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  1. Offseason Blueprint: Making Big Betts

    This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one teams 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 following two seasons.

    Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts, 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 welcomed and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can hopefully help 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 will be that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than that which he found 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 always 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 do each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also always 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=13321:Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.19.42 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 for.

    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.

    • Yesterday, 11:37 PM
    • by Nate Palmer
  2. 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.

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    • Nov 09 2019 09:20 PM
    • by Thieres Rabelo
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.

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    • Oct 21 2019 07:38 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  8. 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
  9. ALDS Takeaways, Part 2: Miguel Sanó and the Athleticism Gap

     Three games should hardly form the basis of a team’s offseason mentality, but this five-part series will explore five takeaways from the ALDS series that seem both clearer and more important now than they did a week ago. Here is the link to Part 1.  
    Neither hit was Sanó’s fault, exactly. The smart money says he was instructed to move off the line before the Gardner single by the Twins dugout, to better align him with the rest of the shifted infield. The Torres ball was hit hard, and the team hadn’t had a shift on against Torres, so Sanó was a step further from the line than he might have been otherwise.

    (It’s a story for another time, but the Twins were on track to shift more often against right-handed batters than any other team in baseball until about mid-August, and then they plunged into the middle of the pack. That paradigm shift is somewhat inscrutable, at least for the moment.)

    Still, they each demonstrated something true about Sanó, something the Twins will have to reckon with this winter on a large scale: he’s a below-average third baseman, especially when a particular play puts a premium on quick reaction and a good first step.

    At Baseball Prospectus Night at Target Field in August, GM Thad Levine said the team tried to keep Sanó at third whenever they could in 2019, believing he remained more engaged with the game both day-to-day and plate appearance-to-plate appearance when manning the hot corner. That might be so, and it might have been sufficient justification for lining things up that way throughout this season, but in 2020, they need to find a way to keep him engaged and his production maximized while slotting him in at first base every day. As a team, and especially as an infield, they suffered from a fatal dearth of athleticism and defensive prowess in the ALDS. That was thrown into particularly sharp relief by the dazzling play of the Yankees’ very strong defensive infield.

    Sliding Sanó over to first base diminishes the value of his strong arm, but his range and hands would be fine there with a solid winter of work. The team ought to encourage him to play in the Dominican Winter League (but to stay far away from podiums, of course, should he win another championship there), and to work to become the best defensive first baseman he can be. As demonstrated by everyone from Albert Pujols to Mitch Moreland, it can be better to be an overqualified first baseman than to be an under-qualified defender elsewhere on the diamond, and there are more ways to stay intimately connected to the action at first base than it might seem.

    Of course, that move would squeeze C.J. Cron out of the picture. That’s somewhat regrettable, because he put together some brilliant at-bats for the team and (when healthy) added tremendous power for a bottom-of-the-order hitter. However, on balance, it’s the right choice. Cron’s thumb injury hampered him so much throughout the second half that he’s no sure bet to bounce back in 2020, and his arbitration salary will be inflated by his strong power numbers.

    Swapping Cron for Sanó and finding a replacement at third base who brings more athleticism is necessary, but not sufficient. The team needs better athletes in the outfield, too, unless Byron Buxton has a fully healthy season next year—and at this point, betting on that outcome would constitute malpractice. Trading Eddie Rosario, while a painful proposition, certainly has to be a consideration, but his likely replacements in left field are Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, and neither of them is an above-average defensive outfielder, either.

    This is where Royce Lewis might soon enter the frame. His encouraging offensive showing in the Arizona Fall League and dubious recent scouting reports on his future at shortstop allow one to envision him reaching the parent club as a third baseman (he’s played there most of the time in the AFL) who moonlights as a speedy outfielder, by the middle of next season. One way or another, though, the team has to upgrade its defense, and that starts with Sanó changing mitts.

      For Part 1 of this series, click here. 

    • Oct 11 2019 04:17 AM
    • by Matthew Trueblood
  10. 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 Thieres Rabelo
  11. Twins Game Recap (9/25): Dobnak the Wedding Ringer Deals in Detroit

    Box Score
    Dobnak: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
    Home Runs: Luis Arraez (4), Rosario (32)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-4, R, 3B), Cruz (2-4, R, RBI), Arraez (2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB)
    WPA of +0.1: Arraez .289, Dobnak .180, Duffey .109
    WPA of -0.1: Garver -.113

    Early on in this one the story was infield defense. Minnesota has slipped behind their early season defensive efforts for months now. After playing at a career-best clip to start the year, Jorge Polanco has looked like the guy who won’t be a long-term answer at short. His error allowed the cement-footed Miguel Cabrera to score all the way from first base (it looked as if he was running in slow motion) to give Detroit a lead. Dobnak saw Miguel Sano boot a grounder later in the action that ended up proving harmless.

    Early in the season Eddie Rosario introduced us to the term “bombas” and it was off the bat of the diminutive Luis Arraez that the lead was captured. A 402 foot no- doubter put Minnesota in the lead. It was his fourth of the year and longest career blast to date. Dobnak bowed out with a lead and Tyler Duffey locked down his 23rd straight inning of scoreless relief work.

    Insurance runs didn’t take long as Minnesota was ready to put up another crooked number in the eighth inning. Polanco grabbed his seventh triple of the season with some solid baserunning after the first out. Nelson Cruz then drove him home through a pulled-in infield. Mr. Bombas himself, Rosario, then went jack job on a laser to right field for his 32nd dinger of the season. Up 5-1 needing just six outs, this one was all but decided.

    Don’t worry, Rosie wasn’t done with the fun after his homer either. Sliding to make a play in the field for Trevor May, there was some added flair on the out as well. There’s no denying a hot Rosario is a great development going into the postseason, and there’s also no denying this man is feeling himself right now.



    Cleveland currently trails the Chicago White Sox by a 4-1 tally in the third inning. A loss would allow the Twins to pop the bubbly for the first time since 2010. This team is two wins shy of 100, and the century mark is something they haven’t accomplished since 1965. Tomorrow will likely be a hangover-induced lineup, but the Royals should expect to get the business this weekend in Kansas City.

    A date with the New York Yankees looks imminent in the American League Division Series and this club is looking to erase demons Twins Territorians are haunted by.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days

    Next Three Games
    Thu @ DET, 12:10 PM CT (TBD vs Zimmermann)
    Fri @ KC, 7:15 PM CT (TBD vs Skoglund)
    Sat @ KC, 6:15 PM CT (TBD vs Sparkman)

    Last Game
    Twins Game Recap (9/24): Odorizzi's Gem Cuts the Twins Magic Number to 2

    • Sep 25 2019 07:28 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Should Eddie Rosario Be Benched for Not Hustling?

    Minnesota’s offense was sputtering against the White Sox as they used most of their bullpen to preserve a one-run lead. Rosario stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning with two outs already recorded. He smashed a ball to the right-field wall, but took some time admiring it in the box. The end result turned out to be what many consider a baseball sin… being thrown out at third for the final out of an inning.

    In a year where home runs are flying out at a record pace, Rosario might have thought he had hit another home run. There’s also a chance that he didn’t think the center fielder would get over to help out on the play. Any of these excuses could apply to the play as it unfolded, but it still doesn’t make up for not hustling out of the box.

    White Sox analyst Steve Stone called out Rosario after the play. “Eddie Rosario did not hustle out of the box and it’s a good thing for the Sox," Stone began. "He poses. If he's hustling, there's no play at third base."

    Stone went on to say: "I mean, he's been doing this the whole series. And apparently the Twins are fine with it. This could cost them a ballgame. In the grand scheme of things, it might not keep them out of the division title, but you’ve got to hustle out of the box whether you think it’s a home run or not."


    The Twins will still likely win the American League Central in the days ahead, but a close game against an inferior opponent isn’t exactly the time to let down your guard. Rosario is a leader on this team, and he needs show that on and off the field.

    Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli didn’t seem too concerned about the play after the game. Minnesota might not have other options in the outfield either with Max Kepler continuing to be banged up. Rosario is back in the line-up on Thursday night, but maybe it’s time for Baldelli to send a message.

    Do you think Rosario should have been benched? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Sep 19 2019 09:51 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  15. Twins Game Recap (9/18): Twins’ Offense Absent Against Chicago Bullpen Game

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 64.5% strikes (61 of 94 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (2-4, 2B)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Arraez -.111, Wade -.127, Sano -.207

    Twins’ offense can’t figure out Chicago bullpen

    The Twins’ offense found themselves struggling against one of the worst bullpens in the league. For 5 1/3 innings, four White Sox pitchers threw a no-hitter while allowing three walks. They had a threat in the first after back-to-back walks with one out, but, a Rosario pop out followed by a Sano strikeout ended the inning.

    After a leadoff walk in the second, the White Sox bullpen sent down 13 straight batters going into the sixth inning. That’s when the no-hitter came to a close as Polanco ripped a single into center field. After a Cruz walk, Rosario squeaked a ball through the infield to score Polanco.



    Cave drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs for pinch-hitter LaMonte Wade Jr. but he grounded out to end the inning.

    After picking up their first hits, the Twins’ couldn’t use the momentum and went down 1-2-3 in the seventh. In the eighth, Rosario drilled a ball off the wall in right, but got thrown out trying extend it to a triple. In the ninth, the Twins again went down 1-2-3 to close out the game.

    Odorizzi able to minimize damage

    Jake Odorizzi was one out away from picking up a quality start, but ran into trouble in the sixth to end his night. Though Odorizzi picked up nine strikeouts tonight, his stuff wasn’t the best. Odorizzi gave up a leadoff hit in four of the six innings he pitched in.

    After giving up a leadoff single in the first, he picked up two strikeouts with Castro throwing out Garcia to end the inning. In the second he gave up a leadoff double followed by a Jimenez single to score a run, but Odorizzi picked up another double play and strikeout to get out of the inning.

    Odorizzi flew through the next two innings picking up four more strikeouts in back-to-back 1-2-3 innings. Through those four innings, Odorizzi already had seven strikeouts.

    Odorizzi found himself in a jam in the fifth inning with runners on first and second with just one out after a pair of singles. Odorizzi took advantage of facing the number eight and nine batters next, picked up another strikeout and was out of the inning with no harm.

    After giving up another leadoff hit, Odorizzi got two quick outs and it looked as if he would be able to at least complete six innings. With an 0-2 count to Moncada, he doubled to left-center to drive in the second run. After Jimenez drew a walk, Odorizzi’s night was ended.

    Bullpen

    Cody Stashak came into the game with two runners on and two outs and threw just three pitches to pick up a huge strikeout on Collins to end the inning. Stashak was also given the seventh inning, and he too gave up a leadoff single. He picked up back-to-back strikeouts to the eight and nine batters and then got Garcia to fly out to end the inning.

    Fernando Romero came in for the eighth, and believe it or not, gave up another leadoff hit. He got Abreu to ground out and struck out Moncada before being pulled for Brusdar Graterol. Graterol did his job, and got Jimenez to ground out to keep it a one-run game.

    A new inning, another leadoff hit, this time it was a home run to Collins to straight -away center. Graterol followed that up with nine pitches to pick up the last three outs, including a strikeout.

    Postgame With Baldelli


    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 19 2019 04:32 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  16. Twins Game Recap (9/14): Sano Grand Slam Overcomes Rocky Start for Win

    Box Score
    Starter: Lewis Thorpe 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 59% strikes (49 of 83 pitches)
    Bullpen: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

    Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (29), Nelson Cruz (37), Miguel Sano (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco (3-for-5)

    Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (.256), Eddie Rosario (.243), Miguel Sano (.213)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Lewis Thorpe (-.302), Max Kepler (-1.00), Luis Arraez (-.077)

    Eddie Rosario started game two of the doubleheader off right as he hit his 29th home run on the season to score Jorge Polanco and put the Twins up 2-0 early. That early lead wouldn’t hold nearly as long as one had hoped.

    Lewis Thorpe continued the parade of bullpen arms that passed over the mound Saturday. While game one resulted in a shutout, Thorpe wasn’t as sharp. Instead the Indians scored two runs in the first and another three in the fourth before Thorpe left the game with the Indians leading 5-2.

    In the sixth inning the Twins began to chip away at the Indians' lead with a Cruz home run. It was then in the eighth inning when all of Twins Territory could exhale and then celebrate as the Twins erupted for five runs. With Sano’s first career grand slam being the biggest of exclamation points on the Twins' night and putting the Twins up 9-5.



    While Sano will be the one remembered, Polanco and the relievers should not be overlooked. Polanco, along with going 3-for-5 on the night also scored three of the Twins nine runs. After the exit of Thorpe, the Twins pitchers allowed only one hit, issued no walks or runs, and struck out six Indian batters.

    That puts the Twins 5.5 games up in the Central and the Indians are now in danger of missing out on the playoffs all together. I will allow your imagination to insert an earlier tweeted premature farewell tweet here...

    Postgame With Baldelli


    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 14 2019 09:19 PM
    • by Nate Palmer
  17. The Twins Need Early Season Eddie

    Over the last three years, Rosario has hit 23 home runs on pitches outside of the rulebook strike zone. The next closest is Trey Mancini with 15. His .403 slugging percentage over those three years is the best in the game. He maintains a .247 average outside of the zone -- fourth-best behind guys like Altuve and Benintendi.

    Everyone wants to hold up Ted Williams’ magical multi-colored chart as a sacred tablet when it comes to hitting instruction but the truth is that for many hitters, their “happy zone”, as Williams called it, can also extend to areas out of the box. From 2015 through 2017, Minnesota Twins fans witnessed Brian Dozier slug 16 home runs on pitches out of the zone, mostly at his eye level. For Rosario, his extrazonal happy place was on pitches between him and the plate, where he could turn and burn, or above the zone, where his deep barrel turn assisted him in catching elevated fastballs.

    So naturally, being able to make solid contact on those pitches is going to beget more out of zone swings. It’s a dubious skill set, to be sure. Like being really good at smoking an entire pack of cigarettes at once. Sure, it may look impressive in the moment but eventually you are going to pay for it. If you stick to your strength -- swinging at pitches in your happy zone wherever that may be — you will succeed. If that target drifts however...

    And here is where Rosario has run afoul of late.

    When Rosario started the season off hot in March, April and May, his 40% chase rate was the fifth highest in the league. He was just hitting a lot of those out of zone pitches well. He had six extra-base hits, including three home runs. The vast majority of those swings came on pitches just inside. Since the end of August, however, pitchers have gotten Rosario to extend his arms and chase after pitches off the other side of the plate.

    Posted Image

    In April, Rosario swung at just 27% of pitches that were outside. Over the last couple of weeks, Rosario’s swing rate at those pitches has increased to 51%.

    Opponents have noted this trend and have adjusted accordingly, feeding him more pitches just off the plate and allowing him to generate weak contact, if any at all. At the beginning of the year, pitchers would challenge him and give more ripe pitches. Between his ability to drive those pitches and his inability to lay off the outside ones, teams are staying away.

    Posted Image
    This is a swing decision issue. There have been no mechanical changes that would result in a hole in the swing. Rosario could stand to quiet his pre-swing movements similar to Miguel Sano -- the big drawback of his hands undoubtedly lead to some timing issues -- but he has always had the big load process and has had previous success with it. And there hasn’t been a substantial drop in exit velocity on contact that would suggest an injury, as even the most minor nagging injuries can alter things at this point in the season. In fact, his exit velo is better now than back in April. That said, this has the signs of an issue upstairs.

    As the “Eddie” chants grow increasingly louder at Target Field and the stakes have risen, Rosario has found himself without the lineup cushion that once surrounded him. Furthermore, his innate desire to play the role of the hero may be a catalyst for his audacious swing rate. He is forcing things to happen when he and the team would be better served if he exercised patience.

    There is no question that the Twins need Eddie Rosario -- the early season version Eddie Rosario -- more than ever. That would require some restraint. Does Rosario have that kind of restraint? Does he have the ability to turn off the ego and quiet the voice in his head that tells him to swing and drive in that run no matter where the pitch is?

    With the division lead shrinking and a postseason run at stake, the Twins need Rosario to wrangle it.

    • Sep 13 2019 04:37 AM
    • by Parker Hageman
  18. Silver Linings Amid September Storms

    From the big-picture view, one should feel very pleased with the franchise's current state of affairs. This year has undeniably been a success, and for those who suggest that a quick demise in the playoffs would change that, I hope you know how silly it sounds.

    The Twins have already won more games than in any of the past eight seasons. They set the major-league home run record in five months. Minnesota's lineup has put forth a combination of good, great, and historically unprecedented performances. The new coaching staff has been spectacular by any result-based measure, and the front office that assembled it is now routinely mentioned among the game's most sophisticated and advanced.

    In the grand scheme, this has been a phenomenal season and there's no doubt we'll remember it for years to come. But here, with the postseason only weeks away, it's also completely fair for fans to be thinking about the small picture. The right here and right now. Minnesota has put itself in tremendous position with 88 wins and a 5.5 game division lead here on September 9th, but there are a number of negative harbingers clouding the skies at exactly the wrong time.

    The Twins have won two series against teams with .500+ records since the end of June, with one of those coming against a fading Boston team on the brink of elimination. The Michael Pineda suspension is obviously a monumental gut-punch, and leaves the rotation filled with starters who've failed to build up much confidence of late. A medley of key injuries have befallen the position-player core. Things are undeniably trending in a bad direction.

    With that said, here are nine things you should be feeling good about as we gear up for the final three weeks of the schedule.

    1. The Twins have two All-Star starting pitchers.

    It hardly seems relevant right now given the way they (especially Jose Berrios) have pitched since, but he and Jake Odorizzi were among the league's best pitchers over the first three months of the season. And Odorizzi has quietly settled back into a hell of a groove, with a 3.05 ERA and only two home runs allowed over his past eight starts.

    From mid-June into July, Odorizzi was out of sorts, giving up loads of homers and generally struggling to get through five innings. But in recent weeks he's returned to form, and Saturday's effort against Cleveland was one of his finest all year. The ups and downs serve as a reminder of the roller-coaster nature of MLB's marathon season. Which is all the more reason we shouldn't give up on Berrios. He's not so far removed from looking like a frontline ace.

    This seems a good time to mention that in 2018, Berrios went through a similar (albeit less extreme) swoon in the latter half of the summer, but rebounded with a 3.28 ERA and one homer allowed in his final four starts, allowing a .174/.282/.221 slash line. In his final start, he tossed seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts against the White Sox.

    Finally, while losing Pineda at this point understandably feels like a grave development, let us not forget that the Twins sprinted to their amazing start in April and May with him as the least trusted member of the rotation. They've shown they can do it without him.

    2. The bullpen is long and strong.

    The present shortcomings of the rotation are made somewhat more palatable by the strength of the bullpen in recent weeks. Yeah, the whole Sam Dyson fiasco sucks, but in spite of it, Minnesota relievers hold the following AL ranks since the trade deadline:

    • 2nd in FIP (3.90)
    • 2nd in WAR (5.8)
    • 2nd in HR/9 (1.19)
    • 3rd in xFIP (4.22)
    • 4th in K/BB (3.26)
    • 5th in SIERA (4.21)

    Taylor Rogers is elite, and is – crucially – getting plenty of rest here in the late stretch of the season. Trevor May is pitching as well as he ever has. Sergio Romo provides a vital veteran infusion. Tyler Duffey has quietly emerged. Brusdar Graterol is here, representing an extremely intriguing wild-card factor. As much as people want to fret about the rotation, we should all recognize the bullpen's astounding (and much-needed) turnaround. We've seen how bullpen depth can come into play during recent playoff runs. The Twins outshine several other playoff-bound clubs in this regard.

    3. Offensive depth is why they're here.

    You don't set MLB records for total home runs, and number of players with 20+ home runs, without widespread contributions, and that's just what the Twins have gotten. While we will know more soon, it seems likely the Twins will have to proceed without the totality of Byron Buxton's impact (and maybe with none of it). Max Kepler is dealing with a worrisome shoulder situation. Nelson Cruz's wrist has begun barking again. Marwin Gonzalez has been sidelined for some time with an abdominal issue. Jake Cave and Miguel Sano are banged up too.

    It's a grim situation in the trainer's room right now, but the Twins still have an awful lot of weapons available even when they're shorthanded. And there is a glimmer of good news on the health front...

    4. They'll likely have the luxury of resting their ailing players down the stretch.

    It would've been nice if the Twins took care of business against Cleveland at Target Field, rather than dropping five of seven in the last two series, to effectively put this thing out of reach. We're not quite there yet. Still, a magic number of 14 with 19 games left to play puts the Twins firmly in the driver's seat, and they're one good week away from being able to essentially coast, with a cakewalk schedule against bottom-dwellers in their final 13 games.

    Rest isn't a cure-all, but it sure helps, and is probably the only potential remedy for ailments like Kepler's sore (but not structurally damaged!) shoulder, or Cruz's wrist, or Sano's back. Thanks to their depth and the diminishing urgency to win, the Twins should be able to practice a lot of caution in the twilight of the season.

    5. Kyle Gibson is capable of dominance.

    The main outcome of Pineda's suspension is that it significantly elevates the importance of Gibson, who's currently sidelined while dealing with his own medical issue. Berrios and Odorizzi were going to slot among the team's top three playoff starters even with Big Mike around. Now, Gibson will likely step back into that picture.

    I can presume, from experience, that this item will be the most controversial of the nine listed here. For whatever reason, many Twins fans seem to harbor an inordinate level of resentment toward the right-hander, who has toiled in this organization for a decade and has finally realized the quality of his stuff after working very hard to do so.

    Yes, Gibson's been rough lately, and inconsistent for much of the season. But this isn't a man wilting mentally in the moment; it's a guy dealing with some truly terrible health-related misfortune. He opened his season coming off an E. coli battle and, as we've now learned, he has been battling ulcerative colitis throughout the summer. This daunting affliction has clearly affected his weight and strength, most recently causing a jarring drop in velocity, and so to me it's impressive he has still managed to post the seventh-highest swinging strike rate among AL starters while vaulting his K-rate to a new career high.

    That speaks to the underlying quality of his raw stuff, which likely ranks as the best in the rotation. When Gibson is truly on his game he can overpower a good lineup. I don't know if we'll see that side of him again this year, in light of the circumstances, but at least the problem has been acknowledged and the team is taking some steps to try and get him right.

    6. Eddie Rosario is lurking.

    It's been a frustrating year for Rosario. He's lost all semblance of plate discipline and as a result he's become a fairly easy out amidst a lineup that offers few. He just keeps swinging more and more frequently out of the zone, and his production has steadily declined as a result.

    But let us not forget: when he's locked in, there might not be anyone more dangerous. He loves big stages and big moments; the three-run blast at Yankee Stadium in the 2017 Wild Card Game lingers as an unforgettable highlight in a mostly forgettable game. He's still got time to turn it on and find his zone again.

    7. The postseason is an unpredictable beast.

    I know it's easy for Twins fans to feel a sense of dread about the playoffs, given the complete lack of success this franchise has experienced in October since 1991. As unfavorable developments stack up, it can be tempting to feel like failure is inevitable in an ALDS tilt against the Astros or Yankees.

    But past letdowns against New York are now irrelevant. They just are. Houston's intimidating rotation guarantees nothing. The Twins are, at the end of the day, a tremendous team, poised to approach or surpass 100 wins with one of the greatest offenses in MLB history. They've shown resilience and tenacity against both the Yankees and Astros this year. This isn't a piranha pack bringing knives to a gunfight. Even if in a weakened state, the Twins are going to have a shot in a short postseason series.

    8. No matter what happens, the playoffs are awesome!

    I've heard people say they'd rather not make the playoffs than get swept out in the first round again. It's an amazing sentiment to me. I get such a deep sense of jealousy when watching postseason action from the outside – a constant reality over the past eight years. This team deserves a spot on the national pedestal, and all the attention and recognition that comes with it. Win or lose, the experience will be important for a young core that figures to mostly stick together for a long time. Which brings me to my final point.

    9. This is only the beginning.

    It's fair to say this is a unique opportunity for the Twins. You can't assume they'll be in this kind of position again next year, or the year after. But from that ol' big-picture view, they really are just getting started. Many key players are under control through multiple prime years to come. Their minor-league system ranks among the league's best. Rocco Baldelli might win Manager of the Year as a rookie skipper, while his first-year pitching coach Wes Johnson already has a solid case as the most impactful in the game. In their third year, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have put forth one of the best teams in franchise history, all while focusing on long-term contention above all. Based on what we've seen, I have immense faith in their ability to build around this core and develop players effectively.

    The future is bright for the Minnesota Twins, no matter what happens in the coming month. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't feel concerned about the small-picture, and disheartened by this recent string of events. But as I was heartily reminded over the weekend, perspective is important. Taking a step back, Twins fans should be feeling awfully good about where things stand, and even in the short-term, there's more reason for optimism than it may presently seem amidst a storm of bad news.

    • Sep 09 2019 04:39 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  19. Twins Game Recap (9/5): Eddie Rosario Throw Seals 2-1 Victory

    Box Score
    Perez: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 70.0% strikes (49 of 70 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: None
    Top 3 WPA: Perez (.242), Rogers (.226), Duffey (.151)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Cruz (-.172), Cron (-.161), Kepler (-.152)

    Martin Perez starts strong in September, Bullpen holds the lead
    Hopefully tonight was a sign of things to come for Perez. Through four innings Perez had a strike percentage of 82 percent and had induced just three hard hits as defined by Baseball Savant. If it wasn’t for a fluke home run by Mookie Betts, which had an xBA of .250, he would have pitched four perfect innings using fewer than than 40 pitches. Things started to unravel a bit in sixth inning when Perez lost control of the strike zone, allowed a rocket double to Betts off the Green Monster, followed by a Bogaerts walk and an errant pick-off attempt before escaping the inning without giving up a run. After just 70 pitches and six innings from Perez, the bullpen took over. As has been the case since the All-Star break, the bullpen was dominant, sending May and Duffey to shut down the seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Romo and Rogers teaming up to close out the ninth.

    Despite good contact, offense does just enough to reward Perez
    Throughout the evening the Twins expected batting average was hovering right around the .300 mark, per Baseball Savant, but ultimately ended the night batting .077. That should tell you how well they actually hit the ball tonight but were just the victims of some bad luck. Loading the bases twice resulted in just two runs and they hit into four double plays, their seventh in the last two games, despite Cron’s batted balls having an xBA of .550 and .480. Per BaseballReference, this was the fourth time in Twins history and 11th time in franchise history they won a game with only two hits and zero homeruns.

    Defense picks up offense, for a change
    It’s no secret that the defense has been struggling for a while after looking great at the beginning of the year. Outside of the errant throw from Perez, which did not lead to a run, the Twins defense shined in a game the offense needed the “pick me up”. In the second and third innings, Sano made two plays at third base that could have easily been hits. Cron made a nice diving play on a ball that was awkwardly hit just short of first base and barely in foul territory. Jake Cave robbed an extra-base hit from Chirstian Vazquez in the seventh which had a catch probability of 25 percent, per the FSN broadcast. Everything was capped off on the final play of the game when Eddie Rosario threw out Rafael Devers, the tying run, after Martinez hit a ball high off the Green Monster.



    Postgame With Baldelli


    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 05 2019 09:15 PM
    • by Matthew Lenz
  20. Twins Game Recap (9/4): Berrios Continues Rough Stretch, Rodriguez Sails

    Box Score
    Berrios: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 64.4% strikes (65 of 101 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

    Home Runs: Rosario (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (2-for-4, HR), Sano (2-for-3, BB), Cron (2-for-3, BB)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.106, Cave -.157, Berrios -.228

    Extra Day Doesn’t Help Berrios

    The hope was that Berrios could use the extra day of rest to get back to his dominant self we saw earlier this season, and not the Berrios we saw last month, when he had his worst month of his career since his rookie year in … August. Since his start at the end of July when he threw seven shutout innings, he has given up 23 runs in just 27 innings coming into tonight.

    Berrios is usually pretty good at keeping the ball in the ballpark, in fact he’s giving up just 1.2 home runs per nine innings. This season, the first three innings is where he has surrendered the most with 13. Today, he again struggled early as he gave up two home runs to Mookie Betts in his first two at-bats, in the first two innings, on just two pitches. This year, he has also now given up 10 home runs on the first pitch of an at-bat.

    After a rough start to the game, Berrios was able to turn things around for a few innings. After the second home run by Betts, Berrios retired 11 of the next 13 batters, which was capped off by a very athletic play by Berrios himself.



    Something that Berrios was able to use an extra rest day to his favor was getting his velocity back up. Recently, Berrios’ velocity has been consistently in the low 90s, but tonight it looked back to normal as he topped out at about 95 mph and was normally hanging around 94 mph on his fastball.

    That was about it for good things from Berrios, as he left the game without even recording an out in the sixth inning. Berrios gave up a leadoff single that was followed by a walk and a double to score another run as he left with runners on second and third.

    Eduardo Rodriguez Quiets Twins

    Rodriguez came into tonight's start having given up just three runs in his last 17 1/3 innings, and tonight he continued his success shutting out the Twins offense for seven innings. Rodriguez gave up just five hits while striking out eight batters. Though Rodriguez wasn’t giving up many hits, he issued four walks, but the Twins just couldn’t come through in times of need.

    Rodriguez struck out the side in the top of the first, and picked up his fifth strikeout in the second inning stranding two runners. In the fourth, the Twins got back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, but Cave grounded into a double play. The inning wasn’t over quite yet as Rodriguez walked the next two batters to fill the bases. He got Willians Astudillo to fly out to end the threat with no runs being scored, but four guys reaching base safely.

    In the final three innings, he faced just 11 batters while recording nine outs including two more strikeouts, the final coming against Max Kepler to end the inning, and Rodriguez’s start.

    Bullpen

    Once the Twins' bullpen came into the game, they quieted down the Sox offense. Ryne Harper came in for the first time since being recalled and pitched just two pitches and recorded an out with runners on second and third. Cody Stashak came in with hopes of keeping the runners on the bases. Mookie Betts picked up another RBI with a single scoring the Sox sixth and last run of the game. Stashak picked up the final two outs to end the inning and strand two runners. Stashak picked up a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh before giving way to Brusdar Graterol for his second career outing. After giving up a leadoff walk, Graterol got three straight lineouts to end the inning.

    Postgame With Baldelli


    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 05 2019 04:35 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  21. Twins Need Rosario to Rein it In

    Earlier this year I wrote about how Luis Arraez is everything Twins fans wanted Willians Astudillo to be. It’s fun and cute when a guy never strikes out or takes walks, but there’s a right and wrong way to go about that. Having command of the strike zone is much different (and more beneficial) than having control of it. Eddie Rosario isn’t the contact hitter that has ultimate control of the zone, but he’s absolutely not the guy who commands anything with plate presence either.

    A year ago, Rosario posted a career high 3.4 fWAR. He generated walks 5.1% of the time and whiffed 18% of his at bats. The strikeout rate is down to 14.3% this year, but he’s walking just 3.6% of the time. It’s really not in the strikeout or free pass categories that Rosario will see his downfall, however. When swinging the bat this year he’s chasing 46.5% of the time (42.9% in 2018). The swinging strike rate is a career low (11.6%) and the contact rate is a career high (80.3%). What all of that adds up to is a very Astudillo-esque contact with suboptimal outcomes.

    The good news is that the Puerto Rican isn’t far off from a massive shift in outcomes. With a career best hard-hit rate (37.7%) and solid trajectory outcomes, the ball has opportunity to fly. We saw evidence of this during the first two months of the season in which Eddie blasted 17 dingers in 54 games with a .548 SLG. As opposing pitchers have asserted their will on him however, the results have taken a step backwards.

    Since June 1st Rosario owns a .285/.302/.457 slash line. The average is hardly an issue because the hard hit and contact rates are still strong. Offering at pitches he’s able to do little damage with though, much production is left on the table and hurlers are significantly less worried about pitching to him. In these last 61 games he has just a .457 SLG and .759 OPS with 10 long balls. Expanding his strike zone further than he ever has, there’s less ability to drive or elevate the baseball beyond anything but station to station outcomes.

    Through the end of May Rosario was chasing pitches out of the zone 43% of the time. Since then he’s jumped that number all the way to 49%. What was once a hard-hit rate of over 40% has fallen to 35%. These are drastic swings, but for a guy that has a very singular expected outcome at the dish, they are making a massive impact. It’s not rocket science to assume that squared up baseballs are the easiest to drive and squaring up pitches off the plate is a difficult ask. It’s not that the process has changed as much as it is that Rosario is allowing the opposition to dictate results with his less than ideal inputs.

    For the Twins there’s a negative impact here as well. In 110 starts this season Rosario has batted cleanup a whopping 105 times. Put in position to bat with men on base during 244 different plate appearances, he’s got just a .788 OPS. Certainly the .905 OPS with runners in scoring position is good to see, but what isn’t capitalized on could be equally important. A .465 SLG from your cleanup hitter, in a lineup as potent as the Twins is seems like a missed opportunity. Cleanup hitters this season own a .486 SLG (.827 OPS) and you’d think Minnesota could be pacing that group.

    If I were Rocco Baldelli there’d be two clear paths to go down regarding Eddie Rosario. One would be continuing to have James Rowson work on homing in on a stronger command of the zone with the lefty. This is probably a bit lofty given his big-league track record thus far, but the production increasing substantially doesn’t require a significant shift. The alternative is allowing Rosario to be the same hitter he is right now but doing so out of a different lineup spot. A guy offering little to no on-base presence can’t hit in the top three but batting him sixth could make a good deal of sense. That bat definitely plays, just not in the role it’s currently cast.

    Lineup optimization is a difficult task given the lack of any one “right” answer. A group as good as the Twins should efficiently push for every extra run that their starting nine will provide them. Right now, there’s opportunity to exploit what’s being left on the table, and finding a way to maximize that is a must.

    • Sep 03 2019 06:28 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  22. The 10 Most Important Home Runs for This Record-Breaking Twins Team

    10. Jonathan Schoop at Texas (8/16/19) 0.31 WPA

    Schoop entered this game in the midst of what is likely the largest slump of his career. The Rangers had taken the lead in the previous half inning, but Schoop put the Twins back on top with this two-run blast. The Twins would go on to win this game 4-3.



    9. Miguel Sano at Angels (5/20/19) 0.34 WPA

    Sano’s second home run of the season was definitely a big one. The Twins were up 1-0 throughout the whole game but the Angels came back in the bottom of the seventh and tied it. Luckily, Miguel Sano came up clutch and smoked this two-run bomb that would lead to a 3-1 win.


    8. Miguel Sano vs Detroit (8/24/19) 0.35 WPA

    This fifth inning blast from Sano gave the Twins a commanding 6-4 lead after being down 4-1 in a game the Twins couldn’t afford to lose. It came during a period where Sano was just insanely productive at the plate and that continued here.


    7. Mitch Garver vs Kansas City (6/14/19) 0.37 WPA

    The Mitch Garver clutch two-run bomb against the Royals is definitely one of the most memorable homers this season. The late inning drama in a game tied at zero, followed by a crowd-exploding home run to take the lead and later win the game is something everyone will remember.



    6. Miguel Sano vs Atlanta (8/5/19) 0.43 WPA

    This walk-off bomb from the Twins slugger was easily one of the most dramatic and exciting wins of the season. Playing against an elite Atlanta team, this was the perfect way to begin the series. This pinch -it blast is one of the most memorable homers this season.


    5. Max Kepler vs Boston (6/18/19) 0.43 WPA

    This home run came in one of the craziest and longest games in Twins history. First of all, Max didn’t get an at bat until the eighth inning because he was subbed into the game. He tied the game in the eighth and then hit this clutch home run in the 13th inning. He would go on to provide the walkoff single in the 17th inning.


    4. Byron Buxton vs Seattle (6/12/19) 0.45 WPA

    Byron Buxton had the entire state of Minnesota cheering for him for like 15 minutes after this huge home run. The Twins would eventually go on to lose, but we’re going to ignore that. Just remember how much fun you were having when this home run was hit to cap off a huge comeback.


    3. Eddie Rosario vs Oakland (7/18/19) 0.46 WPA

    Rosario pinch hit for a struggling Jake Cave and did what Eddie Rosario loves to do. The Twins were down 3-1 against a great Oakland bullpen and with one swing of the bat, Rosario put the Twins on top for good.


    2. Miguel Sano vs New York (7/23/19) 0.52 WPA

    If you are just a neutral fan, this was probably the greatest game you’ve ever seen. Constant lead changes, clutch hits and huge home runs, finished off by what could finish as the catch of the season. In the late innings, Sano crushed a memorable two -run blast that temporarily had Twins fans ecstatic.


    1. Marwin Gonzalez at Milwaukee (8/13/19) 0.59 WPA

    Finally, the most meaningful home run out of this historic season so far was the Gonzo bomb off the elite reliever Josh Hader. The Twins held a lead all the way to the seventh inning, but Ryne Harper gave up a few runs and Hader was in for the two-inning save. Unfortunately for him, he was facing the bomba squad. After a Rosario double and Sano walk, Gonzalez came up with a chance to take the lead and did this….


    Those are the ten most meaningful home runs this season in terms of win probability added. All of them so much fun, and yet we aren’t even at the most fun part of the season. Watch out MLB, the Twins are headed for the playoffs. Which home run was your favorite? Discuss in the comments!

    • Aug 31 2019 08:25 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  23. Twins Game Recap (8/19): Twins Unable to Mount Comeback, Drop Series Opener 6-4

    Box Score
    Gibson: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 66.7% strikes (66 of 99 pitches)
    Bullpen: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: Polanco (18)
    Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3-for-5, 2B), Rosario (3-for-5), Polanco (2-for-5, 2B, HR), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-5), Cave (2-for-4, 2B)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Gibson -.223, Cron -.180, Gonzalez -.130

    Twins strike early
    White Sox starter Ivan Nova was red hot coming into today’s game as he was 4-0 with a 0.49 ERA and two complete games in his last five starts. After giving up only two earned runs in his last 37 innings, the Twins were able to get two runs off of Nova in the first inning. Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco started the game off with back-to-back doubles and Nelson Cruz knocked in Polanco with a single. Unfortunately, an Eddie Rosario rocket was picked by Yolmer Sanchez and turned into a double play or the Twins might have put additional runs on the board. Nova threw 48 pitches through two innings (16 to Arraez in two ABs).

    White Sox strike back
    Gibson has traditionally pitched very well against the Sox and it looked like that trend would continue as Gibson cruised through two innings with great command. However, the Sox got to Gibson for four runs in the third.

    After three singles, the White Sox had runners on second and third (thanks to an errant throw to home from Eddie Rosario) and first base open. Gibson gave up a three-run blast to Jose Abreu on a first-pitch fastball right down the heart of the plate. With light-hitting Jon Jay on-deck, Gibson probably would have liked to pitch Abreu a little more carefully.

    Both starters get on a roll
    Nova was able to turn things around after the two-run first, putting up zeros through the fifth. However, in the sixth the Twins were able to knock Nova out of the game after long at-bats by both Marwin Gonzalez (strike out) and Jake Cave. Miguel Sano led off the inning with a single and with one out, Cave hit another single. Sano and Cave were able to advance an extra base due to the Sox being unable to cleanly field the ball and Nova was done for the night. Following Nova’s exit, C.J. Cron hit a ground ball to third and Ryan Goins made a perfect throw to home to get a sliding Miguel Sano. Jason Castro struck out to end the Twins threat.

    Gibson was also able to bounce back nicely after his four-run third. He didn’t allow any base runners in the fourth, fifth, or sixth innings, but he did run into trouble in the seventh. With one out and runners on first and third the Sox perfectly executed a suicide-squeeze bunt on an 0-2 count with Sanchez at the plate and Tim Anderson coming home. Ryne Harper came in for Gibson and got the final out of the inning with the Twins trailing 5-2.

    Twins unable to mount a comeback
    Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, Polanco hit a solo home run to pull the Twins to within two. Rosario would go on to single with two outs, bringing Miguel Sano to the plate as the tying run. Sano struck out on a check swing to end the inning.

    Lewis Thorpe came in to pitch the final two innings for the Twins. He got plenty of swings and misses and struck out three, but he did give up an additional run in the eighth.

    Arraez got on base with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth and Cruz hit a two-out single to get Rosario to the plate as the tying run. Rosario singled to bring the Twins within two with Sano coming to the plate but Alex Colome was able to strike out Sano and end the game.

    Arraez leads off
    The Twins moved Luis Arraez up in the lineup to hit leadoff for the first time in his young MLB career. Having Arraez hit leadoff makes a lot of sense as Arraez gets on base at a team-leading .412 clip. He has also had some of the team’s best at-bats this season and that continued against the Sox. Arraez led off the game with a 10-pitch battle that ended with a double and he singled in his second at-bat. He finished the game with three hits. With Max Kepler getting the day off, it will be interesting to see what the Twins will do with Kepler back in the lineup. Kepler has had a great year hitting leadoff and the Twins might not want to mess with that, but it would be nice to have Arraez on base in front of some of Kepler’s team-leading home runs.

    Cruz returns, Littell optioned
    The Twins will try to get by with a 12-man bullpen for the time being as reliever Zack Littell was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Nelson Cruz. After hitting oranges during his time on the IL, Cruz had to deal with a squirrel in his first at-bat of the game. The rodent was no match for Cruz as he singled in Polanco for the second Twins run. Cruz finished the game 2-for-5, singling twice and picking up an RBI.

    Postgame With Baldelli



    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.

    • Aug 20 2019 04:52 AM
    • by Patrick Wozniak
  24. Twins Game Recap (8/14): Twins Can’t Sweep, Polanco Commits Costly Error

    Box Score
    Gibson: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 59.8 % strikes (55 of 92 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: Sano (21), Garver (23), Rosario (26)
    Multi-Hit Games: None
    Top 3 WPA: Sano .114, Rosario .155, Polanco .157
    Bottom 3 WPA: Garver -.136 Cron -.199, Romo -.685

    After a back and forth first five innings, things quieted down for the most part for the next three innings. The Brewers made Sam Dyson and Trevor May work for their three outs, but each got away while facing four batters. Sergio Romo was given the eighth inning and saw the lead wash away.

    On a routine ground ball to Jorge Polanco, Polanco committed his second error of the game, and third of the series. After a weak ground ball up the middle, the Brewers had a big threat late with runners on the corners with no outs. Last night the Twins got a big three-run homer, tonight it was the Brewers.

    Rookie Trent Grisham hit just his second home run of his career, but it was crucial for the Brewers in today’s game as they are contending for a wild card spot right now. This put the Brewers up 5-4 going into the ninth.

    Twins Offense Strikes Early; Goes Quiet

    Mitch Garver took the place for Max Kepler in the leadoff spot today as lefty Gio Gonzalez was on the mound for the Brewers. GarvSauce got the action going as he led off the game with a solo shot to right. After two strikeouts followed, Eddie Rosario hit another oppo shot for his 100th career home run.



    After a quiet second inning, Miguel Sano hit the third bomba of the day in just three innings. Sano blasted the shot to left-center field for a SanoDoubter to extend the lead back to two.



    The Brewers answered again to bring the score to 3-2, but the Twins opened it right back up. Kepler drew his second walk of the game. That was followed by a double for Schoop bringing Gibson up to bat with runners on second and third with one out. Gibson showed great patience at the plate drawing a full-count walk to load the bases.

    Bases loaded, the Twins kryptonite so far this year. Gonzalez picked up a huge strikeout against Garver for the second out of the inning. However, Polanco had no intentions of letting this opportunity go to waste as he ripped a two-RBI single to extend the Twins lead to 5-2 and ending Gio Gonzalez’s day.

    After scoring five runs in the first four innings, the Twins offense really quieted down during the second half of the game. Between the fifth and the ninth, the Twins got just one runner in scoring position when Ehire Adrianza pinch hit for Gibson and got a triple. Garver followed that with a line drive straight to third base, and Adrianza was doubled off.

    The Twins got just two other base runners and that came from C.J. Cron getting hit by a pitch twice. In the ninth, the Twins drew three straight walks to load the bases with two outs. Another bases-loaded opportunity for the Twins, but this time they failed to execute as Cron flew out to end the game.

    Gibson Minimizes Damage

    After having one of his worst starts his last time out against a division rival, Gibson looked to not struggle with his control again. Though he did struggle with his control today, he was able to strand seven runners and keep the damage minimal.

    After he got some early run support in the first, he allowed a lead off single followed by a walk. Gibson picked up a huge strikeout against Christian Yelich for the first out of the inning. A one-out single brought in the lead runner, and after an error that should’ve been a double play, Gibson found himself with the bases loaded with one out. Gibson got the ensuing batter to ground out, and this time the Twins were able to turn two.

    In the second inning, Gibson allowed a leadoff double, and later a two-out walk, and he found himself in a jam yet again. On the first pitch of the next at-bat, he got Grandal to ground out to end the inning.

    The Brewers put together three singles to score another run, and with two outs, Gibson found himself in yet another jam with runners on second and third. He picked up another huge strikeout, this time on Arcia, on a 3-2 curveball to end the inning.

    In the fifth, Gibson gave up a one-out double to Moustakas and was able to get Cain to ground out on the next at-bat. With two outs and Moustakas on third, Thames picked up his third hit of the day driving in the Brewers third run. Gibson struck out Gamel to end the inning, and also his day, as he was pinch-hit for in the next inning.

    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.

    • Aug 14 2019 06:50 PM
    • by AJ Condon
  25. Twins Game Recap (8/9): Twins Set Home Run Record, Lose to Cleveland

    Box Score
    Smeltzer: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 60.4% strikes (49 of 81 pitches)
    Bullpen: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Castro (12), Rosario (25)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cave (2-for-4)

    Bottom 3 WPA: Smeltzer -.191, Arráez -.085, Cron -.063

    For the fourth consecutive game, the Twins didn’t get a good outing from their starting pitcher. Since Jake Odorizzi allowed only one run on Monday against the Braves, Twins starters have allowed a total of 28 runs, two of them unearned. Devin Smeltzer was off to a very good start, but he couldn’t get past Cleveland’s top of the order in the fifth.

    Before the fifth inning meltdown, in which he gave up five earned runs on five hits, Smeltzer was able to hold Cleveland batters to just a one-run lead. With the exception of the second, he threw sixteen pitches or less in all other innings. He had also allowed only two hits before the fifth. Tyler Duffey took over, but couldn’t take care of the two inherited runners.

    The Indians, on the other hand, were able to lock their second win of the series behind a fantastic start from All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber. Like Clevinger on Thursday, Bieber went into distance, nearly reaching 110 pitches. He delivered seven innings, striking out a total of eleven Minnesota batters.

    Twins set new single season home run record
    Exactly like in the previous three games, the Twins offense had to catch up and tried to start a rally. And they did it in record-breaking fashion. Jason Castro homered off Bieber to lead off the fifth, tying the club’s single season home run record, at 225. In the sixth, Eddie Rosario jumped on the first pitch of the inning to hit the milestone dinger, break the club record and put the Twins back in the game. It was Eddie’s 25th of the year.



    Welcome to the show, Dobnak!
    A dream came true for former Uber driver Randy Dobnak tonight, as he made his major league debut. He couldn’t have asked for a better one too. The Pennsylvania native pitched four scoreless innings on 68 pitches, keeping the Twins within a swing of a bat. He did get a huge help from the defense too, when C.J. Cron threw home to get Yasiel Puig in the seventh and Luis Arráez started a double play in the eighth.



    Tied atop of the division for the first time since April 20, these two times play again tomorrow, with Odorizzi taking on the mound to face Adam Plutko. First pitch scheduled to 6:10 C.T.

    Postgame With Baldelli
    Coming soon.

    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.

    • Aug 10 2019 06:28 AM
    • by Thieres Rabelo