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Is Alex Kirilloff the Key to Unlocking the Offense?

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The Twins' offense this spring has been frustrating and disappointing to this point in the season. Any team with the worst team batting average in MLB wouldn't be satisfied with their hitting, add in an inordinate number of strikeouts and puzzling underperformance from high-priced talent and it figures that players could be booed at home. As compared to when the 2022 season ended, this club is healthy, especially on the position player side. Max Kepler will be out for ten days, Royce Lewis will finish his rehab assignment at the end of May and everyone else that figured to contribute this year is available. 

The most recently available player is perhaps the most significant. Alex Kirilloff returned from the Injured List and rehab just over a week ago. The Twins and your's truly see a potential All-Star--someone who can both get on base and hit for power, who can lengthen the lineup and put runs on the board. Much of the reason for optimism is from his dominance in the minor leagues and brief flashes of a healthy AK mashing major league pitching. 

It's all dependent on a wrist. Kirilloff has had his last two seasons ended early because of wrist pain and subsequent surgery. The second surgery was major, some  have called it experimental, The Twins have brought AK on slowly, with no real setbacks. So far, so good. The results on the field have been excellent (only 22 plate appearances), Seven hits in sixteen at-bats, with six walks and three strikeouts. Two homers and a double. When the wrist began to impact Kirilloff in the last two years, he quit driving the ball and hit lots of weak grounders. So far, he's hit a high percentage of balls on the ground, but he's hitting the ball hard and the two homers yesterday show that he can drive the ball. 

What's reasonable for this year? AK should get something north of 400 plate appearances and if he can become a full-time fixture, he could get to 500. In 500 plate appearances, perhaps he could hit as many as 20 homers and I think the batting average could be above .300, which would make him a unicorn. I think if he walks at a 2:3 ratio to strike outs, it would show newfound selectivity. He has not chased out of the zone and has taken his walks so far. A .300 BA combined with a > 10% walk rate would be outstanding for a player in his first full year. 

I'm pulling the projected numbers out of the air. I am also showing my optimism for Kirilloff's ability. I think he can be an elite offensive player and a fine defender. Someone who can really get the offense rolling. I hope in a few months, that people will say this blog has aged well. 



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Kirilloff up from St. Paul and back in the lineup and Farmer in at 3B seems to have charged the offense. Some of the outburst is probably coincidence as guys were due to breakout at some point here, but so far I'm liking the allignment. Now, is Buxton ever going to play CF?

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Kepler may look a bit like Morneaux, but Kiriloff can hit like him. 

and speaking of batting averages. With this teams low team BA, I can only smile when I think of when they start hitting like they have in the past. Maybe these last to games is a preview of coming attractions.

PS. Can't say enough about the Twins marvelous pitching. :)

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I agree that AK seems to have a positive effect on Twins batters. He is hitting really well and it seems the whole team has been hitting better since he joined the team. Maybe the other players were just due to hit better, but adding AK has seemed to really help the Twins hit better and score more runs. AK will not continue to hit .400, but he has given the Twins some big hits in the few games he has played since he has joined the team.

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First base is indeed The Key for the Twins. They haven't had someone who could hit for average and power since Morneau. When & if Lewis comes back perchance puts up a full season of the sample we saw last year, it will be Carlos who?? They are indeed the "keys" to this team.  Then we are just a solid reliever away from making noise in the playoffs. Unfortunately Alcala & Moran have not stepped up.

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1 hour ago, IndianaTwin said:

A key? Yes. 

The key? No. 

The Key - no!

Timely Contributor - yes!

Farmer has been 7 for 18 in his first 5 games back, displacing Miranda at 3B. He’s got a hustle double & a HR, while the Team has gone 4-1………Gallo has had back to back solid games…….Larnach reverted back to April 1st production………..CC has 4 doubles & a HR in last 5 games & is 7 for last 21……..Nick Gordon putting a charge into the ball every handful of AB’s.

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Love the professional at-bats that AK has taken so far this year.  I think that may be rubbing off on others in the lineup so YES, he has IMO he has been the key to unlocking this offense.

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Having Correa finally starting to hit is at least as important as Kirilloff coming back. If the Twins can get Buxton back on track (and maybe playing some CF) the offense could be pretty decent.

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The TWINS have scored 47 runs in the last week, so this headline probably should have been edited.

I LOVE Byron Buxton, and just hope he's not "the new Sanó. Seeing him hit some line drives, with a level bat, helps that... "All or nothing" has netted him a super skinny batting average.  Gotta change your approach, Buck.

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I do feel those two guys have helped ignite the offense.  At the end of the day, Correa and Buxton are the most critical hitters.  AK could be the 3rd guy.  I think/hope the end of May or beginning of June will see Buxton in a CF platoon.  That will stretch the plate appearances for (hopefully) Royce Lewis and Farmer who I suspect will be job sharing 3rd as well as other infield positions.

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I can't believe none of the commentators have mentioned Polanco's return to the lineup on April 21, 2023. That was approximately 3 weeks ago.  Polo's good switch hitting and adequate fielding at 2B and his experience are additional keys to the Twins' success this season. 

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The other thing Kirilloff and Farmer have done is solidify the infield defense.  Kirilloff at 1B and Farmer at 3B is MUCH better than Solano and Miranda.  I have a lot of faith in Kirilloff.  I think he's the real deal.  When you also consider that Royce Lewis may be up in the not to distant future and the power that Larnach provides (better than Kepler) there is the chance to be a pretty potent lineup if guys like Buxton, Correa and Polanco just do what they SHOULD.  

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