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  1. Minnesota Twins Release 2021 Schedule: Will It Happen?

    Minnesota is scheduled to start the season on a six-game road trip with three games in Milwaukee and Detroit. This allows for the Twins to open at home as part of a three-game series versus Seattle on April 8. The Twins than face off against the Red Sox for four games before heading to the West Coast for six games split between the Angels and the Athletics.


    From there the Twins have a tough stretch in June with a back-to-back series with the Yankees and the Astros from June 8-13. Some other important series include the an interleague series with the Reds from June 21-22. Then in June, the Angles and Mike Trout, the best player of all-time, come back to Minneapolis for three games (July 22-25).

    The end of August also provides a critical part of the schedule against National League foes. After starting the year in Milwaukee, the Twins will face-off with the Brewers for three games in Minnesota. Milwaukee is going to be a strong team in 2020 and this could continue in 2021. At the end of August, Minnesota is scheduled to play the Cubs at Target Field.

    Obviously, there are plenty of important series against other AL Central squads. That being said, there are plenty of questions about what the future might hold for baseball. Will Cleveland continue to trade away pieces? How will the White Sox adjust to being contenders? Are the Royals and the Tigers going to rise in the years to come?

    2021 Important Dates:
    Opening Day: April 1 at Milwaukee
    Home Opener: April 8 vs. Seattle
    Trout Visits MN: July 22-25
    Milwaukee at MN: August 27-29
    Cubs at MN: August 31- September 1
    Last Home Series: Tigers from September 28-30
    Final Series: Twins @ Royals on October 1-3

    Do you think the Twins will play a full schedule in 2021? What could change for the Twins before the 2021 season begins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Jul 09 2020 01:43 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Baseball Card Q&A: Collecting Tips for Beginners

    Twins Daily contributor Jamie Cameron sparked this discussion when he tweeted something that caught my eye last week. Baseball cards have expanded into a much larger industry than simply going into your local retail store and grabbing a wax pack. With someone genuinely curious and questions at hand, it seemed a great opportunity to dissect where the industry is as it stands today.

    Timing for this piece couldn’t be better either. Starting Wednesday and running through Sunday, The National (The National Sports Collectors Convention) is taking place just outside of Chicago, Illinois. A yearly event each summer (that swaps between Chicago, Atlantic City, and Cleveland), The National is the epicenter of the collecting universe and offers an endless supply of cardboard dreams.

    Setting the stage for Jamie’s questions, he denotes his background being born and raised in the United Kingdom. Having been in the Twin Cities for roughly 15 years now, baseball has always been a passion of his. He doesn’t have the childhood memories of card collecting however, and as stated earlier, the game has changed significantly since then. Here’s what he wanted to know.

    How did you get into collecting? As a kid or an adult?

    I found myself collecting cards as a kid, seeing it as an inexpensive way to connect with athletes I enjoyed. My parents would often be ok with a pack or two from the local retail store when we stopped in on occasion. By my teenage years I had a couple binders full of early late 90’s and early 2000’s sports cards that I no longer cared about. Eventually they were parted with at a garage sale I would imagine.

    Getting back into the hobby in late 2016, I found myself stumbling into what is known as a “break room” (where groups of people buy into a product and split cards). Having always enjoyed decorating and displaying memorabilia in my basement, cards represented an avenue to capture moments and collect objects of a bit smaller physical footprint.

    How do you purchase products? Packs from a store, direct from dealers, or something else?

    The two main avenues are your retail stores such as Target or Walmart, and hobby shops. Hobby shops are designated by the term LCS (local card store). They aren’t nearly as plentiful as they may have been years ago, but many larger cities have one. Whether specializing in cards, comics, or some other collectible, they get what is known as hobby products. These boxes and packs may have different offerings in them to incentivize consumer from buying there.

    Retail options include more cost-effective offerings. While hobby boxes at an LCS can run from $50 all the way into the $1,000’s, smaller blaster boxes, fat packs, hanger boxes, and single packs can all be had at a retail store for $20 or less. If there’s no LCS in sight retail becomes the lone option. It’s a great place to dip your feet in. Just be aware that the individually wrapped packs could be picked over like the best offerings in the produce aisle.

    What are the best brands? What determines that?

    There are really only three baseball card manufacturers, and only two of them are the major players. Topps is the lone company with an MLB license and that makes them the premium product. Panini is a football first company, and while they are licensed with the MLBPA, the lack of MLB license means there’s no logos or team names on any of their cards. Leaf is another offering while being unlicensed as well. Although Panini does make some very visually appealing cards, value is always at its highest with Topps.

    How much time and money do people put into collecting?

    As with any hobby this is going to have a ridiculously wide range. Collecting anything is obviously a personal adventure. Some people collect single players or teams, while others look at cards as an investment vehicle. Those investing typically trend towards prospects or vintage cards, and the time is a large component as you must study the market and make sure you’re targeting the players with the best present and future ROI. A player or team collector may simply want each card of whoever they’re after, and sites like eBay and Comc (Check Out My Cards) provide a very quick way to grab and go.

    From a monetary standpoint, you can land all over the board. Topps alone puts out something like 25 different products each year. You can find a new release calendar at a site like Cardboard Connection in order to keep track. The bulk of those products cost $200 or less, while a small minority can get over $1,000. Each product has significant “hits” or desirable cards that, on the secondary market, can fetch hundreds to tens of thousands. The level of buy in is again up to the collector.

    What’s your favorite card? Why?

    Too difficult to chose just one, so I’ll go with two. I collect Minnesota Twins cards and have smaller collections of both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. There are some really nice cards in my Twins PC (personal collection, which you can view here), but it’s two Trout cards that stick out for me. The first is a 2018 Topps Heritage Relic Autograph /25 that I pulled from a blaster box. Purchasing a $20 retail offering from Target and hitting something like this is like winning the lottery. I was stunned and it’s a card I’ll almost certainly never sell.



    Having been back into collecting for roughly three years now, I have added some higher end cards of the players I really like. Mike Trout is trending towards the greatest player baseball has ever seen, and his rookie card market is reflective of that. A non-descript card few thought twice of seven or eight years ago, it’s now the must have subject of the modern era. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator- a third party grading company) graded copies of the card in a Gem Mint 10 went for roughly $500 as recently as this winter. They are now worth near or over $1,000 and continue to rise. My wife surprised me with one for our five-year wedding anniversary in February.

    [attachment=12896:Capture.PNG]

    What do you get from it? Overall, why is this a hobby for you?

    Personally, I find it as a connection to differing passions. I have always been artistically inclined, and love looking at the photography and designs these companies continue to put out while tying in a sport I enjoy. The thrill of pulling an autograph or hit, as well as the fun in buying the next cool card to hang onto is something I’ve gotten behind. I’m not interested in the investment side of the hobby or looking to make money, so grabbing what I like is much easier without worrying what the return or loss may be.

    I find myself continually going back to look through cards in my collection. Reminiscing on players or events that were depicted is fun, and not looking through them on a consistent basis lends to a thrill of excitement each time I peruse what I have. Displaying some of my collection has made for neat memorabilia showcases in my house, but a further connection to the game of baseball is really what it’s about for me.

    This is obviously far from all encompassing, and there’s certainly more nuanced questions about the hobby, and collecting in general, to be asked. Do you have a collection to show off? Do you have questions to ask? Anything else you’d like to know? Feel free to share in the comments below.

    • Aug 01 2019 05:13 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  3. Building the Best Player in Baseball from Baseball's Best Lineup

    Despite playing on the West Coast I find myself staying up many late nights to watch the tandem of Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Encompassing both the best and most exciting players in the game, the duo is must-watch television. Seeing Trout barreling towards yet another MVP award this year, I wondered if pulling his numbers out of the Twins lineup is at all possible. His current stats are lofty to say the least, so we may have to stretch some, but I think it’s doable.

    .299 Batting Average- Mitch Garver (.301)
    Trout’s .299 average comes in a 71-game sample size. Garver has split time with Jason Castro, and missed 16 games, but when he’s been in the lineup he’s produced. It was Ohtani who sent him to the IL with an ankle sprain, and in the 11 games since his return, he’s compiled just a .250 average. Still north of .300 on the season though, Mitch is having as good of an offensive season as any backstop not named Willson Contreras.

    .462 On-Base Percentage- Joe Mauer 2009 (.444)
    Admittedly this is cheating. The goal here was to construct a cumulative player from the current Minnesota roster. However, the nearly 50% clip that Trout is reaching base is truly absurd. Joe Mauer won and MVP in 2009 leading the league in AVG, OBP, and SLG yet his on-base numbers are still nearly 20 points shy of Trout. The Angels outfielder has struck out plenty throughout his career, and both 2014/15 were high water marks. Right now, though he leads the league in walks and is 10 above his strikeouts in that category. The best lineup in baseball doesn’t have a guy like this.
    .651 Slugging Percentage- Mitch Garver (.642)
    Back to the land of small sample sizes in looking for a challenger here. Garver has blasted 11 homers in just 123 at bats, and he’s added another eight extra-base hits. His 25.6% HR/FB rate is a career high, and so to is the 46.6% hard hit rate. Since returning from the injury the production has slowed a bit, but Garver’s bat has always played for power and he’s posted the best number there thus far for the Twins. Finishing in the .600’s would be remarkable, but a teammate such as Max Kepler or Nelson Cruz could tag in for him.

    59 Runs Scored- Max Kepler (50)
    Batting leadoff quite often for the Twins has its benefits this season. Kepler is also able to drive himself in with the longball, but his .359 OBP presents plenty of opportunity for the guys behind him. Leading the league in run differential, and leading the majors in runs scored, it’s been the German who’s crossed the plate most for Rocco Baldelli’s club.

    17 Doubles- Jorge Polanco (21)
    It was Byron Buxton who ran out to the major league lead early in the 2019 campaign. However, his doubles were largely a reflection of stretched singles or balls that weren’t carrying over the wall. The Twins centerfielder is always going to be able to leg out extra bases, but as the weather has warmed, distances have grown on the gap shots and they’ve left the park. Polanco is a gap to gap hitter, and while there’s plenty of power in his bat as well, the extra-base pop inside the outfield fence seems reflective of Trout’s efforts.

    22 Home Runs- Eddie Rosario (19)
    Across his nine-year career Trout has swatted more than 40 dingers just once. Already at 22 through 71 games, that changes in 2019. Although Rosario is an incredibly streaky hitter for the Twins, I think there’s an outside chance he reaches that mark for the first time in Minnesota since Brian Dozier did it. Rosario isn’t ever going to be a patient hitter, but he’s certainly a potent one. All the added thump around him helps to give him more hittable offerings and he’s certainly crushing them at a good clip.

    56 Runs Batted In- Eddie Rosario (53)
    Just ahead of teammate Max Kepler (50), Rosario benefits from hitting more towards the middle of the lineup. You can expect that he’ll hit plenty of long balls, and both Kepler and Polanco should provide plenty of baserunners to drive in the rest of the way. We’ve come to see RBI more as an outcome of opportunity rather than individual performance at this point but expecting Eddie to capitalize on what’s in front of him is a good bet.

    Essentially what we’ve come up with here is a torrid start by Mitch Garver, career years for Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, and a high level of performance from Eddie Rosario all combine to equal something close to what Mike Trout is by himself. Given how well the Minnesota Twins have played this season, and what the lineup looks like, it’s truly unfathomable to equate how valuable one single player is. Mike Trout is the type of guy we’ll go decades without seeing again. In watching the level of greatness Twins Territory has this season, it’s mind-boggling to note that one player can account for that same level of production on his own.

    The Minnesota Twins are going to continue the crash course towards the postseason. They’ll lay waste to plenty of foes over the course of their next 90+ games. Big numbers should be expected when the dust settles and fall baseball will be plenty of fun. If the Los Angeles Angels don’t join them though, at least Baldelli’s club can attempt a combination effort to put Trout on the big stage.

    • Jun 20 2019 01:32 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  4. AL West Preview: Houston, We Don’t Have A Problem

    Houston Astros
    The Astros won the World Series two years ago and are coming off a franchise record 103 wins. Houston’s lineup and top starting pitchers are among the league’s best. This is just one of the many reasons the club will be at the top of the AL for the third consecutive year. It’s crazy to think how deep this lineup is with the likes of Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve.

    Gone from the rotation are Charlie Morton (free agent) and Lance McCullers Jr. (Tommy John surgery). Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are a strong one-two punch and the team added Wade Miley to be the club’s number three pitcher.

    While the club might not get to 100 wins, it’s Houston’s division to lose.

    Oakland Athletics
    The As won 97 games last season and no, that’s not a typo. Oakland rode a strong offense built around a lot of power to a surprising playoff berth. Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Stephen Piscotty are all capable of hitting 25+ home runs. Former top prospect Jurickson Profar is going to try and find himself by the Bay. Former Twin Robbie Grossman could also play a role in the outfield.

    Last season, Oakland’s biggest weakness was their rotation. The club is scheduled to start the year with Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, and Frankie Montas. That’s not exactly a murder’s row of a rotation. Can the bullpen bail them out for the second consecutive year?

    Oakland will take a step back this season but could contend for the second Wild Card spot.

    Los Angeles Angels
    Mike Trout just got paid and he is well worth the price of admission. Unfortunately for Angels fans, there isn’t much else to get excited about in LA. Shohei Ohtani certainly brought some excitement last season but he had Tommy John surgery so his two-way playing will be limited to DH duties. Albert Pujols isn’t getting any younger, so Justin Bour was brought in for first base.

    A few new acquisitions could help the club. Jonathan Lucroy could add something behind the plate, but he’s been trending in the wrong direction offensively. Cody Allen add some stability to the late-innings. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill could surprise at the back-end of the rotation.

    New manager Brad Ausmus could guide LA to a wild card but don’t count on it.

    Seattle Mariners
    The list of players departed from Seattle’s roster could form the core of a strong roster. Robinson Cano, James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, and Mike Zunino are all gone. Seattle is in rebuild mode and the team’s above them on this preview should be able to beat up on what’s left of the Mariners.

    Edwin Encarnacion joins the club, but it was only to help trade away players like Carlos Santana and Jean Segura. Jay Bruce, Mitch Haniger, and Dee Gordon are still in the in the lineup. Kyle Seager will start the year on the DL. Felix Hernandez is only 32, but he has a lot of miles on his arm and has struggled recently.

    Seattle won’t be focused on winning this year. Eyes are on the future.

    Texas Rangers
    There’s not much in Texas except a whole lot of rebuilding. Joey Gallo can clobber the ball. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor form a decent middle infield. Their top prospects don’t figure to get much time in Arlington in 2019. This leaves players like Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Hunter Pence to fill-in until other younger players are ready to take over.

    Former Twin Lance Lynn is scheduled to be the number two starter. Let that sink in for a minute. The good news is there should be plenty of long balls for fans to catch if they sit through the Texas heat. Also, the club should end up with a top draft pick next summer.

    What do you think about the AL West? Can anyone catch Houston? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Mar 22 2019 08:45 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. Twins Daily Roundtable: Baseball in 2028

    Seth Stohs
    I have no idea, but it needs to. When diehards like myself have a hard time getting through nine innings anymore, something might be wrong.

    So many pitching changes. Shifting not only on every batter, but dependent on count. So many swings and misses. I know it is no longer cool to say it, but I miss the old game. The crisp pitching, batters not being so passive. There's a reason I tweet "Have I mentioned how much I love watching Eddie Rosario play baseball?

    That said, I don't think they can or should eliminate shifts. I definitely don't think Jim Kaat's seven-inning game idea is a good idea. Analytics and over-thinking everything are now part of the game and that isn't going away. So I think we're just going to have to grin and bear it.

    Strikeout. Walks. Home Runs. More bullpen usage. It's all here to stay, and there are some that like that, and it can be fun at times... But it will be hard to grow this game in the States with this pace of play situation as it is and getting worse.

    My hope is that this great game will continue to evolve, as it has for 140-150 years to make itself better. No one wants to get rid of tradition, but something needs to happen.

    Tom Froemming
    In terms of the on-field product, a lot of what may happen will depend upon what happens to the actual baseball itself, in my opinion.

    If MLB tries to "deaden" the ball, teams will start to value hitters who put the ball in play more often. Otherwise, things will keep escalating in the direction they're going and soon defense will become a relative afterthought due to the lack of balls put in play.

    The MLB's current labor agreement with the umpires ends after next season. I think we'll see some of the framework for an automated strike zone in their next agreement. While "robo umps" would be a welcome sight, they'd also tie into the devaluation of defense. Catcher framing goes extinct if that ever happens.

    What else? Expansion, probably. Universal DH, probably. Players continue to fight pace of play changes, resulting in games becoming even longer.

    The 2028 NL Manager of the Year award goes to a 23-year-old rookie skipper who is a recent computer science grad from MIT. Bartolo Colon leads the league in innings that season.

    Cody Christie
    The year is 2028…
    Separated by two votes in the final tally, Royce Lewis narrowly takes home the American League MVP Award after beating out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Mike Trout could have won his record setting eighth MVP but he finished a distant third. The Twins have been in three straight ALCS but the 2028 season saw the club finally break-through and win the club’s fourth AL Pennant. The World Series came back to Minnesota.

    While this utopian idea of the year 2028 sounds great to Twins fans, things need to change with the game. Here are some of the things I foresee happening over the next decade.

    • 20 second pitch clock
    • Universal designated hitter
    • Relievers must face multiple batters
    • Shifts will continued to be allowed
    • Replay will be quicker and used more frequently
    Expansion will also add two teams to Montreal, Canada and Portland, Oregon. As I wrote about last October, expansion would mean a shift in the divisions and the removal of two leagues. I also think the number of games will be dropped to around 156. This would also allow for the playoffs to expand to 12 teams with four division winners (first round byes) and four wild card games.

    SD Buhr
    I'll let the others dwell on MLB, though I do believe we will have 32 teams and a 154 game schedule. But since the question just said "baseball," I'm going to mention the changes I see coming for minor league ball.

    The current agreement between MLB and MiLB expires in 2020 and therefore no affiliation agreements have been extended beyond that year. I believe there will be some significant changes, most notably a reduction in the number of affiliations, perhaps even elimination of 1-2 entire classes of minor league ball.

    Baseball currently has 3 levels of short-season ball, though few teams field teams at all 3 levels. Add 4 full-season levels and that makes 7 minor league levels in the US (plus those in Latin America). I'll predict that one level of short-season will be eliminated and it's POSSIBLE that there will no longer be two levels of Class A ball.

    MLB was threatening minor league teams with contraction to get them to shore up Congressional support during the debate over minor league pay. But now that they won that battle, there's no reason to think MLB wouldn't contract anyway. Bottom line is that I believe there will be fewer minor league teams and that means roster spots for fewer minor league players.

    I suspect that means a worldwide draft and/or fewer rounds in the US draft.

    Ted Schwerzler
    Given the consistent cries for the pace of play to be addressed, baseball is going to need to change one way or another. I don’t believe the issues are dire, but Rob Manfred seems set on changing the game. I do believe we’ll see electronic strike zones sooner rather than later, and that’s a good thing.

    Specialization has become a large portion of the game and I don’t foresee that going away. I’m not sure what other on-field changes are in store, but a decade from now it will be fun to see Mike Trout having overtaken the last few of Babe Ruth’s numbers.

    Steve Lein

    What will happen and what I’d like to see happen are probably two different things.

    On the latter side, I think there needs to be a shift in the type of game they try to promote, with the recent All-Star Game being a great example of the problem I see. A new record was set for both the number of home runs (10), and strikeouts (25) by both teams (as would have the 23 K’s in nine-innings). We’re seeing a historically low amount of balls-in-play as home runs and strikeouts have been on the rise. To keep future fans into the game, this trend needs to go in the other direction in my opinion. Nobody likes seeing as much “nothing” happening in a game as there is now. Dingers are sweet, but also alter the pacing of a game negatively.

    As for the former, I think the juiced ball will get fixed. I also think rules relating to shifting are going to be implemented. I do love the strategy of it on defense, while also thinking hitters should just take the damn base when it’s given to them. But for the prior reasons mentioned above, this just isn’t the game promoted or taught anymore. While this won't increase balls-in-play, it would allow more action to occur during a game instead of groundouts into the outfield.

    If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
    Floundered
    Second Half Star
    Sell, Sell, Sell?
    Fixing the Offense
    Romero’s Rotation Spot

    • Jul 25 2018 07:07 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Minnesota's Wild Card Competition

    Boston Red Sox
    The Red Sox and the Yankees are setting up for quite the battle in the AL East. FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with more than 90 wins. Boston has claimed back-to-back AL East titles but this might be the year for them to fall a little short. David Price might be the team’s biggest question mark after his 2017 campaign was shrouded with elbow issues. Dustin Pedroia is coming off of off-season knee surgery and isn’t expected to be back until the end of May. JD Martinez could add some offensive pop to a lineup that includes young hitters like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts.

    Los Angeles Angels
    Mike Trout might be the best player of this generation and the Angels have only been to the playoffs one time during his career. The club’s last win in the playoffs was in 2009. Los Angeles added multiple pieces this off-season with the addition of Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and two-way Japanese star Shohoei Ohtani. Ohtani has struggled this spring but he wasn’t brought in to help the Angles to win pre-season games. Andrelton Simmons and Kinsler make-up the best defensive middle infield in the AL. Some computer models also think the Angels are set-up for failure this season. Houston should run away with the AL West so LA might be forced to fight for a Wild Card spot.

    Toronto Blue Jays
    Toronto should be in the playoff hunt but the division might be out of reach with the Yankees and the Red Sox fighting at the top. In 2017, the Blue Jays missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Toronto’s rotation will start the season without their ace, Marcus Stroman, sidelined with shoulder inflammation. Other pitchers like JA Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez help to complete a strong rotation but playing the rest of the AL East could hurt any starting staff. Offensively last season, the Blue Jays scored the fewest runs and Toronto’s lineup isn’t getting any younger.

    Seattle Mariners
    Twins fans might think they’ve had it rough but the Mariners haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2001. Felix Hernandez hasn’t been the King over the last couple of seasons as his fastball dropped to barely over 90 miles an hour. Only three current starters (CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander) have more innings pitched than Hernandez. Adding Dee Gordon should help the top of the lineup but his shift to center field comes with some questions. Some of the key offensive pieces are getting older as well. Robinson Cano will be 35, Nelson Cruz will be 37, and Kyle Seager will be 30. With a top-heavy American League, it looks like the Mariners playoff drought might continue.

    I was on 670 The Score out of Chicago this week to preview the AL Central. Take a listen here: https://670thescore....central-preview

    Who is the biggest threat to Minnesota taking a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Mar 21 2018 05:26 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  7. Diving Into The Offseason: A Buxton Extension?

    As we did in the Dozier article, research was done to consider comparable deals. It can be more difficult to find guys who have signed long-term deals after just over two years of service time, and how many of them put up over four WAR in large part due to his defense? But we tried and we’ll use the information we find to try to project what it might take to sign Buxton to an extension.

    For this analysis, let’s start out at the top of the spectrum. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are at the top of the pay scales. One could argue that they are, especially considering their ages and ages at debut, the two more valuable players in the game today.

    Byron Buxton is at 2.064 years of service. That means, he will be arbitration-eligible following the 2018 season.

    Mike Trout signed for $1 million in 2014, his final pre-arbitration salary. Following another MVP caliber season, Trout signed a huge six year, $144.5 extension that bought out his three arbitration years and three years of free agency. His three arbitration-year salaries were $5.25 million, $15.25 million and $19.25 million. He then will get $33.25 million each of the next three years (those bought-out free agent years).

    Bryce Harper was the #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft to a Major League contract. He came up quickly and following the 2014 season, he was already approaching arbitration. Instead, he and the Nationals ripped up the final year of his original deal, and he signed for $2.5 million in 2015 and $5.0 million in 2016. He made $13.625 million this season, and earlier in the year, he signed for $21.65 million in what would have been his fourth arbitration year.

    Posted Image
    *TBD will equal some really, really big numbers

    Now, Byron Buxton isn’t going to command the same contracts as Trout or Harper if he signs now. Those guys had MVPs and All Star experiences under their belt. Buxton’ hasn’t yet, but his 3.5 bWAR based highly on his defense certainly point in the direction of him being at a level just below those top two guys.

    So who are some others who signed this type of deal?

    In the chart below, I’ve listed some players that I think would be pretty comparable to where Buxton is right now, guys who signed long-term extensions. I should note that Christian Yelich signed his deal one year earlier in the process.

    Posted Image

    Justin Upton was the most established at the point of his deal. He was also drafted at the top of his draft. Juan Lugares has won a Gold Glove. Odubel Herrera was an All Star. Christian Yelich was a high-ranking prospect of the Marlins and was part of Team USA this year. I also included Andrelton Simmons. Despite the fact that he’s an infielder, I think he is a good comp for Buxton. Early in Simmons’ career, he really struggled offensively, but his glove was elite. He won several Gold Gloves and was generally considered the best defensive player in baseball for several years. I think Buxton fits into that category, but at the same time, Buxton’s offensive potential is significantly higher.

    So with that information as the background, he is an estimate of the parameters that might make sense for a Buxton extension.

    Posted Image

    That would equate to a seven year, $76.5 million.Obviously that is a huge investment, but Buxton still has a ton of potential beyond his golden glove and speed. He has power to go with it, and if he can reduce his strikeouts the way he did in 2017 again, he will be a multi-time All Star, and a potential MVP candidate.

    There is risk for the Twins, but if the Twins choose to go year to year with Buxton, he could cost more per year and could be gone to free agency after the 2021 season. However, the risk for the Twins in not signing him this offseason is that he could take another step forward offensively and end up with 30-50% higher annual salaries if they did a deal in a year. Of course, with Buxton banging into walls with frequency, injury is a potential risk as well.

    The risk for Buxton is just that. He could potentially make quite a bit more by going year to year and then become a free agent at age 28. At that time, he could look for an eight to ten year deal.

    So what do you think? Should the Twins consider a multi-year extension for Buxton? At what point would you be less comfortable? How many years of risk would you be willing to take while at the same time being realistic? Discuss.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    COMING SOON! A reminder, Nick Nelson is leading the way in the final steps of creating the Twins Daily Annual Offseason Handbook. More details, and the ability to pre-order, will be made available later this week. As we have in the past, we'll take a look at what options the Twins may have during the upcoming offseason. Trade Targets. Free Agents. Exclusive articles from the Twins Daily owners only available in the electronic book. Definitely something Twins fans will want at their fingertips.

    Posted Image

    • Oct 16 2017 07:31 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. Picking The 2017 All-Star Starters

    How does this strategy work when creating the starting line-ups? I'm glad you asked...
    American League All-Star Starters
    C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
    1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
    2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
    3B: Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
    SS: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
    OF: George Springer, Houston Astros
    OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
    OF: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
    DH: Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
    SP: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

    There aren't too many surprises on this starting line-up. Catching has become a wasteland across the baseball world but Perez provides some offensive punch and solid defensive skills. At first base, there isn't anyone that stood out to me from the first half so I picked Cabrera, the player likely on his way to Cooperstown. Houston is off to a tremendous start and their core trio of players all deserve starting nods. Trout is injured but he is still the best player in the game and he deserves to be recognized.

    Miguel Sano is in a tight race with the Indians' Jose Ramirez for the starting job at third. My vote goes to Sano for his bat and what he has meant to the Twins in the first half. Judge had a first half for the ages and his numbers can't be ignored. Dickerson leads a designated hitter pack that doesn't have a lot of standout candidates.

    Sale seems like the logical choice to be the American League's starting pitcher. Twins' fans saw first hand what he did to Minnesota's line-up when the club was in Boston. He's at the top of the AL in a variety of pitching categories and it makes sense to trot him out for the first couple of innings.

    National League All-Star Starters
    C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
    1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
    2B: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
    3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
    SS: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
    OF: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
    OF: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
    OF: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
    SP: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

    There were a couple of tough decisions on the National League side of the game. There are a handful of players with strong credentials at first base but I eventually settled on Goldschmidt for what he can do on both sides of the ball. Third base was another challenge. Bryant had an amazing 2016 and he has been doing well this season so he gets the starting nod (even though he was just hurt). I'm a big fan of Nolan Arenado so as a fan I would vote for him.

    Harper and Blackmon stand out as strong candidates in the outfield. With Trout injured, Blackmon might be the best center fielder in the game. Bellinger has been a force since being called up so the only thing holding him back might be his late arrival. Posey, Murphy and Seager were easy choices at their position.

    Like Sale in the American League, Scherzer is off to a tremendous start. As the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Scherzer looks poised to make another All-Star squad and be the first pitcher on the mound. Clayton Kershaw would be another candidate but Scherzer's numbers are too strong this season.

    So there's my starters with a few picks that were tough to make. Who would part of your All-Star starting rosters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jun 29 2017 03:41 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  9. Picking AL and NL MVPs

    American League MVP Race
    For the second time in his young career, Mike Trout has surpassed 10 WAR according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs has Trout a tick under 10 with a 9.4 WAR. Both of these totals are a full win higher than his next closest competitor, Mookie Betts.

    Betts versus Trout is going to be the hot-button topic in the MVP race. Trout led all of baseball in runs, walks, OBP, and OPS + while playing terrific defense in center field. The Angels PR Department tweeted out a list of Trout's accomplishments this seasonand it's pretty remarkable. Betts led all of baseball in at-bats and total bases while playing defense that might have been better than Trout's.

    The Angels haven't been within five games of first place since the middle of May. Betts and the Red Sox have been near the top of the AL East for most of the season. Since September 7, Boston has lead the East. Over the last month of the season, while being in the middle of the pennant race, Betts has hit .310/.373/.389 with seven extra-base hits.

    Should the voting members of the BBWAA pick a very good player on a 90-win team? Or should the best player in baseball over the last couple of years get his second MVP award? Betts might have the narrative that voters tend to favor but Trout has been better than Betts so my vote goes to him.

    Who should win? Trout
    Who will win? Betts
    Complete Ballot: 1. Trout, 2. Betts, 3. Josh Donaldson, 4. Jose Altuve, 5. Manny Machado, 6. Robinson Cano, 7. Adrian Beltre, 8. Dozier, 9. Francisco Lindor, 10. Corey Kluber

    National League MVP Race
    While the AL race might be close, the National League race could be a unanimous choice. The Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball for most of the season. They won over 100 games and cruised to a division title in what had been one of the toughest divisions in recent years. Kris Bryant has been the best player in the league and he should easily win his first MVP.

    Bryant has been impressive during his second full-season. He led the NL in runs while raising all of his offensive numbers. In 2015, he led the league with 199 strikeouts but he cut that number back to 154 this year. He's also been used at multiple defensive positions including third base, first base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions.

    Corey Seager and Daniel Murphy will have a good battle for the NL's runner-up spot. Both players had very good seasons on teams that easily won their divisions. Seager's impressive rookie campaign could be the sign of future MVP awards. Murphy might be the missing link for a Nationals club that has struggled with finding post-season success.

    Who should win? Bryant
    Who will win? Bryant
    Complete Ballot: 1. Bryant, 2. Seager, 3. Murphy, 4. Anthony Rizzo, 5. Freddie Freeman, 6. Max Scherzer, 7. Nolan Arenado, 8. Brandon Crawford, 9. Justin Turner, 10. Noah Syndergaard

    How would you ballot look for each league? Leave a COMMENT and start this discussion.

    • Oct 03 2016 08:42 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  10. Dozier's Case For American League MVP

    By The Numbers
    Dozier's 39 home runs as a second baseman (two have come as DH) have him tied for the all-time AL record by a second baseman. He is only three home runs behind Davey Johnson and Rogers Hornsby for the MLB record. Baseball Reference ranks Dozier as the fifth best player in the AL this season while FanGraphs ranks him as the sixth best AL player. He has more home runs than everyone in front of him and he is closing in on the century mark with RBIs (98) and runs (99).

    When Dozier scores his next run, he will join Chuck Knoblach as the only Twins to ever score 100-plus runs in three straight seasons. Since June 18, Dozier has 34 home runs, the most in baseball, while his closest competitors have only managed 22 apiece. During his current 22-game hitting streak, he's slashing .351/.425/.766 with 11 home runs in 94 at-bats.

    Historical Precedent
    Voters tend to look at the best players on winning teams when handing out the top AL hardware. However, there is a historical precedent for MVPs playing for losing teams. The 1991 Baltimore Orioles finished in sixth place in the AL East with a 67-95 record. Cal Ripken Jr. cranked 34 home runs and drove in 114 on his way to the AL MVP.

    The 2003 Texas Rangers finished the year with 91 losses but Alex Rodriguez still came away with the AL's top honor. Rodriguez had a historic season for a shortstop, hitting 47 home runs and drove in 118 RBIs. He combined for a 8.4 WAR, the seventh best total of his career.

    It takes the right atmosphere in the baseball world but it is not unprecedented for a player on a losing team to win the MVP.

    Candidates Catching A Cold
    For much of the first half of the season, it looked like Jose Altuve could run away with the AL MVP. The Astros were playing well and he was putting up tremendous numbers. He hit .341/.413/.542 with 14 home runs, 24 doubles and 23 stolen bases. As the Astros have fallen further behind in the standings, Altuve has struggled at the plate. So far in September, he is hitting .222/.279/.365 with five extra-base hits.

    Josh Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, looked to join Miguel Cabrera as the only back-to-back MVP winner in the 2000's. Much like Altuve, he played very well in the first half by combining for a 1.017 OPS with 23 home runs and 20 doubles. A second half slide has seen his average dip to .253 with just 20 extra-base hits. Toronto is just four game out in the AL East so this could help Donaldson's candidacy.

    Fishing For Trout
    While other candidates might be falling by the wayside, Mike Trout might be emerging as a favorite. Like Dozier, Trout is on a bad team but his WAR total far outpaces the competition on both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. He entered play on Monday leading the AL in walks and OBP. He's also on pace to lead the AL in offensive WAR for the sixth consecutive season.

    If the voters looked solely at WAR, Trout would have more MVPs in his trophy case. His lone MVP award came in 2014 when the Angels won the AL West by 10 games. If Altuve and Donaldson continue their recent cold streaks, the voters might look to a familiar name even if he is on a bad Angels squad. By many accounts, he is the best player in the game and he has only one MVP award.

    When push comes to shove, Dozier will likely get some top-10 and even top-5 votes for the AL MVP. He would need to continue his blistering pace over the last few weeks to make his numbers truly stand apart from the crowd.

    Unfortunately, there haven't been many eyes on Minnesota baseball this season and that will only hurt his MVP chances. It's been an historic season for the Twins Brian Dozier but it has been a small ripple in a very big MLB pond.

    Where would Dozier be on your AL MVP Ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Sep 19 2016 09:40 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  11. Who Should Be The American League All-Star Starters?

    Catcher
    Leading: Salvador Perez, Royals
    My Pick: Salvador Perez, Royals
    Catching is in a rough spot in the American League especially with Joe Mauer no longer being an option behind the plate. Salvador Perez, the reigning World Series MVP, leads the league in fWAR during the last 365 days. Blake Swihart and Matt Wieters are tied for a distant second place. Perez is hitting close to .300 and getting on-base 33% of the time. He hit a career high 21 home runs last season and he already has 12 long balls so far this season. He's never posted a slugging percentage over .475 in his career and he's sitting at a .520 OPS in 2016.

    First Base
    Leading: Eric Hosmer, Royals
    My Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
    There are plenty of candidates for this spot but it has become a two-man battle. The voting block in Kansas City has Eric Hosmer out to a 550,000 vote lead at the last check-in but he doesn't get my vote. Sometimes it's about putting a player in who is one of the best players in the generation. Cabrera's average has dipped a little this year from his normal standards but he is still hitting .295/.368/.529 with 17 home runs after only hitting 18 home runs last season. I'd put Chris Davis ahead of Hosmer on my ballot as well so the player likely to start wouldn't be in my top 2 for voting purposes.

    Second Base
    Leading: Jose Altuve, Astros
    My Pick: Jose Altuve, Astros
    There are some bigger names on the ballot like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia but Jose Altuve is in the midst of a historic season. Altuve has a career OPS of just over .780 and this season he is closing in on a 1.000 OPS. By the way, he's leading the American League in batting too. If the Astros keep playing well, Altuve will be in the discussion for the AL MVP and this would be his fourth All-Star Game in the last five seasons. Cano and Pedroia might be the big names but everyone needs to get familiar with Altuve because he might be in this position for years to come.

    Third Base
    Leading: Manny Machado, Orioles
    My Pick: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
    This two-man battle features the defending AL MVP in Josh Donaldson versus the up-and-coming Manny Machado. Both players have been very good over the last calendar year. In fact, each of these players has been one of the top five players in the game this season. Look at the chart below to see how close the battle is between them even with Machado sliding over to play shortstop in the absence of JJ Hardy.
    Posted Image
    Donaldson has been slightly better so I will give him the nod but they should both be playing in San Diego.

    Shortstop
    Leading: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
    My Pick: Francisco Lindor, Indians
    We might be living in the "Golden Age of Shortstops" in the American League. Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa are all young and dominating at one of the toughest defensive positions in the field. Lindor has dominated on both sides of the ball, being an offensive threat while playing some of the best defense in the game at shortstop. His 8.2 fWAR over the last calendar year is 1.5 points higher than Bogaerts and 3.6 points higher than Correa. Lindor plays in Cleveland where he isn't getting much attention but he is showing that he is one of the top overall players in the game.

    Outfield
    Leading: Mike Trout, Angels; Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox; Mookie Betts, Red Sox
    My Picks: Mike Trout, Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Royals, Mookie Betts, Red Sox
    Mike Trout is another easy pick as he has helped the AL win the last two All-Star Games on his way to earning back-to-back All-Star Game MVPs. Even though he was just injured, Lorenzo Cain gets a big jump from his defensive numbers while holding his own on the offensive side of the ball. He also helped the Royals to their first World Series Championship since the 1980s. The last spot is a toss up between Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. so I gave my vote to Betts. I like his ability to steal bases and that can be a handy addition to the roster of an All-Star squad.

    Designated Hitter
    Leading: David Ortiz, Red Sox
    My Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox
    Probably the easiest pick on the board. David Ortiz will retire at season's end and ride off into the sunset of what is likely a Hall-of-Fame career. It helps that Ortiz is also having a very strong season at the plate. This is nothing against Edwin Encarnacion and the season he is having, but Ortiz is a legend. The 2016 All-Star Game might turn into an honoring for Ortiz much like the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota honored Derek Jeter. Ortiz will bow out and let other players take his place in the years to come.

    So there's my ballot with a few picks that were tough to make. Who would make your AL All-Star team? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jun 29 2016 06:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  12. Redrafting Five First Round Picks

    Major League Baseball's drafting process is a very different animal compared to other major sports leagues like the NFL and the NBA. In the other leagues, the players being drafted can be playing the very next season and making a major contribution. In the baseball world, this isn't the case as it can take years for talent from a specific draft pool to make their big league debuts.

    Here are a few ground rules for this post:

    • I was limited to taking players selected after the Twins drafted their player.
    • This was assuming every pick before the Twins followed the same order.
    • I start with the 2011 draft because most players from the 2012 draft, like Byron Buxton, are just beginning their MLB careers.
    • In a true redraft, the players on this list would obviously be gone long before the Twins made their pick
    In hindsight, there would have been plenty of changes to the draft but here's who the Twins should have taken each year.

    2011
    Minnesota's Pick: Levi Michael, SS (30th overall)
    Redraft Pick: Jackie Bradley, Boston Red Sox (40th overall)
    The Twins hoped Michael's college success could translate to a strong professional career but he has developed into an organizational depth player. He might get a cup of coffee at the big league level but that would probably be the end of it. Bradley is developing into a core member of a young Red Sox squad that is trending upwards. Minnesota has other young prospects playing in the outfield like Max Kepler and Miguel Sano but Bradley would be another piece to add to the mix.

    2010
    Minnesota's Pick: Alex Wimmers, RHP (21st overall)
    Redraft Pick: Noah Syndergaard, Toronto Blue Jays (38th overall)
    Minnesota missed out in this draft as the team took a college starter for the second straight year. Wimmers has never panned out in the minors and there were some other strong names left on the board. Christian Yelich was taken by the Marlins two picks after Wimmers. Taijuan Walker was selected at the end of the first round by the Mariners. However, the player the Twins missed out on was Noah Syndergaard as he dropped all the way to the Blue Jays with the 38th overall pick. Syndergaard looks more and more like he will develop into a very strong piece of the Mets rotation. Young pitching is valuable and Minnesota swung and missed, like most players do, on a Syndergaard fastball.

    2009
    Minnesota's Pick: Kyle Gibson, RHP (22nd overall)
    Redraft Pick: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25th overall)
    Almost every MLB team wishes they had a shot to redraft this first round. Mike Trout, one of the top players in the game, fell to the Angels with the 25th pick. Stephen Strasburg was a solid number one pick but any team would give up a lot to have Trout in the line-up on a daily basis. Gibson fell to the Twins after an injury late in college scared some teams away. He was also on the fast track to the big leagues before Tommy John surgery put him on the sidelines. Gibson could end up being a middle of the rotation starter but he definitely wouldn't be worth a Trout trade.

    2008
    Minnesota's Pick: Aaron Hicks, OF (14th overall)
    Redraft Pick: Jake Odorizzi, Milwaukee Brewers (32nd overall)
    At the time, Hicks was a strong pick with plenty of upside. However, his flaws as a player have come to the surface during his big league career. His defense can be amazing but it doesn't look like he will be a consistent hitter at baseball's highest level. Minnesota took three players (Hicks, Carlos Gutierrez, and Shooter Hunter) before Jake Odorizzi came off the board at pick number 32. Odorizzi has turned into a solid starter for the Rays and he would be a welcome addition in the Twins current rotation. Overall, the 2008 first round has been rough with Buster Posey being the lone star.

    2007
    Minnesota's Pick: Ben Revere, OF (28th overall)
    Redraft Pick: Josh Donaldson, Chicago Cubs (48th overall)
    The Twins liked Revere's athleticism and speed so they took him one pick after the Tigers selected Rick Porcello. Todd Frazier was taken five picks after Revere but the biggest miss might have been passing on last year's American League MVP. Donaldson's career WAR only trails David Price, Madison Bumgarner, and Jason Heyward from the 2007 first round. There are plenty of other teams that passed on Donaldson but he could be a difference maker at third base for the Twins.

    Here's how Minnesota's line-up could look with the moves made above:
    1. Jackie Bradley Jr.- LF
    2. Joe Mauer- 1B
    3. Mike Trout- CF
    4. Josh Donaldson- 3B
    5. Miguel Sano- RF
    6. Eduardo Nunez- SS
    7. Brian Dozier- 2B
    8. Byung Ho Park- DH
    9. Kurt Suzuki- C

    Starting Rotation
    1. Noah Syndergaard
    2. Jake Odorizzi
    3. Ervin Santana
    4. Tyler Duffey
    5. Pat Dean

    What are your thoughts? Who would you have taken? How could Byron Buxton fit into this crowded line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jun 10 2016 09:17 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  13. What Could The Twins Trade For Trout?

    To understand why this could be necessary, it's important to understand the current state of affairs in Los Angeles. The Angels are hurting with mounting injuries and they have a historically bad minor league system. Having the best player in the world doesn't help if a team isn't able to provide supporting pieces to make a postseason run. Los Angeles hasn't been in the playoffs since 2014 and they haven't won a playoff series since 2009.

    Minnesota's poor start to the season isn't exactly screaming that this club is ready to take a big step forward and make a playoff push. However, the Twins have one of the best farm systems in the game and this means they could put together quite the package to try to lure Los Angeles into at least considering a deal.

    Any deal for Trout would likely need to include many of the Twins best prospects. Coming into the 2016 season, Minnesota's top position player prospects included Byron Buxton, Nick Gordon, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. The team's best pitching prospects were Jose Berrios, Tyler Jay, Stephen Gonsalves, and Kohl Stewart.

    For the Twins to make this kind of move, it would likely take five, six, or even seven of these players. The club has a lot already invested in each of these men as they get closer to becoming big league regulars. This core of young talent is supposed to change a losing culture back into this organization's winning ways.

    Trout is a superstar player and he can make a huge difference on the field but he can't play all nine positions at once. He is under contract through 2020 when he will be 28-years old. The scary thing could be that he might still be getting better as he gets closer to his prime and this would only add more value to his current contract.

    The Twins don't look like they are in a position to win this season. Trading away the organization's top prospects would be bargaining away the future with no guarantee that Trout would bring winning baseball back to Minnesota. In fact, Trout coming to Minnesota might be a worse situation for him than his current club unless the Twins were to overhaul their roster. That would be tough to do with a chunk of the farm system dealt for Trout.

    At this point, a deal for Trout might be a pipe dream as the Angels' GM came out and said that Trout isn't going anywhere. "We have not intent or desire to consider moving Mike Trout -- he's not moving," said Billy Eppler told Fox Sports. "He's an impact player, a huge piece in a championship core."

    If you are sitting in Terry Ryan's chair, what kind of offer would you put on the table? Would it be worth betting the future for the best player in the game? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • May 12 2016 08:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  14. 2016 MLB Predictions

    So, let’s start our prediction segment with my predictions for the AL Central:

    American League Central

    • Kansas City Royals
    • Minnesota Twins
    • Cleveland
    • Detroit Tigers
    • Chicago White Sox
    The Royals are now the two-time defending AL champs and now the reigning World Series champs. They return with a very similar team. The Twins and Cleveland will compete with the Royals atop the division as well as for a Wild Card spot. The Tigers continue to do two things, spend crazy money and get older. The White Sox remain a mess and it’s likely Robin Ventura is the first manager let go in 2016, though Brad Ausmus may not be far behind.

    American League East
    • Toronto Blue Jays
    • Boston Red Sox
    • New York Yankees
    • Tampa Bay Rays
    • Baltimore Orioles
    The Blue Jays may not have the best pitching, but their lineup will flat-out outscore teams in the regular season. The rest of the division appears weak. The Red Sox should be improved with the acquisition of David Price and a defense with Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. will help. The Yankees didn’t spend in the offseason and they’re going with a few youngsters in their rotation. The Rays have Chris Archer which gives them a chance every fifth game. The Orioles do have some offense. I mean, Pedro Alvarez, and his 35 home run power, is hitting seventh.

    American League West
    • Houston Astros
    • Texas Rangers
    • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
    • Seattle Mariners
    • Oakland A’s
    Houston surprised many last year as their youth started paying dividends. Carlos Correa is a star in the making. But it will be another shootout in the West. In Texas. The Rangers will again be solid and Cole Hamels will be there a full year. The Angels have Mike Trout. The Mariners have Robinson Cano. The A’s are going to have to battle to compete.

    National League Central
    • Chicago Cubs
    • Pittsburgh Pirates
    • St. Louis Cardinals
    • Cincinnati Reds
    • Milwaukee Brewers
    Last year, the top three teams from this division each won at least 97 games and made the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again. The Cubs youth is in place with some veteran additions. The Pirates outfield is spectacular and they have Liriano and Cole at the top fo their rotation. The Cardinals hope to have a full season of Adam Wainwright atop their rotation. The Reds and Brewers will compete for last, as they fully intend.

    National League East
    • Washington Nationals
    • New York Mets
    • Miami Marlins
    • Philadelphia Phillies
    • Atlanta
    The Nationals were a disappointing team last year yet still finished over .500. With Bryce Harper and a strong pitching staff, they could take over in 2016. The Mets have the arms to compete with anyone, but we’ll see if they have enough bats. The bottom three teams are in rebuild mode, hoping for a high draft pick.

    National League West
    • San Francisco Giants
    • Los Angeles Dodgers
    • Arizona Diamondbacks
    • San Diego Padres
    • Colorado Rockies
    The Giants-Dodgers series should again be huge in 2016. The Giants added Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, as well as Denard Span. The Dodgers have a new manager, Dave Roberts, and Kenta Maeda hopes for a clean transition from Japan. The Dodgers lost Zach Greinke to the Diamondbacks. He will team with arguably the best hitter in the National League, Paul Goldschmidt, and help fight for a playoff spot under former Twins pinch hitter Chip Hale. The Padres and Rockies will fight for last.

    THE PLAYOFFS

    American League Wild Card - Minnesota over Texas
    National League Wild Card - Pittsburgh over the Mets

    ALDS - Toronto over Minnesota, and Houston over Kansas City
    NLDS - Pittsburgh over Chicago, and San Francisco over the Mets

    ALCS - Toronto over Houston, and San Fransciso over Pittsburgh.

    World Series - San Francisco over Toronto

    The Giants continue their every-other-year World Series championship run.

    Next, let’s get to the individual awards for 2016. Others have made their predictions, but here are mine.

    American League MVP
    • Carlos Correa, Houston
    • Mike Trout, Los Angeles
    • Josh Donaldson, Toronto
    • Miguel Sano, Minnesota
    • Mookie Betts, Boston
    American League Cy Young
    • Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland
    • Marcus Stroman, Toronto
    • Chris Archer, Tampa Bay
    American League Rookie of the Year
    • Byron Buxton, Minnesota
    • Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
    • Byung Ho Park, Minnesota
    National League MVP
    • Bryce Harper, Washington
    • Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
    • Anthony Rizzo, Chicago
    • Starling Marte, Pittsburgh
    • Kris Bryant, Chicago
    National League Cy Young
    • Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
    • Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh
    • Max Scherzer, Washington
    National League Rookie of the Year
    • Trevor Story, Colorado
    • Kenta Maeda, Arizona
    • Corey Seager, Los Angeles
    Your Turn… how will the division playoffs and the individual awards go down in 2016. Make your picks now.

    • Apr 05 2016 07:12 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  15. The Snappers Handled Trout... In 2010

    Friday night, the Twins and Angels game was postponed due to rain. On Thursday night, Mike Trout launched two home runs and drove in five runs to help the Angels to a victory. Trout has become a rare, generational player. He debuted in 2011 as a 19-year-old. He was an All-Star, Rookie of the Year and runner up for the MVP the next year as a 20-year-old. He was the runner up for MVP in 2013. In 2014, he won his first MVP award. This year, he’s having an even better season. And he just turned 24 at the beginning of August. And, before the season he signed a six-year, $144.5 million contract that takes him through 2020, when he’ll become a free agent at age 29. Just imagine what that next contract might be!

    We all know that his father, Jeff Trout, was the Twins fifth-round pick in 1983 out of the University of Delaware. That season, he played in the Midwest League, for Wisconsin Rapids. His manager that year was Charlie Manuel. In 1984, he jumped up to AA Orlando where he hit .285/.351/.378 (.729) with 17 doubles, seven triples and four home runs in 130 games. He returned to Orlando in 1985 and hit .279/.385/.398 (.783) with 20 doubles, three triples and three home runs in 95 games. He was 24 years old that season. He was back in Orlando in 1986 as well. He hit .321/.406/.451 (.857) with 22 doubles, four triples and seven home runs in 105 games. Certainly a solid season, but he never played pro ball again. In his pro career, he stole eight bases and was caught 15 times.

    Safe to say that his son has outperformed him on the baseball field.

    I remember the first time I decided to make the five hour trek from the Twin Cities to Beloit for some Midwest League action. Former Twins blogger Josh Johnson and I packed up and went to a Friday and Saturday game. We were excited to see Aaron Hicks, Danny Rams and Angel Morales among others. That Friday night game, Brian Dozier was the shortstop for the Beloit Snappers. After the game, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. Taking his spot on the Snappers roster and playing shortstop that second game was Danny Santana.

    Ironically, the Snappers were playing the Cedar Rapids Kernels, then an affiliate of the Angels. The centerfielder for the Kernels was Mike Trout. Even then, as an 18-year-old, he stood out on the field. Obviously I’m not a scout, but I know the game of baseball, and you could just see his talent offensively and defensively.

    I like to tell the story that I went in to the bathroom at Pohlman Stadium in Beloit in between innings, and I stood next to Trout at the urinals. Weird, maybe crude story, but true. I have strict rules about conversing in public facilities, but maybe I should have made an exception if only I had known how good he would become. Maybe even shake hands. Maybe not.

    Posted Image

    Trout was 18-years-old in the Midwest League and in 81 games he hit .362/.454/.526 (.979) with 19 doubles, seven triples and six home runs. He was the Kernels’ leadoff hitter. He also stole 45 bases in 54 attempts.

    I couldn’t help but wonder how he did against Snappers/Twins pitchers during his time. Baseball-Reference doesn’t have the game logs for the minor leagues from 2010, so I went to milb.com and went through box scores. It was kind of a tedious activity, but for me, it was a fun walk down Twins prospect memory lane, reading names I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

    The Snappers actually started their season in 2010 with a three game series in Cedar Rapids. Liam Hendriks was the Snappers Opening Day starter. He struck out Trout in their first inning matchup. In the third, Trout rolled back to Hendriks.
    It was Tom Stuifbergen who faced Trout in the sixth inning. He struck him out looking. In the eighth inning, Steve Blevins gave up an infield single to Trout. In the bottom of the 10th, with Kane Holbrooks on the mound, Trout grounded out to Dozier at shortstop for a fielder’s choice to end the game.

    In that three –game series, Trout had just the one infield single in 13 at-bats.
    I won’t dig into each of the games, but here is how Trout fared against the Snappers pitchers he faced before his July promotion to High-A.

    • Liam Hendriks – 0-2 with a strikeout and groundout.
    • Tom Stuifbergen – 0-1 with a strikeout
    • Steve Blevins – 1-1 with a single
    • Kane Holbrooks – 0-3 with two strikeouts and a groundout.
    • Dan Osterbrock – 0-3 with two groundouts and a fly out
    • Dakota Watts – 0-3 with a walk and three strikeouts (pretty good)
    • Miguel Munoz – 2-11 with a walk, a single, and a three-run triple. Also three strikeouts.
    • Eliecer Cardenas – 1-3 with a single and strikeout
    • Jhon Garcia – 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout
    • Peter Kennelly – 0-2 with two walks
    • Brad Stillings – 4-10 with three singles, a double and a strikeout
    • Chris Armstrong – 1-2 with a double.
    • Matt Tone – 0-0 with a walk
    • BJ Hermsen – 0-3 with a walk
    • Michael Tonkin – 2-3 with a walk, two hit by pitches, a single and a strikeout
    He played 13 games against the Snappers in 2010 and went 11-49 (unofficially), .225/.377/.306 (683).

    In a mid-June appearance in Cedar Rapids, about an hour from his hometown, BJ Hermsen threw a complete game, one-hit shutout. He lost a perfect game bid when he walked Trout in the fourth inning. He lost a no-hitter in the eighth inning on a single.

    Liam Hendriks made just six starts at the beginning of that 2010 season in Beloit. He was 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA. In 34 innings, he gave up just 16 hits, walked four and struck out 39. He debuted with the Twins as a 22-year-old a year later. Hendriks has faced Trout just once in the big leagues. He intentionally walked him. That’s probably never a bad strategy.

    Michael Tonkin was a late-round draft pick of the Twins in 2008 and pitched in six games for the GCL Twins that season. He remained with the GCL Twins for 2009 as well. In 2010, Tonkin began the season with the Snappers as a starter. He made 12 starts (and one bullpen appearance) and went 3-6 with a 4.29 ERA. When the short-season began, he went to Elizabethton and posted a 1.08 ERA out of the bullpen. He made a full-time transition to the bullpen in 2011. He pitched in 48 games for the Snappers in 2011 and 22 more in 2012. It was important for him to get that small sample in 2012 because that’s when he really took off as a prospect. Tonkin has faced Trout four times in the big leagues. The All-Star is 1-2 with two walks against Tonkin.

    Dakota Watts was a hard-throwing bullpen guy, though at times he struggled with his control. He was the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 out of college. As a 22-year-old in 2010, he pitched in 30 games for the Snappers followed by 17 games with the Miracle. He even pitched in two games for AA New Britain. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, he split the seasons between the Miracle and Rock Cats. In 2014 and 2015, he has pitched in the independent American Association. Late in the season, he was signed by the Texas Rangers and pitched for High Desert.

    Trout moved quickly through the Angels minor league system. Those other Angels affiliates played in different leagues than the Twins affiliates, so there were no other Trout vs. Twins minor league numbers to report.

    Several of the pitchers mentioned above never pitched above the Midwest League, but they still have a pretty cool story to tell their kids and grand kids. They once pitched against Mike Trout.

    • Sep 19 2015 01:41 PM
    • by Seth Stohs