Article: Series Preview: Twins Look to Clean Up in KC
Posted 20 June 2019 - 07:31 AM
To put it simply, the Royals are not a good team and they know it. They made little changes to last years squad as they are currently in the early to mid stages of a massive rebuild following their World Series team of 2015. Most of the stars of that squad have moved on to other teams (or retired) and what is left is a shell of the team that took home the championship.The Royals current record is 25-48, albeit with a pythag W/L of 31-42 that suggests some bad luck, but they still find themselves in the basement of a poor AL Central.
What They Do Well
The Royals have stolen the most bases in baseball and it isn’t even really particularly close (70 swipes, second place is 61). The main culprit has been Adalberto Mondesi whose 27 swipes is more than the entirety of 10 teams so far. After that, both Billy Hamilton and Whit Merrifield clock in with more than 10 steals. None of the three catchers who the Twins have employed rank notably well in pop time or arm strength according to Statcast so the Royals will certainly look to cause some havoc on the base paths against them.
Defensively, the Royals rank as the fifth-best defensive team in baseball according to Fangraphs thanks in large part to their excellent range that FanGraphs has as the fourth best in MLB. Their defense is cemented by two great defensive catchers in Cam Gallagher and Martin Maldonado, great up-the-middle defense thanks to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Nicky Lopez, and the speedster Billy Hamilton in center who can make Twins fans understand what other fans feel whenever Byron Buxton robs someone of a hit. A great defense can be frustrating to play against both as a fan watching and as a team playing against said defense so I assume the Royals figured they might as well be annoying if they aren’t going to be good.
What They Do Not Do Well
Generally, when you compliment a team and the only two things you can come up with are speed and defense, that's a sign that you aren’t talking about a good team. The Royals have the eighth-worst wRC+ at 87 (as well as Danny Valencia hit with the Twins), their team FIP is the 12th worst in baseball at 4.56 (Grant Balfour’s Twins FIP was 4.54), their offense walks at a 7.7% clip (Denny Hocking or Matthew LeCroy, take your pick), and their pitchers strike out eight guys per nine (Matt Belisle’s Twins run has them beat at 8.04). To put it simply, this team is below average to bad in most offensive and pitching categories.
Individuals Of Note
Not to be incredibly down, the Royals do have a few interesting players of note. Hunter Dozier has accumulated 2.3 fWAR over 216 plate appearances this year (but he is currently on the IL and his status for the weekend makes it seem like he is unlikely to play), Adalberto Mondesi has continued to do well with his interesting combo of power (.172 ISO, 11th best among qualified SS) and speed (the aforementioned 27 steals), and Whit Merrifield is still the quality player at the bat and in the field that Twins fans have come to expect.
On the pitching side of things, Homer Bailey is enjoying a strange renaissance as he sits at a 4.09 FIP on the year, a good .73 points below his ERA, and Ian Kennedy has had a resurgence as a reliever and he currently holds a 2.06 FIP thanks in part to a 30.4 K%.
The last time these two teams played was … last series! The Twins took two of three at home with all three games being decided by two runs or fewer. The last time the Twins played Kansas City in Kansas City was the quick two-game series all the way back on April 2 and 3. The Twins took both games thanks to late heroics in both matches but would probably like to avoid needing that this time around.
The Royals are tanking, yes, but divisional games on the road are never a given no matter the talent difference and a split series (in my opinion) would not be all too surprising. But as long as the Twins play like the Twins we know and love, they should be able to win some games against a Royals team that has no desire, nor much ability, to win this year.
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Posted 20 June 2019 - 07:41 AM
Mondesi is nursing a groin injury, so his havoc-wreaking ways may be limited (if even available) .... Add in the Dozier injury and not having to face Keller .... The Twins need to take advantage of these unfortunate events for the Royals and come in guns-a-blazin'!!
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Posted 20 June 2019 - 08:27 AM
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Posted 20 June 2019 - 08:35 AM
With that said, we should go all out for a sweep. We need to get a bit of our swag back.
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Posted 20 June 2019 - 10:23 AM
Even though a bad team the last couple of years, the games so often seem to be one and two run games, with the Twins usually feasting on the KC bullpen after not doing much against the starters. So I'm not expecting a sweep, but rooting for one.
Since the Cleveland series started earlier this month and we helped wake them up, the Twins are only one game over .500 (8-7) and 2-4 against "good" teams (Indians and Red Sox). So the Twins aren't playing like world beaters right now. Hopefully some Turtle time can help get the team re-energized.
Gibson's start last night was Pelfrey-like and I hope we never see that again.I also didn't like how Baldelli basically seemed to have a plan to give the game away to the Red Sox. We gotta try to win them all and it didn't seem like Rocco cared last night. I know we had the 17 inning game the night before, but so did the Red Sox. They showed up to win.
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Posted 20 June 2019 - 11:40 AM
Hopefully Twins fans are descending on Kansas City this weekend, and it will be a hot time on the blacktop.
The Twins have a decent pitching lineup for the four games. But you never know. Still worried about the bullpen.
Looking ahead, the Twins really have 12 games against teams for the rest of the season that might give them trouble. BUT they have to beat up their own division as much as possible, taking each series in the least, and NOT allowing Cleveland to pickup two games in a week.
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rosterman at www.twinscards.com