Back in mid-April I wrote about Trevor Larnach’s process. That was just five games into the season and he had just a .616 OPS. Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs quipped that making much out of such a small sample (3 games) was likely nothing, but the hard-hit rates were impossible to ignore. Fast forward to the end of May, and the process has turned into results.
On the season Larnach has been worth 1.3 fWAR, the highest total on the Twins. His .886 OPS is already a strong number considering the state of offense across the league this season. Over his last 18 games though, Larnach has slashed .339/.424/.625 with seven doubles and three dingers. The 161 OPS+ on the season is indicative of an offensive threat nearly twice that of the league average.
What’s also impressive is that Larnach isn’t simply generating hard contact, but he’s reigned in some of the swing and miss as well. After being at a nearly 17% whiff rate last season, Larnach has dropped that to 13.9% in 2022. That’s helped to slightly increase his walk rate but has also added to his overall contact ability. Larnach has been a good hitter everywhere he’s gone, and he’s been more choosy this season as well. Shaving nearly 5% off his chase rate, pitchers are having to attack him within the strike zone.
The scouting report on Larnach has never changed. He’s going to make loud contact and do damage because of it. Dealing with lower-body injuries last season, there’s reason to believe that hampered performance. His 41.9% hhard-hitrate in 2022 is nearly 10% higher than what it was a season ago. Larnach has also dropped points off his ground ball rate adding both to fly ball and line drive production, both outcomes providing a better opportunity for success.
It’s been a game of adjustments for Larnach as well, and being the extremely smart player he is, he’s handled them well. Pitchers have basically tried throwing slop at him since he entered the league. The book on him, and teammate Alex Kirilloff, was that they could handle velocity. Larnach has seen four-seam fastballs just 27% of the time this season. Slider has been the most common offspeed offering, but the pitch selection runs the gambit when looking at breaking balls. Because of the work he’s put in, there’s a drastic shift in how the production looks, specifically against the slider, compared to last season. Being able to sit on breaking pitchers, Larnach has made it so there’s nothing he can’t handle at the dish.
If there’s something somewhat unexpected it’s on the defensive side of things. Larnach was never going to be a hack in the outfield, but I’m not sure his arm was expected to play as it has. He’s already generated three outfield assists this season and it shouldn’t be too long before runners stop testing him. Larnach also has 7 defensive runs saved (DRS) in left field with an additional added in right. That number leads all Major League left fielders.
When Minnesota took Larnach they were keyed in on a powerful college bat that was set up to do damage any time he made contact. He was already an advanced hitter that didn’t simply swing to launch or miss, but there was refinement needed. Now getting to the big leagues, Larnach looks the part of a player that can anchor the heart of a lineup and put up a thirty-homer season in his sleep. It’s still early in his career, but multiple All-Star game selections don’t seem like a lofty expectation anymore.
No doubt Minnesota hopes this new core will blossom together. Larnach is starting to see that take shape. If Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, and Jose Miranda can follow suit, they’ll experience plenty of victories along the way.