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  • Ranking the Top 5 Least Valuable Twins in 2021


    Cody Christie

    Plenty has gone wrong for the Twins during the 2021 season, and these players have been adding to the trouble. Which Twins have been the least valuable so far in 2021?

    Image courtesy of © Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

    WAR
    According to FanGraphs, the Twins have four players that have accumulated a negative WAR total in 2021. Gilberto Celestino ranks lowest with a -0.7 WAR, but that was expected for a player forced into the big leagues before he had significant time in the high minors. Brent Rooker is just slightly negative at -0.1 WAR, with most of his negative value coming on the defensive side of the ball. 

    The other two players with negative WAR are polarizing for Twins fans. Willians Astudillo and Andrelton Simmons are tied with -0.5 WAR, but their path to those totals is entirely different. Simmons posts strong defensive numbers, and his offense has been atrocious. His -23.0 OFF ranking is the lowest on the team, and it’s more than double the next closest player. Astudillo doesn’t have a perfect defensive home, and his offensive skills are limited. He even has a negative WAR as a relief pitcher.

    On the mound, Matt Shoemaker accumulated a negative WAR in his time as a starter (-0.2 WAR) and as a reliever (-0.5 WAR). Griffin Jax, Beau Burrows, and Andrew Albers are all tied with a -0.3 WAR among players classified as starters. Minnesota’s bullpen has been a mess as 12 players have a negative WAR total. Randy Dobnak, Brandon Waddell, Hansel Robles, and Edgar Garcia all have a -0.3 WAR as relievers.

    WPA
    Four Twins players have accumulated a Win Probability Added of more than -0.75. Andrelton Simmons has been worth -3.03 WPA, which is the team’s lowest total. Trevor Larnach ranks the second lowest (-1.78 WPA), with all his negative value coming on the defensive side. Miguel Sano (-1.44), Willians Astudillo (-1.48), and Ryan Jeffers (-1.59) round out the bottom five when it comes to WPA among position players. 

    Among pitchers, J.A. Happ was worth -1.87 WPA during his Twins tenure, and the Twins were still able to get something for him at the trade deadline. Randy Dobnak is in the middle of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. His -1.42 WPA is the second-worst and ranks just below Griffin Jax (-1.23 WPA) and Alex Colome (-1.26 WPA). Surprisingly, Matt Shoemaker only has the tenth worst WPA among Twins pitchers.

    Ranking the Top-5 Least Valuable Twins

    5. Willians Astudillo: He can certainly be entertaining, and his relief appearances have added some fun to a disappointing season. Overall, his lack of defensive home and low offensive ceiling put him on this list.

    4. J.A. Happ: In 19 starts for the Twins, he accumulated a 6.20 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings. Minnesota’s lack of pitching depth meant they had to keep trotting him out there.  

    3. Alex Colome: Colome would have topped this list in the early part of the season. However, he has been better lately (Editor's Note: For instance, he has recorded saves in four straight games), but it doesn’t take away from his disastrous start to the season. 

    2. Matt Shoemaker: Shoemaker didn’t cut it as a starter or a reliever. He claimed the Twins tried to make some adjustments during spring training that hurt his performance

    1. Andrelton Simmons: He ranks among baseball’s best defensive shortstops, which shows how inept his offense has been this year. His 57 OPS+ is 18 points lower than his previous career low.

    How would you rank these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion

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    Andrelton Simmons certainly deserves to be number one.  Remember, he was the guy who publicly refused to get a Covid vaccine, then he got COVID.   Then a few other Twins players got it too.  Of course, the Twins stuck up for Simmons and claimed he didn’t spread it.   Who knows - but with that attitude I’d like Simmons to viewed as a bigger Super Spreader than Sturgis, Lalapalooza, that big Martha’s Vineyard birthday party and all of last weekend’s college football games combined.  

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    3 minutes ago, 4twinsJA said:

    Of the 17 or so players mentioned in article, hope only 3-4 are with the Twins next year.

    7 will likely be with the organization in some fashion: Rooker, Larnach, Sano, Jax, Dobnak, Celestino, and Jeffers will be with the Twins. Rooker, Larnach, Celestino, Jax, and Jeffers all have options left; Jeffers might make it out of spring training as the backup, but we'll see. Celestino might compete for the 4th OF spot...and actually might be ready to be a good contributor now that he's had time in AAA (where he should have been for most of the season). Jax is going to be battling for the 5th spot, might have a chance at a bullpen role, but will probably be in AAA starting. Sano is 1.1 bWAR right now and if he can avoid another horrid start is a useful player. Larnach needs the AAA time to deal with constant off-speed stuff and get a reset. Rooker...is probably a AAAA player and will likely be battling for the last spot on the roster.

    All of this seems ok to me. we need the FA bets next season to not completely implode like Happ, Simmons, Colome did (and Colome has been fine since his dreadful first couple of months; if he wasn't inducing PTSD in the fan base I'd consider picking up his option)

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    Wow, of all the Twins disappointing guys on this team you found a way to put Astudillo in the bottom 5 on the entire team this year?

    Ryan Jeffers is batting .194 and is basically the full-time catcher for this team. To me that means he's providing little value. He's literally batting under .200 dude. It's not a small sample size either. Advanced stats don't look good either.

    Tyler Duffey came in with a new 2.2 million contract and was supposed to slam the door in the 7th and 8th inning. But instead he stinks. That's providing little value, especially considering he's making 3x as much as Rogers.

    Meanwhile they're paying Astudillo with Chuck E. Cheese tokens and he's got the last spot on the bench when he's not playing in St. Paul. He's not lighting the world on fire but he's gotten a few key hits and can spell just about everyone at 1st, 3rd, and catcher. Not much value, but for their money the Twins aren't getting ripped off or anything with this guy.

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    10 minutes ago, bighat said:

    Wow, of all the Twins disappointing guys on this team you found a way to put Astudillo in the bottom 5 on the entire team this year?

    Ryan Jeffers is batting .194 and is basically the full-time catcher for this team. To me that means he's providing little value. He's literally batting under .200 dude. It's not a small sample size either. Advanced stats don't look good either.

    Tyler Duffey came in with a new 2.2 million contract and was supposed to slam the door in the 7th and 8th inning. But instead he stinks. That's providing little value, especially considering he's making 3x as much as Rogers.

    Meanwhile they're paying Astudillo with Chuck E. Cheese tokens and he's got the last spot on the bench when he's not playing in St. Paul. He's not lighting the world on fire but he's gotten a few key hits and can spell just about everyone at 1st, 3rd, and catcher. Not much value, but for their money the Twins aren't getting ripped off or anything with this guy.

    Astudillo is a better catcher than Jeffers and a much better hitter.

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    Astudillo has contributed in many ways because he's always ready to play. For him to have his war diminished for the relief appearances that he's made his ridiculous. You have to ask why he made those appearances. As usual he will do anything that is asked. Take him off the bottom five. Put on Jake cave who has contributed very minimal value to the team. Put on Kepler who just cannot even recover to his high from 2 years ago. 

    Now Byron Buxton deserves consideration. He showed that he can make great contributions, but once again we are left with a man who can't make it onto the field. Then he spent considerable time in St Paul instead of Minneapolis.

    Other than Simmons, this list should actually be filled with pitchers. Whenever we diagnose the issues that this team has it always comes back to pitching Happ and Shoemaker and Colome are easy. Dobnak signed a contract and dropped out of the list of potential pitchers for the future. And if you need more Jax and a list of pickups that we put into the bullpen can certainly fill out the top five anyway you want them list them

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    1 hour ago, bighat said:

    Wow, of all the Twins disappointing guys on this team you found a way to put Astudillo in the bottom 5 on the entire team this year?

    Ryan Jeffers is batting .194 and is basically the full-time catcher for this team. To me that means he's providing little value. He's literally batting under .200 dude. It's not a small sample size either. Advanced stats don't look good either.

    Tyler Duffey came in with a new 2.2 million contract and was supposed to slam the door in the 7th and 8th inning. But instead he stinks. That's providing little value, especially considering he's making 3x as much as Rogers.

    Meanwhile they're paying Astudillo with Chuck E. Cheese tokens and he's got the last spot on the bench when he's not playing in St. Paul. He's not lighting the world on fire but he's gotten a few key hits and can spell just about everyone at 1st, 3rd, and catcher. Not much value, but for their money the Twins aren't getting ripped off or anything with this guy.

    That's right. Leave La Tortuga off this list. 

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    Man, the Year of the Pitcher, when they changed the ball and batting averages fell and people accept that you can possibly win a batting title again and not hit .300. Of not have a .300 hitter on a team at least (Go Twins!).

     

    The Twins rotation was pitiful. Besides refusing to pitch five innings at a time, can you heap much praise on Happ or Shoemaker as free agent saviors? Naw, they have been sent elsewhere (where they are actually pitching better, shades of Lance Lynn). It was the year Smeltzer and Thorpe were going to shine and show they belonged in the rotation, if not the pitching staff, along with Dobnak (shades of Joe Mays and Nick Blackburn) who got a longterm deal but could be waivered out and unclaimed because...of the salary the Twins gave him. Jax and Barnes reminds you that many rookie pitchers have tough times in their first partial major league season and might find better luck in the bullpen.,

     

    Speaking of the bullpen, Colome stunk up in the beginning sending the Twins into a spiral when it came to extra inning games. He was basically the 26th man and didn't draw any trade interest thru mid-season (shades of Michael Pineda not being wanted), and now he seems to be bucking for an extension from the Twins. I would almost rather see Duffey given a chance at closer, he will be here in 2022. But the other mess of musical chairs: Burrows, Barraclough, Garcia, Gibaut, Law, Vincet, Garza, Minaya, Coulombe, Farrell, Stashak, Thielbar. At the least we flipped Robles. And other teams saw interest in Waddell and Shaun Anderson (go figure). 

     

    What to do about catching. Jeffers has gone the season hitting around the line of such famed Twins catchers as Jerry Zimmerman and Phil Roof. But he has power punch. Calls a decent game. And his backup Ben Rortvedt makes us dream of Drew Butera.

     

    The Twins improved their infield, with Polanco moving to second, Simmons at short, Donaldson at third base and Sano holding down first. Problem is, Sano has 14 errors in 94 games. Polanco has made 14 errors in 93 games, Simmons 11 in 115 games, and Donaldson has played 78 games and made 12 errors. Infield has been the finest moment for the Twins, with Arraez playing 33 games at 2nd (7 errors)  and 41 at third (7 errors) besides making 4 in leftfield. Astudillo has played C, 1B, 2B, 3B. They kept him out of the outfield. But his value is that he can catch, which he really hasn't done...or be that bench bat, but can you do better? Nick Gordon has made 7 errors in 18 games on the infield, but only 1 in 26 games in centerfield.

     

    The outfield has been a disaster. Left field has seen the Twins use Garlick, Larnach, Arraez, Refsynder, Rooker, Gordon, Cave. Humm....how many also played in right when Kepler wasn't playing well? And who was our centerfielder when Buxton was hurt? Kiriloff did 33 games at the corners, but also 25 at first base. When you start looking at the Twins roster, the only guys that played their position ONLY were Donaldson, Jeffers and Rortvedt, Blankenhorn and Riddle. Even when Tzu-Wei Lin was up for a game, this guy played the outfield, a position he usually only played after tolling in the infield. Amazing that the Twins didn't get Cruz in the field this year!

     

    One hates to single out players with a "stink up the game" list. You really don't need to do that as is it really fun to rag on players, when their stats usually speak for them. And, at times, it is a team effort.

     

    That is what we saw in 2021...a team effort. New baseball, extra inning/double-header strange rules, lots of injuries, strange managing but it does really work when most of the time a player is standing right where a ball is hit. Go figure that. Except in the case of...Our Twins!

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    I wonder if "least valuable" means "most disappointing." To me, it means "players that we could have reasonably DFA'd/replaced and had a much better season."

    To me, I wouldn't have Simmons anywhere on this list. He's been durable and reliable in the field - exactly what he was signed for. His bat is terrible - but that wasn't supposed to be his contribution to a team that was seen as already heavy with hitters. And we had (and still have) apparently no SS to replace him.

    With that in mind, Jake Cave is my #1 LVP, and Dobnak takes Astudillo's place at #5.

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    WPA pays no attention to defensive contributions, so for a player like Simmons it's not surprising if WAR and WPA differ greatly.  Between the two, I would rely less on WPA for assessing "value".

    However looking at Simmons's two values in conjunction helps suggest the limits of what a good glove alone can contribute.

    For the list of five, I'd go with Colome, Cave, Shoemaker, Astudillo and Happ in some order - is it really important to rank them, with 2 gone and 3 more who should be absent next spring?

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    2 hours ago, RpR said:

    Astudillo is a better catcher than Jeffers and a much better hitter.

    This is frankly the truth on this date. People are giving Jeffers way too much credit for what they think he should be. It's embarrassing that we have Twins fans who think he's doing just fine and gee golly whiz we're all set at catcher for the next 5 years.

    If you saw a starting catcher on, say, Pittsburgh batting 8th and hitting .192, you'd think "Yikes. The Pirates have problems and this catcher experiment of theirs is clearly a complete disaster".

    Cue someone waiting with some obscure cherry-picked stats to respond with something like: "between the waxing crescent and full moon period of July, Jeffers actually was 14th among all catchers in BABIP and 11th overall in LIPS and also ate 15 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" and then call me a dinosaur or something. Whatever.

    If you want to take off your Twins-colored glasses for a minute, you'll see that Jeffers is a real problem. Larnach had a good month but frankly he stunk too. He was the worst starting player in baseball in July and there's not even an argument against it. Pretending these guys are automatically going to hit 25 and 30 HRs next year in Minnesota is not helping any realistic discussion of what we can expect from this team in 2022.

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    It is almost like looking at BA alone, and not all aspects of a hitter, including position, is a good idea......

    Jeffers is putting up decent numbers for a CATCHER who is a rookie. He's 31st in fWAR among catchers......partly because he's 15th in home runs among MLB catchers......if you only looked at Home Runs and saw a player ranked 15th at his position in all of MLB, you'd think he was great.....

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    4 minutes ago, bighat said:

    This is frankly the truth on this date. People are giving Jeffers way too much credit for what they think he should be. It's embarrassing that we have Twins fans who think he's doing just fine and gee golly whiz we're all set at catcher for the next 5 years.

    If you saw a starting catcher on, say, Pittsburgh batting 8th and hitting .192, you'd think "Yikes. The Pirates have problems and this catcher experiment of theirs is clearly a complete disaster".

    Cue someone waiting with some obscure cherry-picked stats to respond with something like: "between the waxing crescent and full moon period of July, Jeffers actually was 14th among all catchers in BABIP and 11th overall in LIPS and also ate 15 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" and then call me a dinosaur or something. Whatever.

    If you want to take off your Twins-colored glasses for a minute, you'll see that Jeffers is a real problem. Larnach had a good month but frankly he stunk too. He was the worst starting player in baseball in July and there's not even an argument against it. Pretending these guys are automatically going to hit 25 and 30 HRs next year in Minnesota is not helping any realistic discussion of what we can expect from this team in 2022.

    Not to mention we'd have lost last nights game if not for Rortvedt blocking balls. No way Jeffers blocks 100% of those. I love the defensive catcher. Rortvedt blocks everything and has a cannon. 

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    Just now, In My La Z boy said:

    Not to mention we'd have lost last nights game if not for Rortvedt blocking balls. No way Jeffers blocks 100% of those. I love the defensive catcher. Rortvedt blocks everything and has a cannon. 

    Bingo, jeffer's is lousy at blocking balls; commentators early in the year said the way he sits is gong to be a problem.

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    Let's take Larnach, Celestino and Rortvedt out of this discussion.  Larnach hadn't played much at AA and should have begun the season either there or at AAA.  Celestino and Rortvedt both should have begun and AA and moved up to AAA at mid-season.  Putting all three onto the Twins roster early in the season was a situation in which they could be expected to fail with the bat.  To be honest, I am shocked at how well Rortvedt played defensively.  Still believe his bat will mature over the next two years and he will be solid, offensively, if not great.

    Also want Astudillo back for 2022.  The young man can play at least four positions ok and has enough time in left to not be totally out of place.  Makes contact with some pop gives him a spot on my team.

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    3 hours ago, RpR said:

    Astudillo is a better catcher than Jeffers and a much better hitter.

    On what planet? Astudillo is a poor defensive catcher. His value at the plate has been basically exactly the same as Jeffers and Jeffers is getting killed for sucking at the plate. Just because Astudillo has a better BA doesn't make him a better hitter, and his utter inability to draw walks means that unless he's hitting close to .300 he ain't good. His value is in his versatility, but he's a poor defender at basically every position.

    Look, La Tortuga is a fun player...but he's not a good one. Jeffers is a having a tough go of it, but this is his rookie season; despite playing 26 games last year he still meets the requirements for RoY in 2021. (obviously, he won't win) 

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    3 hours ago, yeahyabetcha said:

    Your list includes 2 back end starters, a closer that had one bad month, a utility player and a glove first SS that the Twins knew they were getting.  Go ahead and blame them for the season’s results, I just hope the FO sees it differently.  

    I mean, yeah, but those guys have been the worst veteran baseball players for the team this year. I guess as far as disappointing, im most disappointed in the season buxton didn't have. but obviously I don't blame him for that. the only other vets im really disappointed in besides these guys listed are Sano and Kepler. i can't blame guys for being hurt(buxton, Donaldson, Maeda, Dobnak, Thorpe, Kirilloff, etc), or for being rookies(so so many).

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    Astudillo is a lot of things: but the main thing he is, is he's awesome. i want a lot of things when i watch baseball. great pitching, good hitting that beats great pitching (not always), close exciting plays and fun. just regular good time fun. smiles. laughs. fun. we get a decent dose of the rest from him and lots of fun.

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    27 minutes ago, USNMCPO said:

    I am in a bind. My wife's two favorite players still on the Twins are Kepler and Tortuga. This could be a rough off-season.

    yeah ... not sure I see Tortuga on this roster after the season ... Kepler is 50-50

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    Simmons has a .221 batting average, was brought in for defensive purposes and has been able to play almost everyday. Kepler at .207 and Cave at .193 both with injuries that hurt the Twins, would have to be ranked higher than Simmons. Astudillo out hits them all with his blistering .249 average and ability to play multiple positions, although none of them exceptionally well. I'm willing to give the new guys a pass for now but not the 2 veterans listed above. Sano is not far behind.

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    8 hours ago, bighat said:

    Tyler Duffey came in with a new 2.2 million contract and was supposed to slam the door in the 7th and 8th inning. But instead he stinks. That's providing little value, especially considering he's making 3x as much as Rogers.

    You have it backwards, Rogers makes $6M this year and Duffey is at $2.2M.

    8 hours ago, Linus said:

    Any list without Jake Cave is incomplete.

    I don't think Cave has played enough to compile a low enough WAR/WPA (only 150 PAs). If he did play more I think he'd crack the list.

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    7 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    Simmons has a .221 batting average, was brought in for defensive purposes and has been able to play almost everyday. Kepler at .207 and Cave at .193 both with injuries that hurt the Twins, would have to be ranked higher than Simmons. Astudillo out hits them all with his blistering .249 average and ability to play multiple positions, although none of them exceptionally well. I'm willing to give the new guys a pass for now but not the 2 veterans listed above. Sano is not far behind.

    How about we look at OBP (if you refuse to consider OPS)…the rate at which players get on base as opposed to making outs?

    How does Austudillo look now?

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    20 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    Simmons has a .221 batting average, was brought in for defensive purposes and has been able to play almost everyday. Kepler at .207 and Cave at .193 both with injuries that hurt the Twins, would have to be ranked higher than Simmons. Astudillo out hits them all with his blistering .249 average and ability to play multiple positions, although none of them exceptionally well. I'm willing to give the new guys a pass for now but not the 2 veterans listed above. Sano is not far behind.

    Kepler hasn't been great this year, but despite the low BA he's been an average hitter because he draws walks and hits for decent power. Throw in his good defense (good in right, average in CF this season...down a bit, probably because of the injuries) and he's basically an average starter. Astudillo is...not. Simmons has been good defensively, but so bad on offense that Kepler has still added more value to the team despite playing abut 20% less.

    Cave has been awful this year, but also literally broke his back. While I don't want him back...I'm gonna give him a bit of a pass.

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