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  1. Jonathan Schoop Becoming the Odd Man Out

    The Twins had a lot of questions when it came to replacing Brian Dozier this off-season. Jonathan Schoop seemed to be a nice, short-term solution at second base. Ehire Adrianza has always seemed to fit the role of utility infielder and few could have predicted the impact Luis Arraez would have at the big-league level.

    Over the last two seasons, Adrianza has hit .254/.319/.384 with 40 extra-base hits in 176 games. He has also shown defensive flexibility by playing all over the infield including over 660 innings at shortstop during that stretch. Schoop is limited to playing second base as he has logged less than 230 innings at other positions throughout his seven years at the MLB level.


    The rise of Arraez has also cut into Schoop's time on the field. As a 22-year old, Arraez has put together some unbelievably professional at-bats in his 182 plate appearances. Entering play on Tuesday, he is hitting .356/.429/.444 and he might have a strong argument to be named the AL Rookie of the Year. First year manager Rocco Baldelli certainly has faith in Arraez and if the playoffs started today Arraez would be penciled in at second base.

    Schoop has compiled some strong numbers in a Twins uniform and Baseball Reference has he accounting for 1.2 WAR. May was a good month for him as he posted an .835 OPS with six home runs and five doubles. He hasn’t had more than four home runs in any other month and his OPS dipped to .622 in June and .787 in July.

    Since the calendar turned to August, he’s gone 1-for-5 with no extra-base hits. He’s also only started one game in that stretch, Saturday’s contest with the Royals. Currently, the Twins have gotten by with having him relegated to a bench role. What happens if the club needs another relief pitcher? This could force the front office to make a choice between Schoop and one of the other infielders. At this point, Schoop might be the odd man out.

    While Schoop has been worth more than replacement level when it comes to WAR, his win probability added total is one of the worst totals of his career. He entered play on Tuesday with a -1.28 WPA. His only year with a lower total was 2014 with the Orioles when he accounted for a -3.00 WPA. Schoop has the lowest WPA among qualified batters on the Twins roster and he’s over a full win lower than the next closest qualified batter.

    Schoop could have some big hits for the Twins in the weeks ahead but he shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from Arraez. At season’s end, Schoop will be a free agent and Arraez will enter the year as the team’s starting second baseman.

    It helps to have Schoop to add depth to the roster, but it’s getting closer to the point where he might be holding the team back from adding other players (especially pitchers). Do you think it’s time to cut Schoop loose? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Aug 06 2019 06:51 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. The Flip Side of Free Agency Frustration

    Here are a few experiences that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have had with free agency since taking over the Twins front office:

    * In their first signature move, they quickly signed free agent Jason Castro to a three-year contract. He was solid in his first year, and the second was a total loss. Now he enters Year 3 as a fairly significant (and somewhat pricey) question mark.

    * In their second year, they signed Addison Reed, Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn for a combined ~$25 million. Morrison and Lynn were busts, and so to a lesser extent was Reed, who now enters Year 2 as a fairly significant (and somewhat pricey) question mark.

    * They made a serious bid for Yu Darvish last winter, reportedly offering more than $100 million before falling short of the Cubs and watching the right-hander immediately bomb in Chicago.

    * They inherited the contract of Ervin Santana, who qualifies as one of Minnesota's most successful free agent signings ever, but saw the downside of that deal as well with $13.5 million of their payroll dedicated to a guy who provided basically nothing in 2018.

    * They also inherited the contract of Phil Hughes, some of which they're still on the hook for this year. Granted, it was an ill-advised extension rather than Hughes' original deal that went sour, but he's another fine example of the dangers in long-term commitments to veterans – even those that are on top of their games at the time.

    So now we come to the team's approach this year in free agency. With the exception of Nelson Cruz, none of the players acquired by Minnesota were on those lists fans skimmed through in September and let their brains run wild, because none of them were firmly expected to be on the market. And now most players that did occupy the upper levels of those rankings are gone.

    Is this by design? Are the Twins attempting to take advantage of a league-wide aversion to spending by capturing quality players who are being unfairly devalued? It sure seems that way.

    Instead of tethering themselves to expensive, inescapable commitments for players on the higher tiers (which, as we've learned time and time again, carry no assurances) the front office is making deals on its own terms.

    Martin Perez on a one-year deal plus team option is actually a lot more interesting than those standard Terry Ryan flyers of yesteryear, because it has real upside. Perez doesn't turn 28 until April. If the Twins are able to unlock whatever they see in him (and I have to believe it's more than meets the eye, because other teams were interested too), they've actually found themselves an asset. The same is true of Cruz and Blake Parker, though they don't have the same long-term fit potential.

    One that does is Jonathan Schoop. He's probably the player we're not talking about enough. The Twins aggressively signed him one week after his non-tender from Milwaukee. He's an athletic defender, one year removed from an All-Star season, and he's averaged 25 homers in the past three seasons. Most vitally, he's only 27.

    Guys like this don't become available too often. And for teams that want more of a sure thing – such as the Brewers, who elected to move on – maybe he's not the best choice. But within Minnesota's developing strategy, he made all the sense in the world. Unlike the others added this winter, his contract doesn't include a 2020 option, but if he rebounds, blends into the nucleus, and likes it here? Now you might've found yourself a newly minted piece to your core.

    It's tough to knock any of these deals on their own. But when you look at the big picture it's easy to feel a bit underwhelmed. As someone in the forums astutely put it: "the sum is lesser than its parts." I understand and empathize with the lack of enthusiasm some are feeling. But ultimately, it's not Jed Lowrie or Adam Ottavino that's going to put fans in the seats. Winning will.

    You may not be jazzed about the caliber of these names. But don't conflate the current front office with the previous regime. These aren't your garden-variety bargain bin signings of the Kevin Correia or Mike Pelfrey ilk. There's a deeper methodology in place, and I'm sure I'm only scratching its surface.

    From my view, the Twins are hoping they can hit on a few of these gambles while the incumbents rebound enough to keep them hanging in a weak division. Then, around the middle of the season they can more clearly assess their position and their needs. As I concluded on Monday, the silver lining to this resource preservation is that it will give them extreme flexibility leading up to the trade deadline.

    The pessimistic view is that the Twins are treading water until 2020. The optimistic (and I think more realistic) view is that they're treading water until June or July.

    Let us not forget: The most impactful, game-changing transaction in the American League over the past two years didn't happen during the offseason. It happened when Detroit traded Justin Verlander to Houston in August of 2017. Given the league's expected landscape this summer, it's not hard to envision similar opportunities emerging in a sea of non-contenders.

    So, there's something to dream on.

    • Jan 22 2019 08:44 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  3. MIN 6, HOU 2: MARTIN! MARTIN! MARTIN!

    Box Score
    Perez: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 66.0% strikes (66 of 100 pitches)
    Home Runs: Schoop (5)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4), Cruz (2-for-4, 2B)
    WPA of +0.1: Perez .347, Schoop .157
    WPA of -0.1: None
    [attachment=12454:Win51.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Perez continued to feature the cutter tonight, he threw 45 among his 100 pitches. He limited the Astros to just four hits, walked two batters and struck out seven, but things got off to a shaky start.

    Perez walked leadoff man George Springer on four pitches, then gave up a single to Jose Altuve. He got Alex Bregman to fly out, then induced an inning-ending double play. It was all Martin Perez from there. Here’s the full chart from tonight’s outing via Baseball Savant:
    [attachment=12456:PerezInfo.png]
    Perez now has a 2.08 ERA in his four starts this season. Rangers fans have to be very confused right now. He had a 6.78 ERA in 15 starts with Texas last season. It's still very early, but Houston entered this game with a ridiculous .300/.379/.540 line against left-handed pitching so far this season (.919 OPS), so I'm not sure you could have realistically imagined a more encouraging start from Perez.

    Jonathan Schoop got the Twins on the board with a mammoth two-run home run in the third inning. The Twins added another run on a Jorge Polanco single, thanks to a throwing error by Astros starter Collin McHugh.


    Nelson Cruz added an RBI single in the fifth, then hit a run-scoring double in the eighth. C.J. Cron added a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 6-0 lead.

    Trevor Hildenberger gave up two runs in the ninth, but with that big of a lead his most important job was to simply throw strikes. He did excellent, throwing 15 strikes on his 20 pitches.

    Here’s the thing about that 11-run blowout last night: It proves this isn’t simply a slumping Astros team the Twins caught at the right time. This is a dangerous team, we saw that, but even the best teams go on slumps. These outstanding outings from Jake Odorizzi and Perez sandwiched between that clunker are obviously very encouraging.

    It’s Jose Day tomorrow. Get excited.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12455:Bullpen51.png]
    Next Three Games
    Thu vs. HOU, 12:10 pm CT (Berrios-Peacock)
    Fri at NYY, 6:05 pm CT (Gibson-Paxton)
    Sat at NYY, 12:05 pm CT (Odorizzi-Happ)

    Last Game
    HOU 11, MIN 0: Completely Dominated

    • May 01 2019 09:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  4. Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Second Base

    Projected Starter: Jonathan Schoop
    Likely Backup: Marwin Gonzalez

    Depth: Ehire Adrianza, Ronald Torreyes, Jordany Valdespin
    Prospects: Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez, Travis Blankenhorn

    THE GOOD

    Although he's coming off his worst season since learning the ropes as a rookie in 2014, Schoop has every ingredient for a bounceback. He's young, having turned 27 in October. He's hungry, with free agency bearing down at year's end. He's feeling scorned, after being traded and non-tendered in 2018. He's got a new hitting coach who has had some success with free-swinging power hitters (James Rowson's work with Eddie Rosario comes to mind).

    And most importantly, Schoop is working to iron out an ostensibly correctable issue. He was hampered early last year by an oblique injury that, from the view of both the second baseman and his new team, caused him to compensate and alter his swing. Now healthy and highly motivated, the Twins hope to see a return of the player who posted an aggregate .280/.316/.479 line from 2015 to 2017.

    Whether or not he can fully rebound, Schoop is at the very least a good bet to bring the boom. He has hit 15 or more home runs in every season as a big-leaguer, and managed 21 last year while batting just .233 in 131 games for the Orioles and Brewers. That total would've ranked second on the Twins behind Rosario.

    From 2014 to 2018, only one major-league second baseman hit more home runs than Schoop (109). It was Brian Dozier with 148. So in that sense, the Twins have found themselves a very fitting replacement, and Schoop is a better defender than Dozier was – at least toward the end of his Twins tenure. Schoop is renowned for his strong arm and lightning-quick double-play turns.

    The addition of Gonzalez provides a crucial depth boost at several positions, and second base is near the top of the list. Minnesota's depth behind Schoop was rather scant, with Adrianza figuring to be the top backup. He can play second but has done so rarely, and made only three starts there for the Twins last year.

    Gonzalez, meanwhile, has plenty of experience at the position, and logged 183 innings there for the Astros in 2018. His bat is also much more likely to play than that of Adrianza or Torreyes. It's hard to overstate just how much this free agent signing bolsters the outlook at second base by mitigating the risk around Schoop.

    THE BAD

    Schoop is a risk, of course. The rebounding-after-injury narrative is a tidy one, but it doesn't always play out that way. Even if he gets back on top of his game, he offers zero patience (drew 17 unintentional walks in 501 PA last year) and minimal running ability (slower sprint speed than Robbie Grossman, per Statcast).

    Schoop's nonexistent plate discipline tends to hurt his batting average (.258 career), so you are looking at a fairly one-dimensional offensive player here. That's not necessarily the worst thing, because extra-base hits are always good, but it does reduce Schoop's margin for error. When you never walk it's pretty easy to become a drain on the lineup unless you're consistently hitting. As we saw last year.

    Long-term, the big sticking point at second base is Gordon. Minnesota's first-round draft pick in 2014 was on a steady ascent toward the majors up until hitting a wall at Triple-A last summer. Gordon has played mostly shortstop in the system but projects as a second baseman in the majors, and – having been added to the 40-man roster in November – the clock is now ticking on him to stake his claim.

    We should have a much better idea by the end of this year about the "when" and "if" where Gordon is concerned. There's also the fact that Jorge Polanco, newly signed to a five-year extension, profiles better at second than short, and has a few top prospects (Royce Lewis and Wander Javier) coming up beneath him.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Just like at first base, the future outlook at second for Minnesota is fluid, which is why a one-year gamble like Schoop makes sense. It's quite rare you can find a player with his track record, at his age, on a one-year deal so Minnesota seems to have done well here, even if his high-power/low-OBP profile is redundant in their lineup.

    By adding Gonzalez to the roster, the Twins made their somewhat risky play on Schoop much more palatable. Marwin's two-year deal also provides some buffer in the event that the next mainstay – be it Gordon, or Polanco, or Arraez (added to the 40-man alongside Gordon) – takes a little longer to reach fruition.

    ***


    Twins 2019 Position Analysis: Catcher
    Twins 2019 Position Analysis: First Base

    • Mar 01 2019 12:31 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  5. Rundown: Sonny, LeMahieu, Non-Tenders and More

    Other teams Cafardo mentions in the mix for Gray are the A’s, Braves, Padres and Rangers. The main thing that stands out as an advantage for the Twins is they seem to be better suited to take on payroll. So if the Yankees are primarily looking for financial relief, boy does that feel weird to say, the Twins have a great shot. Gray is expected to make somewhere around $9 million through arbitration.

    La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported that the Twins “have expressed some interest” in DJ LeMahieu. A three-time Gold Glover at second base, former batting champ and two-time All-Star, LeMahieu certainly has an attractive resume. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs also highlighted his ability to barrel up balls, speculating a power breakout could be possible with an adjustment or two. Still, LeMahieu’s career .264/.311/.362 (.673) line away from Coors Field scares me.

    I’m pretty surprised the Twins (and every other team in baseball) passed on the opportunity to claim Derek Dietrich. He actually has a higher career OPS+ than Brian Dozier and has hit .272/.351/.465 (.816) away from Marlins Park.

    One non-tender candidate I could see being a target for the Twins is second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The Brewers acquired Schoop at the trade deadline, but he’s expected to make $10 million ins his final season of arbitration eligibility. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwakee Journal Sentinel wrote that Milwaukee is “believed to be somewhat torn about what to do” and that the decision could go either way. Schoop, 27, had an incredible 2017, blasting 32 home runs while posting an .841 OPS, but he came crashing down to Earth last season, hitting just .233/.266/.416 (.682).

    Mark Feinsand highlighted one non-teneder candidate for each team for MLB.com. Schoop was among those listed, but there were plenty of other names I could see fitting nicely on the Twins, including relief pitcher Chaz Roe. Give me all the ex-Rays! Roe, 32, had a 3.58 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 in 50 1/3 innings last season for Tampa Bay.

    The Twins added Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez to the 40-man roster and released Alan Busenitz, allowing him to sign with a team in Japan. We could have some further re-shaping of the 40-man roster coming later this week, as Friday marks the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

    It’s interesting that the trio of 40-man roster additions could potentially help serve as replacements for the Twins two most logical non-tender candidates. Robbie Grossman and Ehire Adrianza have been fine as role players, but neither offers much upside. It’s not as if those two are expected to break the bank, as they’re expected to cost around $6 million total, but there may be better ways to invest both that money and space on the 25-man roster. Here are the projected arbitration salaries via MLB Trade Rumors. Now that the Twins have added C.J. Cron, things are looking especially bleak for Grossman.

    Michael Achterling of the Pioneer Press gathered what basically amounted to a scrapbook of Joe Mauer highlights from the publication’s coverage of the homegrown star.

    Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors passed along some notes on both Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt’s market. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Mariners are actively trying to move Robinson Cano. I’d imagine those teams would have to eat a significant amount of the money still owed to those players ($104.5 million to Greinke, $120 million to Cano) in order to make a deal.

    Another name to note on the trade market: Madison Bumgarner. Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported the Giants are “willing to engage teams” in trade talks for MadBum. Bumgarner has built quite the legacy already thanks to postseason heroics, but he’s only under team control for this upcoming season and his FIP has gone up each of the past three seasons.

    Andrew Simon of MLB.com listed nine sleeper free agents to watch. One name I found particularly interesting was Carson Smith. The right-hander only has one healthy season under his belt, but it was a great one. Back in 2015, Smith saved 13 games for the Mariners while pitching to a 2.31 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 11.8 K/9. Intriguing buy-low option for the bullpen.

    Also from MLB.com, Mike Petriello took a look at the most extreme home runs of 2018. Guess who homered on the pitch the farthest off the plate? Yup, Eddie Rosario.

    Another prospect list! Eric Cross of FantraxHQ revealed his top 25 prospect list for the Twins. He’s particularly high on Akil Baddoo, who he has in the sixth spot. It’s a fun list, and Cross goes into some more detail on each player than a lot of other outlets. Just a friendly reminder: The 11th annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook will be available later this winter.

    Over at Twinkie Town, Thomas Reinking did a deep dive on the value of investing in free agents. The results were not encouraging.

    • Nov 27 2018 11:55 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  6. MIN 6, TB 4: Cruz Bails Out Another Bunting Blunder

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 60.4% strikes (55 of 91 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: None
    Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (3-for-4, 2B), Arraez (2-for-3, BB), Rosario (2-for-2)

    WPA of +0.1: Cruz .491, Arraez .151, Rosario .141, Rogers .115
    WPA of -0.1: May -.129, Schoop -.145, Polanco -.236
    [attachment=12767:Win626.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Nelson Cruz provides a solid presence in the lineup, veteran leadership and will even apparently bail out his manager after making a poor decision. What a guy.

    The Twins were provided an excellent scoring chance in the seventh inning, and nearly returned the gift. A double-play ball was botched, resulting in the Twins getting runners at first and second with no outs.

    Jonthan Schoop was coming to the plate. The Twins were still trailing by a run. It was still only the seventh inning. Still, Schoop was up there trying to bunt. He missed twice, looking absolutely horrible in the process, and ended up striking out.

    Unlike when this happened last time with Jorge Polanco, I cannot imagine Schoop was doing this on his own. This is a guy who came into tonight with 13 homers and a .480 slugging percentage.

    Luis Arraez followed with a single to load the bases. The next batter, Polanco, popped out, meaning Cruz was the team’s final hope of capitalizing on Tampa Bay’s big error. Cruz ripped a bases-clearing go-ahead double to center field.



    Rocco Baldelli should have gone straight into his office and just submitted All-Star votes for Cruz from that moment to the final out.

    Odorizzi Struggles With Command
    Over his last three starts now, Odorizzi has given up 11 earned runs on 19 hits and five walks. All that damage was done in 15 1/3 innings, giving Odorizzi a 6.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over this recent downturn.

    What’s going on? Well, tonight Odorizzi struggled with his command. His strike rate was just a shade over 60% and seemed to constantly be pitching from behind in the count. On the plus side, he did still strike out seven batters and got 12 swinging strikes on his 91 pitches.

    Odorizzi left with the game tied 3-3, but the Rays completed their comeback with a Willy Adames go-ahead solo homer in the seventh, their third homer of the evening.

    Rosie Exits Early
    In the bottom of the third inning, Eddie Rosario pulled up while running the bases. It was later reported that he suffered an ankle injury and was day-to-day.



    With both Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez on the IL and Max Kepler nursing a sore elbow, courtesy of a 95 mph fastball, the Twins already had a very unconventional outfield to start this game.

    In the fourth inning, the defensive alignment was Luis Arraez in left field, Jake Cave in center and Willians Astudillo in right. Arraez has a grand total of two starts in the outfield while down on the farm the past two seasons.

    Kepler would later enter this game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

    Postgame With Baldelli


    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12766:Pen626.png]

    • Jun 27 2019 04:09 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. The Discard Pile

    You can make cases that C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Blake Parker and (to a lesser extent) Martin Perez are all logical, savvy additions. But you can't make the case that these players were in any kind of demand. Each was optionally let loose by his former team, and all those teams are looking to compete in 2019.

    The Rays, Brewers, Angels and Rangers deemed these players to not be worthwhile at their projected (non-exorbitant) 2019 salaries, so each made the active decision to move on, via non-tender/DFA/declined option. It is essentially tantamount to the way Minnesota viewed Robbie Grossman.

    Even Nelson Cruz fell to the Twins at a surprising bargain because the market was lukewarm on him, despite his monstrous offensive production. Seattle didn't show much interest in bringing Cruz back, and Minnesota ultimately found itself bidding against only one or two other teams.

    And so, when fans question – or at least attempt to critically analyze – the front office's approach this offseason, it's not so much about the collective expense for these players, which amounts to less than $32 million at a time where the team theoretically had upwards of $50 million to spend.

    It's more about the context of how they were acquired. The Twins have been drawing from the discard pile.

    Does that mean these moves are all doomed to fail? Not by any means. Personally, I have enough faith in the team's current assembly of analysts and baseball minds that I'm inclined to get behind this strategy for the most part. I like the fact that they've added several players under 30, with every signing other than Schoop coming in the form of a one-year guarantee plus team option. Those are good, team-friendly deals that strike a reasonable low-risk/medium-upside balance.

    What's been amiss is that clear, decisive upgrade to the pitching staff. Or that landscape-altering trade that charts a bold new direction for this perpetually stagnating franchise. I can't blame fans who feel underwhelmed with what's been acquired thus far – a collection of cast-offs and a 38-year-old DH who settled for less than almost anyone expected.

    The Twins still have about four weeks before their first full-squad workout in Fort Myers, so there's time yet for further additions, but one gets the sense it'll be more of the same. For better or worse, Minnesota appears content to stand pat and roll with what they've got, mixing in mostly gambles and secondary role players rather than clear-cut difference-makers.

    The upside is that whatever flexibility they end up preserving through these low-wattage free agent signings will potentially put them in an advantageous position around the trade deadline, should things play out as hoped in the first half. The downside is that they might be hurting their chances of reaching such a "buyer" position to begin with.

    • Jan 20 2019 08:32 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  8. Let's Make A Deal, Part VI: GM For A Deadline

    Have you missed the earlier parts of this series?

    Part 1: 2020

    Part 2: Payroll

    Part 3: The Ammunition

    Part 4: The Sellers

    Part 5: Who Are We Getting?


    **********


    The previous five articles linked above have led us to this place: willing to take on payroll, less willing to deal the best of our assets, but understanding the cost to do business in terms of adding controllable pieces.

    My wishlist (in no particular order):

    A controllable starting pitcher - Beyond Jose Berrios and the team holding an option on Martin Perez's contract for 2020, the other 60% of the rotation is on expiring contracts. While the current rotation has been durable and, at a minimum, capable, adding a quality starter to the stable would be a big step for this pennant race and next year.

    A relief pitcher - While a reliever with team control would be preferred, getting a rental would suffice.

    An elite pinch-runner - There will come a time between now and the end of the season that Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano or Jason Castro will be the tying or go-ahead run on second base... and out of the dugout will trot Ehire Adrianza. Adding this piece would be ideal at the end of August, right before rosters expand... but that's not allowed anymore. So we shop in July!

    Holding on to my top six prospects - What? If I can accomplish the above tasks without moving any of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Brusdar Graterol, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran or Trevor Larnach, I'd be ecstatic. It doesn't mean I won't do it. I'd just prefer not to.

    Without further adieu, my moves:

    Acquire SP Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers. It's not the most appealing name, but Minor has had the most productive 2019 season of all the pitchers rumored to be available.

    Why the Rangers? While the Rangers are playing .500 ball, it's not happening for them this year. And if they're honest with themselves, it's not happening next year either. Plus, GM Thad Levine used to work under Rangers GM Jon Daniels and they have a great relationship.

    How does Minor fit? Well, this does give the Twins six pitchers for five spots. At its simplest, someone is going to have to move to the bullpen. I'd suggest being more creative, limiting Michael Pineda's innings and using Martin Perez in more of a swing role. I'd also find a way to get Devin Smeltzer the occasional start. Plus, Minor is under contract for another year. Controllable starting pitcher, check.

    The cost? You skipped the previous two parts, didn't you? Minor isn't going to come cheap, unfortunately. I'm probably going to have to give up one of the prospects I don't want to. If Trevor Larnach is involved, the cost probably wouldn't be much more. But there's a chance the Twins get this done without Larnach. A package of A-ball players fits in really well with where Texas is as an organization.

    The package(s):
    Quantity: SS Wander Javier, RHP Blayne Enlow and RHP Luis Rijo for LHP Mike Minor.

    Quality: OF Trevor Larnach and RHP Griffin Jax for LHP Mike Minor and minor-league RP CD Pelham.

    Quick Take: Is the Stroman deal what the market is going to be? If so, maybe the Twins can get Minor for less. If not, maybe neither of these packages get it done.

    ---


    Acquire RP Ian Kennedy from the Kansas City Royals. Just like Minor, Kennedy is not the most appealing name. But he's been dang good as the Royals closer this year.

    Why the Royals? If you can convince them to deal to a division rival, this is a no-brainer. Kennedy is owed over $20m through the end of next year, and the Twins are in a position to take on salary. The combination of those two things drive down the cost in terms of prospects.

    How does Kennedy fit? Kennedy has 20 saves in 23 opportunities and has been equally as good against right- and left-handed hitters. I wouldn't "demote" Taylor Rogers, but I'd be more inclined to use Rogers in earlier high-leverage situations knowing Kennedy is more than capable of closing out games. Oh, and he continues to serve in that role through the upcoming back-to-back World Series championships. Reliever, check.

    The cost? Money, mostly. How much the Royals send over determines the level of prospect.

    The package:
    RHP Johan Quezada for RHRP Ian Kennedy and $5 million.

    Quick Take: The Royals pay just the rest of this year's salary (or maybe less) and in return get a flame throwing prospect who they will add to the 40-man roster this offseason. Bad teams having a closer is a luxury that the Royals are capitalizing on.

    ---


    Acquire OF Jarrod Dyson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yeah, we're doing it...

    Why the Diamondbacks? They're setting themselves up as sellers, but maybe shouldn't be. At any rate, I want the one of the fastest runners in baseball on my team.

    How does Dyson fit? He fits great as a fourth outfielder... on a team that doesn't really employ a fourth outfielder. If Buxton were to miss time, this is a pretty easy transition. Otherwise, he's a pinch-runner and fourth outfielder.

    The cost? Dyson is owed $1.2m over the course of the season. Now, about that 25-man spot he's going to need.... I'm trading 2B Jonathan Schoop. With Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza capable of being the second baseman if something were to happen to Luis Arraez.

    The package:
    2B Jonathan Schoop for OF Jarrod Dyson. (And whatever else, from either side, to make the deal work.)

    Quick Take: The Diamondbacks have played Ketel Marte at both 2B and CF, so this move forces him to CF full time. Both Dyson and Schoop are on expiring contracts. This changes Arizona's lineup (more pop, less speed) if they want to continue going for it. Or maybe they flip Schoop.

    ---


    You're in charge. What are you doing?

    • Jul 30 2019 02:29 PM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard
  9. MIN 16, LAA 7: Twins Slug 8 More Home Runs, Sweep Angels

    Box Score
    Perez: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 58.0% strikes (51 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Schoop 2 (10), Polanco (9), Cron (13), Sano 2 (4), Kepler (10), Rosario (14)
    Multi-Hit Games: Cron (5-for-6, 2 2B, HR), Kepler (3-for-5, 2B, HR, BB), Rosario (3-for-6, HR), Polanco (2-for-3, 2B, HR, BB), Sano (2-for-4, 2 HR, BB), Schoop (2-for-5, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Schoop .198
    WPA of -0.1: None
    [attachment=12568:Win523.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Bringing The Rain in Southern California
    Mother Nature may have brought the rain on Wednesday, postponing the game until today. This afternoon, however, the Twins were the bringers of rain. They made sure to shower the outfield bleachers with home run balls, early and often. The Dark Knight, otherwise known as Matt Harvey, likely wanted a mulligan after surrendering four home runs in only 2 2/3 innings.

    New Day, New Lineup, Same Result
    Today’s contest was the 49th game of the year for the Twins and the 37th different lineup that Rocco Baldelli has used. That stat is a product of many factors, such as injuries, positional versatility, and perhaps most significantly, Baldelli’s emphasis on not over-using players. Whatever the reason may be it doesn’t seem to matter, this team hits taters, regardless of who’s in the lineup.

    Making Tater Tot Hotdishes
    The greatest quote of the year still belongs to Max Kepler, when he said, “we’re going to hit a lot of taters”. If anyone has his phone number it might be wise to ask him for lottery numbers because he was spot on with that prediction. After their third inning home run barrage, today marked their league-leading 24th multi-home run game. In the seventh inning Sano and Schoop went back-to-back, each hitting their second of the game. Max Kepler joined the party as well, launching his 10th of the year. Eddie Rosario finally snapped his streak of tater-less games (that is a word, go along with it), blasting his 14th of the year — his first since May 8. Entering the game they had 90 home runs, before it was over, they were at 98. That is certainly more than enough taters needed to make a hot dish.

    Aggressive Eddie
    If you have watched this team long enough then you have likely become accustomed to Eddie Rosario being a very aggressive player. His aggression is part of what makes him such a special and entertaining player. One play early in the game that really stood out was when Rosario scored on a sac fly hit to the shortstop. The ensuing four home runs that same inning made this play a relatively minor detail in the box score, but at the time it was anything but that.

    Martin Perez had just wiggled out of a first inning jam. The score was tied 0-0, with runners on second and third and nobody out. Luis Arraez hit a blooper into shallow left field. Angels shortstop, Zack Cozart, caught the shallow pop-up while drifting back on his heels. Eddie, being Eddie, saw this as an opportunity to steal a run and he did just that. When watching this play I couldn’t help but think of how the injury to Andrelton Simmons affected the outcome. It’s certainly hard to argue that Simmons is anything but the best defensive shortstop in the game. Had he been in the lineup today and playing shortstop it is likely fair to think Eddie would not have tagged up in that situation. Again, this play became an irrelevant footnote, but nonetheless, it is still an interesting baseball play worth mentioning.

    Fun Facts
    Today’s contest featured a handful of interesting tidbits. Hopefully these fun facts can provide you with a few conversation starters at your next cocktail party:

    • Yesterday was only the second rainout in Anaheim in nearly 25 years.
    • This 2019 season is the first time in franchise history the Twins have enjoyed a 6+ game lead in the division before June 1st.
    • So far this season, no other team in the league has hit six or more home runs in one game, the Twins have done it four times.
    • Their eight home runs today ties the franchise record for team home runs in a single game.
    • Twins have 208 extra-base hits, no other team has yet to hit 200.
    • Their 18 road wins is the most of any team in the league.
    • Today was World Turtle Day and Willians Astudillo struck out and walked in the same game (that’s more rare than rain in Southern California).
    Postgame With Baldelli


    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12570:Bullpen523.png]
    Next Game
    Fri vs. CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Berrios-Lopez)

    Last Game
    MIN 8, LAA 3: Bats Break Loose Late

    More from Twins Daily
    Polanco Proving It for Good
    Baldelli Is More Coddling Millennial Than Field General
    Where's the Weakness?

    • May 23 2019 07:06 PM
    • by Andrew Gebo
  10. A Twins Mainstay Dying Before Our Eyes?

    Across major league baseball, the shift is now commonplace in an attempt to get batters out. Every team does it, and in fact, Minnesota is an organization that employs it at one of the highest clips. With the shift on, your goal is to downplay the strengths of an opposing batter. It’s less about worrying whether a bunt gets dropped down, or the hitter can change their approach and simply “go the other way” on some smoke, than it is taking away the highest percentage of batted balls. Truly beating the shift isn’t about going around it, but rather, going over it.

    The launch angle revolution is something that’s caught on across the big leagues, and while keyboard managers everywhere debate its viability the principles are sound. Hitting the ball in the air, harder, is going to produce positive results far more often than anything on the ground. Although often this is mentally categorized simply as fly balls, both home runs and rocket line drives fall into this optimal category as well.

    David Ortiz, arguably the largest stain on Terry Ryan’s career, getting away was in part because of an inability for the organization to work within a player’s abilities. Rather than get left behind in the current game, it seems Minnesota is maybe leading the charge in some respects.

    Back in 2017 Minnesota owned the third-lowest ground ball to fly ball ratio. They improved upon that factor a season ago, finishing with the second lowest tally in the big leagues. While the sample size is tiny, Rocco Baldelli’s club currently owns a 0.86 GB/FB ratio, trailing only the Seattle Mariners (0.83). So, what can we deduce from this information?

    The reality is launch angle isn’t useful on its own, as is the case with many advanced metrics. Pairing launch angle with exit velocity however gives you a formula for some quantifiable positive. That is to say, hit the ball higher, harder, and watch what happens. Seems like common sense right?

    Here’s what the Twins are doing right now, today, with that second-lowest GB/FB rate. Currently they’re only 20th in hard hit percentage. Mitch Garver is actually leading the club in barrels per plate appearance, and he’s top-10 in the big leagues with his output. Also let’s remind ourselves that fly balls include line drives, and Minnesota’s 19.4% is only 20th in all of baseball for that category. Where the outlook appears a bit shinier, the Twins' .315 BABIP is eighth best in all of baseball (Seattle’s .328 is 4th).

    With the numbers above, we can see that the results of an updated process currently look like. Now, let’s add some context to who is actually generating these inputs. Over the winter the Twins front office added thumping bats like Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, and C.J. Cron. Right now, Cruz owns the 10th highest hard hit rate in baseball, with Schoop not far behind at 22nd. Stretch a bit further and Jorge Polanco is just under 50% hard hit, but checks in one place ahead of superstar Mike Trout.

    Generating hard contact, like we discussed with launch angle, is not all that valuable in a vacuum. Pairing it with zone control, and optimal launch angle, is a formula for strong production though. This is where the idea that teams wanting big power guys and not caring about strikeouts breaks down. What we know is that strikeouts are as damaging as any of the other 27 outs within a game. They aren’t more detrimental, and sometimes, they can be even less harmful. Shying away from a player because he strikes out isn’t a worthwhile proposition for organizations today. The guys who succeed however, are not those who do so despite the strikeouts, but rather in spite of them.

    Joey Gallo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Khris Davis all fanned at least 175 times in 2018, but each of them had an OPS north of .800. Their strikeouts weren’t a problem because of the ability they showed to command the zone in any other situation. Rather than making soft contact, or simply putting the ball in play, they were taking walks or doing damage each time they were at the plate.

    I’m not here to suggest that Cruz, Schoop, Cron or any number of Twins hitters is going to finish 2019 in the upper tier of power hitters. What I do think is worth watching however, is whether or not a consistent command of the zone and strong plate approach becomes a regular expectation for these guys. If that does wind up being the outcome, it appears Minnesota’s strategy to get the ball off the ground and hit it hard, will result in a positive outcome this organization has long not achieved.

    • Apr 11 2019 08:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  11. MIN 9, TOR 1: Twins Steamroll Toronto

    Box Score
    Gibson: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 70.5% strikes (62 of 88 pitches)
    Home Runs: Polanco (7), Cron (7), Schoop (6), Rosario (13)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (5-for-5, 2B, HR), Cron (4-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-5, BB), Rosario (2-for-4, HR), Schoop (2-for-5, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Polanco .274, Gibson .131, Cron .117
    WPA of -0.1: None
    [attachment=12491:Win58.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    The Twins have now scored in the first inning in three straight games against the Blue Jays to give their starting pitchers an early cushion. They were able to run Thornton out of the game after just two innings when he gave up seven hits and five runs.

    After losing a home series to the Blue Jays earlier in the year, the team came together and combined for a totally opposite result.

    Offense Runs Away
    The bats got going right away in the first and continued into the third as seven different Twins’ batters combined for 11 hits, three home runs, and seven runs. Jorge Polanco and C.J. Cron led with three hits each in the first three innings including two of the Twins first three home runs.

    Polanco has been the most consistent hitter for the Twins this season, and was able to add to his success tonight. He finished with five hits, which is the second time in his career doing this, and got his average up to .344. Polanco exited the game, a triple short of a cycle, after his fifth hit of the game when Ehire Adrianza pinch ran for him.


    Cron was also able to have a night at the plate with a four-hit performance of his own, which was the sixth time of his career, to hopefully get him out of his hitting slump. Eddie Rosario was able to extend his American League lead in home runs with a two-run, sixth inning smack.

    The Twins continued their impressively powerful season as they combined for 18 hits and four home runs tonight. They now have 64 home runs this season, which is the number they were at on June 7th of last season.

    Pitching Dominates
    Twins starting pitchers have been very hot of late, and that didn’t stop this series. Kyle Gibson got the start in tonight’s game and was feeling it. Through the first four innings, he had eight strikeouts and had thrown a first pitch strike to 11 out of his first 12 batters. By the fifth inning, Gibson had already tied his career high in strikeouts with 10.

    Gibson was able to set a new record for himself, which wasn’t a surprise with how he was pitching tonight. He picked up his career high in strikeouts with 11, thanks to nine whiffs on his changeup and slider, as well as his third win of the season to improve to 3-1 with a 4.19 ERA.

    Gibson showed a bit of his former self from the second half of last season tonight, and what Twins fans were looking for. Obviously asking this from Gibson every night is a little out of the question, but it is what is needed if the Twins want to make a deep run in the playoffs. They already have a solid top three pitchers in Berrios, Perez, and Odorizzi, but adding Gibson to this list will help separate the Twins from first and second round exit teams.

    The bullpen came in after the sixth, with a huge cushion, to complete the series sweep and win 9-1. Ryne Harper made easy work in the seventh, Mike Morin came in for the eighth and Blake Parker was given the ninth. Here's the bullpen's combined line: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 R, and 3 Ks.

    The Twins picked up an easy sweep against the Blue Jays to extend their record to 23-12 as well as getting back into the top spot in the MLB standings. They finally go back to division play when they face the Detroit Tigers starting on Friday, after an offday on Thursday.

    Postgame With Baldelli

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12492:Bullpen58.png]
    Next Three Games
    Thu OFF
    Fri vs. DET, 7:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Ross)
    Sat vs. DET, 1:10 pm CT (TBD)
    Sat vs. DET, 7:10 pm CT (TBD-Turnbull)

    Last Game
    MIN 3, TOR 0: Berrios Hurls Gem, Twins Get Second Straight Shutout

    • May 09 2019 05:33 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  12. MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners

    Box Score
    Berrios: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 66.7% strikes (70 of 105 pitches)
    Home Runs: Cron 2 (12), Buxton (4), Sano (1), Schoop 2 (8)
    Multi-Hit Games: Schoop (3-for-5, 2 HR), Gonzalez (3-for-5, 2B), Rosario (3-for-6), Cron 3-for-6, 2B, 2 HR), Buxton (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Buxton .194, Cron .144
    WPA of -0.1: None
    [attachment=12528:Win518.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    I’ve run out of superlatives, so let’s cut the fluff and get right to the numbers. The Twins won their fifth straight game and are 30-15. They scored 18 runs. They hit six more home runs. No team in baseball has scored more or hit more home runs than the Twins.

    This is reality, right? I’m not dreaming, am I? Somebody pinch me.

    At this point, there really is no need to get cute about trying to analyze the Twins’ season so far. Just look at the standings. Just look at the leader boards.

    I honestly don’t even know what to say at this point. This team is insane. They are grinding Seattle into dust so far this series, outscoring them 36-11 through three games. They’ve done all this without Nelson Cruz or Mitch Garver.

    C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop each hit two home runs, Byron Buxton hit a grand slam and Miguel Sano hit his first homer of the season. The sharks combined for 19 hits, 10 of which went for extra bases. They also went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position and drew six walks.


    Despite being spotted a 15-0 lead, Jose Berrios slogged through this start tonight. Berrios was removed from this game after giving up four runs in the fifth inning. He went only 4 2/3 innings, and it took him 105 pitches to get that far. But Berrios still threw a good amount of strikes, did not walk a batter and only gave up one extra-base hit.

    Of the 16 balls in play the Mariners hit off Berrios, eight went for hits. I wouldn’t expect a .500 BABIP to be sustainable. It was a weird start. Jose also had a near exact split between all four of his pitches. He threw 28 two seamers, 27 curveballs, 26 four seamers and 24 changeups, per Baseball Savant. That’s the most changeups he’s thrown in a start this year.

    Luis Arraez made his major league debut. He took over at shortstop, moved over to second base where he made a fine diving stop and went 1-for-2 with a double at the plate. Here’s a link to a spotlight I did on him yesterday at the site that includes some video.

    Austin Adams made his Twins debut and first MLB appearance since 2016. He topped out at 97.5 mph and his slider hit 89.5 mph. If you were wondering why Derek Falvey likes this guy, well there you go. Adams gave up one hit and struck out four batters in two scoreless innings.

    Postgame With Buxton and Sano


    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12530:Pen518.png]
    Next Three Games
    Sun at SEA, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-Kikuchi)
    Mon at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (TBD)
    Tue at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (TBD)

    Last Game
    MIN 7, SEA 1: Venezuelan Night in Seattle

    • May 19 2019 05:52 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  13. Super Rosario Stars as Twins Sweep Doubleheader

    Game 1: Box Score
    Berrios: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 60.6% strikes (63 of 104 pitches)
    Home Runs: Rosario 2 (8), Astudillo (2)
    Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (3-for-5, 2B, 2 HR), Astudillo (2-for-4, HR)
    WPA of +0.1: Rosario .244, Rogers .207, Castro .165, Buxton .107
    WPA of -0.1: Berrios -.100,Gonzalez -.110, Polanco -.150
    [attachment=12417:420WinG1.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    Jose Berrios had his worst start of the season, giving up four runs on eight hits, three of which were home runs. Rosario picked him up by slugging a pair of homers himself and taking away another on a great catch in left field.


    That gives Rosie back-to-back multi-homer games. He was not done.

    Taylor Rogers had a rare shaky inning, giving up a run on three hits in the eighth. Still, Rocco Baldelli rolled with Rogers again in the ninth. Rogers rewarded his manager for showing faith in him by striking out the side in order to secure the one-run victory. He struck out five of the nine batters he faced.

    If this wasn’t a doubleheader, I’d be willing to bet Baldelli would have went with someone else in the ninth, but it made sense to let Rogers go and protect another pitcher for the evening game in this case. But maybe this is actually something that can work on a regular basis.

    Would you rather have Rogers pitch shorter bursts and be available to appear in more games? Or would you rather him cover multiple innings but be limited to fewer games? I’m not sure what the right answer is, but sometimes I feel like it’s pretty unrealistic to expect three or sometimes four of your relief pitchers to all have it in one night.

    Sometimes it’s not worth it to plan ahead for the next game, because you never know when ...

    Game 2: Box Score
    Perez: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 69.8% strikes (67 of 96 pitches)
    Home Runs: Cruz 2 (3), Schoop 2 (4), Garver 2 (5), Rosario (9), Cron (1)
    WPA of +0.1: Cruz .193
    WPA of -0.1: None
    [attachment=12418:420WinG2.png]
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    … your lineup is going to do something bananas like score 16 runs. The Twins hit eight home runs in this one, two each from Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and Mitch Garver. C.J. Cron also homered, and you know Eddie wasn’t gonna let everyone else have all the fun.

    Rosario homered again in the night game, giving him nine on the season. The earliest Rosie had ever reached that mark previously was May 11.

    I didn’t list out the multi-hit games above because it was nearly the entire lineup. What a show. Cruz, Garver and Schoop also doubled. Garver, tonight’s leadoff man, had a team-high five RBIs while Schoop drove in four. Byron Buxton added a pair of doubles of his own, giving him 11 on the season already.

    All this damage without Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler in the lineup. It was the kind of game we were all dreaming of these bats putting together coming into the season.

    The Twins put up 10 runs in the first three innings, meaning the main thing they really needed out of starter Martin Perez was innings. He did a good job of throwing strikes, and managed to log six innings, giving up just one walk. He was charged four runs on six hits, two of which were home runs.

    Fernando Romero, the 26th man for this doubleheader, made his 2019 Twins debut. It didn’t go so great. He gave up three runs over two innings. He didn’t record a strikeout, and only got one swinging strike among his 24 pitches.

    On a brighter side, Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. These two victories put the Twins up to 11-7 on the season.

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    [attachment=12419:Bullpen420.png]
    Next Three Games
    Sun at BAL, 12:05 pm CT (Gibson-Bundy)
    Mon at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Peacock)
    Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Pineda-Miley)

    Last Game
    TOR 7, MIN 4: Rosario Homers Twice as Twins Drop Game, Series

    • Apr 20 2019 10:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  14. Making Sense of the Lineup Makeover

    Usually I'd hash through everything and make you wait for the conclusion, but this thing got long. So instead, it's choose your own adventure! Here comes the conclusion, stick around for the more detailed analysis if you'd like.

    Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop are all right-handed pull power hitters who are comfortably above average against right-handed pitching, making them particularly platoon proof. If you believe Target Field is a great place for right-handed hitters, it seems to make a ton of sense to seek out that profile. Also, if you’re inclined to carry a 13-man pitching staff, as is commonplace in today’s age, filling your roster with guys who can hit same-sided pitching makes a ton of sense. One-dimensional hitters really lose their value when you only have three bench spots.

    Alright, that’s the quick hit take. For those of you interested in a deeper dive, here we go ...

    The OBP Issue
    Take a look at how those new additions stack up against some of the key departures in terms of OBP over the past three seasons.

    OBP 2016-18
    .371 Robbie Grossman
    .366 Joe Mauer
    .359 Nelson Cruz
    .336 Brian Dozier
    .319 C.J. Cron
    .313 Eduardo Escobar
    .304 Jonathan Schoop

    The added pop is welcome from the new faces, but the Twins ranked 16th in OBP last season as it was. They can ill afford a slip further back. This is still definitely a concern of mine.

    The Lefty Issue
    The Twins had a 91 wRC+ against lefties last season, which ranked 21st in baseball. To make matters worse, they also lost their best two hitters against lefties last season in terms of wRC+ (min. 100 PAs vs. LHP). Robbie Grossman led the club with a 147 wRC+ vs. southpaws while Joe Mauer finished second at 106.

    So these new right-handed bats will help solve that problem, right? Well ... it's interesting. Let’s take a look.

    Into the Splits
    Before we continue, I think it’s important to relay the league averages for context. Here are the league batting splits of right-handed hitters from 2018 per Baseball-Reference:

    RHB vs. LHP: .251/.330/.423 (.753 OPS), 21.3 K%, 9.8 BB%
    RHB vs. RHP: .246/.308/.403 (.711 OPS), 23.0 K%, 7.2 BB%

    So how do the new guys stack up? We’re going to first take a look at their career splits. I’ll touch on some interesting single-season trends a bit later, but it's worth pointing out an everyday player may only get around 150 plate appearances against lefties in a season. That’s not a very big sample, so I prefer to look at the bigger picture first.

    Nelson Cruz career
    vs. LHP: .290/.378/.549 (.927 OPS), 20.0 K%, 12.0 BB%
    vs. RHP: .269/.328/.507 (.835 OPS), 23.3 K%, 7.3 BB%

    Cruz has definitely been a lefty killer over his career, but there’s really nothing lacking about his slash line against same-sided pitchers. Last season, the league average OPS for a DH was .774, which he blows out of the water even against right-handers.

    Cruz ranks seventh in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers among the 150 right-handed batters with at least 600 PAs over the past three seasons. Even though he's hit lefties much harder, Cruz actually ranks 10th vs. left-handers among the 186 right-handers with at least 250 PAs last three seasons. Point is that Cruz is an uncharacteristically balanced hitter. Was that something the Twins found particularly attractive about him?

    Cruz is a great power hitter, has has a solid OBP and crushes lefties, so he checks all the boxes. But the curious thing to me is the Twins already had some interesting internal options to fill the DH spot. Tyler Austin has a career .937 OPS against lefties and Jake Cave has an .844 OPS against right-handers, making them appear to be perfect platoon partners. But in today’s age of the three-man bench, is it really optimal to try and deploy a platoon? The Twins didn’t seem to think so. Moving on …

    C.J. Cron career
    vs. LHP: .264/.313/.463 (.776 OPS), 21.9 K%, 5.9 BB%
    vs. RHP: .258/.311/.460 (.770 OPS), 22.8 K%, 5.2 BB%

    Take a look at that. Cron has essentially been the exact same guy against either side over his career. There’s certainly been some fluctuation year-to-year, more on that in a moment, but the grand totals are incredibly even. Cron appears to be a very steady option. This only adds steam to the theory that the front office was seeking out balanced hitters who do not need a platoon partner. OK, now let’s get weird …

    Jonathan Schoop career
    vs. LHP: .246/.292/.401 (.693 OPS) 24.9 K%, 5.8 BB%
    vs. RHP: .262/.294/.461 (.755 OPS), 21.7 K%, 2.9 BB%

    Huh? Schoop has actually been a good amount worse against southpaws over his career!? Does not compute. I had to triple check these numbers. Since the start of 2014, Schoop ranks 81st among 86 right-handed hitters in wRC+ vs. left-handed pitching (min. 600 PAs).

    Still, just like Cruz and Cron, Schoop is comfortably better than the average right-handed hitter against same-sided pitching. And there are some interesting things to observe in the single-season splits.

    Schoop has struggled against lefties for most of his career, but he hit .300/.361/.593 (.955 OPS) in 166 plate appearances against them in 2017. That was by far and away Schoop’s best season. The bigger sample doesn’t inspire confidence, but maybe the Twins expect a better performance against southpaws again in 2019.

    Cron has been solid against lefties, but in no means a lefty killer over his career. In 2018, however, he hit .307/.376/.553 (.930 OPS) in 170 plate appearances them. Hmm, so Cron’s best season against lefties also lines up with his career year. That’s an interesting coincidence. Again, keep those sample sizes in mind.

    When I think of Schoop and Cron in terms of their ceiling and floor, I think this splits conversation is a really good place to start. Both have shown the ability to consistently produce against right-handed pitchers. That helps give them a high floor. But what if they destroy lefties again? That’s how they could also have a high ceiling.

    Projected AL Central Rotations
    Let’s take a look around of rest of the division. According to Roster Resource, there are only five left-handed starters projected to occupy the rotation spots of the four AL Central rivals: Matthew Boyd and Matt Moore of the Tigers, Carlos Rodon and Manny Banuelos of the White Sox and Danny Duffy of the Royals. Not exactly world beaters.

    Cleveland is expected to have an all right-handed rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. And remember, with the unbalanced schedule the Twins play nearly half their games against AL Central foes. So there wouldn’t be much advantage in the Twins adding hitters who just mashed lefties.

    Pull Power
    So why not just target left-handed hitters then? Well, balance for one thing. The Twins already have lefties Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler playing everyday and Jason Castro is expected to return as the primary catcher. Also, the switch-hitting Jorge Polanco has been much better from the left side over his career. That’s already almost half of your primary lineup.

    We’ve also seen right-handed pull power play up at Target Field. According to the data on FanGraphs, the league average pull rate was 40.3 percent last season. Over the past three years, Schoop is at 44.7 percent, Cron is at 41.6 and Cruz at 41.1. That's nowhere near as extreme as Brian Dozier (51.2) or Josh Willingham (49.7), but all three are still above average. Perhaps they'll even be encouraged to pull the ball more frequently this year.

    So How Does the Lineup Look?
    Here’s a list of Twins hitters who are above average versus each side. In 2018, all batters (regardless of handedness) combined for a .731 OPS against right-handers and a .720 mark against lefties.

    Twins hitters who are better than those averages against right-handers over their careers:
    .844 Jake Cave
    .835 Nelson Cruz
    .813 Eddie Rosario
    .802 Miguel Sano
    .776 Max Kepler
    .776 Mitch Garver
    .771 Jorge Polanco
    .770 C.J. Cron
    .755 Jonathan Schoop
    .739 Jason Castro

    That’s 10 guys! This Twins team is going to be able to field a very deep lineup against right-handed pitching.

    Twins hitters who are better than average against lefties over their careers:
    .937 Tyler Austin
    .927 Nelson Cruz
    .846 Miguel Sano
    .776 C.J. Cron

    That’s it. Considering the composition of the other teams in the division, however, this doesn’t seem like such a bad problem to have. While there are fewer guys who hold their own against lefties, those top three can really mash. And just imagine if Cron and Schoop can crush southpaws like they did in their career years. It's also worth noting Byron Buxton had a .792 OPS against lefties in 2017.

    But what about Willians!?!?!? His MLB samples are just so small, less than 100 total plate appearances, so I didn’t include him. But between the majors and minors last year Astudillo had an .800 OPS against right-handers (304 PAs) and an .830 OPS versus lefties (100 PAs). Lucas Duda’s not on the 40-man roster, but it’s worth mentioning he has a career .839 OPS against right-handers but just a .642 OPS versus lefties.

    But What About Those Short-Term Deals?
    That’s the one thing I don’t really have an answer to. I wouldn’t suggest the Twins should have signed any one of Cruz/Cron/Schoop to a long-term pact, but it seems like it would have made some sense to target at least one addition who would be around for the long haul. If not via free agency, then through the trade market.

    After all the one-year deals went so poorly last season, and the front office was open about how that may have been a mistake, I expected them to focus more on long-term assets. Schoop is on a one-year deal, Cruz has an option with a very modest buyout and Cron has one more year of arbitration eligibility after 2019.

    • Feb 13 2019 10:02 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. MIN 15, TEX 6: Offense Erupts and Perez Faces Former Team

    Box Score
    Starter: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 62.8% strikes (59 of 94 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

    Home Runs: Arraez (2), Polanco (12), Schoop (14), Garver (13)
    Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-4, BB), Polanco (2-5, HR), Garver (2-4, 2B, HR, BB), Gonzalez (3-4, 2 2B, HR), C.J. Cron (2-5, 2 2B), Arraez (2-5, HR), Schoop (3-5, 2B, HR), Buxton (2-5, 2 2B)

    Top 3 WPA: Perez .125, Arraez .091, Buxton .081


    Twins’ Offense Erupts
    After a quick first inning by Adrian Sampson that included two strikeouts, the Twins batted around in the second with eight hits, six of them being extra-base hits to score six runs. Five of those runs were scored with two outs in the inning.



    In the second inning there clearly wasn’t enough damage to Sampson, as the Rangers left him out there for the third and fourth. After getting five straight outs, Sampson gave up three straight hits, and another run to end his night after giving up seven runs on 11 hits over 3 1/3 innings. Schoop extended the Twins lead to nine on a two-run shot in the fifth to really put this game out of reach.

    After a little comeback by the Rangers in the seventh, the offense felt the game getting a little too close for comfort and put up a three spot in response. Garver hit a solo shot for the team’s 166th home run of the season, extending their MLB-record of most home runs hit before the All-Star Break. Schoop's third extra-base hit of the night grabbed two more RBIs to get the lead back to seven.

    The Twins’ offense combined for a season-high 20 hits, 15 runs, club-tying 13 extra base hits, four home runs, and every batter had at least one hit!

    Perez Battles Old Team
    Martin Perez got his first start tonight against his old team after spending his first seven seasons with the Rangers. This was definitely a game Perez wanted to start, seeing some familiar faces and trying to gain bragging rights against some of his old buddies.

    Perez had all the fun in his first six innings but ran into trouble before exiting the game in the seventh. Perez gave up just four hits in those first six innings with the first three of them being weak singles with exit velocities of 69.8, 84.1, and 76.7, respectively.

    The seventh inning is where Perez ran into trouble, and it started with a walk. A leadoff walk was exactly what got things started in his last start when he gave up two runs in the second inning to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Tonight, the leadoff walk was a little more detrimental, though the offense gave Perez room to work. Following the walk, Perez gave up three straight hits for two runs which ended his night. He was responsible for two more runs as Harper wasn’t able to get out of a second and third no-out jam.

    Middle Infielders Shine
    When talking about this team’s highlight-reel defense, it usually has to do with Buxton and making some ridiculous catch look easy. Tonight, it was the middle infielders who rose above the rest.

    The first highlight-reel play was courtesy of Polanco, Schoop, and Cron’s first double play of the night. Choo grounded a ball towards the middle but Polanco grabbed it out of the air with his glove, didn’t even bother using his other hand, flipped it to Schoop who gunned it to Cron to end the inning.

    Schoop tried to top Polanco’s acrobatic play the next inning when he made a running backhand stop and delivered a bullet to Cron for the third out. Just when the Rangers thought they had a threat, Polanco and Schoop combined with Cron again for an inning-ending double play.

    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.

    • Jul 06 2019 06:11 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  16. Is this the Real Schoop?

    Jorge Polanco missed the first half of last year due to a PED suspension, and his arm has always appeared questionable from a position demanding strength. There was thought that Jorge could slide to second with Minnesota filling the void by inking a Freddy Galvis- or Jose Iglesias-type shortstop in the winter. It didn’t play out that way, a second basemen was acquired, and Polanco stayed put.

    The Baltimore Orioles sent their All -Star second basemen, Jonathan Schoop, to the Brewers midseason. Like Dozier, he was a one-organization player, and had turned himself into a slugger at an offensively deprived position. Also, like Dozier, success was something that slipped away from him after reaching the top of the mountain. An All-Star in 2017 with an .841 OPS, Schoop posted a .720 OPS in 2018 with Baltimore before dropping to .577 in 46 games with the Brewers. When the dust had settled on his season, he was non-tendered even though Milwaukee had no other obvious answer to start in his place.

    Looking outside the box, and waiting for an opportunity to pounce, Derek Falvey picked Schoop as the answer to Minnesota’s vacancy. Knowing the club wasn’t ready for Nick Gordon to make an impact, and seemingly not keen on the shortstop options, the decision was made to believe in a bounce back. Despite 2017 being the All-Star breakthrough, Schoop owned a .795 OPS from 2015-2017, and did so while averaging 24 long balls a year. If there was going to be a drop from what Dozier was to what Schoop could be, the impact wouldn’t be much.

    We’re only 20 games into the current season, but Schoop has already outperformed his 0.5 fWAR from a year ago. He’s never been a guy who takes walks, but there’s been a 3% dip in the strikeout rate from 2018. It took a little while for the first ball to leave the yard, but a career best 41.8% hard-hit rate suggests there should be plenty more to follow. We could stand to see a bit more plate discipline in hopes of doing more with the hard-hit rate, but the inputs are in place for a productive year.

    Manning second base, he follows in the footsteps of Logan Forsythe before him, and so far is proving to be an upgrade for Minnesota. Arm strength isn’t an issue, and Schoop has produced positive DRS numbers each of the past two seasons. It’s not like he’ll be up for any glove-based awards but helping Polanco up the middle is more than a fair expectation.

    This is the best start Schoop has ever seen, and that’s a positive development for a guy only a year removed from his first All-Star appearance. In his final year of arbitration, Minnesota doesn’t have team control going into 2020. They banked on this working out for this season, and so far, it has. If this is the consistent version we’re set to see the rest of the way, all parties must be thrilled.

    • Apr 25 2019 07:38 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  17. MIN 4, HOU 10: Springer and Bregman and Altuve... Oh My!

    Box Score

    SP: Michael Pineda: 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.5% strikes
    Home Runs: Eddie Rosario (10)
    Multi-Hit Games: Jonathan Schoop (2-4)
    WPA of +0.1: Eddie Rosario (0.189), Max Kepler (0.147)
    WPA of -0.1: Michael Pineda (-0.309), Trevor Hildenberger (-0.213), Jorge Polanco (-0.117)

    Posted Image
    (chart via FanGraphs)

    For the second straight night, the Minnesota Twins jumped out to a fast start in Houston. Leadoff hitter Mitch Garver got on with an infield single. One out later, Nelson Cruz reached. Eddie Rosario went opposite field to give the Twins a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game.



    He became the fastest player in Twins history to reach double digits in homers, in just his 21st game of the year.



    At that point, Wade Miley took over. Now, he barely reached 90 mph in the game, but he worked the bottom of the strike zone very well and retired the next 15 batters before leaving the game after the sixth inning.

    George Springer went to work for the Astros with his bat. In the third inning, he put Houston on the board with an RBI single. Then he hit an RBI double in the fifth inning. Later in the inning, Alex Bregman took a 3-0 fastball and drilled a ball to left field that scored two runs and put the Astros ahead 4-3. Fortunately, Rosario threw Bregman out at second base.

    The Twins were probably glad to see Miley’s night come to an end. With two outs in the top of the seventh, 17 straight Twins batters had been retired, the Twins had three straight hits, the third an RBI single by Max Kepler. It marked the 200th RBI of Kepler’s young career.

    But Trevor Hildenberger had to pitch with the bases loaded again, this time his own doing. He got Alex Bregman to line out to right field, but the go-ahead run scored. Adalberto Mejia was brought in to face lefty Michael Brantley, and the veteran with one of the sweetest swings in the game hit an RBI single to left to give the Astros a two-run lead after seven innings.

    Ryan Pressly shut the Twins down in the eighth inning. However, the bottom of the eighth got off to a bad start and Tyler Duffey was unable to stop the bleeding. The inning started with an error by Jorge Polanco and it just went downhill from there. Duffey fielded a bunt and threw errantly toward second, allowing a runner to score. And later Jose Altuve crushed a three-run homer that pushed the score to 10-4. All four runs were unearned.

    Former Twins All Star reliever Glen Perkins chimed in on twitter with his thoughts on the Duffey performance tonight.



    Michael Pineda worked well through the game’s first four innings, but you just can’t hold off the Astros lineup for very long. George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve combined for eight of the Astros ten RBI.

    Following the game, the Twins announced that Kohl Stewart will be called up to make the start on Wednesday night against Justin Verlander. The corresponding roster move will be made on Wednesday.

    The clubhouse remained closed to media for quite some time after the game (obviously due to a transaction happening), so FSN did not air the Rocco Baldelli post-game press conference. Here it is:



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

    Next Three Games

    Wednesday - 7:10 @ Houston - Kohl Stewart (1st start of season) vs Justin Verlander (3-0, 3.00 ERA)
    Thursday - Twins Day Off
    Friday - 7:10 Home vs Baltimore - Jose Berrios (3-1, 2.97 ERA) vs Dan Straily (1-1, 8.59 ERA)
    Saturday - 1:10 Home vs Baltimore - Martin Perez (2-0, 5.31 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (0-1, 11.88 ERA)

    Last Game
    MIN 9, HOU 5: Bats Thrive, Bullpen Survives

    • Apr 24 2019 04:51 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. Report From The Fort: Looking For A Bounceback (Part 3)

     This is the third part of a three-part series of interviews with Twins bounceback candidates. Part 1 | Part 2  
    “After I came back from the injury, I was good,” claims Schoop. “I’ve got no excuses. I was good.” But there were after effects unrelated to the pain.

    “Everybody told me that my swing changed a little bit because of the injury,” says Schoop. “But I didn’t feel it. If I’m honest with you, I didn’t feel nothing. So I feel strong, but they say I switched something because my body made me switch.”

    He never did get back on track. Whatever the issue, it robbed the right-handed batting Schoop of batting average, power and the ability to hit southpaws. The problem got even worse after a trade deadline move to the Brewers, which meant leaving the Orioles, the only organization he had ever known.

    “It was tough,” Schoop revealed. “I’ve been with the Orioles since I was 16. Like eight, 10 years, so it was tough to be traded. I got better. I’m a better player because of that. I’m a better man because of that tough time that I’ve been through, after being traded and everything.

    So the offseason was spent working, including a lot of core work, which obviously makes sense when trying to get past the aftereffects of an oblique injury. He thinks his swing is fine now. But his focus for spring training is on building relationships with his new teammates. “Baseball is a good sport,” Schoop says. “You get to know people. You get to be friends. Sometimes you get to be brothers with them."

    The hope is that better health, a tinkered with swing, and a strong team will help Schoop return to the player who was headed for stardom this time last year.

    Nick Gordon

    Nick Gordon had something to prove last year, and for a while, he did. After limping to the end of the 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga, Gordon returned and conquered, hitting .333 with a .906 OPS over the first two months. The 23-year-old was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, where everything fell apart.

    “It’s about more than just your talent,” reflected Gordon, when I asked him about the experience. Gordon hit just .212 over 99 games in Rochester, with just a .524 OPS. “I can definitely say, I feel like I have some stuff to prove.”

    Gordon’s prospect status suffered as a result of his extended slump. He doesn’t let that affect his view of his future. “I definitely know I can play the game. I don’t think that is something that is questionable,” he says.

    He is rededicating himself to better prepare for the higher level of baseball he experienced. “That’s something I’m definitely more excited about: keeping my routine going better, and preparing myself as a professional,” Gordon says.

    Gordon speaks like a person who knows he got knocked around a little bit by the advancement in levels. But he also sees that as part of the process of getting to the big leagues. “Guys go through things,” he admits. “Great players go through things like that. It definitely humbles you.”

    Perhaps Gordon’s struggles last year, and his resulting attitude, are all part of a ballplayer's maturity process.

    • Feb 21 2019 07:17 AM
    • by John Bonnes
  19. Report From The Fort: Fifth Starters, Confidence & Punchlines

    The Fifth Starter
    I think it’s fairly safe to say that the Twins will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers on their Opening Day roster. That’s because they shouldn’t need a fifth starter until April 16th versus the Blue Jays. Even that might be in doubt, since that is a game at Target Field, and the four games before it are also at Target Field. If you’re watching the weather in Minnesota lately, they’re having a late-hitting and extreme winter, so if any of those games are canceled, it could move even later.

    As a result, the fifth starter probably becomes an eighth bullpen arm for the first three weeks, and since that fifth starter is probably Martin Perez, who is left-handed, we probably don’t need to worry too much about which left-handed pitcher is going to make the bullpen. Barring injuries, it’ll be Taylor Rogers (because he's very good), Adalberto Mejia (who is out of options and the de facto backup starter) and Perez.

    The Intersection Of Analysis And Emotion
    Zack Littell made it to the big leagues last year and is determined to do so again this year. The 23-year-old right-handed starting pitcher was not treated especially kindly by opposing hitters in his eight appearances, but he sounds undaunted, because he learned just how hard it is. “There’s no level of baseball that's even relatively the same,” he admits. “I don’t think there’s anything you can prepare to be in the major leagues.”

    Not that he isn’t trying. He uses the word “consistency” a lot, but what he’s really talking about is confidence. “It’s about getting in that mindset where you can tell yourself ‘I belong here,’” says Littell.

    A lot of ballplayers talk like that, but it might be especially important for Littell because of how he pitches. Despite what you’ve heard on Twins broadcasts, the key to Littell’s success is not to keep the ball down in the zone. That’s where confidence becomes necessary.

    “The stigma in baseball in pitching is working down in the zone,” claims Littell. “A lot of my success has been up in the zone, top of the zone, even above the zone.” It’s not to induce fly balls. It’s to make batters swing and miss, or induce soft contact.

    It’s something the Twins have coached. They also have data to show that it’s effective, but the Twins aren’t alone in that regard. “It’s something that every team I’ve been with talked about,” Littell says. “It’s something I’ve been told and seen my whole career. Just, like I said, it’s just been intimidating to say ‘I’m going to pitch in the top of the zone.’ Especially up here.”

    It it tempting for analysts to shrug off the emotional side of pitching, because it can be such a lazy analytical or cliched talking point. But in Littell’s case, we see the intersection of the emotional with the analytical. Analytically, it’s clear he’s best off when he pitches at the top of the zone. But that’s also the riskiest place personally for him to pitch, and to overcome that takes emotional effort.

    Long Pause
    Speaking of emotion, my favorite quote this week was from Jonathan Schoop. It was one word long. That’s what made it so fantastic.

    Interviewing Schoop is like interviewing a gatling gun. He answers the question, his responses are well thought out, but he fills in all the empty spaces with you-know-what-I-means and like-I-saids. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat.

    It was also clear from the interview last week that he really cares about teammates, and as such, being traded midseason last year from the only organization he had ever known, hurt.

    So when asked if he was looking forward to playing his old team, the Baltimore Orioles, Schoop’s simple answer was an emphatic “Yes” followed by an unusual pause. It got a good laugh from the assembled beat writers. The man knows how to deliver a punchline.

    • Feb 25 2019 07:36 AM
    • by John Bonnes
  20. Where’s the Truth in These Twins?

    First and foremost, Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop have been a lightning rod for criticism of late. Sano turned in an 0-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox on June 27. Minnesota suggested they were working through some tweaks to his approach at the plate, and Parker Hagemen highlighted deficiencies in how he was being attacked. Since that game Sano has 51 plate appearances posting a 1.123 OPS with a 16/6 K/BB. He’s cooled a bit (.879 OPS) since July 1, but that mark is 4th on the team in that timeframe and he’s handling pitches in the same spots he wasn’t before. Playing league average defense analytically as well, Sano is going great for now.



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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Jul 18 2019 11:06 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  21. Twins Game Recap (8/28): Twins Sail Past White Sox for Series Win

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 60.2% strikes (59 of 98 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

    Home Runs: Schoop (20, 21), Garver (24)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (3-4 HR), Polanco (2-4 2B), Schoop (2-4 2 HR)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop .302, Odorizzi .120, Polanco .059

    Bombas to Start, Bombas to End

    After the Twins offense scored just three runs last night against the White Sox ace, they came out early and mashed against Ross Detwiler. It started with a three-run homer from Jonathan Schoop for his 20th of the season. The Twins are now just one home run away from Jorge Polanco from breaking the record for most players with 20 home runs in a season.



    The Twins added some more runs the next inning after a leadoff hit-by-pitch, a double and an intentional walk gave them bases loaded with no outs. Eddie Rosario grounded into a fielder’s choice but beat the throw to drive in one run, and then Miguel Sano smacked a ball that went right through Tim Anderson’s legs for another run.

    The Twins offense somewhat stalled after these early runs as they struggled to get men on base, and when they did, couldn’t close. In the fourth inning they put together a two-out rally with two hits, and Cruz’s second intentional walk of the game, but Rosario grounded out to end the threat.

    In the next three innings, the Twins sent just 11 batters to the plate and never had a runner past second. That included Sano being hit by a pitch, which would later put him out of the game, and two hits, one of them by Luis Arraez, who took over for Sano.

    Schoop had enough of the scoreless innings for the Twins as he mashed his second home run of the game down the third base line. After Cave showed some smart base running and extended a single into a double, Mitch Garver sent a ball high and deep to left-center field to put the Twins up 8-2.

    Odorizzi Minimizes Damage in Route to Quality Start

    Just like last week when Odorizzi faced off against this White Sox team, he gave up a run in the first inning. However, he was able to mimnimize the damage as he came back to strike out Moncada after falling behind 3-0, and went upstairs to strike out Anderson to finish the inning.

    After a big turn around in the first inning, Odorizzi sailed through his next two innings with two 1-2-3 innings where he picked up a strikeout in each inning. After he retired the first batter in the fourth and had set down nine straight, he ran into some trouble after allowing two hits and a walk to load the bases. Odoirzzi was again able to keep the damage minimal as he got a fielder’s choice and picked up his fifth strikeout of the game after giving up just one run.

    In the fifth inning, Odorizzi picked up two quick outs, but ran into a bit of trouble after allowing a walk and a sharp single to center field. Odorizzi made quick work of Moncada and struck him out on three straight pitches to end the inning. Odorizzi picked up his third 1-2-3 of the game in the sixth which included his eighth strikeout of the game as his night ended and he picked up a quality start.

    Schoop’s Power

    Jonathan Schoop continues to mash the ball as of late, and unlike his usual blowout-game home runs, he has been hitting bombas in bigger spots for this Twins offense. In his last five games that he has played, he has six hits, but five of them are home runs. Take a look at the Twins' win percentage at the time of his first 16 home runs and the win probability it added:



    For reference on his last five home runs:
    -Aug. 16 Schoop hits two-run go-ahead home run in the seventh.
    -Aug. 21 Schoop extends lead to five runs with a two-run homer which turned out to be helpful insurance runs.
    -Last night Schoop homers in the second to extend the lead to 2-0.
    -Tonight’s second inning three-run home run to get the Twins on the board, and his eighth inning insurance home run (didn’t add that much win probability).

    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 29 2019 04:53 AM
    • by AJ Condon
  22. Twins Game Recap (9/7): Odorizzi, Garver Power the Twins to Victory

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 67% strikes (66 of 99 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

    Home Runs: Garver 2 (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3), Astudillo (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Garver .248, Schoop .196, Sano .081
    Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.171, Rosario -.121, Polanco -.020

    Garver scored the lone run off Cleveland starter Aaron Civale on a solo shot in the first inning. Garver’s 27th homer set the record for the most in a season by a Twins catcher. Earl Battey hit 26 in 1963.

    Jake Odorizzi threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, falling one short of his career high with 10 strikeouts. The start held more weight, as Michael Pineda was handed a 60-game suspension today for violating the league’s drug policy. Pineda had been the most reliable Twins starter since the break, posting a 3.04 ERA and striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings.

    The Twins bullpen has been one of the best in the last month. Tyler Duffey continued his success, holding Cleveland to just one run on a wild pitch. Duffey struck out two in his relief of Odorizzi. With Sam Dyson uncertain to return, the Twins are exploring other options out of the pen. Zack Littell allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning. Sergio Romo limped off the mound after setting up in the eighth.

    Taylor Rogers was great again, retiring the side in order to secure the win and his 25th save.

    The win was important for Minnesota. Avoiding the potential sweep with Indians ace Mike Clevinger on the mound tomorrow, the Twins are more than treading water to win the division.

    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 07 2019 09:10 PM
    • by Nash Walker
  23. Twins Game Recap (7/28): Bats Bounce Back Behind Gibson’s Strong Outing

    Box Score
    Gibson: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 68.8% strikes (66 of 96 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
    Home Runs: Polanco (16), Sano (18), Schoop (16), Kepler (28)
    Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-5), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (3-for-4), Kepler (2-for-5)

    Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.130), Sano (.124), Gibson (.106)

    Solid start for the offense

    After a rough game yesterday, the Twins offense got off to the best start possible, scoring five runs before there was even an out recorded. Max Kepler doubled, Polanco homered, Cruz singled, Arraez singled, and Sano homered before the White Sox had to pull Dylan Covey after 14 pitches.



    The offense was stifled a bit for the next two innings, but the fourth inning had a nice two out rally. Kepler reached on an error, Polanco singled and then Cruz drove them both in with a big double to left field.

    Gibson cruises into the sixth

    Twins starter Kyle Gibson went five solid innings, giving up four total baserunners and striking out five before he started to struggle in the sixth. It was 9-0 in favor of the Twins at the time, so Gibson was left in to work out of his mess and he did just fine. The inning started with a single, walk, single, single, and then a clutch called strikeout (thanks Angel Hernandez). Gibson was able to ride that wave and strike out the next two batters to leave the inning still leading 9-1.

    The offense was able to get that run back and then some with a couple of two run bombs from Max Kepler and Jonathan Schoop.



    The Twins bullpen finishes off the game strong

    After a strange sixth inning from Gibson, the bullpen came in and did it’s job. It started with Ryne Harper in the 7th, Tyler Duffey in the 8th and future reliever of the year Sean Poppen to finish it off. They threw a perfect three innings and tacked on one strikeout each to put this game and series to rest on a good note. The Twins bullpen has been getting better lately and with the addition of Sergio Romo it only gets better from here.

    Twins head into off day with two game division lead

    The Twins won the game by a final score of 11-1 and there was really no doubt at any point. The Twins were able to come up huge this series by taking three of four in Chicago. Not only did the Twins win, but the Indians lost so the Twins were able to get that game back and will head into tomorrow’s off day with a two game lead over Cleveland.

    As the deadline nears, the Twins look like they will continue to add to their pitching staff after the Sergio Romo upgrade. The deadline is at 3:00 P.M Central time on Wednesday so keep checking back here for updates.

    Twins win!





    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.

    • Jul 28 2019 05:43 PM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  24. Twins Game Recap (8/16): Twins Prevail Behind Clutch Schoop HR, Great Bullpen Performance

    Box Score
    Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 59.6% strikes (59 of 99 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

    Home Runs: Kepler (33), Schoop (17)
    Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (3-for-4), Adrianza (2-for-4)

    Top 3 WPA: Schoop .288, Romo .230, Rogers .155
    Bottom 3 WPA: Cron -.115, Polanco -.113, Garver -.098

    Cleveland dropped the second game of their series against the Yankees in New York, which brings the Twins lead to a game and a half atop of the AL Central. That’s the highest advantage the Twins have since Aug. 7, as they now own a 74-48 record, still the fourth best in baseball.

    Unlike the series opener, it took Minnesota a bit longer to get on the board. After throwing a 26-pitch, but scoreless, first inning, Mike Minor managed to keep the Twins scoreless until the fourth, but they took advantage of a Rougned Odor error, who dropped a Miguel Sanó routine pop-up. Right on the first pitch after that, Max Kepler homered to right field, to give Minnesota a two-run lead.

    Wunderboy keeps adding accomplishments to his career year. This was his 33rd home run of the season, which moved him closer to the single season record for a Twins outfielder, as informed by our Twins Daily own Ted Schwerzler. He also moved the Twins a bit closer to the all-time single season home run record. All with this bomb:



    Odorizzi continues to bounce back
    After the worst month of his career after his rookie season (7.43 ERA this July), Jake Odorizzi continues to show signs of recovery. He couldn’t hold on to the one-run lead he took into the sixth, but he was one out short of a quality start. After tonight, he is now posting a 2.07 ERA in three August starts and 1.95 if you count his last July start, against the Marlins. His improvement brings Twins fans a little more optimism for a playoff run, since he’s starting to look much more like the All-Star he was during the first half of the season--in a much needed time.

    Other than a rare wild pitch during the fourth inning (only his second as a Twin), he basically didn’t have big problems in his first five innings of the game, allowing the Rangers to score only one run on three hits. But Texas got to him during the sixth and made him pay after he allowed a leadoff double and a two-out walk. Nomar Mazara became the last batter he faced, as he hit a two-out double to deep center field, giving the home team its first lead in the series. But that wouldn’t last very long.

    The unlikely hero
    Batting only .217 in his previous 15 games coming into tonight and having hit his last homer in Jul. 28,, I guess it’s hard to say many people envisioned Jonathan Schoop being the one to push Minnesota toward the win. But that’s the magic with this year’s Twins. The Bombas simply won’t stop. He crushed a 2-2 changeup over the plate, following a Marwin Gonzalez single and the Twins retook the lead.



    Other than hopefully providing Schoop’s season with a sparkle he’s been looking for in the past two months, that home run was the 238th for the Twins this year and they now need 30 to break the Yankees single-season record established last year. Minnesota is on pace to hit 316 this year.

    The bullpen takes care of business
    When Odorizzi gave up that lead-blowing double in the sixth, Tyler Duffey was called to put out the fire. He struck out Odor to end the inning and started a very efficient night for the Twins ‘pen. Sam Dyson recorded his third consecutive scoreless outing for Minnesota. He did get some help from the defense, which turned an inning- ending double play after he allowed two runners to reach.

    In his first appearance since giving up a tenth inning grand slam on Sunday, Taylor Rogers came into the game in the eighth and also held the Rangers scoreless. When most people thought he would come back to record another six-out save, Baldelli decided to bring in Sergio Romo and he also got the job done, earning his 20th save of the year.

    Hats off to Margo
    Despite the colder than usual night from the offense, Marwin Gonzalez simply refuses to cool down. After a four-hit night on Thursday, Margo led Minnesota with three hits on the night and he’s now batting .404 since the start of the Atlanta series.

    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 17 2019 05:12 AM
    • by Thieres Rabelo
  25. Twins Game Recap (8/25): Pérez Impresses, Twins Beat Detroit for Series Win

    Box Score
    Pérez: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 68% strikes (68 of 100 pitches)
    Bullpen: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: C.J. Cron (21), J.Schoop (18)
    Multi-Hit Games: None

    Top 3 WPA: Pérez .214, Garver .154, Schoop .101

    Martín Pérez returned to Target Field after a very successful road trip in which he allowed just two runs in 11 innings. The bullpen and bats restricted Pérez to no decisions in both starts.

    The Twins allowed 8-of-9 leadoff batters to reach base in last night’s victory. On Sunday, Pérez surrendered just one. C.J. Cron assisted Pérez to his first win since before the All-Star break with a three-run blast in the fourth inning. Pérez twirled six strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Pérez has walked 3.8 batters-per-nine this year, but gave a free pass to just one hitter on Sunday. His cutter was extremely effective to right-handed batters, which is an important development after the pitch was dominant during the first half of the season, but not so during the middle part of the schedule.

    Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for Detroit and allowed seven runs in six innings. Jonathan Schoop had one of the four Twins’ hits, as he laced a two-run homer down the left field line in the sixth. The Twins lead the league in OPS against left-handed pitching (.885). Catcher Mitch Garver doubled off the wall in the third to improve his torrid numbers against lefties. Boyd walked five and struck Max Kepler with a pitch in the fourth. The Twins figure to see Boyd at least once more, as they have seven more head-to-head matchups with Detroit. They have scored 10 runs off him in two starts.

    Cody Stashak continued to be a reliable low-leverage arm out of the bullpen, pitching two innings of one-hit ball with a strikeout. He was helped out by an outstanding catch in left field by Jake Cave.



    Lewis Thorpe entered in the ninth with less luck, surrendering three hits and two runs. Thorpe escaped the jam and finished the job. Stashak and Thorpe saved the arms of Rogers, Dyson and Romo. All of which will receive two days of much-needed rest.

    The Twins will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before facing Chicago for a three-game series against Lucas Giolito and the White Sox.

    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 25 2019 07:08 PM
    • by Nash Walker