so many variables into play: wind, weather, and the occasional wildlife.

    In the first year at Target Field, there was the famous moth-eating falcon, which came to be known as Kirby the Kestrel. But the most beloved unticketed visitor waited nearly until the end of the decade to make its appearance: The Rally Squirrel.



    He (or a cohort) had scampered out the previous night, during a losing effort, but this time the squirrel's appearance coincided with a big comeback and flurry of runs for the Twins, who rallied to blow out the White Sox and earn the newly minted mascot its nickname.



    6: Eddie Rosario homers on first MLB pitch (5/6/15)

    From the Department of Can't-Make-This-Stuff-Up: Rosario's big-league debut. Stepping up for his first major-league at-bat in 2015, with his family watching from the Target Field stands, Eddie offered at the first pitch he saw from A's lefty Scott Kazmir and sent it over the left-field wall.



    For fans, it was the perfect introduction to Rosario, conveying his confidence, aggressive approach, and flare for theatrics.

    5: Brian Dozier caps epic comeback against Tigers (7/10/15)

    Two months after his splashy arrival, Rosario played a role in one of the most exhilarating victories of the decade, setting the stage for Dozier's heroics.

    The Twins, flirting with contention for the first time in years, were looking to finish out the first half strong with a series against Detroit heading into the break. They'd fallen in the first game and were at risk of another setback, with a 6-1 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth.

    Rosario delivered an RBI single to bring Minnesota within four. A bases-loaded HBP from Kurt Suzuki and two-run single from Danny Santana trimmed the Tigers' lead to one. Then the lineup turned over and up came Dozier – days away from his first All-Star Game – with two on and one out. Joakim Soria hung a breaking ball, and he paid for it.



    Any "Best Twins Player of the Decade" discussion should probably start with Dozier. He was the beating heart of those upstart, fringy playoff teams in 2015 and 2017. His 42-homer outburst in 2016 was one of the sole positives in a trainwreck campaign. Twins Daily named Dozier team MVP three straight times. That walk-off shot was perhaps the most transcendent moment in a career full of special ones.

    4: Johan Santana is elected to Twins Hall of Fame (8/4/18)

    While it's fun reminiscing about the last 10 years, and thinking back to the days of Ben Revere catching a Vladimir Guerrero drive off of Carl Pavano, it does emphasize just how LONG ago that was. As we head into the 2020s, distance grows from a bygone era of Twins baseball filled with so many great players, moments, and memories.

    Johan's Hall of Fame induction in August of 2018 was a big highlight of this decade for me, because it channeled so much of the franchise's past into Target Field – if for one fleeting ceremony. Santana will forever be one of the great success stories in Twins history, and to see him celebrated alongside many of those cherished fellow fixtures from the late Metrodome run – Brad Radke, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Eddie Guardado – was cool. Especially on a day where Jose Berrios, who is striving to inherit Santana's mantle (an ace that can ACTUALLY beat the Yankees in October), was Minnesota's starting pitcher.



    3: Glen Perkins closes out the 2014 All-Star Game (7/15/14)

    When he retired after the 2017 season, I wrote that if a Twins Daily Hall of Fame were ever established, Perkins would be the first inductee. He was one of the team's best players throughout the site's early years of existence. He once bought a round of beers from the bullpen for TD Pub Crawl attendees. He's an amazing homegrown success story. Oh, and in his post-playing days he's now being described as "Minnesota's Ron Swanson."

    Sadly, Perk's career peak aligned directly with the grimmest part of the decade for the club. He was an elite closer on a terrible team, and his shoulder gave out just as the Twins began to finally emerge from the struggle. Perkins flat-out deserved to have things play out exactly as they did when the All-Star Game came to Minneapolis in 2014 and shined a national spotlight on Target Field.

    Trailing early, the American League came back to take a two-run lead, setting up a save opportunity for Minnesota's shutdown closer. Perkins trotted out to his mound, with Twins batterymate and fellow All-Star Kurt Suzuki on the other end, and retired the side in order to seal a win for the AL. You could have hardly scripted a better sequence for his All-Star appearance in front of the home crowd.



    2: Jim Thome blasts first Target Field walk-off HR against White Sox (8/17/10)

    Choosing just one Thome moment (Thoment?) for inclusion on this list was a challenge. In his brief but spectacular Target Field tenure to start the decade, the Hall of Famer gave us plenty of lasting memories, which would largely come to define the ballpark's early legacy.

    There was the mammoth flagpole dinger against the Royals in September of 2010. There was his epic moonshot to right-center the next summer, estimated at the time as the longest in the stadium's short history at 490 feet. There were his two jacks against Tampa Bay in July of 2010 to tie and then surpass Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list.

    But for me, nothing can beat the clutch tater that Thome thumped against the White Sox in August of 2010. With the Twins down by a run in the bottom of the 10th, the slugger launched a majestic two-run bomb into the plaza, notching the first walk-off home run in Target Field history. That legendary blast sealed a key division win for a team just three games up in the standings, and led to one of the best photos in Twins history.



    It's a tough moment for any other to top. More than eight years would pass before it finally happened.

    1: Joe Mauer dons catcher's gear for one last time (9/30/18)

    A lot of things needed to go right, and an array of carefully crafted plans had to reach fruition, for Mauer's farewell to play out as it did. Dan Hayes meticulously detailed the story for The Athletic, and it's one of my favorite things he's written.

    When everything fell into place on the final day of the 2018 season, pure magic was the result. Mauer hadn't explicitly confirmed he was playing his last game as a big-leaguer, but that sense was palpable throughout the afternoon, and became crystal-clear in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    With the Twins leading 5-4, Mauer stepped onto the diamond in catcher's gear for the first time in more than five years. He tearfully saluted fans during a lengthy ovation, received one pitch from Matt Belisle, and then walked off Target Field into the proverbial sunset, leaving behind an extraordinary 15-year career.



    Mauer's best days came in the Metrodome, no doubt. When Target Field was built, he was widely viewed as the best player in the AL, if not in all of baseball, a distinction he wouldn't hold onto for long. In the eyes of many, the portion of his career spent in Target Field will always be associated more with bilateral leg weakness and concussions and production that failed to live up to his mega-contract, signed a month before the park opened.

    But don't overlook the many moments he left his mark on Target Field. There was the walk-off homer against Boston in May of 2017. The ridiculous catch behind the foul net in 2010. The tallying of his 2,000th career hit in 2018 – a seeing-eye single up the middle, naturally.

    It's only right that from 2020 forward, no Twins player will ever wear No. 7 again. Joe was one-of-a-kind, up until his last day and heartfelt final moments in the uniform.

    ~~~


    I'd love to hear you all sound off. Did I miss any of your favorite moments? Would you change the order? Let's think back to our most cherished summer days as we experience the full brunt of Minnesota's winter.

    • Dec 29 2019 07:47 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  12. Who Could the Twins Trade this Offseason?

    Outfielders
    While Twins Daily has had plenty of Rosario trade discussion, MLB.com even identified him as a potential trade candidate. Minnesota’s other outfielders, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, could be in play. Kepler is coming off a career-best season and the Twins signed him to a team-friendly contract last season. Could this make him more susceptible to a trade this year? It seems more likely for the Twins to allow him to continue to develop at the top of their line-up.

    Byron Buxton seemed to be on track for the best season of his career before being injured last season. He has been the league’s best defensive player and he showed some offensive promise last season before being sidelined for the year. Another organization could see some higher value in him and this might allow a trade to occur.

    Infielders
    Miguel Sano struggled through parts of the last two seasons, but he certainly ended last season in a flurry. In the second half of 2019, he posted a .939 OPS with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 65 games played. He seemed to hit some of the team's biggest home runs as the team went on to win division title. Sano certainly isn’t perfect, but other teams might see significant value in him.

    As a 25-year old, Jorge Polanco was one of the American League’s most valuable players. He was named the AL’s starting shortstop and finished the year with a .356 OBP and an .841 OPS. Like Kepler, the Twins signed him to a team friendly deal prior to last season. This might make him more valuable next season, but the eventual appearance of top prospect Royce Lewis could make him expendable.

    Prospects
    The Twins will have few pitchers available to trade so the organization might have to dip into the minor leagues to find other options on the trading market. Fans wanted the organization to trade for more starting pitching at the trade deadline and this would likely have meant including top prospects Royce Lewis and/or Alex Kirilloff. Both players had up and down 2019 seasons, so their value might not be at the highest point.

    Top pitching prospects like Brusdar Graterol and Jordan Balazovic seem more valuable to the Twins than to other teams. Minnesota needs to fill holes in their rotation and both of these players could offer long-term solutions to the team’s pitching woes. Digging deeper into the minors for pitchers like Jhoan Duran, Lewis Thorpe, and Blayne Enlow would probably produce little in trade value.

    Who do you think the Twins could trade this off-season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Nov 18 2019 12:13 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  13. Eddie Rosario's Actual Value Is an Offseason Sticking Point

    I like Eddie Rosario. I consider myself a big fan. He is talented and electric and entertainingly brash. His ability to crush pitches anywhere within reach is amazing. Rosie brings a unique element to the Twins lineup and clubhouse, without a doubt.

    But I'm not gonna let these things blind me to the fact that he had a down year in some very essential ways. Whenever I broach this subject, I seem to find myself accused of being a "hater," but an honest analysis cannot avoid the conclusion that Rosario was a very ordinary player in 2019.

    True: Rosario batted cleanup all year long for an historically powerful offense. He hit 32 homers and drove in a team-leading 109 runs.

    Also true: He posted a .300 on-base percentage, lower than all but seven qualified major leaguers. And depending on which metric you look at, he was either sub par defensively, or the worst left fielder in the league. His Statcast measures were generally below average.

    Granted, a pinch-hit walk-off home run sticks in the viewer's mind more than that steady stream of outs, which blend into the game's general rhythm over a long season. The same is true for a flashy game-ending outfield assist, in comparison with the litany of missed plays stemming from diminishing range, bad routes, and poor decisions.

    But the central tenets of modern baseball analysis pronounce that outs are a precious commodity. Low OBPs are suppressive, even when attached to solid power. On the flip side, giving up outs defensively is detrimental to the utmost for run prevention.

    In these two categories, Rosario was among the league's worst performers. And he's not trending well on either.

    I realize that not everyone shares my perspective here. Clearly not the MVP voters, who collectively deemed Rosario more valuable than – say – Max Kepler, who received one single ninth-place vote despite his superior OBP, SLG, and home run total. That's not even broaching the vast chasm in defensive value. Kepler ranked 11th among AL position players in fWAR; Rosario ranked 50th!

    I get it. This is the lagging nature of award voting, which has grown only mildly more sophisticated over the years. (To their credit, BBWAA did get it right by crowning Mike Trout.)

    Moving at a more advanced pace in player evaluation? MLB's front offices. The shift has been evident in recent years, with home runs and RBIs decreasingly translating into dollars on their own merit. This helps explain why Jose Abreu (who finished in between Rosario and Kepler on the MVP ballots) opted to accept a qualifying offer from the White Sox, rather than test the market following an All-Star, 123-RBI season.

    This brings us to the crux of the matter. Rosario is due for his second turn at arbitration this year, after earning $4.2 million in Year 1. He and his agent have grounds to request a substantial raise in 2020 – their case now bolstered by a dash of MVP recognition. The Twins will submit their own salary figure, and based on all we've just discussed, it's likely to be a good bit lower.

    Even at the highest extremes, these gaps are never all that significant, but then again, the Twins took Kyle Gibson (every bit the entrenched franchise stalwart Rosario is) to arbitration in 2018 over a mere $300K difference in exchanged numbers. This front office is all about setting precedent.

    Should the case go before a panel, it'll be interesting to see which way it goes. Arbitrators have traditionally been very... traditional in their judgments, aligning more so with the sentiments of BBWAA voters than Billy Beane. But in theory, salaries determined through this process should reflect larger trends around the league. What's 1.2 fWAR worth?

    Anyway, all of that is beside the point. Determining Rosario's salary is a microcosm of the larger narrative: He's two years from free agency, and coming off a complicated season. This juncture is prime for either an extension or trade, as the Twins may never have better leverage on either front. If they choose to stay on the year-to-year plan, then arbitration awaits, and whatever that entails.

    One way or another, we figure to learn a lot about Rosario's future in Minnesota over the next couple months.

    • Nov 15 2019 12:45 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  14. Offseason Blueprint: Making Big Betts

    This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move.

    1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price

    Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season.

    Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity.

    The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons.

    Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him.

    Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason.

    2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players

    This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board.

    3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million

    Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results.

    4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million

    At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen.

    5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million

    I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019.

    6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray

    This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired.

    Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season.

    SUMMARY

    The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place.

    [attachment=13321:Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.19.42 PM.png]

    The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace.

    [attachment=13322:Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.09 PM.png]

    The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning.

    [attachment=13323:Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.19 PM.png]

    Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer.

    This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble.

    Check out these other Offseason Blueprints:
    Building a Bullpenner

    What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.

    • Nov 12 2019 09:10 AM
    • by Nate Palmer
  15. The Twins Shouldn't Give Up on Rosario

    It’s not the end of the world to consider trading him at this point. Especially because his trade value should be pretty high right now. Afterall, regardless of how disappointing it might have ended, wasn’t a bad season at all. So, it makes a lot of sense to deal him in exchange for quality pitching. But it’s a tough pill to swallow when people try to justify this deal by saying that Rose is “washed”. He isn’t.

    Perhaps the main reason people’s impression of Rosario was mostly negative after this season was the below average second half that he had. After slashing .282/.312/.529 (.841) and hitting 20 HR before the All-Star break, he slowed down in the second half, hitting .268/.286/.465 (.750) and 12 HR. Overall, the 2019 season was his worst season putting the ball in play, as he had his career-low BABIP, with .273.

    He also chased too many out of the zone pitches, with his O-Swing% reaching a career high 46.3%. His ability to draw walks, which was never very good, seemed to regress this year (3.7 BB%), as it dropped way below his career average (4.4 BB%).

    But that simply isn’t enough to establish Rosario as a bad hitter nor to say that he can’t contribute to the Twins success in the foreseeable future. For instance, despite regressing in the aforementioned aspects, he also showed a lot of improvement this year — maybe even more than regression.

    For instance, his 38.8 hard-hit rate was a career high, which undoubtedly helped him achieve career highs in HR (32) and RBI (109). His weak-contact rate was just 1.9%, a career best. Also, both his barrel (8.5%) and solid-contact (7.1%) rates were comfortably above the MLB averages. His .330 xWOBA in 2019 was both better than league average (.319) and much better than his overall career mark in that stat (.307).

    Another fun fact: Despite swinging at pitches outside the zone in an alarming rate this year, he did manage to strikeout the least times in his entire career. His 14.6% strikeout rate was the third best among all left fielders in the league and 13th in the entire AL. He struck out at a lower rate than Jose Altuve, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Mike Trout, to name a few.

    If the chase of pitches outside of the zone is what bothers you about him, here’s a list of players who also had a O-Swing% of 40 percent or more: Javier Báez, Eduardo Escobar, Rafael Devers and Nicholas Castellanos. Rosario had better contact (80.3%) and SwStr% (11.7) than every single one of them.

    On the other hand, Rosario had the worst year of his career defensively. Per Fangraphs, he had -6 DRS, -5.7 UZR and -11.1 DEF, which, among 24 left fielders with at least 500 innings on the field, rank 19th, 21st and 21st respectively. That’s terrible. But is it enough proof that he can’t be a good fielder anymore? Hardly. Since being called up in 2015, Rosario ranks second among left fielders with 37 assists and the fourth in putouts (893). He also ranks seventh in UZR (10.6) out of 22 left fielders with at least 2,000 innings. He isn’t nearly a great defender, but very few players at that position are. Only three had a positive Defensive Runs Above Average in the last five years. So I barely think we have reason to worry here.

    There’s enough reason to believe Rosario can bounce back. There’s also a lot of justifiable reasons to want to trade him this winter. But saying he’s damaged goods definitely isn’t one of them.

    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
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    • Nov 09 2019 09:20 PM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  16. Mitch Garver, Nelson Cruz Win 2019 Silver Slugger Award

    For the first time since 2008, the Minnesota Twins have two Silver Slugger Award winners.



    Mitch Garver won the Silver Slugger after a season in which he hit .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. Garver becomes the first Twins catcher to win a Silver Slugger since Joe Mauer won his fifth in 2013. That was the most recent Twins Silver Slugger win.

    The numbers are impressive, but consider that he spent about three weeks on the Injured List with an ankle injury and he was splitting time behind the plate with Jason Castro. Garver made 73 starts behind the plate and had just three starts as the team's DH.

    Gary Sanchez of the Yankees hit .232/.316/.525 (.841) with 12 doubles and 34 home runs this season. He and Red Sox backstop Christian Vasquez were the other finalists.

    Nelson Cruz came to the Twins and mashed all year! The 39-year-old played in 120 games and hit a remarkable .311/.392/.639 (1.031) with 26 doubles and 41 home runs.

    The competition at DH came from Red Sox JD Martinez and the Royals Jorge Soler.


    Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario was one of six finalists in the American league outfield. The winners were the Astros George Springer, Red Sox Mookie Betts and the Angels Mike Trout.

    Former Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar was a finalist for the National League Silver Slugger at third base. Anthony Rendon was the winner.


    2019 American League Silver Slugger Winners

    1B: Carlos Santana
    2B: DJ LeMahieu
    3B: Alex Bregman
    SS: Xander Bogaerts
    OF: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, George Springer
    C: MITCH GARVER
    DH: NELSON CRUZ


    Who votes for the Silver Slugger Awards? Per the league's 2018 announcement.

    The Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award winners are decided by a vote of Major League Baseball managers and coaches who select the players they determine to be the best offensive producers at each position in the American and National Leagues. Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, as well as the managers' and coaches' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value. Tabulation of the balloting is verified by the accounting firm of Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP.



    Related Content:

    Twins Daily Most Improved Player 2019
    College Coach Not Surprised by Mitch Garver's 2019 Success
    Mitch Garver's Other Big Improvement
    Nelson Cruz and His Unlikely Quest for 400 Home Runs
    Nelson Cruz Defying Father Time

    • Nov 07 2019 06:17 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  17. Exploring Five Twins Extension Candidates

    5. Eddie Rosario
    2019 Season (137 Games): .800 OPS, 106 OPS+, 1.6 WAR
    So far this off-season, there has been talk of trading Rosario to upgrade the pitching staff. Unfortunately, Twins fans might value Rosario more than he is actually worth. As a 28-year old, he might fit the definition of a replacement level player and Minnesota has other young outfielders working their way to Target Field. He is under team control for the next two seasons so an extension beyond those years seems improbable.

    4. Taylor Rogers
    2019 Season (60 Games): 176 ERA+, 2.85 FIP, 2.5 WAR
    Rogers was one of the team’s most valuable pitchers last season, especially while other parts of the bullpen were struggling. He will be arbitration eligible this winter and he can’t become a free agent until the 2023 off-season at which point he would be 31-years old. Would Minnesota be willing to buy out his remaining arbitration years so they could add some years of team control? It seems more likely for the Twins to explore an extension after the 2020 campaign to see if Rogers can continue his bullpen dominance.

    3. Byron Buxton
    2019 Season (87 Games): .827 OPS, 114 OPS+, 3.1 WAR
    There has only been one big-league season where Buxton has logged more than 92 games played. In fact, the last two seasons he has been limited to 115 total games and he might have been denied a September call-up. Minnesota could look to avoid a Kris Bryant situation with Buxton by offering him an extension now. Buxton’s value could be hard to put a number on at this point because he showed some offensive improvement when he was on the field last year. He can reach free agency in 2023.

    2. Miguel Sano
    2019 Season (105 Games): .923 OPS, 138 OPS+, 3.1 WAR
    Like Rosario, Sano is closer to free agency than the others on this list. He started last season recovering from a freak off-season injury before settling in nicely to a career-high OPS. There are some obvious flaws on the defensive side of the ball, but he could get more time at first base and designated hitter in the years ahead. Nelson Cruz’s mentorship helped Sano and that duo will be able to collaborate again in 2020. It’s scary to think what that could mean if Sano can play more than 105 games.

    1. Jose Berrios
    2019 Season (32 Games): 124 ERA+, 3.85 FIP, 3.3 WAR
    Berrios seems the most likely candidate to receive an extension, especially after his 2019 season. Minnesota’s front office already approached Berrios last off-season and he turned down the contract offer. Betting on himself might have been the right choice. “Every player wants to sign a multiyear deal, but we know it’s a business,” Berrios told the Star Tribune last spring. “I have to manage my business, too. … We’re waiting for the best for both sides. If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year.” Berrios has built quite the resume and the Twins are going to want to keep him long-term.

    Will any of these players sign extensions this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Nov 03 2019 10:13 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  18. Assessing Eddie Rosario's Trade Market

    Yesterday Cooper Carlson published a good piece on Rosario's downward trend, which basically makes the case for a trade on Minnesota's end. But to sum it all up, here's why the Twins likely view Rosario as an expendable piece:

    • Top prospects Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker have all reached either Triple-A or Double-A. It's all but certain at least one of these advanced bats will be ready for the big-leagues by the middle of next summer, if not sooner.
    • Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. have both proven capable of filling in until a prospect arrives. Marwin Gonzalez can also play in left. All are superior defensively to Rosario.
    • Entering his second turn at arbitration, Rosario is only two seasons away from free agency, and his salary is going to rise significantly from this year's $4.2 million. The extent of his raise could become a point of contention, for the same reason his trade market is so tough to peg: Rosario epitomizes the philosophical divide between traditional and modern schools of performance evaluation.
    Batting cleanup all year for the most powerful offense in baseball history, Rosario launched 32 homers and drove in 109 runs, both career highs. But these baseball-card fixtures overstate the quality of his performance. Rosario made outs in 70% of his plate appearances. Statcast's Outs Above Average metric rated him as the worst defensive outfielder in baseball. He ranked 11th among Twins hitters in fWAR and his wOBA sat in the vicinity of Jason Castro, Ehire Adrianza, and C.J. Cron.

    Having said all that, Rosario's strengths and track record should not be entirely downplayed. Paul Molitor liked to say you always want one guy in your lineup who can thwart a pitcher that is totally dialed in. Eddie brings that "strike anytime" dynamic. When he gets on a hot streak, he borders on unstoppable, leaving pitchers with nowhere to hide. He's also a charismatic fan favorite, an energizer in the clubhouse, and a relentlessly fierce competitor.

    Although his reputation as Mr. Spotlight felt a bit miscast in the second half – amid futile "Eddie" chants – it is a well earned one. His pinch-hit walk-off homer at Target Field and game-ending gundown at Fenway were among the unforgettable 2019 highlights. He batted .340 with runners in scoring position and had a .983 OPS in Close & Late situations.

    Count the Twins and their analytically-inclined rookie manager among those who buy into Rosario's mystique: Rocco Baldelli wrote Rosario's name into the cleanup spot for all but five of his starts (he batted third in those).

    To what extent is this sentiment shared around the league? Do other increasingly sophisticated front offices view Rosario as a player whose presence and impact transcend the overall numbers and analytical conventions? It's no secret to anyone that his defense and speed have declined sharply, but Eddie is still only 28. His athleticism is still high, and he hasn't quite reached his ceiling. Any team acquiring him gets the two final years of his 20s.

    It seems fair to say that Rosario will be an appealing trade target – for the right buyer – but his market will be tempered. Who is that right buyer, and what might they be willing to offer?

    Let's try and whittle down to some prospective trade partners that make sense.

    Presumably they won't trade him within the division. That removes CLE, CWS, KC, DET.

    It can't be a team that has no real hope of contending during Rosario's remaining two years of control. Cross off BAL, SEA, MIA, PIT, CIN.

    We'll dash every team that is already loaded on offense, and/or easily capable of spending freely to get more of it: NYY, BOS, HOU, LAD, ATL, CHC, WAS, PHI, NYM, STL, COL.

    Okay, that leaves us with nine teams. I'll go through them one-by-one to assess the specific matches.

    TAMPA BAY RAYS

    Tough to see the team that viewed Corey Dickerson as expendable giving up much for Rosario. This just isn't a Rays-like move, and they've got ample outfield depth anyway. No match.

    TORONTO BLUE JAYS

    I was tempted to include them among hopeless non-contenders, but they have enough young talent that they could turn the corner in a hurry, particularly if they address the pitching staff with gusto. Problem is, left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was their best hitter this year, and right fielder Randal Grichuk (a very similar player to Rosario) is under contract through 2023. No match.

    OAKLAND ATHLETICS

    This one rather intrigues me. Oakland's primary corner outfielders – Robbie Grossman and Stephen Piscotty – combined for 19 homers and 1.4 fWAR in 2019. The A's have no outfielders among their top eight prospects, per MLB Pipeline. There's a fairly obvious need here, and acquiring Rosario would enable them to make an impact add without tying themselves up in a bulky free-agent contract. The A's are deep in arms that could appeal to the Twins. Maybe Chris Bassitt? Keep in mind that Rosario is pretty much the antithesis of a Billy Beane "Moneyball" specimen..

    TEXAS RANGERS

    I'm sure Eddie would LOVE to play in this park 160 times before hitting free agency. He's a career .328/.349/.517 hitter in Arlington, a notorious hitter's haven when the temps heat up. Unfortunately for him, it's tough to see the Rangers having a need, with solid corner outfield depth headed by Joey Gallo and Willie Calhoun. No match.

    LOS ANGELES ANGELS

    Hmmmm. Urgency is increasing for the Angels to do SOMETHING during Mike Trout's fleeting prime, lest they carry the burden of wasting one of baseball's greatest careers ever. Kole Calhoun is a free agent. They're gonna making some moves to set up new manager Joe Maddon for success; wouldn't be crazy to see a Rosario acquisition among them. Would reliever Cam Bedrosian plus a low-level prospect be a sensible return?

    MILWAUKEE BREWERS

    The thought of Rosario playing opposite Christian Yelich is fun. Only one problem: Ryan Braun, who remains under contract through next year, with a 2021 option. No match.

    ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

    Rosario's old partner in the Ed-n-Eddie duo, Eduardo Escobar, thrived during his first year in the desert with 35 homers and 118 RBIs. The D-backs, who sorely lacked for corner OF punch this year, could well be interested in reuniting them. Were Arizona to be open to something involving closer Archie Bradley, who like Rosie has two years of control remaining, this could be a good fit.

    SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

    If there's no bad blood from the Sam Dyson fiasco, this could work. I'm not sure the Twins would be enticed by anyone on San Francisco's big-league roster, but the Giants have a number of promising arms in the minors – some close to MLB-ready.

    SAN DIEGO PADRES

    Over the past two winters, the Padres invested $450 million Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado. The returns thus far have been less than great. Nevertheless, GM A.J. Preller is now tasked with building around them in a reasonably efficient way. Above all, this team needs cost-efficient offensive production, although their decision to give up Franmil Reyes at the deadline in July clashes with this assumption. If they're high on Rosario, I'm sure they could easily put together a package of arms to make it worth Minnesota's while.

    If you had to put your money a landing spot for Rosario, where would it be? (And that can definitely include "Minnesota.")

    • Nov 01 2019 08:30 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  19. Eddie Rosario Continued to Trend Downward in 2019

    Rosario just experienced his worst season over the last three years. Don’t be fooled by home runs and RBI

    Eddie Rosario was the primary cleanup hitter in the 2019 Twins lineup. It didn’t seem Rocco Baldelli ever considered changing that, despite Rosario ranking ninth in OPS on the Twins.
    While a lot of fans may have just looked at the career highs in home runs and RBIs with 32 and 109 respectively, those stats don’t hold much weight compared to some others. In a season where the home run record in the league was broken by 671, Rosario's 32 home runs puts him at 44th in baseball. Rosario tallied a career high in runs batted in because he was hitting fourth. He had more opportunities to drive in runs than anyone else. Here are some fun rankings among all Twins hitters.

    • Most pitches seen with RISP
    • Second-most pitches seen with anyone on base
    • Most pitches seen with go-ahead run on base
    A lot of players would drive in 100+ runs when hitting behind Kepler, Polanco, and Cruz every day.

    Back to home runs, the best way to measure if a hitter would have hit as many as he did without help from the altered baseball is to look at the exit velocity and launch angle. Rosario finished 175th among all hitters with an 89.1 MPH average exit velocity and an average launch angle of 16.7 degrees. The average home run was hit 103.5 MPH with a launch angle of 28 degrees. Rosario’s home runs were hit 102.1 MPH at a 29 degree launch angle. It’s a safe bet to say the home run numbers will drop next season.

    Rosario continued to trend downward in 2019

    The way Eddie Rosario's stats have trended over the past three seasons would make you think he is leaving his prime age, not entering it. The 28-year-old peaked in 2017 and ever since has slowly been declining statistically despite being seen by some as the face of the franchise. This chart exemplifies his drop since 2017:
    Statistics glossary

    [attachment=13295:hitting chart.png]

    The slugging is definitely solid, but his on-base percentage is extremely underwhelming, the seventh-worst in baseball among qualified hitters. His wRC+ was close to being exactly 100, which is league average.

    Plate discipline is the key problem

    Now that MLB pitchers have adjusted and realized Eddie simply can’t help himself from swinging, they have stopped throwing strikes. This graph is just shocking at how little adjustment Rosario had.

    [attachment=13296:rosario swing%.png]

    If he gets that under control, he could be the dangerous hitter many people perceive him to be. The problem is that he has not shown that he can change.

    Fielding took a major step backward

    Back in early August, Andrew Thares of Twins Daily pointed out something has happened to Eddie Rosario’s defense. The main stat to note is outs above average. Rosario finished with -17 outs above average. That was the worst in baseball by four runs. This came after -2 in 2017 and -3 in 2018.

    Andrew also used an excellent chart to show why he regressed so far down that I will basically just be updating with Rosario’s end-of-season numbers:

    [attachment=13297:fielding chart.png]

    The feet/second feet gained being multiplied by two is also explained in the original fielding post so go check it out.

    Does he have any trade value?

    Rosario is trending down both in the field and at the plate. He is currently 28-years-old and ZiPS projections expect him to continue to decline in AVG, SLG, OPS, wRC+, WAR, and really any stat except OBP because it’s hard to be worse than he was in that area. He is under team control for only two more seasons before he becomes a free agent in 2022. I don’t think teams will be willing to part with a number three starter for an average hitter and quite frankly a bottom three fielder this last season.

    Final thoughts

    Eddie Rosario is a serviceable left fielder that is good enough to be in most playoff lineups. He is not a top four hitter that many have thought of him to be and he never will be unless he can fix his plate discipline. The Twins will likely shop him around this offseason, but he will not be the centerpiece of a trade for a starter. If he is traded for a middle of the rotation arm, the trade will be headlined by a Twins prospect.

    For more trade talk about Rosario and pitchers the Twins could acquire check out these links:

    • Oct 30 2019 05:25 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  20. The Defensive Future of Royce Lewis

    Shortstop
    Lewis was drafted as a shortstop and the Twins have given him every opportunity to stick at one of the most important defensive positions. Through three professional seasons, 94.7% of his defensive innings have been played at short. He has been charged with 48 errors in 1076 chances for a .955 fielding percentage. This might not seem terrible, but Jorge Polanco had a .957 fielding percentage this year and there were plenty of people critical of his defense this year.

    Even with Minnesota continuing to use Lewis at shortstop, there is no guarantee he stays there long-term. As Matthew Trueblood wrote, there have been some “dubious recent scouting reports” about his shortstop play. Lewis could be entering a critical time for his defensive future and shortstop might not be his position in the years ahead. In fact, he has yet to log a defensive inning at shortstop in the AFL.

    Third Base
    Minnesota currently has Miguel Sano at third base, but there have been questions about his ability to stick at that position long-term. In fact, he might be better suited for first base or even designated hitter. If there was an opening at third, Lewis might be given the opportunity to take over the hot corner.

    In 11 of his 18 AFL games, he has started at third base and he has yet to be charged with an error. His time at third was almost nonexistent before the AFL started. During his professional career, he had played four innings at third base and he had yet to start a game at that position.

    It’s also not like there is a better shortstop prospect ahead of him on his AFL roster. Tampa’s Vidal Brujan has played the majority of the time at short and his own organization rarely uses him at that position (377 2/3 innings over five seasons).

    Outfield
    Minnesota’s current outfield looks strong if Bryon Buxton, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario are all healthy and on the field. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen very often in 2019 and one must wonder what the future holds for the team’s outfield trio. It also seems possible for one of these players to be dealt for starting pitching help before the beginning of next season.

    Lewis has played four games in center field during his career and three of those contests have been in the AFL. That still hasn’t stopped him from making a highlight reel catch.


    Outfield seems like a good back-up plan for Lewis if he doesn’t pan out at either one of the infield positions mentioned above. He has the athleticism to shift to the outfield, but it would take a lot of work to get him accustomed to chasing down fly-balls.

    Where do you think Royce Lewis will play defensively in the future? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

    • Oct 21 2019 07:38 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  21. Leading Off Podcast: Offseason SZN is Upon Us

    Hey everyone, your favorite or probably least favorite duo is back with another podcast! This is our first official episode during what we expect to be a fun offseason, and we previewed it all here. We included some free agent targets, 40-man roster questions, building a rotation, and much more so check it out.

    Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist!
    https://open.spotify..._S26GtGfBm_Smyg

    Time stamps

    2:10 The baseball is different?

    6:45 The offseason is here...what now?

    14:15 Twins have some free agents

    27:40 40-Man roster questions

    42:00 discussing some free agent targets

    55:00 Fan questions

    • Alex Kirilloff or Rosario on opening day?
    • Realistic starting rotation?
    • Which SP is likely to sign with Twins
    • A genie question

    • Oct 14 2019 09:59 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  22. Twins ALDS Game 2 Recap: Nothing Works, Twins Lose 12th Straight To Yankees

    Box Score
    Dobnak: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 53.4% strikes (23 of 43 pitches)
    Bullpen: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 6 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-4, RBI), Arráez (2-for-4, RBI)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Duffey -.165, Dobnak -.141, Rosario -.077

    [attachment=13246:WinChart1005.png]
    With yet another loss to the Yankees in the postseason, Minnesota has now been defeated in its last 15 postseason games. The last time the Twins won in the playoffs was exactly fifteen years ago, Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS against the Yankees. If they can’t win Game 3 at Target Field Monday, they will match the worst playoff win drought in professional sports, now held by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Between 1975 and 1979, they lost sixteen consecutive playoff games.

    Dobnak done after two innings
    I can’t even begin to understand what was going through Dobnak’s mind when he took over the mound at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. I don’t think you can get a more nerve-wrecking situation than starting a postseason game less than a year after signing you first $2,000-dollar minor league contract.

    Judging by his first inning, you can tell how nervous he might have been. Yankees hitters cornered him early. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge, the top two men in the Yankee lineup, both reached safely to begin the game. Edwin Encarnación would later hit a one-out RBI single to left. Immediately afterwards, Dobnak induced an inning-ending ground ball double play against Giancarlo Stanton, finishing a 22-pitch effort from him in the bottom of the first.

    Dobnak actually had a rather smooth second inning, which he concluded with only 12 pitches, nine being strikes. Then his command started to elude him during the third inning and he loaded the bases before recording an out. Rocco Baldelli decided to pull the plug on him after only nine pitches in the inning.

    Bullpen can’t put out the fire
    Tyler Duffey took over in relief and he couldn’t get the job done. Two runs scored right away on a sac-fly by Stanton, followed by an RBI-single by Gleyber Torres. Duffey then hit Gary Sánchez after getting ahead on the count, 0-2, reloading the bases. After getting ahead 0-2 against Didi Gregorius, he gave up a grand slam. It was Gregorius' third career grand slam against Minnesota.

    Duffey was lifted from the game after getting two outs and was replaced by Devin Smeltzer. The rookie was also ambushed, giving up a couple of hits while allowing his inherited runner to score. That made for a seven-run inning for New York.

    Bats get completely dominated
    After hitting three home runs on seven hits on Friday night, the Twins couldn’t find the power in Game 2. Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka held the Minnesota lineup to one hit in the first four innings he pitched. It was only after staying out during the long bottom of the third that he started to give Twins batters a chance.

    After Jorge Polanco flied out to start the fourth inning, Nelson Cruz drew a walk and was later scored after back-to-back singles, coming off the bats of Eddie Rosario and Mitch Garver. Tanaka and the Yankee bullpen went on to retire sixteen of the seventeen batters that stepped up to the box after Garver’s RBI.

    They managed to manufacture another run late in the ninth, when the same Garver hit a two-out single and was scored by a Luís Arráez RBI double.

    Postgame With Baldelli



    Pitching Staff Spreadsheet
    Here's a look at the pitching staff usage:
    [attachment=13247:PitchingStaff1005.png]

    • Oct 05 2019 09:35 PM
    • by Thiéres Rabelo
  23. Twins Game Recap (9/22): Twins Offense Erupts for Twelve Runs Over Royals

    Box Score
    Perez: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 73% strikes (38 of 52 pitches)
    Bullpen: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 14 K
    Home Runs: Cruz (40), Sano (33, 34)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-3), Rosario (3-for-4), Gonzalez (2-for-4), Sano (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Miguel Sano (0.25), Eddie Rosario (0.24), Nelson Cruz (0.14)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Martin Perez (-0.26), Mitch Garver (-0.09), Jason Castro (-0.03)

    Both starting pitchers have abysmal starts.

    Martin Perez vs Jorge Lopez was never advertised as a pitching duel and somehow it was still about as disappointing as it could have possibly been. The Twins scored six runs (touchdown) in the first inning but couldn’t get the seventh run across (something Vikings fans know all about). Three straight hits from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario drove in the first run, then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI single drove in another to bring Miguel Sano to the plate. He crushed a ball 133.8 MPH to left field and the Twins were up 5-0.



    The Twins would go on to score one more thanks to a Jake Cave RBI single, and Martin Perez was given an early 6-0 lead to work with. It did not go well. He gave up two runs in the next inning from a Nick Dini home run but things really got messy in the third. Four hits in the next five batters from Lopez, Soler, Dozier, and Cuthbert cut the lead to 6-5 and Perez was pulled for Zack Littell who came in and shut the door.

    Twins bullpen shuts the door as the offense slowly pads the lead

    Luckily for Martin Perez, the Twins have an elite bullpen and a historic offense to pick up the slack. Zack Littell came in for 1 1/3 innings, followed by another great inning where Tyler Duffey struck out the side. May and Stashak each covered an inning after that and both once again looked good. Not surprisingly, Tyler Duffey ranks seventh in AL swinging strike percentage since the All-Star break and Stashak also is in the top ten at number eight.

    The offense didn’t stop after their six-run first inning, erupting for double digits in this one. Miguel Sano hit his second bomb of the night in the third inning. Since the All-Star break, Miguel Sano has the third most home runs (20), trailing only Jorge Soler (22) and teammate Nelson Cruz (23). Nelson Cruz actually added to his lead in that category in the fourth inning when he hit his 40th home run of the season! It’s not easy to out-homer your age when you are 39 but he did it nonetheless. He also joined just 57 previous players by hitting his 400th home run in his career.


    The Twins continued to add on with two runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh inning. RBIs from Eddie Rosario, Marwin Gonzalez came in both of those two innings. Rosario had two RBI doubles and Marwin had an RBI single and a bases- loaded walk.


    Graterol and Romo close it out to cut the magic number to three games.

    Brusdar Graterol came in for the eighth inning and continued to audition for a playoff role by striking out the side. He actually threw more sliders (7) than fastballs (3) this outing which is something we have not seen from him. If he is throwing 100 MPH heat with a working slider then nobody is hitting him.

    Fernando Romero came in for the ninth but was lifted after issuing three walks in a six-run game. He was replaced by Sergio Romo who was able to finish the game after walking in two runs. The Royals brought the tying run to the plate with like 34 walks in the final inning, but the Twins have cut the magic number to three!

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
    Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.

    • Sep 22 2019 06:58 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  24. Local Goggles Sales Rep Banking On Minnesota Playoff Run

    Pete Tesch needs a win.

    The 57-year-old Waconia resident sells swimming gear and swimming accessories for a living. In a state with long winters, the margins are slim and the selling season short. The best way to make it to the next summer: clubhouse celebrations by local sports enterprises.

    “None of these guys wanna get prosecco and Budweiser in their eyes, it stings,” says Tesch. “They get their magic number down to single digits or get up 3-1 in a series, they come to Pete. Outside of the (Minnesota) Lynx, not a lot of teams have been coming to Pete.”

    While swimming lessons and water parks provide some off-season income, Tesch says the real moneymaker is a pennant or a title run.

    “Chlorine stings a lotta kids’ eyes, and those parks pump those water slides full of it because some dope from Mower County forgets to put a swim diaper on his triplets,” says Tesch. “Still, their folks are just gonna get some cheapies. Eddie Rosario? He’s going to get the Cadillac of goggles. He’s going to get the Seaview 180. He’s going to get a dozen of them.”

    Tesch held up the swim mask in question.

    “Retails for $89. Top-of-the-line. Sleek, comfortable, watertight. It has a snorkel for oxygen or liquor intake. I’ve got a warehouse full of these damn things. I’ve worked every weekend for two years. I need this. I need this.”

    Tesch was asked if it mattered if the Twins clinched in Minnesota or on the road.

    “Buddy. I will drive these things straight to Detroit if they clinch next week. I got the Google Maps on my phone. If Cleveland snipes them I’ll drive to Cleveland. I know their goggles guy. I’ll take him down.”

    • Sep 19 2019 04:40 PM
    • by RandBalls Stu