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Process Suggests Results Coming for Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff has been the Twins heralded prospect since his debut during the Postseason in 2020. He was left off the Opening Day roster, but is now here to save the day, soon.The hope was that the former first round pick would join the big-league roster and provide a lift. The unfortunate reality is that he was called upon with some key players out due to Covid, and the Fightin’ Baldelli’s in the midst of a terrible stretch.


There’s no way to sugarcoat it, Kirilloff has yet to see success. He’s played seven total games in 2021 and posted a .115/.115/.154 slash line. In the six games he’s played since being added to the active roster as a regular, Kirilloff has gone 3-for 23 with five strikeouts and no walks. His BABIP stands at just .150 and his WPA at Baseball Reference checks in at -0.4.


But wait, there’s a lot of good news.


Venturing over to Fangraphs and taking a look at his Statcast numbers, a different story is being told for the Twins left fielder. BABIP and WPA are analytical indicators of events that have taken place. So too is wOBA, which provides increasing values based upon the outcome of each plate appearance. Given Kirilloff’s lack of results, his wOBA is predictably low at .116. His xwOBA though, which measures inputs like launch angle and exit velocity, sits at a strong .376. What that indicates is a nearly 300-point difference between reality and what *should* happen based on inputs.


Now let’s deviate from the results a bit and look into the process. Kirilloff has struck out just six times in 26 plate appearances, or 23.1% of the time. He’s also barreling the ball in 15% of his plate appearances (which would lead Major League Baseball), and he has a hard-hit percentage of 55.0%, trailing only Franmil Reyes and Bryce Harper among qualified hitters.


Download attachment: 2fd86e1d-0a91-4960-a0f5-69b9f48f4b62.jpg


Kirilloff’s charts show a decent process as well. His average launch angle on balls in play is just eight degrees, falling just short of the 10-degree threshold to be on the lower end of optimal range. He has sprayed the ball to all fields however, unless he’s pulling it on the ground. Although the opposite field has been victimized just 11% of the time, Minnesota’s rookie is going back up the middle over half the time he puts the ball in play.


Download attachment: 5ff48d42-da67-41d6-a598-3655fbe6a8cb.jpg


So, where does that leave us?


Probably in a similar place with respect to the team as a whole. Baseball isn’t mean to be dissected over 26 plate appearances, 23 games, or even 60 games. There’s a 162-game season because nuance is allowed and a generally process refined approach allows for results to find a respected mean. That’s to say, Rocco Baldelli and the Twins should have no issues continuing to run Kirilloff out there because the process is going to bear fruit. A .374 xwOBA would register 44th in Major League Baseball right now had Kirilloff qualified, and there’s plenty of guys that would kill to spank the ball as much as Alex has.


As a rookie Kirilloff will need to stay true to his process. He’s chasing a bit too much and is going to be exploited until he starts seeing results come but opposing pitchers should enjoy their victories now because the tides will eventually turn. This is an extremely mature kid that doesn’t appear phased by much. I’m sure he’s well aware of the results, but I’d also wager he’s plenty locked in on the process.



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Kirilloff will be fine... the main concern I have with him is that he's just not going to take walks. Kinda like Eddie Rosario in the way where it was more due to wanting to make contact so much, but it leaves him out to dry when his batted balls are not landing in the outfield.

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so a plethora of transactions yesterday... Jeffers, Rooker the main two being optioned.  Jeffers somewhat of surprise, I guess. Not off to a great start but Garver, not so much either.  So with not bringing up a catcher, you are relying on Astudilo to man the dish every couple days a week.  Tortuga a jack of many positions but not a master of any.  He puts the ball in play but not great quality of at bats. Rooker in the proverbial call up, sent down not so merry go round.  As a young professional, you have wide range of emotions, so I would think they go to work at Alt Site/AAA for when games start and work their way back up.  


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Keep making good contact and the hits will come. Hitting rockets right at people doesn't do much for the batting average. Not having been in real game action since ST doesn't help anything. Let him get his feet wet, play every day and see what he can do at this level.

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I believe he will start getting hits in bunches.  Just for a comparison on how SSS people make snap judgements, remember how Badoo started his season?  Here are his numbers now.  He has played 19 games total, in last 15 his has slash line of .184/.212/.469 with a K rate of 51%.  Taking only 2 walks in that time.  His first 4 games, 3 against the Twins, his slash line was .455/.455/.1.182 with K rate of about 20%.  I remember reading about how much of a mistake we made letting him go and he will be this super star after 4 games.  I am pretty sure people are not thinking that now.  


You cannot look at single games or series as to how someone is or will do.  I am not trying to hate on Badoo, but the point is people were sold on him after 4 career games as a future superstar.  The point is you cannot judge a player so quickly.  It takes a long time to really judge.  


Look at Buxton, he has never hit like he is now for so long, but he had glimpses of it.   

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I don’t understand what is meant by process.


Kirilloff just looks like a natural hitter. He has always sprayed the ball and hit line drives. The metrics you describe in the article look more like just another way of describing that. I don’t think there’s any outside process happening here. Give him at bats, coach him as needed, get him experience.

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