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When Is it Time to be Concerned?

Posted by mike8791 , 17 March 2021 · 2,243 views

Spring training is slightly more than half over. While most of us tend to dismiss results, both from the Twins W/L record and individual performances, I admit to a growing concern about last year's greatest weakness - the offense. Looking at team stats the Twins rank 23rd(out of 30) in BA, 27th in Runs, 29th in OBP, and 25th in Slugging. These figures are even more depressing if we subtract the very robust stats from guys like Lin, Astudillo, Broxton, and Garlick, none of whom are given much of a shot to make the 26 man roster(more on that later).

Among the almost certain starters, Sano, Buxton, Simmons(very SSS) are all hitting below the Mendoza line and Kepler is below .100. Even our two most heralded rookies, Kirillof and Larnach fall below .200BA and Jeffers is near the line. Is this a continuation of 2020's offensive malais? Well, we obviously won't know much until the season starts, but after 2+ weeks of ST, one has to wonder what offense can we expect from these designated starters in 2021?

On paper, this looks like a solid lineup. Barring injuries, it could be one of the more productive ones in the majors. Guys like Cruz and Donaldson should be expected to produce and others like Buxton and Arraez have exhibited enough offensive prowess to supplement the big two. Simmon's defensive chops at SS earns him a pass on offensive production. But there are still holes in this lineup. namely Sano, Kepler, LF, Garver. The streakiness of this lineup, so apparent in the playoffs, could loom large over a full season. All we have to fall back on in forecasting is past performance, which among these last group named, is, to say the least, highly erratic.

Suffice it to say that despite rosy predictions for the 2021 Twins, the FO cannot afford to wait all season for some of these hitters to perform. The Cubs have made the mistake of waiting too long for guys like Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber, and Contreras to live up to their earlier potential, with the result they have steadily declined since their 2016WC and now border on irrelevance. Patience should not be endless. If Sano, Kepler, et. al., don't pick up in April and May, then guys like Astudillo, Broxton, Garlick, and any of our high minor league prospects should be given the opportunity. This is not pushing the panic button. It's part of good managment to separate the wheat from the chaff. The window is wide open for this team to advance deep into the playoffs so long as complacency does not remain the org's managing philosophy.

  • mrkarbo and Aichiman like this

I'll probably start worrying late-May to early-June... 

    • dbminn, JoshDungan1 and dogsday like this

Yes, we both probably remember TK's adage that he wanted to wait until end of May to see what's what.My point is not to wait until July/August for slumping players to rebound.I should add that theme of this blog presupposes we have some prospects in AA/AAA flourishing for the month of May.Late start to the minors, though, is certainly a downside.

Although I dont have the stats on this, it seems to me over the years some of the Twins best seasons have come after some pretty terrible ST records. So I put little to no stock in ST results.

    • woolywoolhouse likes this

Twins' ST Records in Playoff Years:


1987: 14-10

1991: 21-10


2002: 18-15

2003: 19-13

2004: 20-11


2006: 20-12

2008: 15-15

2009: 19-13

2010: 16-14

2019: 13-13


Not saying ST records are an indicator of regular season, nor are an individual's ST stats an indicator of what he'll do in the regular season.But this spring's offensive performance is troubling, especially after last season.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

I wonder if this is a team built with a hitting philosophy that doesn't work as well as it did a couple of years ago. Hit the ball hard in the air, don't worry about strikeouts--but changes in the ball and more pitches high in the zone seem to lead to a lot of strikeouts and long flies. At least to the eye test.

I think one has to take a long, hard look at Varela's role in all this.Most of us gave him benefit of the doubt in last year's shortened season, but if Twins continue with subpar offense, he should be on the hot seat.Unlike Rowson, who had years as hitting coach for NYY at both major league and minor league levels, Varela was a minor league field container for 2 years with the Twins before being promoted to hitting coach.Not exactly a sterling resume.Did the FO take the path of least resistance by taking one of their own rather than look outside for best qualified?2021 should tell the tale.

Mar 20 2021 05:17 PM
The time for concern about Sano and Kepler is NOW. The time for panic is sometime in late April if this continues. They had substandard years in 2020, and their batting in ST has been pathetic. I’m thinking this team may need a little seasoning - with Garlick.
Mar 23 2021 12:30 AM
I dont think it's time to be concerned yet. Most of the roster decisions are easy enough without absolute consequences. I am a little concerned about Thielbar, and if Happ will be stretched out in time. I already know not to say crap about Simmons being 3 weeks late because apparently a superstar like him can show up whenever he wants. I know this....the boys can swing the bats. If they catch the ball and pay attention, then they will win a lot of games.