twinssporto reacted to Brock Beauchamp for a blog entry, Twins Daily Tips & Tricks: Following!
Welcome to the latest entry into my Tips & Tricks series! In this brief post, I’ll quickly run through another new-to-us feature, “Following”. This will allow you to track and follow the content of people and content you like throughout the Twins Daily website.
Essentially, there are three aspects to following on Twins Daily: following categories, following content, and following individuals. I’ll run through each aspect and how each can be useful to you and improve how you find your favorite content on Twins Daily.
There are probably some contributors and forum users you like better than the rest, individuals whose content you know is going to be quality so you don’t want to miss it. Following a person on Twins Daily is easy, just click on their username or avatar and visit their profile page. Near the top of the page, you will see a “Follow Member” button. Click that, specify the parameters of your follow and whether you’d like to follow anonymously, and that’s it! You will now be notified whenever this user creates new content anywhere on the site!
NOTE: You should set your notification settings to specify how you’d like to receive information about new and updated content. You can change your notification settings from your user options screen or by clicking the link earlier in this paragraph. Scroll down to the “Followed Content” option and selecting your settings.
You can follow groups of content in Twins Daily, as well. Are you a minor league specialist? Then consider following the minor league news category. Maybe you want to catch all Twins news content, you can do the same. Just visit the category or forum page and somewhere near the top of the page, you will see a “Follow” button. Click that, specify your preferred options, and you will be notified of all content that is added to that category or forum. This also works for blogs if you want to follow the blog entries of your favorite Twins Daily writers, just pop over to their main blog page and search for the “Follow” button.
This is the most granular of the following options on Twins Daily. You can follow specific content you see on the site. If you like an article and its resulting comments, follow that article and you will be updated as new comments are added. The same applies to forum threads or individual blog entries, just look for the “Follow” button near the top of the page.
In the settings link I provided above, you can set to automatically follow content you create and content you participate in. If you’re a regular forum user or news story commenter, these are really useful functions to stay abreast of an interesting conversation and any replies you received to your own content.
That’s about it! I highly recommend everyone consider using the follow function on Twins Daily, as it’s just one more tool at your disposal to curate the site to fit your personal preferences.
And if you’re enjoying the new achievements system, there may be special badges to unlock by following content and other Twins Daily users…
twinssporto reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Overtaking the White Sox
The Minnesota Twins begin a four-game set tonight in Chicago, and it’s arguably their most important series of the year. How much importance lies in the amount of weight put on Postseason positioning, however.
After sweeping the Cleveland Indians over the weekend Rocco Baldelli’s club has all but put a nail in that proverbial coffin. Terry Francona’s squad has another tilt with the White Sox yet to play and cannibalizing divisional foes shouldn’t help them climb back into the race. That leaves Minnesota and Chicago, four games, division on the line.
Here’s the deal, there was never a point in which it seemed in doubt that the Twins would miss the Postseason. They are one of the five best teams in baseball, and an argument for the top two is more than healthy. Despite a midseason skid, even in a sprint, they’ve been well positioned the entire way. It’s that positioning, and exactly what they’re playing for, that remains to be seen.
Winning the AL Central in just 60 games loses some of its luster. Having home field advantage with no fans, and for just one three-game series prior to moving to a neutral site waters down impact. What Baldelli and his club must not lose sight of however, is understanding exactly what they can control.
Right now, it appears that some combination of the White Sox, Indians, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees could all be included amongst the bottom half of the Postseason clubs. Two of those are well known divisional foes, while the other two are regular juggernauts on an annual basis. None of their positioning is determinable solely by Minnesota, however.
If there’s a “lighter” inclusion come playoff time, it’d have to be argued that the Toronto Blue Jays qualify. Minnesota trying to play a matchup game seems like a losing proposition however, and a shift in mental makeup that generally would thrive off competition. Short of playing guys through injury, it’s time to go for it.
Winning this series against the White Sox, as they have done twice already this year, should be viewed as a must. Go grab hold of the AL Central and chase down the Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of landing the best seed in the American League. From there, setting yourself up for familiarity during the most volatile series makes too much sense.
First through fourth gets home field advantage in the opening round of the Postseason. Having secured that while winning the division sets a momentum building precedence going into somewhat of a crapshoot. There’s a definite boost playing within the confines of familiarity and having the ability to escape the game outside of a hotel room.
Regardless who Minnesota finds in the opposing dugout come October, they’ll all have more warts. Cleveland and Chicago have been routinely bested in the regular season, while the Astros and Yankees have pitching and injury question marks of their own, respectively. As was thought to be the case going into the year, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s club should have a leg up on virtually anyone they square off against.
The sky doesn’t fall if the Twins come up on the short end of the four-game set on the South Side. That said, it’s a series that should be managed with the highest priority and with no stones left unturned. Time to get it done and begin riding a wave that ends in a parade.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
twinssporto reacted to PSzalapski for a blog entry, Take a moment and enjoy the Twins' best regular season of your lifetime
I know we're all excited about the playoffs, but let's take a minute to appreciate the Twins' excellent regular season just concluded.
2016 2017 2018 2019 changeActual wins 59 85 78 101 +23Pythag wins 66 83 77 97 +20
The Twins had their second-best season ever, in terms of their record. Of course, the American league is much more stratified than ever, there being five teams with 95 losses or more, and the Tigers with 113, thus there are much more wins to be had for the top teams. The Twins came up just behind the Astros, Yankees, and Dodgers in the standings, while spending less on salary by a wide margin. Very impressive!
So where did the Twins' actual improvement come from? Eddie Rosario coined the term that the Twins marketing department ran with: Las Bombas! The Twins exploded to have the best offense in the game, not to mention they set the all-time total home run record, with 307 for the season. That wasn't nearly enough by itself to bring the Twins to 101 wins; they needed solid improvements from both their rotation and their relievers. Finally, most of these improvements came in a way that you probably could not have predicted: baseball is a funny game, and I am continually surprised at how much
. 2016 2017 2018 2019 changeLuck (pythag) -7 +2 +1 +4 +3 Hitters WAR 17.0 28.7 15.2 31.4 +16.2 Pitchers WAR 1.8 7.0 12.3 23.9 +11.6
I'll break down the hitters by WAR (technically fWAR, or FanGraph's WAR), focusing on the players that mattered most.
As a reminder, WAR is the best way to boil down any player's performance (from hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning) into one overall number. It is a "performance" stat that doesn't care about situations, not a situation-dependent "outcomes" stat (like WPA) or a more predictive "fundamentals" stat (like xWOBA or xFIP). That is, it tells you the overall contribution of a player that can be expected from that player's performance. This is measured in the number of fractional wins that player was better than a replacement-level player at his position. There's some good theory as to what is "replacement" level, but the closest the Twins have this year is C.J. Cron at 0.3 WAR--an okay hitter, but not that good compared to other first basemen. Any team could hope to find a first baseman on waivers or in their minor leagues almost as good as the 2019 version of C.J. Cron.
I'll list last year's players who have been replaced for comparison's sake, as well.
WAR 2018 2019 Change15 hitters 14.6 31.3 +16.7 RF Kepler 2.6 4.4 +1.8DH Morrison=>Cruz -0.7 4.3 +5.0SS Polanco 1.3 4.1 +2.8C Garver 1.3 3.9 +2.63B Sano 0.0 2.8 +2.8CF Buxton -0.4 2.7 +3.12B Dozier=>Arraez 1.0 2.1 +1.1LF Rosario 3.4 1.3 -2.11B Mauer=>Cron 1.0 0.3 -0.7 C Castro -0.2 1.5 +1.3CI Escobar=>Gonzalez 2.4 1.4 -1.02B Forsythe=>Schoop 0.4 1.4 +1.04O Cave 1.3 0.7 -0.6SS Adrianza 0.5 0.6 +0.1UT Grossman=>Astudillo 0.7 -0.2 -0.9
Take a moment to enjoy the contents of that rightmost column, and reflect on all the Twins games you watched and boxscores you read that led to that column. The Twins offense was better nearly everywhere, an improvement in one season that few teams are able to make in one year.
Moves that worked
Sprechen sie Baseball?
Four years ago, Max Kepler looked like a promising young player. A B-level prospect, he had up and down years in the minors before becoming the Twins' everyday right fielder in 2016. He put up hitting numbers that were just below average and was highly reliable in the field. Three years of nearly identical numbers (OPS+ of 96 each year) made us think that Kepler was a solid contributor but not a difference-maker. But something happened--whether it was tweaks by Kepler to change his launch angle a bit, mentorship from James Rowson, or a combination of several other things, Kepler doubled his home run rate while maintaining his plate discipline. He deserved to make the all-star team (there's always next year, though). Kepler is, at least in 2019, the best player on the team.
(GIFs from PitcherList, who borrowed them from MLB-owned media.)
On a Cruz every night
Whereas Kepler had a breakout year that still hasn't had enough attention, the Twins signed Nelson Cruz to do what he's always done: hit the ball hard over and over again. No doubt the Twins were hoping for merely a slight decline in his productivity coming off a year with 37 home runs and a 9% walk rate. Instead, Cruz kicked it up a notch, hitting 41 bombas and drawing walks at an 11% rate, increasing his season OPS+ from 134 to 166. While Kepler is the Twins' best player, I'd peg Cruz as their most valuable, as the Twins need to play all their best players in the field and have no other good option at DH. Year over year, the Twins improved by no less then 5 wins at DH position alone--simply put, without Cruz the Twins probably win "only" 97 games and maybe could have been caught by the Indians in the division.
Signing Schoop but pivoting to Arraez
The Twins signed Jonathan Schoop to replace Dozier at second base, and he did well in April and May, with an OPS+ well over 100. But the Twins knew they were getting a somewhat inconsistent player, and Schoop began to falter in June. Luis Arraez, meanwhile was hitting .344 with a high walk rate in AAA, which you can't let languish there. The Twins called him as fill-in in May and then permanently in June, when he quickly became an everyday palyer and then the starting second baseman, posting a 123 OPS+ and hitting .334. Schoop still got some playing time and actually improved in the second half, which is fortunate as the Twins need Schoop with Arraez hurt in the playoffs.
Not panicking about 2018 underachievers
In 2018, everything that could have gone wrong with the Twins offense did. Of they players that today remain from that team, in 2018 Sano had a terribly ineffective year, Buxton had lots of problems whenever he was actually playing, Polanco was good but not great in his half-season of work, and Castro was a poor hitter but a good catcher--but all these players had the potential for much more, and the Twins wisely kept all four around for the bomba squad to-be even as some Twins fans were ready to trade away Sano for peanuts and cut Castro. Instead, Sano finally showed that he is a very good hitter after all and not Delmon Young 2.0, Castro embraced increased rest to have the second-best hitting season of his career, Polanco's breakout was almost as strong as Kepler's, and much-injured Buxton hit very well in limited time. Collectively, these four players improved by eight wins. More importantly, three of the four hitters figure into the Twins' plans for years to come.
Giving rest to catchers
There is no longer any doubt that Mitch Garver is a top-notch hitter as well as a average-fielding catcher. Such a player is supremely valuable, but the Twins wisely held on to Jason Castro. These two flipped back-and-forth all year, enabling them both to get the rest they need at baseball's most taxing everyday position. With sporadic starts from Willians Astudillo, the catching position become one of the Twins' biggest strengths. The Twins have likely learned enough about these players to let Castro go in free agency and trust Astudillo to back up Garver, but that is a possible change for 2020. This year, keeping Castro has paid off handsomely.
Lifting the launch angle
We now know fairly certainly that "The most valuable batted balls are hit between 19° and 26°." However, knowing this fact is a far different thing than coaching players who are good at hitting the ball hard and flat to tweak their swing. A player can too readily change their launch angle but lose exit velocity--in short, a higher launch angle is only good if they continue to hit the ball hard at that higher angle. The five Twins hitters from last year who saw big improvements overall also saw big improvements their launch angle.
Launch Angle 2018 2019Buxton 12.7 19.5Kepler 16.2 18.2Polanco 15.5 18.0 Sano 12.9 16.0Garver 12.5 15.3
What's interesting is that there's more where that came from: if these players and their coaches can continue to tweak swings that launch the ball even higher while maintaining power, you might see incluso más bombas in 2020.
Moves that bombed
A failing Cron job
It is rare to find an above-average player available on waivers, but the Twins thought they had one in C.J. Cron, who the Rays let go to make room for Ji-Man Choi to start every night. And after the month of May, Twins fans were loving this move when Cron was hitting for power and drawing walks. But slumps starting in late June made us realize why the Rays considered him expendable. One might attribute nearly all of Cron's struggle to a nearly-chronic inflammation or "bone bruise" in his thumb, which harmed his swing substantially. So, I can't complain too much about this move--the Twins don't have a great solution at first base (especially with Brent Rooker's problematic year), and they might consider bringing Cron back next year, at least till Rooker, Alex Kiriloff, or even Luke Raley seems ready to contribute.
La Tortuga no está en fuego
Along with everyone else, I was on the Willians Astudillo bandwagon to start the year. I always love when unusual players can be successful, and Astudillo might be the most unusual. His minor league hitting stats, his catching ability, his position versatility, and his arm all argue for him to have a place on the team. But once he got regular playing time, the cracks began to show--it's really hard to be a good hitter when you swing at everything. And "swing at everything" is less of an exaggeration for Astudillo than for anyone else, as he walked only 5 times in 202 plate appearances. You don't really have to pitch to La Tortuga, you just have to throw it in his general direction. His propensity for weakly hit balls in play makes few pitchers fear him. Still, a .700 OPS is good enough to be a backup catcher in the majors, and maybe he can improve his hitting a little, so I'm not too worried here--but I'm not sure I have time for the La Tortuga fan club meetings anymore.
On to the starting pitchers:
WAR 2018 2019 Change6 starters 9.7 16.7 +6.9 Berrios 3.3 4.4 +1.1 Odorizzi 2.6 4.3 +1.7Gibson 2.8 2.6 -0.2Lynn=>Pineda 0.8 2.7 +1.9Romero=>Perez 0.7 1.9 +1.2Santana=>Dobnak -0.5 0.8 +1.3
Moves that worked
Berrios and Odo for the wins
Jose Berrios went from being the Twins' best pitcher to also their most dependable. There was never a stretch from Berrios where he faltered for an extended period, and he eclipsed earning 600 outs (that is, 200 IP) in a season for the first time in his career. His walk rate and ERA went down as his velocity stayed around 93-95 MPH and his outstanding curveball kept curving.
Odorizzi meanwhile had the best year of his career, posting a 3.51 ERA, 10 strikeouts per 9 IP, and allowing only 16 home runs, all the best of his career. The Twins are now wishing they could have signed him to a longer contract, as they need him next year.
The 1948 Braves lost the World Series on "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", though the 2001 Diamondbacks won the World Series with "Johnson and Schilling and the good Lord willing." Can the 2019 Twins advance on "Berrios and Odorizzi"...and not so warm and fizzy? Listen to Thin Lizzy? Then after, not so easy? The rhyming isn't as clever, but Baldelli's bullpen usage will have to be, as they'll likely need at least one win each series in games without either of their top two starters.
Patient, Passable Pineda & Perez
Martin Perez provided uncharacteristic excellence in April and May first half, but at the end of June something happened and he started giving up lots of runs in lots of innings. Michael Pineda had to work the rust out with a rough April, but after that was solid and finished the year with an ERA of 4 (lower than the league average) and solid numbers across.
Getting to know Randy Dobnak
Randy Dobnak was undrafted out of a college named Alderson-Broaddus in a town named Phillippi in West Virginia, so he went to pitch in an independent league where the Twins noticed him and signed him. He then had success at every level in the minors. He doesn't strikeout a lot, he gives up his share of walks, and his fastball can barely hit 94. His solution to this is to usually avoid the four-seam fastball and instead work the sinker, slider, and an occasional changeup and sprinkle it in and out of the zone. The results have been excellent in five starts, and that's likely enough for Dobnak to earn a start in the ALDS next week.
Moves that bombed
No ace to be seen
May and June had Twins fans loving Berrios, Perez, and Odorizzi, and August had Pineda pitching well, but at every step, the Twins could have dearly benefitted from a number one starter. The Twins tried to sign Dallas Keuchel, but he sat out half the season instead. They tried to trade for Marcus Stroman, but the Mets took him in a strange strategy of sacrificing the future to miss the playoffs today. They tried to trade for Zack Greinke, but they couldn't give up as much as the Diamondbacks could. They wanted Madison Bumgarner, but the Giants didn't want to part with their long-time starting pitcher. So the Twins had to make do without a top-notch pitcher, and now in the playoffs and in 2020, it becomes even tougher to get by without one.
Stop taking mystery pills
Michael Pineda, in a surprise to everyone, was suspended late in the year for testing positive for diuretics. Pineda claims that he took a weight loss pill that was unknowingly tainted with hydrochlorothiazide, and Major League Baseball pretty much conceded that fact in reducing his suspension from 80 to 60 games. Still, no one complained about this suspension; we cannot effectively ban PEDs unless we also ban PED-masking drugs, and we can't effectively ban those if excuses are allowed. So the lesson here is simple: professional athletes should never take any drug or supplement that hasn't been reviewed by team doctors. The Twins' staff will not let Pineda accidentally ingest a diuretic, but they had no way to prevent it here. Dear all future Twins players: don't take mystery pills. If they work, there's probably a reason, and if they don't work, why would you take them?
And the bullpen:
WAR 2018 2019 Change11 relievers+spot starts 2.4 7.7 +5.3 Rogers 1.9 2.1 +0.2 Duffey -0.2 1.2 +1.4Duke=>May 0.8 0.9 +0.1Pressly=>Harper 0.8 0.9 +0.1Moya=>Littell 0.1 0.6 +0.5Hildenberger=>Thorpe 0.0 0.6 +0.6Reed=>Smeltzer -0.2 0.5 +0.7Belisle=>Romo -0.2 0.5 +0.7Rodney=>Stashak 0.5 0.5 0.0Magill -0.3 0.1 +0.4Busenitz=>Parker -0.8 -0.2 +0.6
Moves that worked
Relievers are molded, not signed
I and most other writers wanted the Twins to sign some high-level relief help. There is no doubt that Falvey and Levine tried, but just came up short. But in the end, the Twins pen was well above average, and all but two of the contributors weren't such last year. The Twins know well that the best relievers are often failed starters, and Duffey, May, and Littell all made that transition this year, with Stashak having done so last year. Rogers got even better this year compared to last, and Thorpe and Smeltzer swung between the bullpen and rotation to fill in the gaps much better than expected. Gaining 5 WAR out of a pieced-together, work-in-progress bullpen is a tremendous boost to the team as a whole.
It's always in the last place you look
If you would have told me the Twins would add a reliever who throws 94-97 mph, throws a really nice curveball, strikes out 12.8 per 9IP, and keeps a lid on home runs, I'd be thrilled with that acquisition. But it wasn't required, as Tyler Duffey, who has been bouncing between the majors and AAA for four years, has become a upper-tier relief pitcher. He was searching for the secret to success and finally found it in embracing the relief role. Now my question is, how many more pitchers can Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner develop into scorchers?
Instead of trading prospects, call them up
The Twins front office were criticized for failing to trade for a top pitcher at the deadline, and their one acquisition, Sam Dyson, fell flat immediately. Still, they expressed a valid point: instead of trading their high-minors assets for short-term help, why not use the assets as the short term help itself? In very limited playing time, Brusdar Graterol contributed in key spots and showed that he's ready to help in the postseason. The Twins also called up Jorge Alcala to do the same, but the success of the rest of the bullpen limited his chances.
Want mo' Romo
Sergio Romo came onto the Twins roster with a big positive attitude and an even bigger slider that seems nearly unhittable to righthanders. While he wasn't around long enough to post more than half a WAR for the Twins, he contributed toward several wins and will be highly important against the Yankees and then the Astros, two highly right-handed teams, in the playoffs.
Moves that bombed
Blake "Out of the" Park-er
Blake Parker was signed as a plan B--a move to bolster the back end of the bullpen. Instead, he ended up the Twins' only bullpen acquisition over the offseason, and proceeded to give up 7 home runs and 16 walks against 36 innings pitched before the Twins said goodbye. His numbers before and after the Twins stint are passable, so the Twins can be forgiven for making an okay move that just didn't work out. Give them credit for moving on early enough--no Twins fan will need to remember Blake Parker after this paragraph ends.
His name was Magill, he called himself Lil, but everyone knew him as Nancy
Rocky Baldelli stepped into his room, only to find Guardado's bullpen. One leftover piece of that pen, whom Baldelli seemed to tout, was a pitcher who never shined as a reliever in the minors or majors. The Twins thought he had some tools they could work with, but it didn't come to pass as Matt Magill had a ERA of 4.45 and decent strikeout rate, but he fell apart in key situations and didn't have the foundation for success that the Twins' staff was looking for. Like Parker, they moved on from Magill quickly, and he has had some success with the Mariners, but he was never going to be a top bullpen option and is no big loss.
It's overall been an excellent season for the Twins. So take today and tomorrow to enjoy the afterglow of the best regular season the Twins have had in your lifetime and feel good about what they accomplished, no matter what happens in October.
twinssporto reacted to Nash Walker for a blog entry, ALDS: Bomba Squad vs. Bronx Bombers
With just two weeks remaining, the Twins are in firm control of the AL Central.
The real race is happening between the Astros and Yankees, and Houston is closing in on the top seed. This sets up for an ALDS matchup between Minnesota and…The New York Yankees.
The Twins will head to October with one of the most prolific offenses in MLB history. Minnesota ranks first in homers, second in batting average, and third in OPS. On Tuesday, Miguel Sano broke the league record for most players with 30 or more home runs on one team.
The Twins pitching staff has been nothing to scoff at. The team ranks 5th in the American League in ERA, and they have walked the second fewest batters. The bullpen, despite mid-season struggles, is ranked 4th in WAR. While this team loves homers, they are elite at stopping them. The Twins staff has allowed the 7th fewest home runs per nine innings.
Consistency has been the key in 2019. The Twins have never had a winning streak longer than six, and have never lost more than four in a row. They are on pace to finish the season 99-63. That would be their best record since 1965, where they won 102 games.
Here is their lineup:
Max Kepler (36 HR, .855 OPS)
Jorge Polanco (22 HR, .853 OPS)
Nelson Cruz (37 HR, .996 OPS)
Eddie Rosario (31 HR, .802 OPS)
Miguel Sano (30 HR, .886 OPS)
Luis Arraez (.349 AVG, .865 OPS)
Mitch Garver (30 HR, 1.000 OPS)
C.J Cron (24 HR, .782 OPS)
Marwin Gonzalez (15 HR, .744 OPS)
The Yankees have faced more adversity than anyone in the American League, and they are still going to win well over 100 games. They lead the league with the most money spent on IL players at $30,568,273. Giancarlo Stanton returned Wednesday after missing almost the entire season with a knee injury.
While the Twins prefer playing New York over Houston, the Yankees are far from a favorable draw. The Yankees are nipping at the heels of the Twins, trailing the home run race by just one heading into Thursday. The Bronx Bombers are second in MLB in OPS, OBP, and rank first in runs scored. Much like the Twins, this lineup is loaded with power and depth:
DJ Lemahieu (.329 AVG, .893 OPS)
Aaron Judge (24 HR in 95 G, .889 OPS)
Edwin Encarnacion (34 HR, .856 OPS)
Luke Voit (21 HR, .875 OPS)
Gary Sanchez (34 HR, .849 OPS)
Gleyber Torres (38 HR, .894 OPS)
Giancarlo Stanton (306 career HR, .905 career OPS)
Gio Urshela (20 HR, .915 OPS)
Brett Gardner (25 HR, .825 OPS)
The Yankees bullpen ranks first in WAR and their starting rotation is around league average. The lack of a frontline starter has been a concern for New York, but Luis Severino returned from a shoulder injury on Tuesday heaving at 96 MPH. Domingo German is 18-4 but is questionable to be available after the league placed him on Administrative Leave today while investigating for domestic violence.
The ALDS will begin in New York on October 4th. Twins’ ace Jose Berrios seems to be back to form after posting a 7.57 ERA in August. The two-time All-Star has been dominant in his last two starts, allowing just two runs in 14 ⅔ innings pitched. He is the game one go-to for rookie manager Rocco Baldelli.
It is anyone’s guess who will start game one for the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka could be a candidate. An All-Star this year, Tanaka posted a 3.86 ERA in the first half. Since then, Tanaka has allowed 11 homers in 67 innings. He is sporting a 5.78 ERA in the second half.
Former Mariner James Paxton has been a major disappointment in 2019. The lefty has a 1.3 WHIP and allows 1.4 home runs per nine innings. The Twins also rank first in MLB in OPS against left-handed pitching. Paxton strikes out about 11 batters per nine innings.
If Luis Severino proves to be healthy, I would not be surprised to see him take the hill in game one. The question is whether Severino can be trusted after missing 90% of the season with a serious shoulder injury.
The Twins will likely send All-Star Jake Odorizzi to the mound in game two. Odorizzi has been incredibly consistent with a 3.59 ERA. He is a fly ball pitcher but allows under one home run per nine innings.
The Yankees will turn to one of the aforementioned names in game two. J.A. Happ could be an option, although the Twins tagged him for two homers and six runs in 3 ⅓ innings in July.
The Twins question mark comes in game three. Will Kyle Gibson get an opportunity? Will Rocco Baldelli turn to his top-5 bullpen to handle 27 outs? Should Martin Perez even be considered? The biggest question for Minnesota is who they can trust in a possible elimination game.
What’s gonna happen here?
These are two of the best offenses in baseball, and there is no doubt that fireworks will be flying in this series. The Yankees have home field advantage, but the Twins are confident in their two starters.
The Yankees and Twins had one of the most memorable series’ of the year at Target Field in July. In three games, New York outscored Minnesota 30-27 and took two-of-three games.
This is going to be one of the most energetic and exciting series of the playoffs. There is so much history here and both squads have been tremendous in 2019. It is worth noting that one of these coaches will be winning Manager of the Year.
Both teams have questions in their rotation, but games one and two certainly favor the Twins. However, pitching will likely not win this series. The team that hits more home runs and capitalizes in key spots will head to the American League Championship Series.
twinssporto reacted to Patrick Wozniak for a blog entry, Is Max Kepler Becoming the Next Christian Yelich?
2019 has been a breakout year for Max Kepler. Kepler’s talent and upside has been on display since his days in the minor leagues but he has seemingly put it all together this season. In the year of the home run, Kepler has been no exception as he has led the best home run-hitting team in baseball with 36 long balls. His previous career high was 20, which Kepler will more than likely double. He will put up career highs in all of the traditional batting stats and has been good for a team best 4.4 fWAR. Defensively he is among the best right fielders in baseball and he has filled in admiringly in center field during Byron Buxton’s trips to the IL.
When dreaming about Max Kepler’s upside a comp that has often been made is to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. Like Kepler, Yelich spends the majority of his time in right field, hits for a lot of power despite not having a traditional power hitter’s build, and leads his team in home runs and WAR. Yelich’s contract situation is also very similar to Kepler’s as he is currently signed to a seven year, 49.57 million dollar contract that ends in 2021 with a club option in 2022. Kepler is also signed to a seven million dollar AAV through 2023 with a club option for 2024. Needless to say both Minnesota and Milwaukee can be nothing less than thrilled with those contacts.
While Kepler’s power surge came to fruition this season, Yelich had a similar transformation in 2018. Prior to being traded over to Milwaukee before the 2018 season, Yelich’s previous home run high with the Miami Marlins was 21 in 2016. However, last season Yelich exploded for 36 dingers in his first season with Milwaukee and has hit a career high 43 so far this year. Yelich’s 2018 numbers (.326/.402/.598, 166 wRC+, 7.6 fWAR) were good enough to win the NL MVP award and lead his team to within a game of the World Series. Although Milwaukee is now on the outside looking in for a wild card spot, Yelich has been every bit as good, hitting .326/.421/.672 for a 169 wRC+ and a 7 fWAR.
Kepler’s numbers have not yet reached the level of Yelich’s, but his great leap forward has happened at the same age as Yelich’s. Both players were consistent and above average players in their earlier years, but something clicked in their age-26 seasons. As both players became more familiar with major league pitching and most likely added some strength, there power numbers surged. Both started hitting the ball harder than ever as Yelich’s hard hit percentage went from 35.2% in his age-25 season, to 47.6% at age 26 (and 50.3% this year!), while Kepler has gone from 37.1% to 42.9% (and up from 33% for his first two seasons).
Both players have had similar power trajectories but there are clear differences in their overall skill sets. Kepler and Yelich both have good speed, but Yelich is a very good base stealer (26 SB on the year with only 2 CS) while Kepler very rarely attempts to take a bag. Yelich is also a much better overall hitter than Kepler thus far in their careers. Yelich has a career .301 batting average with a .381 on-base-percentage and a .373 wOBA. Kepler on the other hand has hit just .239 with a .320 OBP and .326 wOBA. Yelich has the advantage of having an extra year of being an elite hitter on Kepler, but his overall numbers would still be much better than Kepler’s.
Their career walk rates are similar (Yelich 11.0%, Kepler 9.9%) and Kepler actually has the better isolated power numbers (.208 ISO to .190) but Yelich has a huge advantage when it comes to batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Kepler has always had a notoriously low BABIP (career .254) and this season has been no different at .246. Contrast that to Yelich who has always been able to “hit it where they ain’t” with a career .358 BABIP. While BABIP can fluctuate a fair amount from season to season and is somewhat luck based, a career difference of over .100 is certainly more than just luck. Yelich’s ability to hit the ball slightly harder than Kepler and his faster sprint speeds probably helps a bit, but Yelich is also less pull-heavy than Kepler which makes him less susceptible to hitting into the shift. Kepler is currently pulling the ball at a 53.7 % clip while going opposite field just 19% of the time. Yelich hits the balls to all fields, pulling 38.5 %, going to center 38.3 %, and going opposite field 23.2 % of the time.
With Kepler hitting for as much power as he has, the Twins are probably loath to change his approach in order to improve his average. There is, however, one area where Kepler already exceeds Yelich – defense. Yelich is not a bad defender per say, but he is probably average at best and is rated negatively by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference (which could be the deciding factor in Cody Bellinger winning the NL MVP this year). Conversely, Kepler rates as one of the best right fielders in the MLB with a 19.8 UZR/150 and has played well in center with a 12.8 UZP/150. FanGraphs even has Kepler rated as the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball.
Christian Yelich is already one of the top players in all of baseball, but Max Kepler is not so far behind. If Kepler can continue to improve his overall offensive game and maintain his homerun power, he could join the elite few in baseball. MVP awards may be hard to come by with arguably the best player in MLB history also playing in the American League (Mike Trout, in case you’ve been living under a rock), but at the young age of 26 Max Kepler is starting to turn some heads. Minnesota would naturally be happy if Kepler can continue to replicate the success he has had in 2019, but it may even be possible that the best is yet to come.
twinssporto reacted to jimbo92107 for a blog entry, Twins lose first game, cancel season
The Minnesota Twins abruptly canceled the remainder of the 2018 season today after losing their opening game to the Baltimore Orioles, 3 to 2.
"Crushing defeat," said Derek Falvey, who took the rap like a man. "I apologize to the Pohlad family for putting a losing squad on the field. I hereby submit my resignation."
Falvey was quickly joined by the rest of the Front Office, plus all the Twins coaches and Paul Molitor, the team's Hall of Fame manager.
Various players either simply left town or announced their retirement. Joe Mauer plans to start a trout fishing club, possibly hiring Kent Hrbek as coach and manager. "Fishing and golf are all baseball players know," said Mauer. "I'm too old to become a pro golfer, but I think I can still catch a fish."
Fans concerned about refunds for season tickets are out of luck. The Pohlads are keeping the money.
twinssporto reacted to Thrylos for a blog entry, 2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 31-35
Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
This is the next segment in the 2018 Twins top 60 prospect list. You can find the introductory segment that discusses qualifications to be on this list and presents the players who were on the 2017 list but are not in this list here. You can find the list of the previous rankings here: 56-60, 55-51, 46-50 , 41-45, 36-40. You can find all segments in this series here.
Here are players 31-35 in reverse order with their 2017 ranking in parenthesis. Players no in the 2017 top 60 list are indicated by (--)
35. Bryan Sammons (--)
DOB: 4/27/1995; Age: 22
Bats: L, Throws: L
Height: 6'4", Weight: 235 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 8th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: A (2017)
Bryan Sammons was drafted in the 8th round of the 2017 draft by the Twins as a Senior from Western Carolina University. The Wilmington, NC native have had an unremarkable College career until he appeared in the Cape Cod league the summer of 2016, winning the title game and going 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 10 games (4 starts.) He pitched 29-1/3 innings, with a 1.36 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and 7.1 K/9. His senior year he pitched in 16 games (15 GS) for 104-1/3 innings, wiht a 1.20 WHIP, 11.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. He started his pro career at Elizabethton, where he pitched in 7 games (3 starts) for 24-2/3 innings, striking out 31 (11.3 K/9, 32.3 K%), walking 7 (2.6 BB/9, 25 K-BB%) with a 1.46 ERA, 2.76 FIP, and 0.85 WHIP (.228 BABIP). Mid-season after dominating Appalachian League hitters, he moved to the Midwest League Cedar Rapids and continued his successful seasona pitching in 6 games (5 starts) for 25-2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts (12.3 K/9, 31.5 K%) walking 11 (3.9 BB/9, 21.6 K-BB%) with a 3.51 ERA, 3.07 FIP and 1.29 WHIP (.318 BABIP).
The big lefty pitched 154-1/3 innings between college and pros, and has the looks of a rotation workhorse. He held lefties to a .143 batting average and righties to a .235 at Cedar Rapids. His fastball sits at 88-91 and has the ability to change velocities. Also has a curve, slider/cutter, and an changeup that are average but improving.
Likely 2018 path: Starting in the Cedar Rapids rotation, with an outside possibility of moving to Fort Myers based on Spring Training.
34. Derek Molina (--)
DOB: 7/27/1997; Age: 20
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 14th round in 2017
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: GCL (2017)
Derek Molina was drafted in the 14th round of the 2017 draft by the Twins as a draft eligible Sophomore from Merced College. The Turlock, CA native transferred there from Cal State Northridge, with the intend of being a two way player, pitcher and shortstop. Even though he hit .356/.456/.550 in 160 AB, the Twins drafted him as a pitcher. In his Sophomore season he pitched for 15 games (1 start) for 28-1/3 IP with a 0.95 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 13.7 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. He was assigned to the GCL as a pro and continued his success pitching in 10 games (2 starts) for 16-2/3 innings striking out 21 (11.3 K/9, 33.3 K%), walking 3 (1.6 BB/9, 28.6 K-BB%) with an 1.08 ERA, 1.44 FIP, and 0.90 WHIP (.308 BABIP).
The converted shortstop has a plus mid 90s fastball with a lot of movement, and an above average changeup with a good feel, complemented by a work in progress breaking ball. He has excellent command of all his pitches. Still very raw, but with very high potential and the mentality to close games, if needed (Between College and the GCL he amassed 8 saves in 2017). However the Twins will likely see what he can do as a starter the more accustomed he gets with pitching. He is a player that might jump up these ranking really quickly, in the manner of Brusdal Graterol.
Likely 2018 path: In extended Spring Training and then in the Elizabethton rotation, or pen, depending on the Twins' draft.
33. Alberoni Nunez (--)
DOB: 2/17/1999; Age: 18
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2016
Professional Experience: 1; Highest level: DSL (2017)
Alberoni Nunez was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2016 by the Twins from San Domingo, Dominican Republic. His first pro season was in the DSL where he was a monster with the bat (.352/.420/.545, .457 wOBA, 172 wRC+) and played CF and RF. For comparison purposes, Miguel Sano's numbers at the DSL were .344/.463/.547, .485 wOBA and 191 wRC+. Nunez walked 10.4% of the time and struck out only 18.1%, which is really optimistic of someone with a .194 IsoP as an 18 year old. Nunez has some speed as well, stealing 11/19 bases and harvesting 7 triples. An interesting player to follow when he comes Stateside.
Likely 2018 path: In extended Spring Training and then in the GCL outfield
32. Kohl Stewart (17)
DOB: 10/7/1994; Age: 23
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6'3", Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round in 2013
Professional Experience: 5; Highest level: AAA (2017)
Kohl Stewart was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2013 draft from St Pius X High School in Houston, TX. Stewart is one of those players that elicit a lot of conflicting emotions when evaluated, because of the high expectations based on his potential and drafting position, which he apparently has not come close to fulfilling. He started his professional career in the GCL the year he was drafted and pitched in 6 games, 3 starts, for 16 innings, striking out 16, walking 3, for a 1.69 ERA, and 0.938 WHIP. He also made a start in Elizabethton that season for 4 innings, striking out 8, allowing a hit and a walk, after he recovered from a foot injury he suffered while stepping on a sea shell on the beach. The next season (2014) he moved to single A Cedar Rapids, where, about 3 years younger than the league, he started 19 games (87 IP), struck out 62 (6.4 K/9, 17.2 K%) and walked 24 (2.5 BB/9, 10.5 K-BB%) and finished the season with 2.59 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.138 WHIP (.270 BABIP), while fight shoulder tenderness. After that season MLB.com ranked him 36th best prospect in Baseball, and the Baseball Prospectus ranked him 28th. Stewart had a somewhat disappointing following season in 2015 for the Miracle. He started 22 games after losing about a month in the DL because of elbow inflammation. He pitched 129-1/3 innings had 45 BB (3.1 BB/9, 4.7 K-BB%) and 71 K (12.8 K% and 4.9 K/9) for a 3.20 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP (.308 BABIP) The hope was that the 4th overall pick will miss a lot of bats, as he did in 2013 where in 24 IP in both Rookie teams he walked 4 and struck out 24, but he did not. Potentially his injury was to blame, but that was not a very good season for him. Last season he repeated in the high A Miracle where he improved enough (9 GS, 51-2/3 IP, 44 K, 7.7 K/9, 20.7 K%, 19 B, 3.3 BB/9, 11.7 K-BB%, 2.61 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, .253 BABIP) to be promoted to AA Chattanooga the end of May. There, his numbers flattened out again (16 GS, 92 IP, 47 K, 4.6 K/9, 11.8 K%, 44 B, 4.3 BB/9, 0.8 K-BB%, 3.03 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, .291 BABIP) before finishing the season in the DL with right biceps tendonitis. Other than a game at Rochester, Stewart spent all last season in Chattanooga starting in 16 games, pitching 77 innings striking out 52 (6.1 K/9, 15.5 K-BB%), walking 45 (5.3 BB/9, 2.1 K-BB%,) hitting 4 and throwing 13 wild pitches. Ended with ta 4.09 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.52 WHIP and .296 BABIP. He spent good chunks of the season in the DL with left knee tendonitis.
Here is what I wrote last season about Stewart:
It appears that Stewart's ceiling moved after each of his seasons, from a top of the rotation flamethrower, compared to fellow Texan Roger Clemens when drafted to a bottom of the rotation pitch to contact pitcher who will utilize his ground outs (about 1.8 as many as fly outs for his career) to get bats out. I think that the true is somewhat in between. There are a few things that have stalled Stewart's development: First and foremost Stewart is still learning how to pitch at 23 years old. He was primary football player who was on his way to be a College quarterback before the Twins drafted him and he used to throw the ball past high schoolers in the Houston Catholic School circuit. His stuff is excellent. He has a plus to plus plus four seamer that hits 96, which he alternates with a plus 2 seamer in the low 90s and supplements it with a close to plus hard slider/cutter in the low-mid 80s, an above average high 70s curveball and an average change up. His command is about average at this point and the primary reason of his declining K/BB ratio. The issue with his command is his mechanics that are not smooth. This issue has also caused him the nagging injuries (other than the seashell one) which he has been battling with all his pro career. At this point the Twins and Stewart will be better served by taking a step back and re-examining his mechanics, working on a consistent, repeatable delivery that will help him be successful, instead of rushing him again. If it were up to me, I would have him start 2017 in Extended Spring Training to do this, instead of a league that is 3 years older than him, and move him to AA with a new delivery and confidence and a way to excel, avoid injuries, and reach his potential. Not sure that the Twins will do so...
I feel more that ever that this is a make or break season for him. He was left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft and was not selected; that must have been a wake up call. The Twins just need to do the right thing and try to fix his mechanics, before throwing him out there an having yet another disappointing season, his last before he becomes a minor league free agent...
Likely 2018 path: In the Rochester rotation, depending on health.
31. Ben Rortvedt (16)
DOB: 9/25/1997; Age: 20
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 5'10", Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016
Professional Experience: 2; Highest level: A (2017)
Ben Rortvedt was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft from the Verona, WI Area High School. He started his pro career in the GCL where he played in 20 games (59 AB) hitting .203/.277/.254 with 5 BBs and 8 Ks, before he moved up to Elizabethton for the last 13 games of the season where in 40 AB he hit .250/.348/.250 with 5 BB, and 2 K. He mostly batter third, fifth and sixth in the GCL and on the 7th spot in Elizabethton. He was rushed to Cedar Rapids last season, which was forgettable for him. He hit .224/.284/.315 with a .279 wOBA, and 71 wRC+. He also had career worsts in walks (6.5%) and Strikeouts (17.9%). He had reverse splits hitting LHPs remarkably (.311/.400/.393) but neutralized against RHPs (.202/.253/.296). His OPS by month was .229, .510, .953, .575, .711, .364, which indicated that other than a hot spell in June, he was unremarkable the whole season.
He has a good feel in the catcher position which he played in 86 of his 89 total games (he was the DH for 3 games.) Good arm with 36% CS, few issues blocking the ball (15 PB for the season,) but overall a lot of promise, but a lot of youth and development ahead of him to reach his potential that is that of an above average two ways MLB-regular catcher. His hitting tool is just not there, and I am not sure the that Twins did him a favor rushing him to full season ball. There are questions at this point whether his hitting will be good enough for him to have a shot in the majors. Catchers develop later, and maybe slowing down will help the former second round draft pick.
Likely 2018 path: Repeating Cedar Rapids.
twinssporto reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, I do not want Darvish, but thanks for disagreeing.
I do not know how to make this case for TD except in this short blog. I love the ability to discuss, debate and disagree without antagonism.
As you have seen and responded to - I am the anti Darvish guy, at least in years 3 and beyond and the likes and the responses have been wonderful. This is what a sight like this is best at doing.
I choose to be the contrarian and I have tried to express that as many ways as I can. Should I pull all of my statements together here?
But that is not my point. It is the wonderfully civil discourse that has happened that really pleases me. Do I care if you all agree? No. I just want an ability to challenge the prevailing attitude.
I want to say no without being angry or responding to your disagreement in an angry way.
All of the comments are spread throughout the various posts and dialogues and I have truly enjoyed every argument and challenge.
Thanks to all of you and to TD.