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Cody Christie

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  1. Justin Morneau won an MVP, was selected to four All-Star teams, and even walked away with one NL Batting Title. Tonight the Twins will induct him into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Looking back at his career can give it some context from budding prospect to one of baseball’s best sluggers. Justin Morneau was considered one of baseball’s best hitting prospects for multiple seasons, but Doug Mientkiewicz was blocking his path to the big leagues. He played parts of the 2003-04 seasons at the big-league level with mixed results. In 114 games, he combined for 44 extra-base hits and a 109 OPS+. By 2005, he got his first full season with the Twins, and things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate. Minnesota handed Morneau the starting first base job in 2004, as the team was in the middle of a winning window. This can mean added pressure for a top prospect, especially when they are taking over for a fan-favorite like Mientkiewicz. His 93 OPS+ in 2005 was his lowest total in a season where he played over 70 games. The 2006 season was magical for the Twins, and Morneau was a big part of that success. He’d win the 2006 AL MVP after hitting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs and 37 doubles. His MVP win is somewhat controversial as his 4.0 WAR ranked as the 22nd best in the AL. However, he compiled substantial numbers in the counting stats (HR, RBI, etc.) that were important to voters at that time. In retrospect, a benching in early June might have been the reason Morneau won the MVP. Minnesota was in Seattle and Morneau was called into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. He entered that meeting hitting .236/.297/.450 (.747) with 19 extra bases for the season. Gardy told him that his focus needed to be on the field, and he helped Morneau realize that he could be a lot better. For the rest of the season, he hit .362/.412/.611 (1.023) with 53 extra-base hits. It was a career changing conversation for Morneau. Over the next four seasons, Morneau was a perennial All-Star as he combined for a 137 OPS+. His 2010 season looked like he was headed for another MVP as he hit .345/.437/.618 (187 OPS+) in 81 games, Unfortunately, a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. It wasn’t his first concussion, and it wouldn’t be his last. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward, and it can leave fans wondering what could have been. From 2011-2016, he bounced from Minnesota to Pittsburgh with eventual stops in Colorado and Chicago. During these years, he hit .275/.331/.433 (.764), which resulted in a 106 OPS+. During his final season as a full-time player, he led the National League in hitting with a .319 batting average. Concussion issues and other injuries followed him throughout the rest of his career. By the time he retired, Baseball Reference had viewed Morneau as similar to players like Freddie Freeman, Cliff Floyd, and Kent Hrbek. Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed for election to Cooperstown, but his time in Minnesota was memorable. He helped keep the Twins relevant for most of the 2000s, and he lived up to the hype he garnered as a top prospect. Morneau’s post playing career has kept him close to the game. He immediately signed on as a special assistant with the front office, and he has assisted multiple Twins players and prospects in this role. He and his wife, Krista, continue to stay active in the community including holding an annual coat drive that keeps families warm throughout the Twin Cities. Twins fans have also enjoyed his time as a color commentator as he brings an insightful approach that had been missing from the booth. His impact has been felt long after his retirement, including with players like Gerrit Cole, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff. However, one has to wonder if his playing career would look different at the end if he had avoided that slide in Toronto back in 2010. What are some of your favorite Morneau memories? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Justin Morneau was considered one of baseball’s best hitting prospects for multiple seasons, but Doug Mientkiewicz was blocking his path to the big leagues. He played parts of the 2003-04 seasons at the big-league level with mixed results. In 114 games, he combined for 44 extra-base hits and a 109 OPS+. By 2005, he got his first full season with the Twins, and things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate. Minnesota handed Morneau the starting first base job in 2004, as the team was in the middle of a winning window. This can mean added pressure for a top prospect, especially when they are taking over for a fan-favorite like Mientkiewicz. His 93 OPS+ in 2005 was his lowest total in a season where he played over 70 games. The 2006 season was magical for the Twins, and Morneau was a big part of that success. He’d win the 2006 AL MVP after hitting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs and 37 doubles. His MVP win is somewhat controversial as his 4.0 WAR ranked as the 22nd best in the AL. However, he compiled substantial numbers in the counting stats (HR, RBI, etc.) that were important to voters at that time. In retrospect, a benching in early June might have been the reason Morneau won the MVP. Minnesota was in Seattle and Morneau was called into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. He entered that meeting hitting .236/.297/.450 (.747) with 19 extra bases for the season. Gardy told him that his focus needed to be on the field, and he helped Morneau realize that he could be a lot better. For the rest of the season, he hit .362/.412/.611 (1.023) with 53 extra-base hits. It was a career changing conversation for Morneau. Over the next four seasons, Morneau was a perennial All-Star as he combined for a 137 OPS+. His 2010 season looked like he was headed for another MVP as he hit .345/.437/.618 (187 OPS+) in 81 games, Unfortunately, a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. It wasn’t his first concussion, and it wouldn’t be his last. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward, and it can leave fans wondering what could have been. From 2011-2016, he bounced from Minnesota to Pittsburgh with eventual stops in Colorado and Chicago. During these years, he hit .275/.331/.433 (.764), which resulted in a 106 OPS+. During his final season as a full-time player, he led the National League in hitting with a .319 batting average. Concussion issues and other injuries followed him throughout the rest of his career. By the time he retired, Baseball Reference had viewed Morneau as similar to players like Freddie Freeman, Cliff Floyd, and Kent Hrbek. Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed for election to Cooperstown, but his time in Minnesota was memorable. He helped keep the Twins relevant for most of the 2000s, and he lived up to the hype he garnered as a top prospect. Morneau’s post playing career has kept him close to the game. He immediately signed on as a special assistant with the front office, and he has assisted multiple Twins players and prospects in this role. He and his wife, Krista, continue to stay active in the community including holding an annual coat drive that keeps families warm throughout the Twin Cities. Twins fans have also enjoyed his time as a color commentator as he brings an insightful approach that had been missing from the booth. His impact has been felt long after his retirement, including with players like Gerrit Cole, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff. However, one has to wonder if his playing career would look different at the end if he had avoided that slide in Toronto back in 2010. What are some of your favorite Morneau memories? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Fans remember Justin Morneau as one of the best players in team history, and this weekend the organization will induct him into the Twins Hall of Fame. So, how did he put himself on the prospect map? The Twins drafted Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, Minnesota drafted him as a catcher, but scouts were unsure of his long-term defensive position. However, his bat was good enough to make him the first Canadian drafted in that draft class. Morneau's first professional action came in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302/.333/.396 with five doubles in 17 games. As a 19-year-old, he returned to the GCL, and he destroyed the ball to the tune of a 1.143 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 52 games. He continued to work on his catching skills, but his bat was what put him on the map as one of baseball's best prospects. Baseball America got excited about Morneau following his 2001 minor league season. Over the next three winters, they included Morneau as one of their top-25 prospects. He entered the 2002 season at #21, the 2003 season at #14, and the 2004 season at #16. Morneau also appeared in two Futures Games during that stretch. Scouts considered him one of baseball's best prospects, and there was excitement for what he could mean to Minnesota's long-term future. During the 2001 campaign, Morneau played at three different levels, including making it to Double-A, where he was over four years younger than the average age of the competition. Minnesota decided to move him to first base, and this was even before the team drafted Joe Mauer as the team's catcher of the future. Morneau's change in defensive position didn't hurt his offensive output. He destroyed the ball in the Midwest League (Low-A) with a 1.018 OPS. He got on base over 38% of the time at High-A and had 17 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a 21-year-old, Morneau spent all of the 2002 season at Double-A. Even though he was over three years younger than the competition, he posted an .830 OPS with 51 extra-base hits in 126 games. It was getting tough for the Twins to keep Morneau in the minors, and it would get even more challenging in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, Minnesota had fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz handling first base, and the team was coming off a 2002 run to the ALCS. This left Morneau back at Double-A with a bat that was close to big-league ready. He posted a 1.004 OPS in the Eastern League, where he was still younger than the competition. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, and he logged 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Morneau made his big-league debut that season and hit .226/.287/.377 in 40 games, but Mientkiewicz was still at first. Morneau's minor league time wasn't finished as he went back to Rochester in 2004 and mashed the ball. In 72 games, he posted a .992 OPS with 22 homers and 23 doubles. At the trade deadline, the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to Boston, and there was now an open spot at first base. Morneau proved he belonged in the big leagues by hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 74 games with the Twins. He had cemented himself as the Twins first baseman for the next decade. What do you remember about Morneau's minor league career? Where were you when Mientkiewicz was traded? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. The Twins drafted Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, Minnesota drafted him as a catcher, but scouts were unsure of his long-term defensive position. However, his bat was good enough to make him the first Canadian drafted in that draft class. Morneau's first professional action came in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302/.333/.396 with five doubles in 17 games. As a 19-year-old, he returned to the GCL, and he destroyed the ball to the tune of a 1.143 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 52 games. He continued to work on his catching skills, but his bat was what put him on the map as one of baseball's best prospects. Baseball America got excited about Morneau following his 2001 minor league season. Over the next three winters, they included Morneau as one of their top-25 prospects. He entered the 2002 season at #21, the 2003 season at #14, and the 2004 season at #16. Morneau also appeared in two Futures Games during that stretch. Scouts considered him one of baseball's best prospects, and there was excitement for what he could mean to Minnesota's long-term future. During the 2001 campaign, Morneau played at three different levels, including making it to Double-A, where he was over four years younger than the average age of the competition. Minnesota decided to move him to first base, and this was even before the team drafted Joe Mauer as the team's catcher of the future. Morneau's change in defensive position didn't hurt his offensive output. He destroyed the ball in the Midwest League (Low-A) with a 1.018 OPS. He got on base over 38% of the time at High-A and had 17 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a 21-year-old, Morneau spent all of the 2002 season at Double-A. Even though he was over three years younger than the competition, he posted an .830 OPS with 51 extra-base hits in 126 games. It was getting tough for the Twins to keep Morneau in the minors, and it would get even more challenging in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, Minnesota had fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz handling first base, and the team was coming off a 2002 run to the ALCS. This left Morneau back at Double-A with a bat that was close to big-league ready. He posted a 1.004 OPS in the Eastern League, where he was still younger than the competition. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, and he logged 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Morneau made his big-league debut that season and hit .226/.287/.377 in 40 games, but Mientkiewicz was still at first. Morneau's minor league time wasn't finished as he went back to Rochester in 2004 and mashed the ball. In 72 games, he posted a .992 OPS with 22 homers and 23 doubles. At the trade deadline, the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to Boston, and there was now an open spot at first base. Morneau proved he belonged in the big leagues by hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 74 games with the Twins. He had cemented himself as the Twins first baseman for the next decade. What do you remember about Morneau's minor league career? Where were you when Mientkiewicz was traded? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Not much went right for the Twins during the 2021 campaign. Injuries and pitching issues were just some of the problems that pushed the Twins to the bottom of the AL Central. So, what went wrong with the 2021 Twins? When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. It’s easy to be negative when the Twins are heading for 90-losses or more for the sixth time in the last decade. Even if you turned away, there were plenty of things that went right for the 2021 Twins. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  9. Minnesota isn't going to end the team's playoff losing streak this year, but plenty of former Twins are helping their team fight for the playoffs. Here is one former Twin assisting each NL playoff contender. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. This year, Minnesota might not be in the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean fans have to tune out from the exciting races across baseball. Former Twins players and prospects are on nearly every contending team’s roster. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Every season in baseball history, some players have underperformed. Most of the Minnesota Twins' roster fits into this category in 2021, but who are the top candidates to bounce back? Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Rumors swirled at the trade deadline regarding possible Josh Donaldson trade scenarios. On a team with little to play for, he has continued to produce. Here are four concerns facing any potential Donaldson deal in the offseason. After failing to contend in 2021, the Twins are in an intriguing position when planning for the future. Can the team be competitive in 2022? Is it going to take multiple years to get back near the top of the AL Central? Josh Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a chance he isn’t part of Minnesota’s next winning club. Concern 1: Offensive Production Minnesota paid a hefty premium to sign Donaldson because they were in the middle of a winning window. Generally speaking, the Twins knew what they were getting with Donaldson, and he has lived up to that billing. He’s posted an .822 OPS and a 127 OPS+ during his Twins tenure, which is probably more than fans expected when signing a player in his mid-30s. Since signing, Donaldson ranks ninth in WAR among AL third basemen, just behind Alex Bregman. Only four AL third basemen rank higher than Donaldson when it comes to Win Probability Added. His Baseball Savant page is also full of plenty of red. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and BB %. His offensive skills are still there even at age 35. Concern 2: Long-Term Health This season, health has been less of an issue as he has appeared in over 115 games for only the second time since 2016. Chronic calf issues seem to be part of the Donaldson equation, but maybe he has figured out the proper regimen to stay on the field. Minnesota has also given Donaldson regular rest and time at designated hitter. During the 2021 season, Donaldson has missed the most time with hamstring injuries. He altered his running style to put less pressure on his calves, which might have hampered his hamstrings. Even if he has put some doubts to rest, his age and previous injury history will factor into any Donaldson trade. Concern 3: Large Contract Finding a taker for Donaldson’s contract might be another challenge, because Donaldson has over $50 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Minnesota will likely need to pay some of his remaining guaranteed money to get any value in return. According to FanGraphs, Donaldson was worth just under $7 million in 2020, and he has been worth $12.7 million so far in 2021. That’s lower than the $21.75 million he is due in each of the next two years. Would the Twins be willing to pay $20-25 million of his remaining guaranteed money? That might seem like a lot, but that’s what it may take to get a decent return. Concern 4: Personality There are also some teams that aren't going to be interested in Donaldson because of his on and off the field behavior. Overall, he has a personality that rubs some people the wrong way. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but the Twins were willing to deal with his on and off-field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Obviously, Donaldson has yet to help the team to October glory, and the team may be ready to move on from him. Do you think Donaldson gets traded this winter? Will the team spend the money needed to get a prospect back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. After failing to contend in 2021, the Twins are in an intriguing position when planning for the future. Can the team be competitive in 2022? Is it going to take multiple years to get back near the top of the AL Central? Josh Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a chance he isn’t part of Minnesota’s next winning club. Concern 1: Offensive Production Minnesota paid a hefty premium to sign Donaldson because they were in the middle of a winning window. Generally speaking, the Twins knew what they were getting with Donaldson, and he has lived up to that billing. He’s posted an .822 OPS and a 127 OPS+ during his Twins tenure, which is probably more than fans expected when signing a player in his mid-30s. Since signing, Donaldson ranks ninth in WAR among AL third basemen, just behind Alex Bregman. Only four AL third basemen rank higher than Donaldson when it comes to Win Probability Added. His Baseball Savant page is also full of plenty of red. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and BB %. His offensive skills are still there even at age 35. Concern 2: Long-Term Health This season, health has been less of an issue as he has appeared in over 115 games for only the second time since 2016. Chronic calf issues seem to be part of the Donaldson equation, but maybe he has figured out the proper regimen to stay on the field. Minnesota has also given Donaldson regular rest and time at designated hitter. During the 2021 season, Donaldson has missed the most time with hamstring injuries. He altered his running style to put less pressure on his calves, which might have hampered his hamstrings. Even if he has put some doubts to rest, his age and previous injury history will factor into any Donaldson trade. Concern 3: Large Contract Finding a taker for Donaldson’s contract might be another challenge, because Donaldson has over $50 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Minnesota will likely need to pay some of his remaining guaranteed money to get any value in return. According to FanGraphs, Donaldson was worth just under $7 million in 2020, and he has been worth $12.7 million so far in 2021. That’s lower than the $21.75 million he is due in each of the next two years. Would the Twins be willing to pay $20-25 million of his remaining guaranteed money? That might seem like a lot, but that’s what it may take to get a decent return. Concern 4: Personality There are also some teams that aren't going to be interested in Donaldson because of his on and off the field behavior. Overall, he has a personality that rubs some people the wrong way. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but the Twins were willing to deal with his on and off-field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Obviously, Donaldson has yet to help the team to October glory, and the team may be ready to move on from him. Do you think Donaldson gets traded this winter? Will the team spend the money needed to get a prospect back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. The upcoming off-season is going to have one of the best free-agent shortstop classes in history. Minnesota has a need at the position, but would the club be willing to make a trade to fill their shortstop need? Across baseball, teams will be vying for free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Minnesota can try to outbid other teams for their services, but the current front office doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to free-agent signings. Instead, the team can look to a buy-low candidate at shortstop. The Yankees are a team that spends money on the free-agent front as they currently have a payroll of over $200 million. New York may also be looking for a shortstop replacement. Gleyber Torres has been the team’s starting shortstop, but he has struggled over the last two seasons. Since 2020, he has hit .248/.330/.353 with 36 extra-base hits in 151 games. Torres, a two-time All-Star, turns 25-years-old this winter. He broke into the big leagues as a 21-year-old and posted a 125 OPS+ while averaging 31 homers through his first two seasons. Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill, and it is especially tough in the Bronx with players following Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Still, Torres was considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and he showed it early in his career. Why Would the Yankees Trade Him? Torres has struggled to make hard contact for multiple seasons as his Baseball Savant page has much more blue than red. He ranks in the 40th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and whiff %. His worst category is outs above average, where he ranks in the first percentile. Besides his offensive decline, his defense has also been stretched at shortstop. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Torres has been the AL’s third-worst defensive shortstop in 2021. Back in 2019, the last full season, he was one of only seven AL shortstops with a positive SDI. There’s a chance an undisclosed injury is impacting his performance, but the Yankees might be ready to move on. For any team looking to acquire Torres, it doesn't seem likely for him to be this bad of a player. He was highly regarded as a prospect, and he had multiple years of big-league success. Minnesota can hope that a change in coaching staffs allows him to return to his previous form. Even his current manager believes he will be an impact player for a long time. What Would the Twins Have to Trade? After a disappointing season, the Twins may have multiple players that would be considered buy-low candidates. One name to consider is Max Kepler. Like Torres, Kepler had a monster 2018 season at the plate, but both players have struggled since that point. They are each under team control through the 2024 season, and there’s a chance each player can improve with a change to a new organization. New York’s outfield dimensions are certainly a benefit for left-handed hitters like Kepler. Torres might be helped by being out of New York’s bright lights. Baseball Trade Values claims a straight trade of Kepler for Torres is a fair trade for each team and would likely be accepted from a future value standpoint. New York may also want prospect capital in return for Torres, and the Twins certainly have options down on the farm. The Twins should be prepared to make the call if the Yankees are ready to move on from Torres. Is Torres a player the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  18. Across baseball, teams will be vying for free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Minnesota can try to outbid other teams for their services, but the current front office doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to free-agent signings. Instead, the team can look to a buy-low candidate at shortstop. The Yankees are a team that spends money on the free-agent front as they currently have a payroll of over $200 million. New York may also be looking for a shortstop replacement. Gleyber Torres has been the team’s starting shortstop, but he has struggled over the last two seasons. Since 2020, he has hit .248/.330/.353 with 36 extra-base hits in 151 games. Torres, a two-time All-Star, turns 25-years-old this winter. He broke into the big leagues as a 21-year-old and posted a 125 OPS+ while averaging 31 homers through his first two seasons. Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill, and it is especially tough in the Bronx with players following Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Still, Torres was considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and he showed it early in his career. Why Would the Yankees Trade Him? Torres has struggled to make hard contact for multiple seasons as his Baseball Savant page has much more blue than red. He ranks in the 40th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and whiff %. His worst category is outs above average, where he ranks in the first percentile. Besides his offensive decline, his defense has also been stretched at shortstop. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Torres has been the AL’s third-worst defensive shortstop in 2021. Back in 2019, the last full season, he was one of only seven AL shortstops with a positive SDI. There’s a chance an undisclosed injury is impacting his performance, but the Yankees might be ready to move on. For any team looking to acquire Torres, it doesn't seem likely for him to be this bad of a player. He was highly regarded as a prospect, and he had multiple years of big-league success. Minnesota can hope that a change in coaching staffs allows him to return to his previous form. Even his current manager believes he will be an impact player for a long time. What Would the Twins Have to Trade? After a disappointing season, the Twins may have multiple players that would be considered buy-low candidates. One name to consider is Max Kepler. Like Torres, Kepler had a monster 2018 season at the plate, but both players have struggled since that point. They are each under team control through the 2024 season, and there’s a chance each player can improve with a change to a new organization. New York’s outfield dimensions are certainly a benefit for left-handed hitters like Kepler. Torres might be helped by being out of New York’s bright lights. Baseball Trade Values claims a straight trade of Kepler for Torres is a fair trade for each team and would likely be accepted from a future value standpoint. New York may also want prospect capital in return for Torres, and the Twins certainly have options down on the farm. The Twins should be prepared to make the call if the Yankees are ready to move on from Torres. Is Torres a player the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. On Monday, Luis Gil took the mound against his former organization, and he has been impressive in his first taste of the big leagues. Does that mean the Yankees won the Jake Cave trade? It's a lot more complicated than that. In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter. Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. Who do you think won the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter. Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. Who do you think won the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Every team has players that don't get the credit they deserve. Minnesota's season has been tough to watch, but these three players have made things a little more tolerable. "Underrated" can mean slightly different things to different people. Briefly, it's simply defined as - using baseball players in this example - a player who is not rated as highly by people as you think they should be. So, here are three Twins players that I believe are most underrated by Twins fans. Do you agree? Or, feel free to add your most-underrated Twins in the Comments below. 3. Bailey Ober, SP Following the trade deadline, things could have completely fallen apart for the Twins. The front office had traded away two pitchers from the team's Opening Day rotation. By doing this, the team looked to internal options that might fit into the 2022 starting rotation. Enter Bailey Ober and a boost some fans might not have been expecting. Ober has all but solidified his spot in next year's rotation with a tremendous rookie campaign. According to MLB.com, he has a 5.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranks first among rookie seasons in Twins history (minimum 80 innings). Currently, he ranks among baseball's best in walk percentage (93rd percentile) and chase rate (84th percentile). The Twins have played .500 baseball in the second half, and Ober has provided some rotational stability. 2. Caleb Thielbar, RP Minnesota's bullpen was in shambles at the beginning of the season, but Caleb Thielbar has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in a dull year. Pitch selection has been one of the most significant changes for Thielbar in his second stint with the Twins. He uses his slider nearly 35% of the time, and batters have posted a .172 batting average and a .313 slugging percentage. Out of necessity, Thielbar shifted to a set-up role near the trade deadline, and he has been part of a bullpen turnaround. Since then, the Twins bullpen has posted a 3.20 ERA and has the American League's highest Win Probability Added. Among the AL's left-handed relievers, Thielbar ranks third in WPA. His baseball-playing career was supposed to be over, and now the Twins hope he sticks around for a while. 1. Luis Arraez, UTL There have certainly been multiple reasons to turn off the Twins this season, but Luis Arraez hasn't been one of them. Only two Twins players, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton, have a higher WAR than Arraez. He is getting on base 36% of the time and hitting close to .300, which has him just outside the AL's top-10. His 106 OPS+ is a career-low, but it also points to a good offensive season, even for a player with minimal power. Defensively, he has also played over 40 games at second base and third base. Minnesota switched Arraez to a utility role because the team wanted to get better defensively. At last check, Arraez ranks as the seventh-best AL third baseman according to SABR's Defensive Index. He likely will never win a Gold Glove, but he has been more than competent at the hot corner. How would you rank these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  22. "Underrated" can mean slightly different things to different people. Briefly, it's simply defined as - using baseball players in this example - a player who is not rated as highly by people as you think they should be. So, here are three Twins players that I believe are most underrated by Twins fans. Do you agree? Or, feel free to add your most-underrated Twins in the Comments below. 3. Bailey Ober, SP Following the trade deadline, things could have completely fallen apart for the Twins. The front office had traded away two pitchers from the team's Opening Day rotation. By doing this, the team looked to internal options that might fit into the 2022 starting rotation. Enter Bailey Ober and a boost some fans might not have been expecting. Ober has all but solidified his spot in next year's rotation with a tremendous rookie campaign. According to MLB.com, he has a 5.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranks first among rookie seasons in Twins history (minimum 80 innings). Currently, he ranks among baseball's best in walk percentage (93rd percentile) and chase rate (84th percentile). The Twins have played .500 baseball in the second half, and Ober has provided some rotational stability. 2. Caleb Thielbar, RP Minnesota's bullpen was in shambles at the beginning of the season, but Caleb Thielbar has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in a dull year. Pitch selection has been one of the most significant changes for Thielbar in his second stint with the Twins. He uses his slider nearly 35% of the time, and batters have posted a .172 batting average and a .313 slugging percentage. Out of necessity, Thielbar shifted to a set-up role near the trade deadline, and he has been part of a bullpen turnaround. Since then, the Twins bullpen has posted a 3.20 ERA and has the American League's highest Win Probability Added. Among the AL's left-handed relievers, Thielbar ranks third in WPA. His baseball-playing career was supposed to be over, and now the Twins hope he sticks around for a while. 1. Luis Arraez, UTL There have certainly been multiple reasons to turn off the Twins this season, but Luis Arraez hasn't been one of them. Only two Twins players, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton, have a higher WAR than Arraez. He is getting on base 36% of the time and hitting close to .300, which has him just outside the AL's top-10. His 106 OPS+ is a career-low, but it also points to a good offensive season, even for a player with minimal power. Defensively, he has also played over 40 games at second base and third base. Minnesota switched Arraez to a utility role because the team wanted to get better defensively. At last check, Arraez ranks as the seventh-best AL third baseman according to SABR's Defensive Index. He likely will never win a Gold Glove, but he has been more than competent at the hot corner. How would you rank these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Joe Ryan came to the Twins organization with plenty of hype. After two starts, it’s clear he belongs in the big leagues, and he is better than his scouting reports. When the Twins acquired Joe Ryan, there was plenty for the organization to be excited about since he was considered a top-100 prospect. He was an Olympian pitching in the high minors that seemed to be MLB ready. There were some apparent flaws in his minor league scouting reports but those haven't been evident during the tremendous start to his career. Twins Daily's Nash Walker compiled a brief highlight video of Ryan's exceptional introduction to Minnesota, please give it a watch. Through his first two starts, he has used his fastball 66% of the time. He has recorded five strikeouts with the pitch, and opponents held to a .120 batting average and a .280 slugging percentage. His fastball has played well so far, but he does use it much more than his other pitches. Underdeveloped Secondary Pitches One of the other knocks against Ryan was reports that his secondary pitches were underdeveloped because he had been able to rely so much on his fastball. His slider sits in the mid-80s, and it is his best secondary pitch. His curveball and changeup have been used even less often because of when those pitches are needed. With no 2020 minor league season, Ryan was able to work at Tampa’s alternate site and instructional league to refine his secondary pitches. His slider was graded as a 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he uses it as a strikeout pitch against right-handed hitters. His changeup is the pitch he tends to use more often against left-handed hitters. Both his changeup and curveball were given a 45 grade. His slider (14.4%) has been the most used of his secondary pitches through his first two starts. Right-handed batters struggle to pick up the pitch out of his hand, which has resulted in a .111 slugging percentage. Batters have yet to record a hit against his changeup or his curveball. MLB Pipeline said both of those pitches “aren’t quite there yet,” and that doesn’t seem to be the case. When the Twins traded for Ryan, scouting reports had him as a mid-rotation starter with a chance to make an immediate impact. Fans can now hope that he can be better than those reports and sit near the top of the Twins’ rotation for most of the next decade. What are your impressions of Ryan so far? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. When the Twins acquired Joe Ryan, there was plenty for the organization to be excited about since he was considered a top-100 prospect. He was an Olympian pitching in the high minors that seemed to be MLB ready. There were some apparent flaws in his minor league scouting reports but those haven't been evident during the tremendous start to his career. Twins Daily's Nash Walker compiled a brief highlight video of Ryan's exceptional introduction to Minnesota, please give it a watch. Through his first two starts, he has used his fastball 66% of the time. He has recorded five strikeouts with the pitch, and opponents held to a .120 batting average and a .280 slugging percentage. His fastball has played well so far, but he does use it much more than his other pitches. Underdeveloped Secondary Pitches One of the other knocks against Ryan was reports that his secondary pitches were underdeveloped because he had been able to rely so much on his fastball. His slider sits in the mid-80s, and it is his best secondary pitch. His curveball and changeup have been used even less often because of when those pitches are needed. With no 2020 minor league season, Ryan was able to work at Tampa’s alternate site and instructional league to refine his secondary pitches. His slider was graded as a 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he uses it as a strikeout pitch against right-handed hitters. His changeup is the pitch he tends to use more often against left-handed hitters. Both his changeup and curveball were given a 45 grade. His slider (14.4%) has been the most used of his secondary pitches through his first two starts. Right-handed batters struggle to pick up the pitch out of his hand, which has resulted in a .111 slugging percentage. Batters have yet to record a hit against his changeup or his curveball. MLB Pipeline said both of those pitches “aren’t quite there yet,” and that doesn’t seem to be the case. When the Twins traded for Ryan, scouting reports had him as a mid-rotation starter with a chance to make an immediate impact. Fans can now hope that he can be better than those reports and sit near the top of the Twins’ rotation for most of the next decade. What are your impressions of Ryan so far? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Caleb Thielbar wasn’t supposed to be here. His big-league career was over, and he was ready to move onto life’s next chapter. He’s back in a big way, and it certainly seems like something has gotten into Thielbar. Caleb Thielbar thought his days as a baseball pitcher were over. Following the 2019 minor league season, he accepted a coaching job at Augustana University in Sioux Falls as he finished up pitching for Team USA in the 2019 Premier12. Baseball had a different plan for him. Multiple teams invited him to spring training in 2020, including the Minnesota Twins. He decided to give pitching one more chance, and the decision has paid off. Before the 2020 season, Thielbar hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2015, but this was a much different pitcher taking the mound. He cut his pitch selection down from five in 2015 to three for his big-league return. Gone were his sinker and changeup while he focused more on his fastball, slider, and curveball. After being called up in 2020, Thielbar made 17 appearances (20 innings) with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with a 22-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents didn’t get a hit against his curveball in over 90 pitches. Against his fastball, he limited batters a .213 batting average and a .234 slugging percentage. It was a small sample size, but he seemed to be trending in the right direction. Thielbar changed his approach again for the 2021 season, and he has continued to evolve in the season’s second half. His fastball usage has dropped by four percent this year, but the change in his breaking pitches is even more drastic. He’s more than doubled his slider usage from 16.4% in 2020 to nearly 35% in 2021. His curveball usage has dropped by over 10%. Thielbar’s fastball is averaging 91 mph for the season, but he seems to have found another level over the last couple of months. During August, he held batters to a .167 batting average and a .292 slugging percentage when facing his fastball. His slider also caused some difficulties for batters as they went 2-for-15 (.133 BA) against the pitch for the entire month. But August wasn’t his only strong month in the second half. In 19 second-half appearances, Thielbar has a 2.66 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP while posting a 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Batters are hitting .197/.275/.394 (.669) against him since the All-Star break. Rocco Baldelli has also shown confidence in using him at various times during games, with the bulk of his innings coming in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. He’s moved from college coach to effective set-up man in less than two years. Thielbar will turn 35-years-old in January, and relief pitching can be fickle. It certainly seems like something has changed with Thielbar this season, but there’s no telling what the future might hold. The Twins need to rebuild their bullpen for 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly want to keep Thielbar from focusing too much on his college coaching career. What are your thoughts on Thielbar so far this season? What changes have you noticed? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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