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Article: How the Twins Are Preparing for the Impact of Injuries

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#1 Thieres Rabelo

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 01:00 PM

I think it’s safe to say that most Twins fans – if not all of them – expected a lot more from their club in 2018 after such exciting playoff run six months before. The signings of a number of free agents coming off a very decent previous season got a lot us over the moon. But one factor played a big role in Minnesota’s disappointing season: injuries. Is there even a way to dodge this problem or at least soften the blow? Yes, there is, and the Twins are doing a fine job on that front.First of all, in this stats oriented sports era you can find numbers to quantify virtually anything within the game. In 2017, Roster Resource came up with a very interesting metric to show which teams have been hit hardest by injuries, as explained here by Jason Martinez. It’s called Roster Effect Rating and its formula takes into account a player’s projected value to his team and the number of days that he has spent in the DL. It’s pretty neat.

To exemplify, the Angels had the highest Roster Effect Rating in the majors last year, with 16.97. They weren’t the team with the most DL stints (they ranked third, with 32), but among the 23 players they’ve had going to the DL last year, three of them were extremely valuable: Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons and Shohei Ohtani spent 54 days sidelined. The team that suffered the least with injuries during 2018 were the Astros, having the smallest Roster Effect Rating of the MLB with 3.44 and the second fewest trips to the DL, with 17.

So, how much did injuries affect the Twins last year? More than twice as much in comparison with the year before. To be more exact, 2.3 times more.

Two years ago, no more than 16 Twins players went to the DL. And the most important players to do so didn’t stay there for long, with the exception of Miguel Sanó. He practically missed the final month and a half of the season, totaling 40 days out of action. Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton, Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman didn’t spend more than 18 days on the DL. Overall, Minnesota had a Roster Effect Rating of only 3.93, which ranked as MLB’s ninth smallest. But that was about to change.

It certainly is too shallow to say that injuries were the biggest reason for the drop off in 2018, but they absolutely took quite a toll. According to the DL Tracker, Minnesota’s most missed player was Byron Buxton, who spent 58 days recovering from a fractured toe and a sore wrist, not to mention the strong migraines. If by any chance some of us don’t remember, Buxton was the position player with the second highest fWAR of the Twins in 2017, with 3.5. Right after him in 2018 there’s Ervin Santana, who spent the second most amount of time on the DL with 286 days as he was recovering from finger surgery. Santana was one of the most important players of the 2017 campaign, tying with José Berríos for most fWAR among pitchers, with 2.9. Two of the additions that came to the Twins via free agency also were sidelined for quite a while last year. Logan Morrison was out of action for 184 days, whereas Addison Reed couldn’t play for 18 days.

The 2017 Twins had only five players who spent 100 or more days on the DL, with none of them spending more than 183. In 2018 they had six such players, with four of them going over 200 days. Still comparing the last two seasons, Spotrac shows that last year Twins players spent a total of 1,099 days on the DL, with those players accounting for $33,774,552 in salary. The year before that, they had had 942 days and the club had spent $14,184,723 on those players.

Needless to say, the Twins had a much worse record, going from 85-77 to 78-84. It’s hard to say how many of those extra seven losses came as a result of those injuries, but it’s impossible to deny they did contribute a lot. But it seems like this year the club is working on the best way to prevent injuries having such a big impact, which is investing in depth.

Opening Day is very far away and the roster will (hopefully) still be improved. There are many ways to do so. But if we take a look at the roster they way it’s designed right now, we can tell that it is deep in most of its areas.

Position players
Of the nine positions, only three of them have only one player listed, which are 3B, RF and DH. But that shouldn’t be an issue, given the multitude of players who can fill in, especially in the OF, which is currently carrying seven players. All of the others have at least two players available.

Catchers: Jason Castro, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo
First basemen: C.J. Cron, Tyler Austin
Second basemen: Jonathan Schoop, Ronald Torreyes, Luis Arraez
Shortstops: Jorge Polanco, Ehire Adrianza, Nick Gordon
Third basemen: Miguel Sanó
Right fielders: Max Kepler
Center fielders: Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Zack Granite, Michael Reed
Left fielders: Eddie Rosario, LaMonte Wade
Designated hitters: Nelson Cruz

We always hope that nothing bad happens, but using 2018 as an example, we would have gladly welcomed the Astudillo-Garver duo instead of Bobby Wilson for 47 games, after Castro had a season ending surgery. Buxton was deeply missed, but having Cave right out of the gate could have been much better in comparison with Ryan LaMarre for 34 games. Besides Cron, Austin and Astudillo have also given some nice indications that they could fill in decently in the event of a (God forbid!) Nelson Cruz injury. Last year, while Morrison suffered with injuries, Robbie Grossman was having a nothing-better-than-average first half of the season. So things look, at least in theory, a bit better this year.

Pitchers
Starting Pitchers: José Berríos, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Martín Pérez

Starting depth: Adalberto Mejía, Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe

Relief pitchers: Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed, Blake Parker, Trevor Hildenberger, Tyler Duffey, Matt Magill, Gabriel Moya, Andrew Vasquez

The fight for a spot in the Twins rotation probably hasn’t been this fierce in years. The Pérez signing was tricky, but we have tried to show how he could represent good backend of the rotation help. Really, it’s even confusing to try to work out the Twins pitching staff right now. There are literally too many options.

Minnesota currently carries more than two rotation's worth of starting pitchers. Of course, Pineda and Pérez are question marks at this point, but Mejía (who doesn’t have minor league options left, so would have to start the year out of the bullpen, if not DFA’d) is hungry to prove he belongs in the rotation. The same works for Romero. The bullpen is also crowded, with the players I’ve listed as depth being all options as well. A lot of good arms will have to start the year in Triple-A Rochester. And that’s exciting, if you think about it.

Rocco Baldelli can complain about many things, but slim pickings is not one of them. Most of Twins fans are mad because of the front office’s lack of bold moves that we believed they could’ve done. But let’s tip our hats to their construction of a better and deeper roster, as of now.

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#2 Mike Sixel

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 01:34 PM

The FO and manager chose not to have Astudillo catch. Still boggles the mind. Painfully. I am guessing he starts in AAA, despite good ability.

They have good depth, unfortunately it's the top of the pitching staff that is lacking
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It's IL now, btw, not DL.....


#3 jorgenswest

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 02:08 PM

Catcher might be shaky.

I am not confident Castro will return as plus defender given his injury and age at the catcher position. I really hope they are ready to cut ties or disable him if he doesn’t return to his previous form. I am also not confident that Garver and Astudillo will be adequate defensively as the regular. Of the three Astudillo might offer the best overall contribution.

With question marks for all three I don’t think it is a stretch to think they might need to turn to a Wilson or Gimenez type for too many starts.
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#4 baumannmd

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 02:42 PM

I’d argue that the Twins’ injury troubles in 2018 were much worse than the Roster Effect Rating shows.

Brian Dozier and Logan Morrison played injured for most of the season and played terribly. Polanco being suspended for half the year hurt too. Not sure if that shows up in the RER. Not having Sano and Buxton was a problem, but having two players in the lineup every day who played bad, low-to-negative WAR baseball was even worse.
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#5 Sconnie

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 04:23 PM

Pineda is the 4th starter and Perez is 5th. The bullpen looks like Rogers and May and some 6th inning/mop up guys pitching is deep in mediocrity but very thin on quality.
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#6 miracleb

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 06:46 AM

"Catcher might be shaky.

I am not confident Castro will return as plus defender given his injury and age at the catcher position."

 

Totally agree...except Castro has never been a plus defender.Below average caught stealing rate. But boy can he frame a pitch!At least we can hang our hat on the fact that he can't hit either.

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#7 jay

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:35 AM

That position seems pleasingly sarcastic, but unduly negative. Castro can’t hit... and neither can MLB catchers in general. His 92 career wRC+ is solidly above last year’s 84 wRC+ average for catchers. If the goal is above average players across the board, he fits.
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#8 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:40 AM

Why no Hildy in the BP?


#9 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 12:19 PM

"Catcher might be shaky.
I am not confident Castro will return as plus defender given his injury and age at the catcher position."

Totally agree...except Castro has never been a plus defender. Below average caught stealing rate. But boy can he frame a pitch! At least we can hang our hat on the fact that he can't hit either.


Actually Castro has been a (slightly) plus defender in 3 of the last 4 years, totaling 9 defensive runs saved above average over that span.
There is so much more to defense than just throwing out baserunners, especially in this era of station to station offense.
25 years ago might have been a different story, I suspect he'd be at least a slightly negative defender in that era.
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#10 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 12:21 PM

Why no Hildy in the BP?


Depending on which Hildenberger is the real Hildenberger ('17 or '18), he might not belong in the league, let alone the '19 bullpen.
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#11 Number3

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 12:59 PM

Seems like the hype surrounding Castro was that he would help the pitching staff with his unique ability. That arguably did not happen. Is he a decent to good major league catcher? Sure. The fact that Castro was a big acquisition going into 2017 was nothing but marketing propaganda.

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#12 Doomtints

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 01:02 PM

The Twins weren't THAT bad at hitting last year (sans the bench) and the pitching wasn't that bad either.

 

It really would have been a different season if Buxton and/or Sano had played well, though that's getting to be an old/tired narrative now. The rest of the team was pulling its weight, generally speaking, they were just lacking their "stars."

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#13 howieramone2

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 01:05 PM

 

Depending on which Hildenberger is the real Hildenberger ('17 or '18), he might not belong in the league, let alone the '19 bullpen.

I agree with you. I wouldn't give up on him yet, but I would have him start in Rochester.


#14 Riverbrian

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 02:10 PM

I've been trying to stay off this topic for awhile since I spend a sizable chunk of time hammering on it but... an new article has been written so here I go again. 

 

Good article... Thanks for starting the discussion. I've looked at this Roster Resource D.L. tracker many times. 

 

I'm not suggesting the methodology is good, bad or anything in between but using the information provided, it suggests that while the Twins didn't have Houston type luck this year on the injury front, the injuries they had were typical and compares with the majority of the league.

 

Other teams who had similar or worse injury luck in 2018 made the playoffs, including both World Series teams. The Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, A's, Brewers and Cubs were either worse or comparable.  

 

The point is this.... Injuries happen and they need to be expected!!! Twins were woefully under prepared for any and all possibilities.  

 

I will also go on record as saying that some disabled list stints actually improved our club. The same D.L. stints that drove the number actually resulted in better production from their replacements. Cave was an improvement over Buxton... he wasn't supposed to be but he was. Adrianaza was an improvement over what Sano brought to us... he wasn't supposed to be... but he was. 

 

Dozier and Morrison after the damage had been done, said that they were struggling because of injuries. I contend that if Dozier and Morrison would have been placed on the DL... The Twins injury metric on Roster resource would have went up but... there would also be a strong possibility that the team would have improved because the replacement would have out produced what we got.  

 

The Dodgers got nailed with injuries last year... worse than we did. They survived it because they have made themselves bullet proof by staffing their 25 man roster to the hilt. It wasn't done with money like many assume... they simply don't allow the big contract guys to take the team down. If they struggle, they are D.L'ed, cut or they play less. They use depth and flexibility to survive and I believe they are bullet proof as a result. 

 

Take notice... The Yankees and Mets appear to have joined the Dodgers, Cubs and Rays when it comes to depth and flexibility. We'll see but they have both overstaffed at this point and will need to move people around to accommodate.

 

The answer is so absolutely simple. Build your 25 man roster to compete with each other for playing time and may the best man win.

 

The Twins (All of Baseball actually) has to quit picking out 9 guys and then finding 4 scrubs to fill out the roster. The Dodgers and Cubs don't do this and it pays off. 

 

I am praying loudly for all to hear, that the Twins have a 25 man roster full of players who the front office believes can play full time and then I am hoping that the new manager will then give each player on the 25 man roster the opportunity to win the Lion's share of playing time by simply out playing the other players. 

 

If the front office believes that Adrianaza is that guy... I don't... but I will give the front office the benefit of the doubt.

 

But if... Sano is hitting under .200 and Adrianaza is on the bench watching him hit under .200 everyday. I will then know that they signed Adrianaza to play getaway days, I will know that they are trying to force the issue with Sano and I will know that they allowed Sano to take the team down with him and I will also know that they could have done something about this in the off-season by simply looking at how the Dodgers did it. 

 

Bottom Line... Injuries can't be predicted specifically but it can be predicted that they will happen. Bad performance can't be predicted specifically but it can be predicted that it will happen. 

 

Now is when you prepare for those possibilities. Right now... this off season... Not after the season starts, forcing you to hope that Motter can rescue you. 

 

I will not buy any similiar "we expected more out of Buxton, Sano and Dozier" excuses. None of us should. There job is to staff the 25 and 40 man rosters. Picking out just 9 of them is not going to get the job done. 

 

 

 

 

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#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 02:15 PM

 

I've been trying to stay off this topic for awhile since I spend a sizable chunk of time hammering on it but... an new article has been written so here I go again. 

 

Good article... Thanks for starting the discussion. I've looked at this Roster Resource D.L. tracker many times. 

 

I'm not suggesting the methodology is good, bad or anything in between but using the information provided, it suggests that while the Twins didn't have Houston type luck this year on the injury front, the injuries they had were typical and compares with the majority of the league.

 

Other teams who had similar or worse injury luck in 2018 made the playoffs, including both World Series teams. The Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, A's, Brewers and Cubs were either worse or comparable.  

 

The point is this.... Injuries happen and they need to be expected!!! Twins were woefully under prepared for any and all possibilities.  

 

I will also go on record as saying that some disabled list stints actually improved our club. The same D.L. stints that drove the number actually resulted in better production from their replacements. Cave was an improvement over Buxton... he wasn't supposed to be but he was. Adrianaza was an improvement over what Sano brought to us... he wasn't supposed to be... but he was. 

 

Dozier and Morrison after the damage had been done, said that they were struggling because of injuries. I contend that if Dozier and Morrison would have been placed on the DL... The Twins injury metric on Roster resource would have went up but... there would also be a strong possibility that the team would have improved because the replacement would have out produced what we got.  

 

The Dodgers got nailed with injuries last year... worse than we did. They survived it because they have made themselves bullet proof by staffing their 25 man roster to the hilt. It wasn't done with money like many assume... they simply don't allow the big contract guys to take the team down. If they struggle, they are D.L'ed, cut or they play less. They use depth and flexibility to survive and I believe they are bullet proof as a result. 

 

Take notice... The Yankees and Mets appear to have joined the Dodgers, Cubs and Rays when it comes to depth and flexibility. We'll see but they have both overstaffed at this point and will need to move people around to accommodate.

 

The answer is so absolutely simple. Build your 25 man roster to compete with each other for playing time and may the best man win.

 

The Twins (All of Baseball actually) has to quit picking out 9 guys and then finding 4 scrubs to fill out the roster. The Dodgers and Cubs don't do this and it pays off. 

 

I am praying loudly for all to hear, that the Twins have a 25 man roster full of players who the front office believes can play full time and then I am hoping that the new manager will then give each player on the 25 man roster the opportunity to win the Lion's share of playing time by simply out playing the other players. 

 

If the front office believes that Adrianaza is that guy... I don't... but I will give the front office the benefit of the doubt.

 

But if... Sano is hitting under .200 and Adrianaza is on the bench watching him hit under .200 everyday. I will then know that they signed Adrianaza to play getaway days, I will know that they are trying to force the issue with Sano and I will know that they allowed Sano to take the team down with him and I will also know that they could have done something about this in the off-season by simply looking at how the Dodgers did it. 

 

Bottom Line... Injuries can't be predicted specifically but they it can be predicted that they will happen. Bad performance can't be predicted specifically but it can be predicted that it will happen. 

 

Now is when you prepare for those possibilities. Right now... this off season... Not after the season starts, forcing you to hope that Motter can rescue you. 

 

I will not buy any similiar "we expected more out of Buxton, Sano and Dozier" excuses. None of us should. There job is to staff the 25 and 40 man rosters. Picking out just 9 of them is not going to get the job done. 

 

Amen. It's why the Cruz signing is both good and bad, imo......

 

Kepler can play any OF position and 1B. Would I like it if he hit better? Sure.....but they need guys like that. Not guys that can only DH or play 1B, or only play D (Granite), or only whatever.....

 

It's why Astudillo should be given a chance to be on the roster. 

 

I'm all on board the train you are trying to drive, but I don't know if the FO is.....

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It's IL now, btw, not DL.....


#16 MMMordabito

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 03:39 PM

How did Ervin Santana spend 286 days on the DL in a single season?


#17 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 06:11 PM

 

Amen. It's why the Cruz signing is both good and bad, imo......

 

Kepler can play any OF position and 1B. Would I like it if he hit better? Sure.....but they need guys like that. Not guys that can only DH or play 1B, or only play D (Granite), or only whatever.....

 

It's why Astudillo should be given a chance to be on the roster. 

 

I'm all on board the train you are trying to drive, but I don't know if the FO is.....

Astrudillo is on the roster... he may be in AAA, but he's on the 40 man and a flight away from filling in. That kind of depth is necessary as well. 

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#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 06:14 PM

 

Astrudillo is on the roster... he may be in AAA, but he's on the 40 man and a flight away from filling in. That kind of depth is necessary as well. 

 

I'd 100% rather the 25 man was better, than worry about AAA depth. If he's better than Garver or Castro or the last bench name, I'd 100% rather he was in MN. I must not have been clear when I said roster.

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It's IL now, btw, not DL.....


#19 Riverbrian

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:27 PM

 

Amen. It's why the Cruz signing is both good and bad, imo......

 

Kepler can play any OF position and 1B. Would I like it if he hit better? Sure.....but they need guys like that. Not guys that can only DH or play 1B, or only play D (Granite), or only whatever.....

 

It's why Astudillo should be given a chance to be on the roster. 

 

I'm all on board the train you are trying to drive, but I don't know if the FO is.....

 

Totally agree on Cruz... His bat makes it a great signing but... not being able to man a position gives you one less spot and leaves the team exposed in case of injury or bad performance. I know many think of Adrianaza/Torreyes as after thoughts... but they shouldn't be. Those guys are the next men up. 

 

Astudillo... I agree with both you and Diehard. In my opinion... based on the parameters of the CBA. If a player has options... he has to knock the doors down. Meaning... he has to be heads and shoulders better than the guy without options. Castro doesn't have options so he gets a spot. Both Garver and Astudillo have options so the club can choose one with the other in Rochester ready for a call up. 

 

Cave has options... he has to knock the doors down... otherwise... stash him in Rochester for depth and go get an OF with talent to join Buxton, Kepler and Rosario. "OF (insert name here) with talent plus Cave in Rochester is better than Cave in the majors and no OF (insert name here) with talent. 

 

It just seems so easy... it's working elsewhere. I can't imagine why the FO isn't on board. We will see come April when the playing time distribution is displayed for us all to see. 

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#20 ashbury

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:46 PM

Totally agree on Cruz... His bat makes it a great signing but... not being able to man a position gives you one less spot and leaves the team exposed in case of injury or bad performance.

In case of injury or bad performance by one of the position players.... you still have to fill the DH slot every game. I'd prefer that batter to have all his value tied up in his bat, than leave some glove value "on the table" every game.

 

Of course that bat needs to be appreciably better than that of the more well-rounded player he replaces - say projected OPS .100 higher - or else I'm with you. And those are not common. Nelson Cruz is a risk in that regard, due to age.

 

So if he contracts Logan Morrison Disease, I'm also with you, on pulling the plug somehow.

 

If our anticipated DH was Ryan Doumit or Robbie Grossman or (*shudder*) Jason Tyner, then different story, as well.

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