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Matthew Lenz

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  1. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Q & A with Clyde "The Guide" Doepner, Twins Curator   
    [As seen on Zone Coverage]
     
    Recently, I had the chance to talk with Clyde “the Guide” Doepner, the Curator for the Minnesota Twins. Don’t know what a “curator” is? Think about getting paid to collect, display, and maintain Twins memorabilia for thousands of fans to enjoy at Target Field. Yes. Somebody gets paid to do that! Per his request, Clyde asked that I make this as little about him as possible and as much about the Twins as possible, but I want to provide you with a little background before jumping into our conversation.
     
    “I was brought up to say thank you.”
    In August of 1966 he was hired on as a first year teacher and varsity head baseball coach. In the spring of that same year, Cal Griffith (Twins’ owner) had sent out free season tickets to all head varsity baseball coaches, but the previous coach didn’t get them before he left and so they sat unused all summer. When he saw these in his mailbox, he decided to go down to the Met, find Cal’s office, and thank him for the tickets. Back in 1966 it was that easy. When he went to thank him, Cal noted that he was the only person to thank him for the tickets and brought him “down the hall, to the left, to the right, and to the Griffith seats”, as Clyde would say. Cal invited him to sit in those seats anytime he came to a game rather than “sitting out in the thankless seats with those ‘hecklin’ son of a guns’”, and a relationship was forged. It got the point that Clyde could sit anywhere he wanted when he came to a game and he became good friends with the Griffith family.
     
    “We’re not paying those son of a guns…”
    When the Twins made the move from the Met to the Dome, the sports commission was going to start charging the Griffith family for storage space. As Clyde tells it, “[Cal] being too frugal, too cheap to do that said ‘we’re not paying those son of a guns’ and he told his brothers ‘throw everything’. [Clyde] went out [to the dumpster] and collected about 3,000 items, and so Clyde “the Collector” was born and he debuted all the memorabilia at the first Twins fest in 1988. No matter how he got any artifact he considers all artifacts as “a part of the Twins”. If you’re interested to see a lot of the memorabilia then I suggest you check out this book.
    Being part of the Twins organization since 1966, Clyde is an endless book of stories which will be the focus of the rest of the article.
    “No Clyde, I’m all done, this is it.”
    At the end of the 2015 season before he made a public announcement Torii Hunter gave Clyde his glove. Clyde’s response was “I don’t want it, because you’re coming back next year” knowing that he only signed a one-year deal, but that the Twins would likely offer him another contract. Torii said, “No Clyde, I’m all done, this is it.” So a few days later, Hunter made it official and announced that he was retiring from Major League Baseball.
     
    “I was thinking of my Mom.”
    When Jim Thome hit his 600th home run at Comerica Park, Clyde made sure to get all the bases. He gave third base to Thome, second base to the Twins Community Fund for auction, and first base was kept for the Twins. Why did Thome get third base? Clyde thought “well, once you touched third base you couldn’t screw up the home run”. And why did the Twins get first? When Thome was asked what he was thinking about when he knew it was done and running down to first he said “My mother, she had died the year before”. This struck a chord with Clyde as he also recently lost his mother. On the base he signed: “On the way to this base, I was thinking of my Mom”.
    “Only Halsey could turn a sport coat into a Blazer”
    Halsey Hall was a sports reporter for the Twin Cities and announcer for the Twins for many years. He was actually the first broadcaster to coin the phrase “Holy Cow”, although most fans credit Harry Caray. He was described as having a “grizzly voice, because he smoked two cigars during every game”. Hall of Famer, Herb Carneal would say that “Halsey liked good cigars, but unfortunately that’s not the kind he smoked”. So the story goes that during one game, Halsey’s cigar ash fell into a wastebasket full of paper and started it on fire. He then blurted out, over the air, “oh my god, I’m on fire!” The fire ended up burning his hand, sport coat, and pants and there was a delay in the game until the fire was put out. Former Twins Catcher Jerry Zimmerman said “Only Halsey could turn a sport coat into a blazer”. Halsey was gifted a big red ashtray, and you bet that same ashtray is on display in the Target Field press box.
     
    “Isn’t that the way it goes?”
    Tom Kelly has each ball from the last out of the game that clinched the division in 1987, the game that clinched the pennant in 1987, and the game that clinched the world series in 1987. As Clyde puts it, “When Kent Hrbek heard about that he said ‘isn’t that the way it goes, Clyde? I caught all three of them, Tom took them, and you give him credit’”.
     
    Other tidbits:
    Clyde is one of the only curators in MLB. Recently, the Atlanta Braves added a curator when they built their new stadium.
    Target field has 38 display cases that he is responsible for filling and maintaining the memorabilia. He does all of this himself.
    Jim Thome kept a champagne cork and lighter in his locker. Before eye black was a thing, players would burn part of the cork and put it under their eyes.
    He was good friends with Harmon Killebrew. In fact, he was in charge of his appraising six to seven thousand items for his estate.
    Tom Kelley donated his entire collection to the Twins.

    Last but most importantly, Clyde wanted to thank the Twins organization. He would say that “the ‘Twins way’ isn’t just what happens on the field, but what happens in the clubhouse and what goes on in the community”. Clyde’s parting words to the reader would be “you should always say thank you. Not for some ulterior motive, but because it’s the right thing to do”. After all, if he hadn’t said thank you then many of the artifacts we have come to love around Target Field might be in a dumpster somewhere.
     
    This guy was has an endless amount of stories. If it is at all possible, he would be a great "get" for an upcoming Twins Daily event. Give him the mic and let him talk for as long as he wants.
  2. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Quick Hitter: My Twins Awards Ballot   
    Soon enough the 2019 Twins Daily Twins Awards will be published. I was excited to be part of the balloting process and wanted to release by ballot with quick explanations behind my decisions.
     
    Rookie of Year:
    1. Arraez
    2. Littell
    3. Harper
     
    I'll be shocked if Arraez isn't the unanimous first place vote. Littell definitely made his case, especially late, but Arraez was the spark plug in one of the best offenses in The League. The fact that Ryne Harper, who actually did okay, got my 3rd place vote shows how little the Twins relied on rookies this year.
     
    Most Improved:
    1. Garver
    2. Polanco
    3. Max Kepler
     
    In my opinion, this is a toss up for the three above. You could easily add Duffey to the mix here too. You'll see this reflected in my MVP voting but I was a catcher growing up and believe it's the most important position on the field, so Garver gets my vote. Kepler showed signs last year of big improvements, so I had Polanco over him.
     
    Pitcher of the Year:
    1. Rogers
    2. Duffey
    3. May
    4. Pineda
     
    Man, this was tough but throughout the year Rogers was the most consistent pitcher, and no I'm not just talking out of the bullpen. Duffey and May were two of the best relievers in baseball when it mattered most but if it wasn't for his suspension, Pineda probably would have been at number two for me.
     
    Most Valuable Player:
    1. Garver
    2. Kepler
    3. Polanco
    4. Cruz
    5. Sano
    6. Rogers
     
    Did I tell you have I a bias towards catchers? Honestly, my 1-4 could have been in any order but ultimately landed with Garver on top for reasons previously mentioned. Kepler over Polanco and Cruz because of the the defense he added and Polanco over Cruz for his defensive contributions although he had some really tough stretches this year. Sano would have been higher for me, probably #2 or #3, but just missed too many games at the beginning of the season. Rogers makes the list but that could have been recency bias as Eddie was in the midst of an ugly month of September. In general, I find it hard to give an MVP vote to a player who plays in so few games compared to offensive players.
     
    Would love to hear what your ballot would look like and what you think of mine!
  3. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Melissa for a blog entry, Quick Hitter: My Twins Awards Ballot   
    Soon enough the 2019 Twins Daily Twins Awards will be published. I was excited to be part of the balloting process and wanted to release by ballot with quick explanations behind my decisions.
     
    Rookie of Year:
    1. Arraez
    2. Littell
    3. Harper
     
    I'll be shocked if Arraez isn't the unanimous first place vote. Littell definitely made his case, especially late, but Arraez was the spark plug in one of the best offenses in The League. The fact that Ryne Harper, who actually did okay, got my 3rd place vote shows how little the Twins relied on rookies this year.
     
    Most Improved:
    1. Garver
    2. Polanco
    3. Max Kepler
     
    In my opinion, this is a toss up for the three above. You could easily add Duffey to the mix here too. You'll see this reflected in my MVP voting but I was a catcher growing up and believe it's the most important position on the field, so Garver gets my vote. Kepler showed signs last year of big improvements, so I had Polanco over him.
     
    Pitcher of the Year:
    1. Rogers
    2. Duffey
    3. May
    4. Pineda
     
    Man, this was tough but throughout the year Rogers was the most consistent pitcher, and no I'm not just talking out of the bullpen. Duffey and May were two of the best relievers in baseball when it mattered most but if it wasn't for his suspension, Pineda probably would have been at number two for me.
     
    Most Valuable Player:
    1. Garver
    2. Kepler
    3. Polanco
    4. Cruz
    5. Sano
    6. Rogers
     
    Did I tell you have I a bias towards catchers? Honestly, my 1-4 could have been in any order but ultimately landed with Garver on top for reasons previously mentioned. Kepler over Polanco and Cruz because of the the defense he added and Polanco over Cruz for his defensive contributions although he had some really tough stretches this year. Sano would have been higher for me, probably #2 or #3, but just missed too many games at the beginning of the season. Rogers makes the list but that could have been recency bias as Eddie was in the midst of an ugly month of September. In general, I find it hard to give an MVP vote to a player who plays in so few games compared to offensive players.
     
    Would love to hear what your ballot would look like and what you think of mine!
  4. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, The Early Returns from Michael Pineda   
    As the Twins get ready to finish up the four game series against the Blue Jays, Michael Pineda will take the mound for what will be his 4th start of the season. The early returns of his two-year contract have looked good so far as he was another cheap, low-risk signing by the Twins new management during the 2018 offseason. As we’ve seen how shaky our bullpen can be, much of the Twins success this year will rely on their starters and specifically could depend on what version of Pineda they get.
     
    Pineda exploded on the scene in 2011 with the Mariners as an All-Star and finished 5th in Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, that success was short lived as he spent all of the 2012 and 2013 seasons recovering and rehabbing from a shoulder injury, which can be a career ending or altering injury for a pitcher. Prior to this injury he featured fastball that sat at 95 miles per hour, used an above average slider as his out pitch, and mixed in a circle change-up about 6-percent of the time. Brooks Baseball did count 23 “sinkers” in 2011 (and 36 for his career), but that’s not enough data to glean anything meaningful from and is likely a misinterpretation of the pitch that was actually thrown. After two lost seasons and a trade to the New York Yankees, Pineda finally returned to the mound for 509 innings from 2014 to 2017 before a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament required Tommy John Surgery and miss a season and half. In his time with the Yankees, his velocity never completely rebounded sitting at about 94 miles per hour and his slider didn’t have quite the same bite. Despite this his K-BB percentage held steady and converted in to a ground ball pitcher, although the added ground balls hurt his ERA a little bit which is evident by his xFIP being almost a full run better than his ERA. Velocity and movement are the two things that make a pitcher effective, but can also be less effective after a pitcher returns from an arm injury which has help us set some “norms” for what we we’re looking for from Pineda.
     
    To give it to you straight, the small sample we have on Pineda in 2019 looks good up front but the peripherals should leave you a little tentative. First thing that sticks out is that his fastball is sitting at 92 miles per hour, which isn’t too surprising as he is still getting back into things after recovering from Tommy John, but is something to definitely keep an eye on if he starts to get hit. As far as his other pitches go, his slider has much less movement than in years past but his circle change has the same velocity and movement as usual. Consequently, he has reverted back to a flyball pitcher which has flipped his ERA and xFIP by about half of a run. On the other hand, his K-BB rate is the best of his career and he’s been having success because hitters are making contact on pitches outside of the zone significantly more than usual (71.8 percent in 2019 versus 57.1 percent for his career) which leads to less walks and weaker contact.
     
    It’s way too early to jump to any conclusions on these figures, but it something to keep an eye as he gets back into the swing of things after a year and a half hiatus. Over his next few starts, the two big things to look at are his fastball velocity and how much “help” he’s getting from the opposing hitters. These tendencies should give you an idea on how the rest of the season will look for Pineda.
  5. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Oldgoat_MN for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  6. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from ToddlerHarmon for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  7. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from caninatl04 for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  8. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from MMMordabito for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  9. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from woolywoolhouse for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  10. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Comprehensive Ranking of Every Twins Jersey   
    With the release of the new Twins alternate jerseys and the Super Bowl Blog Blowout, I felt like it was a perfect time to create a comprehensive ranking of every uniform (top and pants) a Twins player has donned since they moved to Minnesota in 1961. Obviously, this is a highly subjective topic and I look forward to hearing what you think of my list and what your list looks like.
    From what I could gather, the Twins have worn 17 unique jersey combinations where I have grouped together jerseys that were shared a lot of the same characteristics. Within the list of 17 includes all home, road, alternate, and players weekend jerseys I could find.
    So without further ado…
     
    Tier One
    #1 1961 - 1971 Home / 2010 - 2018 Home Alternative

    You’ll gather quickly that I am a sucker for pinstripes. That, mixed with the off white/creme color of the jerseys is a solid combination. I also loved the nostalgia of throwing it back to the Twins original jerseys. Needless to say, I’m disappointed that these jerseys have been retired.
     
    Tier Two
    #2 1987 - 2009 Road

    #3 1987 - 2009 Home / 2010 - 2014 Home
    http://web.chessdailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/Johan-Santana.jpg
    Again, with the pinstripes. I’m not a huge fan of a plain white jersey so the road version of this uniform gets the nod over the home uniform. I may also be influenced as these were the jerseys I grew up with and I own a Denard Span road jersey that is my go-to jersey for Twins games. The only noticeable difference between the two home jerseys in this group is the patch on the left sleeve went from the “TC” logo to the “Minne and Paul” logo.
     
    Tier Three
    #4 1973 - 1986 Road
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KE4bs77tRGQ/TvfDjjOrcfI/AAAAAAAABpQ/LGCXL4Xn2MQ/s1600/1985+Donruss.jpg
    #5 1972 Road

    #6 1972 Home / 1973 - 1986 Home / 2009 Home Alternate

    #7 1961 - 1971 Road
    http://a4.pbase.com/o3/29/805529/1/87929516.wa1ifleS.bb22.jpg
    These Twins jerseys are the absolute classics of the franchise. The powder blues come in 4th overall but at the top of the list within this group. The red, white, and blue trim at the waist, the end of the sleeves, and down the side of the pants take the cake over the more simple look of the 1961 - 1971 Road jerseys.
     
    Tier Four
    #8 2016 - Present Home Alternate

    I like the simplistic nature of this jersey. The solid red top with the “TC” logo on the left breast and the Kasota Gold outline is a clean look. The red, gold, and blue stripe down the side of the pant leg is again subtle and clean. They are stilled listed as alternates with the newly released jersey.
     
    Tier Five
    #9 2019 Home Alternate

    #10 2011 - Present Road Alternate (Buxton & Dozier) / 2010 Present Road (Mauer)
    http://jetsportsmanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/TWINS_ROYALS_BASEBALL_447796231.jpg

    The cursive script gives the edge over the grouping you’ll see below. In general, these jerseys don’t do much for me and could be spiced up a little bit with the addition of pinstripes but I will take the blue over the grey. The Kasota gold gives a slight edge over the two road jerseys.
     
    Tier Six
    #11 2015 - Present Home

    #12 2010 - 2013 Home Alternate / 1997 Home Alternate

    #13 1997 Road Alternate (Molitor)
    #14 1997 Red Alternate (Knoblauch)

    Only real significance between these jerseys is the font and lettering on the front. I like the “Twins” across the chest versus “Minnesota” and the Kasota Gold outlining moves the present day home jerseys to the top of this listing.
     
    Tier Seven
    #15 2018 Players Weekend

    #16 2006 - 2010 Home Alternate

    #17 2017 Players Weekend

    I don’t really like any of the jerseys in this grouping. You might be surprised to see a pinstriped jersey so far down my list, but it’s those blue sleeves that ruin it for me. Too much going on for a baseball jersey. The players weekend jerseys have been “meh” so far...are they even baseball jerseys if you can’t button them? My answer: no.
     
    So there you have it. As you can tell, I like a classic, clean, and subtle look in jerseys. The touch of Kasota Gold on the current jerseys is a favorite of mine but ultimately I hope they bring back the off-white/creme pin stripe jerseys!
    What does your list look like?
  11. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Reflecting on My Predictions and Articles   
    As the season comes to an end I wanted to reflect on some of what I wrote in my first Twins season at Twins Daily and Zone Coverage. Below you will find a review of my preseason predictions as well as some of my early articles.
     
    My Preseason Predictions
    https://twitter.com/Lenzy2108/status/979415769036607488https://twitter.com/Lenzy2108/status/979415769036607488
    The Record
    The Twins finished the year with only 7 fewer wins than I had originally predicted at 78-84. What you may not realize is that outside of the month of April the Twins played .493 baseball with a 69-70 record. What killed them this year, outside of the month of Aprill, was their record in 1 run games (14-21), which was the 8th worst winning percentage in all of baseball.
     
    Offensive PoY/Most Homeruns
    Brian Dozier was part of the laundry list of Twins player who had disappointing seasons, although he might be the biggest bust. Many of the players that underperformed for the Twins this year (Sano, Buxton, Morrison, etc.) were guys that had questions going into the season anyway, but I think many people assumed that Dozier was a lock for at least 30 home runs while slashing somewhere around .250/.340/.500.
     
    Your actual winner, in both categories, has to be Eddie Rosario. Although he was a little inconsistent he was the most reliable hitter the Twins had from start to finish.
     
    Starting Pitcher of the Year
    According to FanGraphs WAR and backed up by the eye test, Berrios was the Twins best overall pitcher this year. He improved in almost every metric and at only 24 years old, I think Twins fans should be excited for the pitcher Berrios is becoming. That said, I think an argument could be made for Gibson who was probably the most consistent Twins pitcher this year and is coming off a career year.
     
    Relief Pitcher of the Year
    Nobody could have possibly foreseen the disaster that was Addison Reed this year. He is #2 on my list biggest busts this year behind the aforementioned Brian Dozier. According to FanGraphs WAR, this season was the worst season of his career. We have another year with him, so lets hope the law of averages applies and he kills it next season.
     
    The actual Relief Pitcher of the Year would Taylor Rogers who lead all reliever with a WAR of 1.8. A note to make here is that Trevor May looked really good coming out of the pen...something to keep in mind for 2019.
     
    Rookie of the Year
    Gonsalves had his shot to make an impact and his minor league numbers made it seem like he could succeed at the big league level. Unfortunately, those numbers didn't translate at he really struggled with his fastball command and overall control...something he is going to need to figure out when he only throws 90 miles per hour.
     
    Again using FanGraphs WAR as my barometer, Mitch Garver and Jake Cave tied as the top rookies with a WAR of 1.3, and I am okay with naming Co-RoY's as I think they were both deserving. Despite having one year left with Jason Castro, I think Garver cemented himself as the primary catcher heading into 2019. In the case of Cave, I think he provides a viable option to compete with Kepler for the RF job entering 2019 spring training while also providing a good "plan B" if Buxton never figures it out.
     
    My Articles
    2018 Breakout Candidate: Stephen Gonsalves
    My prediction was somewhat accurate as he did have a pretty good 2018 in the minor league system and never did look back once he was called up, but that was more because of the September 1st roster expansion and (much) less because of how he was performing. I've already addressed what went wrong above and will do a more in-depth dive soon.
     
    Season Preview: Kyle Gibson
    My prediction had Gibson giving us about 180 innings with an ERA around 5 and I had estimated that he wouldn't be able to keep up his 2017 second half K/9 and BB/9 rates. He ended the year with 196.2 innings, an ERA of 3.62 (xFIP of 3.91), and did maintain his K/9 while walking an additional batter per nine innings in 2018. Needleess to say, I think the Twins were impressed with what they got from their sinkerballer as he put together the best season of his career. The guy who I had pegged as our #5 pretty quickly established himself as our #2 or #3, which might say more about our pitching staff than about him.
     
    Season Preview: Felix Jorge and Felix Jorge Update
    Felix Jorge was my "adopt-a-prospect" pick who had an injury-riddled 2018. I had predicted we would see him in 2018 and still think we would have had he stayed healthy. Although 2018 was a loss, he is still young with the potential to make an impact with the Twins in 2019.
     
    The Art of the Swing: Logan Morrison
    This is all you need to know about my prediction with the LoMo signing..."I think this is why Twins fans can be confident in the deal they got with Morrison. His 2017 wasn’t a random fluke. It was a purposeful change in approach and mechanics that lead to some great results. Personally, I am expecting much of the same in 2018." Ouch, man, ouch.
     
    So there you have it...my 2018 season in review. Hopefully, 2019 will see better predictions from myself and better performances from the Twins. Any feedback you readers have for me would be greatly appreciated in the comments!
  12. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Felix Jorge Update   
    With the minor league season coming to an end, I thought a quick update on my “adopt-a-prospect” would be good.
     
    It was back in early March when I was looking forward to providing “bi-weekly(ish)” updates on Twins prospect Felix Jorge. I had predicted that we would see him at some point in 2018 with a September call-up being the worst case scenario. Not too long after that, he was placed on the disabled list for the Twins AA affiliate Chattanooga with soreness in his right triceps, which is his pitching arm. After about two and a half months, he was able to debut and pitch 3.0 innings for the Gulf Coast League Twins in late June. In his two appearances, he struck out two and allowed two base runners while giving up one unearned run. His rehab was short lived as a week later he was taken off the 40-man roster and eventually released from the team. It was only five days later that the Twins then re-signed him to a minor league deal and assigned him back to AA Chattanooga. In the two months since he has not been able to come back from his triceps injury.
     
    Why did the Twins and Jorge part ways just to sign again five days later? It was actually nothing that either party had control over as Mike Berardino explains:

    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    The Twins have a good problem ahead of them and that is that they have a lot of options for starting pitchers going into the 2019 season. You have the mainstays from 2018 in Odorizzi, Gibson, and Berrios while also expecting Pineda to be healthy as well as Meija, Gonsalves, Stewart, Slegers, Littel, and Romero all possible candidates to fill out the final spot. This is bad news for Felix Jorge, who will no longer be defined as a prospect in 2019, who also will be coming off a lost season. At this point, it is hard to project what Jorge will become in the future but the Twins must still have hope that he will contribute at some point if they re-signed him back in July knowing that he wasn’t going to pitch for a while. Depending on whether or not he can get healthy this offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Felix Jorge back in Spring Training in what may be his final shot at making the big league club.
  13. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from jun for a blog entry, Selling at the Deadline   
    Just a couple days ago LaVelle Neal III reported that the Twins are going to be sellers at this years trade deadlines. This isn’t surprising news as the Twins are currently 12 games back of Cleveland in the division and realistically have no shot at a wild card when the AL has four teams in two divisions on pace for 100+ wins. Moreover they are on a 6-game losing streak and are sporting a 2-8 record in their last 10 after and FanGraphs has there playoff odds sitting at 0.4%.
     
    As sellers, you have two questions you need to know the answer to:
    Who on your roster is available?
    What are your needs?

    In this write up I intend to share my opinions on those two questions.
     
    1. Who is available?
    When looking at players who are available common practice is to start by looking at players on expiring contracts. That list includes the following players: Ervin Santana, Fernando Rodney, Bobby Wilson, Willians "Tortuga" Astudillo, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Jake Cave, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, Matt Belisle, and Logan Morrison.
     
    Next lets look at who would have value on the market (Note: it was very tempting to include "Tortuga" on this last but alas he just fell short). Ervin Santana, Fernando Rodney, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, and Logan Morrison are the players that I think hold some trade value. Of that list, the only player I would really like the Twins to hold onto is Escobar as his offense and versatility can help the team for years to come.
     
    The only player I would consider who isn't on an expiring contract is Kyle Gibson. Addison Reed might be another name to float out there, but at 29 years old I think he can be a staple in our bullpen for years to come.
     
    Starting Pitchers
    Ervin Santana - about a month ago I wrote about how to make room for him and now I'm writing about moving him. Man baseball is fun. Anyway, despite not pitching yet this year I can see a potential playoff team taking a flier on him, especially if an injury arises. Maybe not by the non-waiver July 31st deadline but more likely by the waiver deadline of August 31st.
    Lance Lynn - Sans his last start he has looked real good since April.
    Kyle Gibson - he has continued his strong second half from 2017 and has overachieved from what I thought back on March. As Andrew Thares wrote about just a couple days ago "the time to trade Kyle Gibson is now".

    Relief Pitchers
    Fernando Rodney - he has been better than expected this year. Probably won't be a closer anymore if he gets moved, but he will be sought after.
    Zach Duke - same story as Lynn...tough March/April but has been one of our best relievers since. I wouldn't mind to see him in a Twins uni for another couple years, but I think he'll hold good value at the deadline.

    Hitters
    Joe Mauer - of course he needs to waive his no trade clause, and maybe he would do that for a shot at a world series ring. It would be weird to see him in a different uniform, but he deserves a shot at a title. Remember, this is just a rental so he could still re-sign next year.
    Brian Dozier - it's been fun to watch Dozier grow into the player he is, but he's already said he doesn't intend to re-sign with the Twins. Hopefully he can figure things out like he has the past two years to increase his value.
    Logan Morrison - he does have an option for next year and it's not a bad amount at $8 million, but according to FanGraphs WAR he is having the worst year of his career. He doesn't have a ton of value with those numbers, but there is something there as a power bat versus righties off the bench.

    Honestly, Escobar probably holds the most value here (yes, ahead of Mauer) but I think he can be a contributing piece for us over the next few years.
     
    2. What are your needs?
    Pitching. There's an old saying..."you can never have enough pitching" and it is oh so true. I actually like what the Twins have waiting in the wings with the likes of Trevor May, Aaron Slegers, Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejia, and/or Stephen Gonsalves so I wouldn't say it's an immediate need. BUT..."you can never have enough pitching". From a positional perspective, I think Nick Gordon has the best bet to successfully fill shoes in 2019 at second for Dozier and is a good bet to see sometime in the Majors yet this season. Other than that, we possibly will need someone to bridge the gap between Mauer and Rooker and this player could either stay at 1B or move to DH if we are thinking long term. Also I think we need find a back up plan for Miguel Sano and this player could be another potential 3B or DH thinking long term. In short, I think a corner infielder and a pitcher should be on our radar. Our current starting outfield is under team control for many years to come and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Even with Buxton's offensive struggles there is plenty of value in his defense.
     
    What do you think? Who will the Twins deal? What are there needs? I look forward to reading your thoughts and continuing this discussion.
  14. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Sconnie for a blog entry, Making Room for Ervin   
    A week ago Ervin Santana made is 2018 debut with the double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and threw 2 innings (45 pitches) giving up 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 earned runs, while striking out 1. He was pulled early as there was a concern about his velocity, which topped out at 90 mph while he usually sits around 94. Because of this concern he will move down and pitch today for single-A Fort Meyers Miracle, according to Brandon Warne. With this development it is fair to think that we won’t see Ervin on the Twins roster until the end of June at the earliest. Whenever he is ready to make his season debut for the Twins there will be a tough decision for Paul Molitor to make on what to do with his rotation, and that’s what I want to address in this piece assuming the current starting 5 stays healthy.
     
    Option #1: Demote Fernando Romero
    As much as Molitor and Twins fans would not like to see this, I think it is a very likely scenario. Because of options (or the lack thereof) and performance, Romero is the only realistic candidate from the starting rotation. I couldn’t find data on minor league options (does anyone have a resource for this?), but I would guess that Odorizzi, Lynn, and Gibson are out of minor league options while Berrios has been the Twins best pitcher. That leaves Romero as the odd man out. In this case, he would be the first pitcher called upon after an injury or for double headers.
     
    Option #2: DFA Grossman and move a starter to bullpen
    This would be another tough decision for Molitor. Mauer is set to return very soon and I would think that will result in the demotion of Gregorio Petit, which then leaves the Twins with Adrianza, LaMarre, Grossman, and Wilson as their 4 bench players. If Molitor decides to go this route, then we would probably see LaMarre or Grossman as the player to be demoted which would leave a thin bench but a stacked bullpen. Personally, I think Grossman has earned the demotion but I thought that out of spring training too.
     
    It’s not uncommon for a starting pitcher to get some time in the bullpen early in their career and with how electric Romero has been this year I think this would be a great option. With the way successful teams have been built the last few years it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Twins to stack their bullpen with another dominant pitcher. Only downside of this is that he most likely wouldn’t be available to start again this year as his arm wouldn’t be ready to throw that much.
     
    Option #3: DFA Grossman and utilize 6-man rotation
    See above on why Grossman is the position player getting demoted. To be honest, I think this option is highly unlikely but it is something to consider. Pitchers (and baseball players in general) are creatures of habit and by nature are not fans of a 6-man rotation. This option allow him to continue to face major league hitting and it allows the Twins some flexibility if they do have injuries. Again, I don’t see this happening but also wouldn’t mind if it did.
     
    Personally, I would like to see Romero stay in the majors with whatever roster moves it takes. Realistically, I think option 1 is what is going to happen.
     
    Which option do you think is the best? Is there another option I didn’t consider? Lets discuss!
  15. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from IndianaTwin for a blog entry, Season Preview: Kyle Gibson   
    One of the biggest questions entering the 2018 season is what we can expect to get from Kyle Gibson. Much attention has been given to the differences in his 1st and 2nd half, so I'd like to take a look and see what version of Kyle Gibson we will get in 2018 or if it is somewhere in between. I don't just want to throw a bunch of statistics at you as that doesn't help determine if his 2nd half is truly repeatable, but I do want to start there as that will guide the rest of the article.
     
    Here are a few stats that I think help explain the difference in overall results we saw from Gibson:



    Clearly, the biggest difference is that he did lot more striking out and handed out a lot less free passes, which is a good recipe for any pitcher. Let’s take a second to appreciate that he had a 331 percent increase in his K/BB percentage from the 1st half to the 2nd half, which I think helps explain the improvement of virtually every other stat. As reference, Gibson's career K/BB rate stands at 7.9 percent. So what adjustments did Gibson make that attributed to the dramatic difference between his two halves?
     
    I used Brooks Baseball pitch f/X data to help me answer this question. Below is an overview of some of the data I will be referencing.

    Gibson has long been known as a sinker ball pitcher who relies more on ground balls than swing and misses to get him through his work day. Interestingly enough Gibson threw his sinker about 28 percent of the time in his 2nd half appearances compared to about 40 percent of the time (also his career mark) in the 1st half. He relied much more on his fastball in the second half than he ever has throughout his career, especially as the first pitch he threw to batters. Getting ahead in the count, specifically throwing first pitch strikes, is key to a pitchers success and allows him some flexibility in how he can approach the rest of an at bat. Last year, some of the best pitchers in baseball lead the league in first pitch strikes headlined by Clayton Kershaw.
     
    Another takeaway from the data above that helped was the differences in pitch movement from his sinker, change up, and slider from each half. Essentially his sinker and change up dropped more while his slider became more of mix between a curve and a slider, which some would call a “slurve”. A change in release point can be credited for this change in pitch movement. As a visual, I have attached a graph of his average vertical and horizontal release point for each game in 2017. Vertical release point is measured from the top of the pitching rubber and horizontal release point is measured from the center of the pitching rubber.

    To summarize these graphs, Gibson lowered his arm angle slightly but the bigger difference was that he slid about a foot towards third base from the first half into the second half (see below). This gave hitters a new perspective from which they saw the ball released from Gibson. Again, these adjustments are part of the reason why his pitches created a different movement pattern in each half.

    So what does this mean for 2018? Like most, I tend not to look into Spring stats although he did have a solid, yet unspectacular spring. From video, I can tell you that Gibson has “looked” good this spring and that he has carried his adjustments noted above into spring training. That said, I think Gibson was able to fool a lot of batters in the second half of last season because he had changed his delivery and pitch selection. In other words, hitters had a scouting report on Gibson but then he didn’t follow it and was able to catch hitters off guard. Despite his second half numbers, Gibson is not a guy who is going to consistently strike out almost one batter an inning. He also will not be the pitcher who walked 4 batters per inning. He will fall somewhere in between. The great thing about 2018 is that Gibson is our number 5 guy which will help ease expectations from Twins fans. I would expect a typical pitching line for him to be 6 IP, 2-3BB, 4-5K, and 3-4 ER which is pretty good for a back end rotation guy especially with the backing of a lineup that will be on of the best in the league.
  16. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Season Preview: Felix Jorge   
    Through the 2018 Adopt-A-Prospect draft I drafted Felix Jorge with the 27th overall pick as my guy for the upcoming season. It will my objective to give you bi-weekly(ish) updates on the Twins prospect this season, but I wanted to start by providing some background information and project what we might see from him in the 2018 season.
     
    Profile
    Felix De Jesus Jorge is a 24 year old right handed pitcher who will be entering his 8th season in the Twins organization after being signed as an international free agent in 2011. He made is Major League debut on July 1st, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals. He pitched 5 solid, yet unspectacular innings before getting pulled and eventually shelled in his second and final Major League outing of the season against the Orioles. He enters the 2018 season currently ranked as the Twins 17th best prospect according to MLB and 7th rated pitching prospect. He is currently on the Twins 40 man roster and has been assigned to start the season at AAA Rochester.
     
    Scouting Report
    Jorge stands at 6' 2", 170 pounds which makes him on the smaller side for your standard Major League pitcher. He has four pitches in his repertoire with his fastball and change-up being his two best pitches followed by his slider and curveball, respectively. His fast ball sits low 90's and then he loses about 10 miles per hour on his change-up, which is a good change of speed. He's a classic Twins pitching prospect as he doesn't overpower hitters, is very hittable, yet has pretty good control averaging about 2.2 walks/9.
     
    His delivery is very clean and smooth and he throws from over the top as you can see below from Spring Training a year ago.
     


     
    Projection
    Being that we already saw him in 2017, I am confident that we will see him again sometime in 2018. That said, he has fallen down the prospect list in the last year and he will be competing with Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves who are currently rated much higher than him. As it stands right now, I would put him third in the pecking order behind Romero and Gonsalves as those two have had pretty solid springs thus far. With injuries, double headers, and other factors it's hard to know exactly when we'll see him but worst case scenario he will be brought up when rosters are expanded on September 1st. Looking a little more long term, I don't think Jorge as the "stuff" to be a reliable starter at the Major League level. He's still young and has room to improve, but I think a #4 or #5 starter is the top end of what to expect from him. More realistically, I view him as being a guy who could come out of the bullpen as a long or middle reliever down the road.


  17. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Matt Johnson for a blog entry, Q & A with Clyde "The Guide" Doepner, Twins Curator   
    [As seen on Zone Coverage]
     
    Recently, I had the chance to talk with Clyde “the Guide” Doepner, the Curator for the Minnesota Twins. Don’t know what a “curator” is? Think about getting paid to collect, display, and maintain Twins memorabilia for thousands of fans to enjoy at Target Field. Yes. Somebody gets paid to do that! Per his request, Clyde asked that I make this as little about him as possible and as much about the Twins as possible, but I want to provide you with a little background before jumping into our conversation.
     
    “I was brought up to say thank you.”
    In August of 1966 he was hired on as a first year teacher and varsity head baseball coach. In the spring of that same year, Cal Griffith (Twins’ owner) had sent out free season tickets to all head varsity baseball coaches, but the previous coach didn’t get them before he left and so they sat unused all summer. When he saw these in his mailbox, he decided to go down to the Met, find Cal’s office, and thank him for the tickets. Back in 1966 it was that easy. When he went to thank him, Cal noted that he was the only person to thank him for the tickets and brought him “down the hall, to the left, to the right, and to the Griffith seats”, as Clyde would say. Cal invited him to sit in those seats anytime he came to a game rather than “sitting out in the thankless seats with those ‘hecklin’ son of a guns’”, and a relationship was forged. It got the point that Clyde could sit anywhere he wanted when he came to a game and he became good friends with the Griffith family.
     
    “We’re not paying those son of a guns…”
    When the Twins made the move from the Met to the Dome, the sports commission was going to start charging the Griffith family for storage space. As Clyde tells it, “[Cal] being too frugal, too cheap to do that said ‘we’re not paying those son of a guns’ and he told his brothers ‘throw everything’. [Clyde] went out [to the dumpster] and collected about 3,000 items, and so Clyde “the Collector” was born and he debuted all the memorabilia at the first Twins fest in 1988. No matter how he got any artifact he considers all artifacts as “a part of the Twins”. If you’re interested to see a lot of the memorabilia then I suggest you check out this book.
    Being part of the Twins organization since 1966, Clyde is an endless book of stories which will be the focus of the rest of the article.
    “No Clyde, I’m all done, this is it.”
    At the end of the 2015 season before he made a public announcement Torii Hunter gave Clyde his glove. Clyde’s response was “I don’t want it, because you’re coming back next year” knowing that he only signed a one-year deal, but that the Twins would likely offer him another contract. Torii said, “No Clyde, I’m all done, this is it.” So a few days later, Hunter made it official and announced that he was retiring from Major League Baseball.
     
    “I was thinking of my Mom.”
    When Jim Thome hit his 600th home run at Comerica Park, Clyde made sure to get all the bases. He gave third base to Thome, second base to the Twins Community Fund for auction, and first base was kept for the Twins. Why did Thome get third base? Clyde thought “well, once you touched third base you couldn’t screw up the home run”. And why did the Twins get first? When Thome was asked what he was thinking about when he knew it was done and running down to first he said “My mother, she had died the year before”. This struck a chord with Clyde as he also recently lost his mother. On the base he signed: “On the way to this base, I was thinking of my Mom”.
    “Only Halsey could turn a sport coat into a Blazer”
    Halsey Hall was a sports reporter for the Twin Cities and announcer for the Twins for many years. He was actually the first broadcaster to coin the phrase “Holy Cow”, although most fans credit Harry Caray. He was described as having a “grizzly voice, because he smoked two cigars during every game”. Hall of Famer, Herb Carneal would say that “Halsey liked good cigars, but unfortunately that’s not the kind he smoked”. So the story goes that during one game, Halsey’s cigar ash fell into a wastebasket full of paper and started it on fire. He then blurted out, over the air, “oh my god, I’m on fire!” The fire ended up burning his hand, sport coat, and pants and there was a delay in the game until the fire was put out. Former Twins Catcher Jerry Zimmerman said “Only Halsey could turn a sport coat into a blazer”. Halsey was gifted a big red ashtray, and you bet that same ashtray is on display in the Target Field press box.
     
    “Isn’t that the way it goes?”
    Tom Kelly has each ball from the last out of the game that clinched the division in 1987, the game that clinched the pennant in 1987, and the game that clinched the world series in 1987. As Clyde puts it, “When Kent Hrbek heard about that he said ‘isn’t that the way it goes, Clyde? I caught all three of them, Tom took them, and you give him credit’”.
     
    Other tidbits:
    Clyde is one of the only curators in MLB. Recently, the Atlanta Braves added a curator when they built their new stadium.
    Target field has 38 display cases that he is responsible for filling and maintaining the memorabilia. He does all of this himself.
    Jim Thome kept a champagne cork and lighter in his locker. Before eye black was a thing, players would burn part of the cork and put it under their eyes.
    He was good friends with Harmon Killebrew. In fact, he was in charge of his appraising six to seven thousand items for his estate.
    Tom Kelley donated his entire collection to the Twins.

    Last but most importantly, Clyde wanted to thank the Twins organization. He would say that “the ‘Twins way’ isn’t just what happens on the field, but what happens in the clubhouse and what goes on in the community”. Clyde’s parting words to the reader would be “you should always say thank you. Not for some ulterior motive, but because it’s the right thing to do”. After all, if he hadn’t said thank you then many of the artifacts we have come to love around Target Field might be in a dumpster somewhere.
     
    This guy was has an endless amount of stories. If it is at all possible, he would be a great "get" for an upcoming Twins Daily event. Give him the mic and let him talk for as long as he wants.
  18. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from mikelink45 for a blog entry, Student Mailbag: Homerun Rates v. Strikeout Rates   
    Most of you probably don't know that I am a high school math teacher and junior varsity baseball coach. Recently, a student of mine asked for me to write about the record breaking home run and strikeout rates from the 2017 season. I'm going to dive into those numbers for you today, but then also look at how these numbers are reflected in the projected 2018 opening day lineup for our beloved Twins.
     
    League Overview
    To get a good set of data, I took the K% (K/PA) and HR% (HR/PA) for the last twenty-one major league seasons. Below you will find a graphical summary (follow link for a closer look) of my findings:
    You will notice that although both statistics see an increase over this timeframe, there is a much more significant increase in HR% versus K%. The most notable differences in both stats can be seen in the "statcast era" from 2014-2017 where exit velocity and launch angle data as literally been changing hitters approaches at the dish. Furthermore, it's been well documented that 2017 was a record breaking year for strikeouts and home runs.
     
    Twins Lineup Implications
    The last two seasons have seen the Minnesota Twins hit the 3rd (2017) and 4th (2016) most home runs in franchise history, which includes the 60 years they spent being known as the Washington Senators. Interestingly enough, they finished 2nd (2016) and 3rd (2017) most strikeouts in a single season over that same time. (If you're curious, the 2013 Twins struck out a franchise record 1,430 times but only hit 151 homeruns which is 70 less than their 2017 total. Ouch.) Comparably league wide, their 2016 and 2017 combined totals put them 15th in the league in homeruns and 6th in the league in strikeouts. Below shows where the each Twins player ended up in 2017 when comparing strikeout and homerun percentages:

    Not surprisingly you will see Miguel Sano lead the team in both categories and Joe Mauer was at the bottom in both categories, among the regulars. In the middle, you see the average for 2017 was a 3.29 percent homerun rate and 21.6 percent strikeout rate. Ideally, we want our Twins to be closer to the Doziers, Rosario, Escobar, and Keplers of our lineup. Guys who finished below the league average in strikeout rate but above in homerun rate. Here are some of my takeaways:
    Much ado has been made about Rosario’s plate discipline in 2017. Not only did MLB strikeout percentage drop from a career mark of 25.2 percent to 22.2 percent, but he also set a career high in homerun percentage. He will be very valuable to the Twins if 2017 wasn’t a fluke.
    Admittedly, I am someone who is ready to see Vargas find another employer. So I was a little surprised to see how high his homerun percentage was in 2017. He can become value to the Twins or elsewhere if he can work on his plate discipline. That’s a big if.
    Jason Castro was an excellent defensive catcher in 2017. He was pretty good behind the plate too. Though he lost some of his power he tied his career low in strikeout percentage and a career high in OBP. I’d love to see his power rebound a little, but most teams will take any productivity they can get out of their catcher.
    I mentioned this earlier, but I really like where the core of Dozier, Rosario, Escobar, and Kepler fall. I think this is ideal for the middle of the order where these guys hit. Rosario and Escobar had broke out in 2017...is it time for Kepler?

    This season is huge from the Twins. They have yet to extend any of their young talent and there haven’t been any rumblings about contract talks. Maybe the organization is waiting to see what happens with Yu first or maybe they are waiting to see what 2018 entails. We all know this is a huge year for our young core. We’ll be looking to see if guys like Escobar and Roario are for real, while looking at Kepler and Berrios as possible breakout stars.
    What do you think about the data? Is it meaningful or are there other numbers we should be looking at here?
  19. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Platoon for a blog entry, Student Mailbag: Homerun Rates v. Strikeout Rates   
    Most of you probably don't know that I am a high school math teacher and junior varsity baseball coach. Recently, a student of mine asked for me to write about the record breaking home run and strikeout rates from the 2017 season. I'm going to dive into those numbers for you today, but then also look at how these numbers are reflected in the projected 2018 opening day lineup for our beloved Twins.
     
    League Overview
    To get a good set of data, I took the K% (K/PA) and HR% (HR/PA) for the last twenty-one major league seasons. Below you will find a graphical summary (follow link for a closer look) of my findings:
    You will notice that although both statistics see an increase over this timeframe, there is a much more significant increase in HR% versus K%. The most notable differences in both stats can be seen in the "statcast era" from 2014-2017 where exit velocity and launch angle data as literally been changing hitters approaches at the dish. Furthermore, it's been well documented that 2017 was a record breaking year for strikeouts and home runs.
     
    Twins Lineup Implications
    The last two seasons have seen the Minnesota Twins hit the 3rd (2017) and 4th (2016) most home runs in franchise history, which includes the 60 years they spent being known as the Washington Senators. Interestingly enough, they finished 2nd (2016) and 3rd (2017) most strikeouts in a single season over that same time. (If you're curious, the 2013 Twins struck out a franchise record 1,430 times but only hit 151 homeruns which is 70 less than their 2017 total. Ouch.) Comparably league wide, their 2016 and 2017 combined totals put them 15th in the league in homeruns and 6th in the league in strikeouts. Below shows where the each Twins player ended up in 2017 when comparing strikeout and homerun percentages:

    Not surprisingly you will see Miguel Sano lead the team in both categories and Joe Mauer was at the bottom in both categories, among the regulars. In the middle, you see the average for 2017 was a 3.29 percent homerun rate and 21.6 percent strikeout rate. Ideally, we want our Twins to be closer to the Doziers, Rosario, Escobar, and Keplers of our lineup. Guys who finished below the league average in strikeout rate but above in homerun rate. Here are some of my takeaways:
    Much ado has been made about Rosario’s plate discipline in 2017. Not only did MLB strikeout percentage drop from a career mark of 25.2 percent to 22.2 percent, but he also set a career high in homerun percentage. He will be very valuable to the Twins if 2017 wasn’t a fluke.
    Admittedly, I am someone who is ready to see Vargas find another employer. So I was a little surprised to see how high his homerun percentage was in 2017. He can become value to the Twins or elsewhere if he can work on his plate discipline. That’s a big if.
    Jason Castro was an excellent defensive catcher in 2017. He was pretty good behind the plate too. Though he lost some of his power he tied his career low in strikeout percentage and a career high in OBP. I’d love to see his power rebound a little, but most teams will take any productivity they can get out of their catcher.
    I mentioned this earlier, but I really like where the core of Dozier, Rosario, Escobar, and Kepler fall. I think this is ideal for the middle of the order where these guys hit. Rosario and Escobar had broke out in 2017...is it time for Kepler?

    This season is huge from the Twins. They have yet to extend any of their young talent and there haven’t been any rumblings about contract talks. Maybe the organization is waiting to see what happens with Yu first or maybe they are waiting to see what 2018 entails. We all know this is a huge year for our young core. We’ll be looking to see if guys like Escobar and Roario are for real, while looking at Kepler and Berrios as possible breakout stars.
    What do you think about the data? Is it meaningful or are there other numbers we should be looking at here?
  20. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from howieramone2 for a blog entry, 2018 Breakout Candidate: Stephen Gonsalves   
    Not too long ago, Tom had the great idea for the bloggers to list their breakout candidate for 2018 in his Twins Weekly article. So I spent days...nay, hours...nay, minutes(!) scouring some of my favorite baseball resources looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that nobody would ever think of. Minutes (!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would take me from a blogger-in-training to a Schefter-esque insider. Minutes (!!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would leave readers wondering if I am some crazy baseball sorcerer or just plain crazy. After awhile I thought to myself: "What are you doing?? Just listen to your gut." So here is where I fell. My breakout candidate for 2018, the 2016 and 2017 TD MiLB Pitcher of the Year, is 23-year-old LHP Stephen Gonsalves. So much for a "dark horse", eh?
     
    Gonsalves had a terrific 2017 where his most notable improvement was his command finishing almost a full walk less per nine innings than his career average (2017: 2.54 BB/9 v. 2013-2016: 3.47). Over 46 tracked fastballs (PITCHf/x has only tracked 71 total pitches), his average velocity sits at just 89.72 mph, which means control is going to be a key factor for him to have any success. Surprisingly, and despite his lack of velocity, he finished the 2017 MiLB season with a 9.65 K/9 pitching 87.1 innings at AA and 22.2 innings at AAA and a 10.78 K/9 in 74.1 innings during the 2016 season at AA. In that same timeframe he did struggle with his command posting a 4.48 BB/9, so we could say that 10+ K/9 was a result of being "wildly effective" a la Edwin Jackson. An improvement in command over a two-year period is another reason why I see him taking the next step this year.
     
    Gonsalves batted ball data in minors suggests that he is a flyball pitcher, which isn't a huge deal as Target Field is a pitchers park and...well...you know...Buxton/Rosario/Kepler. But what impressed me even a little more is that hitters don't hit him well. At levels where he made 15+ starts his LD% are as follows: 17.2% (2015 High A), 13% (2016 High A), 18.1% (2016 AA), and 19.2% (2016 AA) which are all below the MLB average of 21%. Admittedly, I know this is a little bit of apples and oranges using a MLB average to analyze minor league numbers, but I do think it gives you a gauge of where he's at. Again, Target Field tends to treat fly ball pitchers well especially with our defense...another positive sign that this could be his year.
     
    For me the make or break variable for Stephen Gonsalves will be the development of his slider and curveball. Below you will find a graphic from Brooks Baseball that uses a standardized score to rate Stephen's velocity and movement against other pitchers who fit similar criteria. Unfortunately, this is a very small sample as they only tracked 71 pitches over Gonsalves' 2016 Arizona Fall League appearances. To briefly explain this chart, a negative number means he is below average and a positive number means he is above average.

    You might notice that his slider and curveball weren't great in this limited sample. There is no PITCHf/x data for him other than this and no other resource (fangraphs, baseball ref, etc.) keeps very great MiLB SABR stats. In a recent interview with Seth Stohs, Stephen said that he was able to work on his slider so much in 2017 that "it is almost as good as his change up". If this is true and if he can carry this into 2018, then Stephen already has three solid pitches in his arsenal. In that same interview, he said that he has been working with former big leaguer David Wells this season who was known for his curveball:

     

    If Wells can help him develop his curveball into a reliable 4th pitch, then I think Stephen will be primed to make the next jump. As I said before, I think his slider and curveball are his biggest question marks coming into the season and will ultimately define if he spends most if his time in Minneapolis or Rochester this year.
     
    So what does all this mean for 2018? I think Gonsalves is part of the Spring Training battle for a back end rotation spot but ultimately starts the year at AAA. He will perform well at AAA to the point where he will be the guy called on to fill in during DL stints or for a spot start here and there. Eventually, he makes his way to the MLB roster and doesn't look back. I think he provides a boost to the back end of the rotation that may not be RoY/Cy Young worthy, but that consistently gives you a chance to compete every 5th day.
     
    What do you guys think? Who are some other breakout candidates? Anyone have a breakout candidate from a lower level in the Twins organization who may rise quickly in 2018?
  21. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from MN_ExPat for a blog entry, 2018 Breakout Candidate: Stephen Gonsalves   
    Not too long ago, Tom had the great idea for the bloggers to list their breakout candidate for 2018 in his Twins Weekly article. So I spent days...nay, hours...nay, minutes(!) scouring some of my favorite baseball resources looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that nobody would ever think of. Minutes (!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would take me from a blogger-in-training to a Schefter-esque insider. Minutes (!!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would leave readers wondering if I am some crazy baseball sorcerer or just plain crazy. After awhile I thought to myself: "What are you doing?? Just listen to your gut." So here is where I fell. My breakout candidate for 2018, the 2016 and 2017 TD MiLB Pitcher of the Year, is 23-year-old LHP Stephen Gonsalves. So much for a "dark horse", eh?
     
    Gonsalves had a terrific 2017 where his most notable improvement was his command finishing almost a full walk less per nine innings than his career average (2017: 2.54 BB/9 v. 2013-2016: 3.47). Over 46 tracked fastballs (PITCHf/x has only tracked 71 total pitches), his average velocity sits at just 89.72 mph, which means control is going to be a key factor for him to have any success. Surprisingly, and despite his lack of velocity, he finished the 2017 MiLB season with a 9.65 K/9 pitching 87.1 innings at AA and 22.2 innings at AAA and a 10.78 K/9 in 74.1 innings during the 2016 season at AA. In that same timeframe he did struggle with his command posting a 4.48 BB/9, so we could say that 10+ K/9 was a result of being "wildly effective" a la Edwin Jackson. An improvement in command over a two-year period is another reason why I see him taking the next step this year.
     
    Gonsalves batted ball data in minors suggests that he is a flyball pitcher, which isn't a huge deal as Target Field is a pitchers park and...well...you know...Buxton/Rosario/Kepler. But what impressed me even a little more is that hitters don't hit him well. At levels where he made 15+ starts his LD% are as follows: 17.2% (2015 High A), 13% (2016 High A), 18.1% (2016 AA), and 19.2% (2016 AA) which are all below the MLB average of 21%. Admittedly, I know this is a little bit of apples and oranges using a MLB average to analyze minor league numbers, but I do think it gives you a gauge of where he's at. Again, Target Field tends to treat fly ball pitchers well especially with our defense...another positive sign that this could be his year.
     
    For me the make or break variable for Stephen Gonsalves will be the development of his slider and curveball. Below you will find a graphic from Brooks Baseball that uses a standardized score to rate Stephen's velocity and movement against other pitchers who fit similar criteria. Unfortunately, this is a very small sample as they only tracked 71 pitches over Gonsalves' 2016 Arizona Fall League appearances. To briefly explain this chart, a negative number means he is below average and a positive number means he is above average.

    You might notice that his slider and curveball weren't great in this limited sample. There is no PITCHf/x data for him other than this and no other resource (fangraphs, baseball ref, etc.) keeps very great MiLB SABR stats. In a recent interview with Seth Stohs, Stephen said that he was able to work on his slider so much in 2017 that "it is almost as good as his change up". If this is true and if he can carry this into 2018, then Stephen already has three solid pitches in his arsenal. In that same interview, he said that he has been working with former big leaguer David Wells this season who was known for his curveball:

     

    If Wells can help him develop his curveball into a reliable 4th pitch, then I think Stephen will be primed to make the next jump. As I said before, I think his slider and curveball are his biggest question marks coming into the season and will ultimately define if he spends most if his time in Minneapolis or Rochester this year.
     
    So what does all this mean for 2018? I think Gonsalves is part of the Spring Training battle for a back end rotation spot but ultimately starts the year at AAA. He will perform well at AAA to the point where he will be the guy called on to fill in during DL stints or for a spot start here and there. Eventually, he makes his way to the MLB roster and doesn't look back. I think he provides a boost to the back end of the rotation that may not be RoY/Cy Young worthy, but that consistently gives you a chance to compete every 5th day.
     
    What do you guys think? Who are some other breakout candidates? Anyone have a breakout candidate from a lower level in the Twins organization who may rise quickly in 2018?
  22. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Kevin for a blog entry, 2018 Breakout Candidate: Stephen Gonsalves   
    Not too long ago, Tom had the great idea for the bloggers to list their breakout candidate for 2018 in his Twins Weekly article. So I spent days...nay, hours...nay, minutes(!) scouring some of my favorite baseball resources looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that nobody would ever think of. Minutes (!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would take me from a blogger-in-training to a Schefter-esque insider. Minutes (!!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would leave readers wondering if I am some crazy baseball sorcerer or just plain crazy. After awhile I thought to myself: "What are you doing?? Just listen to your gut." So here is where I fell. My breakout candidate for 2018, the 2016 and 2017 TD MiLB Pitcher of the Year, is 23-year-old LHP Stephen Gonsalves. So much for a "dark horse", eh?
     
    Gonsalves had a terrific 2017 where his most notable improvement was his command finishing almost a full walk less per nine innings than his career average (2017: 2.54 BB/9 v. 2013-2016: 3.47). Over 46 tracked fastballs (PITCHf/x has only tracked 71 total pitches), his average velocity sits at just 89.72 mph, which means control is going to be a key factor for him to have any success. Surprisingly, and despite his lack of velocity, he finished the 2017 MiLB season with a 9.65 K/9 pitching 87.1 innings at AA and 22.2 innings at AAA and a 10.78 K/9 in 74.1 innings during the 2016 season at AA. In that same timeframe he did struggle with his command posting a 4.48 BB/9, so we could say that 10+ K/9 was a result of being "wildly effective" a la Edwin Jackson. An improvement in command over a two-year period is another reason why I see him taking the next step this year.
     
    Gonsalves batted ball data in minors suggests that he is a flyball pitcher, which isn't a huge deal as Target Field is a pitchers park and...well...you know...Buxton/Rosario/Kepler. But what impressed me even a little more is that hitters don't hit him well. At levels where he made 15+ starts his LD% are as follows: 17.2% (2015 High A), 13% (2016 High A), 18.1% (2016 AA), and 19.2% (2016 AA) which are all below the MLB average of 21%. Admittedly, I know this is a little bit of apples and oranges using a MLB average to analyze minor league numbers, but I do think it gives you a gauge of where he's at. Again, Target Field tends to treat fly ball pitchers well especially with our defense...another positive sign that this could be his year.
     
    For me the make or break variable for Stephen Gonsalves will be the development of his slider and curveball. Below you will find a graphic from Brooks Baseball that uses a standardized score to rate Stephen's velocity and movement against other pitchers who fit similar criteria. Unfortunately, this is a very small sample as they only tracked 71 pitches over Gonsalves' 2016 Arizona Fall League appearances. To briefly explain this chart, a negative number means he is below average and a positive number means he is above average.

    You might notice that his slider and curveball weren't great in this limited sample. There is no PITCHf/x data for him other than this and no other resource (fangraphs, baseball ref, etc.) keeps very great MiLB SABR stats. In a recent interview with Seth Stohs, Stephen said that he was able to work on his slider so much in 2017 that "it is almost as good as his change up". If this is true and if he can carry this into 2018, then Stephen already has three solid pitches in his arsenal. In that same interview, he said that he has been working with former big leaguer David Wells this season who was known for his curveball:

     

    If Wells can help him develop his curveball into a reliable 4th pitch, then I think Stephen will be primed to make the next jump. As I said before, I think his slider and curveball are his biggest question marks coming into the season and will ultimately define if he spends most if his time in Minneapolis or Rochester this year.
     
    So what does all this mean for 2018? I think Gonsalves is part of the Spring Training battle for a back end rotation spot but ultimately starts the year at AAA. He will perform well at AAA to the point where he will be the guy called on to fill in during DL stints or for a spot start here and there. Eventually, he makes his way to the MLB roster and doesn't look back. I think he provides a boost to the back end of the rotation that may not be RoY/Cy Young worthy, but that consistently gives you a chance to compete every 5th day.
     
    What do you guys think? Who are some other breakout candidates? Anyone have a breakout candidate from a lower level in the Twins organization who may rise quickly in 2018?
  23. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Tom Froemming for a blog entry, 2018 Breakout Candidate: Stephen Gonsalves   
    Not too long ago, Tom had the great idea for the bloggers to list their breakout candidate for 2018 in his Twins Weekly article. So I spent days...nay, hours...nay, minutes(!) scouring some of my favorite baseball resources looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that nobody would ever think of. Minutes (!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would take me from a blogger-in-training to a Schefter-esque insider. Minutes (!!!), looking for the dark horse breakout candidate that would leave readers wondering if I am some crazy baseball sorcerer or just plain crazy. After awhile I thought to myself: "What are you doing?? Just listen to your gut." So here is where I fell. My breakout candidate for 2018, the 2016 and 2017 TD MiLB Pitcher of the Year, is 23-year-old LHP Stephen Gonsalves. So much for a "dark horse", eh?
     
    Gonsalves had a terrific 2017 where his most notable improvement was his command finishing almost a full walk less per nine innings than his career average (2017: 2.54 BB/9 v. 2013-2016: 3.47). Over 46 tracked fastballs (PITCHf/x has only tracked 71 total pitches), his average velocity sits at just 89.72 mph, which means control is going to be a key factor for him to have any success. Surprisingly, and despite his lack of velocity, he finished the 2017 MiLB season with a 9.65 K/9 pitching 87.1 innings at AA and 22.2 innings at AAA and a 10.78 K/9 in 74.1 innings during the 2016 season at AA. In that same timeframe he did struggle with his command posting a 4.48 BB/9, so we could say that 10+ K/9 was a result of being "wildly effective" a la Edwin Jackson. An improvement in command over a two-year period is another reason why I see him taking the next step this year.
     
    Gonsalves batted ball data in minors suggests that he is a flyball pitcher, which isn't a huge deal as Target Field is a pitchers park and...well...you know...Buxton/Rosario/Kepler. But what impressed me even a little more is that hitters don't hit him well. At levels where he made 15+ starts his LD% are as follows: 17.2% (2015 High A), 13% (2016 High A), 18.1% (2016 AA), and 19.2% (2016 AA) which are all below the MLB average of 21%. Admittedly, I know this is a little bit of apples and oranges using a MLB average to analyze minor league numbers, but I do think it gives you a gauge of where he's at. Again, Target Field tends to treat fly ball pitchers well especially with our defense...another positive sign that this could be his year.
     
    For me the make or break variable for Stephen Gonsalves will be the development of his slider and curveball. Below you will find a graphic from Brooks Baseball that uses a standardized score to rate Stephen's velocity and movement against other pitchers who fit similar criteria. Unfortunately, this is a very small sample as they only tracked 71 pitches over Gonsalves' 2016 Arizona Fall League appearances. To briefly explain this chart, a negative number means he is below average and a positive number means he is above average.

    You might notice that his slider and curveball weren't great in this limited sample. There is no PITCHf/x data for him other than this and no other resource (fangraphs, baseball ref, etc.) keeps very great MiLB SABR stats. In a recent interview with Seth Stohs, Stephen said that he was able to work on his slider so much in 2017 that "it is almost as good as his change up". If this is true and if he can carry this into 2018, then Stephen already has three solid pitches in his arsenal. In that same interview, he said that he has been working with former big leaguer David Wells this season who was known for his curveball:

     

    If Wells can help him develop his curveball into a reliable 4th pitch, then I think Stephen will be primed to make the next jump. As I said before, I think his slider and curveball are his biggest question marks coming into the season and will ultimately define if he spends most if his time in Minneapolis or Rochester this year.
     
    So what does all this mean for 2018? I think Gonsalves is part of the Spring Training battle for a back end rotation spot but ultimately starts the year at AAA. He will perform well at AAA to the point where he will be the guy called on to fill in during DL stints or for a spot start here and there. Eventually, he makes his way to the MLB roster and doesn't look back. I think he provides a boost to the back end of the rotation that may not be RoY/Cy Young worthy, but that consistently gives you a chance to compete every 5th day.
     
    What do you guys think? Who are some other breakout candidates? Anyone have a breakout candidate from a lower level in the Twins organization who may rise quickly in 2018?
  24. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from markos for a blog entry, Understanding the "Quality of Pitch" (QOP/QOPA/QOPV) Statistics   
    I've spent a lot of time over the last few days reading about a relatively new statistic called "quality of pitch" (QOP), which assigns a numerical value to each pitch a pitcher throws. The values can then averaged together to come up with a pitchers average quality of pitch (QOPA) or you can look at a quality of pitch set of values (QOPV) as another tool to measure the performance of a pitcher. The purpose of this post is to provide a simple overview of this data as it may be referenced in future articles.
     
    Background
    QOP was first publicly introduced in March 2015 by Jason Wilson and Wayne Greiner. Since then it has been written in various publications such as "Baseball America", the "Fangraphs", and by Yahoo Sports! columnist Jeff Passan among others. Meanwhile, Wilson and Greiner have presented their findings at the 2015 SABR Analytics Conference. In short, this statistic was introduced and quickly regarded as a good tool to measures a pitchers performance in a way the baseball community has not previously done before.
     
    Computation
    QOP is computed by integrating velocity (MPH), pitch location, and pitch movement. Pitch movement is defined as the vertical break, horizontal break, breaking distance, and/or rise. These variables are put together and assigned a number 0 - 10, where 0 is a very poor pitch and 10 is an excellent pitch. The MLB average QOP is 4.5 and median is 5.

     
    Here is an example of QOP being used.

    Validation
    Wilson and Greiner have measured QOP against ERA, FIP, and SIERA which all produced a strong, negative correlation. That is, the better the QOP the lower the ERA/FIP/SIERA.

    Furthermore, a search of the top 10 2017 QOPA leaders for pitchers who threw 1,000 or more pitches provides you with a list of some of the more effective pitchers in baseball.

     
    Limitations
    As with all stats, QOP has its limitations. From a mathematical perspective anytime we are averaging numbers together the data can be skewed by outliers, and QOP is no exception to this rule. To help minimize the effect of outliers Wilson and Greiner have created a guide to determine the margin of error depending on the sample size.
     
    From a baseball perspective, QOP doesn't take into account of a pitcher who misses his spots. That is, if the catcher calls for a fastball high and inside but the pitcher throws it low and outside he could still get a high QOP score despite completely missing his spot. If technology exists for the location and break of each ball to be tracked, then I would like to see something developed that also accounts for the movement of the catcher's glove.
     
    Author's Conclusion
    Again, this post was solely meant to introduce you to this stat without diving into specifics on Twins pitchers. Personally, I look forward to using this stat and wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing it more and more in future posts by me or any other Twins Daily writer. Despite its limitations, I think it provides fans with a different, more insightful perspective than the traditional pitching stats (W/L, ERA, WHIP, etc.), especially when coupled with other SABR pitching stats.
     
    I also wonder how well this stat can be used to predict future outcomes. I look at the list above and a couple names surprised me, but specifically Joe Biagini who was also a top 10 QOPA guy in 2016 under the same criteria. A quick look at his fangraphs page shows that he hasn't been great in 162.0 big league innings. Is this the sign of a good pitcher who has just had some bad luck early in his career? Or is he the poster child for how finding the average QOP can, at times, be a misleading statistic?
     
    What do you guys think about this stat? Is this something you would look forward to seeing in future articles? What are your thoughts in the curious case of Joe Biagini?
  25. Like
    Matthew Lenz got a reaction from Oldgoat_MN for a blog entry, Understanding the "Quality of Pitch" (QOP/QOPA/QOPV) Statistics   
    I've spent a lot of time over the last few days reading about a relatively new statistic called "quality of pitch" (QOP), which assigns a numerical value to each pitch a pitcher throws. The values can then averaged together to come up with a pitchers average quality of pitch (QOPA) or you can look at a quality of pitch set of values (QOPV) as another tool to measure the performance of a pitcher. The purpose of this post is to provide a simple overview of this data as it may be referenced in future articles.
     
    Background
    QOP was first publicly introduced in March 2015 by Jason Wilson and Wayne Greiner. Since then it has been written in various publications such as "Baseball America", the "Fangraphs", and by Yahoo Sports! columnist Jeff Passan among others. Meanwhile, Wilson and Greiner have presented their findings at the 2015 SABR Analytics Conference. In short, this statistic was introduced and quickly regarded as a good tool to measures a pitchers performance in a way the baseball community has not previously done before.
     
    Computation
    QOP is computed by integrating velocity (MPH), pitch location, and pitch movement. Pitch movement is defined as the vertical break, horizontal break, breaking distance, and/or rise. These variables are put together and assigned a number 0 - 10, where 0 is a very poor pitch and 10 is an excellent pitch. The MLB average QOP is 4.5 and median is 5.

     
    Here is an example of QOP being used.

    Validation
    Wilson and Greiner have measured QOP against ERA, FIP, and SIERA which all produced a strong, negative correlation. That is, the better the QOP the lower the ERA/FIP/SIERA.

    Furthermore, a search of the top 10 2017 QOPA leaders for pitchers who threw 1,000 or more pitches provides you with a list of some of the more effective pitchers in baseball.

     
    Limitations
    As with all stats, QOP has its limitations. From a mathematical perspective anytime we are averaging numbers together the data can be skewed by outliers, and QOP is no exception to this rule. To help minimize the effect of outliers Wilson and Greiner have created a guide to determine the margin of error depending on the sample size.
     
    From a baseball perspective, QOP doesn't take into account of a pitcher who misses his spots. That is, if the catcher calls for a fastball high and inside but the pitcher throws it low and outside he could still get a high QOP score despite completely missing his spot. If technology exists for the location and break of each ball to be tracked, then I would like to see something developed that also accounts for the movement of the catcher's glove.
     
    Author's Conclusion
    Again, this post was solely meant to introduce you to this stat without diving into specifics on Twins pitchers. Personally, I look forward to using this stat and wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing it more and more in future posts by me or any other Twins Daily writer. Despite its limitations, I think it provides fans with a different, more insightful perspective than the traditional pitching stats (W/L, ERA, WHIP, etc.), especially when coupled with other SABR pitching stats.
     
    I also wonder how well this stat can be used to predict future outcomes. I look at the list above and a couple names surprised me, but specifically Joe Biagini who was also a top 10 QOPA guy in 2016 under the same criteria. A quick look at his fangraphs page shows that he hasn't been great in 162.0 big league innings. Is this the sign of a good pitcher who has just had some bad luck early in his career? Or is he the poster child for how finding the average QOP can, at times, be a misleading statistic?
     
    What do you guys think about this stat? Is this something you would look forward to seeing in future articles? What are your thoughts in the curious case of Joe Biagini?
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