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woolywoolhouse

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  1. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Andrew Luedtke for a blog entry, Does the Simmons Move Hint at Which SP the Twins Could Target?   
    Twins fans were rightfully excited about acquring slick fielding SS Andrelton Simmons last night.
     
    If you want to spend a fun 10 mintues, check out his defensive highlight reel

    There's no doubt that grabbing the best defensive SS since Ozzie Smith will upgrade the Twins roster.
     
    Combine Simmons with already strong defenders in Buxton, Donaldson, Jeffers, and Kepler, you can see how quickly the mind would shift to "well, what does this mean for their pitching?".
     
    In my opinion, this means two things:
     
    1) It upgrades the Twins existing staff (and should be helpful to one guy in particular)
    2) It might tell us a bit about who the Twins could target next for a SP, given their newly upgraded defense
     
    Simmons Impact on Existing Twins Pitchers:
     
    Looking purely at GB% (calculated by the number of ground balls induced/number of balls put in play), we know that based on an improved defense, the more balls hit on the ground, the higher chance they have to be converted into outs than they did 24 hours ago (pre-Simmons signing).
     
    It's even more fun to look at how much better the Twins defense is than in 2017 when Falvey and Levine took over. JD Cameron takes a look into that here.
     
    From Fangraphs, a "ground ball pitcher" is any pitcher who has a GB% over 50%. League wide in 2019 - 2020, the average GB% was 42.8%.
     
    Here is how the Twins current staff stacks up by GB% using combined stats from the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
    For the most part, the majority of the staff has a below average GB% (would love to see what this chart looked like for the 2004 pitch-to-contact Twins).
     


     
    Two names stand out here.
     
    1. Randy Dobnak - GB% of 58.8%***
    2. Taylor Rogers - GB% of 48.2%
     
    ***Since he came into the league, Randy Dobnak ranks 7th out of 284 pitchers in GB%.
     
    Which SP could the Twins acquire that would benefit most from the Twins defense?
     
    Given that any ball hit on the left side of the infield should be vaccumed up quicker than a Dyson, maybe this shifts how the front office approaches filling out the rotation. Ground ball pitchers stand to gain a lot if their infield can consistently convert more ground balls into outs.
     
    It's the little things in baseball that make the major differences.
     
    From 2019 - 2020, there were 284 pitchers that threw at least 75 IP.
     
    Below are the ranks and GB% for the remaining free agents.
     
    For this exercise, I only focused on FA that had a GB% at 44% or higher.
     
    You can see the entire list from Fangraphs here.
     
    Brett Anderson - 55.2% (17th)
    Jake Arrieta - 51.4% (30th)
    Adam Wainwright - 47.4% (71st)
    Cole Hamels - 47.0% (79th)
    Aaron Sanchez - 46.9% (81st)
    Homer Bailey - 44% (128th)
     
    Below are the ranks for potential trade candidates that have popped up in rumors. Again, I only focused on players with a GB% of 44% or higher.
     
    Luis Castillo - 56.1% (13th)
    Sonny Gray - 50.9% (35th)
    German Marquez - 49.5% (52nd)
    Jon Gray - 46.9% (81st)
     
    BONUS. Here are a couple bullpen free agents that could benefit from a good defensive infield:
     
    Jeremy Jeffress - 50.0%
    Alex Colome - 47.7%
     
    So there you have it. I will be interested to see how the Twins defense positively impacts the pitching staff all year long. Specifically, I am excited to see what this means for Randy Dobnak.
     
    For now, I am most interested to see what the Simmons acquisition means in how the Twins front office addresses the rest of their pitching needs.
     
    Do any names on this list jump out to you as being good targets for the Twins? Maybe now even moreso with a Simmons addition?
  2. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Matt Johnson for a blog entry, The Eddie Rosario Almanac   
    Now that the Eddie Rosario Experience is almost certainly over, let's take a look back at some of his contributions to Twins history. This is just what appears in my Twins Almanac spreadsheet. Please contribute your own Eddie trivia, fun facts, or cool stories in the comments section. And if you're into this kind of stuff, follow me on Twitter at @TwinsAlmanac.
     

    May 6, 2015
    Major League Debut


     
    Leading off the bottom of the third against Oakland's Scott Kazmir, the 23-year-old Puerto Rico native hits the first big-league pitch he sees for an opposite field home run. In what made for a storybook moment, Eddie's parents were actually in the stands at Target Field being interviewed by Marney Gellner when it happened. Twins won 13-0.
     

    Six Twins have homered in their first major league at-bat: Rick Renick, Dave McKay, Gary Gaetti, Andre David, Gary Gaetti, Luke Hughes, and Rosario. Fifteen players in major league history have homered on their first pitch, including former Twin Brant Alyea (playing for the Ted Williams-managed Senators).  

    July 30, 2015
    Triple Streak


     
    The rookie left fielder triples in his third-straight game, tying the club record (Rod Carew 1977, Dan Gladden 1991, and Delmon Young 2008). Bonus Fact: Rosario led the majors with 15 triples his rookie season.
     

    June 13, 2017
    First Three-Home Run Game


     
    The Twins beat the Mariners 20-7 at Target Field, setting a franchise record with 28 hits. Nine-batter Eddie Rosario goes 4-for-5 with three home runs, five RBI, and three runs scored.
     

    Third baseman Eduardo Escobar went 5-for-6 in the game. Kennys Vargas, Jason Castro, and Rosario all had four hits. The only Twin in the starting lineup without multiple hits was first baseman Joe Mauer. 
    Rosario's 13 total bases in the game are tied for second-most in team history, along with outfieldmates Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, Tim Teufel, and Rich Becker. Kirby Puckett set the team record with 14 that one Sunday in Milwaukee.
     
    Rosario was the fifth player in major league history to hit three home runs from the nine-hole. The others were Trot Nixon, Dale Sveum, Art Shamsky, and knuckleball pitcher Jim Tobin in May 14, 1942.
     

    July 1, 2017
    5-for-5


     
    Rosario goes 5-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI in a 10-5 Twins win in Kansas City. Last I checked, there have been 51 five-hit games in Twins history. Escobar and Rosario both had one in 2017.
     

    Kirby Puckett had two six-hit games—one each in 1987 and '91.  

    June 3, 2018
    Second Three-Home Run Game


     
    Tied with stupid Cleveland 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Rosario hits a two-run walk-off home run, becoming the first player in team history with two career three-home run games. Additionally, he joined Tony Oliva as the only other player in team history with two games with 12 or more total bases.
     

    Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have since joined the club of Twins players with two career three-home run games, with Cruz's coming just 10 days apart. 

    Hitting three home runs in a game used to be a big deal. There were just four such games in the team's first 55 seasons (Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Justin Morneau), and EIGHT in the four seasons from 2016 to 2019. 
     

    April 5, 2019
    Rosario's Bat Hits for Cycle


     
    Jorge Polanco goes 5-for-5, hitting for the 11th cycle in Twins history—and he did it swinging Eddie Rosario's bat! Unfortunately the Twins lost 10-4 in Philadelphia (starter Jake Odorrizi gave up five runs in 2/3 of an inning).
     
    Polanco came up a double shy of the cycle just four days later.
     

    April 20, 2019
    Second-Straight Multi-HR Game


     


    In the first game of a Saturday doubleheader in Baltimore, Rosario hits two solo home runs in a 6-5 win, joining Don Mincher and Kirby Puckett as the only players in team history with back-to-back multi-home run games.


     


    The Twins tied a team record with eight home runs in the second game of the doubleheader. They had a second eight-home run game just over a month later, on May 23, becoming just the second team in major league history with two such games in one season, joining the '05 Rangers.


     

    May 6, 2019
    12 Home Runs in First 32 Games



    (*Note: This one is really about Kirby Puckett)


     
    After hitting zero home runs in 1984, and just four in 1985, Kirby Puckett erupted for 13 home runs in the Twins' first 33 games of the '86 season. That's a team record. Second-most through 33 is 12, by Harmon Killebrew in 1970, Rosario in 2019, and Nelson Cruz this season. (Rosario hit his 13th in Game 34, but, like I said, this fun fact was about Puckett.)
     
     


    Well folks, that's what I have. Obviously there are a lot more Eddie Rosario memories to share. Please make your contributions in the comments section below. (I remember him inducing a big balk dancing off third base...) And remember, if you enjoy geeking out on Twins history, coming join me at
    @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.

  3. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Tom Froemming for a blog entry, Off Day Video Dump   
    I've had a lot on my mind as we head into the 2020 MLB postseason, and have been sharing my thoughts over on my YouTube channel. This short season resulted in the playoffs sneaking up on me, but I found some time to get things off my chest. First up ...
     
    ATTN: Pissy Twins Fans

     
    Yes, I'm calling you out!!! This was recorded shortly after the White Sox series, and I was fed up with the way a lot of Twins fans were throwing shade at the White Sox while also dumping on the Twins at the same time.
     
    Twins vs. Yankees AGAIN!?!?!?

     
    Losing that series to the White Sox made it highly likely the Twins would face the Yankees in the playoffs. That, of course, created a sense of dread across Twins Territory. I'll admit that was also my first impression, but after thinking about it awhile my perspective changed.
     
    The Regular Season Doesn't Matter

     
    This is especially true in 2020, but the regular season doesn't really matter. It doesn't. It's all about October. How this Twins season will be remembered depends on how they perform in the playoffs.
     
    Bullpen Analysis Extravaganza!

     
    In this one, I just took about 20 minutes to share some statistics and opinions on the Twins' bullpen, which is one of the better units in all of baseball. Still, Taylor Rogers' turbulence has created a degree of uncertainty. How are things going to shake out heading into the postseason?
     
    If you're interested in more Twins coverage over on YouTube, click this link to subscribe to my channel. While you're at it, check out Twins Daily's channel, where you can find the Postgame Pint live stream after every Twins game.
  4. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball has a special connection to Black Lives Matter   
    I cannot refuse to play baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, but I would if I could. I will support those who can, I will stand for the Black Lives Matter and not confuse it with the need to respect all lives. I will always feel a connection with the American Indian and the genocide of that Indian race in our nation. I will sympathize with the racism that affect the Chinese who built our railroads and the Japanese put in prison camps.
     
    I grew up in a black neighborhood, I spent time with my relatives on the reservation in Lac Court O'Reilles, WI. To deny racism is to be blind to the world around us. To say that racism exists in only one color of people would be wrong, but the record of treaties broken, of people sold and resold exceeds other stories.
     
    I want to trust the police, but they continue to disappoint me. I want to think that we have gone beyond lynching, but it is not acceptable to have white nationalists in uniform using guns instead of ropes.
     
    Destruction of property, looting, defacing the cities is not acceptable, but neither is the indignity of those who complain because freeways are blocked, because peaceful people with tears in their eyes deserve our sympathy and understanding.
     
    Baseball took half a century to recover from the racism of Cap Anson. It kidded itself that it was the great major league but was it. Who was better? When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with Branch Rickey and Larry Doby, it became a flood in the NL and suddenly we had Aaron, Robinson, Mays, Banks, and other great stars giving the NL a period of dominance. It should have been an awakening. The same was true of other sports and the NHL is still in the backwash of history.
     
    Sports have always been a measure of our nation and its progress. Despite our racism Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics was a great national victory. Louis over Schmeling was a blow to the Nazi claims of superiority. But the Black gloves held skyward in during their medal ceremony in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City on October 16, 1968, by two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos offended many – it should not have. It was appropriate and is still meaningful.
     
    We have let hate stop the progress towards equality. We have let selfish motives block the rights of people easily identified by skin color as different.
     
    We should not be moving towards fascism; we should be moving towards compassion. Our nation should not be worshiping guns, but rather the opportunity of equal rights for all and I mean ALL.
     
    I am growing old with the candle of hope flickering in the winds of hate that have been unleashed in our nation. Please - is Peace and Love really a bad slogan to live by?
  5. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, What Are We Going To Do About This Hand Twin Thing?   
    A friend of mine passed away over the holiday weekend.
     
    We had attended high school together, were distant friends through college, and spent two years as roommates back in the cities after that.
     
    When we lived together, he was attending culinary school and the roommates would have the benefit of eating food that is normally not accessible to broke post-college kids trying to repay student loans. He would concoct four course meals and we were more than happy to be test subjects.
     
    We’d declare it the best thing we’ve ever eaten and he, being his own worst critic, would inform us that it was garbage and would vow to make it better next time.
     
    He modeled himself a bit after Anthony Bourdain. He had a beat up copy of Kitchen Confidential that he constantly implored me to read. I never did.
     
    Eventually the house split up. We went separate ways and saw each other less. Everyone my age or older likely has friendships like that. I had a growing family and he was launching a culinary career that took him to Central America and Alaska for work.
     
    The relationship became just a bi-yearly message to each other on Facebook, randomly sharing a couple inside jokes and stupid obscure pop culture references. We exchanged one just the previous week.
     
    He sent a one-liner: What are we going to do about this hand twin thing?
     
    It came from a Friends episode we watched years ago. He had an ability to bring groups of people together and our house used to host viewing parties during the final seasons. The line, delivered by Joey Tribbiani in the bathroom of a casino, always cracked us up. Sharing innocuous lines like that over the years just let each other know you were thinking about them.
     
    I spent most of Sunday night reflecting on our time. I spoke with another roommate of ours who had moved out of state as well. We shared memories of the years we all lived together.
     
    I realized how much baseball fandom can imprint on our lives.
     
    He once hosted a weekend-long party at his college house in Duluth. It was epic, as the kids would say. Thinking back to the revelry, I also remember slipping away to see Matt Lawton hit two home runs in Cleveland.
     
    Another time he went to visit a girl in New York City. He returned with a small panoramic of the old Yankee Stadium that he got at a secondhand shop because he knew how much I despised the Yankees. I still have that picture and I still hate the Yankees.
     
    His family would host gatherings at their cabin in northern Minnesota. They were amazingly hospitable people. His mom legitimately made the best sloppy joes. When my daughter wasn’t even a year old, he invited us for a low-key weekend of boating and bonfires. On the drive home, as my little girl slept in the back, I listened to Johan Santana’s 17-strikeout performance on the radio.
     
    When the Twins had a weekend series at Wrigley Field, we ran into each other at the Cubby Bear, the bar across the street from the stadium. We took time to share a Cubby Blue Bomb together, update each other on our current lives, and then went back to the separate group of friends we came with into Chicago.
     
    The last time we saw each other in person I was handing off tickets to him before a Twins game.
     
    We met at The Depot Tavern and played catch up. His seats were on one side of the ballpark and ours were on the other. We vowed to meet on the concourse or somewhere after the game but neither of us followed through.
     
    You are not supposed to live with regrets yet we do. I regret not reaching out more, not making an effort to stay connected. I regret not checking in more frequently to hear about his family, fiancee, and other adventures.
     
    Thirty-nine is way too young. You feel like you always have more time: There will be some other opportunity to catch up, there will be some other chance to reconnect, or some other time to say those were amazing memories.
     
    Looking back, I admired how he followed his passion. We were just becoming functioning adults and he already knew that he wanted to run kitchens and make people happy through food. Someone shared a video of him teaching a culinary class in a Facebook remembrance, making the room laugh in doing so. In a way he did become a version of Bourdain, traveling the world and experiencing cuisine in parts unknown.
     
    Maybe now I’ll listen to him and read that book.
  6. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Spanish Flu, Coronavirus and Baseball   
    In 1918 Spanish Flu became the last act in the horrible loss of life that had been WWI, "By the time it had spread across the United States, the deadly event had killed an estimated 675,000 Americans."
     
    If you wonder why the world is reacting so vigorously to Corona think about this from MLB.Com history - "In just 15 months Spanish flu killed, according to best estimates today, between 50 million and 100 million worldwide. It infected an estimated 500 million people around the world, about a third of the planet’s total population."
     
    United States Surgeon General Rupert Blue in September 1918. “People are stricken on the streets or while at work. First there is a chill, then fever with temperatures from 101 to 103, headache, backache, reddening and running of the eyes, pains and aches all over the body, and general prostration. Persons so attacked should go to their homes at once, get into bed without delay and immediately call a physician.”
     
    MLB.com reports, "the flu took: Cy Swain, a minor leaguer from 1904 to 1914 who slugged 39 home runs in 1913; Larry Chappell, a big league outfielder for the White Sox, Indians and Boston Braves between 1913 and 1917; catcher Leo McGraw, a minor leaguer between 1910 and 1916; catcher Harry Glenn, a minor leaguer from 1910 to 1918 who spent time with the 1915 Cardinals; minor league pitcher Dave Roth, who played between 1912 and 1916; and minor league pitcher Harry Acton, who played in 1917." The death of umpire Silk O'Loughlin shocked everyone. He was the name most people recognized.
     
    "O’Loughlin umpired in the American League from 1902 to 1918 while working the World Series in 1906, 1909, 1912, 1915 and 1917."
     
    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported - "Officials responded by banning most public gatherings. Impacted sporting events included high school and college football games, amateur soccer matches, and a fight between Jack Dempsey and Battling Levinsky."
     
    The Inquirer added - "Penn’s game against Georgia Tech was canceled. The Quakers postponed a contest with the Navy Yard’s Marines, and when it took place on Oct. 26, it was played at an empty Franklin Field.
    A campus rally for a much-anticipated game against eventual national champion Pitt was called off, as was a war-bond fund-raiser featuring movie star William S. Hart.
     
    "Penn wasn’t alone. Most college football teams, including an unbeaten Michigan squad, had to shorten their schedules because of the epidemic."
     
    "Major League Baseball got lucky. Because of World War I, its season had ended a month early, on Sept. 2, before the worst of the outbreak. Still, throughout organized baseball, at least seven players, including Negro League star Ted Kimbro, eventually died from the flu."
     
    In the World Series that was played in September the paper reported, "Boston’s Babe Ruth, then a robust 23-year-old, was stricken twice but fought it off sufficiently to pitch and win a pair of games for the victorious Red Sox."
     
    Baseball is a wonderful sport, but health is first and should always be first in our nation, politics, and decisions.
  7. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Award Winners and World Series Victors   
    I’m doing this a bit earlier than normal this year, and that could wind up being a silly decision depending on injuries and how Spring Training plays out. Regardless, we aren’t sitting on a slew of unsigned talent in early March, and I’m confident with the look of many big-league squads going into 2020 at this point. Let’s hand out some hardware.
     
    The Washington Nationals will head into the season looking to defend their World Series trophy. That hasn’t been successfully accomplished in 20 years, since the New York Yankees ripped off three in a row. I don’t see that trend changing in 2020, and that should be an exciting reality for baseball fans. The sport has never seen so many young superstars, and the landscape of the league’s best is once again shifting.
     
    Here's what I had going into 2019. I got a couple of the awards right, and nailed the World Series, but ultimately came up just short of getting the winner.
     
    MVP: American League – Mike Trout (Dark Horse Gleyber Torres) National League – Bryce Harper (Dark Horse Kris Bryant)
     
    Until further notice, Mike Trout is the selection in the American League. He’s not only the greatest player in the game right now, but very well could be the best we’ve ever seen do it. There isn’t a hole in his game, and he seems to find ways to take another step forward each year. The Angels star now has a more loaded lineup around him and will look to get back to playing 150+ games. Generating 10+ fWAR for the first time since 2013 seems like a good bet.
     
    After signing the massive deal with the Phillies, Bryce Harper had somewhat of a disappointing season. You’ll certainly take an .882 OPS any day of the week however, and now acclimated entering his age-27 campaign, a jump back up to a 1.000+ OPS is something I’m comfortable with. Marry the last two years patience and production to generate something that should be near the total package.
     
    On the dark horse side, it’s more about what I like in each situation as opposed to legitimate threats to the actual award. Gleyber looks like an absolute superstar, and the Yankees are already going to be leaning on him heavily. Bryant has been plagued by injuries and underwhelming narratives, but he’s still coming off a .903 OPS. I don’t know what the Cubs will do, but he’ll stir that drink for sure.
     
    Cy Young: American League – Gerrit Cole (Dark Horse Jose Berrios) National League – Walker Buehler (Dark horse Jack Flaherty)
     
    Switching teams worked out well for Cole the last time he did it, and there’s no reason to expect his dominance to fade in New York. He’s pitched in a hitter’s ballpark before, and the Yankees rotation will count on him heavily. I tabbed Buehler as the pick last year in the National League, and I might have been just a year early. He finished with the 4th best fWAR and could certainly catch the two Nationals arms in the 2020 season. This is still Jacob deGrom’s title to lose, but I like the Dodgers ace.
     
    Maybe recycling Jose Berrios as a dark horse here isn’t fair, but he’s truly so close. A strong finish to his 2019 would’ve have him in a much better position, and he still finished 7th among AL starters in terms of fWAR. Minnesota is going to make noise again, and he should be expected to lead the rotation. If you’ve watched the Cardinals at all then there’s nothing under-the-radar about Flaherty. He’s a stud and emerging as one of baseball’s best arms. He mixed into the tier right below elite territory last year, but another step forward would have him second to no one.
     
    Rookie of the Year: American League – Luis Robert (Dark Horse Jo Adell) National League – Gavin Lux (Dark Horse Mitch Keller)
     
    One of the chief requirements in garnering Rookie of the Year consideration is playing time, and Luis Robert will have that on his side. He’s an uber-prospect and will be with the White Sox from the jump. I’d expect some growing pains, but there’s too much talent not to side with the favorite in the AL. Lux made his debut last season for the Dodgers and will be unleashed fully in 2020. He’s a middle infield stud and should have little issue producing with a star-studded lineup around him.
     
    Back to that playing time issue, which is the only reason I don’t like Adell over Robert. I think the Angels start their outfield prospect in the minors and holding him out for a month or two could make the counting stats lag behind. He looks the part of a worth specimen to play in a Mike Trout led outfield, and you can bet he’ll hold his own. Keller’s big-league career began ugly with the Pirates last year, but he’s far too talented to continue going down that road. He still has rookie eligibility and should use the lessons from 2019 to establish himself as a very good arm for Derek Shelton’s squad.
     
    Postseason:
    American League- Yankees, Twins, Astros Wild Card – Angels, Rays
    National League- Braves, Cubs, Dodgers Wild Card – Reds, Nationals
    ALCS – Twins over Yankees
    NLDS – Dodgers over Braves
    World Series – Dodgers over Twins
     
    This probably comes off looking like a homer pick, but the Twins showed they’re for real last year. Sure, they didn’t hit in a three-game sample size against New York, but this is a team that will win less regular season games and ultimately be better positioned in the Postseason. Both New York and Houston are going to be very good, but losing Severino is a big blow, while the Astros are eventually going to be squashed by the scrutiny. One of the most interesting teams in the AL this year should be the Angels.
     
    On the National League side, it’s hard to look away from the talent Atlanta has throughout the lineup. Acuna is established, but I think Albies is the guy that takes another step forward. That division will be tightly contested, but I like Washington more than I’ll ever trust the Mets. Chicago is a complete wild card, and Cincinnati is one of those “won the offseason” clubs. It all comes down to how good the Dodgers are, and the only definition needed there is “very.”
     
    Los Angeles has come up short two of the past three years. That ends in 2020 regardless of who is across the diamond. Mookie Betts wasn’t even a necessary addition, but with him in the mix, they’ll be an unstoppable force come October.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to jorgenswest for a blog entry, Baldelli and Line Ups: Which Twin has faced the best pitching?   
    I became interested in the Astudillo discussion in the resting players topic and wondered about Astudillo's use. I have been thinking about this since his critical hit against Matt Barnes in the Red Sox series.
     
    Matt Barnes is a right handed pitcher with the highest k/9 rate in the AL and nearly the highest AL k-rate at 38%. The Twins are tied with the Red Sox 1-1 in the 7th inning. Miguel Sano is in scoring position with two outs. The Twins have 1 hit through 6 2/3. Jonathan Schoop is coming to the plate and in comes Matt Barnes. It is time to pinch hit with a left handed batter or so I thought. They have Polanco and Wade on the bench. They also have Astudillo. Astudillo? Why Astudillo? Kepler is up next. Let's get someone on base. Polanco or Wade must be a better choice. I was certain.
     
    Astudillo slaps a single to right field for the Twins second and last hit of the game. The Twins hold on to win 2-1. Lucky decision on Baldelli's part I muttered. The moment stuck with me though. I wondered... "When does Baldelli choose to use Astudillo?"
     
    With the help of Baseball Prospectus I looked to the quality of opposing pitcher for each Twin hitter with over 100 PAs. We have heard that the line ups are well thought out and planned. Maybe some hitters have faced a more difficult set of pitchers by design.
     
    Not surprisingly the typical pitcher faced profile for a Twin hitter is Polanco. He plays the most. The opposing pitchers he has faced have allowed a .770 OPS resulting in a 105 oppRPA+. More than half of the Twin hitters bunch in the interquartile range of 104-106. Only one Twin batter has faced better than league average opposing pitching this year with a 99 oppRPA+. Willians Astudillo. Astudillo's 746 oppOPS is two standard deviations away from the typical opposing pitcher faced. I don't think this happens by accident or randomly. Baldelli must either be choosing to play Astudillo against more difficult pitching or at least choosing to rest players against a more difficult pitcher.
     
    If you are still reading and curious the Twin closest to Astudillo is Arraez at .751 and the only other Twin more than a standard deviation away in this direction. There are two Twins on the opposite end though not near as far from center as Astudillo. Marwin Gonzalez (.779) and Byron Buxton (.781) have seen the pitchers who have given up the highest OPS to the hitters they have faced.
     
    Does this or should this give us a different impression on Astudillo's performance at the plate this year?
  9. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Harmon Killebrew - our classic home run hitter   
    I could not resist putting up this Home Run Derby between Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. In this contest the two who had tied for the HR championship of the AL faced off.
     
    It is preceded by Harmon taking the crown from Mickey Mantle -
     
    And followed by a contest Harmon lost to Ken Boyer - a third baseman who belongs in the
    Ken did not last long - his next challenge was Hank Aaron who took over the program.  
    It is so amazing to see these greats playing for $2000 - chump change today.
     
    It is also fun to see Harmon, pre-Twins days in his Senator's uniform.
     
    These are great players without the science of today. I love watching them.
     
    Nostalgia - enjoy.
  10. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Twins Takeaways are Twofold   
    Arguably the most exciting game the Minnesota Twins have played in nearly a decade, the home team dropped a 14-12 affair last night (err this morning) at Target Field. It’s in these last few games against the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees that two very real truths have been exposed. For the duration of 2019 it will be how each storyline unfolds that ultimately determines the fate of the season.
     
    First and foremost, the Twins are good and can hang with anyone in baseball. There was a narrative earlier this year that Rocco Baldelli’s club was only beating bad teams. While “teams with a .500 record” is an inexact science given the fluidity of records, Minnesota is playing at something like a 90-win pace against other teams in or around Postseason contention. Yes, they’ve beat up on bottom feeders, but they’ve also more than held their own against stiff competition.
     
    As of today, both the Yankees and Athletics are slotted into American League Postseason positions. The Twins split their four-game series with Oakland posting an even run differential over the set. In five games against New York, Minnesota owns a 2-3 record and has come up just two runs short of an even run differential. With a rubber match game looming tonight, this split could get even tighter.
     
    In winning games against good teams it’s been the offense that has gotten the job done. Although the lineup has slumped from the blistering pace it started 2019 on the Bomba Squad is still pounding extra-base hits at a healthy clip. Over the course of a full 162 game schedule this collection is far too good to stay down for long. As pitching, both starting and relief, regresses towards statistical parallels it’s the bats that should be expected for a continued rebound.
     
    On the mound we’ve seen a confirmation of what we already know. In the past week Minnesota’s bullpen has blown late leads on no less than four occasions. Cody Stashak worked important innings during his MLB debut last night, and Lewis Thorpe was there the night before. Kohl Stewart was tasked with keeping a big game tied in the 10th, and any number of arms have been called upon from the Rochester pipeline.
     
    Derek Falvey knows full well that he needs to get this team relief help. Rocco Baldelli is playing Russian Roulette on a nightly basis, and the result continues to be Band-Aids on a bullet wound. The front office can’t afford to skimp on an ok veteran in the pen, this roster needs difference makers. While the long-term vision remains important, wasting a team and opportunity this good by making a safe move can’t be the plan of action.
     
    We’re on a collision course with two pivotal points in the Minnesota schedule. A week from now the trade deadline rears its head, and in just a few days the opposition gets incredibly light. Minnesota knows how this book has begun, but it’s on them to write the final chapters.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  11. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Yankees Enter and No Twins Care, Literally None   
    Every single time the New York Yankees square off against the Minnesota Twins you hear the statistics. Minnesota has been dominated by the Evil Empire. Ron Gardenhire’s division winning teams consistently found their season cut short by Yankees lineups. Whether at Target Field or the Metrodome, Twins fans have long looked at these series and circled them to highlight impending doom. Now leading the AL Central, I can all but assure you that when the Yankees filter into the opposing dugout this evening the number of Twins players caring about historical relevance will be zero.
     
    Two years ago, a Paul Molitor Twins squad popped up out of nowhere to win 85 games. Not much was expected from that group and grabbing the Wild Card spot was a surprise to plenty within the organization. Jumping out to a 3-0 lead after their first at bats the Twins quickly gave back the runs only for the dust to settle with an 8-4 defeat. That starting lineup included just four regular starters from this current squad. The leadoff batter moved to the National League while the number two batter has retired to his couch.
     
    It’s in the turnover that this discussion of history really goes to die.
     
    Rocco Baldelli currently manages a very good Minnesota Twins squad. They lead the majors in longballs, have pitched above their heads for over half the season, and even with a slight downtick in production, employ the third best offense in the sport. All those things are factually true right now, today. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Marwin Gonzalez have never faced the Yankees in a Twins uniform. Each of those players are directly responsible for the great season Minnesota is having and that impact will be felt much more than the numbers Justin Morneau or Michael Cuddyer compiled against New York.
     
    If there’s a significance in this series, it’s that the two teams are good and playing against good opponents should provide somewhat of a measuring stick for a club. The Yankees have taken over the title of best record in the American League and having won five of their last six contests. Aaron Boone’s team hasn’t been on the road since the All-Star Break, but they do own a solid 26-17 record away from Yankees Stadium. Minnesota is an even 30-19 both at home and away, but having dropped the series 1-2 in the Bronx, will look to at least end the season total with a split.
     
    There’s also a get right opportunity here for the Twins in that the Yankees employ just the 13th ranked starting unit in baseball. New York has scheduled two lefties in the matchup and that plays into the hands of the righty bombers for the Twins. Producing a full run less per game over the past couple of months, favorable pitching matchups should be something this group salivates over.
     
    At the end of the day this series is a big one for both clubs. Each of these teams is looking to improve their positioning for the stretch run, and they’ll be looking to notch quality wins against quality competition. Call the Twins and underdog if you’d like, but no one on either side of this matchup is worried about what has taken place in previous years. Minnesota has tracked towards one of the best teams in organization history, and while that’s uncharted waters on its own, so is the writing of their story against the club leading the AL East.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to diehardtwinsfan for a blog entry, 2019 Season FA relievers at the half way point   
    This is my second installment tracking all of the FA relievers. This was a personal nit to pick with the front office given the team's need and the plethora of available options. At the quarter pole though, the results were not as good as I'd have liked personally. At this point, the sample sizes are large enough that we should be able to get a feel for who was worth it, or if FA relievers really are just a crap shoot.
     
     
    The cream of the Crop:
     
    Kelvin Herrera - Herrera signed a 2/17 deal with Chicago and has so far been a complete bust, posting an ERA north of 7 out of the pen in 35 appearances so far this season. His K rate has been acceptable, but his BB rate has risen along with his WHIP which sits close to 1.2. His HR rate has also skyrocketed sitting at around 1.5 per 9 innings.
     
    Andrew Miller - Miller has turned it around a bit since the quarter pole, but even now it's hard to say his 2/25 deal with an additional option is what the Cards hoped it would be. His numbers are currently sitting around his career average as opposed to the 2014-2017 version that we had all hoped he'd do. I cannot really call this a bust anymore, but I'm not sure he'd be a name highly talked of if he was pitching here. To put it in perspective, his ERA sits right around where the much maligned Blake Parker sits. Granted, his peripherals are much better which tells me he may continue to positively regress.
     
    Adam Ottavino - I hate the Yankees. He's been a stud. His walk rate seems to be the only negative. He's striking out 12+ per 9 innings and walking 6+... That said, his WHIP is a healthy 1.3 as batters cannot make contact with him.
     
    Craig Kimbrel - This was a name we all watched closely. He's only managed 3 appearances for the Cubs since signing, so it's a bit too early to track this one. He has been shelled so far... but then again, it's 3 appearances.
     
    Jeurys Familia - Familia thus far hasn't rewarded the 3/30 contract he signed. His K rate is in line with his career norms, but he's walking more, giving up more hits, and giving up more home runs. His peripherals are pretty ugly right now and he sports a sparking 7.76 ERA in 31 appearances.
     
    Zach Britton - Britton signed a 3/39 deal with the Yankees and has pitched reasonably well, though I'm not sure why. His K rate is pretty bad for a reliver and below his 7.34 career average. His walk rate is up as well. He's managed to lower his H/9 rate as well as keep the ball in the park. If he was pitching for MN, I think most of us would be on pins and needles, but he's gotten results thus far in his 37 innings of work.
     
    Joe Kelly - Kelly signed a 3/25 deal with the LAD and has improved substantially on his results this quarter. Despite that, he hasn't been that good. His K rate remains good, but he's still allowed more walks, hits, and home runs over his career average. And I'd add that his career marks aren't very good for a RP. LA has him for another two years.
     
    David Robertson - Robertson signed a 2/23 deal with Philly and has been a bust so far. He's pitched in only 7 innings and has been shelled. He's currently on the shelf with elbow soreness where he has been all season.
     
    In all, there has been only one real hit here in Ottavino. Miller is making a case for being added to this list as he's improved substantially over his numbers earlier this season. Britton has gotten results as well, but he appears to be on borrowed time.
     
    The Second Tier:
     
    Justin Wilson - Wilson was a cheap grab for the Mets, signing a 2/10 deal. It appears that he spent most of the second half of the quarter on the DL, as he's only logged 10.2 innings of work with a 4.22 ERA. He's got time to redeem himself, but this deal hasn't gone well.
     
    Joakim Soria - Soria signed a 2/15 deal with Oakland, and has improved a bit on his numbers at the quarter turn. His ERA has dropped and his peripherals all look pretty good. Oakland has worked him hard as he's got 41.2 innings under his belt already this season. I'd say at this point that the signing has been good. I'm not sure the cause of the bloated ERA, but if I was guessing it would be the occasional big game as his peripherals say he's been pretty good.
     
    Cody Allen - Allen signed a 1 year deal with the Angels and so far has not lived up to his 8.5M salary. His HR and BB rates have skyrocketed though he still maintains a sexy K rate. His 5.54 ERA is something we can all live without. He's now in our minor league system. I'd say this is a good deal for the Twins getting him at the minimum if they can fix him, not so much for the Angels who will pay the rest of the 8M owed. Time will tell if we can do something, but this was no risk to us. He was a bust though for the Angels.
     
    Jesse Chavez - Chavez signed a 2/8 deal with Texas, and is trying to reinvent himself as a reliever. At the quarter pole, the results weren't all that good, but they've moved into respectable territory at the half way mark. I'd say at this point, this is a good signing, especially for the price. Chavez could replace a few arms in our pen, but we'd be happy to upgrade him. His K rate is below average for a good reliever, but he does minimize walks and hits.
     
    Trevor Rosenthal - Rosenthal has under performed his 1/7 deal and has been a complete disaster managing only 6 innings of very ugly baseball in the majors.
     
    There are only 5 names in this tier, and it has improved a bit as the season wore on. At the quarter pole, there
    wasn't a name on this tier that we'd be clamoring for. Now, Chavez and Soria both fall into a range of acceptable. That's not really high praise, but they appear to be trending in the right direction and could be reliable going forward.
     
    Cheap Fliers:
     
    Brad Brach - At the quarter pole, he wasn't that bad. At the half way mark, he's been horrible. The K rate is nice, but he's walking guys like crazy as well and still gives up hits. His ERA sits over 6 in 35 innings of work, and I'm sure he's part of the reason the Cubs went out and got Kimbrel.
     
    Zach Duke - yes, that Zach Duke. He signed a 2M deal with the Reds and has been so bad that they've only given him an additional 5 innings since the last time I wrote this piece. He's been injured for parts of it and largely ineffective when healthy.
     
    Cory Gearrin - the Mariners have, thus far, gotten a bargin with Gearrin for the 1.4M value of his contract. He has regressed a bit since the quarter pole but has notched over 30 innings of OK work. He really needs to cut down on his walk rate a bit. This isn't a bad value signing, but he doesn't have a place on a contending team. He's been worse than Parker to put that in perspective.
     
    Greg Holland - Holland has regressed a bit from the quarter pole, and his numbers currently sit in line with his more recent 2015-2017 marks. He still doesn't look like the Holland of old, but for 3.25M, he's been cheap and effective. This is definitely still a win for AZ, and he'll likely be flipped for a lotto ticket by teams looking to replace busts on this list, but he's not pitching like a late pen option either.
     
    Shawn Kelley - Another nice find for the bargain price of 2.75M. Kelley has only pitched 32 innings at this point and would be a decent option in our pen. He's not elite, but he's gotten results to the tune of a 3.09 ERA. His biggest draw back has been the long ball. He'd be an upgrade over several members in our pen currently.
     
    Aaron Loup - The Padres got him for 1.4M and he's been perfect so far this season. The only real problem is that it's a 4 inning sample as he hit the IL in early April with elbow soreness.... and he's still there. I have to call this a bust at this point.
     
    Blake Parker - At the time of signing, I simply noted that I didn't mind it if this was not the main RP piece we've added. Sadly, it was, and it wasn't even the best move. I'm not tracking Ryne Harper here as he was signed to a minor league deal, but he's out performed Parker. Parker, on the other hand, has out performed most of the people I'm tracking. This is technically a win for the front office, but literally everyone here wants him upgraded. Parker's biggest problem has been home runs, though his peripherals are all well below what they were when he was a successful MLB reliever. I think he might be adequate if kept in lower leverage situations/mop up duty, but relying on him with any kind of consistency in high leverage situations would be a mistake.
     
    Oliver Perez - Perez signed a 2.5M deal with Cleveland. He has only pitched in 24 innings thus far. A quick search didn't find any injuries, but Cleveland is clearly not heavily using him. He's been acceptable for them with some pretty good peripherals backing an ERA of 3. His HR rate is a bit higher than one would like. This again is a great value signing and would be better than just a mop up guy.
     
    David Phelps - The Blue Jays signed him in hopes that he recovers from TJS at some point this year and pitches. He went under the knife last spring. Not a bad risk for 2.5M. He hadn't pitched at the quarter pole but now has 9.2 innings notched. This may end up being a good signing, time will tell. He hasn't pitched well enough to warrant someone giving up much in terms of prospects for him. Perhaps that changes in the next couple of weeks given the SSS issues at play here.
     
    Tony Sipp - Sipp signed for 1.25 for the Nats and has not been good. He's improved a bit on his quarter pole results, but he's pitched in only 16 innings thus far.
     
    Hunter Strickland - Strickland signed a 1.3M deal and has pitched all of 2 innings, and poorly only to hit the IL with an injury. He appears to be starting rehab at this point. Not a bad gamble, but a bust.
     
    Adam Warren - Warren has been a bust in 28.2 bad innings for SD. He's gotten worse as the season went on and is costing 2.5M. I doubt he fetches much value at the deadline.
     
    Summarizing the fliers, there were some good finds here. No one in this group falls into a late inning option, but several would be perfectly acceptable in the next tier. I count 5 guys that are successful and that would be desired by a number of teams if they were available. None of those guys, however, would be that elite help they needed, but would be acceptable tier 2 BP options. There are 5 busts here and one guy in the too soon to tell.
     
    In all, my conclusion hasn't changed much. FA relievers haven't been an option. Only Ottavino has lived up to his status at the top, though through the half way point there are a number of names that would fit nicely into the tier 2 mark. Statistically speaking, the fliers have performed the best so far... and that's not high praise. The front office might have been right in not plunking down good money for help here. The problem is that they will now shell out some decent prospects for help here.
  13. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, The precious, but unnoticed help of Gonzalez   
    With recent struggles from Twins pitchers, for example, an early season discussion has been brought up this week. Did the Twins address well enough the team’s need during the offseason? Some people sure feel like they didn’t. But one offseason move (out of several others) that we can absolutely tell was right on the money was the Marwin Gonzalez signing.
     
    Having played this season in six different positions throughout the field, while also batting DH and pinch hitting, “Margo” is officially one of the most useful pieces a team could have in the sport. Baseball Essential considered Gonzalez the best super-utility player in the game. He was an invaluable help overall during the first couple of months of the season, filling in for injured Miguel Sanó, starting 52 of the team’s 60 games.
     
    But it took a while for most Twins fans to see Gonzalez as indispensable. He had a horrible first month offensively, batting .167, with a .501 OPS and 34 wRC+ in 23 games. Even though bad starts offensively have always been a part of his career, people started doubting him, on some level. Overall, he holds a .228 AVG, with a .675 OPS in his eight years in the league. Still, even specialists believed he was bound to lose at bats and become the third option to start at third base, once Willians Astudillo was having himself a hot start of the season. The Turtle was batting .327 with an .870 OPS by the end of April, so it was the natural choice then.
     
    But then, things shifted. Since May 1st, he’s batting .304/.376/.500. In that span, only two other players drew more walks than him, who got 11. Also, Gonzalez has been left-handed pitchers’ nightmare, as he’s slashing .378/.425/.541 against them. He completely turned his season around. With 125 PA since the start of May, he’s been the fifth most used player in the offense, with more PA’s than everyday starters Jonathan Schoop and Byron Buxton, for example. He’s become a vital and dependable part of this MLB-best offense.
     
    But that’s not even his biggest contribution. Not only is he doing some damage at the plate lately, but he’s also been playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Being a bench player, he will never win such award, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an above average defender. And what’s more impressive about this? He does so in more than one position. Here are some defensive stats.
     
    As a 3B (257.2 innings)
    3 DRS
    1.8 UZR
    .989 FP
    4 DPS
    69 Assists
    21 PO
    1 Error (TE)
     
    Gonzalez' three defensive runs saved would be tied for sixth best in MLB, if he qualified. He has as many as 2018 Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado, who's already played over twice as many innings as him this year. He has saved more runs than players such as old friend Eduardo Escobar, Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, Matt Carpenter and José Ramírez, all of which have been on the field for at least 446 1/3 innings. Regarding his UZR, he would also be tied for sixth best in the game, beating names like Evan Longoria and Alex Bregman, the AL runner-up for the Gold Glove award last year.
     
    When looking at his assists amount, he doesn’t rank very high in the league, but, of course, his sample time on the field is much smaller than the average everyday third baseman. If he had had the opportunity to play, say, 400 innings on the field, he would have an equivalent of 107 assists, which would rank him 5th in the league. Had he been there for 500 innings, we would be talking about a league second best 133 assists. But, of course, this is purely hypothetical mathematics.
     
    As an OF (81 innings)
    3 DRS
    0.9 UZR
    .933 FP
    2 Assists
    12 PO
    1 error (FE)
     
    In the outfield, Gonzalez also has a very small sample, which prevent him from competing with the everyday outfielder in the stats department. But, still, you can tell he’s not at all a bad defender there either. He has as many defensive runs saved as Mike Trout does and one more than NL MVP Christian Yelich. So, the Twins signed a player that, if starting regularly in his primary position, would compete for the league’s highest honours in defense. Not too shabby.
     
    Far beyond the numbers, by watching Twins game on a daily basis, you can tell what a great defender he is. There hasn’t been a moment in which I’ve felt insecure about Twins defense in the hot corner or wherever “Margo” is on the field.
     
    A lot of things could and should be fixed in the Twins roster. But having Gonzalez in the team guarantees that the bench isn’t one of them. It’s impossible to say for sure if Minnesota would be having the same success that they are having right now if he wasn’t a part of the team, but I imagine things would be much harder. Afterall, he might be the best and most prolific utility player in the game right now.
  14. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Andrew Gebo for a blog entry, First Place Underdogs   
    Across all sports the term “underdog” is typically given to teams who lack elite talent but are good enough to be relevant. It is rare when a team leads their respective sport in most major statistical categories and fighting for the number one seed in the postseason to be given the “underdog” label. The 2019 Minnesota Twins are the exception to that rule.
     
    As a fan, it is very easy and understandable to be blinded by emotion when talking about your favorite team. We all think our favorite team is the best - unless you’re a Marlins or Orioles fan but then you wouldn't be reading this anyway. Fans also tend to overreact to minor mishaps or punch a hole in the wall when their team doesn’t commit $45million over three years to a 31 year old reliever with declining peripherals.
     
    This article will not be an emotionally driven rant about media biases and the Twins not getting respect because they’re a small market team. Rather, my goal is to present an objective analysis of how absurd it is that this team is already an “underdog” to make a deep postseason run.
     
    Let’s first look at the current playoff odds of AL division leaders, provided by FanGraphs.
     
    Houston Astros: (42-21), 99.9% chance of a postseason appearance, 20.1% chance of winning the World Series.
    Minnesota Twins: (40-20), 96.5% chance of a postseason appearance, 7.7% chance of winning the World Series.
    New York Yankees: (38-22), 95% chance of a postseason appearance, 12% chance of winning the World Series.
     
    Now let’s compare how these teams have performed so far in terms of offense and pitching, beginning with offense. It’s no secret the Twins have crushed the ball this year and you may not be surprised to see them at the top of the AL, but here it is anyway.
     
    Minnesota Twins: .272/.339/.510 .850 OPS, 114 HR, 14.7 WAR
    Houston Astros: .271/.344/.478 .822 OPS, 100 HR, 14.5 WAR
    New York Yankees: .257/.334/.448 .781 OPS, 97 HR, 8.7 WAR
     
    You probably didn’t need me to tell you how good their offense has been. If you follow this team then you should (hopefully) already know that. There you have it though, of the current AL division leaders, the Minnesota Twins are the best offensive team. Now let’s look at pitching, beginning with starting pitching.
     
    Minnesota Twins: 3.56 ERA, 1.28 HR/9, 1.16 WHIP
    Houston Astros: 3.68 ERA, 1.55 HR/9, 1.06 WHIP
    New York Yankees: 3.89 ERA, 1.65 HR/9, 1.22 WHIP
     
    Let that sink in for a second - the Minnesota Twins not only have the best offense but one of the best starting rotations as well. Bullpen stats aren’t as favorable but they’re also not as bad as most people in Twins territory seem to believe.
     
    Minnesota Twins: 4.67 ERA, 1.26 HR/9, 1.41 WHIP
    Houston Astros: 3.32 ERA, 1.18 HR/9, 1.12 WHIP
    New York Yankees: 3.74 ERA, 1.04 HR/9, 1.26WHIP
     
    If you’re reading this then you likely follow baseball. If you follow baseball you likely already knew the Yankees have a great bullpen and the Astros turned Ryan Pressly into a super reliever - it’s okay to be sad about that one Twins fans, I’ll allow it. However, the Twins bullpen has been respectable and Taylor Rogers is emerging as a super reliever.
     
    Let’s recap - of the three current AL division leaders, the Twins have the lowest odds of winning the World Series, according to FanGraphs. Minnesota also currently boasts the best offensive production among AL division leaders and their starting rotation has the lowest ERA and has surrendered the least amount of home runs per 9 innings. Also, if the season ended today, Jake Odorizzi is the AL Cy Young winner.
     
    Their bullpen has been good but not great and ranks last among current AL division leaders but they’ve still gotten solid production from the bullpen. 10th best bullpen ERA in the league type of production - which by the way, is pretty darn good.
     
    Here’s a quick look at how they stack up against all of MLB in pitching and hitting. Minnesota currently leads the league in the following offensive categories: AVG, SLG, OPS, and wOBA. They’re tied for first in wRC+ and HR. Minnesota has been an offensive juggernaut.
     
    FanGraphs currently has the Twins ranked as the 4th best starting rotation in the league. They don’t lead the league in any statistical categories other than Wins - which for the most part is a useless stat when evaluating a pitchers individual performance - but their overall starting pitching production has been very strong. Any time you can rank in the top 5 of the league you’re doing something right - thank you, Wes Johnson.
     
    Minnesota’s bullpen currently ranks 11th in the league, according to FanGraphs. Top 10 would sound a lot better but 11th is still pretty good. Considering the bullpen expectations were extremely low going into the season, being the 11th best bullpen in the league is a pleasant surprise.
     
    If you have read this far you’ve hopefully learned or confirmed your own beliefs that the 2019 Twins are an offensive powerhouse with a top 5 starting rotation and a bullpen that ranks in the top half of the league - Go Twins!
     
    Yet for some reason, of the current AL division leaders they have the lowest odds to win the World Series (only 7.7% if you can’t remember that far back). Chris Russo of MLB Network thinks Minnesota is a “regular season team that isn’t built for the postseason”. He’s not alone in that sentiment, either.
     
    Most of the publications I have read and TV analysts I’ve listened to seem to echo the same feelings. They don’t believe the 2019 Minnesota Twins are legitimate World Series contenders and it’s shocking.
     
    Most of the time when a team is this good they are a consensus World Series favorite - except that doesn’t seem to apply to the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Maybe it’s because the roster lacks household names. Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, C.J. Cron and Mitch Garver aren’t going to be on the cover of Sport Illustrated anytime soon. The Astros, Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees (when healthy) feature a lineup full of MVP winners, All Stars and future HOFers. This could be why the Twins are overlooked but that’s an idiotic reason.
     
    Perhaps it’s because Minnesota has been relatively irrelevant since 2010 - other than the brief postseason cameo in 2017. The Tigers, Royals, White Sox and Indians have all appeared in or won a World Series over the last two decades. The Twins, on the other hand, haven’t reached the ALCS since they were defeated by Anaheim in 2002. Maybe everyone forgot about Minnesota and now that they’re a juggernaut they don’t believe it, but again, that’s idiotic.
     
    Could it be because they don’t believe their current production is sustainable? This would be the least-idiotic reason to doubt this team. Jake Odorizzi has been a good but not great pitcher over his career. Now suddenly he’s a front runner for the AL Cy Young. Byron Buxton is putting together his best season as a pro, Jorge Polanco is an MVP candidate and up until his last couple starts, Martin Perez has been a completely different pitcher.
     
    As I write this on June 6th, the Minnesota Twins currently have five position players with a top 10 WAR for their respective positions. Those five are Polanco, Schoop, Kepler, Buxton, and Rosario. Top 10 doesn’t do enough justice for Jorge Polanco, he has the highest WAR of all shortstops and the 9th highest WAR in the entire league. He’s on pace to win a batting title and possibly the MVP.
     
    Minnesota is also one of only three teams in the league with two starting pitchers who rank top 20 in ERA - Jake Odorizzi (2nd) and Jose Berrios (20th).
     
    It is very possible that this level of production from relatively unproven players is not sustainable but even that is a bit of a stretch. Byron Buxton was the number one prospect in baseball, so seeing him produce like this isn’t outrageous. Jorge Polanco has always been able to hit and he’s just now entering his prime at age 25. It’s not uncommon for players to have a breakout season after having spent parts of five years in the big leagues and over 1,000 career plate appearances. Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez, however, are performing significantly better than they have over their careers which does make it harder to believe it is sustainable.
     
    The 2019 Minnesota Twins are a legitimate championship contender. By no means am I saying they’re a lock for the World Series and will cruise through the postseason. It’s very possible they get bounced in the ALDS. It’s baseball, anything can happen but this is a very good baseball team that deserves more respect and should not be viewed a consensus underdog.
     
    Thank you for reading! If you’d like more Twins news and articles follow me on Twitter @Gebo__
  15. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Kirby O'Connor for a blog entry, Off Day Assessment, June 3rd, 2019   
    This was supposed to come out yesterday, but I hit "Save Draft" instead of "Publish," so here it is now.
     
    The Twins have only had four games since their last off day. However, they have been perhaps the biggest games of this season so far. Facing Tampa Bay's pitching staff was a true test and the results are proof that the Twins are a top team this season.
     
    The Good
    Taking three out of four games from a very good Tampa Bay Rays team. This series included a lot of bright spots for the twins including standout performances from some important pieces. José Berríos had a strong outing going 6.2 innings while the Twins would win 5-3 on a 2-run RBI single by Eddie Rosario in the 9th of game two of the series. Taylor Rodgers would get the win in that game by relieving Berríos and going 2.1 innings. In game three, the Twins scored 6 as a team, and only allowed 2 runs. In the final game of the series the team once again put up a big number, 9 runs, but needed almost all of it as their bullpen gave up 7 runs 6 of those being earned. Some of those wins didn't come easy, but they came against a very strong ball club on the road. They also came in-a-row and setup the team nicely to roll into Cleveland for a three game series against the Indians.
     
    The Bad
    Game one of the series featured the Twins worst loss since April 30, when they were shutout by the Astros 11-0. Starter Martín Pérez opened strong with a clean first and second inning, but had trouble with his control in the third where he gave up 2 walks, 3 singles, 2 doubles, and 6 runs before being replaced by Zack Littell. Littell would protect the rest of the bullpen by going 4.1 innings, but gave up 8 runs, all earned, in the process. Littell also was optioned to triple-A to make room for the returning Mitch Garver. Another bad from this series is Max Kepler going 0-13. Kepler will look to rebound in Cleveland, a place that he has hit well in historically.
     
    The Ugly
    I almost put game one of this series under ugly, but I think the true ugly in this series was Tropicana Field. Miguel Sanó once again had a home run stolen by the unusual overhead obstacles, this time by a speaker. Two exciting young teams at the top of the MLB, the home team only a few games back from the Yankees, and only 51,448 fans attended over 4 games. That's 12,862 per game. Tropicana Field's max capacity is 42,735. It's a weird, echoey monstrosity that has unfortunately been the home of one of the best products in baseball over the last decade. It is criminal how poor that stadium is and I hope for the fans sake that they can relocate into Tampa Bay proper instead of St. Petersburg, but it might be more likely that they find a whole new home city soon.
  16. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, Could the Twins be the new 2015 Royals?   
    Even though I'm not a Minnesotan, nor do I live in this beautiful state, I've been observing you guys for years. I see a lot of pessimism when it comes to sports. And who can blame you? Few fans in America love their teams as much as you do and, at the same time, have endured such traumatic playoff moments with the Vikings and Wild or such long playoff draughts with the Twins and Timberwolves. You have the right to be – in the words of our Twins Daily own Parker Hageman – dead inside when it comes to sports. Well, maybe it's time to believe again.
    I don't live in the US and I haven't set foot there since May 2013. I'm from a country where most people literally have no clue of what baseball is. I met the game of baseball in 2008, at age 16. So, it's nearly impossible for me to have access to any publication (or clothing items, memorabilia, sports gear...) about the sport. But, miraculously, one of my students gave me a very special gift some weeks ago.
    Having taken an exchange programme to the USA in 2015, he was hosted by a Kansas City family during his time there. He knows nothing about baseball himself, but his family did and they gave him a Sports Illustrated 2015 World Series Commemorative Issue. He kept that, only to, almost four years later, give that as a present to his all-time favorite teacher. I was thrilled. I almost didn't even care about the fact that the Royals are a Twins division rival. Afterall, it was the first baseball publication I ever laid hands on.
    The magazine sat on my desk at home for some days. In the meantime, the Twins flourished as the team with the best record in baseball. I would be lying if I said I saw that coming, but I can't say I'm shocked by that either. But a lot of people are, indeed, shocked. I lost count of how many people on social media are doubting the Twins. “Enjoy 'em while you can, 'cause they won't last”. And that's not even from people outside of Minnesota only. Like I explained on the first paragraph, many Minnesotans don't believe their Twins are for real. That made me a little mad. And then, the magazine spoke to me.
    In the midst of so much pessimism and disbelief coming from every which way, I started browsing through that $12.99 SI issue from November of 2015 and I thought to myself: why can't the Twins be this year's version of the 2015 Royals? And believe me or not, I found a lot of similarities between the two teams. I'm not saying here that Minnesota will win the World Series. All I'm saying is that it's OK to believe in it – like I do right now.
    Even though we've had our hearts broken by the Brett Favre interception, the Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh missed field goals, the Jimmy Butler fiasco, the Joe Nathan blown save in the '09 ALDS and, well, the whole Wild playoff history, you might not be a fool to let your guard down for this Twins team. If you don't believe me, let us go through some of the things these two great ball clubs have in common.
     
    A couple of underdogs
    When experts started predicting what would happen that season, almost none of them believed the 2015 Royals would even make the playoffs. Which, in retrospect, is kind of odd, considering they had just been to the World Series less than six months earlier. In his opening piece, Jay Jaffe wrote about how the Royals were picked by specialists to make it to the postseason in only 13 of 149 predictions.
    Maybe this year’s Twins are not as much discredited as the Royals were then. Per that year’s PECOTA, Kansas City was expected to have a 72-90 record. Instead, they had a 95-67 one. This year’s PECOTA, at first, predicted an 81-81 record for the Twins, but a number of specialists considered them when predicting which team would win the AL Central.
    A month and a half into the season, with over 25% of games played, Minnesota has the second best in baseball, after holding the best one overall for over a week. The Twins are on pace to win almost 105 games. I don’t actually believe they will reach triple digits in wins, but at this point it’s plausible to believe that they will surpass the 90-win mark. Curiously enough, after 43 games, the 2015 Royals and the current Twins owned an identical record of 28-15.
    Another aspect that those teams have in common is the small Opening Day payroll. On that same Jaffe opening piece, he wrote that the Royals were the first team since the 2003 Marlins to win a World Series, even though they were at the bottom half of all MLB payrolls (17th, at $112.9 million). Per Spotrac, the Twins had the 18th payroll in the league on Opening Day, at $122.1 million, almost $12 million below league average.
    Even their track record leading up to their World Series success is somewhat similar to the Twins. Between 2004 and 2012, Kansas City had nine losing records, never winning more than 75 games and with an average of 66 wins per season on that span. Then, they won 86 and 89 games in the two seasons before their championship year. In the six seasons that follow their last division title, the Twins won an average of 67 games each season, including a 59-103 record in 2016, the worst one in club history. They went on to win 85 and make the playoffs for the first time in seven years in 2017 and came close to an eighty win season again last year, finishing with 78.
    I don’t believe in coincidences nor am I saying that all of these will have any effect on the outcome of this season. They won’t. But it’s fun to look at those facts, especially when basically no one believes smaller market teams can actually win a title. Let’s not buy into the notion that a team can only win a ring with a $200 million payroll.
    A steamroller offense
    Tom Verducci wrote, on that same SI issue, a piece entitled ‘Postmodern Swing’, which broke down the main strengths of that Royal offense. According to him, one of the most important features of that offense was its aggressiveness. The Royals saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance that year, with 3.71. Their philosophy was to chase after hittable pitches early and not give up easy strikes. Still, they were the team that struck out the least in MLB that year, with a 15.9% strikeout rate. They also average an MLB 7th best 4.4 runs per game. Which team has done something similar this year?
    Some weeks ago, Aaron Gleeman wrote this great piece explaining how the Twins have added power and, at the same time, have been striking out much less. They have been the team that struck out the third least in MLB, currently with a 19.5% strikeout rate. In comparison with the ‘15 Royals, Minnesota is also scoring more, with a 5.4 runs per game average, and has much more power, as they lead the MLB with .236 ISO, against .144 of those Royals. In terms of pitches per plate appearance, Minnesota also doesn’t see a lot of pitches, with an average of 3.78.
    Both these Twins and those Royals have something else in common. They both swing a lot and get good contact. Here is how they rank:
    2015 Royals
    Contact% - 81.9% (1st in MLB)
    O-Contact% - 68.8% (2nd)
    Swing% - 47.6% (9th)
    O-Swing% - 32.5% (5th)
     
    2019 Twins
    Contact% - 77.5% (6th in MLB)
    O-Contact% - 63.2% (7th)
    Swing% - 48.1% (4th)
    O-Swing% - 32.3% (6th)
    And one last nice coincidence that these two offenses have. In 2015, the Royals had Alcides Escobar as their leadoff man, even though he had a low OBP, contradicting modern tendencies. Escobar finished the season with a .293 OBP. He also saw very few pitches, with an average of 3.49 per plate appearance and swung at 51.3% of pitches and managed to make contact in 83.8% of them. Looking at Minnesota’s current leadoff man, Max Kepler, we also have an aggressive hitter (51.5 % Swing% and 82.2% Contact%), who sees fez pitches (3.56 per PA) and has a not so high base occupation (.308). According to Verducci’s piece, Escobar ‘set the tone’ for the rest of the Royal lineup, making opposing pitchers aware of the fact that they wouldn’t get any easy strikes.
    Quality pitching
    When we talk about the Royals pitching from that World Series campaign, the first thing that comes to our minds is their extraordinary bullpen. Then, one might think that here would lie the biggest difference between the two teams. Yes, that Wade Davis led group of relievers was no match for this current Minnesota ‘pen, but when comparing the two pitching staffs overall, we can find more identical features.
    Believe it or not, but the two pitching staffs have virtually the same numbers, with an inversion. Kansas City had a lights-out bullpen and a below average rotation, resulting in the 10th best ERA in the MLB. The Twins on the other hand, don’t have a stellar rotation nor bullpen, but both those groups are among the ten best in baseball.
    2015 Royals
    Overall: 3.74 ERA (10th), 4.04 FIP (15th)
    Starters: 4.34 ERA (22nd), 4.32 FIP (21st)
    Relievers: 2.72 ERA (2nd), 3.56 FIP (10th)
     
    2019 Twins
    Overall: 3.88 ERA (9th), 4.13 FIP (13th)
    Starters: 3.66 ERA (6th), 4.23 FIP (13th)
    Relievers: 4.31 ERA (19th), 3.96 FIP (9th)
    Davis was out of this world that season. If there has been a reliever more deserving than him of winning the first Cy Young award in the AL since 1992, I really believe he was the best candidate. Not only did he finish the regular season with a 0.94 ERA in 61 ⅓ innings pitched, but he also neared perfection during the postseason, posting a 0.00 ERA in eight games.
    I don’t see anyone within this Twins pitching staff (so far) with the ability to be what Davis was for that Royals team - but there’s no need for it. Up until now, Minnesota’s pitchers have done a decent job. The overall bullpen numbers are a bit tainted because of bad outings from young arms tested out of Rochester and because of slumps from, mainly, Trevor Hildenberger and Adalberto Mejía. But, as of this moment, six of the eight bullpen arms in the 25-man roster have an ERA of 2.76 or lower. Newcomer Austin Adams hasn’t pitched this season yet.
    Their rotations can’t be compared. At least until this moment, Twins starters have done an outstanding job. Maybe we’ve set the bar too low after years of bad rotations, but things have looked extremely nice. Which, with this whole exercise of comparing these two teams can be very exciting. The Royals were world champions even though the four starters they’ve used in the postseason combined for a 4.96 ERA in 16 starts.
    Deadline additions: a blueprint for the Twins
    To help end the 30-year World Series drought, the Royals traded for two key-pieces near the trade deadline. They traded Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed for Reds’ superstar starter Johnny Cueto and sent Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea to Oakland in exchange for veteran super utility player Ben Zobrist. Those proved to be vital additions to their goals.
    Zobrist had a solid last portion of the regular season with the Royals, slashing .284/.364/.453 (.816). During the postseason, he performed even better, hitting .303/.365/.515 (.880) and with five multi-hit games. But he also provided a much needed boost that might have made a big difference.
    Before his arrival, Royals second basemen slashed .231/.251/.319 (.570). In 35 games starting at that position in the remainder of the regular season, Zobrist hit .275/.348/.457 (.805). He also played 18 games as a LF, a position in which Kansas City had a good production, with .273/.383/.467 (.850). But Zobrist managed to top even that, hitting .299/.392/.463 (.855).
     
    Cueto on the other hand wasn’t as dominant as Zobrist, but he was still essential to the Kansas City success. He had a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts for the Royals during the regular season and a 5.40 ERA in the postseason, but those numbers alone can be very misleading. In four playoff starts, he had a mediocre outing (6.0 innings, 4 ER) in game 2 of the ALDS, a terrible one (2.0 IP, 8 ER) in game 3 of the ALCS, but two amazingly good ones to compensate. He pitched a on run complete game in the World Series, helping the Royals to open a 2-0 lead in the series.
    So what’s the lesson the Twins can learn out of the Royals shopping in the 2015 trade deadline? It’s hard to imagine, at least based on this first quarter of the season, that Minnesota is going after big names to help their offense. I mean, all help is welcomed, but if they had to invest top prospects in one area, I don’t believe the offense would be their priority.
    But when we look at their pitching staff, you can see a lot of room for improvement. As well as the rotation has pitched so far, the Twins would benefit a lot from a better arm to fill the gap Michael Pineda has been leaving until this moment. He currently has a 5.85 ERA, the worst among starters. The bullpen also could use some help - even more than the rotation. Bottomline is, it doesn’t matter how well the arms might be doing, with their clear exceptions, of course, shopping for one or two dominant arms could make a difference between a World Series victory and a quick visit to the postseason.
    And who could be the best candidates? Well, if you’re talking about bringing in a starter and a reliever, one can only consider signing the two biggest unsigned names in the last offseason: former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and superstar closer Craig Kimbrel. But this would also represent a great risk, given the fact we don’t know in what shape they would show up. Also, there’s very little, if any, indications that Minnesota would be willing to pay them. I mean, if there’s any interest, why didn’t they pull the trigger yet?
    Since that’s the most unlikely option, we should look at what possible options they could go after via trade. For rotation help, I believe the best choices that they would have would be Madison Bumgarner or Stephen Strasburg, MadBum being my favorite. For the bullpen, my favorite candidate would be old friend Liam Hendriks. But there are many more options around and I’m sure the Twins front office has a keen eye for that job.
    In conclusion, smaller market teams will always raise more suspiscions than inspire confidence among non-fans. They will always doubt those teams. But the 2015 Royals are the closest example we have that this dream is doable. And, as shown during this article, they have a long list of common features with this year’s Twins. So, it’s OK to believe.
  17. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to dave_dw for a blog entry, Are the Twins Pitchers Great or Are the Indians Hitters Terrible?   
    Sound the alarm! The Twins pitchers currently lead the league in team strikeout percentage! I know, I know, we’re talking about three games in March. This sample size hopes one day it will grow up to become a “small sample size.”
     
    That said, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi each struck out 10+ batters in the Twins first two games, something that only Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have ever done before. As an encore, Michael Pineda and Martin Perez teamed up for 11 strikeouts in 7.2 IP in game three. There’s a legitimate chance that this is the best starting rotation to ever reside on Target Field’s mound.
     
    It would not surprise the reader to know that the Twins have been really bad at getting strikeouts. For five straight seasons, from 2011 through 2015, they finished dead last in team K% in all of baseball. In the 35 years since the Pohlad family took over as the Twins’ owners, their 15.9 K% is the second to worst in the MLB, just 0.1% better than the last-place Tigers. So ya, leading the league in strikeout percentage is very unusual, even if it is only three games into the year.
     
    But the question is: are the Twins pitchers really this good or are the Indians hitters really bad?
     
    Should we commence construction of Wes Johnson's statue? Or should we point and laugh
    at the Cleveland’s crappy lineup? 
    A point in the favor of Twins pitchers is that their stuff has been better.
     
    Odorizzi’s velocity is up nearly a mile per hour over where it was a year ago, and his swinging strike rate was up 140% over his career mark. Berrios had a similar increase in his swinging strike rate (156% increase over his career mark). Pineda also got more whiffs and was insanely efficient in blanking Cleveland through his four innings. Perez maintained his spring velocity bump with a fastball that maxed out at 97 mph while producing a swinging strike rate at nearly double his career mark.
     
    Here’s the problem though: if the Indians hitters really do suck, then these improvements in swinging strike rates are exactly what we’d expect to see. Bad hitting teams make opposing pitchers look good. It’s the pitching equivalent of a Snapchat filter that removes your blemishes and makes your eyes look like Alita (you know, the freaking Battle Angel).
     
    With proven major-league hitters Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis on the injured list, the Indians gave 18% of their team’s plate appearances to a putrid combination of Eric Stamets, Max Moroff, and Brad Miller. Hanley Ramirez was batting fifth despite not having played a major-league game since last May. Their leadoff hitter Leonys Martin has never produced an above-average DRC+ in his career. These guys are … not great. It’s Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and the cast of The Expendables up there hacking.
     
    To see if having a bad lineup explains the Twins’ pitching dominance, I looked at the PECOTA projections for each Cleveland hitter and weighted them based on the number of plate appearances they actually had in this series. This gave me with a PECOTA-projected K% for the Indians when Jose Ramirez gets 12 plate appearances and Jake Bauers gets 9 and Jordan Luplow gets 4 … you get the picture. I did the same with Twins pitchers, weighting them by batters face for each pitcher and adding them all together.
     
    INDIANS HITTERS PROJECTED K%
    21.7%
     
    TWINS PITCHERS PROJECTED K%
    21.2%
     
    ACTUAL K% FOR BOTH
    38.6%
     
    Had the Indian’s projected strikeout percentage been worse, I would’ve been tempted to chalk this up to terrible Indians hitting. Similarly, had the Twins projected strikeout percentage been higher, I'd talk myself into thinking the Twins pitchers are great. As it is, we’ve probably got a little from Column A and a little from Column B, but even that is uncertain in our tiny sample.
     
    We can’t glean anything conclusive from three games, we knew that coming in, but these are interesting data points that trend in an exciting direction. As we collect more and more data points over the coming weeks and months, the picture will continue loading until it eventually becomes clear. In the meantime, we can stare these particular data points and admire their beauty. Twins pitchers are striking people out and it’s amazing.
  18. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Matthew Lenz for a blog entry, Diving in to the Twins Schedule   
    We are inching closer to Opening Day 2019 and, don’t look now but, current forecasts make it seem plausible that the Twins will be hosting the defending American League (AL) Central Division Champions Cleveland Indians on March 28th at 3:10pm. The Thursday, Saturday, Sunday series will be the only three games of the homestand before they start their first road trip traveling to Kansas City, the new look Phillies, and the Mets of New York.
     
    April (12 home, 13 away, 5 off)
    Outside of three games versus the Phillies and five games versus the Houston Astros, the Twins have the opportunity to take advantage of an easy schedule in the first full month of the season. This includes a seven-game homestand versus the Tigers and Blue Jays in mid-April and six total games versus the Baltimore Orioles.
     
    May (13 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    Things get a little tougher in May as their first five games are versus Houston at home (2) and New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium (3). They will face a solid, but not great Angels (6) and Rays (2) team eight times throughout the month and will host the Brewers for two games towards the end of the month. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners, and White Sox are also on the docket and will all be series the Twins really need to win.
     
    June (12 home, 15 away, 3 off)
    The third month of the year could be a pivotal month for the Twins as 16 of their 27 games come against division foes, and only three of those games are versus the Indians in Cleveland. That said, five games against the Rays and three games against the Red Sox at Target Field will be a challenge and, specifically with the Rays, could have Wild Card tiebreaker implications down the road.
     
    July (12 home, 12 away, 7 off)
    July will be another important month for the Twins as 13 of their games will be against teams who will likely be in the thick of the developing playoff race. Ten of those aforementioned games will be immediately following the All-Star Break in Cleveland for three games and hosting the A’s and Yankees for seven games. If they struggle during that stretch, then they have the opportunity of playing the White Sox and Marlins to end the month.
     
    August (16 home, 12 away, 3 off)
    The “dog days of summer” will be something the Twins look forward to this season...kind of (see below). They have a tough 10 game homestand where they will face the Braves (3) and Indians (4) followed by two games in Milwaukee. Outside of those nine games, the other 19 will be against teams who are currently projected for 74 wins or less according to Vegas.
     
    September (13 home, 14 away, 3 off)
    Uf-dah (why does my Grammarly recognize this as a word?). In the months final season, the Twins will have twelve consecutive games against teams who will likely be battling for a playoff spot, including six critical games against the Indians. The other six will be at Fenway and versus the Nationals at home. Unfortunately, these games occur earlier in the month which makes it less likely these teams have clinched anything at that point. This is by far the toughest stretch of the season and it comes during the most important time of the season. I should mention that they end the season with 13 games versus the bottom three teams in the division.
     
    Notes of Interest
    The longest homestand of the season is ten games versus August 2nd through August 11th versus the Royals, Braves, and Indians.
    The longest road trip of the season is 10 games and 12 days, including a day of travel, starting May 29th and going through June 9th versus the Rays, Indians, and Tigers.
    There must be some labor law I’m unaware of that teams will have at least one off day in a two-week period as the Twins play on 13 consecutive games at a few different points throughout the season.
    That said, the Twins do have three different stretches of 26 games in 27 days including two such stretches that occur at the beginning and very end of August.
    The most difficult stretch of the season was mentioned above, but what should be the easiest stretch of the seasons occurs in the 17 games leading up to the trip to Fenway. Those 17 games will be against the Rangers, White Sox, and Tigers.
     
    Notable Promotions - follow the link for full list
    March 28th (Opening Day) v. Cleveland - Twins Puffer Vest
    April 27th v. Orioles - Twins Plaid Flap Cap
    May 24th v. White Sox - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #1
    June 15th v. Royals - Joe Mauer Day & No. 7 Baseball Cap
    July 19th v. Athletics - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #2
    August 3rd v. Royals - Joe Nathan Hall of Fame Bobblehead
    August 4th v. Royals - Joe Nathan and Jerry Bell Hall of Fame Pins
    August 24th v. Tigers - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #3
    September 7th v. Indians - Joe Mauer Bobblehead #4
     
    Breaking down a schedule is an interesting exercise. Not that you’re ever going to feel bad for someone making millions of dollars, but you can definitely appreciate how grueling the Major League Baseball season is. What are you looking forward to this upcoming Twins season? Any games or series you have your eye on right away? Let me know if the comments!
  19. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to dave_dw for a blog entry, Can Someone Please Wear #4 Now?   
    With the announcement that Marwin Gonzalez signed with the Minnesota Twins, there was optimism in the Twin Cities. Optimism that he could be the missing piece. Hope that he would fill in the gaps on the roster.
     
    But he failed.
     
    No, I’m not talking his fielding or his hitting. I’m not talking about a need to improve the pitching staff. Heck, I’m not talking about baseball performance at all. I am talking about numbers.
     
    No one is wearing the number 4.
     
    Gonzalez selected to wear the #9 that he has worn his whole career, bumping bench coach Derek Shelton into a numberless purgatory according to the team's official roster online.
     
    In the MLB, #4 is prime real estate. Not counting Jackie Robinson's #42, only two numbers have been retired more often than #4 which has been retired by eight different teams. The #20 has been retired 11 times (thanks largely to Frank Robinson being honored by three different teams), and the #14 has been retired nine times. So the #4 has plenty of legitimate baseball history attached to it in the form of Lou Gehrig, Luke Appling, Duke Snider, Mel Ott, Earl Weaver, and—likely the reason why the number is vacant—Paul Molitor.
     
    Molitor reclaimed his old number during his four years as Twins manager which came to an end last October. He also wore #4 throughout his three-year stint with Minnesota as a player from 1996 until his retirement in 1998.
     

    In the 20 years since 1998, the #4 has only been worn by one Twins player.


     
    Augie Ojeda, a glove-first utility infielder, donned #4 in 2004 during his 30-game stint with the club. He was often a defensive replacement or pinch hitter/runner, but he hit for a Molitorian .339 batting average with a .429 on-base percentage as he amassed an unfathomable 1.2 WAR over just 72 plate appearance for Minnesota. Not too shabby for a career .234 hitter in his age-29 season.
     
    But that was it. Before Molitor took the number in 1996, a Twins player had worn it in every of the previous 15 seasons. It was first worn in Minnesota by Bob Allison in 1961 after the team relocated from Washington, D.C. It is said that Allison was the motivation for Molitor (who grew up the Twin Cities) to take #4 in the first place since he emulated Allison in his youth. After Allison, the #4 was worn by Steve Braun (1971-1975), Steve Lombardozzi (1985-1988), Chip Hale (1990-1995) and four others before Molitor bumped Hale to #12 when he joined the club.
     
    Surely there was some decorum following Molitor’s retirement in 1998, similar to what we're seeing with Freddy Galvis and Jose Bautista's #19, and we’re probably seeing the same thing with Molitor now following his managerial stint. That said, the man played just three season for the Twins and managed for four uneventful years. If someone were to, say, write a book about the 50 most important men and moments in Twins history, Molitor may not even make the list (you'll have to buy it to find out)! Surely Molitor’s #4 won't be placed in the prestigious position below the Budweiser Roof Deck in the future.
     
    Who should take this number?
     
    Let's start with everyone who's wearing a terrible number. Jake Cave is wearing #60. Lay your claim to #4, young man! Tyler Austin, you’re not on the Yankees anymore, there are single-digit numbers in Minnesota that aren't retired yet! Willians Astudillo you can … actually #64 is a perfect number for you, keep on doing what you’re doing.
     
    And while it’s very unusual for pitchers to wear single-digit numbers—admittedly it looks a little weird—Matt Magill (#68) or Trevor May (#65), as well as any other reliever, should absolutely take the plunge. Think about how badass it would look for Rocco Baldelli to go to the mound, pat the pitcher on the keister, and hold up four fingers to the bullpen to call in his reliever (as long as they don’t get confused and walk the next batter).
     
    Perhaps as this season gives way to the inevitable cycle of major leaguers through the clubhouse, someone will squat on this valuable piece of numerical property. Or maybe a year-long, Molitor-honoring grace period will leave the number vacant for 2019. Either way, by this time next year, someone better be wearing #4 for the Minnesota Twins again.
  20. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to dave_dw for a blog entry, Who Will Be the Twins Opening Day Starter?   
    UPDATE (March 4): Jose Berrios has been named the Twins 2019 Opening Day starter
     
     
    The “Opening Day starter” distinction means more than it matters.
     
    It is an honor given to a team’s best or longest-tenured starting pitcher, and it is treated by players and managers as just that: an honor.
     
    Whether a pitcher starts on Opening Day or in the second game of the season doesn't matter much when it comes to the team's record over a 162-game season, and yet we see a barrage of press releases and quotes during spring training announcing who will take the mound first for each team.
     
    At this point, the Twins haven’t announced their Opening Day starter for 2019, but the proclamation will likely come in the next few weeks. That said, there seems to be two front-runners for the job: Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson.
     
    While Jake Odorizzi was the Opening Day starter in 2018, he only pitched 164 1/3 innings and posted a 4.49 ERA on the season. Berrios and Gibson, on the other hand (or "on same hand" since they're all righties), both threw 190+ innings and had an ERA in the 3.00s.
     
    Of the two, Gibson had the better ERA at 3.62, threw a few more innings, and is projected by Steamer to lead the team in ERA again in 2019. He is the longest-tenured player on the Twins roster as he enters his seventh season pitching for Minnesota, and was also ahead of Berrios in the rotation last year, pitching in second game of the season after Odorizzi’s opening start.
     
    Berrios had the edge in the peripheral stats with mores strikeouts and fewer walks than Gibson. His 3.84 ERA was not far behind his teammate, and he was the only Twins player selected to the All-Star game last year. He is projected by PECOTA to be the best pitcher on the Twins’ staff in 2019 and has the edge in “stuff” and future upside. If there's a true ace on this staff, it will likely be him.
     
    Michael Pineda and Martin Perez round out the rotation. They have yet to throw a pitch for the Twins and have been either hurt or bad in recent years. They don’t expect to be in the conversation for Opening Day starter.
     
    Adding a wrinkle into the discussion is Rocco Baldelli and the Twins late-season experiment using an Opener in 2018. The decision to implement this strategy last September was agreed upon by the front office and former manager Paul Molitor. However, with Molitor’s depature and the addition of Baldelli—who hails from the Tampa Bay Rays organization which introduced and heavily used the Opener last year—there are reasons to believe that the Twins will more aggressive with this strategy in 2019.
     
    That said, the Twins continued to allow Berrios, Gibson, and Odorizzi to start without being preceded by an Opener last fall. Likewise, the Rays allowed their better starter pitchers Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow to start their games without an opening act. Beginning the season with an Opener seems unlikely unless this coaching staff really wants to make a splash right out of the gate.
     
    Time (and probably the Twins in the next weeks) will tell who will be taking the mound at Target Field on March 28 to face the Cleveland Indians, and their name will be jotted down in Twins history. Even if it doesn’t really matter who gets the start, it certainly means something.
     
     
    Here are some tidbits about Opening Day starters in Minnesota Twins’ history:
    Since officially becoming the Minnesota Twins in 1961 (after moving from the District of Columbia), there have been 58 Opening Days. A total of 31 different pitchers made Opening Day starts for the Twins.
    ---
    Brad Radke leads the pack with nine Opening Day starts followed by Bert Blyleven’s six starts and four for Frank Viola. Dave Goltz tallied three starts on Opening Day while nine other pitchers had two starts apiece.
    ---
    The best Twins Opening Day start, using Bill James’ Game Score, was Dean Chance. He threw a complete game shutout in 1968 against the Washington Senators (the team that filled in the void after the Twins moved to Minnesota). Chance struck out eight batters, walked none, and allowed four hits in the contest.
    ---
    The worst performance by the same metric came in Brad Havens’ lone Opening Day start for the Twins which took place in the Metrodome in 1983. Havens was ousted after recording just four outs. He gave up eight runs, all earned, against an impressive Detroit Tigers team that went on to win 92 games that season. His brutal outing began: single, single, home run, walk, wild pitch, walk. The Tigers went on to score six runs in the first inning.
    ---
    Kevin Tapani, however, proved to be the worst Opening Day starter in the aggregate, as he posted a 19.29 ERA over two starts in 1993 and 1994. In the two games, he totaled seven innings, recorded just three strikeouts, and gave up a massive 15 earned runs on 18 hits. Those starts were the second- and third-worst Opening Day starts in Twins history by Game Score.
    ---
    There were only five Opening Days hosted at Metropolitan Stadium. Mudcat Grant had the best start of the bunch allowing one run in a complete game against the Kansas City Athletics. The worst Opening Day performance at the Met belongs to Jim Perry in which he allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of work in his 1971 start.
    ---
    Radke started five of the 15 Opening Day games played in the Metrodome and had the best start under the inflated roof by Game Score. In 1996, Radke struck out eight Detroit Tigers in six innings while allowing just one earned run as the Twins (with newly-signed Paul Molitor) beat the Tigers 8-6.
    ---
    Target Field has hosted just two Opening Days since it’s inaugural season. In 2013, Vance Worley braved the 35º weather and limited the then-very-good Tigers to three runs over six innings. He held Miguel Cabrera hitless, but took the loss as the Twins fell 4-2. In 2017, the Twins defeated the Royals behind seven strong innings of one-run ball from Ervin Santana.

    The Twins will host their third ever Opening Day at Target Field as they take on the Cleveland Indians on March 28th.
  21. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Axel Kohagen for a blog entry, Opening Day Across the Dimensions   
    Some folks will tell you there's a special kind of magic to Opening Day. But ask a stathead to identify exactly what type of magic we're dealing with and the room goes quiet. Is it simply the crack of the bat, the taste of the hot dog, and the lack of parkas?
     
    Surely this magic is there, but there are levels of mysteries in this world. Some of these mysteries can disturb the very foundations of reality, yet when handled with a cool, level hand (such as mine), a baseball fan can learn of NEW WORLDS and contemplate STRANGE MYSTERIES, like the much-whispered about Interplanetary Coalition to Destroy "Circle Me Bert," or ICDCMB.
     
    Today, I have come to teach you about THE MANDELA EFFECT! This phenomenon is named after a series of odd occurrences where people believed Nelson Mandela died well before he actually did. Could this be a simple case of coincidental misrememberings spread across the internet? Perhaps. OR PERHAPS IT IS A SIGN THESE INDIVIDUALS PEERED INTO A DIFFERENT DIMENSION, ONE WHERE MANDELA DID DIE EARLIER!
     
    There's also a lot said about the correct spelling of the Bering Sea Bears books.
     
    But how does this relate to baseball, you ask? This "Mandela Effect" affected me in regards to Opening Day! Somehow, perhaps as I slumbered, I envisioned another dimension where THE MINNESOTA TWINS played their first game on TUESDAY, not THURSDAY! So clear was this vision that I even dressed in a cap and t-shirt to support the home team. I even prepped a meal of HOT DOGS to add to the celebration. Yet, when I turned my attention to the Internet, I discovered the vision was WRONG! My family and I ate a silent meal containing THE HOT DOGS OF SHAME!
     
    Doubtful? Doubt no longer! Just one day later my will was brought into ANOTHER OTHER DIMENSION where I believed the TWINS OPENED THE SEASON AT HOME! I nearly logged onto a ticket-selling website to purchase a ticket before I became aware of my natural dimension.
     
    As a father of a toddler, these experiences HAVE to be related to the Mandela Effect and cannot have any connection to general confusion and exhaustion. Also, I am old.
     
    Why this should happen two times in a short period of time I cannot say. It seems odd the universe would be so disturbed. After all, it seems there is a surplus of kindness and camaraderie these days.
     
    I believe the true magic of Opening Day kept me from getting lost in these alternate timelines. After all, baseball is a magical thing that can bring a group of people together to be happy, except in regards to the umpires and the New York Yankees.
     
    -- Axel Kohagen
    Your Paranormal Baseball Reporter
  22. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Guys Carrying the Twins   
    We've made it, it's finally here, the last day without meaningful baseball for the next six months has arrived. On March 29th, the Minnesota Twins will kick off the 2018 Major League Baseball season with Jake Odorizzi toeing the rubber against Dylan Bundy and the Baltimore Orioles. Having offered some opinions on the league-wide awards, I figured now would be a good time to dive into my predictions for the hometown club.
     
    Going into the year, expectations are relatively high for Paul Molitor's group. They're coming off a Postseason berth and have the advantage of playing in a weak division. Although the gap may not yet have been closed on the Cleveland Indians, there's no argument that it hasn't been made substantially smaller (at least on paper). If the Twins are going to make noise in the Central, American League, and across Major League Baseball as a whole this year, these are the guys who will be a big part of the process.
     
    Team MVP- Miguel Sano
     
    Despite being the reigning MVP, and entering a contract year, I think Sano overtakes Brian Dozier. Coming off an offseason that saw plenty of ups and downs, the third basemen appears all system go. There's no suspension looming, and the rod inserted into his leg doesn't appear to be holding him back in the slightest. Although the numbers don't mean much, Sano turned in an impressive spring, and they bat is absolutely going to play. I'd bet heavily on this being the first 30 home run season of his career, and pushing towards 50 is hardly out of the question if he can stay healthy. Twins fans have been waiting for his emergence since being a teenager, and Miguel Sano is finally ready to explode.
     
    Pitcher of the Year- Jake Odorizzi
     
    A season ago, Orodizzi posted the worst ERA of his career, was above 5.00 FIP for the first time, and walked a career worst 3.8 batters per nine. Why in the world would he be the best Twins pitcher at 28 years old? Well, I think there's plenty to be made of the back injury that he pitched through for the bulk of the season. Odorizzi isn't going to get much of a defensive boost as he already played in front of a good one with the Rays. I do believe he has middle-of-the-rotation stuff however, and the floor is very high with him. Jose Berrios has the ability to be a better pitcher than Odorizzi, but there's a decent level of volatility there as well.
     
    Rookie of the Year- Mitch Garver
     
    After finally making his debut in September 2017, I believed that Mitch Garver was deserving of a promotion much earlier. He absolutely raked at Triple-A Rochester, and it's his bat that brings intrigue behind the dish. Pairing with Jason Castro, Paul Molitor (won't but) should platoon his two backstops. Garver can dominate left-handed pitching, and he's more than capable behind the plate. He'll throw out his fair share of would be base stealers, and I'd expect him to be a bright spot for Minnesota. Deviating away from the veteran backstop that offers little in terms of offensive upside, Garver has the talent to be a true threat on his own.
     
    Most Improved- Max Kepler
     
    Last season saw the emergence of Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and even Jorge Polanco down the stretch. Miguel Sano has been a known commodity for a bit, even if I believe there's more in the tank. This season though, I think we see Max Kepler really begin to come into his own. For a while I've been of the belief that Kepler could be cut from a similar cloth as Christian Yelich. A good defender with adequate speed that has a real ability at the plate. Thus far Kepler has struggled with lefties, and he's yet to really set himself in the batters box. Hitting the 20 home run plateau for the first time is a good bet, and it's really only the tip of his offensive ice berg.
     
    For more from Off the Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  23. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to Gavin_Sanford for a blog entry, 10 Reasons to Make it to Target Field in Early April   
    As most of us know, April in Minnesota can be brutal. Snow, sleet, and rain accompanied by cold temperatures are always a possibility early in the season. The old saying April showers bring May flowers is thrown around everywhere, but it especially rings true in Minnesota. With the Twins having a 14 game home stand beginning the first week in April, and having 18 games total for the month, weather becomes a huge factor for the Twins’ attendance early in the year. Even the most die-hard baseball fans find it difficult to sit outside at a game when it is cold and raining. This makes me wonder why so many northern teams get scheduled to have early home games in the first place, when it is known that weather affects attendance, but that isn’t my job so I won’t try to tackle it.
     
    April weather is definitely detrimental to the Twins’ attendance numbers, but it’s also going to hurt to lose All-Star and Cy Young vote-getter Ervin Santana, whom is still recovering from a right middle finger injury and will be out until at least May after having surgery. Missing him for a month and the weather could potentially make people wait until summer nights to come enjoy a game, but I say the time to make it to a game is now.
     
    There are a ton of reasons to be excited about the Twins and to make it to Target Field in April; I could go on forever. But to save us all time, here are the top 10 reasons why you should get your tickets and go see a game.
     
    1. Home Opener, the Giveaway, and the Future
    The first home game of the year is always a big deal. It means spring is in full swing and baseball is back. It means there are 78 more home games to attend and good times to be had at the ballpark. The reason there is not 80 games this year is because there are 2 games in Puerto Rico versus the Indians that are home games for the Twins. The giveaway for opening day is always good, but the sweatshirt this year is awesome. Even if there’s a snow storm, we should all be willing to weather it on Opening Day to get these sweet sweatshirts. Another thing that can’t be over looked is Jose Berrios’s first Opening Day start. The guy flat out has some nasty stuff in his pitching arsenal and has showed moments of dominance that should make us all excited. He has been a Twins top prospect and could be the ace for years to come. May 18th of last year he went 7 and 2/3 innings with 11 K’s, a walk, and 2 hits against a talented Rockies lineup that was 3rd in runs scored. This is the kind of player the Twins want to see and that will get fans to show up every time he pitches. He is a must-watch in the month of April and hopefully, for months to come.
     
    2. The World Series Champions are coming to Town
    Every baseball fan can agree; it is always a big deal to see the reigning World Series Champs play. The Astros led the league in runs scored with 5.5 runs a game last year, and with offense this good and the AL MVP on your team in Jose Altuve, you’re not going to want to miss watching them in action. The Astros’ offense is good enough that perhaps they could slide by with mediocre pitching, but the Astros have great pitching too. Verlander, McCullers, and Kuechel could put on a quite a show for us, and the Twins are slated to get the number one pitcher in game one. Regardless of how early it is, the only chance to see Houston at Target Field barring a playoff series is early on, April 9th-11th, so don’t miss it.
     
    3. Seattle and the Potential Hall of Famers
    Ichiro, who will turn 45 in October, is the definition of a living legend. Imagine how much more he would have accomplished in the major leagues if he hadn’t spent as long in Japan. He has 3,080 hits in the Big leagues, and he could have had even more if he had come to America earlier. Who knows how often he will be in the lineup or how often he will play, but this could be the last time he comes to Minnesota as a professional baseball player. I’m confident that he will be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and besides this great accomplishment, he’s also a great individual. As great as he is, he isn’t the only player to see on Seattle worth the price of admission. Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz make up a list of players who have had impressive careers. Felix and Robinson could be pushing towards the Hall if they continue the dominance they have had in the past.
     
    4. Logan Morrison
    Many people suspected that the Twins were going to try adding pitching to their lineup this year, and they did just that via trade. Jake Odorizzi is one of the new players to join the Twins’ pitching force, and I will touch on him later. It is known that the free agent market has been historically slow this year as many top free agents, such as Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, still remain unsigned. The Twins had money to spend this year as they have a lot of young players in pre-arbitration seasons, and many thought it would be on a pitcher. The Twins got that pitcher in Lance Lynn and it was cheap enough to have money left over. The Twins enjoyed success with Eduardo Escobar as he hit a career high 21 homeruns, and many people thought that would suffice with Sano, Mauer, and Escobar holding down the DH and corner duties. Sano has sexual assault allegations against him, and what the MLB does suspension wise is still up in the air. Enter Logan Morrison, who increased his launch angle 12 degrees from the year prior, and who also had a career year with 38 homeruns. The Twins saw a cheap option to get a hitter who could help DH for $6.5 million guaranteed. This is a steal for someone who had the season he did, though it may be hard to repeat. There is a vesting option depending on at-bats, but seeing him put on a Twinkies jersey and go to bat for us will be exciting.
     
    5. A Strong Bullpen
    The Twins’ Bullpen has had a fair share of ups and down over the past ten years. Despite this, the Twins’ list of all-star closers is composed of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and Brandon Kintzler, and teams with this many closers of that caliber must have good bullpens. But actually, the twins bullpen has ranked 23rd in ERA over the last 5 years .The bullpen also includes names like Caleb Thielbar and Jared Burton. Good news for the Twins though is that entering this offseason with a weaker bullpen means free agent relievers were abundant. The Twins added three veteran relievers who had solid seasons last year and will be penciled in as contributors this year. Fernando Rodney was successful on 39 of 45 save opportunities, but he did have a 4.23 ERA. This scares a lot of folks, but his FIP of 3.03 shows solid chance for that ERA to fall this year. Addison Reed was another signee and reminds me of a poor man’s Andrew Mille, but that by no means is a slam. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, but is a solid reliever in the 7th and 8th innings. His 2.84 ERA, if replicated, will go a long way in the Twins’ pen. Zach Duke is another player to look at. He is a bounce back candidate whose move to the bullpen has had ups and downs, but his FIP of 2.85 in 2016 shows his potential as a reliever. Last year, that number was in the 5’s, but I remain optimistic. All three look to contribute and help hold leads late in games or at least keep them close, so this electric Twins’ offense can have a shot late in the game.
     
    6. New Pitchers
    When the Twins traded for Jake Odorizzi, they made a move for a pitcher that didn’t cost much on the prospect front and saved money compared to going out and getting a starter. The Twins, who have made brilliant moves all offseason, do so yet again by signing Lance Lynn to a 1 year, twelve million dollar deal. Lynn was arguably the third or fourth best free agent starter on the market and, according to reports, chose to play here over money and financial security. Too bad Yu Darvish didn’t feel this way. Lynn has had 5 seasons with 175 inning plus and an ERA below 4. A drop in his strike out rate and a rising FIP have put into question if he can maintain this consistency, but that’s a bet I’m willing to take. When Ervin returns, a pitching staff of Santana, Berrios, Lynn, Odorizzi, and Gibson is far better than last years, and it’s quite intriguing. It would be totally worth coming out to watch early in the season.
     
    7. Nothing Falls but Rain Drops
    Nothing falls but raindrops was the motto of the Twins’ outfield last year, and they stuck to their words. The outfield of Buxton, Kepler, and Rosario, according to DRS, saved the Twins 34 defensive runs last year. All of these guys make frequent appearances in the highlight reel, and they seem to get better each year. As they enter their primes, this will be an exciting time to be a Twins fan and a Twins pitcher. It be noted that the trio also had 18 outfield assists last year. They are one of the most exciting outfields to watch, and that will stay the course this year and early in April when the raindrops, do in fact, drop, as we expect they will.
     
    8. Games with Canadians
    The Toronto Blue Jays have been an awesome team to watch the past few years with stars like Donaldson, Bautista, Stroman, Ozuna, and defensive wizard Kevin Pillar scattered throughout their lineup. On top of being a team with all of these players, they have a fan base that likes to travel. Obviously there are probably some Canadians who are big Twins fans being that they are closest to Minnesota, but Toronto is Canada’s team and they travel well. It is easier for people from Winnipeg to come to Minneapolis and they will, rain or shine. With all the changes that the Twins have made, coming out and supporting them would be huge in this series as the Toronto fans have a history of making their presence felt at Target Field.
     
    9. Byron Buxton
    Who doesn’t want to watch Byron Buxton play? Search YouTube and you could spend a whole day watching highlight reel catch after catch provided by Mr. Buxton. His defense is stellar and he runs the bases so well and effortlessly. Last year, he was 29 of 30 on stolen bases, and the one time he was caught stealing he slid over the bag after initially beating the ball there. He has the fastest home to home time ever recorded in a game in the Statcast era. His gap hits are often stand-up triples due to his league-leading sprint speed of 30.2 ft/s in 2017. This helps his defensive prowess and makes him one of the league’s must-see. The Twins also have a Giveaway for Brian Dozier and Byron Buxton’s gold glove awards in April so you won’t want to miss that.
     
    10. Presentations
    Paul Molitor won manager of the year last year and Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier both won Gold Gloves. There was a lot to celebrate last year along with the Wild Card appearance. There are two ceremonies that will happen pre-game on different days in April. April 7th versus the Mariners, there will be a ceremony congratulating Paul on winning AL manager of the year. I attended the World Series pre-game celebration last year and these events are things you don’t want to miss out on. I would try and get tickets to this one because it is a Saturday game, and it will be a great way to start off the season. The other event I mentioned is a Friday night Gold Glove presentation for Buxton and Dozier. A T-shirt giveaway on this day makes it a hot ticket and another must-attend event.
     
    There are a lot of exciting things surrounding Twins baseball this year. The reasons listed above, along with a hope for a successful season, are just a few of the reasons you don’t want to miss Twins baseball this April.
  24. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Dummy Hoy   
    In the midst of all the talk about Sano and his weight, I got to thinking about the judgments that people make about other people – baseball players and their size – think Altuve or Randy Johnson, their weight, their various physical attributes – like my essay on Pete Gray who over came the fact that he lacked an arm or Jim Abbot and others judged to be handicapped. Perhaps it is the fact that my daughter is deaf that made me think about Dummy Hoy.
    “Dummy” Hoy – William Ellsworth Hoy – was known as Dummy because he contracted meningitis at age three and was deaf the rest of his life. And deafness denies the ability to mimic speech so he was also “dumb” or unable to speak. Born in 1862 – during the civil war, he grew up in the same era that baseball grew up.
     
    Sent to a school for the deaf in Ohio, he was trained as a cobbler and he had the initiative to go from working in the back of a shop to owning his own shoe shop. The school, like many others felt that a deaf and dumb person was not capable of doing much more than fixing shoes and even then, some people refused to have such a handicapped person fix their shoes. But he persevered, and he also took advantage of the fact that many people went shoeless in the summer and he followed his passion to play baseball. By age of 24, his love of baseball and his constant work on baseball skills attracted a scout and led him to professional baseball, first with a minor league team in Oshkosh, WI under HOF manager Frank Selee and then in 1888 with the Washington Senators. ! As a rookie he stole 82 bases and that record stood until the Ricky Henderson, Maury Will, Vince Coleman era. In his second-year major league season he had OBP of 376m scored 98 runs and stole 33 bases.
     
    His career was not a gimmick like the midget of Bill Veeck’s carnival promotions with the St Louis Browns. Dummy Hoy played major league baseball until 1902 and accumulated 32.5 WAR.
     
    He also demanded respect and turned down an offer from the Milwaukee Brewers (1880’s team) because the manager laughed at the idea of a deaf/mute thinking he could play baseball. In his career (14 years) he had 2048 hits, a .288 batting average, 596 stolen bases, and a .386 OBPAs a fielder he threw out three men at home in one game and had 45 assists for the White Stockings in 1901.
     
    In addition to being deaf and never hearing the roar of the crowd, the call of the umpire, or the sound of his teammates, he was also at a disadvantage as a player who was 5’ 4” and 150 pounds! Jose Altuve would love him.
     
    Lacking all the electronics of todays’ ballpark, Hoy was at a disadvantage, not being able to hear the umpire call balls and strikes. He asked his 3B coach to signal the ball and strike call to him and eventually got various signals to coordinate with teammates. Asking the umpires to use hand signals began the current system umpires use for outs, strikes, balls, fouls. But the HOF credits umpire Bill Klem for this even though Klem came after Dummy Hoy retired.
     
    The fans, appreciating his skill and determination did not yell and scream when he did something outstanding, instead they stood and waved their arms and hats in salute. He later replied, “It is not enough that the deaf candidate for baseball honors has the necessary ability, he assuredly must have the nerve and courage to even apply for a trial.”
     
    He finished his career with the minor league Los Angeles LooLoos of the Pacific Coast League with 156 runs, 46 stolen bses and 419 put outs. But in many ways his final play in his career was the most amazing of all professional players. A ball was hit deeply to the outfield and in those days, fans were allowed to stand in the outfield – often there was no fence. He was determined and charged into the fans in very deep centerfield and when he encountered a horse, he jumped on the horses back, and then he used the horse as a springboard to leap and catch the ball!
     
    With a deaf wife, they raised to very successful hearing children and he took on the raising of his nephew when he was orphaned at three. That nephew went on to establish the Helm’s bakery and become a millionaire who supported the Olympics. Hoy was put in the Cincinnati Reds HOF – in 1896 while playing for the Reds he led the league in homeruns with FOUR. He was also named in the Deaf Athletes HOF and should be in the MLB HOF. Former teammates – Honus Wagner, Connie Mack, Clark Griffith, and Sam Crawford – all in the HOF – tried unsuccessfully to get him in. In 1961 he tossed out the first pitch in the third game of the World Series and died in December of that year.
     
    The number of deaf players is very small but perseverance will mean that there will be more. http://www.infobarrel.com/Deaf_Baseball_Players_Who_Made_the_Major_Leagues
  25. Like
    woolywoolhouse reacted to ThatsRich for a blog entry, How long will Sano be suspended?   
    Miguel Sano is currently under investigation for violating the league's domestic violence policy. At last report, he had been interviewed by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred which is typically indicative that the investigation is nearing completion. Any announcement of a suspension should be coming soon. Is there any way to forecast the length of Sano's suspension? I will outline the prior cases and compare them to Sano's to see if there's any reasonable prediction.
     
    Before we get too far, I want to state a couple of things for the record.
     
    First, I'm assuming that the allegations of Sano's behavior are 100% true. I have no additional knowledge of the case beyond what has been published. I haven't interviewed Sano (or anyone else). I am presuming Sano to be guilty exactly as charged. (This is not a court of law.) I freely acknowledge there is additional information which MLB has collected as part of their investigation that will factor into the ultimate decision. I am merely stating that my guess here is based strictly on publicly available information.
     
    Second, I will do my best to compare the cases based only on facts. I do not wish to make or imply any kind of judgement of the severity or impact of any of the alleged incidents. My purpose is not to make any moral equivalency - I'm confident that any kind of assault or violence is awful enough to experience that any punishment handed down isn't sufficient to balance out the physical or psychological damage. If you want to discuss whether the MLB punishment in this or any other case will deter or reduce the likelihood of future incidents, you're welcome to do it on your own. I'm only interested here in projecting how long the Twins may be without Sano's services - nothing more.
     
    The policy against which Sano's actions are being judged is a joint policy of the league and the players association covering domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. It was announced on August 15, 2015. The fact that the policy was jointly agreed to by both the league and the players association may partially explain why none of the previous suspensions handed down under the policy have been appealed. (An appeals process is defined as part of the policy, but has never been exercised.)
     
    There have been five prior suspensions issued (all by Commissioner Manfred) under the policy. Besides Sano's case there is one additional case that is still under investigation (or at least has not yet resulted in any announced suspension).
     
    Here are the prior suspensions, in chronological order:
    Aroldis Chapman - 30 games
    Jose Reyes - 51 games plus all of Spring Training
    Hector Olivera - 82 games
    Jeurys Familia - 15 games
    Derek Norris - 27 games (technically none served as he had already been released, he forfeited his salary and was ineligible to be re-signed as a free agent)
    Addison Russell - case pending - according to reports, the alleged victim(s) and witnesses are not fully cooperating with the MLB investigation

     
    As you can see, there is no immediately apparent pattern to the length of the suspensions. This reflects the discretion built into the policy to allow the commissioner to address the unique circumstances of each incident. In other words, no two situations are going to be alike, so you can't have a fixed/formula suspension as with PEDs.
     
    Aroldis Chapman, 30 games - Chapman was alleged to have placed his hands around the throat of his girlfriend's neck during an argument and of firing a gun eight times into the wall of the garage as his girlfriend cowered outside in the bushes. A police report was filed. Chapman was not arrested. Prosecutors ultimately chose not to press charges, citing conflicting accounts and insufficient evidence (due to incomplete witness cooperation). https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/sports/baseball/yankees-aroldis-chapman-suspended-for-30-games.html
     
    Jose Reyes, 51 games - Reyes was accused of grabbing his wife by the throat and pushing her into a sliding glass door during an argument. Police were called and Reyes was arrested. Prosecutors pressed charges and a trial date was set. However, due to lack of cooperation from the alleged victim (Reyes' wife) the case was dismissed "without prejudice" which means they could bring charges again if the statue of limitations has not expired.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2016/05/13/rockies-jose-reyes-suspended-domestic-violence-mlb/83285122/
     
    Hector Olivera, 82 games - Olivera was accused of assaulting a woman at the team's hotel. Police were called and Olivera was arrested and subsequently charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. He was convicted and sentenced to 90 days in prison (80 days suspended).
    https://www.ajc.com/sports/baseball/braves-hector-olivera-charged-with-assault-battery/e8RSP5NIr2meEkUr3vJcFJ/
     
    Jeurys Familia, 15 games - Familia was accused of domestic abuse in an incident involving his wife. Police were called and Familia was arrested. Charges were dismissed due to "not enough evidence". In announcing the suspension, Commissioner Manfred indicated that the evidence he reviewed "does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife or threatened her or others with harm…" He further stated, "Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia's overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the policy and warrants discipline."
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/sports/baseball/jeurys-familia-mets-suspended-domestic-violence.html
     
    Derek Norris, 27 games - Norris was accused (via a social media post) by his former fiancé of physical and verbal abuse that occurred in 2015 (approximately two years prior to her post alleging the behavior). No police report was filed. Norris denied the allegations but did not appeal the suspension. He was a free agent at the time, having been released by the Rays shortly after the allegations came to light. He forfeited his salary and was ineligible to play had he been re-signed.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2017/06/07/derek-norris-ex-fiancee-alleges-she-put-chokehold/102601262/
     
    Reviewing Sano's case, we know that the allegations were published via social media quite some time after the incident occurred and that no police report was filed at the time. (Again, this is not to call into question the veracity of the victim nor the severity of the alleged assault - merely as facts which can be related to other previous cases.) To the best of my knowledge, no criminal charges are pending though the appropriate Minnesota authorities have not indicated they have closed any pending investigations.
     
    There are clear parallels with the Norris case - social media as the vehicle, time of allegation compared with the alleged incident and the absence of a police report. The absence of a police report is particularly significant because there are no contemporaneously gathered statements or evidence to guide the investigation or against which to compare any recollections by any witness.
     
    There are also clear differences between Sano's case and those of Chapman, Olivera and Reyes. There was no arrest of Sano, no prosecution/charges (at this time) and no alleged use of weapons as with Chapman's case. (Manfred stated the use of a weapon was a contributing factor in his assessment of Chapman's case and his determination of a suspension.)
     
    The Familia case is interesting in that police were called but ultimately no charges were filed. Media reports at the time indicated that the incident may have merely been a verbal altercation and that evidence of physical assault may have been due to other causes. Nonetheless, the commissioner determined the conduct was "inappropriate" and "warrants discipline".
     
    The other pattern I discern in the suspensions is that other than Chapman's (the first case investigated under the policy) and Familia's (the shortest suspension levied) all of the other suspensions were 'time-based' - that is they were defined to expire as of the first of a month. I believe this is a significant indicator.
     
    Given the above, it is my conjecture that Sano's suspension will be approximately one month, set to end on or about the first of the following month. Since the MLB investigation is nearing its conclusion (by all reports), it would seem likely that Sano would be suspended before the start of the season through April to be reinstated on or about May 1. If he were eligible to return on May 1, that would translate to 28 games (assuming no rainouts).
     
    On May 1, the Twins are at home. Further, they plan to recognize the Minnesota Lynx for their championship that night. I can't help but think that all parties would recognize the bad optics of promoting the success of women's athletics on the same night an accused offender is returned to the field. The Twins also play at home the next night, May 2 before going on the road.
     
    Thus, my final projection is that Sano will be suspended at the start of the season for 30 games. Starting with opening day, 30 games would carry them through May 2, at least (the entire home stand) and allow him to return to action on the road. If a game or two in April is rained out, they'll still be on the road, since they start a 10-day road trip on May 3.
     
    It's unclear whether the suspension would allow for any concurrent minor league rehab starts while he is suspended. If not, then it makes sense for the suspension to end May 1 - the Twins could send Sano down to Rochester for a few games to avoid any awkwardness of a home debut (particularly on MN Lynx Day).
     
    Sano can also expect to spend some time in sensitivity training, community service or similar activities to demonstrate his commitment to a better understanding of acceptable social interaction. Also, look for the Twins to donate any forfeited salary to a domestic violence-related charity. All that is as it should be, just not germane to my objective in this post.
     
    Ultimately, we won't know until the Commissioner speaks. As noted above, no suspension under this policy has been appealed and I would expect the same outcome here. I would guess we'll see Sano on the field about the same time we see Santana - early May.
     
    Note: Yasiel Puig was investigated under this policy for an incident involving his sister that occurred in a nightclub in 2015. After MLB completed its investigation, it issued a statement that Puig would not be suspended because their investigation did not uncover any witness who supported the allegation of assault.
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