Now that the World Series is over, teams in Major League Baseball are able to announces changes on the coaching staff and roster. The most recent big announcement came from the Minnesota Twins when they stated their plans to hire Thad Levine as their new general manager. While Levine gets one of the most prestigious titles in baseball, he will still have to work with executive vice president/chief baseball officer Derek Falvey to make any changes in the Twins organization.
Thad Levine may not be recognized by casual baseball fans, but he has a long history in the sport. Levine play college baseball for four years at Haverford College in Pennslvania before working in business development for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He joined the Colorado Rockies organization in 1999 and quickly became senior director of baseball operations. Levine has been the assistant general manager for the Texas Rangers since 2005 before getting hired by the Minnesota Twins today.
It is hard to know the exact changes that Thad Levine will bring to the Minnesota Twins organization, but he specialized in player development and statistical analysis during his time with Cubs baseball. Analytics have been a huge part of baseball in recent years, and the Minnesota Twins are one of the last teams to embrace the change in the game. It is hard to ignore the power of analytics after the Chicago Cubs used it to help them build a World Series winning roster in only a few years. A study by ESPN in 2015 found that only two teams in the MLB trusted analytics less than the Minnesota Twins. The hiring of Thad Levine proves that they are ready to trying something else in the organization.
The Twins roster is loaded with a lot of hitters that have high strikeout and low walk rates. Only five teams in the league struck out more than the Twins this season. If Thad Levine is able to construct a roster the way he wants, then the high strikeout totals should be coming to an end soon. You can handle the strikeouts from a player when they produce like Brian Dozier did this year, but it is hard to take from someone that is not hitting on a regular basis. Miguel Sano and Brian Buxton simply did not produce enough at the plate to excuse the high number of strikeouts. It would not be surprising to see either of these players in a different uniform in the next few seasons.
The player development and analytic mind of Thad Levine should also keep the Twins from making horrible signings on the free agent market. The Twins play in a small market, so they have to be as smart as possible when it comes to signing free agents. They can't afford to overspend on someone that does not help the team. Ricky Nolasco is a great example of a recent failing by the front office of the Twins. A $49 million contract to an aging pitcher is never a good idea, and it came back to haunt the Twins. It may take a few years, but the Twins finally appear like they are on the right track to make the playoffs again.