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Through 19 games, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this team?


alexthegreat

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Our Minnesota Twins start the 2022 MLB Season at 11-8 and are 1st Place in the American League Central Division.

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It’s a Small Sample Size, but the Twins have shown both areas of strength and areas of weakness in their first 19 games. Today, we’re going to analyze the following four items and label each as either a strength or a weakness:

• Starting Pitching
• Relief Pitching
• Offense
• Defense

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Starting Pitching: Strength

One of the biggest surprises for the Twins thus far in 2022 has been the starting pitching. The Twins’ starting rotation was predicted by many to be an average to slightly above group. However, the numbers say this group has greatly exceeded expectations in the first 19 games. A few stats for you:

Team SP ERA: 2.39 (2nd)
Team SP Opp BA: .205 (5th)
Team SP WAR: 1.9 (5th)
Team SP WHIP: 1.01 (3rd)
Team SP HR/9: 0.80 (8th)
Team SP BB%: 6.1% (4th)
Team SP K%: 22.5% (14th)
Team SP WPA: 1.31 (4th)
Team SP LOB%: 81.9% (2nd)

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It’s fair to say this group has greatly exceeded expectations through the first 19 games. Dylan Bundy, Chris Paddack, and rookie Joe Ryan have led the rotation, combining for 53.0 IP and 1.8 WAR (0.6 WAR each).

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Relief Pitching: Weakness

The Twins’ relief staff was one of the main contributors the the team’s early collapse in 2021 (Mostly due to a reliever who shall not be named blowing several saves). While it hasn’t been as much of a burden on the team so far in 2022 as it was in 2021, it has been a problem and the numbers reflect that:

Team RP ERA: 3.94 (21st)
Team RP Opp BA: .241 (27th)
Team RP WAR: -0.3 (28th)
Team RP WHIP: 1.38 (27th)
Team RP HR/9: 1.39 (28th)
Team RP K%: 23.8% (16th)
Team RP BB%: 10.8% (25th)
Team RP WPA: 0.15 (18th)
Team RP LOB%: 80% (5th)

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One of the main reasons that this group has struggled is that Tyler Duffey and Caleb Thielbar have struggled, despite being effective for the Twins in the past. Tyler Duffey has a team worst -0.76 WPA, and Caleb Thielbar has a -0.35 WPA. If this group is going to be league average, those two are going to need to figure it out.

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Offense: Middle of the Road

This Twins offense had potential to be one of baseball’s most explosive units. In some ways it has. In other ways it hasn’t.

Team Batting RS: 75 (17th)
Team Batting BA: .225 (20th)
Team Batting OBP: .314 (13th)
Team Batting SLG: .369 (16th)
Team Batting OPS: .683 (17th)
Team Batting: wRC+: 107 (15th)
Team Batting K%: 24.6% (25th)
Team Batting BB%: 10.6% (4th)
Team Batting HR: 20 (9th)
Team Batting WAR: 2.1 (17th)

Obviously this group has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s fair to say that it was expected that this offense would rank high in HRs. But what really sticks out to me about this group so far is the BB%. They ranked in the 15-20 range every year from 2019-2021, but they’ve jumped all the way to 4th in 2022. I don’t know what caused this large leap, but I do know that more walks lead to a better offense.

And in case you didn’t hear, Byron Buxton is good at baseball.

The biggest problem with this group by far has been the K%. They rank 25th in the MLB with a 24.6 K%.

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If you add all of the stats up, the Twins’ offense has been middle of the road. If the Twins want their offense to be Top 10 in MLB, they’ll need to lower the Team K% and increase the Team BA. As the weather gets warmer, that may very well happen. We’ll see.

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Defense: Middle of the Road

From Jorge Polanco’s terrible defense at SS to Luis Arraez’s terrible defense at 3B, defense has been a problem for the Twins over the last couple of years. In theory, this defense should be pretty good. A speedy Buxton in CF combined with Carlos Correa at SS and Max Kepler in RF sounds awesome.

So far in 2022, the Twins’ defense has a FP of 98.8% (11th) and has committed 4 Errors (12th). There isn’t a lot to say here. The Twins’ defense has been about average and hasn’t made any game-losing blunders thus far.


To recap, the Twins’ starting rotation is the main reason for their winning streak. Their relief staff has coughed up multiple leads. Their offense and defense have been up and down. If the Twins want to be a contender in 2022, they will need to shore up their relief staff and lower their strikeout numbers. Their starting staff will also need to continue to perform well.

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I'd be very interested in an update at the 40 game mark.  Especially if the starters continue their trend and offense continues to warm up.

The quarter mark of the season is also a reasonable place to look at reasonable trends and what direction this team is really headed in.

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Over the course of a full season, I think our defense will be one of our primary strengths. With Buxton manning CF, the importance of the range of the corner OFs is diminished. Our infield defense, particularly with Arraez playing more 1B and less anywhere else, is absolutely stellar, with gold glove candidates in Polanco and Correa up the middle. Plus, Jeffers has continued to be fantastic at stealing strikes for our pitching staff. 

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Nice write up. My only question is the defense; it seems like it's been better than middle of the road. I may think that because its better than it was and/or watching Detroit and Chicago give away games in the field. Still, I just think the defense is one of the reasons we've improved and a main contributor to the success of the rotation. 

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32 minutes ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

Nice write up. My only question is the defense; it seems like it's been better than middle of the road. I may think that because its better than it was and/or watching Detroit and Chicago give away games in the field. Still, I just think the defense is one of the reasons we've improved and a main contributor to the success of the rotation. 

In the two stats I referenced (Errors and Fielding%) the Twins rank 11th and 12th, which is slightly above average.

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Urshala at 3B is a big improvement. Keep Arraez away from there as much as possible and we have a pretty good infield defense.

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18 hours ago, alexthegreat said:

In the two stats I referenced (Errors and Fielding%) the Twins rank 11th and 12th, which is slightly above average.

Errors really don’t measure defensive efficiency. 
 

As of yesterday, the Twins were fifth in runs allowed, which would include both starting and relief pitching as well as defense. 
 

The offense has been well below average in total. 
 

My take is that the defense is that it is pretty good. Bremer noted that the Twins lead the league in outfield assists and I think they have also been fundamentally sound. 
 

 

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16 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

Errors really don’t measure defensive efficiency. 

Yeah I agree, but I do think they help a bit. Fielding % is better IMO.

17 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

The offense has been well below average in total. 

What would suggest this? Other than their strikeout numbers they’re around average. In the context of their home run and walk numbers, they’re above average.

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29 minutes ago, alexthegreat said:

 

What would suggest this? Other than their strikeout numbers they’re around average. In the context of their home run and walk numbers, they’re above average.

They are 20th in MLB in runs scored (10th in the AL), they are 17th in team OPS. Below average.

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Starters look great early, doubt it continues.  Offense needs better more consistent production.  The offense only scores average because when they have scored runs they have come in bunches and blow out wins.  The next game they will put up 1 run or 0.  

Overall a good first month, the old saying tho is true.  You cant win a division in April but you sure can lose it.  See Twins in 2021.

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4 hours ago, stringer bell said:

They are 20th in MLB in runs scored (10th in the AL), they are 17th in team OPS. Below average.

Yeah…I guess that’s fair. I was looking at all of the stats as a whole, but I’d say average to slightly below.

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Statistics for defense are so tricky, especially errors (as OP notes). The eye test suggests a lot of pluses, other than whoever they put in left field.

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