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bean5302

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  1. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Minny505 for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  2. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Sconnie for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  3. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Heiny for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  4. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  5. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Royce Lewis: the Man, the Leg Kick, the Shortstop?   
    Lewis is undeniably the highest ceiling prospect in the Twins’ system. Drafted #1 overall with a collection of physical tools often boiled down to just “athleticism” but what that actually means is Lewis possesses elite speed, a strong arm, quick feet and raw power. Lewis also has the work ethic and attitude to succeed.
    Anybody having questions about Lewis’ professionalism or makeup can watch this clip from an interview posted on YouTube by MLB on March 5th, just shortly after Lewis’ ACL surgery. He’s more articulate, confident, charismatic and thoughtful than most MLB veterans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coBBWY0hlBI
    Here’s an awesome 45 minute USA Baseball interview with Royce Lewis from April of this year. It’s worth a watch, but as a warning, you’re going to come away from it pulling even harder for Lewis to succeed. Hard to believe it only had 70 views when I found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooangyknwdg
    So it all sounds great on paper, but there are quite a few lingering questions about Lewis. The question I’ve seen concern about most recently on Twins Daily is whether the Twins expect Lewis to stick at shortstop. In specific, there are some scouts out there who aren’t sold on Lewis’ arm at shortstop and Lewis has really struggled with errors in his first season at short in the minors. So what’s the problem with his arm if it’s graded as a 60? According to scouting reports I’ve dug up and read closely, it’s his release. Lewis’ throws tend to have a long release or windup which offsets his actual strength and there’s questions about his throwing accuracy. In 2020’s alternate site, the Twins worked closely with Lewis to improve his throwing technique to address those issues. If you watched the latter video link above, Lewis makes it very clear the Twins are dead set on Lewis being a shortstop so whatever concerns there are about his arm seem to exist only outside the organization.
    The other question is about Lewis’ hit tool. Regardless of glowing scouting reports and athleticism, players have to ultimately put up the numbers at the plate worthy of promotion and playing time at the MLB level. Lewis’ hit tool has taken a huge beating over the past couple years. Lewis’ walk rate is poor and his strikeout rate is mediocre at best suggesting a poor eye at the plate and he had weak batting average and power numbers. Any of Lewis’ struggles are sometimes attributed to his exaggerated leg kick, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s massive. Leg kicks create problems when it comes to timing and Lewis’ leg kick is so early and large, it seems like it can put him in a position where he’s off balance when he needs to swing. Timing both the pitcher’s delivery and the pitch’s location and speed increases the difficulty of having success at the plate. But does a big leg kick have to be detrimental to a young player? Not at all. Royce Lewis has been quoted as being confident in his leg kick and positioning, but he understands people immediately turn to it because it’s unusual. If there’s one thing Twins fans who’ve followed our prospects know, a coaching staff having a player constantly fiddling with leg kicks makes a mess of young hitters. The Twins are also on record saying the leg kick is not a problem. Still, it’s the target of amateur batting coaches everywhere.
    So how about that big leg kick being impossible for success? Let’s compare. A 23 year old Blue Jays All Star shortstop named Bo Bichette to our own 22 year old top prospect shortstop Royce Lewis. Bichette on the left and Lewis on the right.

     
    Bichette generates most of his big power from his corkscrew approach, winding up his core so that his back angles towards the pitcher, and that approach is particularly problematic for timing and hit tools, but he makes it work because he keeps his balance and his shoulders and arms stay level. Lewis’ leg kick is very similar to Bichette, but Lewis’ mechanics are more simple and don’t involve the big corkscrew windup. Lewis’ swing has been called messy with too many moving components making it inconsistent. If you look at the images, though, you can see there isn’t a ton of extra noise and the Twins have been continuing to work with Lewis on his approach including the 2020 alternate site, though the high hands required Lewis to add movement before the swing both down and in the opposite direction of his swing beforehand. Keep in mind, the GIFs I created show Bichette this year and Lewis 2 years ago. Regardless, Bichette is All Star proof the leg kick can work just fine, even for a young player.
    So if the leg kick isn’t preventing Lewis’ success, what’s wrong? Where are the results? Well, he was age 20 in AA and he only had 148 plate appearances at the level in the last season Lewis played, not to mention Lewis ripped the cover off the ball later that year at the Arizona Fall League to the tune of .353/.411/.565 OPS .975 in 95 plate appearances. When dealing with small sample sizes for a young player who is making adjustments, struggling can be part of the game. After all, the approach and adjustments are the most important part, not the end result. That said… I feel like the AFL is more tuned towards performance and getting experience than adjustments the coaching staff might make during the minor league season and Lewis absolutely produced and impressed there, just like you’d expect of a top prospect.
    The linked scouting report breaks Lewis down quite a bit and provides some insight into his troubles at the plate. https://www.prospectslive.com/scoutingreports/royce-lewis “Shows an eye for the zone but does not want to walk; passive approach early in counts may play against him, yielding poor strikeouts and walks both.” Of course, the same scouting report attacks the leg kick, but if we’re to believe the leg kick isn’t the issue, Lewis has some significant room to improve with his approach at the plate to balance his aggression. That kind of thing can just come with experience… unless your name is NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario…
    When it comes down to it, there is no prospect in the system with more potential to be a super star or who causes more anxiety with Twins fans than Royce Lewis. If any prospect has the character, work ethic and physical skills to make it all work, Lewis fits the bill. 2022 is unbelievably important for Lewis and his development. Here’s hoping the young prospect recovers fully from his ACL surgery, doesn’t lose a step and shows all the work at the alternate site and in the classroom pay off big time. The Twins could sure use an MLB caliber shortstop sooner than later and I’m sure nothing would please Lewis more than to prove he’s got what it takes.
     
  6. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Minny505 for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  7. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from wabene for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  8. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  9. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, Josh Donaldson Crushed Baseballs in 2021   
    Many people are down on Donaldson thanks to his good, but not exactly great performance at the plate this year compared with his $21MM payday over 2021 and still guaranteed for the next two seasons. The expectation is his legs have all but given up with him coasting into his mid 30s on a big contract as another aging star fading out. The thing is, his batted ball data says Donaldson was absolutely getting the shaft. Donaldson is actually having a career year in terms of the metrics. He’s annihilating the baseball with the best barrel rate and exit velocity of his career, he’s launching it at an optimal angle, he’s striking out less than he has since 2016 and still walking in the top 10% of all baseball. The expected markers say Donaldson should be performing at the plate like his 5+ WAR seasons of old, but the results just weren’t there. Is it luck, is it the shift, the lead plates in his shoes or high speed worm burners instead of towering fly balls coming off Donaldson’s bat?

    Before we get into the analytics, what were Donaldson’s results compared to his peak years from 2015-2019 and his career averages? Looking at Fangraphs data:
      AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS BB% K% 2021 .247 .352 .475 .228 .827 13.6 21.0 Peak .276 .382 .541 .265 .923 14.0 20.5 Career .269 .367 .505 .235 .872 12.7 20.0
    The glaring issue is really the batting average which drives both the AVG and SLG components of OPS, and there’s good news in regard to Donaldson’s results on the surface here. He had the lowest BABIP of his entire career last year by 10 points at .268 with his previous low of .278 coming way back in 2014 before he turned into the MVP caliber hitter he became. Donaldson’s BABIP was also nearly 30 points lower than his career BABIP of .295. There are factors which influence BABIP from running speed to batted ball type to exit velocity and launch angles and as hitters push into their 30s, sometimes their eyes and legs show it. Swing and miss increases, walks taper off, balls don’t pop off the bat like they used to and that extra time to get to first base turns one time hits and doubles into outs and singles. Donaldson’s walk and strikeout rates remained right at his prime levels so it seems unlikely his reactions and eyes have aged. Let’s look into the rest.

    2021 vs. Peak years of 2015-2019 reveals line drive rates (17.1% vs 19.1%), ground ball rates (43.0% vs. 42.1%) and fly ball rates (39.9% vs. 38.8%) are right where they should be, but Fangraphs shows a potentially insignificant increase in pop up rates (12.9% vs. 10.6%) and drop in HR/FB rate (18.6% vs. 22.4%). Pop up rate increases and decreases in fly balls which turn into home runs can come from luck or be used as a signal a player just isn’t hitting the ball as well. Is Donaldson hitting the ball as hard as he used to? Yes, actually, even harder. Using Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Donaldson’s 94.1mph average exit velocity ranked 4th in MLB and his 17.4% barrel rate per batted ball event ranked 8th in MLB. Donaldson’s 52.7% hard hit rate from Statcast (balls hit over 95mph) was good for 11th best in MLB where Fangraphs had his 40.2% hard hit rate ranked 17th across all qualified MLB hitters using the much tougher Baseball Info Solutions algorithm. The bottom line? Donaldson was an elite MLB batter in terms of walk rate, exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate. He also had a near ideal 14.6% launch angle. Even looking into Donaldson’s average fly ball distance didn’t reveal any obvious changes from his peak years. Based on the advanced batted ball data and metrics, nobody could be as angry about the results as Josh Donaldson himself. He was hitting the ball like an MVP, but getting results which don’t even look All Star level. Plotting Donaldson’s batted ball data out against the rest of MLB…

     
    It's clear, Donaldson is putting all but the other elite MLB batters to shame in the way the ball rockets off the bat. Donaldson’s numbers are all obviously heads above the top 10% batter thresholds. There aren’t any accidents when it comes to ranks… and about those ranks, Donaldson’s page on Baseball Savant has enough red marks (top 10% in MLB) on it since 2015, including this year, to make you think the website was broken.

    That said, even if a player is hitting a ball hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be expected to produce at a high level. Hitting a whole bunch of 100mph worm burners isn’t going to do much for a player’s OPS. So how about those expected results? They’re impressive and Donaldson seems to be the victim of bad luck right across the board. If you’re still not into wOBA, .385 would probably correspond with an OPS+ or wRC+ in the mid 140s. For calculating xOPS, I used xBA + Donaldson's actual walks and hit by pitch data along with his xSLG.
      Actual Expected AVG .247 .266 SLG .475 .533 OPS .827 .901 wOBA .353 .385 Homers 26 30 Of course, some players simply don’t seem to track consistently with metrics. There are pitchers who routinely and significantly outperform or underperform their FIPs, for example. What about Donaldson? The graph below paints a very clear picture. His xOPS has typically been better than expected, but his xwOBA is almost always pretty close to expectations. Keep in mind that 2018 and 2020 were small sample size years for Donaldson. This past season was the first time in his career that Donaldson was way off his expected wOBA, and it was the first time his actual production was significantly below his expected wOBA.

    The next item up for me is always the shift. According to Fangraphs’ data, Donaldson hit .289 against the shift this season, but his overall production against the shift wasn’t great at wRC+ 81 in a somewhat small sample size. It seems like his walk rate and ISO tanked. Since we are still dealing with quite a bit of randomness in regard to Fangraphs’ shift reporting and small sample size, I don’t think there’s much to take away from it. That said, Fangraphs showed a higher shift rate deployed against Donaldson than he’d ever seen in his career by a mile even though Donaldson isn’t strictly a pull hitter. Considering Donaldson was certainly effective at recording hits against the shift, I don’t think the shift is the reason for the lack of production.
    Finally, how about speed? Well here’s one place where Donaldson is in obvious and serious decline. Being one of the slowest players in all of baseball can have a serious negative impact on batting average and slugging percentage. Back in Donaldson’s heyday, his sprint speed was in the 26.5 ft/sec range, putting him into a pretty solid average runner category. It’s dropped precipitously the last few years placing him as one of the slowest runners in all of MLB this year with a miserable 24.5 ft/sec. It takes about 4 seconds on average to run from the plate to first base. In 2021 Donaldson was 10 feet and 2 strides away from the bag when 2016 Donaldson or this year’s Brent Rooker would have crossed it. The gaps continue to increase on an attempt at a two bagger. Donaldson reaches 2nd base in his prime 17 feet ahead of today’s Donaldson. Doubles have to be no-doubters for 2021 Donaldson. This plays into defense, too as Donaldson’s range has fallen from average-ish to very poor this year. Fangraphs UZR indicates Donaldson was unplayable at 3B this year with a UZR/150 of -19.4 due almost exclusively to his fall off in range. Baseball Reference, as expected, graded him much better using Range Factor as the shift artificially hides how poorly Twins fielders actually perform by providing Twins fielders with more opportunities to field balls which would have otherwise slipped through the gaps.
    So what was Donaldson missing from his production which he should have seen? Was it the missing doubles from Donaldson scrambling down the basepaths like a car running a dragstrip dragging two flat tires? Seemingly, no. Donaldson managed 26 two baggers; maybe a tick higher than typical career expected rates. Honestly, it seems like singles and home runs are what’s lacking. Looking at the hit spray chart, I counted 11 doubles which could very well have been home runs, depending on the field where Donaldson hit them this year. Baseball Savant’s expected home runs for one thing sat at 30. That correlates with how many home runs he would have hit at the average MLB ballpark given his individual, real fly balls. If he played all his games in San Diego, he would have hit 36 bombs. Surprisingly, Target Field seems to be a poor location for Donaldson this year with just 27 expected based on his batted ball data. Considering Target Field doesn’t typically punish right handed hitters like it does lefties with that tall right field wall, I’d chalk this up to a straight up fluke. It’s worth noting a few unlucky doubles turning into home runs helps Donaldson somewhat, but his iron boots would prevent him from wheeling around 1st to stretch that single out for an extra base so some stat lines are likely to drop off from his absolute prime, which is to be expected as Donaldson navigates through his mid 30s.
    Let’s summarize this up. Donaldson his crushing the baseball and he had the worst luck he’s ever had in his career in multiple ways. From hits which should have been home runs to balls having eyes for pillowy soft gloves instead of green fields, nothing seemed to go right. His batted ball data is undeniably elite and he’s hitting the ball as well as he’s hit it in his entire career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in decline. Seemingly chronic, frustrating calf injuries and age have sapped his speed to diminish his defensive value and undoubtedly stolen some extra bases or even a couple singles. The Twins are likely looking to move Donaldson this offseason, even if they have to eat some of his contract, but it may be foolhardy to sell low on a player who may well have a couple more 4-5 WAR seasons left. There are other DH options taking up space on the roster who might be less expensive to move and likely to produce less at the plate. If Donaldson crushes baseballs yet again next year, it would be unfathomable for the bad luck to continue and nothing would be crazy frustrating to watch Donaldson start a couple more All Star games wearing the wrong uniform while the Twins pay for it.
     
     
  10. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from DocBauer for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  11. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Melissa for a blog entry, Is Trevor Larnach Better Than His Stats?   
    Like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach has failed to impress in his rookie season, but Larnach has a lot more wiggle room for many fans. Larnach is, after all, 2 years younger than Rooker and Larnach barely played above the A+ ball level with only 181 plate appearances in AA in 2019. The loss of the 2020 season made a mess out of a lot of the projections for prospects with the prospects who were getting their first taste of the high minors in AA probably being hit the hardest. Larnach’s production this year hasn’t been what fans had hoped for, but with his limited upper MiLB experience, there’s reason to hope it was bad luck or a single pitch that troubled him on way to his .223/.322/.350, .677 OPS, wRC+ 89, OPS+ 88, wOBA .301 performance across a significant 301 appearances at the plate.

    Since Larnach doesn’t have the MiLB track record Rooker does, it’s important to take a peek at who Larnach was expected to be. Prior to his draft year in 2018, Larnach was a 40th round draft pick out of high school in 2015 and wasn’t considered a high round pick before his breakout junior season at Oregon State.
    Year Level Age AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS 2016 Oregon St. Freshman .157 .271 .176 .019 .448 2017 Oregon St. Sophomore .303 .421 .429 .126 .850 2018 Oregon St. Junior .348 .463 .652 .304 1.116 2018 Rk / Low-A a21 .303 .390 .500 .197 .890 2019 A+ / AA a22 .309 .384 .458 .149 .842 2021 MLB a24 .223 .322 .350 .127 .672 2021 AAA a24 .176 .323 .373 .197 .695 After the draft, MLB.com had Larnach as the Twins’ 6th ranked prospect and gave him scouting grades as follows: Hit 55, Power 55, Run 40, Arm 55, Field 50, Overall 50. Larnach was widely considered a bat only prospect due to his poor speed limiting Larnach to projections of a serviceable defensive option in left field. Larnach’s hit tool was considered very advanced as he drove the ball hard off the bat, had experience in the Cape Cod league with wooden bats against high levels of competition and used the entire field which largely made him immune to shifts. That said, Larnach’s hit tool wasn’t considered plus-plus because of the fair amount of swing and miss at the plate. Once in college, Larnach had raw strength and bat speed from putting on 50lbs of weight to his high school frame, but his draft stock stayed low through his sophomore year as he needed to hit for power to generate high interest levels. When Larnach’s power appeared to blossom with 19 home runs in 2018 as a junior in a tough college division, scouts rocketed Larnach up the draft ranks despite the limited track record as it was always felt he had the potential to grow into the long ball. 
    Unfortunately, Larnach’s swing looks to be more like Joe Mauer than Justin Morneau so the home run power hasn’t re-materialized and 2018’s long ball show is beginning to look more like an aberration than the norm. Larnach’s ceiling is likely far lower now, but it doesn’t mean he can’t provide value at the MLB level using only an advanced hit tool and serviceable defense in the corners; he’s just not going to be projecting as a regular All Star. That would still be a huge win for the front office. So let’s dive into the metrics to see what’s going on cause this year was ugly.

    First off, was Larnach just unlucky in his first taste of the big show? Luck can bounce both ways and a half season worth of baseball can quickly shift around across a full season of plate appearances.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .223 .322 .350 .672 .301 Expected* .208 .309 .369 .678 .304 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .209 which results in 54.34 hits, but since that’s not a real number, I rounded down to 54 hits. His xSLG was .368 which resulted in 95.68 bases so I rounded up to 96 for xSLG calcs. I used Larnach’s actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.
    There isn’t an obvious luck factor to see in the numbers. A few points of AVG loss is more than made up for by some SLG improvement. As a player who was touted as using the whole field, Larnach has been pretty pull heavy with a 39.9% / 33.5% / 26.6% pull, center, opposite ratio, from BaseballSavant, but it’s not a profile where the split would be particularly effective. Still, Fangraphs reports MLB teams frequently deployed the shift against Larnach anyway. None of Larnach’s home runs went to the opposite field this year with virtually everything in left field just winding up as a single. The lack of home runs and extra base hits is to be expected once Larnach’s batted ball data is reviewed; he’s been a heavy ground ball hitter at about 45% grounders. Fangraphs and BaseballSavant differ in the fly ball data with Fangraphs showing 35.4% vs. BaseballSavant’s 29.7%. Despite the relatively poor outcomes for Larnach, he does hit the ball fairly hard as advertised with an above average 90.0 mph exit velocity, and MLB average-ish 41.1% hard hit and 9.5% barrel rates according to Statcast metrics. Larnach’s reported launch angle should be a productive, but non-optimal 13.1* despite all the grounders. It’s also worth looking into his splits performance, since he is a lefty. In regard to that, he was utterly unplayable against LHP with a wRC+ of 44, but his performance against RHP isn’t truly good enough to justify a platoon role with a wRC+ of 109. It does provide some silver lining since southpaws throw less than 30% of innings at the MLB level. A step forward could make Larnach a platoon type player.
     
     
     All this brings us to plate discipline. Larnach’s solid enough 10.3% walk rate suggests he has a capable enough eye at the plate, but the 34.6% strikeout rate is well below MLB average so lets dig in here a bit. Warning… here’s where it goes off the rails. Larnach has a somewhat better than average O-swing% (swings outside the strike zone) which supports the argument for an MLB caliber eye at the plate shown in the chart.

    However, the PitchFX and PitchInfo data from Fangraphs O-contact% rates at abysmal 38.2% and 32.9%, respectively. Expanding beyond the O-swing results shows Larnach is passive at the plate, swinging only 43.8% of the time (bottom 17.5%) with the 3rd worst contact rate among the 252 batters with 300+ plate appearances in MLB this year. Lending support to being passive at the plate, Larnach takes a called strike 18.1% of the time, which is more often than over 3/4 of other MLB batters. Honestly, it looks like Larnach is struggling to tell balls from strikes so he’s hoping for a walk or a meatball, but when he does swing, he often misjudges the pitch and winds up whiffing. In fact, whiffing more often than 96% of other MLB batters with 300+ plate appearances based on Fangraphs’ data. It’s bad. It’s real bad.

    We know Larnach is struggling with pitch recognition based on the data, but is it a specific pitch or pitch category where he might be able to adjust his game to prevent being exposed? Unfortunately, no. Larnach crushes 4 seam fastballs, but he doesn’t really hit much else. The data from BaseballSavant shows he’s utterly outmatched by MLB secondary pitches in general.
      xBA xSLG xwOBA Whiff% Fastball .266 .515 .377 22.3 Breaking .155 .236 .260 55.0 Offspeed .158 .225 .192 54.0 Looking into Larnach’s run value by pitch on BaseballSavant shows Larnach cannot identify a changeup (18.4% of pitches), cannot handle sliders (19.0% of pitches) and also struggles greatly against sinkers (15.9% of pitches). Larnach has been a little better than MLB average against curveballs (11.3% of pitches), though. Essentially, don’t throw Larnach a 4 seamer or curveball and the opposing pitcher will probably be fine. It’s worth noting Fangraphs’ data from PitchFX and PitchInfo both back up BaseballSavant’s data. Comparing Larnach to other MLB hitters based on PitchFX data from Fangraphs, Larnach is in the bottom 5% for changeup and bottom 30% for the slider performance, but that’s a raw runs produced number without context of how many pitches he’s seen of each. Looking at BaseballSavant, Larnach is bottom 4% for changeup (7/175), 9% for slider (25/290) and 11% for sinker (25/245) per pitch seen, based on hitters with at least 50 plate appearances vs. those pitches. There are literally no pitches which Larnach produces positive value other than the 4 seam fastball… and maybe ever so slightly, the curveball depending on the source.
    Defensively, Larnach’s speed is his limiting factor already at just age 24. Larnach’s sprint speed is 26.5ft/sec which is significantly below median for MLB or corner outfielders at 27.3 or 27.5ft/sec, respectively. That said, Larnach does accelerate to his top speed quickly and he’s been an average MLB route runner despite limited experience. This lives up to the scouting reports at draft day which said Larnach possesses good baseball instincts in the field to help make up for his disadvantage in speed. In addition, Larnach has arm strength which is graded above average which should help prevent base runners from confidently stretching their hits for another base or carelessly tagging to advance. Larnach is unlikely to ever be an average or plus defender on the field, but he may remain serviceable for a few years, especially with good positioning and a steady position to play.
    Let’s summarize the good and bad here. On the good side of things, Larnach can clearly crush 4 seamers and was solid against curveballs despite his limited experience against high level pitching and loss of the 2020 season for development against full competition. Pitchers looking to get an out aren’t going to be able to do it with Larnach at the plate simply by throwing heat past him as he’ll catch up to it and make them pay and woe be the righty pitcher who with a 4 seamer and curveball as their bread and butter. When Larnach makes contact with his swings, he hits the ball a little better than the MLB average hitter with good exit velocity and he was able to accomplish those things despite having very little experience at the high MiLB level. Larnach’s instincts in the field are good, he makes the most of his physical abilities and the combination of skills and ability allow him to play corner outfield effectively enough so he’s not a glorified DH at this point in his career. Furthermore, Larnach was just getting a good taste of AA before the lost 2020 season and his call up to the MLB squad was potentially hastened by other player injuries, perhaps a bit earlier than the Twins wanted. With encouraging numbers from AA in 2019, the 2021 campaigns struggles may just be a bad season influenced by confidence issues and Larnach is still relatively young coming into his age 25 season next year. Finally, Larnach has plenty of MLB options left to give him room to take a step forward. Of course, that’s the optimistic view. On the not good side, Larnach is not particularly young for a prospect, either as he approaches the end point for prospect status at age 25, and while he did lose out on 2020 in terms of professional seasons, he was part of the Twins alternate site where he got a lot of valuable coaching time. Larnach was arguably more advanced than other college juniors when he was drafted because of his experience in the Cape Cod league which uses wooden bats and he was scouted as a polished bat who wouldn’t need much time to get up to MLB ready. He’s had some time now and his small, but somewhat  relevant sample size from his demotion to AAA wasn’t encouraging. There’s a big difference between AA and AAA when it comes to location and refinement of pitches, the polish, so to speak. There are a lot of players who can’t make that adjustment and given how poorly Larnach handled MLB pitches, it may not be a coincidence he wasn’t able to hit in AAA. In fact, Larnach was totally and completely outmatched by most pitches MLB pitchers throw and his track record, age, current swing and batted ball data don’t leave a lot of room for power projection so being the kind of hitter who can simply punish any mistake for a home run like Sano doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. 
    Clearly, it would be foolish to write Trevor Larnach off at this point, but there's good reason to cool his stock dramatically. Let's hope he can make some adjustments to prove this data isn't the norm and he just had a bad season!
     
  12. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from MMMordabito for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  13. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Danchat for a blog entry, Is Trevor Larnach Better Than His Stats?   
    Like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach has failed to impress in his rookie season, but Larnach has a lot more wiggle room for many fans. Larnach is, after all, 2 years younger than Rooker and Larnach barely played above the A+ ball level with only 181 plate appearances in AA in 2019. The loss of the 2020 season made a mess out of a lot of the projections for prospects with the prospects who were getting their first taste of the high minors in AA probably being hit the hardest. Larnach’s production this year hasn’t been what fans had hoped for, but with his limited upper MiLB experience, there’s reason to hope it was bad luck or a single pitch that troubled him on way to his .223/.322/.350, .677 OPS, wRC+ 89, OPS+ 88, wOBA .301 performance across a significant 301 appearances at the plate.

    Since Larnach doesn’t have the MiLB track record Rooker does, it’s important to take a peek at who Larnach was expected to be. Prior to his draft year in 2018, Larnach was a 40th round draft pick out of high school in 2015 and wasn’t considered a high round pick before his breakout junior season at Oregon State.
    Year Level Age AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS 2016 Oregon St. Freshman .157 .271 .176 .019 .448 2017 Oregon St. Sophomore .303 .421 .429 .126 .850 2018 Oregon St. Junior .348 .463 .652 .304 1.116 2018 Rk / Low-A a21 .303 .390 .500 .197 .890 2019 A+ / AA a22 .309 .384 .458 .149 .842 2021 MLB a24 .223 .322 .350 .127 .672 2021 AAA a24 .176 .323 .373 .197 .695 After the draft, MLB.com had Larnach as the Twins’ 6th ranked prospect and gave him scouting grades as follows: Hit 55, Power 55, Run 40, Arm 55, Field 50, Overall 50. Larnach was widely considered a bat only prospect due to his poor speed limiting Larnach to projections of a serviceable defensive option in left field. Larnach’s hit tool was considered very advanced as he drove the ball hard off the bat, had experience in the Cape Cod league with wooden bats against high levels of competition and used the entire field which largely made him immune to shifts. That said, Larnach’s hit tool wasn’t considered plus-plus because of the fair amount of swing and miss at the plate. Once in college, Larnach had raw strength and bat speed from putting on 50lbs of weight to his high school frame, but his draft stock stayed low through his sophomore year as he needed to hit for power to generate high interest levels. When Larnach’s power appeared to blossom with 19 home runs in 2018 as a junior in a tough college division, scouts rocketed Larnach up the draft ranks despite the limited track record as it was always felt he had the potential to grow into the long ball. 
    Unfortunately, Larnach’s swing looks to be more like Joe Mauer than Justin Morneau so the home run power hasn’t re-materialized and 2018’s long ball show is beginning to look more like an aberration than the norm. Larnach’s ceiling is likely far lower now, but it doesn’t mean he can’t provide value at the MLB level using only an advanced hit tool and serviceable defense in the corners; he’s just not going to be projecting as a regular All Star. That would still be a huge win for the front office. So let’s dive into the metrics to see what’s going on cause this year was ugly.

    First off, was Larnach just unlucky in his first taste of the big show? Luck can bounce both ways and a half season worth of baseball can quickly shift around across a full season of plate appearances.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .223 .322 .350 .672 .301 Expected* .208 .309 .369 .678 .304 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .209 which results in 54.34 hits, but since that’s not a real number, I rounded down to 54 hits. His xSLG was .368 which resulted in 95.68 bases so I rounded up to 96 for xSLG calcs. I used Larnach’s actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.
    There isn’t an obvious luck factor to see in the numbers. A few points of AVG loss is more than made up for by some SLG improvement. As a player who was touted as using the whole field, Larnach has been pretty pull heavy with a 39.9% / 33.5% / 26.6% pull, center, opposite ratio, from BaseballSavant, but it’s not a profile where the split would be particularly effective. Still, Fangraphs reports MLB teams frequently deployed the shift against Larnach anyway. None of Larnach’s home runs went to the opposite field this year with virtually everything in left field just winding up as a single. The lack of home runs and extra base hits is to be expected once Larnach’s batted ball data is reviewed; he’s been a heavy ground ball hitter at about 45% grounders. Fangraphs and BaseballSavant differ in the fly ball data with Fangraphs showing 35.4% vs. BaseballSavant’s 29.7%. Despite the relatively poor outcomes for Larnach, he does hit the ball fairly hard as advertised with an above average 90.0 mph exit velocity, and MLB average-ish 41.1% hard hit and 9.5% barrel rates according to Statcast metrics. Larnach’s reported launch angle should be a productive, but non-optimal 13.1* despite all the grounders. It’s also worth looking into his splits performance, since he is a lefty. In regard to that, he was utterly unplayable against LHP with a wRC+ of 44, but his performance against RHP isn’t truly good enough to justify a platoon role with a wRC+ of 109. It does provide some silver lining since southpaws throw less than 30% of innings at the MLB level. A step forward could make Larnach a platoon type player.
     
     
     All this brings us to plate discipline. Larnach’s solid enough 10.3% walk rate suggests he has a capable enough eye at the plate, but the 34.6% strikeout rate is well below MLB average so lets dig in here a bit. Warning… here’s where it goes off the rails. Larnach has a somewhat better than average O-swing% (swings outside the strike zone) which supports the argument for an MLB caliber eye at the plate shown in the chart.

    However, the PitchFX and PitchInfo data from Fangraphs O-contact% rates at abysmal 38.2% and 32.9%, respectively. Expanding beyond the O-swing results shows Larnach is passive at the plate, swinging only 43.8% of the time (bottom 17.5%) with the 3rd worst contact rate among the 252 batters with 300+ plate appearances in MLB this year. Lending support to being passive at the plate, Larnach takes a called strike 18.1% of the time, which is more often than over 3/4 of other MLB batters. Honestly, it looks like Larnach is struggling to tell balls from strikes so he’s hoping for a walk or a meatball, but when he does swing, he often misjudges the pitch and winds up whiffing. In fact, whiffing more often than 96% of other MLB batters with 300+ plate appearances based on Fangraphs’ data. It’s bad. It’s real bad.

    We know Larnach is struggling with pitch recognition based on the data, but is it a specific pitch or pitch category where he might be able to adjust his game to prevent being exposed? Unfortunately, no. Larnach crushes 4 seam fastballs, but he doesn’t really hit much else. The data from BaseballSavant shows he’s utterly outmatched by MLB secondary pitches in general.
      xBA xSLG xwOBA Whiff% Fastball .266 .515 .377 22.3 Breaking .155 .236 .260 55.0 Offspeed .158 .225 .192 54.0 Looking into Larnach’s run value by pitch on BaseballSavant shows Larnach cannot identify a changeup (18.4% of pitches), cannot handle sliders (19.0% of pitches) and also struggles greatly against sinkers (15.9% of pitches). Larnach has been a little better than MLB average against curveballs (11.3% of pitches), though. Essentially, don’t throw Larnach a 4 seamer or curveball and the opposing pitcher will probably be fine. It’s worth noting Fangraphs’ data from PitchFX and PitchInfo both back up BaseballSavant’s data. Comparing Larnach to other MLB hitters based on PitchFX data from Fangraphs, Larnach is in the bottom 5% for changeup and bottom 30% for the slider performance, but that’s a raw runs produced number without context of how many pitches he’s seen of each. Looking at BaseballSavant, Larnach is bottom 4% for changeup (7/175), 9% for slider (25/290) and 11% for sinker (25/245) per pitch seen, based on hitters with at least 50 plate appearances vs. those pitches. There are literally no pitches which Larnach produces positive value other than the 4 seam fastball… and maybe ever so slightly, the curveball depending on the source.
    Defensively, Larnach’s speed is his limiting factor already at just age 24. Larnach’s sprint speed is 26.5ft/sec which is significantly below median for MLB or corner outfielders at 27.3 or 27.5ft/sec, respectively. That said, Larnach does accelerate to his top speed quickly and he’s been an average MLB route runner despite limited experience. This lives up to the scouting reports at draft day which said Larnach possesses good baseball instincts in the field to help make up for his disadvantage in speed. In addition, Larnach has arm strength which is graded above average which should help prevent base runners from confidently stretching their hits for another base or carelessly tagging to advance. Larnach is unlikely to ever be an average or plus defender on the field, but he may remain serviceable for a few years, especially with good positioning and a steady position to play.
    Let’s summarize the good and bad here. On the good side of things, Larnach can clearly crush 4 seamers and was solid against curveballs despite his limited experience against high level pitching and loss of the 2020 season for development against full competition. Pitchers looking to get an out aren’t going to be able to do it with Larnach at the plate simply by throwing heat past him as he’ll catch up to it and make them pay and woe be the righty pitcher who with a 4 seamer and curveball as their bread and butter. When Larnach makes contact with his swings, he hits the ball a little better than the MLB average hitter with good exit velocity and he was able to accomplish those things despite having very little experience at the high MiLB level. Larnach’s instincts in the field are good, he makes the most of his physical abilities and the combination of skills and ability allow him to play corner outfield effectively enough so he’s not a glorified DH at this point in his career. Furthermore, Larnach was just getting a good taste of AA before the lost 2020 season and his call up to the MLB squad was potentially hastened by other player injuries, perhaps a bit earlier than the Twins wanted. With encouraging numbers from AA in 2019, the 2021 campaigns struggles may just be a bad season influenced by confidence issues and Larnach is still relatively young coming into his age 25 season next year. Finally, Larnach has plenty of MLB options left to give him room to take a step forward. Of course, that’s the optimistic view. On the not good side, Larnach is not particularly young for a prospect, either as he approaches the end point for prospect status at age 25, and while he did lose out on 2020 in terms of professional seasons, he was part of the Twins alternate site where he got a lot of valuable coaching time. Larnach was arguably more advanced than other college juniors when he was drafted because of his experience in the Cape Cod league which uses wooden bats and he was scouted as a polished bat who wouldn’t need much time to get up to MLB ready. He’s had some time now and his small, but somewhat  relevant sample size from his demotion to AAA wasn’t encouraging. There’s a big difference between AA and AAA when it comes to location and refinement of pitches, the polish, so to speak. There are a lot of players who can’t make that adjustment and given how poorly Larnach handled MLB pitches, it may not be a coincidence he wasn’t able to hit in AAA. In fact, Larnach was totally and completely outmatched by most pitches MLB pitchers throw and his track record, age, current swing and batted ball data don’t leave a lot of room for power projection so being the kind of hitter who can simply punish any mistake for a home run like Sano doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. 
    Clearly, it would be foolish to write Trevor Larnach off at this point, but there's good reason to cool his stock dramatically. Let's hope he can make some adjustments to prove this data isn't the norm and he just had a bad season!
     
  14. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Minny505 for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  15. Like
    bean5302 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, What the AL Central Taught Us in a Full Season   
    Forget the fact that 2020 was an uncharacteristically weird and difficult year in and of itself, trying to deduce anything from the shortened baseball season proved impossible. Back to a more traditional slate in 2021, we have some storylines to actually dive into.
    Rather than focusing just on the Minnesota Twins, I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at the division as a whole. The AL Central was projected to be among baseball’s worst, and while that may be true, there are some signs of hope across the board. New contenders emerged, and talents have risen. Here’s a few of my takeaways from each of the competitors within the division.
    Chicago White Sox
    Expected to compete with the Twins for an AL Central division title, Chicago ran away with it. Up by more than double-digits for most of the second half, this season was not the Southsiders playing little brother to the nationally branded Cubs anymore. This wasn’t much of a race from about May on, and that was definitely to Chicago’s credit.
    Tony La Russa’s club dealt with more injuries than anyone in the division, and despite depth seeming like a question, they weather and excelled through the storm. Luis Robert looks like an absolute problem, and Eloy Jimenez is going to hit a boatload of homers. Lance Lynn has been a Cy Young candidate all year, and Liam Hendriks has been every bit the stud closer he was signed to be. Sustainability appears to be there for the White Sox, and if anyone wants to knock them off their throne they’ll need to rise up in a big way.
    If there’s opportunity for Chicago it may come down to a lack of challenge. They’ve played .500 baseball since mid-season, but they haven’t had anyone provide a test within the division. Depending on how the Postseason goes for them, tenacity could be ratcheted up in 2022 and a 100-win campaign may be their next goal to surpass.
    Cleveland
    The most notable thing that Cleveland has done this year may be changing their name to the Guardians. This was a team expected to take a step backwards and it has. Built largely around stud pitching, they’ve dealt with substantial injuries to the rotation. Once baseball cracked down on sticky substances, few organizations found it more detrimental than these guys did. Star reliever James Karinchak is a mess, and there’s more uncertainty about a future direction for this club than ever.
    Jose Ramirez remains a stud, but it still was probably a down year by his standards. Team options remain each of the next two seasons, and while it will be picked up, there’s little reason for a talent like this to be a part of a rebuild. Cleveland doesn’t have much around the diamond, has remained lost in the outfield, and they could be looking at Terry Francona deciding his health won’t allow for a return.
    Consistently one of the division’s best, this is definitely looking like an opportunity for a changing of the guard. They haven’t been horrible by any means, but the lack of anything noteworthy happening for Cleveland this season is about as descriptive as one could imagine.
    Detroit Tigers
    Arguably one of the best surprises this season has been the emergence of the Detroit Tigers. Under new management in the form of A.J. Hinch, this isn’t a Ron Gardenhire club looking to get through to the next wave anymore. Detroit has been the best team in the division since about the halfway point, and that’s scary for anyone uncertain if they’re figuring it out.
    Miguel Cabrera reached his milestone, but this team is all about the youth movement. Matt Manning made his debut, Casey Mize has looked the part at times, and Akil Baddoo has looked like one of the best Rule 5 Draft selections in history. Add in that top prospects like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are both at Triple-A and the talent pool gets even scarier for this club.
    I’m not sure we’ve seen enough to suggest Detroit is making the leap in 2022 yet, but there’s no doubt the arrow for the organization is pointing straight up. Hinch is a good man to lead them. The front office needs to be a bit more forward thinking and show aggressiveness, but the Tigers don’t reside in the doldrums anymore.
    Kansas City Royals
    I picked the Royals to unseat Cleveland for third in the division this year, and while they’re six games behind, the narrative is of a fast start and then quickly gassing out. Kansas City made some interesting moves this offseason in hopes of raising their water level. Most of them had safe floors and low ceilings. With peaks coming early for a lot of that talent, they sputtered quickly and never really leveled off.
    The Royals are in a weird spot with many of their regulars. Salvador Perez put up a career year but will be 32-years-old despite now being signed through 2025. Carlos Santana has not been good, and Andrew Benintendi needed a late season surge to save his slash line. The rotation has seen some great exposure for youth like Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, and even Jackson Kowar. Is it enough to jumpstart the turnaround in 2022 though?
    Helping the Royals out will be a pair of infielders ready to rake. Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Prato both appear big-league ready, and they should be able to step in quickly next season. This is a team with plenty of questions, not a ton of certain answers, but some very intriguing options.
    Minnesota Twins
    If there was a group that failed in the division there’s no where else to turn than the Twins. Expected to defend two straight division titles, they never made things interesting with Chicago. Pitching started out a disaster and then shifted between which group was to blame. The offense took a while to get going, and then major injury issues set them back again.
    Three of the best developments this season came in the form of health proving performance for Jorge Polanco, Mitch Garver, and Byron Buxton. The two former talents had down years with small sample sizes while playing through injury last season. Buxton only further substantiated that he’s among the best in the game when available. Both of the first two will be back, and while the third is under contract, he’s a year from free agency and the organization much decide which way to go.
    Baldelli will be working through adversity for the first offseason of his career. Derek Falvey must retool the roster with talent that can be paired with youth in order to take a step forward. It was also made abundantly clear that too much depth is never a problem you’ll have.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from ToddlerHarmon for a blog entry, Is Trevor Larnach Better Than His Stats?   
    Like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach has failed to impress in his rookie season, but Larnach has a lot more wiggle room for many fans. Larnach is, after all, 2 years younger than Rooker and Larnach barely played above the A+ ball level with only 181 plate appearances in AA in 2019. The loss of the 2020 season made a mess out of a lot of the projections for prospects with the prospects who were getting their first taste of the high minors in AA probably being hit the hardest. Larnach’s production this year hasn’t been what fans had hoped for, but with his limited upper MiLB experience, there’s reason to hope it was bad luck or a single pitch that troubled him on way to his .223/.322/.350, .677 OPS, wRC+ 89, OPS+ 88, wOBA .301 performance across a significant 301 appearances at the plate.

    Since Larnach doesn’t have the MiLB track record Rooker does, it’s important to take a peek at who Larnach was expected to be. Prior to his draft year in 2018, Larnach was a 40th round draft pick out of high school in 2015 and wasn’t considered a high round pick before his breakout junior season at Oregon State.
    Year Level Age AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS 2016 Oregon St. Freshman .157 .271 .176 .019 .448 2017 Oregon St. Sophomore .303 .421 .429 .126 .850 2018 Oregon St. Junior .348 .463 .652 .304 1.116 2018 Rk / Low-A a21 .303 .390 .500 .197 .890 2019 A+ / AA a22 .309 .384 .458 .149 .842 2021 MLB a24 .223 .322 .350 .127 .672 2021 AAA a24 .176 .323 .373 .197 .695 After the draft, MLB.com had Larnach as the Twins’ 6th ranked prospect and gave him scouting grades as follows: Hit 55, Power 55, Run 40, Arm 55, Field 50, Overall 50. Larnach was widely considered a bat only prospect due to his poor speed limiting Larnach to projections of a serviceable defensive option in left field. Larnach’s hit tool was considered very advanced as he drove the ball hard off the bat, had experience in the Cape Cod league with wooden bats against high levels of competition and used the entire field which largely made him immune to shifts. That said, Larnach’s hit tool wasn’t considered plus-plus because of the fair amount of swing and miss at the plate. Once in college, Larnach had raw strength and bat speed from putting on 50lbs of weight to his high school frame, but his draft stock stayed low through his sophomore year as he needed to hit for power to generate high interest levels. When Larnach’s power appeared to blossom with 19 home runs in 2018 as a junior in a tough college division, scouts rocketed Larnach up the draft ranks despite the limited track record as it was always felt he had the potential to grow into the long ball. 
    Unfortunately, Larnach’s swing looks to be more like Joe Mauer than Justin Morneau so the home run power hasn’t re-materialized and 2018’s long ball show is beginning to look more like an aberration than the norm. Larnach’s ceiling is likely far lower now, but it doesn’t mean he can’t provide value at the MLB level using only an advanced hit tool and serviceable defense in the corners; he’s just not going to be projecting as a regular All Star. That would still be a huge win for the front office. So let’s dive into the metrics to see what’s going on cause this year was ugly.

    First off, was Larnach just unlucky in his first taste of the big show? Luck can bounce both ways and a half season worth of baseball can quickly shift around across a full season of plate appearances.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .223 .322 .350 .672 .301 Expected* .208 .309 .369 .678 .304 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .209 which results in 54.34 hits, but since that’s not a real number, I rounded down to 54 hits. His xSLG was .368 which resulted in 95.68 bases so I rounded up to 96 for xSLG calcs. I used Larnach’s actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.
    There isn’t an obvious luck factor to see in the numbers. A few points of AVG loss is more than made up for by some SLG improvement. As a player who was touted as using the whole field, Larnach has been pretty pull heavy with a 39.9% / 33.5% / 26.6% pull, center, opposite ratio, from BaseballSavant, but it’s not a profile where the split would be particularly effective. Still, Fangraphs reports MLB teams frequently deployed the shift against Larnach anyway. None of Larnach’s home runs went to the opposite field this year with virtually everything in left field just winding up as a single. The lack of home runs and extra base hits is to be expected once Larnach’s batted ball data is reviewed; he’s been a heavy ground ball hitter at about 45% grounders. Fangraphs and BaseballSavant differ in the fly ball data with Fangraphs showing 35.4% vs. BaseballSavant’s 29.7%. Despite the relatively poor outcomes for Larnach, he does hit the ball fairly hard as advertised with an above average 90.0 mph exit velocity, and MLB average-ish 41.1% hard hit and 9.5% barrel rates according to Statcast metrics. Larnach’s reported launch angle should be a productive, but non-optimal 13.1* despite all the grounders. It’s also worth looking into his splits performance, since he is a lefty. In regard to that, he was utterly unplayable against LHP with a wRC+ of 44, but his performance against RHP isn’t truly good enough to justify a platoon role with a wRC+ of 109. It does provide some silver lining since southpaws throw less than 30% of innings at the MLB level. A step forward could make Larnach a platoon type player.
     
     
     All this brings us to plate discipline. Larnach’s solid enough 10.3% walk rate suggests he has a capable enough eye at the plate, but the 34.6% strikeout rate is well below MLB average so lets dig in here a bit. Warning… here’s where it goes off the rails. Larnach has a somewhat better than average O-swing% (swings outside the strike zone) which supports the argument for an MLB caliber eye at the plate shown in the chart.

    However, the PitchFX and PitchInfo data from Fangraphs O-contact% rates at abysmal 38.2% and 32.9%, respectively. Expanding beyond the O-swing results shows Larnach is passive at the plate, swinging only 43.8% of the time (bottom 17.5%) with the 3rd worst contact rate among the 252 batters with 300+ plate appearances in MLB this year. Lending support to being passive at the plate, Larnach takes a called strike 18.1% of the time, which is more often than over 3/4 of other MLB batters. Honestly, it looks like Larnach is struggling to tell balls from strikes so he’s hoping for a walk or a meatball, but when he does swing, he often misjudges the pitch and winds up whiffing. In fact, whiffing more often than 96% of other MLB batters with 300+ plate appearances based on Fangraphs’ data. It’s bad. It’s real bad.

    We know Larnach is struggling with pitch recognition based on the data, but is it a specific pitch or pitch category where he might be able to adjust his game to prevent being exposed? Unfortunately, no. Larnach crushes 4 seam fastballs, but he doesn’t really hit much else. The data from BaseballSavant shows he’s utterly outmatched by MLB secondary pitches in general.
      xBA xSLG xwOBA Whiff% Fastball .266 .515 .377 22.3 Breaking .155 .236 .260 55.0 Offspeed .158 .225 .192 54.0 Looking into Larnach’s run value by pitch on BaseballSavant shows Larnach cannot identify a changeup (18.4% of pitches), cannot handle sliders (19.0% of pitches) and also struggles greatly against sinkers (15.9% of pitches). Larnach has been a little better than MLB average against curveballs (11.3% of pitches), though. Essentially, don’t throw Larnach a 4 seamer or curveball and the opposing pitcher will probably be fine. It’s worth noting Fangraphs’ data from PitchFX and PitchInfo both back up BaseballSavant’s data. Comparing Larnach to other MLB hitters based on PitchFX data from Fangraphs, Larnach is in the bottom 5% for changeup and bottom 30% for the slider performance, but that’s a raw runs produced number without context of how many pitches he’s seen of each. Looking at BaseballSavant, Larnach is bottom 4% for changeup (7/175), 9% for slider (25/290) and 11% for sinker (25/245) per pitch seen, based on hitters with at least 50 plate appearances vs. those pitches. There are literally no pitches which Larnach produces positive value other than the 4 seam fastball… and maybe ever so slightly, the curveball depending on the source.
    Defensively, Larnach’s speed is his limiting factor already at just age 24. Larnach’s sprint speed is 26.5ft/sec which is significantly below median for MLB or corner outfielders at 27.3 or 27.5ft/sec, respectively. That said, Larnach does accelerate to his top speed quickly and he’s been an average MLB route runner despite limited experience. This lives up to the scouting reports at draft day which said Larnach possesses good baseball instincts in the field to help make up for his disadvantage in speed. In addition, Larnach has arm strength which is graded above average which should help prevent base runners from confidently stretching their hits for another base or carelessly tagging to advance. Larnach is unlikely to ever be an average or plus defender on the field, but he may remain serviceable for a few years, especially with good positioning and a steady position to play.
    Let’s summarize the good and bad here. On the good side of things, Larnach can clearly crush 4 seamers and was solid against curveballs despite his limited experience against high level pitching and loss of the 2020 season for development against full competition. Pitchers looking to get an out aren’t going to be able to do it with Larnach at the plate simply by throwing heat past him as he’ll catch up to it and make them pay and woe be the righty pitcher who with a 4 seamer and curveball as their bread and butter. When Larnach makes contact with his swings, he hits the ball a little better than the MLB average hitter with good exit velocity and he was able to accomplish those things despite having very little experience at the high MiLB level. Larnach’s instincts in the field are good, he makes the most of his physical abilities and the combination of skills and ability allow him to play corner outfield effectively enough so he’s not a glorified DH at this point in his career. Furthermore, Larnach was just getting a good taste of AA before the lost 2020 season and his call up to the MLB squad was potentially hastened by other player injuries, perhaps a bit earlier than the Twins wanted. With encouraging numbers from AA in 2019, the 2021 campaigns struggles may just be a bad season influenced by confidence issues and Larnach is still relatively young coming into his age 25 season next year. Finally, Larnach has plenty of MLB options left to give him room to take a step forward. Of course, that’s the optimistic view. On the not good side, Larnach is not particularly young for a prospect, either as he approaches the end point for prospect status at age 25, and while he did lose out on 2020 in terms of professional seasons, he was part of the Twins alternate site where he got a lot of valuable coaching time. Larnach was arguably more advanced than other college juniors when he was drafted because of his experience in the Cape Cod league which uses wooden bats and he was scouted as a polished bat who wouldn’t need much time to get up to MLB ready. He’s had some time now and his small, but somewhat  relevant sample size from his demotion to AAA wasn’t encouraging. There’s a big difference between AA and AAA when it comes to location and refinement of pitches, the polish, so to speak. There are a lot of players who can’t make that adjustment and given how poorly Larnach handled MLB pitches, it may not be a coincidence he wasn’t able to hit in AAA. In fact, Larnach was totally and completely outmatched by most pitches MLB pitchers throw and his track record, age, current swing and batted ball data don’t leave a lot of room for power projection so being the kind of hitter who can simply punish any mistake for a home run like Sano doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. 
    Clearly, it would be foolish to write Trevor Larnach off at this point, but there's good reason to cool his stock dramatically. Let's hope he can make some adjustments to prove this data isn't the norm and he just had a bad season!
     
  17. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from big dog for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  18. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Unwinder for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?    
    Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far. 
    So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
    On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
    I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
      AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.

    So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.

    Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
    Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
     


    Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487.  Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.

    Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
    In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
     
  19. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from Aerodeliria for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts   
    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
    With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
    I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
    Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
    I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
    Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection  
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A  
    When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
    So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
    From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 
    Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
    Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
  20. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from MMMordabito for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts   
    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
    With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
    I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
    Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
    I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
    Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection  
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A  
    When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
    So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
    From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 
    Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
    Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
  21. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from sjunisu for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts   
    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
    With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
    I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
    Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
    I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
    Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection  
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A  
    When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
    So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
    From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 
    Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
    Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
  22. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts   
    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
    With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
    I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
    Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
    I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
    Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection  
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A  
    When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
    So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
    From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 
    Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
    Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
  23. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from In My La Z boy for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts   
    Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
    With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
    I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
    Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
    I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
    Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection  
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A  
    When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
    So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
    From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle. 
    Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
    Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
  24. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from nicksaviking for a blog entry, No, Top FA Starters Are Not Risky   
    With the 2021 season just about wrapped up for the Minnesota Twins, here’s yet another article to talk about starting pitching and why dumpster diving or even mid-tier free agent starters are actually much riskier than the top free agent starters with those big contracts.
    Conventional Twins wisdom is that big name, free agent starters are simply too expensive and too risky. Jim Pohlad is very skittish when it comes to long contracts and big dollars. The idea of “crippling” a roster also sends some Twins fans into a panic. It makes sense, after all, the Twins free agent pitchers almost never actually pan out for more than a year.
    For this year, the Twins’ front office decided not to pursue an arm to replace Odorizzi, leaving a major hole in the middle of the rotation. Instead, Happ and Shoemaker were signed to contracts all too typical of the Twins’ front office. The cost? $10MM utterly wasted. That said, the Twins are absolutely spending ace starter money in free agency and acquisitions every single year and have been spending $30-43MM annually for those arms for 7 consecutive seasons coming into 2021. I even adjusted the salaries for players which were traded away… Read it and weep.
    Median WAR = middle bWAR season performance with 2020 being multiplied by 2.7 due to the shortened season. Total WAR = Total bWAR over the life of the entire contract, even if the player was traded away. $/WAR = Entire Contract Dollars, Adjusted for 2020 / Total bWAR, Not Adjusted for 2020. The salary figures shown are not adjusted for 2020 so they can be viewed in proper context.  
      Med. Tot $                 Player WAR WAR /WAR 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Correia -1.1 -1.1 -5 6               Pelfrey 0.4 0.8 13.8 6 6             Hughes -0.1 5.5 11.9 8 9 9 13 8 7     Nolasco 0.5 2 24 12 12 8 4         Milone 0.8 0.9 8.1   3 5           Santana 0.5 9.8 5.6   14 14 14 14 1     Santiago 0.2 0.3 32.7     2 8         Odorizzi 1.2 4.4 6.1         6 10 18   Pineda 0.8 3.3 8         2 8 10 10 Lynn 0.4 0.4 25         10       Perez 0.1 0.1 40           4     Maeda 2.7 1.8 2.7             3 3 Bailey 0.5 0.2 22             7   Hill 2.1 0.8 2.4             3   Shoemaker -1.9 -1.9 -1.1               2 Happ -1.8 -1.8 -4.4               8                           Season Total 31 43 37 38.7 39.8 29.5 40.8 23
     
    In fact, almost none of the Twins signings and acquisitions were worth it, including the starters who were actually “worth the money” because they still weren’t worth starting. For example, Tommy Milone only cost $8.1MM / WAR. That’s an A grade signing. He was worth every bit of the money he was paid, on am average season. But he still wasn’t good enough to actually want him in the rotation. What about Ervin Santana? We all know what a huge asset he was over his first couple seasons and the Twins got one WAR for only $5.6MM which is an A+ kind of deal. The big issue is he was terrible over his last two years, dragging his median performance way down.
    Ace = 4.0 WAR+ #2 = 3.0-4.0 WAR #3 = 2.5-3.0 WAR #4 = 2.0-2.5 WAR #5 = 1.5-2.0 WAR I’ve also adjusted the median values for 2020’s short season. That’s the problem with dumpster dives and even mid-tier free agents. All it takes is a slight decline and poof, all the money is utterly wasted because you’re paying guaranteed money to a starter who isn’t worth playing.
    Well, everybody knows big free agent contracts never work out though, right? Wrong. Big name, free agent starters are almost always worth it. This is for two reasons. First, they often perform at ace levels even if they decline a bit, but if they take a major hit or injury, they almost always bounce back as a solid starter in the rotation. The money is virtually never totally wasted like it often is on mediocre or low cost starters. Of the 8 front line free agent starters signed since 2014, every single one of them has been worth a rotation spot in an average year. Most are even good deals. Don’t believe me again?
      Med. Tot $                                 Player WAR WAR /WAR Future? 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Grade Lester 2.1 13.2 9.6 - 30 20 20 23 25 28                 B Greinke 4.2 17.9 10.3 - 34 34 34 35 35 35                 C Scherzer 5.5 41.4 4.1 - 17 22 22 22 37 36 35 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 A+ Price 1.8 11.1 13.9 F   30 30 30 31 32 32 32             F Darvish 5.6 7.6 9.9 A       25 20 22 22 19 18           B Corbin 4.1 5.4 8.6 F         15 19 24 23 24 35         A Cole 5.6 7.6 6.4 A           36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 A Wheeler 6.8 7.6 3.45 A           22 23 26 25 24         A+ Strasburg 0 0 Inf F           24 24 24 24 24 24 24 27 27 F- *The summary is updated to reflect the addition of Strasburg to the chart. I decided against adding Bauer. Bauer doesn't have a long term contract, and part of the reason FA ace caliber pitchers are a low risk is a single lost season is easy to overcome. Among the 9 listed starters, only 3 have lost an entire season (Price x1.5, Darvish, Strasburg x2). Of the 38 seasons on the contracts from the 9 starters, 4.5 seasons have been lost. A risk of a starter losing a season is approximately 10% per contract season.
    Right now, Corbin and Strasburg both look like a bad deals, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they rebounded. If you look at those contracts, something really stands out to me. Only Strasburg has played poorly enough so the team who signed them wouldn’t have wanted in the rotation and 6 of the 8 are bonefide ace level pitchers on their average season. Even David Price with all his injuries and down performance is worth trotting out there. Also, 7 of 8 of those front line starters have been absolutely C or better signings. Here’s how I’d arbitrarily grade signings based on the dollars spent per WAR.
    $16MM+ = F- $14-16MM = F $12-14MM = D $10-12MM = C $9-10MM = B $6-9MM = A 0-6MM = A+ To sum it up, the scary big contracts for front line starters almost always work out over the life of the contract, and even when they don’t work out exactly as intended, the pitchers are almost always worth running out there every 5 days as part of the rotation. However, the low end and middle of the rotation arms are almost never worth it based on nearly a decade of track record by the Twins and over a dozen such starting pitchers. Considering the Twins absolutely do not need any #4-5 starters, the front office also needs to stop wasting money with their annual dumpster dive, refocus and acquire top pitching talent. After all, it’d barely cost more on an annual basis to replace the typical free agent signings they’ve been wasting money on to sign two top of the rotation arms as they’re available.
  25. Like
    bean5302 got a reaction from wabene for a blog entry, No, Top FA Starters Are Not Risky   
    With the 2021 season just about wrapped up for the Minnesota Twins, here’s yet another article to talk about starting pitching and why dumpster diving or even mid-tier free agent starters are actually much riskier than the top free agent starters with those big contracts.
    Conventional Twins wisdom is that big name, free agent starters are simply too expensive and too risky. Jim Pohlad is very skittish when it comes to long contracts and big dollars. The idea of “crippling” a roster also sends some Twins fans into a panic. It makes sense, after all, the Twins free agent pitchers almost never actually pan out for more than a year.
    For this year, the Twins’ front office decided not to pursue an arm to replace Odorizzi, leaving a major hole in the middle of the rotation. Instead, Happ and Shoemaker were signed to contracts all too typical of the Twins’ front office. The cost? $10MM utterly wasted. That said, the Twins are absolutely spending ace starter money in free agency and acquisitions every single year and have been spending $30-43MM annually for those arms for 7 consecutive seasons coming into 2021. I even adjusted the salaries for players which were traded away… Read it and weep.
    Median WAR = middle bWAR season performance with 2020 being multiplied by 2.7 due to the shortened season. Total WAR = Total bWAR over the life of the entire contract, even if the player was traded away. $/WAR = Entire Contract Dollars, Adjusted for 2020 / Total bWAR, Not Adjusted for 2020. The salary figures shown are not adjusted for 2020 so they can be viewed in proper context.  
      Med. Tot $                 Player WAR WAR /WAR 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Correia -1.1 -1.1 -5 6               Pelfrey 0.4 0.8 13.8 6 6             Hughes -0.1 5.5 11.9 8 9 9 13 8 7     Nolasco 0.5 2 24 12 12 8 4         Milone 0.8 0.9 8.1   3 5           Santana 0.5 9.8 5.6   14 14 14 14 1     Santiago 0.2 0.3 32.7     2 8         Odorizzi 1.2 4.4 6.1         6 10 18   Pineda 0.8 3.3 8         2 8 10 10 Lynn 0.4 0.4 25         10       Perez 0.1 0.1 40           4     Maeda 2.7 1.8 2.7             3 3 Bailey 0.5 0.2 22             7   Hill 2.1 0.8 2.4             3   Shoemaker -1.9 -1.9 -1.1               2 Happ -1.8 -1.8 -4.4               8                           Season Total 31 43 37 38.7 39.8 29.5 40.8 23
     
    In fact, almost none of the Twins signings and acquisitions were worth it, including the starters who were actually “worth the money” because they still weren’t worth starting. For example, Tommy Milone only cost $8.1MM / WAR. That’s an A grade signing. He was worth every bit of the money he was paid, on am average season. But he still wasn’t good enough to actually want him in the rotation. What about Ervin Santana? We all know what a huge asset he was over his first couple seasons and the Twins got one WAR for only $5.6MM which is an A+ kind of deal. The big issue is he was terrible over his last two years, dragging his median performance way down.
    Ace = 4.0 WAR+ #2 = 3.0-4.0 WAR #3 = 2.5-3.0 WAR #4 = 2.0-2.5 WAR #5 = 1.5-2.0 WAR I’ve also adjusted the median values for 2020’s short season. That’s the problem with dumpster dives and even mid-tier free agents. All it takes is a slight decline and poof, all the money is utterly wasted because you’re paying guaranteed money to a starter who isn’t worth playing.
    Well, everybody knows big free agent contracts never work out though, right? Wrong. Big name, free agent starters are almost always worth it. This is for two reasons. First, they often perform at ace levels even if they decline a bit, but if they take a major hit or injury, they almost always bounce back as a solid starter in the rotation. The money is virtually never totally wasted like it often is on mediocre or low cost starters. Of the 8 front line free agent starters signed since 2014, every single one of them has been worth a rotation spot in an average year. Most are even good deals. Don’t believe me again?
      Med. Tot $                                 Player WAR WAR /WAR Future? 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Grade Lester 2.1 13.2 9.6 - 30 20 20 23 25 28                 B Greinke 4.2 17.9 10.3 - 34 34 34 35 35 35                 C Scherzer 5.5 41.4 4.1 - 17 22 22 22 37 36 35 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 A+ Price 1.8 11.1 13.9 F   30 30 30 31 32 32 32             F Darvish 5.6 7.6 9.9 A       25 20 22 22 19 18           B Corbin 4.1 5.4 8.6 F         15 19 24 23 24 35         A Cole 5.6 7.6 6.4 A           36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 A Wheeler 6.8 7.6 3.45 A           22 23 26 25 24         A+ Strasburg 0 0 Inf F           24 24 24 24 24 24 24 27 27 F- *The summary is updated to reflect the addition of Strasburg to the chart. I decided against adding Bauer. Bauer doesn't have a long term contract, and part of the reason FA ace caliber pitchers are a low risk is a single lost season is easy to overcome. Among the 9 listed starters, only 3 have lost an entire season (Price x1.5, Darvish, Strasburg x2). Of the 38 seasons on the contracts from the 9 starters, 4.5 seasons have been lost. A risk of a starter losing a season is approximately 10% per contract season.
    Right now, Corbin and Strasburg both look like a bad deals, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they rebounded. If you look at those contracts, something really stands out to me. Only Strasburg has played poorly enough so the team who signed them wouldn’t have wanted in the rotation and 6 of the 8 are bonefide ace level pitchers on their average season. Even David Price with all his injuries and down performance is worth trotting out there. Also, 7 of 8 of those front line starters have been absolutely C or better signings. Here’s how I’d arbitrarily grade signings based on the dollars spent per WAR.
    $16MM+ = F- $14-16MM = F $12-14MM = D $10-12MM = C $9-10MM = B $6-9MM = A 0-6MM = A+ To sum it up, the scary big contracts for front line starters almost always work out over the life of the contract, and even when they don’t work out exactly as intended, the pitchers are almost always worth running out there every 5 days as part of the rotation. However, the low end and middle of the rotation arms are almost never worth it based on nearly a decade of track record by the Twins and over a dozen such starting pitchers. Considering the Twins absolutely do not need any #4-5 starters, the front office also needs to stop wasting money with their annual dumpster dive, refocus and acquire top pitching talent. After all, it’d barely cost more on an annual basis to replace the typical free agent signings they’ve been wasting money on to sign two top of the rotation arms as they’re available.
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