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Patrick Wozniak

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  1. With the exception of one bad outing (his first against Cleveland), flame-throwing prospect Brusdar Graterol has looked very good since being called up to join the Twins for the month of September. The velocity has always been there, but in Graterol’s most recent outing against Cleveland he took his pitching to another level. He averaged 99.8 mph on his sinker and threw the fastest pitch (at 101.9 mph) ever recorded in the history of the Minnesota Twins.After getting plenty of weak contact but very few whiffs in his first few appearances, Graterol made Cleveland hitters look helpless as they flailed at his sliders. Since the one bad outing, Graterol has pitched well against Cleveland, Washington, and Chicago, allowing only one base runner (a home run hit by Chicago’s Zach Collins) in 4 1/3 innings while picking up five strikeouts. What may be even more impressive than the velocity is the amount of movement Graterol gets on his fastball. Squaring up 100 mph fastballs is hard enough for a hitter, but when it is rapidly sinking the task becomes nearly impossible. To make matters even worse for Cleveland hitters, Graterol seemed to be able to throw his fastball wherever he wanted, regularly painting the corners as he did against a helpless Yasiel Puig, who struck out looking on a perfectly placed 101.2 mph sinker. Coupled with a slider that sits around 89 mph, Graterol has the potential to be unhittable. His confidence and swagger seem to grow with each appearance, and for good reason. Graterol, of course, has been groomed to be a starter, and if he hadn’t missed the majority of 2019 with a shoulder injury, there is a good chance he would have long ago reached his innings limit. Graterol threw a career-high 102 innings in 2018 between high and low A-ball, but threw just 52 2/3 innings as a starter at Double-A in 2019 before missing time with his shoulder injury, and then pitched 8 1/3 innings between rehab in rookie ball and his promotion to AAA after moving to the pen. The Twins undoubtedly saw an opportunity for Graterol to reach the majors and potentially help the club down the stretch, and shorter appearances as a reliever were a way to make it a reality. The question of interest for the time being is whether or not Graterol will be added to the postseason roster. Every appearance will be crucial for the 21-year-old to further sell his case to the Twins front office, but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, adding Graterol is a no-brainer. As things stand, the Twins appear to have five bullpen “locks” in Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffy, Trevor May, and Zack Littell, but beyond them Graterol seems to be the favorite. He has electric stuff, and with only Jose Berrios and Jake Odorrizi currently looking like viable postseason starters, the Twins may go with the “opener” strategy and should have plenty of roster space for relievers. Regardless of what happens for the remainder of this season, Graterol’s future with the Twins looks bright. There are, however, questions as to what his future role will be. Although Graterol looks the part of a shutdown closer, he has been a starter and would have incredible value as a potential number one or two to help anchor the Twins rotation of the future. To be a frontline starter he will probably need more than his current two-pitch mix. Graterol does throw a changeup, but it seems to be a work in progress. The only home run he has given up in the MLB was on the lone changeup he threw in his last appearance against Chicago. On the bright side, he is confident enough to at least show his changeup at the major league level and Wes Johnson and crew can help guide him along. It will be interesting to see what Derek Favley and company decide to do with Graterol in 2020. They would presumably like to give Graterol every possibility to be a starter and that might mean starting the year in AAA Rochester unless the team feels very confident in Graterol’s ability to begin the season in the big leagues. Graterol was dominant as a starter this year before his injury as he pitched to a 1.71 ERA in his 52 2/3 AA innings, all prior to his 21st birthday, so the ability is certainly present. Another consideration for 2020 will be the amount of innings Graterol is allowed to pitch. After missing all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery, Graterol pitched 40 innings in 2017, 102 in 2018, and will not reach a hundred innings in 2019 due to the aforementioned shoulder injury. Therefore, it may make sense for the Twins to begin the season with Graterol in the bullpen in 2020 and slowly transition him to a starting role as the year goes on, which would help to limit Graterol’s innings pitched, ensuring that he would be available down the stretch. This could be done at the MLB level if the Twins so desire, giving the bullpen a boost early in the year and potentially strengthening the starting rotation as the season progresses. Graterol’s health and effectiveness will be paramount in deciding what his future will entail, but whatever the Twins decide to do with Brusdar Graterol for the remainder of this season and beyond, it’s exciting to finally have a 100 mph flamethrower that we can call our own. With a little luck and a third pitch, Minnesota could have a really nice rotation piece to slot next to Jose Berrios in the near future, and if that doesn’t come to fruition, having another potent bullpen arm is a nice consolation prize. What do you think? Will the Twins find a spot for Graterol in the postseason pen? Where do you think he will begin his 2020 season and what do you see as his future role? Please leave your comments below. Click here to view the article
  2. After getting plenty of weak contact but very few whiffs in his first few appearances, Graterol made Cleveland hitters look helpless as they flailed at his sliders. Since the one bad outing, Graterol has pitched well against Cleveland, Washington, and Chicago, allowing only one base runner (a home run hit by Chicago’s Zach Collins) in 4 1/3 innings while picking up five strikeouts. What may be even more impressive than the velocity is the amount of movement Graterol gets on his fastball. Squaring up 100 mph fastballs is hard enough for a hitter, but when it is rapidly sinking the task becomes nearly impossible. To make matters even worse for Cleveland hitters, Graterol seemed to be able to throw his fastball wherever he wanted, regularly painting the corners as he did against a helpless Yasiel Puig, who struck out looking on a perfectly placed 101.2 mph sinker. Coupled with a slider that sits around 89 mph, Graterol has the potential to be unhittable. His confidence and swagger seem to grow with each appearance, and for good reason. Graterol, of course, has been groomed to be a starter, and if he hadn’t missed the majority of 2019 with a shoulder injury, there is a good chance he would have long ago reached his innings limit. Graterol threw a career-high 102 innings in 2018 between high and low A-ball, but threw just 52 2/3 innings as a starter at Double-A in 2019 before missing time with his shoulder injury, and then pitched 8 1/3 innings between rehab in rookie ball and his promotion to AAA after moving to the pen. The Twins undoubtedly saw an opportunity for Graterol to reach the majors and potentially help the club down the stretch, and shorter appearances as a reliever were a way to make it a reality. The question of interest for the time being is whether or not Graterol will be added to the postseason roster. Every appearance will be crucial for the 21-year-old to further sell his case to the Twins front office, but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, adding Graterol is a no-brainer. As things stand, the Twins appear to have five bullpen “locks” in Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffy, Trevor May, and Zack Littell, but beyond them Graterol seems to be the favorite. He has electric stuff, and with only Jose Berrios and Jake Odorrizi currently looking like viable postseason starters, the Twins may go with the “opener” strategy and should have plenty of roster space for relievers. Regardless of what happens for the remainder of this season, Graterol’s future with the Twins looks bright. There are, however, questions as to what his future role will be. Although Graterol looks the part of a shutdown closer, he has been a starter and would have incredible value as a potential number one or two to help anchor the Twins rotation of the future. To be a frontline starter he will probably need more than his current two-pitch mix. Graterol does throw a changeup, but it seems to be a work in progress. The only home run he has given up in the MLB was on the lone changeup he threw in his last appearance against Chicago. On the bright side, he is confident enough to at least show his changeup at the major league level and Wes Johnson and crew can help guide him along. It will be interesting to see what Derek Favley and company decide to do with Graterol in 2020. They would presumably like to give Graterol every possibility to be a starter and that might mean starting the year in AAA Rochester unless the team feels very confident in Graterol’s ability to begin the season in the big leagues. Graterol was dominant as a starter this year before his injury as he pitched to a 1.71 ERA in his 52 2/3 AA innings, all prior to his 21st birthday, so the ability is certainly present. Another consideration for 2020 will be the amount of innings Graterol is allowed to pitch. After missing all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery, Graterol pitched 40 innings in 2017, 102 in 2018, and will not reach a hundred innings in 2019 due to the aforementioned shoulder injury. Therefore, it may make sense for the Twins to begin the season with Graterol in the bullpen in 2020 and slowly transition him to a starting role as the year goes on, which would help to limit Graterol’s innings pitched, ensuring that he would be available down the stretch. This could be done at the MLB level if the Twins so desire, giving the bullpen a boost early in the year and potentially strengthening the starting rotation as the season progresses. Graterol’s health and effectiveness will be paramount in deciding what his future will entail, but whatever the Twins decide to do with Brusdar Graterol for the remainder of this season and beyond, it’s exciting to finally have a 100 mph flamethrower that we can call our own. With a little luck and a third pitch, Minnesota could have a really nice rotation piece to slot next to Jose Berrios in the near future, and if that doesn’t come to fruition, having another potent bullpen arm is a nice consolation prize. What do you think? Will the Twins find a spot for Graterol in the postseason pen? Where do you think he will begin his 2020 season and what do you see as his future role? Please leave your comments below.
  3. The suspension for the beginning of the season could also benefit Pineda by giving him some extra rest which he seems to need. Plus, I think he feels like he wronged the Twins, so he may come back on a more team friendly deal. Overall, I think he will be a great value considering his talent level and the Twins are going to need to add a lot of starters anyway, so I am all in favor of resigning Pineda.
  4. Yeah, teams definitely need to be creative to avoid overusing relievers. There are still plenty of opportunities to use long relievers to eat some innings though and the Twins have a lot of young relievers they can shuttle back and forth from AAA.
  5. As the season winds down there has been some talk about Taylor Roger’s ineffectiveness when pitching in back to back games. A quick glance at his numbers will confirm what the eye has observed as Rogers has pitched to a 7.71 ERA on zero-days of rest while pitching to a 2.45 ERA overall on the season, and to their credit, the Twins have shied away from overusing Rogers of late.With the emergence of quality relief arms like Tyler Duffey and Trevor May, who are capable of pitching late in the game, and the addition of late-inning arms in Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson (if he’s ever healthy), the Twins haven’t felt as much need to pitch Rogers multiple days in a row. Add in Zack Littell, who has also been really solid down the stretch, and the Minnesota bullpen appears to be in good shape, especially relative to starting pitching and the dearth of healthy position players. With a bullpen that is overflowing with arms due to September call-ups, I was curious to see how the aforementioned relievers have performed while pitching on back-to-back days. With so many quality relief options and the September additions, it seems less necessary than ever to pitch anyone without a day of rest between outings. Of course, rosters will contract prior to the postseason, but with so many good relievers right now (and problems in the rotation), the Twins would do well to consider the best usage of the bullpen. Let’s take a look at how the top six relievers have performed both on zero-days rest (in the left-side of the box) compared to their overall numbers on the season (on the right-side). Download attachment: BullpenSheet.png Yikes! Those numbers on zero days of rest are pretty atrocious across the board. The one glaring exception is Trevor May, who contrary to the trend, actually has pitched much better without a day off between appearances. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size of just 9 2/3 innings, but compared to his peers it seems that May is the man to go to if you need someone to pitch two days in a row. However, in the course of a full season the Twins would have to be careful not to overuse May if he was to be relied on to go back-to-back days more often than the others. As far as the others go, the numbers while pitching with no rest really stand out compared to their overall numbers, especially considering that the no-rest performances are also included in the overall numbers, causing them to be a bit bloated. Looking at the differences in OPS allowed shows that the pitchers are making hitters look below replacement level overall, while Rogers, Duffey, and Littell are allowing batters to look like MVP-caliber hitters when pitching on back-to-back days. The diminished strikeout-to-walk ratios of Rogers and Duffey point to a lack of control potentially due to the extra fatigue of pitching without a day of rest. Before the trade deadline, Minnesota rode Rogers hard out of necessity, but it is really no longer advisable to do so. With five to six high quality relief arms (depending on Dyson’s health) the Twins don’t really need to use any reliever on back to back days. Rocco Baldelli deserves credit for the overall fluidity of the bullpen roles, but the Twins can afford to be even less strict with the positioning of their best arms. Although Rogers is the preferred reliever to bring in to close out the game, Romo has done so on occasion since joining the team, and both Duffey, and to a lesser extent May, can be trusted in the highest-leverage situations. And if the Twins aren’t married to Rogers in save situations, he can be brought in to late-inning situations with more lefties due up or when facing the heart of an opposition’s order prior to the ninth. While the Twins might not want to bring Littell in to end the game, he has pitched really well and seems to be at the point where he can be trusted in the late innings of a close game. Dyson is a bit of a wildcard as he hasn’t pitched in a while due to injury, but if he comes back strong he also has closer experience and is capable of being a late-inning weapon. Minnesota currently has a plethora of lesser relief options that should be considered before pitching anyone other than May on zero rest days. Relievers like Cody Sashak, Ryne Harper, or possibly even Brusdar Graterol could be preferable to the non-rested options. Depending on how the opener role is used going forward, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer would also be viable options out of the pen. The Twins would then be able to use three of their superior options for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, saving the other two or three for the next game whenever possible. They could also let one of the top relievers go more than one inning on occasion, especially if they are not asked to pitch in the next game. And while the “lesser options” may not be as attractive as the top five or six, when compared with the numbers of the “superior” pitchers with no rest, they don’t look so bad, and their effectiveness could be further enhanced by being utilized against the bottom of opposing team’s lineups. The Twins have yet to clinch the division, but they are well on their way to doing so and with the number of relievers that they have available there is really no reason to run out any relievers on back-to-back days. The postseason is a completely different animal, and with the current lack of starting pitching the bullpen will be paramount if the Twins hope to advance. The good news is that there are plenty of days off between games in the postseason, which should prevent the top bullpen options from too much overuse. Obviously, Minnesota wants its best pitchers throwing in the postseason, but they only seem to be at their best when they are properly rested. It will certainly help to have such a high number of quality late-inning arms, and hopefully an extra lefty or two. Beyond this season, Minnesota may be able to take advantage of limiting the use of relievers on back-to-back days next season as well. Sergio Romo is the only impending free agent of the top six arms, so the Twins should have plenty of good options for high-leverage situations. They also have plenty of young arms with options left, so they will be likely to keep the Rochester-Minneapolis shuttle going strong, making it easier to have fresh arms available. Beyond that, the new rules for 2020 could also lead to less reliever overuse. With pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters (unless the inning ends first) there should be fewer situational pitcher changes, although the Twins don’t do a whole lot of that due to the lack of LOOGYs in their pen. Rosters will also expand to 26 players which will make it all the easier to carry an extra arm. Utilizing the bullpen is essential not only for the remainder of the regular season, but for the postseason if the Twins are to go anywhere at all. After much fan dissatisfaction with the bullpen in the first half of the year, the Twins now have one of the best pens in all of baseball and are poised to be strong in 2020 as well. It’s always nice to have your best pitcher in the game, especially when the game is on the line, but it appears that the best are only the best when they have proper rest (all you coaches out there feel free to use that handy rhyme with the youngsters). It’s already a huge advantage to have such a large quantity of quality arms, and if the Twins are able to fully utilize their relievers with rest between outings, the bullpen will that much more of a weapon going forward. Click here to view the article
  6. With the emergence of quality relief arms like Tyler Duffey and Trevor May, who are capable of pitching late in the game, and the addition of late-inning arms in Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson (if he’s ever healthy), the Twins haven’t felt as much need to pitch Rogers multiple days in a row. Add in Zack Littell, who has also been really solid down the stretch, and the Minnesota bullpen appears to be in good shape, especially relative to starting pitching and the dearth of healthy position players. With a bullpen that is overflowing with arms due to September call-ups, I was curious to see how the aforementioned relievers have performed while pitching on back-to-back days. With so many quality relief options and the September additions, it seems less necessary than ever to pitch anyone without a day of rest between outings. Of course, rosters will contract prior to the postseason, but with so many good relievers right now (and problems in the rotation), the Twins would do well to consider the best usage of the bullpen. Let’s take a look at how the top six relievers have performed both on zero-days rest (in the left-side of the box) compared to their overall numbers on the season (on the right-side). Yikes! Those numbers on zero days of rest are pretty atrocious across the board. The one glaring exception is Trevor May, who contrary to the trend, actually has pitched much better without a day off between appearances. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size of just 9 2/3 innings, but compared to his peers it seems that May is the man to go to if you need someone to pitch two days in a row. However, in the course of a full season the Twins would have to be careful not to overuse May if he was to be relied on to go back-to-back days more often than the others. As far as the others go, the numbers while pitching with no rest really stand out compared to their overall numbers, especially considering that the no-rest performances are also included in the overall numbers, causing them to be a bit bloated. Looking at the differences in OPS allowed shows that the pitchers are making hitters look below replacement level overall, while Rogers, Duffey, and Littell are allowing batters to look like MVP-caliber hitters when pitching on back-to-back days. The diminished strikeout-to-walk ratios of Rogers and Duffey point to a lack of control potentially due to the extra fatigue of pitching without a day of rest. Before the trade deadline, Minnesota rode Rogers hard out of necessity, but it is really no longer advisable to do so. With five to six high quality relief arms (depending on Dyson’s health) the Twins don’t really need to use any reliever on back to back days. Rocco Baldelli deserves credit for the overall fluidity of the bullpen roles, but the Twins can afford to be even less strict with the positioning of their best arms. Although Rogers is the preferred reliever to bring in to close out the game, Romo has done so on occasion since joining the team, and both Duffey, and to a lesser extent May, can be trusted in the highest-leverage situations. And if the Twins aren’t married to Rogers in save situations, he can be brought in to late-inning situations with more lefties due up or when facing the heart of an opposition’s order prior to the ninth. While the Twins might not want to bring Littell in to end the game, he has pitched really well and seems to be at the point where he can be trusted in the late innings of a close game. Dyson is a bit of a wildcard as he hasn’t pitched in a while due to injury, but if he comes back strong he also has closer experience and is capable of being a late-inning weapon. Minnesota currently has a plethora of lesser relief options that should be considered before pitching anyone other than May on zero rest days. Relievers like Cody Sashak, Ryne Harper, or possibly even Brusdar Graterol could be preferable to the non-rested options. Depending on how the opener role is used going forward, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer would also be viable options out of the pen. The Twins would then be able to use three of their superior options for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, saving the other two or three for the next game whenever possible. They could also let one of the top relievers go more than one inning on occasion, especially if they are not asked to pitch in the next game. And while the “lesser options” may not be as attractive as the top five or six, when compared with the numbers of the “superior” pitchers with no rest, they don’t look so bad, and their effectiveness could be further enhanced by being utilized against the bottom of opposing team’s lineups. The Twins have yet to clinch the division, but they are well on their way to doing so and with the number of relievers that they have available there is really no reason to run out any relievers on back-to-back days. The postseason is a completely different animal, and with the current lack of starting pitching the bullpen will be paramount if the Twins hope to advance. The good news is that there are plenty of days off between games in the postseason, which should prevent the top bullpen options from too much overuse. Obviously, Minnesota wants its best pitchers throwing in the postseason, but they only seem to be at their best when they are properly rested. It will certainly help to have such a high number of quality late-inning arms, and hopefully an extra lefty or two. Beyond this season, Minnesota may be able to take advantage of limiting the use of relievers on back-to-back days next season as well. Sergio Romo is the only impending free agent of the top six arms, so the Twins should have plenty of good options for high-leverage situations. They also have plenty of young arms with options left, so they will be likely to keep the Rochester-Minneapolis shuttle going strong, making it easier to have fresh arms available. Beyond that, the new rules for 2020 could also lead to less reliever overuse. With pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters (unless the inning ends first) there should be fewer situational pitcher changes, although the Twins don’t do a whole lot of that due to the lack of LOOGYs in their pen. Rosters will also expand to 26 players which will make it all the easier to carry an extra arm. Utilizing the bullpen is essential not only for the remainder of the regular season, but for the postseason if the Twins are to go anywhere at all. After much fan dissatisfaction with the bullpen in the first half of the year, the Twins now have one of the best pens in all of baseball and are poised to be strong in 2020 as well. It’s always nice to have your best pitcher in the game, especially when the game is on the line, but it appears that the best are only the best when they have proper rest (all you coaches out there feel free to use that handy rhyme with the youngsters). It’s already a huge advantage to have such a large quantity of quality arms, and if the Twins are able to fully utilize their relievers with rest between outings, the bullpen will that much more of a weapon going forward.
  7. It was also really nice to see Berrios get his command back against Washington. August is his month to fall apart and September is his his time to bounce back! Nice article.
  8. In tonight’s twin over the Cleveland Indians, Yasiel Puig hit a comebacker to Jake Odorrizi in the fourth inning and immediately turned and went back to the dugout. Puig had no chance of reaching first safely on the play and Odorrizi ran the ball to first himself while looking back at Puig with a somewhat surprised expression on his face. The Target Field crowd immediately booed Puig and Dick Bremer speculated that Cleveland manager Terry Francona would pull Puig from the game. Upon entering the visitor’s dugout veteran Carlos Santana pulled Puig aside and began talking with him and stayed seated beside Puig for the remainder of the inning. Francona stepped down from the top of the dugout and said something to Puig while rubbing his head in what appeared to be an affectionate manner. Puig ran out to right field at the bottom of the fourth and was not pulled from the game. Francona is known as one of the most beloved player’s managers in the game and he probably knew how to best deal with an outgoing (to put it nicely) personality like Puig’s. Puig most likely immediately understood what he did wrong and his lack of hustle seemed to be an immediate reaction due to his frustration at grounding out to the pitcher. While Francona may still choose to further address the issue with Puig, his decision to keep Puig in the game certainly paid off for Cleveland. Although Cleveland ultimately went on to lose the game, Puig hit an RBI double to tie the game in the sixth inning and doubled again in his next at bat, later coming around to score. It seems likely that an emotional player like Puig was motivated to amend his mistake and may have also been fueled by all the boos he received from the Target Field crowd. It is a bit interesting to me as to why the Minnesota crowd would be so upset with Puig not hustling on what was a sure out. I guess it’s good to “play the game the right way” and Puig certainly didn’t endear himself to Twins fans in the last home series, but if anything Puig’s choice not to hustle only helped Minnesota by ensuring that a throw didn’t need to be made on the play. It also brought about the possibility of friction between Puig and his teammates which would also be beneficial to the Twins. Additionally, does the absence of seeing Puig slowly trot down the first base line only to thrown out by a mile really take much away from the aesthetic of the game? From my point of view, I can see why a Cleveland fan (or teammate) could be upset with the play. This series with Minnesota is absolutely crucial for Cleveland as they had fallen behind the Twins by six in-a-half games before the series and won the first game. Miguel Sano had a similar play in the next inning where the ground ball he hit skipped on Cleveland pitcher Aaron Civale and Sano was able to beat out the throw after hustling out of the box. But again, Puig could immediately see that Odorizzi handled the ground ball and that he had no chance to reach safely. Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario also failed to run to first after a dropped third strike and he had no worse a chance than Puig of reaching first on the play (he didn’t receive any booing). Finally, if you really want to look at the play as objectively as possible, Puig may have also been keeping himself out of the way of potential injury on the play. Although the odds of getting injured on the play were probably microscopic, so were his chances of reaching without recording an out. Plus, Puig did come up limping after scoring in the top of the eighth inning, so it’s not as if he is immune to injury on the base paths. What do you think? Are you enraged by Puig’s antics or was his not hustling pretty inconsequential? Should the home crowd have booed Puig or thanked him for making the out all the easier for the Twins? Leave your comments below.
  9. The Minnesota Twins continued their dominance on the road with an 8-2 road trip. The fact that the Twins play so much better on the road than at home is one of the more interesting characteristics of the 2019 team. This is generally not the case with most MLB teams throughout the history of baseball and has not been the case this year. If we take all MLB teams this year and compile them into one average team, teams playing at home have a record of 37-32 with teams playing away having the inverse at 32-37.There are many reasonable factors for teams playing better at home such as not having jet lag or having to play in another time zone, sleeping at home, familiarity with the home ballpark, and potentially having the team built to best succeed in the home park. Plus, the home team has the home crowd to cheer them on. So why is Minnesota an MLB best 48-24 on the road, while just 39-29 (13th overall) at home? The most obvious answer is that the Twins play their home games at Target Field. While Target Field in undeniably a beautiful ball park and a great place to take in a game, it is no homer dome. In 2019, Target Field is ranked as the 21st overall ball park for run scoring and is 25th in home runs, making it one of the MLB’s worst ball parks for power hitting. In the piranha-hitting, small ball days of Twins past Target Field would be just fine, but with a team that is currently constructed to hit the cover off the ball, a stadium that suppresses home runs is a detriment to the team. Taking only one season into account makes a rather small sample size and if we look at the last three seasons, Target Field has been only slightly below average as a hitter’s park. As far as home runs go, the high wall in right field makes it slightly harder on left-handed hitters. An interesting juxtaposition can be seen in switch-hitter Jorge Polanco’s splits. At Target Field Polanco has hit just three home runs batting left-handed in 206 plate appearances, while hitting five home runs in only 89 plate appearances batting right-handed. Contrast this to the road where Polanco has hit 11 home runs in 226 plate appearances as a lefty, while hitting just one home run in 96 plate appearances as a right-handed batter. Left-hand power hitters Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario have also hit more of their home runs outside of Target Field. As one would expect, a team that set the all-time record for home runs hit in a season has fared much better outside of their homer-stealing stadium. While the Twins have hit 120 home runs at Target Field (one per 21.9 plate appearances), they have hit a league-leading 152 on the road (one every 18.9 plate appearances). No single Twins player embodies this trend more than Jonathan Schoop, who has hit 15 of his 21 home runs away from Target Field. The team also has the league’s best wRC+ on the road with a 123 wRC+, while posting a 113 wRC+ at home. Minnesota’s historic offense is still really good at Target Field, but it is not as elite as it is away from home. When playing in stadiums that are in the top half of the league for being homer-friendly, the Twins are currently 31-16. Minnesota is even better when playing in the top run scoring stadiums in the MLB with a record of 21-8. Obviously playing in ball parks that are conducive to offense allows an offensive-oriented team like the Twins to play to their strong suit. This leads one to wonder how the Twins would fare against some of their potential postseason opponents. With the New York Yankees and Houston Astros all but certain to win their divisions and very likely to hold the top two records in the A.L., the Twins are likely to be the team with the third best record, assuming they continue to hold off the Cleveland Indians. This would leave Cleveland, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Oakland Athletics to compete for the final two wild card spots. The Twins would then face either New York or Houston in the ALDS (whoever has the second overall record) and the Twin’s opponent would hold home field advantage. Here is a look at the run scoring and home run rankings of the other potential playoff teams’ stadiums. A rate of greater than one favors hitters (or 100 in the three-year factors), while a rate of under one favors pitchers. The 2019 run and home run rankings come from ESPN while the three-year ball park factors come from Baseball-Reference. Download attachment: Ballparks1.png Unfortunately, none of these stadiums conform very well to Minnesota’s strength as a power hitting club. Between New York and Houston, it looks like Minute Maid Park is a better fit for the Twins as it is average for run scoring and above average for home runs. The short left field dimensions could also play well for Minnesota’s right-handed hitters. The Twins also have a better overall record against Houston but would have to face Houston’s superlative starting pitching (Justin Verlander, Garrit Cole, and Zack Greinke). Of course, the Twins don’t have a sterling record of postseason success against the Yankees but New York’s starting rotation is nothing to fear this year. Plus Yankee stadium features the short porch in right field that Minnesota’s power hitters could feast on. Minnesota’s potential advantage of being a great road team might also be mitigated by the fact that Houston and New York have two of the best home winning percentages in MLB. Of the potential wildcard teams (who would also have to get past either New York or Houston to face the Twins), Progressive Field is by far the most homer friendly of the bunch, but the Twins have had the most success playing at Tropicana Field against Tampa Bay. Any Twins fan will surely be elated if Minnesota ends up facing any of the potential wildcard trifecta in the postseason. Once the postseason starts, all bets are off and the Twins would most likely love to play in front of the home crowd, regardless of how things have played out in the regular season. Anytime one is looking at data through the lens of a single season, the results could simply be an anomaly, but the narrative of Target Field being unfriendly to hitters seems to fit well with the suppression of the team’s power numbers at home, which naturally points to Minnesota’s success at hitter-friendly parks. As long as Minnesota continues to win, the setting in which the victories occur should matter little to Twins fans. Click here to view the article
  10. There are many reasonable factors for teams playing better at home such as not having jet lag or having to play in another time zone, sleeping at home, familiarity with the home ballpark, and potentially having the team built to best succeed in the home park. Plus, the home team has the home crowd to cheer them on. So why is Minnesota an MLB best 48-24 on the road, while just 39-29 (13th overall) at home? The most obvious answer is that the Twins play their home games at Target Field. While Target Field in undeniably a beautiful ball park and a great place to take in a game, it is no homer dome. In 2019, Target Field is ranked as the 21st overall ball park for run scoring and is 25th in home runs, making it one of the MLB’s worst ball parks for power hitting. In the piranha-hitting, small ball days of Twins past Target Field would be just fine, but with a team that is currently constructed to hit the cover off the ball, a stadium that suppresses home runs is a detriment to the team. Taking only one season into account makes a rather small sample size and if we look at the last three seasons, Target Field has been only slightly below average as a hitter’s park. As far as home runs go, the high wall in right field makes it slightly harder on left-handed hitters. An interesting juxtaposition can be seen in switch-hitter Jorge Polanco’s splits. At Target Field Polanco has hit just three home runs batting left-handed in 206 plate appearances, while hitting five home runs in only 89 plate appearances batting right-handed. Contrast this to the road where Polanco has hit 11 home runs in 226 plate appearances as a lefty, while hitting just one home run in 96 plate appearances as a right-handed batter. Left-hand power hitters Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario have also hit more of their home runs outside of Target Field. As one would expect, a team that set the all-time record for home runs hit in a season has fared much better outside of their homer-stealing stadium. While the Twins have hit 120 home runs at Target Field (one per 21.9 plate appearances), they have hit a league-leading 152 on the road (one every 18.9 plate appearances). No single Twins player embodies this trend more than Jonathan Schoop, who has hit 15 of his 21 home runs away from Target Field. The team also has the league’s best wRC+ on the road with a 123 wRC+, while posting a 113 wRC+ at home. Minnesota’s historic offense is still really good at Target Field, but it is not as elite as it is away from home. When playing in stadiums that are in the top half of the league for being homer-friendly, the Twins are currently 31-16. Minnesota is even better when playing in the top run scoring stadiums in the MLB with a record of 21-8. Obviously playing in ball parks that are conducive to offense allows an offensive-oriented team like the Twins to play to their strong suit. This leads one to wonder how the Twins would fare against some of their potential postseason opponents. With the New York Yankees and Houston Astros all but certain to win their divisions and very likely to hold the top two records in the A.L., the Twins are likely to be the team with the third best record, assuming they continue to hold off the Cleveland Indians. This would leave Cleveland, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Oakland Athletics to compete for the final two wild card spots. The Twins would then face either New York or Houston in the ALDS (whoever has the second overall record) and the Twin’s opponent would hold home field advantage. Here is a look at the run scoring and home run rankings of the other potential playoff teams’ stadiums. A rate of greater than one favors hitters (or 100 in the three-year factors), while a rate of under one favors pitchers. The 2019 run and home run rankings come from ESPN while the three-year ball park factors come from Baseball-Reference. Unfortunately, none of these stadiums conform very well to Minnesota’s strength as a power hitting club. Between New York and Houston, it looks like Minute Maid Park is a better fit for the Twins as it is average for run scoring and above average for home runs. The short left field dimensions could also play well for Minnesota’s right-handed hitters. The Twins also have a better overall record against Houston but would have to face Houston’s superlative starting pitching (Justin Verlander, Garrit Cole, and Zack Greinke). Of course, the Twins don’t have a sterling record of postseason success against the Yankees but New York’s starting rotation is nothing to fear this year. Plus Yankee stadium features the short porch in right field that Minnesota’s power hitters could feast on. Minnesota’s potential advantage of being a great road team might also be mitigated by the fact that Houston and New York have two of the best home winning percentages in MLB. Of the potential wildcard teams (who would also have to get past either New York or Houston to face the Twins), Progressive Field is by far the most homer friendly of the bunch, but the Twins have had the most success playing at Tropicana Field against Tampa Bay. Any Twins fan will surely be elated if Minnesota ends up facing any of the potential wildcard trifecta in the postseason. Once the postseason starts, all bets are off and the Twins would most likely love to play in front of the home crowd, regardless of how things have played out in the regular season. Anytime one is looking at data through the lens of a single season, the results could simply be an anomaly, but the narrative of Target Field being unfriendly to hitters seems to fit well with the suppression of the team’s power numbers at home, which naturally points to Minnesota’s success at hitter-friendly parks. As long as Minnesota continues to win, the setting in which the victories occur should matter little to Twins fans.
  11. 2019 has been a breakout year for Max Kepler. Kepler’s talent and upside has been on display since his days in the minor leagues but he has seemingly put it all together this season. In the year of the home run, Kepler has been no exception as he has led the best home run-hitting team in baseball with 36 long balls. His previous career high was 20, which Kepler will more than likely double. He will put up career highs in all of the traditional batting stats and has been good for a team best 4.4 fWAR. Defensively he is among the best right fielders in baseball and he has filled in admiringly in center field during Byron Buxton’s trips to the IL. When dreaming about Max Kepler’s upside a comp that has often been made is to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. Like Kepler, Yelich spends the majority of his time in right field, hits for a lot of power despite not having a traditional power hitter’s build, and leads his team in home runs and WAR. Yelich’s contract situation is also very similar to Kepler’s as he is currently signed to a seven year, 49.57 million dollar contract that ends in 2021 with a club option in 2022. Kepler is also signed to a seven million dollar AAV through 2023 with a club option for 2024. Needless to say both Minnesota and Milwaukee can be nothing less than thrilled with those contacts. While Kepler’s power surge came to fruition this season, Yelich had a similar transformation in 2018. Prior to being traded over to Milwaukee before the 2018 season, Yelich’s previous home run high with the Miami Marlins was 21 in 2016. However, last season Yelich exploded for 36 dingers in his first season with Milwaukee and has hit a career high 43 so far this year. Yelich’s 2018 numbers (.326/.402/.598, 166 wRC+, 7.6 fWAR) were good enough to win the NL MVP award and lead his team to within a game of the World Series. Although Milwaukee is now on the outside looking in for a wild card spot, Yelich has been every bit as good, hitting .326/.421/.672 for a 169 wRC+ and a 7 fWAR. Kepler’s numbers have not yet reached the level of Yelich’s, but his great leap forward has happened at the same age as Yelich’s. Both players were consistent and above average players in their earlier years, but something clicked in their age-26 seasons. As both players became more familiar with major league pitching and most likely added some strength, there power numbers surged. Both started hitting the ball harder than ever as Yelich’s hard hit percentage went from 35.2% in his age-25 season, to 47.6% at age 26 (and 50.3% this year!), while Kepler has gone from 37.1% to 42.9% (and up from 33% for his first two seasons). Both players have had similar power trajectories but there are clear differences in their overall skill sets. Kepler and Yelich both have good speed, but Yelich is a very good base stealer (26 SB on the year with only 2 CS) while Kepler very rarely attempts to take a bag. Yelich is also a much better overall hitter than Kepler thus far in their careers. Yelich has a career .301 batting average with a .381 on-base-percentage and a .373 wOBA. Kepler on the other hand has hit just .239 with a .320 OBP and .326 wOBA. Yelich has the advantage of having an extra year of being an elite hitter on Kepler, but his overall numbers would still be much better than Kepler’s. Their career walk rates are similar (Yelich 11.0%, Kepler 9.9%) and Kepler actually has the better isolated power numbers (.208 ISO to .190) but Yelich has a huge advantage when it comes to batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Kepler has always had a notoriously low BABIP (career .254) and this season has been no different at .246. Contrast that to Yelich who has always been able to “hit it where they ain’t” with a career .358 BABIP. While BABIP can fluctuate a fair amount from season to season and is somewhat luck based, a career difference of over .100 is certainly more than just luck. Yelich’s ability to hit the ball slightly harder than Kepler and his faster sprint speeds probably helps a bit, but Yelich is also less pull-heavy than Kepler which makes him less susceptible to hitting into the shift. Kepler is currently pulling the ball at a 53.7 % clip while going opposite field just 19% of the time. Yelich hits the balls to all fields, pulling 38.5 %, going to center 38.3 %, and going opposite field 23.2 % of the time. With Kepler hitting for as much power as he has, the Twins are probably loath to change his approach in order to improve his average. There is, however, one area where Kepler already exceeds Yelich – defense. Yelich is not a bad defender per say, but he is probably average at best and is rated negatively by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference (which could be the deciding factor in Cody Bellinger winning the NL MVP this year). Conversely, Kepler rates as one of the best right fielders in the MLB with a 19.8 UZR/150 and has played well in center with a 12.8 UZP/150. FanGraphs even has Kepler rated as the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball. Christian Yelich is already one of the top players in all of baseball, but Max Kepler is not so far behind. If Kepler can continue to improve his overall offensive game and maintain his homerun power, he could join the elite few in baseball. MVP awards may be hard to come by with arguably the best player in MLB history also playing in the American League (Mike Trout, in case you’ve been living under a rock), but at the young age of 26 Max Kepler is starting to turn some heads. Minnesota would naturally be happy if Kepler can continue to replicate the success he has had in 2019, but it may even be possible that the best is yet to come.
  12. Seth, Tom, Cody, Steve, Ted, and Matt, Thanks for another great year of minor league coverage at Twins Daily!
  13. It makes a lot of sense to mainly rely on your best pitch, especially when it's getting the kind of results May is getting. With May going well it gives the Twins five good relievers plus the addition of Graterol, which bodes well for the postseason.
  14. Good stuff! I'm a big fan of what Ben Lindbergh advocates as free agent relievers seem to be such a terrible return on investment and so many young/failed starters can be converted into assets as relievers.
  15. That sounds like a lot of fun! I just finished reading Thorn's The Hidden Game of Baseball. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the trip from Thailand. Have a great time!
  16. The recent struggles of not only Jose Berrios, but also Kyle Gibson, have been a major cause of concern for Twins fans. Struggling in August in nothing new for Berrios, but this year his numbers have been even worse. His most recent start against the Chicago White Sox was a step in the right direction, but he hasn’t yet returned to first-half form. As has been the case with Berrios, August has not been kind to Gibson. Both pitchers have seen their ERAs skyrocket along with diminished strikeout rates (more so with Gibson) and increased walk rates. The lack of control coupled with a loss of fastball velocity naturally points to both pitchers being fatigued and potentially suffering from dead arm.Take a quick glance at their monthly numbers and just how bad August has been. Download attachment: BerriosGibsonGraph.png Without diving too deep into the numbers, we can clearly see that both pitchers have hit a wall. Berrios and Gibson both pitched career high innings in 2018, with Berrios going 192 1/3 innings and Gibson reaching 196 2/3 innings and both have been chugging along in 2019. Berrios is clearly having the better year, but Gibson had at least been someone you could count on to get pretty decent results every five days or so. With the postseason looming on the horizon, the Twins will want to do everything they can to get the rotation right. While it is normal for pitchers to wear down as the season winds on, both Berrios and Gibson have seen significant decreases in their fastball velocities of late. Berrios’ average four-seam fastball is down to 92.74 mph in August (high of 94.14 mph in April) with his two-seamer down to 91.47 mph (high of 93.4 in June). Gibson is in the same boat as his four-seamer is down to 92.81 mph (high of 94.43 in June) and his two-seamer came in at 92.61 mph (high of 94.11 in June). Since both Gibson and Berrios have good but not elite velocity, losing a tick or two on their fastballs can be quite a detriment to success. Download attachment: BerriosReleaseSpeed.png Download attachment: GibsonReleaseSpeed.png Doubly burdensome is the loss of control that has plagued both Berrios and Gibson. Berrios’ mechanics have been out of whack and he has been working with the Twins staff to try and get back on track. Both pitchers have walk rates pushing 10% in the month of August along with WHIPs that are blush-worthy (1.87 for Berrios and 1.57 for Gibson). Berrios has been unable to get batters to chase, especially his curve ball, which batters are laying off of for the most part and crushing when they make contact. Download attachment: BerriosSwing.png Download attachment: BerriosBarrel.png *Berrios' most recent start against Chicago is not included in the graphs. It’s possible that Berrios is tipping his curve ball, which is hopefully something the Twins staff can identify and correct, but that still doesn’t solve the lack of velocity and control. Gibson hasn’t fared much better: Download attachment: GibsonSwingMiss.png Download attachment: GibsonwOBA.png The numbers tell us what we already knew but don’t help us fix the problem. However, there is one Twins pitcher who has been fairly consistent and solid over the course of the season. We need look no further than the case of rotation-mate Michael Pineda to find an obvious, but potentially potent solution. Unlike with Gibson and Berrios, the Twins have been more careful and deliberate in getting Pineda rest this season. Pineda has twice hit the 10-day IL with somewhat dubious injuries allowing the Twins to limit his innings. Of course, Pineda did not pitch in 2018 because of Tommy John surgery and has an extensive injury history, so the Twins were inclined to limit his innings this year and it has seemed to work well for Pineda. His numbers have improved in the second half as his ERA has gone from 4.56 in the first half to 3.27 in the second and he has maintained his fastball velocity through the year. Download attachment: Pineda.png Minnesota is entering a stretch run and undoubtedly wants to run their best starters out each game. However, the Twins may benefit in both the long and short term by skipping both Berrios and Gibson in the rotation. Neither have pitched well of late, so while having Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or even Kohl Stewart pitch in big games down the stretch isn’t all that appealing, they can’t do much worse than what Berrios and Gibson have done in the month of August. More importantly, giving Berrios and Gibson a break may give them a chance to get back some velocity and control and the opportunity to reset mentally as well. If the division lead continues to grow with rosters expanding in September, Minnesota may even want to consider a six-man rotation. The Twins have been blessed to have five relatively healthy starters for the course of 2019, but they could all probably use a bit of a break at this point in the season. Pineda (5.43 ERA), Odorizzi (4.76 ERA), and Gibson (5.55 ERA) haven’t pitched well on the normal four-days rest anyway, and with Minnesota not having another scheduled off day until Sept. 9 throwing in a sixth starter could help. With the loss of Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber’s recent setback in his rehab stint, and Brad Hand’s ineffectiveness of late the Twins may be able to extend their division lead over Cleveland, making it all the easier to get the rotation some extra rest. The Twins could also give the pitchers most likely to be in the postseason rotation more abbreviated starts, pulling them from the game before their pitch counts mount. We all know how great the Twins offense has been and fans can feel pretty good about the bullpen going into the postseason, but getting the rotation right is crucial. The Twins don’t have the formidable playoff rotation of say the Houston Astros (who does?), but getting Berrios going is a must if the Twins hope to go anywhere. Gibson might not be as important, but Minnesota will need all the help they can get. Making sure Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Marin Perez are as rested as possible can only be a plus. After not picking up an additional starter at the trade deadline, the Twins are forced to roll with the pitchers who got them to where they are. While Minnesota doesn’t have anyone’s idea of an ideal postseason rotation, putting the rotation in the best position to succeed by having the starters well-rested is the best the Twins can do at this point. With additional days off in the postseason the Twins will be better able to utilize the bullpen, but all will be for naught if the starters don’t at least keep the offense in the game. Here’s hoping for the best! Click here to view the article
  17. Take a quick glance at their monthly numbers and just how bad August has been. Without diving too deep into the numbers, we can clearly see that both pitchers have hit a wall. Berrios and Gibson both pitched career high innings in 2018, with Berrios going 192 1/3 innings and Gibson reaching 196 2/3 innings and both have been chugging along in 2019. Berrios is clearly having the better year, but Gibson had at least been someone you could count on to get pretty decent results every five days or so. With the postseason looming on the horizon, the Twins will want to do everything they can to get the rotation right. While it is normal for pitchers to wear down as the season winds on, both Berrios and Gibson have seen significant decreases in their fastball velocities of late. Berrios’ average four-seam fastball is down to 92.74 mph in August (high of 94.14 mph in April) with his two-seamer down to 91.47 mph (high of 93.4 in June). Gibson is in the same boat as his four-seamer is down to 92.81 mph (high of 94.43 in June) and his two-seamer came in at 92.61 mph (high of 94.11 in June). Since both Gibson and Berrios have good but not elite velocity, losing a tick or two on their fastballs can be quite a detriment to success. Doubly burdensome is the loss of control that has plagued both Berrios and Gibson. Berrios’ mechanics have been out of whack and he has been working with the Twins staff to try and get back on track. Both pitchers have walk rates pushing 10% in the month of August along with WHIPs that are blush-worthy (1.87 for Berrios and 1.57 for Gibson). Berrios has been unable to get batters to chase, especially his curve ball, which batters are laying off of for the most part and crushing when they make contact. *Berrios' most recent start against Chicago is not included in the graphs. It’s possible that Berrios is tipping his curve ball, which is hopefully something the Twins staff can identify and correct, but that still doesn’t solve the lack of velocity and control. Gibson hasn’t fared much better: The numbers tell us what we already knew but don’t help us fix the problem. However, there is one Twins pitcher who has been fairly consistent and solid over the course of the season. We need look no further than the case of rotation-mate Michael Pineda to find an obvious, but potentially potent solution. Unlike with Gibson and Berrios, the Twins have been more careful and deliberate in getting Pineda rest this season. Pineda has twice hit the 10-day IL with somewhat dubious injuries allowing the Twins to limit his innings. Of course, Pineda did not pitch in 2018 because of Tommy John surgery and has an extensive injury history, so the Twins were inclined to limit his innings this year and it has seemed to work well for Pineda. His numbers have improved in the second half as his ERA has gone from 4.56 in the first half to 3.27 in the second and he has maintained his fastball velocity through the year. Minnesota is entering a stretch run and undoubtedly wants to run their best starters out each game. However, the Twins may benefit in both the long and short term by skipping both Berrios and Gibson in the rotation. Neither have pitched well of late, so while having Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or even Kohl Stewart pitch in big games down the stretch isn’t all that appealing, they can’t do much worse than what Berrios and Gibson have done in the month of August. More importantly, giving Berrios and Gibson a break may give them a chance to get back some velocity and control and the opportunity to reset mentally as well. If the division lead continues to grow with rosters expanding in September, Minnesota may even want to consider a six-man rotation. The Twins have been blessed to have five relatively healthy starters for the course of 2019, but they could all probably use a bit of a break at this point in the season. Pineda (5.43 ERA), Odorizzi (4.76 ERA), and Gibson (5.55 ERA) haven’t pitched well on the normal four-days rest anyway, and with Minnesota not having another scheduled off day until Sept. 9 throwing in a sixth starter could help. With the loss of Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber’s recent setback in his rehab stint, and Brad Hand’s ineffectiveness of late the Twins may be able to extend their division lead over Cleveland, making it all the easier to get the rotation some extra rest. The Twins could also give the pitchers most likely to be in the postseason rotation more abbreviated starts, pulling them from the game before their pitch counts mount. We all know how great the Twins offense has been and fans can feel pretty good about the bullpen going into the postseason, but getting the rotation right is crucial. The Twins don’t have the formidable playoff rotation of say the Houston Astros (who does?), but getting Berrios going is a must if the Twins hope to go anywhere. Gibson might not be as important, but Minnesota will need all the help they can get. Making sure Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Marin Perez are as rested as possible can only be a plus. After not picking up an additional starter at the trade deadline, the Twins are forced to roll with the pitchers who got them to where they are. While Minnesota doesn’t have anyone’s idea of an ideal postseason rotation, putting the rotation in the best position to succeed by having the starters well-rested is the best the Twins can do at this point. With additional days off in the postseason the Twins will be better able to utilize the bullpen, but all will be for naught if the starters don’t at least keep the offense in the game. Here’s hoping for the best!
  18. With the Minnesota Twins on the verge of setting the all-time MLB home run record, they have gotten many great individual home run efforts from their players. Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have paved the way with 35 and 33 long-balls while Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano are closing in on 30 homers as well. Jorge Polanco’s next dinger will allow the Twins to set the MLB record with the most players hitting at least 20 home runs at eight. Today, we will take a look at which Twins players have set career highs in home runs in 2019 and who still has a chance to do so. Let’s start with the players who have already set career highs. Max Kepler - 35 Max Kepler has taken a giant step forward this year and greatly contributed to the Twins winning ways. A big part of that has been his power surge. Kepler has already hit 35 home runs this season, surpassing his career high of 20 which he set last season. His uptake of +15 is second only to the next player we will talk about. Mitch Garver - 24 In 2018 Mitch Garver hit seven home runs in 103 games. This year has been a completely different story as Garver has demolished the ball, hitting 24 homers in just 75 games. That’s an improvement of +17 while playing in significantly less games up to this point in the season. Like Kepler, Garver’s greatly increased production has been a big part of the Twin’s success in 2019. Jorge Polanco - 19 Look no further than Jorge Polanco to find another young position player who has taken a huge step forward for Minnesota this year. Polanco’s overall numbers are far and away the best of his MLB career and his 19 home runs on the year surpass his previous high of 13 set in 2017. Next are three more Twins players who are closing in on career highs. Eddie Rosario - 27 Eddie Rosario has actually already tied his career high of 27 which he originally reached in 2017, so he is all but certain to set a new career high. Rosario did the bulk of his heavy lifting early in the season, hitting 17 home runs through May, but he has a good chance of reaching 30 this year as he is back in the lineup after a few days off with a hamstring injury. Rosario has tied his career high while only playing in a total of 109 games so far this season. It took him 151 games to get 27 in 2017. Miguel Sano – 26 Like Rosario, Miguel Sano is nearly a lock to set a new career high in home runs. Sano is just two short of his career high of 28 home runs which he set in 2017. Sano will also probably get it done with less games played as he has played in 82 games so far compared to 114 in 2017. Sano has an even 13/13 split of home runs between the first and second half. Ehire Adrianza – 4 Forget about Rosario and Sano, Ehire Adrianza’s chase for a new career high is clearly what will captivate Twins Territory down the stretch. Joking aside, Adrianza is deserving of appreciation for the great numbers he has put up in limited duty this season. Adrianza set his career high for home runs last year with six, so he will need three more dingers down the stretch to set a personal best. Finally, here are the numbers for the remainder of the Twins position players (Luis Arraez is not included since this is his first season). Nelson Cruz has hit 17 homers in 33 games in the second half so he might have a chance. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Jake Cave have been hot of late, but time is short and their playing time could be somewhat limited. It would take an epic home run binge for any of them to set a career high, but if there was ever a year for an epic binge, it’s 2019. Player - 2019 total / Career high (year) Nelson Cruz - 33 / 44 (2015) C.J. Cron - 22 / 30 (2018) Jonathan Schoop - 21 / 32 (2017) Marwin Gonzalez - 15 / 23 (2017) Jason Castro - 12 / 18 (2013) Byron Buxton - 10 / 16 (2017) Jake Cave - 7 / 13 (2018) Whose power surge has impressed you the most in 2019? Do you think any of the last group has a chance to reach a new career high?
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