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Dan Engebretson

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  1. To clarify, if the Twins do take 4 from the Sox the Twins would be 6.5 games behind the Sox, not necessarily 6.5 games out of first. If Cleveland has a synchronous 4 game win streak with the Twins, then the Twins would be 9 games behind Cleveland (9 games is the current deficit between Cleveland and the Twins) and Cleveland would be the division leader (nobody could overtake them). But, your point is spot on; to have any chance the Twins must win the games they play. How many games you must win gets murky when there are multiple teams between you and first place.
  2. The silver lining: No inherited runners scored and Sano only struck out once!
  3. In 2002, the Twins were Division Champs. In 2003, the Twins were 7.5 games out of first in the Central at the All Star Break with a sub .500 record of 44-49. They traded Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart and the combination of them playing (reasonably) well and KC stumbling resulted in the Twins winning the division and heading to the playoffs (and actually winning a game!). The 2003 team underperformed expectations but still reached the playoffs. Coming in to the 2021 season, most thought the Twins were a flawed, but solid team (not unlike the 2003 Twins) that many expected to make it to the playoffs. There is no doubt this team has underpeformed, but I believe if they're within 10 games (in 2003, the Twins won the Division by 4 games, so they gained 11.5 games from the All Star Break), they should add some good relief pitching and give it a run.
  4. It looks like the bullpen is unlikely to allow any inherited runners to score tonight.
  5. I think the Twins should add a quality defensive short stop via free agency. Jose Iglesias is available as a free agent and has consistently put up good defensive numbers. His offense is not god-awful (OBP is alright and not much power), but I believe the Twins can sacrifice some offense in exchange for what I believe will be significant overall improvement in defense. Putting a good defender next to Sano will make Sano appear better so he can stay put at 3B. I would also add a good glove at 1B (perhaps one of the Twins minor leaguers could fit in here, I don't know much about their defensive prowess); a good 1B receiver will also help Sano's defense. I would prefer to keep Polanco and slide him to 2B. Polanco would be flanked by good defenders at SS and 1B and also helped by a good glove at 1B. I really like Arraez, but with this plan, he will likely get traded or stashed in the minors.
  6. I looked at the fielding stats over at Fangraphs. On the year, the Twins had 10 position players (not inlcuding catchers) that played 300+ innings at a position in the field. Only three had positive UZR/150 -- Max Kepler 20.6 in RF, Byron Buxton 15.7 in CF, and Max Kepler 9.5 in CF (yes, Max was two of the Twins 3 players with positive UZR/150). Marwin Gonzalez only played 291.2 innings at 3B, but had an 18.9 UZR/150. Contrast that with the Yankees; they have 8 players with positive UZR/150 (including Brett Gardner counted twice like Max Kepler) and 5 that are negative. The Astros (whom I believe are the most complete team in baseball) have 8 players with positive UZR/150 (Springer counted twice) and 4 that are negative. The Twins have demonstrated that they are a true offensive force, however, they've also demonstrated that they are incredbily weak defensively. While it is probably difficult to determine how much the weak defense negatively impacts pitching, it certainly makes our pitchers work harder each game. I think the Twins gain nothing by rearranging the deck chairs (moving Sano to first....), they must make meaningful personnel changes (particularly in the infield, where every one of our starters with more than 300 defense innings played, has a negative UZR/150) to improve the defense. That might start with keeping Marwin at 3B, but Sano is not a good answer at 1B (223 career innings and negative 5.3 UZR/150), and at least for this upcoming year, there is no way (barring injury to Cruz) that Sano gets many ABs at DH. I think the Twins need to get a great glove/good bat 1B (could very well be one of the minor leaguers stepping up). Work hard to acquire Jose Iglesias (free agent) for SS. Move Polanco to 2B. Keep Sano at 3B (his defense improves by having a better SS next to him and a better receiver at 1B). Trade Arraez; an alternative would be to keep Arraez at 2B and trade Polanco. I suspect that with Polanco's excellent bat and good contract that many teams would give a solid return.
  7. One error on what should have been a double play (two outs), and one additional error (one out) means that the Twins gave the Brewers an extra inning of offense. It's really tough to win when the other team gets to play an additional inning.
  8. Before play today (Monday, August 5), the Twins have the third best record in the AL at 69-42. If the playoffs started today, they would be an AL playoff team along with the Astros, Yankees, Indians, and Rays with the Athletics just a half game out of the wildcard picture. The Twins record agains the AL playoff teams (not including the Athletics) is 16-13, which trails only the Yankees (20-13). The Astros are next with a sub-500 12-13, and they are trailed by the Indians and Rays at 10-13, and 13-19 respectively. Obviously, the teams have changed (particularly the Astros with the addition of Greinke) since many of these games were played, but the bottom line is that the Twins have a winning record agains the AL playoff teams. If you throw games against the Athletics into the mix (not unreasonable since they are barely out of the playoff picture), the situation changes a bit, with the Twins sliding to the third best record (19-17) trailing the Yankees and Astros that are 20-13 and 16-13. The Twins are leading the Athletics, Rays, and Indians, with records of 15-16, 16-23, and 11-18 respectively. It is interesting that the Yankees have beat up on the Rays (12-5), and the Astros have beat up on the Athletics (9-2), while the Twins have been competitive with the Indians (5-4) so far this season. The Twins worst performance is against the (surprise!) Yankees where the Twins fell 2-4; all other series are either +1 or -1. So the bottom line is that the Twins have been competitive against the AL playoff teams.
  9. In quite a few threads there are lamentations about Buxton's poor performance. Folks frequently had similar lamentations about Aaron Hicks during his tenure with the Twins. I decided to pull some numbers on each of the players (note, this is not nearly as sophisticated an analysis as many of the regulars on TD accomplish): Buxton Year PA wRC+ OPS 2015 138 53 576 2016 331 86 714 2017 511 90 728 980 Plate Appearances As a Twin Hicks Year PA wRC+ OPS 2013 313 62 597 2014 225 83 615 2015 390 96 721 928 Plate Appearances As a Twin 2016 361 64 617 2017 361 127 847 For each player, their number of plate appearances are similar for their first three "full" years as a Twin and showed general year-over-year improvement. Hicks's fourth year (with Yankees) was a significant regression from his third year (though not nearly as bad as Buxton's 2018 has been; couldn't even force myself to type those horrific numbers!), but Hicks' fifth year (except for shortened by injury) was great (offensively) and his sixth year (2018 and not in the information above) is even better. At the time Hicks was traded many were not unhappy to see him go (let's not let hindsight and the John Ryan Murphy fiasco cloud our memories of the past). My take home message with this post is that while Buxton has certainly been terrible this year there is precedent for players requiring more than the magical 1000 PAs to achieve success as a Major Leaguer. Allow yourself to imagine Buxton following a similar offensive trajectory as Hicks, a wRC+ of 127 with Buxton's defensive capability? That's good stuff right there.
  10. Twins are 26/30 with 0.197. Giants are the bottom at 0.170.
  11. Who was taken off the 40-man when Perkins was removed from the 60-day DL?
  12. I'm confused by this. How have the twins only had 320 lead-off plate appearances since the beginning of last season? There's been about 190 games since the beginning of last season. If you're only counting the lead-off of the game then there would be 190-ish plate appearances. If you're counting the lead-off for each inning then you're pushing 2000 plate appearances (190 games x 9 innings per game). I cannot figure out the 320.
  13. Cal Ripken weighed 220 pounds when most other SS weighed 175 soaking wet (I think Ozzie Guillen was listed at 150!). Ripken ushered in a new era of large shortstops (A-Rod, Jeter, etc.) that could play their positions very well in spite of their large size and did not seem overly prone to injury because of their size (particularly true in Ripken's case). Mike Trout (235 pounds) and Jason Heyward (245 pounds) are both exemplars of modern-day large outfielders that play their positions very well and don't have reputations as being injury prone. Based on these and other examples I don't believe that simply due to his size that Sano cannot become an absolutely adequate defensive outfielder. In terms of experience, we don't have to look past Danny Santana in 2014. Prior to 2014 he had only played a handful of minor league games in the outfield, but when given the opportunity to play CF he was not an embarrassment in the field and his fWAR was 3+ (largely because of his offensive success that year). While Sano certainly doesn't have Santana's range, he does have a strong, accurate arm that should dissuade baserunners from taking extra bases and if he works hard with the coaching staff he should be able to develop enough outfield skills to at least make the routine plays and keep the balls in front of him. If he does not work hard (and I have no reason to believe he won't) he will not be very good; but, this is true even if he plays 3B or DH -- if he isn't willing to work hard, keep his weight in check so his athleticism can shine though, and refine his skills, he will quickly become an overweight has-been that wasted an opportunity to be a once-in-a-lifetime type player.
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