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  • Taylor Trade Gives Twins Their Best Centerfield Depth in Years


    Theodore Tollefson

    The Twins acquired centerfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Kansas City Royals Monday evening. The trade sets him up to be the primary backup to Byron Buxton in centerfield. Does Taylor's defensive skill give the Twins their best centerfield depth in years?

    Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz, USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins didn’t make this trade to get Michael A. Taylor for his bat. He’s here to play defense, and some very good defense in ccenter field Taylor won a Gold Glove in 2021 and joining the Twins alleviates the pressure for Byron Buxton pushing his physical limits to play every day in center field.

    Taylor has also played the corner outfield positions in his career, but in the last two seasons, he's played exclusively in center. The acquisition of Taylor puts nine outfielders on the Twins' 40-man roster, as the Twins designated pitcher A.J. Alexy for assignment following the trade. 

    As the roster currently stands, a Twins everyday outfield could consist of Joey Gallo in left, a Buxton/Taylor platoon in center, and Max Kepler in right. 

    This off-season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have worked hard to address each of the Twins' issues and added depth at each position, and brining in Taylor solidifies a commitment to put the best possible team out there and ensure more playing time for Buxton when healthy. 

    For a Twins team needing strong outfield depth after two chaotic seasons with centerfielder after centerfielder going down with injuries, Taylor provides hope that they can avoid having a player like Rob Refsnyder playing in center field because no one else is available due to injuries. 

    The line of duty for center field behind Buxton and Taylor is likely to fall onto Gordon if either cannot play. The Twins have also said that Gallo can be an option in center if push comes to shove. 

    Of course there is also the option of Celestino, who is now likely to start his season in St. Paul to hone in on his hitting skills that have not translated well in the Majors. 

    Again, Taylor’s hitting numbers don’t jump off the back of his baseball card as he hit .254/.313/.357 (.670) in 2022. However, his fielding numbers per Statcast tell a different story. 

    229000009_TaylorStatcastpercentilerankings.png.a201654b9973e7d4c8e894be3a6baca5.png

    His percentile for arm strength ranks one percent higher than Buxton, two percent more than Gallo and 19 percent higher than Kepler. The only outfielder on the Twins 40-man who was in a higher percentile than Taylor for the 2022 season was Gilberto Celestino, in the 93rd percentile. 

    One area where Taylor may shine for the Twins in 2023 is stolen bases. Taylor had just four steals in 2022, but he had 14 stolen bases in 2021. 

    With Taylor in the outfield, Twins fans can take a sigh of relief that Buxton has a great chance to hit the 100 games played threshold for the first time since 2017. Plus if injuries are down in 2023 from how high they were in 2022. Many players will enjoy more playing time and needed rest days with the Twins depth in the outfield only growing stronger.

     

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    Last year was our greatest CF depth we ever had since maybe Span/ Revere coming in 4th in MLB. But this year is better maybe 1st? If we put Gallo in CF things are seriously wrong.

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    Great defense is a good thing and appears to be a huge priority with Twins Daily posters. But a team 229 batting average, rally killing strikeout experts, and lack of clutch hitting in scoring situations will kill any chances of this team seriously contending. Let’s hope our young guys come in healthy and find their potential or we are toast!

     

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    2 hours ago, miracleb said:

    Great defense but everyone will hate when he plays because we can't score runs and we lose 3-1.  Where are Florimon and Simmons when you need them?  Correa is going to need a rest once in a while as well......

    Billy Hamilton wasn't available??

    At least Billy Hamilton can steal an occasional base as well. 😅

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    1 hour ago, #3Killer said:

    Great defense is a good thing and appears to be a huge priority with Twins Daily posters. But a team 229 batting average, rally killing strikeout experts, and lack of clutch hitting in scoring situations will kill any chances of this team seriously contending. Let’s hope our young guys come in healthy and find their potential or we are toast!

     

    Learn to bunt for those rare times when it would be useful, like the rare suicide squeeze or to advance a runner  when the third baseman on the opponent's team has a broken throwing arm.

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    I like that we addressed an issue. However, we may have created a new one. If Rocco is just going to keep resting Buxton so he can hit 100 games played, that will leave us a lineup that will not compete with the rest of baseball. Are we looking to rely on Gallo (.166), Larnach (.231), Kirlloff (.250), Kepler (.227)? Even with Buxton who did hit 28 HR in 92 games, he batted just .224.

    This team is going to lead the league in K's and trail the league in on base percentage. But, at least we have a dominate pitching staff to keep teams in check. Wait...

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    1 hour ago, Kipp35 said:

    I like that we addressed an issue. However, we may have created a new one. If Rocco is just going to keep resting Buxton so he can hit 100 games played, that will leave us a lineup that will not compete with the rest of baseball. Are we looking to rely on Gallo (.166), Larnach (.231), Kirlloff (.250), Kepler (.227)? Even with Buxton who did hit 28 HR in 92 games, he batted just .224.

    This team is going to lead the league in K's and trail the league in on base percentage. But, at least we have a dominate pitching staff to keep teams in check. Wait...

    It’s not all doom & gloom on offense:

    Gallo - career .199……. Buxton - career .244……..Larnach - .231 very limited career ………Kirilof - .250 very limited career………Taylor - career .250….,.Jeffers - career .225 (guessing) ………….Farmer - career .254……..Kepler - career .238

    MLB AVERAGE BA for 2022 - .243

    CC - career .279…….Polanco - career .270……..Miranda - career .261……..Gordon - career .261………Vazquez - career .274

    The assumption is that Larnach & Kirilof will far out perform their numbers to date. Both inexperienced & who knows?

    Taylor will be platooned against LH starters and used to PH against LH pitching & late inning D!! His numbers should be above his career average as his splits against LH are much higher.

    Farmer will play often and will certainly be maximized against LH pitching. He’s over .800OPS against lefties for careeru

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    22 hours ago, JD-TWINS said:

    It’s not all doom & gloom on offense:

    Gallo - career .199……. Buxton - career .244……..Larnach - .231 very limited career ………Kirilof - .250 very limited career………Taylor - career .250….,.Jeffers - career .225 (guessing) ………….Farmer - career .254……..Kepler - career .238

    MLB AVERAGE BA for 2022 - .243

    CC - career .279…….Polanco - career .270……..Miranda - career .261……..Gordon - career .261………Vazquez - career .274

    The assumption is that Larnach & Kirilof will far out perform their numbers to date. Both inexperienced & who knows?

    Taylor will be platooned against LH starters and used to PH against LH pitching & late inning D!! His numbers should be above his career average as his splits against LH are much higher.

    Farmer will play often and will certainly be maximized against LH pitching. He’s over .800OPS against lefties for careeru

    I hope you are correct. But championship teams still play above the 'average'. And, as stated, our pitching isn't going to be able to bail us out of a lot of jams. To have an entire lineup batting sub-.300 and one (Gallo) batting sub-.200 does not instill me with a lot of hope.

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    11 minutes ago, Kipp35 said:

    I hope you are correct. But championship teams still play above the 'average'. And, as stated, our pitching isn't going to be able to bail us out of a lot of jams. To have an entire lineup batting sub-.300 and one (Gallo) batting sub-.200 does not instill me with a lot of hope.

    I hated the Arraez trade!! Agreed on offense……..just trying to stay upbeat. We needed/need more front line pitching. If he was still in line-up though and we were minus a prospect or two (bird in hand) plus Kepler - Celestino - maybe Pagán, I’d feel a lot better.

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    On 1/26/2023 at 6:29 AM, Kipp35 said:

    To have an entire lineup batting sub-.300... does not instill me with a lot of hope.

    Phillies and Padres made it to the NL championship without one.  Meanwhile the Twins did have one and went nowhere.

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    17 hours ago, ashbury said:

    Phillies and Padres made it to the NL championship without one.  Meanwhile the Twins did have one and went nowhere.

    Well, you convinced me. Thier going to the Super Bowl! 

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