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2020 Twins Struggling in Extreme Area of Strength From 2019

josh donaldson miguel sano mitch garver nelson cruz jorge polanco
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#1 Nash Walker

Nash Walker

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Posted 21 August 2020 - 02:00 PM

Josh Donaldson has missed 19 straight games with a calf strain, Miguel Sanó started slow with Mitch Garver, who is now out with an intercostal strain. As a result, the Twins have labored in an area they projected to dominate in.The Twins hit a historic .285/.351/.521 versus left-handed pitching in 2019. Their .872 OPS against southpaws was the third highest in Major League history. C.J. Cron hit a ridiculous .326/.385/.636 with 11 homers against lefties. Jonathan Schoop hit .277/.354/.563 with 14 extra-base hits. The Twins replaced those two with one of the best in the game.

Since 2013, Donaldson has the fourth highest OPS against lefties, behind only Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz and Nolan Arenado. So yes, the Twins have two of the four most potent hitters in baseball against left-handers.

As a team, the Twins have completely flopped against lefties in 2020. They’re hitting .235 with a .665 OPS, good for 21st in baseball. Mitch Garver and Miguel Sanó are key reasons for that. The duo crushed lefties in 2019 and have done virtually nothing in the same matchups this year. Donaldson's absence hinders them equally.

Without Donaldson, Polanco is mostly hitting second against lefties. That's not ideal. Polanco is among the best left-handed hitters in the game. As a lefty versus right-handed pitchers since 2019, Polanco ties for 8th in the A.L. in wRC+ (127) and 9th in wOBA (.363). As a righty against left-handed pitching, though, Polanco’s wRC+ drops to 89 and his wOBA plummets to .307. That is a long way from Donaldson’s career 157 wRC+ and .401 wOBA versus lefties.

There is also something to be said of pitchers seeing Donaldson’s name in the lineup and shuddering. Batting Donaldson second and Cruz third is borderline unfair, especially for a lefty. The entire mindset is changed when it’s instead Polanco leading into Cruz. The dynamic shifts as pitchers know of Polanco’s splits.

Another reason for the Twins bashing left-handers in 2019 was Max Kepler’s incredible turnaround. Kepler entered 2019 hitting .202 with a measly .605 OPS against lefties. He adjusted to hit an outstanding .293/.356/.524 in those spots last year. So far in 2020, Kepler has regressed to his career mean, going 2-for-22 versus lefties. It’s still an incredibly small sample, to be fair.

Donaldson was struggling to produce in his 27 plate appearances before hitting the IL. For one, it’s 27 plate appearances after a shortened camp. For another, Donaldson was hitting the ball hard. His average exit velocity sits at 92.7 mph, almost the exact same as 2019 when he hit 37 home runs and 33 doubles. His hard-hit rate was 50%, 0.5% below his rate last year, which ranked in the top 2% in the league. His chase rate was slightly elevated but still well below MLB average. All signs pointed to a breakout.

The Twins’ offense in 2019 was electric and they returned almost every key piece. Even with that, they expected Donaldson to be another massive weapon and losing that production was a blow that we can’t overlook. The Bringer of Rain will be back soon enough and my money is on him raking - against righties and lefties - as soon as he does. Sanó is 6 for his last 15 with five doubles. Miggy getting right would be huge too amid a myriad of injuries.

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#2 jkcarew


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Posted 21 August 2020 - 03:50 PM

The Twins have a grand total of 262 PA against lefties this year. Garver had 23. Sano has had 19. But yes, the trend seems unfavorable when you factor in Buxton (who was good against lefties in 2019 when he played) and Garver seems further rather than closer to turning it around...and relying on Donaldson for anything significant during the 2020 regular season is questionable at this point, IMO. (While we're at it, worth mentioning that Donaldson was replacing CJ Cron in the batting order. In 2019, CJ Cron's splits against lefties were significantly better than Donaldson's.)



#3 Channing1964


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Posted 22 August 2020 - 04:20 AM

and jeeze for 23 million this is all we get from JD. I realize there may not be much to say but Damn. Cant someone give me some details about this injury? Frankly Im sick of all the ticky tack hush hush injuries. If its not a covid positive test then tell us WTF is going on with these guys. It is a calf injury or it isnt. It is the same one as 2018 or isn't it. Put him on the damn 45 day and forget about him. I mean its only like 10.2 million we have to pay him anyway right? Come on already.

#4 TopGunn#22



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Posted 22 August 2020 - 10:05 AM

I'd like to see the Twins be active before the trade deadline. 

Dylan Bundy & Tommy LaStella from the Angels are interesting. 

Trevor Rosenthal as a RH closer compliment to Rogers is interesting. 

It's kind of maddening to see how long it's taking Donaldson to get back on the field. 

I have to believe at some point the offense will pick back up,

but with Sano struggling, Buxton and Garver HURT and struggling

and Kepler, Rosario, Arraez and others also struggling I'm not so sure.

The one guy you can count on is Cruz...they better sign him to an extension SOON.

What are some of the rumored deals we could be considering?

Is Kiriloff close to a look ??/ 

#5 joefish


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Posted 22 August 2020 - 11:25 AM

How many guys retooled their swings last season for that juiced up baseball? And are we now seeing the results from that as we are not using those baseballs this season?
Kepler used to have one of the sweetest swings in the game. Now his lazy fly balls, and Eddie's, are easy outs.
Is there enough season left to retool again?

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: josh donaldson, miguel sano, mitch garver, nelson cruz, jorge polanco