Before we dig into some of the numbers, here’s a quick video on a handful of harder-throwing starting pitchers who could be value targets for the Twins this offseason:
Here is a team-by-team breakdown sorted by average four-seam fastball velocity. It’s color coded, so green is good and red is bad. The information below was gathered from FanGraphs.
As you can see, there’s a fairly strong correlation between teams that throw harder and success. Not only are the Twins near the bottom, there’s also a significant gap between them and the Orioles. That 0.7 mph gap is the same as what separates the fourth-place team from the 15th.
Let’s switch things up a bit and look at pitches in excess of 95.0 mph instead of average fastball velocity. The information below was gathered from Baseball Savant. The color-coded column is percent of pitches thrown at least 95.0 mph.
Being 29th is bad enough, but even if the Twins were to double the number of pitches that were 95+ mph they’d still only rank 22nd. The Kansas City Royals threw 2,501 more pitches 95+ mph than the Twins — or 15 more per game played — and they barely rank in the top half of the league themselves.
Do the Twins have an aversion to high-velocity pitchers? That seems like a crazy question to ask, but let’s take a look at some former Twins prospects who were shipped out in trades.
2021 % of Pitches 95.0+ mph
66.0 Brusdar Graterol
44.2 Luis Gil
38.4 Huascar Ynoa
15.1 MLB Average
6.4 Minnesota Twins
Graterol (Kenta Maeda trade), Gil (Jake Cave trade) and Ynoa (Jaime Garcia trade) all have well above average velo, all were traded away. They also just lost Edwar Colina and his triple-digit heat to waivers. Are the Twins actively avoiding high-octane pitchers? At the very least it sure doesn't feel like they’re making them a priority.
This seems like a great time to revisit the Twins carpool commercial from 2007 featuring Johan Santana and Joe Nathan.
That’s how you win Cy Youngs, baby! While this ia a velocity-obsessed article, pitching in the big leagues is obviously about more than just throwing hard. It sure does seem to help, though.
While the lack of velo is nothing new for the Twins, to be fair, it didn’t prevent them from having successful pitching staffs the previous couple years. Here’s a look at some the numbers throughout the Falvey-era:
Minnesota Twins Four-Seam Fastball Velo
2021: 29th, 92.2 mph (26th in ERA)
2020: 30th, 92.0 mph (4th in ERA)
2019: 24th, 93.0 mph (9th in ERA)
2018: 21st, 92.7 mph (22nd in ERA)
2017: 30th, 92.4 mph (19th in ERA)
Still, any pitcher who tells you he wouldn’t like to throw harder is either a liar or in denial.