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Hard Lessons Learned in Trevor Larnach’s Rookie Campaign


Trevor Larnach was demoted to Triple-A earlier this week after struggling in recent weeks. What lessons can be learned from his rookie campaign?

EARLY CALL-UP
When the season began, Larnach wasn't expected to be a significant contributor during the 2021 campaign. There was certainly a hope that he would make his big-league debut in the season's second half, but like many parts of the Twins season, things didn't go exactly to plan. Minnesota's mounting names on the IL meant Larnach made his debut in May.

Larnach certainly looked like he would hold his own during his first taste of the big leagues. Through his first 32 games, he hit .273/.390/.434 (.824) with 10 extra-base hits in 99 at-bats. There may have been some luck associated with his numbers as he had a .387 BAbip, and he was striking out more than once per game.

His powerful swing was certainly legitimate as he hit some of the team’s longest home runs of the year, but the league figured him out, and he struggled to adjust.

Larnach got stuck in an offensive rut in the middle of June, and he has yet to recover. He slashed .193/.279/.298 (.577) with 70 strikeouts in 47 games while also accumulating a -1.83 WPA. Also, he has the fifth-lowest SDI total among AL left fielders. Bad defense can be made up at the plate, but he struggled in both areas, which makes a demotion nearly inevitable.

If opposing pitchers could avoid throwing Larnach fastballs, there was a good chance he would get himself out. When facing fastballs this year, he has a .294 BA and a .508 SLG, which resulted in him having a maximum exit velocity in the 97th percentile. He posted a slugging percentage of .218 when facing breaking pitches and a .179 slugging percentage versus offspeed pitches. According to Baseball Savant, he has a K% and Whiff% in the 1st percentile.

Like all minor leaguers, Larnach didn't get a single inning of competitive action in 2020. He had limited high minors experience because of the pandemic. Back in 2019, he played 43 games at Double-A to end the season. This year, he essentially skipped Triple-A (three games) because the Twins needed him.

"There is that added anxiety that comes along with trying to compete at this level, and going through ups and downs," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think that's clearly something that everyone has, even if it's not becoming an overwhelming-type thing. So, yeah. Being able to breathe, being able to relax and not have that added burden, I think, can help."

There is no doubt that Larnach is part of the Twins' future, and this demotion is part of the learning process. He can rediscover his swing in St. Paul in at-bats that may have a little less pressure. Ups and downs are part of many players' careers, so hopefully, Larnach can look back on this as a great learning opportunity at the end of his rookie campaign.

What have you thought about Larnach’s rookie season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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Not a bad thing for Larnach hit the reset button.  It worked for Jeffers by getting off to terrible start in April and spent a month in St. Paul for May.  Since his return, he has moved his stats upward and looks more like he did last year.  So for Larnach, use the time down there to take a breath, work on some confidence with positive at bats and get ready for 2022.

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He will be fine, this poor stretch does not dim the bright future for Larnach. He can play out the string in St. Paul or work his way back up to the Twins in 2021. Either is an acceptable path. Rookies need these ABs to learn and they are going to hit rough patches. 

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His rough patch shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone. He's at least a year ahead of schedule.  He has potential and will be back at the MLB level. I think he has a good chance of either breaking camp with the MLB team next spring or being a May type call up. 

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One can hope that this will provide him with a little humility to go along with the natural arrogance of an elite athlete.  Perhaps the game will slow down a bit so he can find his stroke against all those breaking balls.  :)

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Had hoped he would continue his early tear and be the next big bat in the lineup. One thing I also noticed is that he is pretty much a dead pull hitter. Hope someone told him he should use his, now time in AAA, to also learn to hit to all fields. A single to left field is much more valuable than hitting a ground ball to the 2nd baseman who is playing in short right field.

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I think Larnach was just overwhelmed by the difference between breaking balls at MLB and A+/AA. I have pointed out Larnach really didn't have any time above AA... but in truth, Larnach didn't even have 2 months of time at AA. Not even 200 plate appearances above A+ ball when the Twins called his number to start at the MLB level.

In regard to Larnach's vaunted power stroke... he has not shown impressive power at any level of the game so far. His ISO at A+/AA was a quite pedestrian .144/.160. While his raw power is there, he is not a fly ball hitter and most of his offensive performance in the minors seems to have come from a very high BABIP on line drives and probably well hit ground balls.

Larnach's batted ball profile may well look much more like Joe Mauer's than Justin Morneau's. Unfortunately, Larnach is not showing anywhere near Joe Mauer levels of plate discipline and pitch recognition.

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The article I pasted by A.J. HInch in another thread stated how difficult it is to bring some one up from simple AA to AAA with screwing them up by moving them to fast, that you just never really know.

Larnach is an example.

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Having a great eye, and a great stroke, and big power potential doesn't mean you have a golden ticket to ML success with very little milb time. I have always been fluxomed by those who see a very, very few who transition to the MLB level with little to almost zero time at the milb level. 

So generational players mean everyone else are poor prospects?

Larnach has the tools and was rushed. And I guarantee you he learned a lot.  So did AK. So did Celistino and Rotvedt with their early arrival which will pay dividends. 

Larnach is going to be fine. He has a great arm and decent defense and a high offensive profile. Same with AK  who is almost the same player. BOTH are going to be FINE and part of 2022 and beyond. 

It just takes a little time. 

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He clearly needs to work on hitting the off-speed, or identifying them better and staying off them.  This is not rare for many young hitters.  Once at MLB level and they show they can hit FB pitchers will just keep tossing soft stuff until they show they will make them come back with FB.  Baseball is all about adjustments and Larnach needs to make his now. 

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I'm interested to see what Larnach's approach looks like in 2022. He was a left-center gap hitter his whole amateur career so I was surprised to see him looking to pull so much at the major league level. Will he come back next year looking as pull happy as he did this year, or be back to using the left-center gap and being a little more hit over power? From all the reports I've read he spent all last year working on being able to pull the ball for power so I wonder if the early promotion got him locked into that swing without the chance to take the next step of having both his opposite field approach while being able to turn on pitches inside.

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no disgrace to get sent to AAA for seasoning. Larnach isn't ready yet to shoulder the load at the major league level...and thats OK. Sending him down is a good thing. You can struggle for awhile, but if it doesn't end, it means you need some remedial work.

If he's the real deal, he will learn, improve and come back strong.

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The K’s really aren’t the scariest thing with Larnach…it’s the lack of power/SLG. Larnach’s OBP this season….322…he shows good signs of discipline in the box. Kirilloff, who seems to get himself out at a high rate by swinging at pitcher’s pitches early in the count…his OBP was 299. But, Kirilloff makes up for it somewhat with the x-base pop.

Both have a good ways to go.

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On 8/18/2021 at 6:01 PM, ashbury said:

The Eddie currently batting .050 at AAA for the Braves? That guy? I don't think he's relevant to any questions about Larnach.

Actually the Eddie that was our leading run producer the last 4 years.  The guy who actually played with heart, something we've not seen this year until the last month from Polanco.

 

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On 8/18/2021 at 6:01 PM, ashbury said:

The Eddie currently batting .050 at AAA for the Braves? That guy? I don't think he's relevant to any questions about Larnach.

Not at all.  We are talking about the Eddie that is on a rehab assignment.  His health is beginning to improve judging by the fact that he hit a grand slam home run a couple of days ago.

In any case, Larnach did not appear to be Plan A or B this year.  Regarding the original topic, I'm not sure a lesson was learned.  We certainly learned that the Twins have no depth, which is a crazy thing to discover as it should have been obvious all along.  Maybe that's the lesson....

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12 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Actually the Eddie that was our leading run producer the last 4 years.  The guy who actually played with heart, something we've not seen this year until the last month from Polanco.

 

If you want to fantasize about players that were once good, let's bring back Puckett.  Eddie Rosario was mediocre 2018-2020 and replacement level in 2021.  To come here and suggest it was a mistake to let him go or that he would have been smart to retain a guy playing at replacement level for is living in the past with no clue of the current reality.  Refsnyder and Garlick were both substantially better for $9M less.  What are the odds you get to you 5th level of depth for one position?

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It must suck to have "no clue of the current reality" and not know that Eddie has been terrible since 2018.  Those MVP votes he got in two of those three years and solid metrics you might see when you look him up -- it's just not reality, man.

It's worth reminding everyone that some people always hated Rosario.  It's probably not worth engaging with them.

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3 hours ago, Dodecahedron said:

It must suck to have "no clue of the current reality" and not know that Eddie has been terrible since 2018.  Those MVP votes he got in two of those three years and solid metrics you might see when you look him up -- it's just not reality, man.

It's worth reminding everyone that some people always hated Rosario.  It's probably not worth engaging with them.

Rosario may have been my favorite Twin for a period of time.  He made a big impression on me in the AFL Championship game.  If my memory is correct, he went 4-5 with 2HR, a triple and double and smoked a ball on a line to the RF for the only out he made.  Yes, somehow he got 1 MVP pt in 2019 and 1% of the MVP votes in 2020 for his 800 OPS is about average for a corner OFer.  I suspect some MN writers had a few votes.

He was fantastic the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018.  Pitchers adjusted and he simply could not or would not apply any discipline in his plate appearances.  The reality after the league made this adjustment, from July 1, 2018 until he was let go, Rosario produced 2.2 WAR in almost 1100 PAs.  Kepler produced 7 WAR in that period and Polanco 6.2.  If you don’t like WAR, Rosario’s wRC+ was 97.  Not horrible put 10 pts under the average corner OFer.  His OPS was 760.  This year he produced .3 WAR and a wRC+ of 84.  He went from mediocre to bad.  These numbers are fact so I am going to go with that as reality.  Unless you can explain how a near replacement level player would have made a difference, going back to the why didn’t we keep Eddie Rosario well shows an unwillingness to accept the reality of the player he has become. 

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

Rosario may have been my favorite Twin for a period of time.  He made a big impression on me in the AFL Championship game.  If my memory is correct, he went 4-5 with 2HR, a triple and double and smoked a ball on a line to the RF for the only out he made.  Yes, somehow he got 1% of the MVP votes in 2020 for his 800 OPS and 1pt in 2019 which is about average for a corner OFer.  I suspect some MN writers had a few votes.

He was fantastic the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018.  Pitchers adjusted and he simply could not or would not apply any discipline in his plate appearances.  The reality after the league made this adjustment, from July 1, 2018 until he was let go, Rosario produced 2.2 WAR in almost 1100 PAs.  Kepler produced 7 WAR in that period and Polanco 6.2.  If you don’t like WAR, Rosario’s wRC+ was 97.  Not horrible put 10 pts under the average corner OFer.  His OPS was 760.  This year he produced .3 WAR and a wRC+ of 84.  He went from mediocre to bad.  These numbers are fact so I am going to go with that as reality.  Unless you can explain how a near replacement level player would have made a difference, going back to the why didn’t we keep Eddie Rosario well shows an unwillingness to accept the reality of the player he has become. 

Post of the day.

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On 8/20/2021 at 12:33 PM, Major League Ready said:

If you want to fantasize about players that were once good, let's bring back Puckett.  Eddie Rosario was mediocre 2018-2020 and replacement level in 2021.  To come here and suggest it was a mistake to let him go or that he would have been smart to retain a guy playing at replacement level for is living in the past with no clue of the current reality.  Refsnyder and Garlick were both substantially better for $9M less.  What are the odds you get to you 5th level of depth for one position?

Mediocre led a back to back division winner in run production.  I'll take that all day over the **** we've run out there this year.

 

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9 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Mediocre led a back to back division winner in run production.  I'll take that all day over the **** we've run out there this year.

 

There is a famous lyric ... there is none so blind as those who will not see.  The facts (stats) show clearly that Rosario is a replacement level player this year producing well below average players.  Holding him up as a solution or someone who would have made any difference this year is an absolute refusal to acknowledge the brutally obvious.  Past performance is a nice memory but it has no function today!  I also found no entertainment in watching the horrible ABs, defensive lapses, and base running errors.  Here is the good news.  His relative performance / value will be illustrated by the offers he receives when he is available to every team in the league.

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What he is doing somewhere else means exactly nothing about what he might have done here.  What I know is that some things cannot be measured and he brings (brought) a lot of  those types of things to the table AND those things are sorely lacking in the 2021 version of this team.  Polanco has brought some of that of late but it's been far too little far too late.

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