Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Photo

Article: A Big Breakout for Minnesota’s Big Three

minnesota twins jose berrios miguel sano byron buxton
  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Ted Schwerzler

Ted Schwerzler

    Ft Myers Miracle

  • Twins Daily Staff
  • 452 posts

Posted 31 January 2019 - 06:00 PM

Right now, the Minnesota Twins are sitting on a Joe Mauer-sized pile of cash, and the reasoning is that the front office needs to see what they have before they can commit to adding additional assets. While that’s worth poking holes in on its own accord, we can step back for a minute and look at what that reality may amount to. For some time, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Jose Berrios have been looked at as the foundation going forward in Minnesota. What if we’ve reached that point?There’s no denying that baseball isn’t an individual or star driven sport. Every single team in the league should be jumping at an opportunity to ink either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Alone, no player is pushing any team to the postseason, and a World Series is a by-product of a 25-man roster that dominates the opposition. There’s no more integral development than for Rocco Baldelli and the Minnesota Twins to generate the highest level of production out of both Sano and Buxton. Although Berrios was an All-Star in 2018, it’s hard not to think that he probably has more in the tank as well.

Let’s go out on a limb here and suggest that each member of this trio breaks out in a new way for 2019. What does that look like?

Byron Buxton- Finishes with an .800 OPS and generates MVP votes

2018 was a disaster for the Twins starting center fielder. He played in just 28 games at the big-league level, and his .383 OPS was a futile in every sense of the word. Defense is a natural talent of Byron’s and it’s something that doesn’t slump. Bulking up with extra muscle this offseason should help to provide durability for his all-out style in the grass, and you can bet he’ll have a September-sized chip on his shoulder.

Despite a high level of production in multiple Triple-A stints, he has yet to translate that success over an extended period with Minnesota. After returning to the major league lineup on August 1, 2017 Byron turned in a .298/.342/.541 slash line. That 56-game run earned him an 18th place finish in the MVP voting, and was highlighted by a Gold Glove and Defensive Player of the Year award. The best version of Buxton is probably a guy that hits 20 homers while also having a swing-and-miss tendency. The .800 OPS mark is a good baseline for him to enter the conversation of being a star, and that’s where Rocco will need to drive him toward in the season ahead.

Miguel Sano- Crosses the 30-home run plateau

What started out as a slow burn turned into a nosedive for the Twins third basemen in 2018. After finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting during the 2015 season, Sano turned in a .781 OPS for his second trip through the big leagues. In year three, Miguel made his first All-Star Game, and an .859 OPS looked like shades of the player that burst onto the scene during his first 80 games. Then there was the broken leg, and the assault scandal, and an eventual demotion all the way to Single-A. Wipe the slate clean and let’s get going.

New manager, new focus, and running out of chances, 2019 is looking like a real crossroads for Sano. Soon he’ll be 26 years old and there’re no more excuses to hide behind. This offseason the Twins have monitored his workouts and it genuinely appears like he’s in great shape and has been committed to his conditioning program. Baldelli will be tasked with connecting with and getting the most out of the former top 10 prospect. Sano has never played in more than 116 games during a season, but I’ll bank on this being the campaign in which he gets it done.

You won’t ever find a time in which Sano doesn’t have swing-and-miss tendencies. He’s posted his two worst swinging strike percentages in his two best major league seasons. He’s also made a relatively consistent level of contact across the entirety of his career. When he’s been at his best however, his hard-hit rates were career highs as well. As a by-product of crushing the ball, those two years (2015/17) were the only instances in which he’s had a HR/FB ratio north of 26% as well. Simply put, it’s about dialing in for Miguel and connecting when he does so. The Dominican clubbed 28 bombs in 114 games two years ago. Should he get beyond 140 games in 2019, he may clear 30 by double digits.

Jose Berrios- Flirts with a sub 3.00 ERA and earns a second straight All-Star berth

There’s no reason to take anything away from what Jose Berrios did last season for the Twins. As a 24-year-old, he made his first All-Star Game appearance and turned in some truly unforgettable performances. While the flashes of brilliance were great to see, there was still plenty of hiccups along the way. Berrios probably backed into the All-Star Game despite teammate Eddie Rosario looking like the more logical representative. Despite posting four double-digit strikeout games, he owned a pedestrian 4.63 ERA in his final 16 starts. Plenty of promise, yet to breakthrough, that must all change in a big way.

Since making it to the big leagues, Berrios has seen his numbers trend in the right direction. Year-over-year he’s upped his K/9 tally while dropping both his BB/9 and H/9. Home runs have always been sort of a bugaboo, and while he still gave up more than one-per-nine in 2018, he’s worked hard to move away from the 1.9 HR/9 total of 2016.

Having so much movement on his pitches, Berrios has had to home in with command over the course of his time in the big leagues. Although he’s not a finished product, it’s great that he’s not afraid either. Working inside has resulted in 26 hit batters over the past two seasons, and split evenly, that tally led the league two seasons ago. Keeping the base paths clean and avoiding the big inning will need to be areas of focus should he take the next step. Minnesota’s built a stable of starters that all have strong floors. Where Jose can separate himself is by reaching the ceiling of his potential performance.

Click here to view the article
  • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
- Ted Schwerzler
Off The Baggy
@tlschwerz

#2 BJames

BJames

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 188 posts

Posted 31 January 2019 - 07:02 PM

Players are individuals.Barrios and Rosario seem to have the drive to make them succeed.I don't trust Sano's drive. I hope he proves me wrong and I'll cheer him on. but I'll also ask for his trade if I feel its best for the Twins.Buxton might have the drive but he might not be able to make the adjustments to become a good hitter,It might take a couple pf years of failure till he changes, because hehas enough raw talent to get by.Kepler, not sure, he could be the best or the weakest of them all.Can he get the AVG to .280 with 30hr's and bat 3rd or will he hit .220 and keep being a dead pull hitter?

  • ChrisKnutson likes this

#3 blindeke

blindeke

    Member

  • Member
  • 510 posts

Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:21 PM

Let's dream on this! Put it together and take the division.

  • Oldgoat_MN likes this

#4 diehardtwinsfan

diehardtwinsfan

    G.O.A.T.

  • Moderator
  • 14,626 posts
  • Locationthe charred ruins of BYTO

Posted 01 February 2019 - 07:21 AM

I think Kepler and Polanco need to be in this picture to personally... both could have their own breakouts. Would be nice if the stars alligned for this 5 in 2019.

  • Riverbrian, ChrisKnutson and tarheeltwinsfan like this

#5 RatherBeGolfing

RatherBeGolfing

    Ft Myers Miracle

  • Member
  • 264 posts

Posted 01 February 2019 - 07:36 AM

Well I hope they do because apparently we're basing our entire franchise around waiting on two of them

  • SQUIRREL, Jerr, Mike Sixel and 5 others like this

#6 MN_ExPat

MN_ExPat

    I had fun once... It was awful.

  • Member
  • 445 posts
  • LocationSouth Georgia (the state, not the country)

Posted 01 February 2019 - 08:03 AM

 

I think Kepler and Polanco need to be in this picture to personally... both could have their own breakouts. Would be nice if the stars alligned for this 5 in 2019.

Then we have one heck of a team :)

  • birdwatcher likes this

#7 Kelly Vance

Kelly Vance

    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 754 posts

Posted 01 February 2019 - 11:52 AM

Most teams build with power at the corner IF and corner OF positions, even at the expense of defense. Most teams think defense first up the middle.Keps has plus defense in RF and Rosario (when he is not throwing to the wrong base) has a killer OF arm. He started off his careergunning down runners who ran on the rookie, and then seemed to get careless. Both of our corner OF can hit HRs, although 20, not 30. 

 

Sano, if he hits the pitch sends it screaming to the wall. He is not a star defender, but he is surprisingly agile for a big man. Cron and Austin are power bats too.So I guess we kinda fit the mold.

 

I am thinking thatBuck and Sano got wake up calls last year. I think they will be motivated to rise to the next level.Hitting is a contagion (you catch it from your teammates). I am guardedly optimistic. And I think Ricco will manage differently than Molitor, who seemed like a stick in the mud most of his tenure. I know it is fashionable to say that managers don't matter that much, but again, I am guardedly optimistic. 

 

Polanco to me is a key. If he continues to rake and plays steady D, and we get decent numbers out of Schoop, I see no reason why we cannot contend if the pitching is above average.

 

And THERE it is.

 

It looks like the Twins are going with internal candidates for the BP.OK. But if that fails it will be another lost season. This "wait to see what we got" approach is a loser's bet. Contending teams make their move when the opportunity presents itself. Losers and also rans play out the string and go through the motions. Is the FO doing that?Many are saying so. So I am not that guardedly optimistic about the BP.I am cringing at the risky way the FO is playing "toe in the water." Small market teams have to put it ALL together to contend. We seem to be flying into the wind. 

  • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, beckmt and 3 others like this

#8 birdwatcher

birdwatcher

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 4,240 posts

Posted 01 February 2019 - 11:59 AM

 

Well I hope they do because apparently we're basing our entire franchise around waiting on two of them

 

I'd re-phrase this to say they're basing their hope about contending in 2019 on Buxton and Sano finally aligning their incredible talent with their production for a full season. They've been very clear about this, and it's the smart bet for 2019.

  • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

#9 AlwaysinModeration

AlwaysinModeration

    Minnesota Twins

  • Member
  • 2,638 posts

Posted 01 February 2019 - 07:01 PM

I don’t think those marks are unreasonable for any of the three.

Buxton: 800 OPS. His minors OPS was 874; 901 in AAA. 800 is definitely manageable.

Sano: 30 HRs. He hit 25 and 28 in 2016 and 2017. I think he should be shooting for 40, personally. THAT would be a breakout.

Berrios: flirt with 3.00 ERA, All-Star berth. In six seasons in the minors, he posted a 2.77 ERA. He’s posted two seasons of 3.85~ish ball in the majors. As he hits his prime, he can absolutely hit his stride, and challenge 3. An all star berth would follow that.

These guys are young, and haven’t posted their best mlb numbers yet. It’s eminently reasonable for them to start reaching their potential this year.
  • Jerr, tarheeltwinsfan and wabene like this

#10 Doomtints

Doomtints

    Minnesota Twins

  • Member
  • 3,688 posts

Posted 01 February 2019 - 07:19 PM

Of the three things, the most possible one is also the most counter-intuitive one for most of us:

 

- Rosario had an .800 OPS in 2018 in spite of having just two good months and five terrible months. This sounds very much like Buxton to me, so sure, pencil it in. Hopefully those good months are not August & September, though, because the Twins might not wait that long with Buxton.

 

- No one questions Sano's power, but perhaps we should because having a metal rod put in your leg has to be a big adjustment, an adjustment he hasn't made. We can blame his weight, sure, but what if that's not the problem?

 

- No one questions Berrios's ability but the infield defense might not be there for any Twins starter to have a sub 3.00 ERA.

Twins Manifesto: Build for .500, hope for more.


#11 Sconnie

Sconnie

    Touch ‘em all!

  • Moderator
  • 5,385 posts
  • LocationNW Wisconsin

Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:31 AM

Most teams build with power at the corner IF and corner OF positions, even at the expense of defense. Most teams think defense first up the middle. Keps has plus defense in RF and Rosario (when he is not throwing to the wrong base) has a killer OF arm. He started off his career gunning down runners who ran on the rookie, and then seemed to get careless. Both of our corner OF can hit HRs, although 20, not 30.

Sano, if he hits the pitch sends it screaming to the wall. He is not a star defender, but he is surprisingly agile for a big man. Cron and Austin are power bats too.So I guess we kinda fit the mold.

I am thinking that Buck and Sano got wake up calls last year. I think they will be motivated to rise to the next level. Hitting is a contagion (you catch it from your teammates). I am guardedly optimistic. And I think Ricco will manage differently than Molitor, who seemed like a stick in the mud most of his tenure. I know it is fashionable to say that managers don't matter that much, but again, I am guardedly optimistic.

Polanco to me is a key. If he continues to rake and plays steady D, and we get decent numbers out of Schoop, I see no reason why we cannot contend if the pitching is above average.

And THERE it is.

It looks like the Twins are going with internal candidates for the BP. OK. But if that fails it will be another lost season. This "wait to see what we got" approach is a loser's bet. Contending teams make their move when the opportunity presents itself. Losers and also rans play out the string and go through the motions. Is the FO doing that? Many are saying so. So I am not that guardedly optimistic about the BP. I am cringing at the risky way the FO is playing "toe in the water." Small market teams have to put it ALL together to contend. We seem to be flying into the wind.

I like watching crisp glove work as much as the next guy, but the “fielding up the middle” mantra might be shifting a bit. With the change in approach with both hitting and pitching, emphasizing fly balls and strikeouts, it seams teams have been going more towards fielding/coverage in the outfield especially up the middle and thump in the infield. The Twins are no exception. Polanco (or Correa, etc) never would be a SS in the pitch to contact era.

I think the adage holds true for Catcher and CF, less so for SS, absolutely not for 2b
  • birdwatcher and tarheeltwinsfan like this

#12 rv78

rv78

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 196 posts

Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:56 AM

 

I'd re-phrase this to say they're basing their hope about contending in 2019 on Buxton and Sano finally aligning their incredible talent with their production for a full season. They've been very clear about this, and it's the smart bet for 2019.

 

I totally disagree. It is not the "smart bet" but instead the SAFE BET they are playing. The smart bet would be to pull in some real talent that is proven from the outside either thru Free Agency or via trade and THEN IF Buxton and Sano live up to their expectations you have a juggernaut. The way they are playing it with the wait and see approach only proves to me their lack of committment to fielding a winning team.

  • Sconnie likes this

#13 birdwatcher

birdwatcher

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 4,240 posts

Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:27 AM

 

I totally disagree. It is not the "smart bet" but instead the SAFE BET they are playing. The smart bet would be to pull in some real talent that is proven from the outside either thru Free Agency or via trade and THEN IF Buxton and Sano live up to their expectations you have a juggernaut. The way they are playing it with the wait and see approach only proves to me their lack of committment to fielding a winning team.

 

 

You're suggesting they plug the two into the lineup though, right? Sounds like a bet to me. And a smart one. Safe too. Nice combo.

 

Bringing in real talent that is proven from the outside through either FA or trade is what almost all of us have hoped they'd do. Depending on the decision, one might find an argument about how smart or safe any such move would be. Kinda what we do here.

 

Any way you cut it, they've said their gonna bet on "the core" making strides in 2019, correct?


#14 beckmt

beckmt

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 2,504 posts

Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:47 AM

I do think that if Sano and Buxton have another bad year, they may not be here in 2020 to see if they can put it all together.That does bother me a bit, only because this originization has had major issues in unlocking talent.


#15 jimbo92107

jimbo92107

    Señor Member

  • Member
  • 4,551 posts
  • LocationSan Diego

Posted 02 February 2019 - 06:15 PM

 

I think Kepler and Polanco need to be in this picture to personally... both could have their own breakouts. Would be nice if the stars alligned for this 5 in 2019.

Kepler should take hitting lessons from Justin Morneau. Kep could become that kind of hitter.

The door opened. A woman screamed. Someday, my mom would learn to knock.



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: minnesota twins, jose berrios, miguel sano, byron buxton