Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Twins' Vaunted Depth Nowhere to be Found


The Twins entered this season with a roster built on depth, one that they hoped would help sustain success when things went sideways. Well, things have gone sideways and that depth is absent.The Twins bullied their way to 101 wins behind an MLB-record 307 home runs in 2019. To hit 307 blasts, one would think you need multiple 40-homer contributors. The Twins had just one. Nelson Cruz was tied for seventh in baseball with 41, and Max Kepler was the next closest with 36 (T-18th in MLB).

 

As great as Cruz was, the 2019 Twins succeeded equally because of lineup depth. They had an MLB-record *eight* players hit 20 or more home runs. Famously, the Twins had a staggering *five* players hit more than 30. The Twins led baseball with *nine* players posting an average or better OPS in at least 300 plate appearances.

 

When Luis Arraez burst onto the scene, Jonathan Schoop assumed a bench role and helped the Twins mash lefties (.917 OPS) all year. Marwin González posted a respectable .736 OPS (95 OPS+) and hit 15 homers of his own.

 

Ehire Adrianza had a career year off the bench, hitting .272/.349/.416 with 16 extra-base hits in 202 at-bats. Mitch Garver, Jason Castro and Willians Astudillo set the record for the most home runs by a team's catching group in baseball history (44).

 

The Twins had 15 pitchers throw at least 20 innings with an ERA at or below league average. Only the Rays had more (16).

 

The baseball world took notice of the Twins and their propensity to build around depth. After signing Josh Donaldson, no team had a deeper lineup according to Steamer projections.

 

 

Screen Shot 2021 04 23 At 2.14.38 PM

 

 

The Twins finished an otherwise disappointing offensive campaign with eight players posting at least a league average OPS in 40 or more plate appearances. That tied them with the White Sox and Athletics for fourth most in the American League. The pitching staff was the deepest in baseball.

 

 

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have made it clear: they see the season as a war of attrition. Part of their philosophy is of course due to personnel. Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson, the two best all-around players on the team, require more injury insurance than most star players.

 

Signing Andrelton Simmons was a calculated depth move. It allowed the Twins to push Luis Arraez into the Marwin role, one Arraez is way too qualified for. That’s the point, though. They prioritize placing overqualified players into reduced roles. That creates a depth advantage over 162 games.

 

So far in 2021, the depth hasn't produced a lick. Jake Cave, a previously valuable fourth outfielder, is 6-for-49 (.122). Ryan Jeffers is 5-for-28 (.179) with 14 strikeouts. Brent Rooker is 2-for-21 (.095) with 11 strikeouts and one walk. Alex Colomé, part of a seemingly deep bullpen, has struggled, to say the least. Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ have combined for a 5.09 ERA in 23 innings. Not only is the depth not contributing, the group is massively hurting the team as they work through injuries and roster adversity.

 

It’s true that the season is long. It’s true that depth has a way of showing up later in the summer, when teams are really fighting for innings and quality bats. That will be especially true after the shortened 2020 season.

 

It’s still possible, if not likely that the Twins will end up getting production from the fringes of the roster, but they’ll continue to struggle mightily if they don’t.

 

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

 

Click here to view the article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

 

As far as hitting we are very long on potential, but very short on defense. In 2019 with the juiced ball we could out hit any defense deficiency. Hitting can be fickle, how many hitters need to be hot for us to overcome our defensive deficiency? While good defense tends to be more stable.

In the past we over focused on defense and nibble away offensively while neglecting the long ball. Now we're at the other extreme, focusing on hitting especially HRs, while ignoring defense. We need to strike a balance, focusing on player's defense depth especially at SS and CF but also can hit and those that can hit HRs in less important positions. Defense can also improve the pitching. So this is where we need to be deep

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article, shocked there weren't any comments - for me it just appeared on my feed so maybe I missed it last night.

 

All good points. I think the problem might be that our depth/reserves have been playing so much that the book is out on them. Guys like Astudillo and Cave (who ironically were last night's stars) probably used to get a few more cookies simply because they were viewed as backups.

 

However....are we really going to blame this on the bench guys? Jeffers, Cave, Astudillo, Rooker haven't been good. But we wouldn't be in this position if Sano and Kepler were already at 4-5 HR each and 14 RBI a piece. Garver can't hit his way out of a paper bag. If THOSE guys produce, we're not even having this conversation....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depth does not solve the riddle of our underperforming starters - Garver, Sano, Jeffers, Polanco, Kepler and reserve Jake Cave.  Astudillo and Arraez have done everything asked of them, but the lineup cannot have 4 - 5 under producing starters.  Let's hope May heats them up.  And let's hope the BP finds its footing too - especially Colome if he is going to continue to be asked for big outs. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Astudillo is 11 for 38. He is tied for FOURTH on the team in hits. Needless to say he has more than Jeffers, Sano, Garver, and Cave, all of whom have more plate appearances. And I'll bet he didn't endanger his team and teammates by declining vaccination. A total team player. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Great article, shocked there weren't any comments - for me it just appeared on my feed so maybe I missed it last night.

 

All good points. I think the problem might be that our depth/reserves have been playing so much that the book is out on them. Guys like Astudillo and Cave (who ironically were last night's stars) probably used to get a few more cookies simply because they were viewed as backups.

 

However....are we really going to blame this on the bench guys? Jeffers, Cave, Astudillo, Rooker haven't been good. But we wouldn't be in this position if Sano and Kepler were already at 4-5 HR each and 14 RBI a piece. Garver can't hit his way out of a paper bag. If THOSE guys produce, we're not even having this conversation....

Add in Jeffers and catching is a big problem. Jeffers looks extremely weak against big league pitching. And Rooker appears to not be a big league hitter. One thing that the writer doesn’t mention is that Rosario is a big loss. He could do it all...hitting and fielding and an emotional leader. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO depth is extremely important. We can't expect our starters play 162 games without getting hurt, need a rest or not having slumps through out the season. That means many games will have to be played with subs and those games will determine if we go to and even compete in the PS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Judgmental much??

 

Astudillo is 11 for 38. He is tied for FOURTH on the team in hits. Needless to say he has more than Jeffers, Sano, Garver, and Cave, all of whom have more plate appearances. And I'll bet he didn't endanger his team and teammates by declining vaccination. A total team player. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why do a lot of these articles keep looking back to the 2019 season?  it was 2 years ago and not really that relevant to 2021. It was a freak season where the ball was juiced and all the stars aligned for the Twins.  Not likely to have that happen again...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a bit early to pass judgment on the Twins depth. Some guys have gotten off to ridiculously hot starts and some have gotten off to really bad starts. It will even out over the course of 162 games. Add to that, the prospects are just now beginning to be called up. Add to that the high number of injury/illness cases the Twins have already had to play through. Relax. It's a long seaon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although it is early in the season, only Ehire Adrianza is having a season that suggests maybe the Twins should have brought him back.  Data is from MLB.com

 

Eddie Rosario  .212/.264/.628
Ehire Adrianza   .286/.303/.946
Marwin Gonzalez  .222/.358/.692

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Um, there was a Covid outbreak and they just put like 5 players on the IL. I'd say their depth is pretty deep considering the abnormal circumstances. 

 

A lot of teams would be pillaging AAAA castoffs and AA at this point.

 

Have the back-ups underperformed through 3 weeks? Yes. But baseball is a game of streaks. Players aren't going to continue to hit sub .200.  It's also like 45 degrees outside, which isn't ideal for a game with a lesser action level. This will inevitably affect some players' performance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

The Twins had 15 pitchers throw at least 20 innings with ERA at or below league average. Only the Rays had more (16).


These comparisons don't really work for 2020. I mean, they are tricky normally because of unbalanced schedules, but in 2020 teams in different divisions had *completely* unbalanced schedules. Like, zero common opponents.

 

Add to that, the AL Central and NL Central, the Twins' only opponents, were easily the two worst hitting divisions in baseball. So it may have been much easier for Twins pitchers to post a league-average ERA, as compared to Rays or Dodgers pitchers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Ashbury, that would mean we did not have a shortstop in the roster last year either. And the year before that too?!

Some of us had been saying that for quite a while, yes.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like Polanco a lot. I was on his bandwagon earlier than some. He's got a major-league bat, which is not usually a given for a middle infielder, although his 2020-21 results are worrisome. His demeanor on the field has always been great, especially his eyes when he's at the plate, and I can't recall his last bonehead play.

 

But he's proved to be not a major-league caliber defender at shortstop. It had been speculated he'd do better at second, but we've got a logjam there.

 

It's always been about the arm-strength in particular, IMO - when he goes all out, the ball tends to be scattershot instead of straight to first base, and when he stays within himself and aims it then it arrives on a bounce. I remember seeing him short-arm a throw (with a bad result) even from second this season. He's tried that weird sidearm motion when at short, which apparently helped some, but all in all if it were correctable, it would have been by now.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you. Polanco is not and has never been my short stop of choice. I was pleased to read your first post. I have been begging for a real shortstop. A specialist. Versatility is overrated imo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

Featured Video

×
×
  • Create New...