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Showing content with the highest reputation since 09/17/2021 in Blog Entries

  1. Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816. On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player. I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers. AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS. So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him. Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened. Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197. Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487. Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs. Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder. In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
    5 points
  2. bean5302

    Grading Falvey's Drafts

    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance. I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development. Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development. I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade. Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection 2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players. So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around. From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here. Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
    5 points
  3. I have seen several overtures to Pineda wanting to stay in Minnesota. That is a hard find in the market and with our need of several starting pitchers, we should take a good look at what it should take to resign the veteran. Here is the article from MlbTraderumors.com I just saw which spurred this blog post. Baldelli Hopes Pineda Will Return To Twins In 2022 - MLB Trade Rumors. I would think its either a 1 or 2 year contract. Since we need money in the budget to sign others its probably in the 8-12 million base guarantee per season. There should be incentives for IP. The size of the guarantee will determine what the incentives should be. I think that with incentives should be able to make in 13-15 million range if he hits 180 innings and that should max out his incentives as he likely will not reach 200 innings.So for my guess I will go with a 2 year 22 million contract with 500,000 incentives starting at 120 innings, 140 innings, 160 innings and 180 innings. for a possible 13 million per season. Do you think he will resign with the Twins and if so how much?
    4 points
  4. Tim

    Jorge Polanco and The Twins

    For as much as a buzzkill the Twins 2021 season was, Jorge Polanco gave many Twins fans a reason to watch. Breaking out in 2019, Polanco hit 22 HRs and drove in 79 RBI with a slash line of .295/.356/.485. Polanco scuffled during the 2020 covid shortened season but was also playing with an ankle injury that required offseason surgery and ultimately a shift to second base. The ankle clean up and position switch seemed to have paid off as Polanco had a career season in 2021. Overall he finished the season with a .269 AVG and an OPS of .826. Oh, and 33 bombs + 98 RBI. That's good for a WAR of 4.8 according to baseballrefrence. One would think now would be a poor time for the Twins to move Jorge Polanco in a trade. The stacked free agent class includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez. Teams looking for a shortstop or second basemen will have plenty of options to chose from. But at what cost? Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are 1A and 1B in the class. Both are expected to receive contracts upwards of 260 million. Trevor Story had a down year offensively, but still grades out as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He also is only 28 and teams will convince themselves he returns to form at the plate... 150-175 million sound right? Marcus Semien's fantastic 2021 campaign probably netted him a deal north of 115 million, as he was a top 5 hitter in baseball for much of the season. Javier Baez is a complete toss up for me. He is incredibly streaky at the plate, but got hot during his stint with the Mets and switched his approach at the plate. His ability to move around the diamond defensively and play a solid shortstop, second, and third is still a huge asset. You can't deny the flair and energy he brings to a team as well, star power means tickets... I'd guess a team buys in and pays close to 100 million. While there are plenty of options teams can go on the open market, none will sign cheap. Aside from potentially Baez, you aren't bringing any of those players in for less than 100 mil, at the minimum. Fortunately, for the teams hesitant to commit that type of money, there is another option. Jorge Polanco **Before I'm slandered below for suggesting the Twins should trade their 2021 MVP, consider the facts.** Contract - Jorge Polanco, currently 27, is signed through 2025 at what is essentially a 4 year 35.5 million dollar contract. When you stack that up against what the market is going to command for the available options, that deal is an absolute bargain. Internal Replacements - Second Base is really a position of strength for the Twins. Luis Arraez, still only 24 and under team control until 2026, has a career .313 AVG and .374 OBP over 275 games .. Yes, you are missing out on the power, but baseballreference had his 2021 WAR at 3.4, so by no means is it a massive downgrade. He isn't arb. eligible until 2023 as well.. Nick Gordon or the crown jewel in the Berrios deal, Austin Martin, could also be guys that could step into the position at some point next year. State of The Organization - The Twins need to look at this an opportunity to try and expedite the rebuilding process. Reality is 2022 is going to be a lost year, regardless of whether Polanco is on the roster or not. Is 2023 the year? Who knows, a lot will need to go right for the Twins between now and then .. But at that point you've only lost value on a player that will have 2 years remaining on his steal of a contract. If you are hesitant to put Polanco in the same tier as the players in this upcoming FA class, Since 2019, here's where Polanco stacks up against the top middle infielders. That's a 3 year sample size of productivity that puts him square in the discussion offensively as a top tier middle infielder. Yes I am aware that some players on the list were injured, but that's apart of the game. Polanco was too. Who might be interested? The best fit for Polanco would be an organization that is entering their window to compete for a championship. Given how cheap his contract is, teams would have the ability to sign free agent starting pitching, which typically works out better, than say giving a position player like Javy Baez a 5 year / 100 million dollar deal. That model seems to have paid off for the Astros as well as the Dodgers to some extent. What teams fit that bill? I highly doubt an organization will trade for Polanco with intentions of playing him at short. So i'll highlight just teams with a second base need, There's a few, here are my favorite options. The Mariners, who received a 0.3 WAR from the second base position this past year, would be a great trade partner for the Twins. They don't really have a solidified plan at 2nd and on the prospect side it's slim. Ranked with Baseball Americas top farm system, they have plenty of intriguing pitching prospects to deal from. Emerson Hancock, Matt Brash, George Kirby, and Brandon Williamson all look to be be starters long-term.. (I believe Brash will be the best) .... What about Noelvi Marte? one can dream. Miami has reportedly been getting pressure from ownership to win now and could be a possibility. This would mean they are comfortable moving Jazz Chisholm from 2nd to Short .. If they are, the Marlins hands down have the most pitching prospect depth to deal from in all of baseball. Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, Eury Perez, and Jack Eder (though recovering from TJ) all could be in play ... (I'll take Perez of the 4 please). If the Blue Jays prioritize Robbie Ray over Marcus Semien, count them in as a Polanco fit. Toronto is right in their go for it window and may lean toward having a proven veteran to replace the production rather than banking on a prospect. A package of Orlevis Martinez/Jordan Gorshans and Nate Pearson doesn't sound all too bad. __ The Twins have a lot of work to do if they wanna get on back on track in the coming years.. This is all speculation, though I think it certainly is a route the Twins have to at least explore this winter. Regardless, of what you want the Twins to do with Polanco, there is no denying he would bring back a haul. That might be the best thing for the Twins sustaining long-term success. *Also, don't check Baseballtradevalues.com for the prospects I mentioned. It rarely is correct, as most of us learned with the deals that occurred at the deadline.
    3 points
  5. Like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach has failed to impress in his rookie season, but Larnach has a lot more wiggle room for many fans. Larnach is, after all, 2 years younger than Rooker and Larnach barely played above the A+ ball level with only 181 plate appearances in AA in 2019. The loss of the 2020 season made a mess out of a lot of the projections for prospects with the prospects who were getting their first taste of the high minors in AA probably being hit the hardest. Larnach’s production this year hasn’t been what fans had hoped for, but with his limited upper MiLB experience, there’s reason to hope it was bad luck or a single pitch that troubled him on way to his .223/.322/.350, .677 OPS, wRC+ 89, OPS+ 88, wOBA .301 performance across a significant 301 appearances at the plate. Since Larnach doesn’t have the MiLB track record Rooker does, it’s important to take a peek at who Larnach was expected to be. Prior to his draft year in 2018, Larnach was a 40th round draft pick out of high school in 2015 and wasn’t considered a high round pick before his breakout junior season at Oregon State. Year Level Age AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS 2016 Oregon St. Freshman .157 .271 .176 .019 .448 2017 Oregon St. Sophomore .303 .421 .429 .126 .850 2018 Oregon St. Junior .348 .463 .652 .304 1.116 2018 Rk / Low-A a21 .303 .390 .500 .197 .890 2019 A+ / AA a22 .309 .384 .458 .149 .842 2021 MLB a24 .223 .322 .350 .127 .672 2021 AAA a24 .176 .323 .373 .197 .695 After the draft, MLB.com had Larnach as the Twins’ 6th ranked prospect and gave him scouting grades as follows: Hit 55, Power 55, Run 40, Arm 55, Field 50, Overall 50. Larnach was widely considered a bat only prospect due to his poor speed limiting Larnach to projections of a serviceable defensive option in left field. Larnach’s hit tool was considered very advanced as he drove the ball hard off the bat, had experience in the Cape Cod league with wooden bats against high levels of competition and used the entire field which largely made him immune to shifts. That said, Larnach’s hit tool wasn’t considered plus-plus because of the fair amount of swing and miss at the plate. Once in college, Larnach had raw strength and bat speed from putting on 50lbs of weight to his high school frame, but his draft stock stayed low through his sophomore year as he needed to hit for power to generate high interest levels. When Larnach’s power appeared to blossom with 19 home runs in 2018 as a junior in a tough college division, scouts rocketed Larnach up the draft ranks despite the limited track record as it was always felt he had the potential to grow into the long ball. Unfortunately, Larnach’s swing looks to be more like Joe Mauer than Justin Morneau so the home run power hasn’t re-materialized and 2018’s long ball show is beginning to look more like an aberration than the norm. Larnach’s ceiling is likely far lower now, but it doesn’t mean he can’t provide value at the MLB level using only an advanced hit tool and serviceable defense in the corners; he’s just not going to be projecting as a regular All Star. That would still be a huge win for the front office. So let’s dive into the metrics to see what’s going on cause this year was ugly. First off, was Larnach just unlucky in his first taste of the big show? Luck can bounce both ways and a half season worth of baseball can quickly shift around across a full season of plate appearances. AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .223 .322 .350 .672 .301 Expected* .208 .309 .369 .678 .304 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .209 which results in 54.34 hits, but since that’s not a real number, I rounded down to 54 hits. His xSLG was .368 which resulted in 95.68 bases so I rounded up to 96 for xSLG calcs. I used Larnach’s actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS. There isn’t an obvious luck factor to see in the numbers. A few points of AVG loss is more than made up for by some SLG improvement. As a player who was touted as using the whole field, Larnach has been pretty pull heavy with a 39.9% / 33.5% / 26.6% pull, center, opposite ratio, from BaseballSavant, but it’s not a profile where the split would be particularly effective. Still, Fangraphs reports MLB teams frequently deployed the shift against Larnach anyway. None of Larnach’s home runs went to the opposite field this year with virtually everything in left field just winding up as a single. The lack of home runs and extra base hits is to be expected once Larnach’s batted ball data is reviewed; he’s been a heavy ground ball hitter at about 45% grounders. Fangraphs and BaseballSavant differ in the fly ball data with Fangraphs showing 35.4% vs. BaseballSavant’s 29.7%. Despite the relatively poor outcomes for Larnach, he does hit the ball fairly hard as advertised with an above average 90.0 mph exit velocity, and MLB average-ish 41.1% hard hit and 9.5% barrel rates according to Statcast metrics. Larnach’s reported launch angle should be a productive, but non-optimal 13.1* despite all the grounders. It’s also worth looking into his splits performance, since he is a lefty. In regard to that, he was utterly unplayable against LHP with a wRC+ of 44, but his performance against RHP isn’t truly good enough to justify a platoon role with a wRC+ of 109. It does provide some silver lining since southpaws throw less than 30% of innings at the MLB level. A step forward could make Larnach a platoon type player. All this brings us to plate discipline. Larnach’s solid enough 10.3% walk rate suggests he has a capable enough eye at the plate, but the 34.6% strikeout rate is well below MLB average so lets dig in here a bit. Warning… here’s where it goes off the rails. Larnach has a somewhat better than average O-swing% (swings outside the strike zone) which supports the argument for an MLB caliber eye at the plate shown in the chart. However, the PitchFX and PitchInfo data from Fangraphs O-contact% rates at abysmal 38.2% and 32.9%, respectively. Expanding beyond the O-swing results shows Larnach is passive at the plate, swinging only 43.8% of the time (bottom 17.5%) with the 3rd worst contact rate among the 252 batters with 300+ plate appearances in MLB this year. Lending support to being passive at the plate, Larnach takes a called strike 18.1% of the time, which is more often than over 3/4 of other MLB batters. Honestly, it looks like Larnach is struggling to tell balls from strikes so he’s hoping for a walk or a meatball, but when he does swing, he often misjudges the pitch and winds up whiffing. In fact, whiffing more often than 96% of other MLB batters with 300+ plate appearances based on Fangraphs’ data. It’s bad. It’s real bad. We know Larnach is struggling with pitch recognition based on the data, but is it a specific pitch or pitch category where he might be able to adjust his game to prevent being exposed? Unfortunately, no. Larnach crushes 4 seam fastballs, but he doesn’t really hit much else. The data from BaseballSavant shows he’s utterly outmatched by MLB secondary pitches in general. xBA xSLG xwOBA Whiff% Fastball .266 .515 .377 22.3 Breaking .155 .236 .260 55.0 Offspeed .158 .225 .192 54.0 Looking into Larnach’s run value by pitch on BaseballSavant shows Larnach cannot identify a changeup (18.4% of pitches), cannot handle sliders (19.0% of pitches) and also struggles greatly against sinkers (15.9% of pitches). Larnach has been a little better than MLB average against curveballs (11.3% of pitches), though. Essentially, don’t throw Larnach a 4 seamer or curveball and the opposing pitcher will probably be fine. It’s worth noting Fangraphs’ data from PitchFX and PitchInfo both back up BaseballSavant’s data. Comparing Larnach to other MLB hitters based on PitchFX data from Fangraphs, Larnach is in the bottom 5% for changeup and bottom 30% for the slider performance, but that’s a raw runs produced number without context of how many pitches he’s seen of each. Looking at BaseballSavant, Larnach is bottom 4% for changeup (7/175), 9% for slider (25/290) and 11% for sinker (25/245) per pitch seen, based on hitters with at least 50 plate appearances vs. those pitches. There are literally no pitches which Larnach produces positive value other than the 4 seam fastball… and maybe ever so slightly, the curveball depending on the source. Defensively, Larnach’s speed is his limiting factor already at just age 24. Larnach’s sprint speed is 26.5ft/sec which is significantly below median for MLB or corner outfielders at 27.3 or 27.5ft/sec, respectively. That said, Larnach does accelerate to his top speed quickly and he’s been an average MLB route runner despite limited experience. This lives up to the scouting reports at draft day which said Larnach possesses good baseball instincts in the field to help make up for his disadvantage in speed. In addition, Larnach has arm strength which is graded above average which should help prevent base runners from confidently stretching their hits for another base or carelessly tagging to advance. Larnach is unlikely to ever be an average or plus defender on the field, but he may remain serviceable for a few years, especially with good positioning and a steady position to play. Let’s summarize the good and bad here. On the good side of things, Larnach can clearly crush 4 seamers and was solid against curveballs despite his limited experience against high level pitching and loss of the 2020 season for development against full competition. Pitchers looking to get an out aren’t going to be able to do it with Larnach at the plate simply by throwing heat past him as he’ll catch up to it and make them pay and woe be the righty pitcher who with a 4 seamer and curveball as their bread and butter. When Larnach makes contact with his swings, he hits the ball a little better than the MLB average hitter with good exit velocity and he was able to accomplish those things despite having very little experience at the high MiLB level. Larnach’s instincts in the field are good, he makes the most of his physical abilities and the combination of skills and ability allow him to play corner outfield effectively enough so he’s not a glorified DH at this point in his career. Furthermore, Larnach was just getting a good taste of AA before the lost 2020 season and his call up to the MLB squad was potentially hastened by other player injuries, perhaps a bit earlier than the Twins wanted. With encouraging numbers from AA in 2019, the 2021 campaigns struggles may just be a bad season influenced by confidence issues and Larnach is still relatively young coming into his age 25 season next year. Finally, Larnach has plenty of MLB options left to give him room to take a step forward. Of course, that’s the optimistic view. On the not good side, Larnach is not particularly young for a prospect, either as he approaches the end point for prospect status at age 25, and while he did lose out on 2020 in terms of professional seasons, he was part of the Twins alternate site where he got a lot of valuable coaching time. Larnach was arguably more advanced than other college juniors when he was drafted because of his experience in the Cape Cod league which uses wooden bats and he was scouted as a polished bat who wouldn’t need much time to get up to MLB ready. He’s had some time now and his small, but somewhat relevant sample size from his demotion to AAA wasn’t encouraging. There’s a big difference between AA and AAA when it comes to location and refinement of pitches, the polish, so to speak. There are a lot of players who can’t make that adjustment and given how poorly Larnach handled MLB pitches, it may not be a coincidence he wasn’t able to hit in AAA. In fact, Larnach was totally and completely outmatched by most pitches MLB pitchers throw and his track record, age, current swing and batted ball data don’t leave a lot of room for power projection so being the kind of hitter who can simply punish any mistake for a home run like Sano doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. Clearly, it would be foolish to write Trevor Larnach off at this point, but there's good reason to cool his stock dramatically. Let's hope he can make some adjustments to prove this data isn't the norm and he just had a bad season!
    3 points
  6. Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat? Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data: AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0 The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest. 2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB… It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken. That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG. Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA. The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production. Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps. So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s. Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
    2 points
  7. the_neds

    Let Me Talk About Catchers

    The Minnesota Twins have four catchers in the conversation for the 2022 season that I can see - even if some of those conversations aren’t going to be very long. Let’s start with what I consider one of those quick ones. Willians Astudillo La Tortuga is a folk hero, and we love him. Everyone loves our relief pitching, chubby base-running, helmet losing backup-backup-backup catcher. But at this point, keeping him on the 40 man is pretty much just keeping someone else with more value off of it. He doesn’t have a defensive upside apart from being able to plug a hole at most fielding positions - not any of them particularly well - and batted at .238 in the Majors this year, which really isn’t good enough to leapfrog other waiting catchers with long term defensive upside. I just don’t see a realistic expectation that he is going to play out as an average or better member of the team, and should probably be signed to a Minors deal. The fact that he’s listed on the 40-man as a 1B is a pretty good indicator of how he ranks in terms of Minnesota catchers. 2022 Prediction - Will not break camp with Twins, will not make 40-man roster. Now onto the catchers that I figure will be involved in the plans for the Twins. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that I mean Garver, Jeffers and Rortvedt. I’ve included their stats for the year as a refresher (via FanGraphs). Offensive Stats 2021 Defensive Stats 2021 Mitch Garver Mitch is my Do Not Trade catcher. Whilst he pretty much grades out average in terms of catcher defense, his 2019 season and the mid to latter half of the 2021 season (barring That Injury We Don’t Like To Think About) make him by far - and I mean far - the most productive catcher we have offensively. He ranked 13th amongst catchers in AVG (min 50 PA), 7th in OBP and 5th in slugging, finishing the year on .256/.358/.517. He was definitely struggling at the plate early on, but he did settle in and he was playing pretty darn well before he spent five weeks dealing with that groin injury and another four with back tightness. If someone honestly wants to take Garver off our hands, I see it taking an extremely sizeable haul because at the moment he’s our safest bet. Yes he’s older than the other two and has had some injury, and a veteran catcher to split time with them wouldn’t cost much if we do trade him, but like I’ve said - unless the promised return is huge I don’t see why we’d deal a catcher who hits like that. 2022 Prediction - will not be traded, breaks camp as Opening Day catcher for the Twins. Ryan Jeffers Jeffers actually took the lion’s share of games this year thanks to Garver’s injuries and whilst he is projected to end up as the better defensive catcher (though this year Garver was ranked 93rd percentile in pitch framing per Baseball Savant to Jeffers’ 74), his bat just did not carry this year. To the point where - had we had another catcher ready - I imagine he would have been sent to St Paul to work it out. He managed an average of just .199 across 267 at-bats. I have faith though, that his bat will grade out to average and in my mind, he’s probably the one who will end up taking the most time behind the plate if the Twins attempt to rotate the DH role for the 2022 season (which I think they will). Let’s not forget he had a pretty darn good 2020 season with his bat, finishing with a stat line of .273/.355/.436/, which was a tick above league average. He’s got the goods, I just think he caught a bad case of the sophomore slump. Hard work required, but Jeffers will hang around long term. 2022 Prediction - he will break camp with the Twins and split catching duties with Garver. Ben Rortvedt I’m just going to get this out of the way. He’s got huge arms, okay? We’ve seen them. And defensively, he’s projected to have the highest upside of all four catchers. But in terms of Major League production, he’s just not ready. Batting at .169 for the year (over 87 PA), his OBP was a paltry .227, far below the league average .317, and slugged at just .281. This places him second last in all Twins hitting categories with just Gilberto Celestino ranking lower in AVG and OBP, and Andrelton Simmons ranking last in SLG. His defense has him ranked above Jeffers in terms of overall WPA for the year, but the bat is going to need to improve drastically if he’s going to make league average, or even a low-offense/high-defense combo. There is the chance a team could carry a slightly below average hitter if he has a huge defensive upside (Simmons anyone?) but there’s not many that would take that kind of offensive shortage. He needs to start 2022 in the minors, have a solid spring, and work on his offense. 2022 Prediction - he’ll probably make the 40-man, but will spend the year in St Paul working on his bat skills. Let me talk a minute on a Garver trade. As I already said, I don’t like the idea at all. And honestly, is he valuable enough to another team (apart from the Marlins, who Cody Christie wrote about already) for them to trade with proven, high quality pitching? Because that’s what the return needs to be. The Twins have a whole heap of prospect arms at/about to be tested in the Majors in the upcoming season but we need impact rotation pitching now. I don't know if Garver on his own would bring enough back for us... maybe if he was in a package deal? If the 2022 season includes a universal DH, Mitch Garver becomes more valuable. His average this season was only just above league average, but his slugging percentage - when viewed with his 2019 Silver Slugger - mean he might draw interest from a National League team looking to possibly platoon through the DH, or who struggle to find a bat only DH at good value. He’s still in arbitration, made less than $2M this year, and is projected to make a hair over $3M next year. Compare that to the $13M we paid Nelson Cruz just to hit, and he becomes a much more valuable piece to a broader audience. I like the combo of Garver and Jeffers for next year. They seem to have a decent balance sorted out and provided Jeffers can get his bat to click in 2022, there’s no need to create a problem at catcher when we have enough things we need to address.
    1 point
  8. Brandon

    Grading Falvey and CO

    I guess its time to grade Falvey and CO at the 5 year mark of their run. They came in with a young roster with lots of promise in 2017. They were on the fringes of contention so they decided to go for it and traded for a pitcher. They traded Ynoa who is now a starter for the Braves. It took the Braves 4+ year to develop him so I don't hold that against this regime. I consider it similar to when we acquired Bartlett who panned out but wasn't a name prospect. after a week He changed course and sold off some players and netted us a few prospects In 2017 we went 85-77 and won the Wild Card anyhow and lost in the wild card game. and this year they drafted Lewis, Rooker, Enlow, Barnes, Ober, and Sammons, Sammons is still on the farm. I didnt see any other names as prospects. Overall this was a great draft based on the McPhail philosophy of bringing up 2-3 players a year so a draft that produces more cant be discounted. in 2018 we went 77-85 They tried several patches in FA and they failed. Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn were not good Addison Reed was bad in the pen, They stole Odorizzi from Tampa Bay in a trade and made something of Magill who was a serviceable back of the pen reliever who finally seem to make it with Minnesota at 29. Ehire Adrianza and Zack Duke were solid signings for depth on the bench and bullpen. but the big signings were failures. The draft again looks strong Larnarch, Jeffers, Winder, Sands, and Funderbunk. I think we also signed Severino to a minor league contract who is still a prospect and considered a 1rst round talent at the time and traded nothing (I mean international salary cap space for 2 prospects a C who is currently at AAA and Pearson an OF that I dont know what happened to him.) in 2019 we went 101-61. Great team great results. Signed Schoop and Cron to 1 year deals and won on both. though Cron got hurt signed Cruz for the best Free agent signing since 1991. (lets face it signing Morris and Chili Davis were the 2 best signings since they gave us a World Series Winner). The Twins signed Martin Perez to a low budget deal and got 10 wins and ok 5th starter. The 2017 signing of Pineda worked out great. Ryne Harper, Cody Stashak, Zack Littell, Randy Dobnak, came out of no where to do a great job. other signings were ok and a few were awful (Sam Dyson) its early to grade the draft. I still see 7 or 8 players as prospects including Canterino, Wallner, Steer, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Louie Varland and the quetionable #1 draft pick Cavaco. In 2020 There was no minor league season this throws a wrench into development big time. but the Twins drafted 4 players and still have Sabato who has power. Soulaire sounds familiar and I don't know the others at all. the Twins went 36-24 which is a 60% winning percentage and pace for over 100 wins again. The Twins signed Donaldson and he did fine when not hurt. They Acquired the #2 in the Cy Young race for a prospect who is a solid reliever at this point and not much else. Brought in Theilbar and Wisler to the pen as a success. Clippard and Romo were good too but Romo was wearing down towards the end of the season. In 2021 The Twins are reeling from a lack of 2020 minor league season. Their depth starters were hurt almost all season Dobnak, Duran, Smeltzer, and Thorpe, Happ and Shoemaker were not good signings. At least Happ would pitch well enough to be in games most of the time. but Shoemaker was bad and the situation was made worse with the depth unavailable to replace him. Colone also blew a bunch of saves the first month of the season to help derail it. at least he rebounded and was ok the rest of the way. Maeda got hurt and that was always a possibility with the contract he signed and everything so again I will not let this count against the grade either cause it was already planned for in terms of a contract which doesnt cripple our plans this offseason. Buxton, Garver, and Killeroff spent lots of time on the DL. Simmons was a bust with the bat, Kepler regressed. the offense is still above average and here next year. They also rebounded in the bullpen. After starting out the pen failed miserably The Twins rebuilt with waver claims and ended with a strong pen down the stretch, one of the best in the league. That was important since the rotation imploded beyond all belief and we traded our rotation rock Berrios to Toronto. Ober and Ryan look to be future rotation arms moving forward. Maeda will recover, and Pineda is hoping to return to the Twins so we seem close to a workable rotation. We lost 2 key prospects to the rule 5 draft last offseason who performed real well this year and in areas of need for Minnesota which hurt. But to be fair neither player played much the last 2 seasons before being taken. I wouldn't stash them either on the roster. Tyler Wells was close for me cause I thought he was near Major League ready when he got injured but I don't blame the Twins for that . The Twins have developed several pitching prospects that will be up next season so this year there was some good in the minors but the pitchers were all limited due to last year too. Winder, Duran, Balazovic, Sands, and traded for Woods-Richardson so we do have those prospects who should be in AAA and knocking on the door .... We started this season 5-2 then went 9-25 to drop 13 games below .500. If we win tomorrow we finish 16 games below .500 for the season so we at least rebounded being around a .500 team even with an imploding rotation the rest of the season. Its not the season I wanted but the core which can compete is still together on the position player side. I bet that if we had 2020 to develop minor league pitching we would have had the depth to make this a better season. so from where I stand the Twins did a lot right. they did a few things wrong and we have an opportunity to right the ship and move forward. I will reserve giving a full grade until after this offseason when we know how the rotation will shape out for next season and if we sign Buxton to a long term extension. Without that knowledge They get a B. With the Buxton extension and with good starting pitching for next season the grade goes up to a B+ maybe A- Probably should add list of minor league talent list that haunts today. Nick Anderson, Zack Littel, Ynoa, Luis Gil, LaMonte Wade Jr, Akil Baddoo, Tyler Wells. Am I missing anyone? This blog was written in response to Tom Froemming's video about grading Falvey and Levine.
    1 point
  9. stringer bell

    Settling in at Shortstop

    The Minnesota Twins are completing one of their most disappointing seasons in their history in one week. While they will only win around 70 games, they have major league talent under team control at every position except one--shortstop. Andrelton Simmons was acquired on a one-year deal and has shown himself to be a competent (not all-world) defender and has had a putrid offensive season. The consensus at this site is that he should not and will not return in 2022. By all measures, the 2021 Simmons has been among the worst hitters in MLB. Good luck elsewhere Simba. It didn't work out in Minnesota. Who replaces Simmons as the everyday SS next year? I think the question is interesting. The Twins can go several different directions, including moving Jorge Polanco back to short. I would think that any shortstop decision has to be made with an eye on some of the Twins top prospects. Royce Lewis will miss all of 2021 following knee surgery. Lewis has the potential to be the kind of five-tool star that Byron Buxton has teased us with when he has been healthy. Lewis also has a minor league resume that is considerably short of his potential and there are murmurs that he won't end up as a shortstop. Another top prospect is Austin Martin, obtained in the José Berríos trade, He also has a history at shortstop, but exclusively played outfield for Wichita since he was acquired by the Twins. Martin seems to have a much more refined hit tool than Lewis, with a high OBP and relatively low strikeouts. He hasn't demonstrated big power in the minors, however. Do the Twins believe either of these guys will be their everyday shortstop next year? I really doubt it. Lewis has almost no experience in the high minors and has essentially missed two years of baseball and while it is quite likely that Martin will make his major league debut next season, his most likely position will be outfield. A third minor league option is Wichita's regular shortstop this season, Jermaine Palacios. He has had a power surge and has been a shortstop through his minor league career. Could he make the jump? At least to start 2022, I think all three guys are longshots to even be on the major league roster. Of course, there are two possible candidates on the big league roster. Polanco has almost 500 games played at short, and while he isn't league average with the leather, he is a proven hitter. Nick Gordon has impressed, but despite playing a lot of shortstop in the minors, he's only logged 43 innings at short in this, his rookie year, with the Twins. Again, I have my doubts. However, I think the readiness of a replacement from the organization is the key to determining what type of player the Twins will seek to fill the void at shortstop. If they are convinced that one of their prospects will be an everyday shortstop in the majors by 2023, then the focus would be on more of a stopgap player, perhaps someone who might start the season as a regular, but could evolve into a utility player. If the feeling is that none of the prospects in the high minors can cut it as an everyday shortstop by 2023, then they have to sign someone with a bit more permanence. Signing someone from outside the organization for more than one year also would seem to create a glut of major league players. Sano and Kirilloff at first, Polanco, Arraez and Gordon at second, Donaldson at third with also Arraez capable at the hot corner. Add in that their near-certain Minor League Player of the Year, Jose Miranda, can fill first second and third and there seems to be too many players for the infield and DH positions. One additional thought--while he didn't get much love from Twins fans, I think the Twins missed Ehire Adrianza, or at least someone who could fill the role of Adrianza. Moving Polanco to shortstop whenever Simmons was hit for or had a day off seemed to disrupt the entire infield. Having a true backup shortstop who could fill in at other positions would have been a good thing for the Twins' roster. Having such a player in addition to Adrianza and Gordon might make the position player part of the roster very crowded. The frontline defense for the Twins was pretty good, but it seemed whenever a starter was subbed out, it would be for an inferior defender, sometimes weakening more than one position. I think that there is enough talent on the position player side for the Twins to contend, perhaps as soon as next year. To achieve the dream of contending, they would have to come up with pitching, but the late-season performances of Ryan and Ober offer hope that they might be pieces of the puzzle next year and that the minor leagues could possibly start producing good quality pitching from within the organization. There are decisions to be made. I don't see any clear path to solving the shortstop position problem, but there have to be answers somewhere. Falvey and Levine need to make the right choices in several areas to help bring the club back. Their jobs may depend on the choices they make.
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  10. Forget the fact that 2020 was an uncharacteristically weird and difficult year in and of itself, trying to deduce anything from the shortened baseball season proved impossible. Back to a more traditional slate in 2021, we have some storylines to actually dive into. Rather than focusing just on the Minnesota Twins, I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at the division as a whole. The AL Central was projected to be among baseball’s worst, and while that may be true, there are some signs of hope across the board. New contenders emerged, and talents have risen. Here’s a few of my takeaways from each of the competitors within the division. Chicago White Sox Expected to compete with the Twins for an AL Central division title, Chicago ran away with it. Up by more than double-digits for most of the second half, this season was not the Southsiders playing little brother to the nationally branded Cubs anymore. This wasn’t much of a race from about May on, and that was definitely to Chicago’s credit. Tony La Russa’s club dealt with more injuries than anyone in the division, and despite depth seeming like a question, they weather and excelled through the storm. Luis Robert looks like an absolute problem, and Eloy Jimenez is going to hit a boatload of homers. Lance Lynn has been a Cy Young candidate all year, and Liam Hendriks has been every bit the stud closer he was signed to be. Sustainability appears to be there for the White Sox, and if anyone wants to knock them off their throne they’ll need to rise up in a big way. If there’s opportunity for Chicago it may come down to a lack of challenge. They’ve played .500 baseball since mid-season, but they haven’t had anyone provide a test within the division. Depending on how the Postseason goes for them, tenacity could be ratcheted up in 2022 and a 100-win campaign may be their next goal to surpass. Cleveland The most notable thing that Cleveland has done this year may be changing their name to the Guardians. This was a team expected to take a step backwards and it has. Built largely around stud pitching, they’ve dealt with substantial injuries to the rotation. Once baseball cracked down on sticky substances, few organizations found it more detrimental than these guys did. Star reliever James Karinchak is a mess, and there’s more uncertainty about a future direction for this club than ever. Jose Ramirez remains a stud, but it still was probably a down year by his standards. Team options remain each of the next two seasons, and while it will be picked up, there’s little reason for a talent like this to be a part of a rebuild. Cleveland doesn’t have much around the diamond, has remained lost in the outfield, and they could be looking at Terry Francona deciding his health won’t allow for a return. Consistently one of the division’s best, this is definitely looking like an opportunity for a changing of the guard. They haven’t been horrible by any means, but the lack of anything noteworthy happening for Cleveland this season is about as descriptive as one could imagine. Detroit Tigers Arguably one of the best surprises this season has been the emergence of the Detroit Tigers. Under new management in the form of A.J. Hinch, this isn’t a Ron Gardenhire club looking to get through to the next wave anymore. Detroit has been the best team in the division since about the halfway point, and that’s scary for anyone uncertain if they’re figuring it out. Miguel Cabrera reached his milestone, but this team is all about the youth movement. Matt Manning made his debut, Casey Mize has looked the part at times, and Akil Baddoo has looked like one of the best Rule 5 Draft selections in history. Add in that top prospects like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are both at Triple-A and the talent pool gets even scarier for this club. I’m not sure we’ve seen enough to suggest Detroit is making the leap in 2022 yet, but there’s no doubt the arrow for the organization is pointing straight up. Hinch is a good man to lead them. The front office needs to be a bit more forward thinking and show aggressiveness, but the Tigers don’t reside in the doldrums anymore. Kansas City Royals I picked the Royals to unseat Cleveland for third in the division this year, and while they’re six games behind, the narrative is of a fast start and then quickly gassing out. Kansas City made some interesting moves this offseason in hopes of raising their water level. Most of them had safe floors and low ceilings. With peaks coming early for a lot of that talent, they sputtered quickly and never really leveled off. The Royals are in a weird spot with many of their regulars. Salvador Perez put up a career year but will be 32-years-old despite now being signed through 2025. Carlos Santana has not been good, and Andrew Benintendi needed a late season surge to save his slash line. The rotation has seen some great exposure for youth like Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, and even Jackson Kowar. Is it enough to jumpstart the turnaround in 2022 though? Helping the Royals out will be a pair of infielders ready to rake. Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Prato both appear big-league ready, and they should be able to step in quickly next season. This is a team with plenty of questions, not a ton of certain answers, but some very intriguing options. Minnesota Twins If there was a group that failed in the division there’s no where else to turn than the Twins. Expected to defend two straight division titles, they never made things interesting with Chicago. Pitching started out a disaster and then shifted between which group was to blame. The offense took a while to get going, and then major injury issues set them back again. Three of the best developments this season came in the form of health proving performance for Jorge Polanco, Mitch Garver, and Byron Buxton. The two former talents had down years with small sample sizes while playing through injury last season. Buxton only further substantiated that he’s among the best in the game when available. Both of the first two will be back, and while the third is under contract, he’s a year from free agency and the organization much decide which way to go. Baldelli will be working through adversity for the first offseason of his career. Derek Falvey must retool the roster with talent that can be paired with youth in order to take a step forward. It was also made abundantly clear that too much depth is never a problem you’ll have. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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  11. We’ve had several threads/articles lately about next season … what you think the 2022 lineup will be, who do we want to sign, what are our positions of most need, will certain players have a place on the team next year. All very good discussions. And not too far in the future, we’ll be having discussions on which prospects should be added to the roster. But before we get to all of those, there are larger looming discussions and decisions regarding the 40-man roster … who stays, who goes. When I thought about doing this thread, I ran into a lot of difficulty exactly how to do this. It seemed easy enough initially … who should the Twins jettison? Well, after thinking about it, a lot, hemming and hawing, trying to learn more about the status of individual players (something I am not well-versed in, I fully admit), and after discussing with others what I wanted to discuss, (thank you @ashbury, @Otto von Ballpark and @Brock Beauchamp), I realized the question might not be ‘who do we jettison’, but rather’ Who should we keep?’ I found the question to be, well, daunting. It’s really a big puzzle when it comes down to it. Time is a precious commodity. You want to maximize the time you have of your best prospects/players, so you don’t want to add them before they are ready, so you can capitalize on their best years; and don’t want to jettison a struggling player too soon, only to see them finally figure it out elsewhere. We’ve been down that road, too. Once a player is added, removing them certainly means losing them, if they have any kind of potential, great or small. You want to make sure you’ve really done your due diligence to determine the value you have. So, this 40-man thing is one to be cautious with. In a recent conversation I had with Brock, he said this: “I think of it this way: about 35 spots of the 40-man are locked down with good prospects or MLB veterans. An org might play fast and loose with those final 3-4 spots but they spend A LOT of effort avoiding tampering with that 35 unless they have confidence in what they’re doing.” So … part one of this discussion … position players on the Twins’ 40-man roster … who should the Twins keep? We won’t see these decisions come to fruition all at once. It will happen gradually. I’m sure the Twins have made some decisions already, but others will ‘hang out’ until which time the Twins either feel they have a better replacement, decide to make trades, need the space for prospect additions, or feel they’ve just reached the ‘end of the road’ with them. So … of the listed players, who would you keep? Discuss any reasoning below. STATUS PLAYER Options FA FA if outrighted? 28-man Luis Arraez 2 in 2026 (arb eligible 2023) YES 28-man Byron Buxton n/a FA in 2023 YES 28-man Jorge Polanco 0 signed through 2023, club options for 2024 and 2025 YES 28-man Josh Donaldson n/a signed through 2023, club option for 2024 YES 28-man Max Kepler n/a signed through 2023, club options for 2024 YES 28-man Mitch Garver 2 FA in 2024 YES 28-man Miguel Sanó n/a signed through 2022, club option for 2023 YES 28-man Nick Gordon 0 YES 28-man Andrelton Simmons n/a At end of season 28-man Ryan Jeffers 2 28-man Willians Astudillo 1 YES 28-man Jake Cave 1 FA in 2025, arb eligible 2022 YES 28-man Brent Rooker 2 60IL Kyle Garlick 1 YES 60IL Alex Kirilloff 2 10IL Rob Refsnyder 0 YES 40-man Ben Rortvedt 2 40-man Drew Maggi 3 YES 40-man Trevor Larnach 2 40-man Gilberto Celestino 1 YES Many thanks to Otto who did this chart for me, and I filled in some of the contract info, and to Brock and Ash for bearing with my endless questions.
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  12. Suggesting that 2020 was an awful year for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. Even with the small sample size, he left plenty to be desired going into the season. But now, where has the dust settled? In trying to play a season through a global pandemic plenty was made regarding the small sample size even a full slate of games would provide. Offering players just 60 games of runway largely invalidated the length necessary for baseball statistics to normalize. For Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver, the total was just 23 games and his .511 OPS looked like a far cry from his Bomba Squad contributions a year prior. Shelved for the stretch run, Garver ceded time to rookie Ryan Jeffers. The 2018 draftee was selected for his bat and the .791 OPS through his first 26 games at the big league level made things interesting. It appeared that the Twins would either have a nice tandem if Mitch returned to form, or that their new pick would unseat the veteran. Fast forward to where we are today, and the roles have reversed. Through 79 games this season Jeffers has just a .666 OPS and was demoted to Triple-A in favor of non-hitting defensive option Ben Rortvedt. Garver meanwhile has rebounded to the tune of an .880 OPS but again has been hampered by injuries and played in just 61 games. Missing most of his time this season due to an unfortunate foul ball ricochet, it’s fair to suggest that Garver’s injury situation has been fluky at best. Recently a nagging back has kept him out, but a return to the lineup for the final two weeks has now commenced. The production itself has returned, but we’re dealing with a sample that would’ve been considered too small just a season ago. That leaves Derek Falvey and Thad Levine in an interesting position going into the offseason. 2020 saw the Twins opting for a split with veteran backstop Alex Avila. It’d be unfortunate if the roster needs a player like that given Minnesota’s internal options. What needs to happen however, is that this version of Mitch Garver continues to present itself over the course of a full season in 2022. The knock on Garver has always been his defensive ability. Ratcheting up his framing prowess and receiving skills took his game to new heights, and the bat that has always been his calling card has stood out since his true emergence on the big league roster. With an electronic strike zone looking more likely than not, the Twins need a thumping version of Garver to remain productive. At 30-years-old there’s not much reason to worry about the expense side of the equation. Under team control until he’s entering his age-34 season, Garver could be carried through arbitration without ever truly needing a long-term extension. Minnesota certainly could opt to keep Garver around if his production warrants it past his prime, but the incentive to do so will be entirely results based as opposed to necessary projection. There’s plenty up in the air when it comes to the Twins in 2022. A team that was supposed to compete should have never flopped this hard. It’s been great to see Mitch Garver take back the reigns on his career however, and looking for a full runway of games, the goal will be to replicate the offensive performance once again. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
    1 point
  13. glunn

    Saddest sports city

    Some posters have suggested that Minnesota is the worst sports "city" in North America. I did some googling and this was my first hit -- https://mikedropsports.com/ranking-12-saddest-sports-cities-in-north-america/ As you can see, there are many sad stories, but Minnesota is ranked as the saddest city. Then I came across a site that rated Detroit #1 and Minnesota # 5 -- https://www.trainwrecksports.com/the-top-10-worst-sports-cities-in-america-1-5/ I think that the difference boils down to how much weight is given to making the playoffs versus winning championships. It's been a long time since a Minnesota team won the championship in a major sport -- the 1991 Twins? And during that time the Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild have been disappointing. All of that said, if there is such a thing as karma -- and I believe that there is -- the negative attitude of fans may be having some effect. I wish that there was some way to change that. Any ideas would be appreciated.
    1 point
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