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Patrick Wozniak

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  1. Minnesota’s final game of the Milwaukee series was a perfect microcosm of Buxton’s newfound aggressiveness. His first three plate appearances lasted all of one pitch, ending in a ground out, single, and a home run off of a first pitch slider (more on sliders later). On his fourth go-round Buxton finally worked a deep count but he still went after the first pitch and fouled off a total of four pitches before connecting for his second dinger of the game on a 3-2 sinker. That gives Buxton five home runs in his last seven games. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1293745189446651904 Overall, Buxton has swung at 49% of first pitches (MLB average is 28.3%) and his overall swing percentage is at 61.8%. He’s kind of the anti-Mitch Garver, who is swinging at just 8% of first pitches and 34.4% of all pitches, but it’s worked well for Buxton and it makes sense to go after the first pitch as pitchers are often just trying to get one over for a first pitch strike. To give an idea of how often Buxton is swinging, consider that Eddie Rosario, who can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary under free-swinger, has a 57.1 career Swing%. And while Buxton is swinging more than average at pitches in the zone (75.9% vs. an MLB average of 66.1%) he’s also chasing at an astounding 46.2% rate (Rosario’s at 40.9% for his career). As crazy as those numbers seem, it’s been working for Buxton. His 33.3% HR/FB rate is obviously unsustainable but his Statcast numbers are solid, and he’s already hit five Barrels for a 14.7% Barrel rate (MLB average is 6%). He’s slashing .298/.306/.638 for a 150 wRC+, meaning Buxton is 50% better than league average. One of the reasons for Buxton’s early success has been his ability to do damage to breaking balls. Pitchers are throwing Buxton a ton of breaking stuff and he’s making them pay. So far Buxton has seen 40.9% breaking balls (compared to 35.8% in 2019) and he’s hitting a robust .615 with a slugging percentage of 1.385 against the 44 sliders he’s seen this season. The power has been great to see, but Buxton has also done some damage on the ground. His ground ball average in 2020 is at 44.1% compared to just 29.4% in 2019. While his hard hit percentage is at a career best 44.1%, Buxton is also hitting a career high 29.4% of his balls softly. The hard contact is what we like to see, but with Buxton the soft contact means slow ground balls that he can turn into hits with his speed. Buxton’s naturally trying to hit the ball hard and the soft contact is more of an accident, but putting the ball on the ground is certainly less detrimental for Buxton than the majority of MLB hitters due to his elite speed. The question is whether Buxton’s approach is sustainable. If Buxton continues to swing at everything pitchers will undoubtably adjust by throwing more pitches outside of the strike zone. If Buxton continues to chase at the rate he currently is, he’s going to get himself into trouble. On the other hand, if pitchers start pitching around Buxton more, he might be able to draw more walks which has been one of the drawbacks of his aggressive approach. Considering the power Buxton has hit for, his 28.6% strikeout rate is acceptable (and near his career average), but the fact that he’s only taken one walk so far this year is less than ideal for a player of Buxton’s speed. We’re dealing with a pretty small sample size and in the long term Buxton’s overly aggressive approach will need to be toned down to some extent, but for the time being its worked well. The absurd amount of swings can also be taken as a sign that Buxton’s confidence is high, and with such a superlative skill set in his possession, believing in himself is probably more important than anything. Adjustments will come, but Buxton’s superb talent should allow his infectious smile to remain ever present. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. He's really been laying off the first pitch. His first pitch swing rate has gone from 41.9% last season to just 18.7% this year. But when he has swung at the first pitch he's done good damage with two of his home runs coming off first pitches.
  3. The article is referring to fWAR (FanGraphs) which uses FIP. FIP only factors in strikes, walks, home runs, and infield fly balls so it tends to dock pitchers like Dobnak who manage contact well. bWAR (Baseball Reference) tells a different story with Dobnak at 0.9 bWAR and Sheffield at -0.1 bWAR.
  4. One of the questions coming into 2020 was how teams would handle prospects. Thus far, teams across the MLB landscape have shown a willingness to call-up top prospects, including several starting pitchers. With injuries severely testing Minnesota’s rotational depth, is it time for the Twins to do the same?Going into the season, Minnesota’s rotational depth certainly looked like a strength, but injuries to Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey have taken a toll. Odorizzi is back in the rotation, but with Hill battling back issues and Bailey dealing with right biceps tendinitis, the Twins can use all the help they can get. And while Randy Dobnak has continued to amaze, both Lewis Thorpe (due to velocity loss and lack of command) and Devin Smeltzer (whose stuff is better suited for long relief) leave a lot to be desired as starters. Both rebuilding teams such as Kansas City (Brady Singer, Kris Bubic) and teams hoping to contend like Toronto (Nate Pearson), Philadelphia (Spencer Howard), and Houston (Christian Javier) have been quick to turn to top-pitching prospects as injuries have been abundant across the MLB. And for the most part the results have been pretty good, as the Twins can attest to after losing to the Royal’s Singer on Sunday’s series finale. With José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak, and Jake Odorizzi anchoring the rotation, Minnesota could make its own rookie splash by calling up Jhoan Duran to fill in the fifth and final rotation slot. Duran spent the majority of 2019 in High-A Fort Myers where he pitched really well (3.05 FIP, 29.9 K%) and didn’t skip a beat in his seven AA starts (2.76 FIP, 26.8 K%/5.9 BB%). In his final two starts he went 13 innings with 17 strikeouts, two walks, and allowed just one earned run. But most importantly, Duran has the stuff to succeed at the MLB level. Unlike Thorpe or Smeltzer, who need pinpoint command to succeed with sub-90 mph heaters, Duran can hit 100 mph, and sits in the high-90s. Duran features a two-seam fastball rather than the four-seamer that is in-vouge these days, but the two-seamer gets Duran plenty of ground balls (52.9% in A+ and 63.3% in AA) and he doesn’t give up many home runs (0.55 HR/9 in 2019). While the fastball velo is certainly enticing, the most exciting pitch in Duran’s mix has to be his “splinker.” As the name implies, the splinker is a hybrid between a splitter and a sinker. Twins fans have likely become somewhat familiar with splitters, as Homer Bailey and Jake Odorizzi both throw the pitch and Kenta Maeda throws a split-change, but Duran’s pitch is on a whole nother level. Rather than acting like an off-speed pitch, Duran’s splinker is more fastball than changeup. He manages to throw the pitch up to the mid-90s and it has the potential to miss a lot of bats and induce weak contact as it falls off the table. Having a unique pitch that is unfamiliar to big-leaguers should help Duran keep hitters on their toes and keep us entertained as well. The 22-year-old complements the two-seamer and splinker with a slower curveball that gets plenty of break and is working on a changeup as well. His pitch-mix is anything but traditional, and without the benefit of watching Duran pitch in the minors, it’s difficult to know exactly how well he’s progressing with the remainder of the 60-man roster over in St. Paul. However, the stuff is enticing and the Twins clearly have a need for high-upside starting pitching, so maybe we’ll see Johan Duran and his splinker in action sooner than later. What do you think? Are you ready for the Jhoan Duran Experience? And how do you feel about splinkers? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  5. Going into the season, Minnesota’s rotational depth certainly looked like a strength, but injuries to Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey have taken a toll. Odorizzi is back in the rotation, but with Hill battling back issues and Bailey dealing with right biceps tendinitis, the Twins can use all the help they can get. And while Randy Dobnak has continued to amaze, both Lewis Thorpe (due to velocity loss and lack of command) and Devin Smeltzer (whose stuff is better suited for long relief) leave a lot to be desired as starters. Both rebuilding teams such as Kansas City (Brady Singer, Kris Bubic) and teams hoping to contend like Toronto (Nate Pearson), Philadelphia (Spencer Howard), and Houston (Christian Javier) have been quick to turn to top-pitching prospects as injuries have been abundant across the MLB. And for the most part the results have been pretty good, as the Twins can attest to after losing to the Royal’s Singer on Sunday’s series finale. With José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak, and Jake Odorizzi anchoring the rotation, Minnesota could make its own rookie splash by calling up Jhoan Duran to fill in the fifth and final rotation slot. Duran spent the majority of 2019 in High-A Fort Myers where he pitched really well (3.05 FIP, 29.9 K%) and didn’t skip a beat in his seven AA starts (2.76 FIP, 26.8 K%/5.9 BB%). In his final two starts he went 13 innings with 17 strikeouts, two walks, and allowed just one earned run. But most importantly, Duran has the stuff to succeed at the MLB level. Unlike Thorpe or Smeltzer, who need pinpoint command to succeed with sub-90 mph heaters, Duran can hit 100 mph, and sits in the high-90s. Duran features a two-seam fastball rather than the four-seamer that is in-vouge these days, but the two-seamer gets Duran plenty of ground balls (52.9% in A+ and 63.3% in AA) and he doesn’t give up many home runs (0.55 HR/9 in 2019). While the fastball velo is certainly enticing, the most exciting pitch in Duran’s mix has to be his “splinker.” As the name implies, the splinker is a hybrid between a splitter and a sinker. Twins fans have likely become somewhat familiar with splitters, as Homer Bailey and Jake Odorizzi both throw the pitch and Kenta Maeda throws a split-change, but Duran’s pitch is on a whole nother level. Rather than acting like an off-speed pitch, Duran’s splinker is more fastball than changeup. He manages to throw the pitch up to the mid-90s and it has the potential to miss a lot of bats and induce weak contact as it falls off the table. Having a unique pitch that is unfamiliar to big-leaguers should help Duran keep hitters on their toes and keep us entertained as well. The 22-year-old complements the two-seamer and splinker with a slower curveball that gets plenty of break and is working on a changeup as well. His pitch-mix is anything but traditional, and without the benefit of watching Duran pitch in the minors, it’s difficult to know exactly how well he’s progressing with the remainder of the 60-man roster over in St. Paul. However, the stuff is enticing and the Twins clearly have a need for high-upside starting pitching, so maybe we’ll see Johan Duran and his splinker in action sooner than later. What do you think? Are you ready for the Jhoan Duran Experience? And how do you feel about splinkers? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Velocity is king in modern baseball and losing it isn’t good. Lewis Thorpe has never been known as a flame thrower, but his fastball is now sitting at under 90 mph, which is certainly concerning. He’s not alone, and today we’ll take a look at some other southpaws who have lost some gas in 2020, and what it might mean for Thorpe.Generally speaking a left-handed pitcher can get away with not throwing quite as hard as their right-handed counterparts, but there’s a point where even a lefty can lose too much. Here’s a list of Thorpe and some more accomplished veteran southpaws who have had similar velocity drops this year: Download attachment: Does Lewis Thorpe Velo chart pic.png Having Thorpe’s name tied in with accomplished starters like Bumgarner, Minor, and Corbin would normally be a good thing, but in this case it most certainly isn’t. All four pitchers have lost significant fastball velocity, and with it, the ability to miss bats. And as a result they’re getting rocked. As with any attempt at statistical analysis in 2020, the small sample size warning applies, but when taken as a whole the results look pretty damning. So far Bumgarner is 0-and-2 with a 7.04 ERA and gave up seven earned runs in his last outing against Houston. Minor, who was an All-Star in 2019 and finished eighth in Cy Young voting, is now 0-and-3 with a 6.89 ERA. Corbin is the outlier of the group as thus far his numbers have been really good (3.00 ERA, 12 K/9). He actually throws a two-seamer more frequently than his four-seamer, so he’s not as great a comp, and with Corbin it’s all about the slider. His slider has accounted for 40.1% of the pitches he’s thrown this season, making it his most used pitch, and for good reason. It’s one of the best in all of baseball and hitters are whiffing at a rate of 51.3%. He’s a one-trick pony, but the superb nature of his slider allows him to thrive with less velocity. Although Thorpe also features a changeup and curve ball, they haven’t fared well, and like Corbin his best pitch is his slider. He’s been throwing it more than ever in 2020 (29.5% vs. 19.7% last year) and it’s gotten good results (33.3% whiff rate). However, like the fastball, the slider too has lost velocity. It’s down to 81.3 mph from 84.6 in 2019 and his whiff rate has also dropped from 44.6% to 33.3%. It’s still a really good pitch, and if Thorpe is going to succeed he’ll probably need to throw it at an even greater frequency. While having someone like Thorpe around to fill in a swingman role is nice to have and has already proved to be invaluable with Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, and Rich Hill hitting the IL, Thorpe is clearly behind Randy Dobnak, who himself will be hard to fit into the rotation when/if the rest of the rotation becomes healthy. Factor in the return of Michael Pineda, and Thorpe’s future as a starter looks murky this season and beyond (there’s also Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic who lead an impressive group of pitching prospects that are near MLB-ready). The velocity loss certainly further dampens Thorpe’s future as a starter (as has his spotty control – he’s already walked six, while striking out only 4 in 2020), but the good news is that the slider could make him a decent relief piece in the long run. The Twins and Wes Johnson have shown a preference for sliders as is evident by relievers like Sergio Romo (74.2 % slider usage), new-come relief sensation Matt Wisler (76.2 %!), and Tyler Duffey (51.8%), who is emerging as one of the best relievers in all of baseball. After years of following Thorpe as a prospect and seeing him annually included in Twins top prospect lists, fans may be hesitant to give up hope of Thorpe becoming a useful rotation piece, but it’s hard to thrive with an 89 mph heater and only one truly good pitch. However, having another Duffey or Rogers to fill out the ‘pen for years to come would be a welcome consolation prize. What do you think? How much does the drop in velo concern you? Is it too early to give up on Thorpe as a starter? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  7. Generally speaking a left-handed pitcher can get away with not throwing quite as hard as their right-handed counterparts, but there’s a point where even a lefty can lose too much. Here’s a list of Thorpe and some more accomplished veteran southpaws who have had similar velocity drops this year: Having Thorpe’s name tied in with accomplished starters like Bumgarner, Minor, and Corbin would normally be a good thing, but in this case it most certainly isn’t. All four pitchers have lost significant fastball velocity, and with it, the ability to miss bats. And as a result they’re getting rocked. As with any attempt at statistical analysis in 2020, the small sample size warning applies, but when taken as a whole the results look pretty damning. So far Bumgarner is 0-and-2 with a 7.04 ERA and gave up seven earned runs in his last outing against Houston. Minor, who was an All-Star in 2019 and finished eighth in Cy Young voting, is now 0-and-3 with a 6.89 ERA. Corbin is the outlier of the group as thus far his numbers have been really good (3.00 ERA, 12 K/9). He actually throws a two-seamer more frequently than his four-seamer, so he’s not as great a comp, and with Corbin it’s all about the slider. His slider has accounted for 40.1% of the pitches he’s thrown this season, making it his most used pitch, and for good reason. It’s one of the best in all of baseball and hitters are whiffing at a rate of 51.3%. He’s a one-trick pony, but the superb nature of his slider allows him to thrive with less velocity. Although Thorpe also features a changeup and curve ball, they haven’t fared well, and like Corbin his best pitch is his slider. He’s been throwing it more than ever in 2020 (29.5% vs. 19.7% last year) and it’s gotten good results (33.3% whiff rate). However, like the fastball, the slider too has lost velocity. It’s down to 81.3 mph from 84.6 in 2019 and his whiff rate has also dropped from 44.6% to 33.3%. It’s still a really good pitch, and if Thorpe is going to succeed he’ll probably need to throw it at an even greater frequency. While having someone like Thorpe around to fill in a swingman role is nice to have and has already proved to be invaluable with Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, and Rich Hill hitting the IL, Thorpe is clearly behind Randy Dobnak, who himself will be hard to fit into the rotation when/if the rest of the rotation becomes healthy. Factor in the return of Michael Pineda, and Thorpe’s future as a starter looks murky this season and beyond (there’s also Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic who lead an impressive group of pitching prospects that are near MLB-ready). The velocity loss certainly further dampens Thorpe’s future as a starter (as has his spotty control – he’s already walked six, while striking out only 4 in 2020), but the good news is that the slider could make him a decent relief piece in the long run. The Twins and Wes Johnson have shown a preference for sliders as is evident by relievers like Sergio Romo (74.2 % slider usage), new-come relief sensation Matt Wisler (76.2 %!), and Tyler Duffey (51.8%), who is emerging as one of the best relievers in all of baseball. After years of following Thorpe as a prospect and seeing him annually included in Twins top prospect lists, fans may be hesitant to give up hope of Thorpe becoming a useful rotation piece, but it’s hard to thrive with an 89 mph heater and only one truly good pitch. However, having another Duffey or Rogers to fill out the ‘pen for years to come would be a welcome consolation prize. What do you think? How much does the drop in velo concern you? Is it too early to give up on Thorpe as a starter? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Yes, it’s just two starts. But Kenta Maeda has looked good. Real good.Maeda was masterful in his most recent start against Cleveland. Cleveland hitters managed just one hit over six innings and it was a questionable one at that. The speedy Bradley Zimmer hit a slow roller to Luis Arraez at second and was called safe on a bang-bang play. Maeda went on to strike out six while walking only one on just 83 pitches. When Minnesota traded the flame-throwing Brusdar Graterol to the Los Angeles Dodgers they knew they were getting a good pitcher in Maeda, but it’s possible the pitching coach Wes Johnson has already unlocked another level. Maeda has always depended on mainly a three-pitch mix including a four-seamer, a slider he threw against right-handed batters, and a split-change used on lefties. While the pitches haven’t changed, their usage has. If we look back to 2019, Maeda threw his four-seam fastball 33.7% of the time, making it his most used pitch. It was also the pitch that hitters did the most damage to with a .381 wOBA. Fortunately, Maeda also relied heavily on his slider, which is his best pitch (.211 wOBA, 40.7 whiff%), and to a lesser extent on his changeup, featured heavily against lefties and also a very good pitch (36.2 whiff%). Maeda also threw in the occasional curve against lefties and sinker against righties, but mainly relied on the three-pitch mix. So what’s been different this season? First off, Maeda’s four seamer has gone from his most used pitch to third (25.1%), falling behind both his slider (37.1%) and changeup (30.5%). On the surface, just throwing his best pitches more often has seemed to help, which certainly makes sense. But it’s also likely that all the sliders and changeups are making the fastball harder to pick up. In the small sample size that has been the 2020 season, the four-seamer has actually gotten the best results as batters have yet to collect a hit off it. Download attachment: Maeda pitch mix chart.png While throwing more of his best pitches has certainly helped, Maeda’s also started using all three pitches against both righties and lefties. In 2019, Maeda threw 766 sliders and 629 of them were thrown to right-handed batters (as the slider runs away from righties) and 506 of his 577 changeups came against lefties (same idea – it runs away). Through two starts, 2020 has been a completely different story. Of his 62 sliders, just 24 have come against right-handed batters while he’s thrown 38 to lefties. He’s continued to throw his changeup more to lefties, but hasn’t been afraid to mix it into righties as well, who have seen 15 of his 51 changeups. Clearly, giving both righties and lefties an extra pitch that they have to worry about has kept hitters from getting comfortable against Maeda so far. He’s continued to get swings and misses and weak contact as we’d expect, but he’s also been able to get more ground balls. For his career Maeda has averaged just a 42.4% ground ball rate, but in his first two starts he’s gotten 53.8%. Again, it’s a small sample size, but it will be interesting to see if Maeda’s changes in pitch usage continue to lead to more ground balls. With the Twins already placing starters Jake Odorrizi, Homer Bailey, and Rich Hill on the IL, having Kenta Maeda take it to another level is certainly a welcome development. Minnesota’s off to a great start, but when (if?) the postseason comes around, having an even better, dare I say “ace-like,” version of Maeda toeing the rubber will be epic. What do you think? Is Kenta Maeda the real deal or I am just overreacting to small sample sizes? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  9. Maeda was masterful in his most recent start against Cleveland. Cleveland hitters managed just one hit over six innings and it was a questionable one at that. The speedy Bradley Zimmer hit a slow roller to Luis Arraez at second and was called safe on a bang-bang play. Maeda went on to strike out six while walking only one on just 83 pitches. When Minnesota traded the flame-throwing Brusdar Graterol to the Los Angeles Dodgers they knew they were getting a good pitcher in Maeda, but it’s possible the pitching coach Wes Johnson has already unlocked another level. Maeda has always depended on mainly a three-pitch mix including a four-seamer, a slider he threw against right-handed batters, and a split-change used on lefties. While the pitches haven’t changed, their usage has. If we look back to 2019, Maeda threw his four-seam fastball 33.7% of the time, making it his most used pitch. It was also the pitch that hitters did the most damage to with a .381 wOBA. Fortunately, Maeda also relied heavily on his slider, which is his best pitch (.211 wOBA, 40.7 whiff%), and to a lesser extent on his changeup, featured heavily against lefties and also a very good pitch (36.2 whiff%). Maeda also threw in the occasional curve against lefties and sinker against righties, but mainly relied on the three-pitch mix. So what’s been different this season? First off, Maeda’s four seamer has gone from his most used pitch to third (25.1%), falling behind both his slider (37.1%) and changeup (30.5%). On the surface, just throwing his best pitches more often has seemed to help, which certainly makes sense. But it’s also likely that all the sliders and changeups are making the fastball harder to pick up. In the small sample size that has been the 2020 season, the four-seamer has actually gotten the best results as batters have yet to collect a hit off it. While throwing more of his best pitches has certainly helped, Maeda’s also started using all three pitches against both righties and lefties. In 2019, Maeda threw 766 sliders and 629 of them were thrown to right-handed batters (as the slider runs away from righties) and 506 of his 577 changeups came against lefties (same idea – it runs away). Through two starts, 2020 has been a completely different story. Of his 62 sliders, just 24 have come against right-handed batters while he’s thrown 38 to lefties. He’s continued to throw his changeup more to lefties, but hasn’t been afraid to mix it into righties as well, who have seen 15 of his 51 changeups. Clearly, giving both righties and lefties an extra pitch that they have to worry about has kept hitters from getting comfortable against Maeda so far. He’s continued to get swings and misses and weak contact as we’d expect, but he’s also been able to get more ground balls. For his career Maeda has averaged just a 42.4% ground ball rate, but in his first two starts he’s gotten 53.8%. Again, it’s a small sample size, but it will be interesting to see if Maeda’s changes in pitch usage continue to lead to more ground balls. With the Twins already placing starters Jake Odorrizi, Homer Bailey, and Rich Hill on the IL, having Kenta Maeda take it to another level is certainly a welcome development. Minnesota’s off to a great start, but when (if?) the postseason comes around, having an even better, dare I say “ace-like,” version of Maeda toeing the rubber will be epic. What do you think? Is Kenta Maeda the real deal or I am just overreacting to small sample sizes? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Three-point-two. What does the number represent? Watered-down gas station beer? Maybe, but the 3.2 I’m talking about is three-and-two-thirds innings. That’s as long as starters Lucas Giolitto, Carlos Martinez, and Daniel Ponce de Leon lasted against the Bomba Squad.Chicago’s Gio Gonzalez also went 3.2 innings, but his came following starter Reynaldo López who was knocked out after just two-thirds of an inning. Here’s another number for you – 26. That’s the number of earned runs those five pitchers gave up in their combined 15.1 innings facing Twins hitters. Now, Minnesota’s offense didn’t fare as well against Dallas Keuchel (5.1 IP, 2 ER) and was completely stifled by Shane Bieber, but even an offense as potent as the Twins will have an off-day once in a while (and let’s be honest, a line-up full of Babe Ruths and Mike Trouts couldn’t touch Bieber right now). Getting to starters early should be a huge boon to Minnesota’s success this year. With the exception of Bieber’s start, the Twins have done a really good job of working up starter’s pitch counts. This is beneficial in several ways, as hitters obviously get better pitches to hit by laying off the bad ones (even Eddie Rosario’s making an effort), and can reach base more often via the walk. Most importantly, this leads to runs being scored and big innings. With opposing starters getting a quick-hook, the Twins are also able to get into team’s bullpens early. This saves Minnesota from having to face opponent’s best relievers as they are generally saved for close games or games in which the opposition is leading. It should also come in handy in wearing out other teams relievers. With 30-man rosters it’s not much of an issue for the time being, but as the rosters get trimmed down to 28, and eventually 26, getting to a team’s ‘pen early could really help out in a three-or-four game series. Knocking starters out also means the Twins will get to bad pitchers more often, which should also lead to more run scoring and blow out games. Of course, getting ahead also gives Minnesota more freedom to stick with or pull their own starting pitcher and not overuse the best bullpen arms. At this point it looks like Rocco Baldelli might need to worry more about underuse as there have been rather limited opportunities to use this best relievers. Closer Taylor Rogers didn’t see any action until the seasons fifth game. Thus far the Twins rotation has looked good, but having a fresh bullpen is a nice luxury for Minnesota to have, as starters like Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda have historically struggled with the third time through the order. Plus, Rich Hill is 40-years-old and Minnesota will definitely want to keep him healthy for the postseason. It’s only natural to look at the team’s performance against Bieber and wonder if they can get it done against the cream of the crop. Getting to Giolitto was nice, but that was just his first start of the season. Twins hitters looked lost against Bieber, who struck out 13 in eight scoreless innings. He was equally great in his first start against Kansas City, where he fanned 14 in six shutout innings. Minnesota is going to face great pitchers, especially in the postseason, so it’s an area in which they’ll need to excel, but it’s only one game against a pitcher who just tied the MLB record for Ks in his first two games. The next test is already here in Mike Clevinger. Hopefully, the Bomba Squad passes with flying dingers. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  11. Chicago’s Gio Gonzalez also went 3.2 innings, but his came following starter Reynaldo López who was knocked out after just two-thirds of an inning. Here’s another number for you – 26. That’s the number of earned runs those five pitchers gave up in their combined 15.1 innings facing Twins hitters. Now, Minnesota’s offense didn’t fare as well against Dallas Keuchel (5.1 IP, 2 ER) and was completely stifled by Shane Bieber, but even an offense as potent as the Twins will have an off-day once in a while (and let’s be honest, a line-up full of Babe Ruths and Mike Trouts couldn’t touch Bieber right now). Getting to starters early should be a huge boon to Minnesota’s success this year. With the exception of Bieber’s start, the Twins have done a really good job of working up starter’s pitch counts. This is beneficial in several ways, as hitters obviously get better pitches to hit by laying off the bad ones (even Eddie Rosario’s making an effort), and can reach base more often via the walk. Most importantly, this leads to runs being scored and big innings. With opposing starters getting a quick-hook, the Twins are also able to get into team’s bullpens early. This saves Minnesota from having to face opponent’s best relievers as they are generally saved for close games or games in which the opposition is leading. It should also come in handy in wearing out other teams relievers. With 30-man rosters it’s not much of an issue for the time being, but as the rosters get trimmed down to 28, and eventually 26, getting to a team’s ‘pen early could really help out in a three-or-four game series. Knocking starters out also means the Twins will get to bad pitchers more often, which should also lead to more run scoring and blow out games. Of course, getting ahead also gives Minnesota more freedom to stick with or pull their own starting pitcher and not overuse the best bullpen arms. At this point it looks like Rocco Baldelli might need to worry more about underuse as there have been rather limited opportunities to use this best relievers. Closer Taylor Rogers didn’t see any action until the seasons fifth game. Thus far the Twins rotation has looked good, but having a fresh bullpen is a nice luxury for Minnesota to have, as starters like Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda have historically struggled with the third time through the order. Plus, Rich Hill is 40-years-old and Minnesota will definitely want to keep him healthy for the postseason. It’s only natural to look at the team’s performance against Bieber and wonder if they can get it done against the cream of the crop. Getting to Giolitto was nice, but that was just his first start of the season. Twins hitters looked lost against Bieber, who struck out 13 in eight scoreless innings. He was equally great in his first start against Kansas City, where he fanned 14 in six shutout innings. Minnesota is going to face great pitchers, especially in the postseason, so it’s an area in which they’ll need to excel, but it’s only one game against a pitcher who just tied the MLB record for Ks in his first two games. The next test is already here in Mike Clevinger. Hopefully, the Bomba Squad passes with flying dingers. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Agreed. Cleveland does a really good job of getting it's pitchers to command the offspeed stuff but Bieber's at another level right now.
  13. A marquee pitching matchup and a nationally televised game with Minnesota’s biggest threat for the division, what else could you ask for? A win I suppose, but it wasn’t meant to be, as Cleveland starter Shane Bieber dominated one of baseball’s top lineups and Cleveland took the opener 2-0.Box Score Berrios: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Donaldson -.154, Polanco -.118, Sano -.110 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Download attachment: Winchart.png With Jose Berrios and Shane Bieber taking the hill, a low scoring affair could be expected, and that’s exactly what we got. Berrios’s stuff looked good early as he was maintaining his opening day velocity jump and getting plenty of swings and misses on his curve ball, but he ran into trouble in the third inning. After giving up a single to Jose Ramirez with two outs in a 1-2 count, Berrios got up on Francisco Lindor 0-2 but left a fastball over the plate that Lindor demolished for a 2-0 Cleveland lead. He came back to pitch scoreless forth and fifth innings but with his pitch count at 96 his day was done. Meanwhile Bieber was absolutely filthy as Twins hitters looked helpless against him. He struck out 14 Kansas City Royals on opening day and didn’t forget how to pitch in the last five days. Six of Minnesota’s first 10 batters fanned against Bieber and his curve ball was absolutely unhittable. He went on to pitch eight scoreless innings and strikeout 13 Minnesota batters without issuing a single walk. That gives him 27 Ks through his first two starts which ties him with Karl Spooner for the all-time MLB record. With Zack Littell taking over for Berrios in the 6th it looked like Cleveland would put more runs on the board. After a Franmil Reyes single with one out the speedy Bradley Zimmer hit a high chopper that Miguel Sano handled but threw over Littell’s head at first, putting runners on second and third. Domingo Santana should have been called out on a 2-2 slider that clearly got the bottom of the strike zone but instead walked to load the bases. However, Sandy Leon ended the threat by hitting a comebacker to Littell for a home-to-first inning ending double play. The Twins got a little something cooking off Bieber in the bottom of the inning as Byron Buxton and Max Kepler both singled to put runners on first and second with one out. However, Bieber would continue to do his thing as he struck Josh Donaldson out for the third time and then got Jorge Polanco to fly out to end the threat. With Bieber finally done after eight magnificent innings and closer Brad Hand unavailable, rookie James Karinchak came in to earn his first MLB save. It might not get much easier for Twins bats tomorrow as they will face Bieber’s ace-mate, Mike Clevinger. Sano’s inexperience at first shows After making the aforementioned throwing error that he should have put in his pocket, Sano would make another awkward play in the bottom of the ninth. A Sandy Leon ground ball was cleanly fielded by Luis Arraez. The only problem was Miguel Sano also went after the ball and desperately raced back to first while Arraez’s throw sailed over his head. Neither misplays ultimately led to runs being scored and hopefully have provided learning experiences for Sano. Thoughts on the Fox Broadcast While it’s nice to see the Twins get some national attention and listen to AJ Pierzynski in the booth, there were some peculiarities in the broadcast. The camara work was all over the place. Multiple flyballs were lost by the camara crew but they even managed to lose a ground ball. I felt drunk. I felt even drunker when a foul ball was hit down the third base line and suddenly several fans momentarily appeared in the stands. I did a doubletake before realizing they were virtual fans. Definitely gave off a creepy vibe. Max Kepler even appeared headless as he ran in after catching the final out of the fifth inning and got too close to the wall, where the fans overlapped his noggin. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Download attachment: Bullpen.png Postgame Pint John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Jeremy Nygaard and Ted Schwerzler react to a 2-0 loss and a historically good pitching performance by Shane Bieber. Watch below, or check out the audio-only podcast. Click here to view the article
  14. Box Score Berrios: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Donaldson -.154, Polanco -.118, Sano -.110 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): With Jose Berrios and Shane Bieber taking the hill, a low scoring affair could be expected, and that’s exactly what we got. Berrios’s stuff looked good early as he was maintaining his opening day velocity jump and getting plenty of swings and misses on his curve ball, but he ran into trouble in the third inning. After giving up a single to Jose Ramirez with two outs in a 1-2 count, Berrios got up on Francisco Lindor 0-2 but left a fastball over the plate that Lindor demolished for a 2-0 Cleveland lead. He came back to pitch scoreless forth and fifth innings but with his pitch count at 96 his day was done. Meanwhile Bieber was absolutely filthy as Twins hitters looked helpless against him. He struck out 14 Kansas City Royals on opening day and didn’t forget how to pitch in the last five days. Six of Minnesota’s first 10 batters fanned against Bieber and his curve ball was absolutely unhittable. He went on to pitch eight scoreless innings and strikeout 13 Minnesota batters without issuing a single walk. That gives him 27 Ks through his first two starts which ties him with Karl Spooner for the all-time MLB record. With Zack Littell taking over for Berrios in the 6th it looked like Cleveland would put more runs on the board. After a Franmil Reyes single with one out the speedy Bradley Zimmer hit a high chopper that Miguel Sano handled but threw over Littell’s head at first, putting runners on second and third. Domingo Santana should have been called out on a 2-2 slider that clearly got the bottom of the strike zone but instead walked to load the bases. However, Sandy Leon ended the threat by hitting a comebacker to Littell for a home-to-first inning ending double play. The Twins got a little something cooking off Bieber in the bottom of the inning as Byron Buxton and Max Kepler both singled to put runners on first and second with one out. However, Bieber would continue to do his thing as he struck Josh Donaldson out for the third time and then got Jorge Polanco to fly out to end the threat. With Bieber finally done after eight magnificent innings and closer Brad Hand unavailable, rookie James Karinchak came in to earn his first MLB save. It might not get much easier for Twins bats tomorrow as they will face Bieber’s ace-mate, Mike Clevinger. Sano’s inexperience at first shows After making the aforementioned throwing error that he should have put in his pocket, Sano would make another awkward play in the bottom of the ninth. A Sandy Leon ground ball was cleanly fielded by Luis Arraez. The only problem was Miguel Sano also went after the ball and desperately raced back to first while Arraez’s throw sailed over his head. Neither misplays ultimately led to runs being scored and hopefully have provided learning experiences for Sano. Thoughts on the Fox Broadcast While it’s nice to see the Twins get some national attention and listen to AJ Pierzynski in the booth, there were some peculiarities in the broadcast. The camara work was all over the place. Multiple flyballs were lost by the camara crew but they even managed to lose a ground ball. I felt drunk. I felt even drunker when a foul ball was hit down the third base line and suddenly several fans momentarily appeared in the stands. I did a doubletake before realizing they were virtual fans. Definitely gave off a creepy vibe. Max Kepler even appeared headless as he ran in after catching the final out of the fifth inning and got too close to the wall, where the fans overlapped his noggin. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Postgame Pint John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Jeremy Nygaard and Ted Schwerzler react to a 2-0 loss and a historically good pitching performance by Shane Bieber. Watch below, or check out the audio-only podcast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yotwH_TKc2I&feature=youtu.be
  15. A 60-game season with universal DH and a hot start may just be the perfect storm that leads Nelson Cruz to the AL MVP.So far, so good. Cruz’s season is only three games old but he’s managed to make the most of it. Cruz is leading the American League in fWAR (at 0.6 he’s over halfway to his 1.1 fWAR ZiPS projection), home runs (3), RBI (10), and wOBA (.801). Again, it’s a very small sample size, but we’re also dealing with a really short season, so the hot start is ever meaningful. But regardless of the hot start, Cruz’s chances of grabbing the MVP are better than ever. I promised five reasons, so here they are: 1) Counting Stats Will Matter in 2020 MVP voters will have less to go on due to the short nature of the season, so traditional counting stats like home runs and RBI will be an easy and obvious measure of a player’s success. Cruz is already up four in the RBI race and leading in home runs as well. He’s currently sitting third in batting average (.538) and hit .311 last season, so Cruz has a legitimate chance at the triple crown which would significantly bolster his MVP chances. 2) Minnesota’s Ridiculous Lineup Makes Cruz Even Better Minnesota has one of the best lineups in baseball with no real weakness one-through-nine. If pitchers decide to pitch around Cruz, someone else will hurt them. Plus, as has been the case thus far, Cruz is going to come to the plate with plenty of runners on base, giving him plenty of RBI opportunities. The potent nature of the offense will also lead to plenty of plate appearances for Cruz giving him even more chances to pad his counting stats. 3) The Usual Suspects Are More Suspect Due to the increased variance of 60-games, some of baseball’s best hitters won’t have enough time to correct a bad stretch. Even if a great player like Mike Trout has his typical MVP-worthy season, someone is going to go off and put up video game numbers in the shortened season. And so far that player has been Nelson Cruz. 4) Being a DH Won’t Be the Detriment That It Usually Is First off, the implementation of the DH in the National League means Cruz will no longer have to sit-out or be limited to pinch hitting appearances when the Twins are playing in NL parks. This is huge since Minnesota is playing a larger percentage of interleague games than is the norm. Additionally, defensive numbers take more time to stabilize, so MVP voters are more likely to focus on offensive numbers and the aforementioned counting stats that Cruz excels in. 5) Cruz Is a Great Story A good narrative never hurts a player’s MVP chances and Cruz certainly has one. After having arguably his best season as a 39-year-old, Cruz continues to defy Father Time with an even better start to his age-40 season. He was also recently the recipient of the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award and is well respected as a person and teammate. He has been instrumental in mentoring younger players like Miguel Sanó and it’s made for great storylines. What do you think? Does Cruz have a legitimate shot at MVP? Do you think the Twins should attempt to extend Cruz into his age-41 season and beyond? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  16. So far, so good. Cruz’s season is only three games old but he’s managed to make the most of it. Cruz is leading the American League in fWAR (at 0.6 he’s over halfway to his 1.1 fWAR ZiPS projection), home runs (3), RBI (10), and wOBA (.801). Again, it’s a very small sample size, but we’re also dealing with a really short season, so the hot start is ever meaningful. But regardless of the hot start, Cruz’s chances of grabbing the MVP are better than ever. I promised five reasons, so here they are: 1) Counting Stats Will Matter in 2020 MVP voters will have less to go on due to the short nature of the season, so traditional counting stats like home runs and RBI will be an easy and obvious measure of a player’s success. Cruz is already up four in the RBI race and leading in home runs as well. He’s currently sitting third in batting average (.538) and hit .311 last season, so Cruz has a legitimate chance at the triple crown which would significantly bolster his MVP chances. 2) Minnesota’s Ridiculous Lineup Makes Cruz Even Better Minnesota has one of the best lineups in baseball with no real weakness one-through-nine. If pitchers decide to pitch around Cruz, someone else will hurt them. Plus, as has been the case thus far, Cruz is going to come to the plate with plenty of runners on base, giving him plenty of RBI opportunities. The potent nature of the offense will also lead to plenty of plate appearances for Cruz giving him even more chances to pad his counting stats. 3) The Usual Suspects Are More Suspect Due to the increased variance of 60-games, some of baseball’s best hitters won’t have enough time to correct a bad stretch. Even if a great player like Mike Trout has his typical MVP-worthy season, someone is going to go off and put up video game numbers in the shortened season. And so far that player has been Nelson Cruz. 4) Being a DH Won’t Be the Detriment That It Usually Is First off, the implementation of the DH in the National League means Cruz will no longer have to sit-out or be limited to pinch hitting appearances when the Twins are playing in NL parks. This is huge since Minnesota is playing a larger percentage of interleague games than is the norm. Additionally, defensive numbers take more time to stabilize, so MVP voters are more likely to focus on offensive numbers and the aforementioned counting stats that Cruz excels in. 5) Cruz Is a Great Story A good narrative never hurts a player’s MVP chances and Cruz certainly has one. After having arguably his best season as a 39-year-old, Cruz continues to defy Father Time with an even better start to his age-40 season. He was also recently the recipient of the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award and is well respected as a person and teammate. He has been instrumental in mentoring younger players like Miguel Sanó and it’s made for great storylines. What do you think? Does Cruz have a legitimate shot at MVP? Do you think the Twins should attempt to extend Cruz into his age-41 season and beyond? Please leave your comments below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Baseball is back! There’s obviously a lot to be excited about in the 2020 Minnesota Twins and today we’ll channel that optimism by looking at the best 60-game stretches that current Twins hitters have produced.FanGraphs has made this exercise easy by releasing a 60-game span leaderboard. The board is customizable, making it possible to look at the best 60-game stretches of Minnesota’s position players. But before you click that link or continue reading, please take a moment to guess the Twins leaders in fWAR, home runs, stolen bases, and batting average over the course of 60 ball games. Got it? Okay, read on. fWAR Let’s start with Wins Above Replacement since it gives us the best snapshot of a player’s overall value. FanGraphs was kind enough to create the leaderboard, so naturally we’ll use fWAR. 1) Josh Donaldson – 4.5 fWAR (5/27/2016 – 8/5/2016) 2) Nelson Cruz – 3.4 fWAR (6/18/2015 – 8/26/2015) 3) Eddie Rosario – 3.3 fWAR (4/26/2018 – 7/1/2018) / Byron Buxton – 3.3 fWAR (7/1/2017 – 9/22/2017) Finding Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz a top the list isn’t at all surprising. Donaldson followed up his 2015 AL MVP with another great season in 2016 that saw him finish with 7.6 fWAR. Cruz’s 2015 was his first season with the Seattle Mariners and he set career highs with 44 home runs and 5.0 fWAR. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton finish in a tie for third place, just a tick behind Cruz at 3.3 fWAR. Rosario is as capable as anyone in the Twins lineup of going on a hot stretch and when Buxton is healthy he’s a WAR machine as his great defense and baserunning greatly contribute to his totals. Home Runs This is still the Bomba Squad, so we can’t go too far without getting into the dingers. 1) Nelson Cruz – 27 HR (5/3/2019 – 8/6/2019) 2) Josh Donaldson – 24 HR (7/21/2017 – 9/30/2017) 3) Mitch Garver – 22 HR (6/7/2019 – 9/20/2019) Cruz and Donaldson flip flop at the top of the leaderboard. Juiced ball or not, it’s pretty remarkable that Cruz went on the best power run of this career in his age-39 season. Donaldson’s best home run stretch came the year after his best fWAR run in 2017. Speaking of remarkable, who would have thought before the 2019 season that Mitch Garver would be included in a list like this? Stolen Bases I’ve included stolen bases for two reasons. First, to get a picture of how many bases Byron Buxton could potentially steal in a 60-game season. But the main reason was to include the player who places second. You’re lying if you claim to have guessed it. 1) Byron Buxton – 16 (5/22/2017 – 8/13/2017) 2) Nelson Cruz – 14 (4/20/2010 – 8/7/2010) 3) Who cares? If Buxton was encouraged to run wild on the bases I’m pretty confident he could top 16 steals in 60 games, but that is unlikely. You know what else is unlikely? Nelson Cruz stealing 14 bases in 60 games! That’s only two behind Buxton’s career best stretch! Yes, it was way back in 2010, but I’m still flabbergasted. Let the man run Baldelli! Batting Average No one really cares about Batting Average anymore, but in a 60-game season .400 becomes a real possibility, and that’s fun. Plus the Twins have the best candidate to do so in Luis Arraez. 1) Luis Arraez – .355 (5/18/2019 – 8/15/2019) 2) Marwin Gonzalez – .350 (4/30/2017 – 7/23/2017) 3) Jorge Polanco – .346 (3/31/2019 – 6/11/2019) Most projection systems have Luis Arraez winning the batting title, but it’s still really impressive that he tops this list. His career sample size is just 92 games, so finding a .355 60-game stretch is all the more impressive. .400 here we come! Less impressive is Marwin Gonzalez at number two, as we now know we must take his results with a giant grain of trash can. However, Jorge Polanco is really interesting at number three. He’s a great young hitter who definitely wore down after playing in 153 games last year, but in a shortened season he could be a dark horse batting champion. If you want to do more 60-game exploring, head on over to FanGraphs and play around with the leaderboard. You can also take a look at pitching or even the worst 60-game stretches if you’re yearning to curb your enthusiasm. And if you missed it yesterday, make sure to check out Ted Schwerzler's take on the best 60-game sprinters. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. FanGraphs has made this exercise easy by releasing a 60-game span leaderboard. The board is customizable, making it possible to look at the best 60-game stretches of Minnesota’s position players. But before you click that link or continue reading, please take a moment to guess the Twins leaders in fWAR, home runs, stolen bases, and batting average over the course of 60 ball games. Got it? Okay, read on. fWAR Let’s start with Wins Above Replacement since it gives us the best snapshot of a player’s overall value. FanGraphs was kind enough to create the leaderboard, so naturally we’ll use fWAR. 1) Josh Donaldson – 4.5 fWAR (5/27/2016 – 8/5/2016) 2) Nelson Cruz – 3.4 fWAR (6/18/2015 – 8/26/2015) 3) Eddie Rosario – 3.3 fWAR (4/26/2018 – 7/1/2018) / Byron Buxton – 3.3 fWAR (7/1/2017 – 9/22/2017) Finding Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz a top the list isn’t at all surprising. Donaldson followed up his 2015 AL MVP with another great season in 2016 that saw him finish with 7.6 fWAR. Cruz’s 2015 was his first season with the Seattle Mariners and he set career highs with 44 home runs and 5.0 fWAR. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton finish in a tie for third place, just a tick behind Cruz at 3.3 fWAR. Rosario is as capable as anyone in the Twins lineup of going on a hot stretch and when Buxton is healthy he’s a WAR machine as his great defense and baserunning greatly contribute to his totals. Home Runs This is still the Bomba Squad, so we can’t go too far without getting into the dingers. 1) Nelson Cruz – 27 HR (5/3/2019 – 8/6/2019) 2) Josh Donaldson – 24 HR (7/21/2017 – 9/30/2017) 3) Mitch Garver – 22 HR (6/7/2019 – 9/20/2019) Cruz and Donaldson flip flop at the top of the leaderboard. Juiced ball or not, it’s pretty remarkable that Cruz went on the best power run of this career in his age-39 season. Donaldson’s best home run stretch came the year after his best fWAR run in 2017. Speaking of remarkable, who would have thought before the 2019 season that Mitch Garver would be included in a list like this? Stolen Bases I’ve included stolen bases for two reasons. First, to get a picture of how many bases Byron Buxton could potentially steal in a 60-game season. But the main reason was to include the player who places second. You’re lying if you claim to have guessed it. 1) Byron Buxton – 16 (5/22/2017 – 8/13/2017) 2) Nelson Cruz – 14 (4/20/2010 – 8/7/2010) 3) Who cares? If Buxton was encouraged to run wild on the bases I’m pretty confident he could top 16 steals in 60 games, but that is unlikely. You know what else is unlikely? Nelson Cruz stealing 14 bases in 60 games! That’s only two behind Buxton’s career best stretch! Yes, it was way back in 2010, but I’m still flabbergasted. Let the man run Baldelli! Batting Average No one really cares about Batting Average anymore, but in a 60-game season .400 becomes a real possibility, and that’s fun. Plus the Twins have the best candidate to do so in Luis Arraez. 1) Luis Arraez – .355 (5/18/2019 – 8/15/2019) 2) Marwin Gonzalez – .350 (4/30/2017 – 7/23/2017) 3) Jorge Polanco – .346 (3/31/2019 – 6/11/2019) Most projection systems have Luis Arraez winning the batting title, but it’s still really impressive that he tops this list. His career sample size is just 92 games, so finding a .355 60-game stretch is all the more impressive. .400 here we come! Less impressive is Marwin Gonzalez at number two, as we now know we must take his results with a giant grain of trash can. However, Jorge Polanco is really interesting at number three. He’s a great young hitter who definitely wore down after playing in 153 games last year, but in a shortened season he could be a dark horse batting champion. If you want to do more 60-game exploring, head on over to FanGraphs and play around with the leaderboard. You can also take a look at pitching or even the worst 60-game stretches if you’re yearning to curb your enthusiasm. And if you missed it yesterday, make sure to check out Ted Schwerzler's take on the best 60-game sprinters. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. It’s not easy to find a weakness in the 2020 Minnesota Twins, but one thing they do lack is speed. With the increase in home runs and downturn in stolen bases not having a ton of team speed isn’t all that problematic, but in a 60-game season when every game matters, having a speedy runner on the bases late in the game could be the difference between a win and a loss.With the magnitude of each game heightened, teams will be less likely to throw in the towel on any given day, and more teams in contention will mean more competitive games. Minnesota went to extra innings in twelve games last season (and didn’t fare well at 5-and-7), but could very well see an increase in the percentage of extra inning games due to more teams being in it to win it and fighting through all nine innings. With the MLB adopting the MiLB rule of starting off every extra inning with a runner at second base, speed could become even more significant. The runner who is placed at second will be the batter who made the last out of the previous inning, so unless Byron Buxton made the last out, the Twins will probably end up with a less than ideal base runner. It’s not only extra-inning affairs in which a speedy runner would come in handy. In any close game having a burner who can steal a bag or take an extra base is extremely valuable. A fast base runner also gives the pitcher one extra thing to worry about, and every little advantage will matter in 2020. Teams do have the opportunity to pinch run, and with a 30-man bench to start the season, filling in a roster spot with a speedster who could be a pinch run specialist makes some sense. Teams such as the Dodgers (Terrance Gore), Giants (Billy Hamilton), and Astros (Myles Straw) have done just that, but does Minnesota have anyone who fits the bill? One player with a bit of speed who is likely to make the team due to the roster expansion is OF LaMonte Wade Jr. According to Baseball Savant, Wade Jr. trails only Buxton (30.3 ft./sec.) and Jorge Polanco (28.2 ft./sec.) with a Sprint Speed of 28.1 ft./sec. While that’s better than average, Wade Jr.’s not exactly a burner. The next fastest bench option would be Jake Cave, who comes in just behind Max Kepler (27.7 ft./sec.) at 27.6 ft./sec. That’s still above average and would make sense for replacing someone like Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano on the bases, but it’s hardly the late inning speed that would strike fear into opposing hurlers. Minnesota will also have the remainder of the 60-man roster nearby in St. Paul and ready to be called upon. There are at least a few names who could provide some value for the big league team, if only as a speed option. Interestingly, Minnesota recently invited OF Aaron Whitefield to join the group. Whitefield spent the majority of 2019 in high-A Fort Myers where he didn’t exactly set the world on fire with just a .607 OPS. He finished the year at AA Pensacola and his numbers were even worse, but he has elite speed and managed to steal 30 bases on the year. While his bat doesn’t warrant being on the 40-man, the Twins might consider utilizing his speed or possibly his defense as he plays a really good center field. Two other possibilities would be Gilberto Celestino and Royce Lewis. Like Whitefield, Celestino is a center fielder who would be capable of filling in for Buxton defensively, but has only played eight games above low-A, and while speedy isn’t quite the base stealing threat that Whitefield is. Lewis, who is widely considered the Twins top prospect, has yet to be added to the 40-man roster but does offer elite speed. If Minnesota doesn’t want to mess around with calling up a prospect primarily to be a pinch runner, it’s also likely that someone like Billy Hamilton would be available when teams begin to fall out of contention (which shouldn’t take long for the Giants) and might even be available on the waiver wire. All in all, the Twins are in great shape and there’s rightfully a lot of excitement for the season that’s about to get underway. Not having elite speed on the bench isn’t a reason to damper this excitement, but winning the margins is ever imperative in a 60-game sprint, and a little extra speed could be crucial in crossing the finish line first. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  20. With the magnitude of each game heightened, teams will be less likely to throw in the towel on any given day, and more teams in contention will mean more competitive games. Minnesota went to extra innings in twelve games last season (and didn’t fare well at 5-and-7), but could very well see an increase in the percentage of extra inning games due to more teams being in it to win it and fighting through all nine innings. With the MLB adopting the MiLB rule of starting off every extra inning with a runner at second base, speed could become even more significant. The runner who is placed at second will be the batter who made the last out of the previous inning, so unless Byron Buxton made the last out, the Twins will probably end up with a less than ideal base runner. It’s not only extra-inning affairs in which a speedy runner would come in handy. In any close game having a burner who can steal a bag or take an extra base is extremely valuable. A fast base runner also gives the pitcher one extra thing to worry about, and every little advantage will matter in 2020. Teams do have the opportunity to pinch run, and with a 30-man bench to start the season, filling in a roster spot with a speedster who could be a pinch run specialist makes some sense. Teams such as the Dodgers (Terrance Gore), Giants (Billy Hamilton), and Astros (Myles Straw) have done just that, but does Minnesota have anyone who fits the bill? One player with a bit of speed who is likely to make the team due to the roster expansion is OF LaMonte Wade Jr. According to Baseball Savant, Wade Jr. trails only Buxton (30.3 ft./sec.) and Jorge Polanco (28.2 ft./sec.) with a Sprint Speed of 28.1 ft./sec. While that’s better than average, Wade Jr.’s not exactly a burner. The next fastest bench option would be Jake Cave, who comes in just behind Max Kepler (27.7 ft./sec.) at 27.6 ft./sec. That’s still above average and would make sense for replacing someone like Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano on the bases, but it’s hardly the late inning speed that would strike fear into opposing hurlers. Minnesota will also have the remainder of the 60-man roster nearby in St. Paul and ready to be called upon. There are at least a few names who could provide some value for the big league team, if only as a speed option. Interestingly, Minnesota recently invited OF Aaron Whitefield to join the group. Whitefield spent the majority of 2019 in high-A Fort Myers where he didn’t exactly set the world on fire with just a .607 OPS. He finished the year at AA Pensacola and his numbers were even worse, but he has elite speed and managed to steal 30 bases on the year. While his bat doesn’t warrant being on the 40-man, the Twins might consider utilizing his speed or possibly his defense as he plays a really good center field. Two other possibilities would be Gilberto Celestino and Royce Lewis. Like Whitefield, Celestino is a center fielder who would be capable of filling in for Buxton defensively, but has only played eight games above low-A, and while speedy isn’t quite the base stealing threat that Whitefield is. Lewis, who is widely considered the Twins top prospect, has yet to be added to the 40-man roster but does offer elite speed. If Minnesota doesn’t want to mess around with calling up a prospect primarily to be a pinch runner, it’s also likely that someone like Billy Hamilton would be available when teams begin to fall out of contention (which shouldn’t take long for the Giants) and might even be available on the waiver wire. All in all, the Twins are in great shape and there’s rightfully a lot of excitement for the season that’s about to get underway. Not having elite speed on the bench isn’t a reason to damper this excitement, but winning the margins is ever imperative in a 60-game sprint, and a little extra speed could be crucial in crossing the finish line first. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. MLB.com has been ranking teams according to various aspects and Minnesota fared well as the second overall offense (Cody Christie covers it here). But when it comes to the rotation, Minnesota has been given the Rodney Dangerfield treatment.Not only was the rotation left out of the top-10, it didn’t even make the honorable mention group! This seems like a slight considering the rotation was borderline top-10 in 2019 and has added Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and even Homer Bailey to fill out what was already a pretty good rotation. The numbers don’t lie (they can’t even talk!). Minnesota’s starters ranked seventh in fWAR. When we look at park and league adjusted pitching statistics, the 2019 Twins rotation also ranked seventh in ERA(-), and FIP(-) and ninth in xFIP(-). That makes a pretty strong case for cracking the top-10, but the 2020 rotation is not the 2019 rotation – it’s better! Gone are Kyle Gibson and Martín Pérez, who were unambiguously Minnesota’s two worst starters last season. Gibson never really seemed himself while battling ulcerative colitis and ended the year in the bullpen. He finished with a 4.84 ERA and signed a three-year deal with the Texas Rangers (who somehow come in at number seven with Gibson listed as their fourth starter) in the offseason. Of course, we only have to go back to 2018 to see a good year from Gibson (3.62 ERA), but he had a 5.07 ERA in both 2016 and 2017 and has only had an ERA of below 4.00 twice in his career (ZiPS doesn’t believe in Gibson either, pegging him for a 5.19 ERA this year). Pérez’s 2019 started off on an amazing run, going 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA through May 23rd and it looked like Wes Johnson had really worked some magic. But the wheels were quick to fly off and Pérez ended the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. He signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and is projected for a 5.09 ERA by ZiPS. With Gibby and Pérez out of the picture, the Twins retained the good part of their rotation (José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, and Michael Pineda, who is suspended for the first half plus of the 60 game season) and essentially replaced the castoffs with Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. Hill’s last season with an ERA above 4.00 was 2013 and he had a 2.45 ERA for the Dodgers in 2019. Hill could easily be Minnesota’s best pitcher this year, but Kenta Maeda is no slouch either. He has a 3.87 ERA for his career and an even better 3.71 FIP. The swapping of Gibson and Pérez for Hill and Maeda is a huge upgrade and should significantly bolster the Twins rotation. Plus Minnesota has either the “new and improved” version of Homer Bailey or Randy Dobnak, who was great in his brief rookie campaign, to keep Pineda’s chair warm. Throw in Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer (and his new and improved slider), and potentially Jhoulys Chacín, and the Twins also boast incredible depth. Maybe the rotation hasn’t quite earned top-five status, but considering they were already a top-10 rotation last year and have only gotten better should place them firmly in the top-10. The fact that six additional honorable mention teams were added to the list and the Twins were still left off is absurd. Although the almost unwatchable “pitch-to-contact” rotations of the Gardy and Rick Anderson era are long gone (but amazingly still alive in Detroit), and the Twins are at the forefront of modern pitching innovation, it seems they have yet to get the respect they deserve. Look for that to change over the next 60 games. What do you think about MLB.com’s top-10 rotation list? Should the Twins be in? Where do they fit? Finally, how do you feel about Rodney Dangerfield? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  22. Not only was the rotation left out of the top-10, it didn’t even make the honorable mention group! This seems like a slight considering the rotation was borderline top-10 in 2019 and has added Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and even Homer Bailey to fill out what was already a pretty good rotation. The numbers don’t lie (they can’t even talk!). Minnesota’s starters ranked seventh in fWAR. When we look at park and league adjusted pitching statistics, the 2019 Twins rotation also ranked seventh in ERA(-), and FIP(-) and ninth in xFIP(-). That makes a pretty strong case for cracking the top-10, but the 2020 rotation is not the 2019 rotation – it’s better! Gone are Kyle Gibson and Martín Pérez, who were unambiguously Minnesota’s two worst starters last season. Gibson never really seemed himself while battling ulcerative colitis and ended the year in the bullpen. He finished with a 4.84 ERA and signed a three-year deal with the Texas Rangers (who somehow come in at number seven with Gibson listed as their fourth starter) in the offseason. Of course, we only have to go back to 2018 to see a good year from Gibson (3.62 ERA), but he had a 5.07 ERA in both 2016 and 2017 and has only had an ERA of below 4.00 twice in his career (ZiPS doesn’t believe in Gibson either, pegging him for a 5.19 ERA this year). Pérez’s 2019 started off on an amazing run, going 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA through May 23rd and it looked like Wes Johnson had really worked some magic. But the wheels were quick to fly off and Pérez ended the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. He signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and is projected for a 5.09 ERA by ZiPS. With Gibby and Pérez out of the picture, the Twins retained the good part of their rotation (José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, and Michael Pineda, who is suspended for the first half plus of the 60 game season) and essentially replaced the castoffs with Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. Hill’s last season with an ERA above 4.00 was 2013 and he had a 2.45 ERA for the Dodgers in 2019. Hill could easily be Minnesota’s best pitcher this year, but Kenta Maeda is no slouch either. He has a 3.87 ERA for his career and an even better 3.71 FIP. The swapping of Gibson and Pérez for Hill and Maeda is a huge upgrade and should significantly bolster the Twins rotation. Plus Minnesota has either the “new and improved” version of Homer Bailey or Randy Dobnak, who was great in his brief rookie campaign, to keep Pineda’s chair warm. Throw in Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer (and his new and improved slider), and potentially Jhoulys Chacín, and the Twins also boast incredible depth. Maybe the rotation hasn’t quite earned top-five status, but considering they were already a top-10 rotation last year and have only gotten better should place them firmly in the top-10. The fact that six additional honorable mention teams were added to the list and the Twins were still left off is absurd. Although the almost unwatchable “pitch-to-contact” rotations of the Gardy and Rick Anderson era are long gone (but amazingly still alive in Detroit), and the Twins are at the forefront of modern pitching innovation, it seems they have yet to get the respect they deserve. Look for that to change over the next 60 games. What do you think about MLB.com’s top-10 rotation list? Should the Twins be in? Where do they fit? Finally, how do you feel about Rodney Dangerfield? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. There’s been a lot of talk about the potential dominance of Jose Berrios or a healthy Rich Hill in a 60-game season, and newcomer Kenta Maeda also looks like a good bet, but could it be Jake Odorizzi who ends up being the most dominant starter in Minnesota’s rotation?While it’s certainly ill-advised to bet against Berrios or Hill who are well set up to succeed, Odorizzi has the kind of skill set that could excel in a shortened season. Jayson Stark and Eno Sarris of the Athletic recently collaborated on a piece that looked at impossible things that could happen in a 60-game season. One thing they looked at was whether a pitcher such as Matthew Boyd, who has above-average strikeout and walk rates but is susceptible to the longball, could win the Cy Young award due to the fluctuation in home run rates from year-to-year with pitchers. Interestingly, both Odorizzi and Maeda rank amongst the top-five in baseball when taking these three factors into account. Of course, being included in a top-five grouping that includes giving up a bunch of dingers isn’t in and of itself such a good thing, but if either Odorizzi or Maeda finds a way to lower their home run rates (or really just gets a bit lucky in such a short sample-size), they have the potential to be really good in 2020. It’s not hard to find evidence of Odorizzi’s ability to dominate in short stretches. In fact, if we take a look at his statistics for Minnesota’s first 60-games of 2019 we can see just how good Odorizzi can be. Odorizzi made 12 starts and recorded a 1.96 ERA, allowing only four home runs and five doubles, along with a 2.58 Win Probability Added (and this includes the rain-filled two-thirds of an inning disaster against Philadelphia on April 5th). If we take a look at Odorizzi’s results for the next 60-games we can see what happens when he does give up the longball. Over his next twelve starts Odorizzi gave up 11 homers (along with 17 doubles) and his ERA ballooned to 5.11 (with a WPA of -0.419). This includes the month of July, which was Odorizzi’s only month of the year with an ERA above four (7.43), but this coincides with a blister injury that landed him on the 10-day IL. If we chalk July’s struggles up to the blister injury, then Odorizzi didn’t have a bad month in 2019. Odorizzi credited his success in 2019 to offseason work he did at the Florida Baseball Ranch, where alterations to his mechanics and workout routine led to gaining a couple of ticks in fastball velocity and increased carry. His offseason work blended nicely with pitching coach Wes Johnson’s philosophy and there’s no reason to believe Odorizzi’s success won’t spill over into 2020 as well. The biggest obstacle to Odorizzi reaching dominance may be his inability to pitch late into games. He has been plagued by high pitch counts throughout his career and it showed up in the Twins first scrimmage. Byron Buxton fouled off pitch after pitch in Odorizzi’s fourth and final inning, going 13 pitches deep before the plate appearance was prematurely ended due to Odorizzi reaching his pitch count. It would certainly be nice to see Odorizzi finish off batters more efficiently and go deeper into games, and to be truly dominant he must do so, but the Twins are well situated for short starts. If Homer Bailey takes the fifth and final spot in the rotation, Minnesota has Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe available for longer relief stints. If Odorizzi is maxed out after five or six really good innings the Twins also have a borderline elite bullpen that runs deep and should avoid being overly taxed due to the overall quality and quantity of the starting rotation. Whether he’s Cy Young-worthy or not, Jake Odorizzi and the Minnesota Twins are well positioned for greatness in 2020. Let there be baseball! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  24. While it’s certainly ill-advised to bet against Berrios or Hill who are well set up to succeed, Odorizzi has the kind of skill set that could excel in a shortened season. Jayson Stark and Eno Sarris of the Athletic recently collaborated on a piece that looked at impossible things that could happen in a 60-game season. One thing they looked at was whether a pitcher such as Matthew Boyd, who has above-average strikeout and walk rates but is susceptible to the longball, could win the Cy Young award due to the fluctuation in home run rates from year-to-year with pitchers. Interestingly, both Odorizzi and Maeda rank amongst the top-five in baseball when taking these three factors into account. Of course, being included in a top-five grouping that includes giving up a bunch of dingers isn’t in and of itself such a good thing, but if either Odorizzi or Maeda finds a way to lower their home run rates (or really just gets a bit lucky in such a short sample-size), they have the potential to be really good in 2020. It’s not hard to find evidence of Odorizzi’s ability to dominate in short stretches. In fact, if we take a look at his statistics for Minnesota’s first 60-games of 2019 we can see just how good Odorizzi can be. Odorizzi made 12 starts and recorded a 1.96 ERA, allowing only four home runs and five doubles, along with a 2.58 Win Probability Added (and this includes the rain-filled two-thirds of an inning disaster against Philadelphia on April 5th). If we take a look at Odorizzi’s results for the next 60-games we can see what happens when he does give up the longball. Over his next twelve starts Odorizzi gave up 11 homers (along with 17 doubles) and his ERA ballooned to 5.11 (with a WPA of -0.419). This includes the month of July, which was Odorizzi’s only month of the year with an ERA above four (7.43), but this coincides with a blister injury that landed him on the 10-day IL. If we chalk July’s struggles up to the blister injury, then Odorizzi didn’t have a bad month in 2019. Odorizzi credited his success in 2019 to offseason work he did at the Florida Baseball Ranch, where alterations to his mechanics and workout routine led to gaining a couple of ticks in fastball velocity and increased carry. His offseason work blended nicely with pitching coach Wes Johnson’s philosophy and there’s no reason to believe Odorizzi’s success won’t spill over into 2020 as well. The biggest obstacle to Odorizzi reaching dominance may be his inability to pitch late into games. He has been plagued by high pitch counts throughout his career and it showed up in the Twins first scrimmage. Byron Buxton fouled off pitch after pitch in Odorizzi’s fourth and final inning, going 13 pitches deep before the plate appearance was prematurely ended due to Odorizzi reaching his pitch count. It would certainly be nice to see Odorizzi finish off batters more efficiently and go deeper into games, and to be truly dominant he must do so, but the Twins are well situated for short starts. If Homer Bailey takes the fifth and final spot in the rotation, Minnesota has Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe available for longer relief stints. If Odorizzi is maxed out after five or six really good innings the Twins also have a borderline elite bullpen that runs deep and should avoid being overly taxed due to the overall quality and quantity of the starting rotation. Whether he’s Cy Young-worthy or not, Jake Odorizzi and the Minnesota Twins are well positioned for greatness in 2020. Let there be baseball! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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