ChrisKnutson reacted to Patrick Wozniak for a blog entry, The MLB Statcast Case for Marwin Gonzalez as the Minnesota Twins Everyday Third Baseman
MLB Statcast recently unveiled its Outs Above Average (OAA) rankings for MLB infielders (it was previously only available for outfielders) and the numbers make a compelling case for Marwin Gonzalez. With Gonzalez rated as Minnesota’s best defensive infielder and a current need to fill in C.J. Cron’s place at first base, moving Miguel Sano to first and slotting Gonzalez into the everyday third base role may be the Twins best move going forward.
According to MLB’s Baseball Savant site (where Statcast is featured), “Outs Above Average (OAA) is the cumulative effect of all individual plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them.” OAA measures the distance and time it takes a fielder to reach the ball, how far the fielder is from the base the ball will be thrown to, and how fast the baserunner is.
Based on OAA, Gonzalez is far and away the Twin’s best returning infield option. In 2019 he was good for a 7 OAA, meaning he was seven outs above the average infielder. That may not seem like a lot, but it places Gonzalez as the 19th best infielder in all of baseball (Javier Baez led all of baseball with a 19 OAA). Of the returning Twins infielders, Gonzalez is the only one who posted an above-average ranking (Jonathan Scope was second with a 5 OAA, but will be replaced by Luis Arraez’s -6 OAA). He successfully completed 93% of the plays he was involved in with just an 88% estimated success rate, meaning that he made 5% more plays than he was expected to.
Placing Gonzalez at third would push Sano to first, which may not be such a bad thing. Sano finished 2019 with a -5 OAA, which, while not terrible is significantly below average. Sano is likely to move off third sooner or later, and with Gonzalez as the superior defensive option, now may be a good time. Sano has some experience playing first base and seems athletic enough to be at least an average defender once he settles in. His 137 wRC+ in 2019 ensures that his bat is certain to fit in at first.
Moving Gonzalez into the everyday third base role does raise a few concerns. The first being Gonzalez’s bat. Gonzalez got off to a notoriously slow start in 2019 after signing late and missing most of spring training, and finished the year as a below average hitter with a 93 wRC+. However, his numbers were much better after April (he had just a 33 wRC+ in Mar./Apr.) and he has been a slightly above average hitter over the course of his career. With above-average defense and an average bat he would be a net positive at third. Minnesota also has a stacked lineup, so having one position filled with an average hitter isn’t really an issue.
The other concern would be the utility role with Gonzalez moving to third full time. Gonzalez’s ability to fill in anywhere was huge in Minnesota’s injury-plagued 2019 and not having him available for that role in 2020 would seem a detriment. However, Minnesota has another great option for the utility role in Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza rates as the Twins second best returning infielder with a -1 OAA and has the ability to play all around the infield, including shortstop. He also had a really good offensive year in 2019 (relative to being a utility infielder), with a 102 wRC+. Plus, the need for Gonzalez to fill in in the outfield is mitigated by the depth of Jake Cave, Lamonte Wade, and near-ready prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Luke Raley, and Trevor Larnach.
There are legitimate concerns with Minnesota’s infield defense coming into the 2020 season, and moving Sano to first and letting Gonzalez take over third should help some. Additionally, with Adrianza in the main utility role, his ability to play average defense would give the Twins an occasional defensive upgrade over Arraez at second or Jorge Polanco at short, who had a team-worst -16 OAA in 2019 (read Twerk Twonk Twin’s recent blog post for a great breakdown of Polanco’s defense).
With Minnesota unlikely to sign Josh Donaldson, and really only Mitch Moreland left on the first base free-agent market, moving Gonzalez to third seems to be the best option for 2020. If someone like Alex Kirilloff emerges and Minnesota decides to put him at first, Gonzalez can always slide back into the utility role, but Gonzalez’s presence at third with an increased utility role for Adrianza at least gives the infield defense some hope.
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ChrisKnutson reacted to Tom Froemming for a blog entry, Why I'm Out On Craig Kimbrel
Even a really great meal goes stale eventually.
I desperately wanted the Twins to do more to upgrade the bullpen this offseason, and was supportive of the idea of them pursuing Craig Kimbrel at one point, but I'm out now. I don't really want anything to do with him.
My frustration with the bullpen inactivity was never tied to any one particular reliever. Things have boiled own to that, since Kimbrel is the last man standing, but there were several attractive free agent bullpen pieces out there this winter. The Twins didn't sign any of them. I'm over it.
I'm not saying this bullpen is fine as it's currently constructed. While Ryne Harper has been a pleasant surprise and the backed trio of Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May has mostly looked good, there are some legit concerns about the depth.
But bringing in a project isn't the answer. Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers of all time. There's also a reason why he's still unemployed. Here are a few:
-He has to be rusty. This is item No. 1 with a bullet. There's no way he can possibly be sharp, I don't care what kind of simulated games he may be throwing.
-He had a 4.57 ERA in the second half and a 5.91 ERA in the postseason last year.
-His fastball velocity dropped from 98.72 mph in 2017 to 97.63 mph last year.
-It actually took him awhile to work up to that velocity last season, sitting below 97 mph through April. Yes, he's been working out, but I'd still be concerned it would take him some time to get up to full speed.
-His ground ball rate dropped from 37.0% to 28.2% last year.
-His line drive rate went up from 19.4% to 24.8% last year.
-He had a worse first-pitch strike rate (56.3%) than Fernando Rodney last year.
-He had the eighth-lowest rate of pitches in the zone (36.6%) of the 151 qualified relievers last year.
-He walked 12.6% of the batters he faced last year. That is horrible. It was the 20th-worst rate among 336 pitchers who logged more than 50 innings last year.
In nearly every single positive mention of the Twins I see, there is somebody in the comments who calls for Kimbrel. I get it, I just think the idea of Kimbrel doesn't even accurately reflect who he actually is at this point.
If the Twins seek to improve the bullpen, they should be looking for guys who are trending upward. Or at least, you know, active. Maybe Kimbrel will be great, I don't know, but I am comfortable with another team taking on that project. There are other ways to boost the bullpen.
ChrisKnutson reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, An Emerging Backstop
There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins employed one of the best catchers Major League Baseball has ever seen. Up until the point that a brain injury forced him out from behind the plate, Joe Mauer was on a trajectory we hadn’t seen since Johnny Bench. Following the positional change, the organization has been starved for the next “it” factor behind the plate. Jason Castro has been the only designated long-term solution, but it’s an internally developed option that is at the doorstep of a breakthrough.
After getting called up for a cup of coffee in September of 2017, Mitch Garver enjoyed his rookie tour during the 2018 Twins campaign. Playing in 102 games as the backup to Castro, he split the work nearly right down the middle. Castro suffered an injury that left him playing just 19 games for Paul Molitor, and Garver ceded duties to veteran journeyman such as Bobby Wilson and Chris Gimenez. In the time that he was the guy, it seemed obvious there was talent to his credit, but a defensive liability had been holding him back.
Looking over some of the numbers, this was bore out in the data as well. Strike zone runs saved had Garver at -8, which was tied for third-worst among 86 catchers to log at least 100 innings behind the dish. His -16 DRS was better than only Nick Hundley across the same sample size, and ball skills were something that appeared to be an ever-present bugaboo. For however frustrating that may have been to fans watching on TV, you can bet Garver took it much harder.
In a recent piece The Athletic’s Dan Hayes and Eno Saris tagged teamed, Garver said, “Apparently, the people on Twitter realized I was the worst defensive catcher in the league, and they let me know about it — even though I already knew.” Minnesota now employs Tanner Swanson as their Minor League Catching Coordinator, and despite being a college coach previously, his impact is seen throughout the organization.
Over the course of spring training, many fans have wondered about the crouches they’ve seen from Twins behind the plate. With a focus on stealing more strikes, presenting a better ball, and providing the umpire a stronger vantage point, a highlight on each pitch has been the goal. Garver has worked plenty on his own over the course of the offseason, but his immediate development under Swanson has also drawn rave reviews throughout the organization as well. A step forward defensively gives us reason to wonder what’s next for the New Mexico product.
When the dust settled on 2018, Garver was worth 1.3 fWAR making him the 16th best catcher in baseball. Despite being a cumulative statistic, Garver was able to compile that tally in an injury shortened season, while being negatively impacted by his poor defensive play. That only goes to show just how important his offensive impact may be.
No matter what level of the system you look at, Mitch has always hit. His .679 OPS at Elizabethton during the first year of pro ball was reflective of a lacking power stroke. From there he posted an .880 OPS at Low-A and went on to tally an .815 OPS during his first taste of Triple-A ball. Before being promoted to the Twins, Garver rounded out his minors career with a scintillating .928 OPS across 88 games for Rochester. Whatever defensive deficiencies had been present on the farm, were certainly overshadowed by how well the bat had played.
Although a .749 OPS isn’t earth-shattering by any means, it was the 10th best number across baseball for backstops. He was just one point shy of Yadier Molina, and within legitimate striking distance of a top six mark across baseball. Mitch has always mashed lefties, posting a .938 OPS against them in his final Triple-A stint. With Minnesota last year though, he owned an .806 mark against righties, with just a .629 OPS against southpaws. Hitting just seven homers in 335 plate appearances, only on came off left-handed pitchers. If that doesn’t sound like opportunity, I don’t know what does.
Making loud contact with a hard-hit rate north of 40%, the opportunity for growth is there. Minnesota would like to see advancement on the 8% HR/FB ratio, as well as an increase in the fly ball and line drive outcomes. At just a 7.8% career swinging strike rate, and only a 22.4% chase rate, Mitch has the zone plenty honed in. The numbers suggest it’s about making the outcomes work more in his favor, using the inputs already at play.
Rocco Baldelli gets a backstop on the last year of a veteran deal in Jason Castro this season. Willians Astudillo is a fun swiss army knife that’s not an ideal catching option. Mitch Garver though, is the 1B to a likely platoon, that could take over as the starter and run away with the opportunity. Another year of acclimation at the plate makes the bat more than exciting, and if the defensive development is to be believed, the floor ends up skyrocketing towards the roof. You aren’t ever going to recreate a Joe Mauer type catcher, but Minnesota could have one of the better options in baseball if everything goes as planned.
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ChrisKnutson reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, Derek Falvey's Copy + Paste Button And The Twins Rotation
Picture this, I’m sitting in my 1:00 Anthropology class again absolutely bored out of my mind as my professor drones on about, well actually I don’t remember, but I hope it wasn’t important. Anyways, an interesting thought came to me; how did Derek Falvey build the Indians starting pitching staff? This thought came the day after looking at the Fangraphs projections for both Minnesota and Cleveland and realizing that dear God, Cleveland’s starting staff projections are hilariously better than Minnesota’s, even David doesn’t want to take on that Goliath. We can finagle about how much attention the Twins should have given the starting rotation this offseason, but short of signing Dallas Keuchel, trading for Zack Greinke, and then telling Jake Odorizzi to take a hike, the Twins starting staff was always going to be vastly inferior to the Indians. So how did Falvey do it? The man was boasted as the brains behind arguably the strongest rotation in baseball, so let’s dig into how he built it.
Falvey first joined the Indians as an intern in 2007 and then transitioned to Assistant Director of Baseball Operations in 2009. Falvey was then promoted to co-director of Baseball Operations in 2011 where he stayed until becoming the assistant GM in 2016, the same year he joined the Twins as executive vice president and chief baseball officer. Admittedly, Falvey’s role in the Indians front office early on was a bit less important than the one he has now with the Twins, so assigning the reason for these moves directly on him is a bit of a stretch. But at the same time, I think it’s fair to assume that Falvey played a decent role in all of these moves. I also have to appreciate the absurdness of some of the job titles they hand out in teams front offices, I could have made up those positions and you would not have been any wiser.
Corey Kluber, Cy Young winner, perfect robot, and the destroyer of Twins hitters hopes and dreams himself. This inhuman wrecking machine was obtained in a 3 team trade in 2010 between the Padres, Indians, and Cardinals. The Indians received Kluber, the Cardinals received Nick Greenwood, and the Padres obtained Ryan Ludwick. Nick Greenwood was worth -0.2 rWAR in the 36 innings he threw for the Cardinals while Ryan Ludwick put up a .659 OPS over 2 years with the Padres before being dropped on the Pirates. Oh yeah, and that Corey Kluber guy has done OK for the Indians so far.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out how Kluber became what he is now. At the time of the trade, he was just a body in the Padres system and wasn’t even ranked in their top 30 prospect list. He had a career minor league record of 18-24 when traded and was somehow even worse in his first stint with Cleveland’s AAA team. Apparently, he learned how to throw a sinker in 2011 and then won a Cy Young just 3 years later. So take that as a lesson, kids at home, just add one of the best sinkers in MLB and you too can win a Cy Young.
It’s a bit of a disappointing conclusion to draw from Kluber, but basically, we can just say that sometimes it’s the guys who aren’t major prospects who can turn into stars. If I had to assign a player for the Twins that would be their “Kluber”, it would Kohl Stewart. Stewart was initially a better prospect than Kluber but fell so far recently that the Twins were perfectly OK with any team taking him for their own during the rule 5 draft. Since then, he worked his way up through the system until he made his MLB debut in 2018 and became a personal favorite Twin of mine. He even features a similar sinker/cutter combo that has made Kluber an unstoppable pitching machine but lacks the true dominating breaking ball that makes Kluber so ridiculous.
The most scientific man in baseball was a solid innings eater early in his career until he broke out in 2018 and changed to really, we have to worry about another one of these bastards now? And now we don’t even have Oswaldo Arcia to stop him, such a shame. Bauer was originally the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA. But he was actually taken by the D-Backs, in case you forgot. He was acquired by the Indians in yet another 3 team trade, this time in 2012. Bauer went to the Indians along with Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and Drew Stubbs, while Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson went to the D-Backs, and the Reds received Shin Soo-Choo and Jason Donald. Now, that is way more players than I feel like analyzing, but Cleveland made out pretty well here if I do say so myself.
Bauer’s path to the majors is a bit more straightforward, he was a top pick from college and moved as quickly as you would expect a top college arm could move. His status as a prospect was always top and while he was just a good pitcher for a while instead of a great one, he became the true thinking man’s pitcher in 2018 thanks in part to a new slider he developed himself.
Seems simple enough for the Twins to follow here right? Just use an incredibly high pick on an elite starter that sees the game like few pitchers do and is as dedicated to his craft like I am dedicated to the bagel shop on my campus. The closest comparison I can think of is Jose Berrios, Berrios was also a first round pick who is ridiculously dedicated to improving and has more work ethic in his left pinky than I have in my entire body. While Bauer is the better hurler of a round object at high speeds, Berrios has the kind of talent that even Phil Cuzzi could see and could become even better if Wes Johnson and the boys crack his secret code.
The man from Florida who looks like a man from California, Mike was originally taken by the Angels in 2011 before they traded him to Cleveland in 2014 for the guy who sounds more like an extra in “Goodfellas” than a baseball pitcher, Vinnie Pestano. Clevinger actually pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels who are now the affiliate for the Twins. I have nothing else to add to that, I just thought it was neat. This was just about the definition of a throwaway trade at the time it occurred, but oh man should we really hate the Angels for this one. Clevinger went from an ERA over 5 in class A to you have got to be joking me, they have another really good starter now?
Clevinger was kind of on people’s radars as he was ranked the 17th best prospect in the Angels organization at the start of 2014, but his numbers up to that point were incredibly whelming. Much like Kluber, he was a guy that the Indians saw and thought that maybe with a tweak here and there, he could become something in the future. And credit to Clevinger, he was apparently all ears about doing whatever he had to do to succeed.
This is another kind of tough one to draw a conclusion from because “just find a guy who is a few changes that no one else can see away from being elite” isn’t really a good blueprint for success or at least not a consistent one. Considering that I have already forced myself to find comparisons for each guy, I will go with Jhoan Duran as the Twins’ “Clevinger”. Duran is a much better prospect than what Clevinger was but also switched teams in a trade during the season. So far in his short time in Cedar Rapids (hint hint), Duran has dominated hitters and looks to move up to high A Fort Myers soon. I hope he doesn't mind that I now have him pegged as the next Clevinger, no pressure there kid.
The cookie monster was originally taken by the Phillies in 2003 out of Venezuela. In his first spring training, he ate Domino’s pizza every day for 90 straight days because he didn’t know what else to order in English. I don’t know how he did that considering that Domino’s pizza tastes like the cardboard box it comes in, but to each his own I guess. Carrasco was also acquired in 2009 in a trade (I’m noticing a pattern) along with some other forgettable dudes for Ben Francisco and Cliff Lee. Carrasco was the top prospect for the Phillies and was ranked as the 41st best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America that year.
Carrasco’s journey to be who he is now took a while as he struggled with injuries and not being effective early on in his MLB career. Despite starting his MLB career in 2009, it took Carrasco until 2015 to pitch more than 150 innings in a season. The Indians took a very conservative approach by using him out of the bullpen often in 2013 and 2014 after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. After working his arm back up, they unleashed him as a starter and he’s been a pain in the Twins’ ass ever since.
Let’s see here, a top prospect, underwent Tommy John surgery, used out of the bullpen at first… Folks, we already have the next Carrasco here in Fernando Romero. Romero arguably has the nastiest stuff in the Twins system but still needs to learn how to refine his game and be the nightmare pitcher we all know he can be. While it seems that Romero is all but destined for the bullpen in 2019, it could be that the Twins still plan on using him as a starter long term and will be in the rotation in 2020 when more spots become available.
The Biebs was taken in the 2016 draft which was the very last one Derek Falvey participated in for Cleveland before leaving for the Twin Cities. He was taken in the 4th round out of college and moved pretty quickly due to being a college starter and having some ridiculous minor league numbers (.6 BB/9, 2.24 ERA).
The Biebs is a much more simple guy to track here, he was taken by Cleveland and moved up their ranks quickly as he continued to perform well at every level. He rose up prospect lists last year thanks to his incredible command and was a top 100 prospect by most publications by the time he made his debut for the Indians.
Who’s the Shane Bieber for the Twins? That’s an interesting one to think of because the front office under Falvey and Levine really haven’t taken many college arms with top picks. This is a bit of a reach, but I’ll pick Blayne Enlow as the Twins’ “Shane Bieber”. Enlow was taken out of high school but was a 3rd round pick partly because the Twins saved enough signing bonus money in the Royce Lewis pick to pay over the slot for Enlow and coax him out of going to the collegiate ranks. While Enlow is still just 19, his projections have received much praise from scouts and being able to handle low A ball as a 19-year-old is pretty impressive. While it will still be a few more years before Enlow probably makes the majors, he could be an important piece in a future Twins rotation.
There it is, the 5 pitchers that make up the current Indians’ starting staff and how they got there along with their Twins counterparts. 4 out of the 5 guys were not originally taken by the Indians and 2 out of the 5 guys were never really big prospects at all while the other 3 were. Probably the most interesting thing to note is that none of these guys were big free agent signings or acquired via trade as veterans and only Bauer had any experience pitching at the MLB level for another team. Is it any coincidence that Falvey has been a stickler for adding long term solutions to the starting rotation so far in his tenure? Pineda, Odorizzi, and Perez were all obtained with 2 years of team control, but the plan so far has been to shy away from major rotation upgrades in the long term.
Looking into 2020, the current rotation is Jose Berrios and possibly Martin Perez if they pick up his option. Odorizzi, Gibson, and Pineda are all set to be gone, leaving up to 4 holes to be filled. Looking ahead also, the starting pitchers available in free agency after the 2019 season are very tasty, to say the least. Go take a quick look, you won’t be disappointed. But now that we know what Falvey did to build his most impressive rotation, will the Twins even bother with free agency then? The Cubs built a successful rotation through free agency in their World Series winning team, but I don’t believe the Twins will follow that same route. Instead, they will run with Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, Fernando Romero, Jhoan Duran, and Blayne Enlow, to take them to the World Series and you can bet on that.
ChrisKnutson reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, Common Health Concern Spawns Special Bond Between Kohl Stewart and Young Fan
WRITER NOTE: This is an excerpt from a story that appears in full on Zone Coverage here.
Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time.
On Saturday afternoon, that place was Bat & Barrel — the restaurant that used to be known as the Metropolitan Club — down the right-field line at Target Field.
Twins players and fans gathered at the stadium for the yearly gathering known as TwinsFest, which caps the club’s winter caravan and begins the road to Spring Training each year. Most of the 40-man roster and a smattering of prospects show up each year to what has to be among the top five or so best fan fests in the game today.
The whole thing is basically a large autograph party, with fun events mixed in where players and fans — especially kids — can mingle on the concourse and surrounding areas of Target Field. Beyond that, it also gives fans a look into the Legend’s and Champion’s Clubs — two exclusive areas that have more restricted access at the stadium.
The Legend’s Club housed food areas, a few games and booths and the WCCO radio setup, while the Champion’s Club housed a large majority of the vendors selling game-used apparel, baseball cards and etc.
Bat & Barrel was set up half as a restaurant, but also a stage for players to take questions from fans or play games with a crowd watching. In this case, it was a quartet of Twins playing Headbandz, a charades game with players teaming up in pairs — Matt Magill with Trevor May and Blake Parker with Kohl Stewart — with a player holding an iPad to their forehead while the other gave clues to the mystery word on the screen.
After Magill and May beat Parker and Stewart, stadium announcer Jim Cunningham said they had a few more minutes left to take some questions from the fans. One kid asked May how he got so good at Fortnite — “Get injured kids, and you’ll have a lot of time for video games.” — and another asked what position each of the players played.
Another humorously asked if he could get autographs from each of the pitchers, but it was the final question that brought the room to a poignant silence.
A young girl got the microphone, and meekly asked Stewart how he handles playing in the big leagues with Type-1 diabetes. Stewart climbed off the stage, knelt down next to the girl and talked to her for a few minutes and took a number of pictures while also signing her jersey.
ChrisKnutson reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, What's The Deal With Relievers?
Relievers are weird. Not only because they do strange stuff like play video games on the side, but they are probably also the most volatile position in baseball. Go look up the best relievers of 2015 and have a good laugh at some of the names that appear. Liam Hendriks? Kevin Siegrist? Luke Gregerson? Josh Fields? The top 10 or so names have been relatively consistent and are still playing at a high level now, but after that, there is little to no guarantee that production will be sustained at all. Contrast that with the best position players the same year and it seems that relievers are about as dependable as the current economy.
Or even just consider the Twins bullpen this past year, who would have predicted that Taylor Rogers would add a slider and become the Terminator basically from July until the end of the season, or that Trevor Hildenberger would continue his great 2017 season for the first half or so until the ghost of Matt Capps took control of his body and he struggled from August until the end of the season, or how about Addison Reed starting off en Fuego and then losing velocity as the year went on until he couldn’t even strike out my grandmother.
The point is, relievers are unpredictable, but what if we could predict them? More importantly, if we could predict if a reliever will bounce back? Ignore the snake-oil-salesman-style question and let me explain my thought process. I want to be able to identify how likely it is for relievers to bounce back, so I looked at data from 2016, 2017, and 2018 to see how many relievers came back from a poor season and how many didn’t. To be exact, I am looking for relievers who had good/great 2016 seasons, noticeably poor 2017 seasons, and then how they fared in 2018. I want a solid basis of talent first, a season that can tell me that this guy has the potential to be legit, which is the point of the 2016 season data. Then I want a poor 2017 season. Since what is “poor” is debatable, I’ll say that if a reliever had either an ERA, FIP, or xFIP that was .75 points higher than the year prior, I will consider that a “poor” season in context with their body of work. I will leave a little wiggle room if the numbers are close enough to give me a bigger sample, but generally, I will stick to the .75 rule. Then I want to see how they performed in 2018 so that I can draw my conclusion and make my closing statement. I will be using their pitching “slash line” of ERA/FIP/xFIP. I also will not be including pitchers who did not pitch in 2017 or threw a fraction of innings that they usually do because there is not enough sample size to draw from.
These are the first 10 players who fit my criteria and we have some interesting information already! About 4 players rebounded in my mind; Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Seung Hwan Oh, and Jeurys Familia (5 if you include Herrera’s ERA but not his peripherals), while 6 players had 2018 seasons that continued their downward trend (or 5 if you think peripherals are for schmucks). Interestingly enough, these were 10 of the top 11 pitchers by fWAR in 2016 with Kenley Jansen being the only player in the top 11 who had a great 2016 and 2017. Let’s continue!
This list of players requires a bit more nuance than the previous one and I really need to stick to the peripherals to draw a solid conclusion. I see 5 players who bounced back in a significant way through their peripherals; Edwin Diaz, Will Harris, Brad Ziegler, Zach Duke, and Hector Neris. But the interpretation of this data can vary depending on the reader, if you value ERA, then you might see different bounceback players than me, but I believe that the 5 players I mentioned here had a noticeably better 2018 season compared to their 2017 season. Alright, let’s continue!
I’m just going to throw Buchter out of here because he doesn’t seem to really care about what his FIP or xFIP says he should be doing. After that, I see Shawn Kelley, Alex Colome, Sam Dyson, Hansel Robles, Alex Wilson, Ryan Pressly, Tony Barnette, and Jeremy Jeffress as guys who bounced back in significant ways in 2018. That’s 8! The only guy here who didn’t really bounce back was Justin Wilson.
These 30 pitchers were among the top 50 relievers from 2016 and 17 of them rebounded after a poor 2017 season in my eyes, good for a 57% success rate. How can this apply to the Twins? Well, I see this as good news for Trevor Hildenberger, who is looking to have a 2019 season that is more in line with his 2017 campaign, but I see this as bad news for Addison Reed who saw his numbers decrease heavily thanks to another drop in velocity. I also see this as good news for Cody Allen, the player who inspired this article, as there’s a better than average chance that he can have a better year than his awful 2018 campaign. This could also be somewhat neutral news for Taylor Rogers, who had the most dominant season of his career so far but needs another one to really cement himself as a top relief arm. An interesting thing to note is that a fair amount of these players who had bounceback years did so on a different team, so maybe there is some credibility to the idea that sometimes a player just needs a change of scenery.