Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Are the Twins Right in Trusting Miranda at the Hot Corner?
Throughout the majority of his minor league career, Minnesota prospect Jose Miranda has played at third base. When he was eventually promoted to the big leagues in early 2022, it came with the caveat that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had acquired veteran Gio Urshela to be Rocco Baldelli’s third basemen. When Alex Kirilloff got hurt and Miguel Sano went down, there was some thought that Urshela could slide across the diamond, but instead it was Miranda who saw the bulk of his playing time there.
Although the Twins utilized both Miranda and Luis Arraez plenty at first base in 2022, the dealing of Urshela to the Los Angeles Angels suggests that the young Puerto Rican is destined to lock down the hot corner in 2023. How much should fans be worried about that reality?
The unfortunate truth for Minnesota is that their infield defense has not been good the past couple of seasons. In 2022, it was particularly bad. Minnesota fared fine as a whole defensively thanks to a strong outfield. They were held together on the dirt by superstar Carlos Correa, but the likes of Urshela, Arraez, Miranda, and Jorge Polanco were often culprits holding the club back.
Specifically looking at Miranda, he was what one may call a butcher at first base. Playing nearly 600 innings at first last season, Miranda posted an awful -6 defensive runs saved and Statcast agreed, attributing him a -4 outs above average number. Among 29 players to record at least 550 innings at first base last season, only the Rangers Nathaniel Lowe posted a lower DRS number. OAA had Miranda a bit better, but 20th still placed him in the bottom third of the league.
At third base, in a much smaller sample size, Miranda fared better. He recorded just under 250 innings at the hot corner and was neutral by both DRS and OAA on the season. That could be a positive thing, but small samples are also extremely difficult to read into when considering defensive metrics.
Now shifting across the diamond, Miranda will look to settle back into a role he grew familiar with on the farm. One caveat to that is he’ll be doing so alongside someone other than Correa (more than likely). Needing to acclimate to a new teammate, and their range, he’ll also be working in a season where the shift is banned for the first time. Positioning as a whole will be an entirely new exercise for Minnesota.
The Statcast data for Miranda is largely unhelpful at third base. He never reached the minimum threshold for arm strength calculations, and while he was credited with the greatest negative OAA value going towards third base, it was miniscule at best. We won’t know what Miranda is at third until he has more time to settle in there, but we can hope that the missteps at first base were largely related to learning a new position on the fly.
It would be disappointing to see a 24-year-old locked into first base so soon, and seeing him produce defensively at third base would help to calm those notions. Minnesota has options at first, and they are now counting on Miranda to be the guy at third. Here’s to hoping he can rise to the occasion.
Minny505 reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Twins, Kyle Garlick Avoid Arbitration, Agree to One-Year Deal Worth $750,000
The Good Lord put Kyle Garlick on this Earth to do one thing: mash left-handed pitching. The 30-year-old isn’t a great fielder, has never taken more than 200 plate appearances in a season at the major league level, and consistently fails to hold a Duolingo streak (allegedly). But, he can put a hurt on a ball thrown from a southpaw like few players in MLB.
Garlick’s career slash line against lefties is a lopsided .251/.301/.538, almost a mirror image of Byron Buxton’s .224/.306/.526 total effort in 2022, and a hearty upgrade over the average AL slash line against lefties in 2022 (.246/.315/.399). I tried typing Garlick’s line against right-handers, but the power ominously flicked on and off while a ghastly voice told me the day of my death.
For Minnesota, the fit is obvious; the team is 21st in MLB in OPS against lefties dating back to the 2020 season, as core players like Max Kepler and, strangely, Miguel Sanó have found themselves flummoxed when facing southpaws. While other lefty killers like Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron have exited stage right, the Twins have struggled to find replacements, and the team that dominated lefties in 2019 (.872 OPS!!) needs aid against them.
This is an aside, but Nelson Cruz hit .361/.438/.730 against lefties while in a Twins uniform. Man, that guy rocked.
For Garlick, the deal is a nice safety net; players who break into the league at the age of 27 don’t usually become roster fixtures, and Garlick’s two-year tenure with the Twins has so far represented the heftiest playing time any major-league franchise has offered him. Health has also failed Garlick. The outfielder suffered four separate injuries in 2022 while a sports hernia knocked out most of his 2021 campaign. His new contract worth $750,000 is now a little over the veteran minimum of $700,000, making the deal a slight perk up to his paycheck.
Garlick will never be an impact player, but every team needs tertiary specialists, and the Twins have been significantly lacking in players who can thump a lefty. It’s easy to imagine a late-game scenario where Rocco Baldelli pinch-hits Garlick with a lefty reliever stuck on the mound, giving the Twins a better chance to nab an extra-base hit, potentially securing a crucial run. Or, maybe, Garlick starts against a tough lefty, cranking two homers in a rousing effort.
You don’t even need to imagine that one because he did it last year against Shane McClanahan.
In any case, the deal is a low-stakes buy-in for a player who helps fix a desperate roster need. If healthy, Garlick could be a useful piece against a niche, yet important, variety of pitcher. If he isn't healthy, the team is down a sum of money any good accountant could wipe away with ease.
Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Do the Twins Need to Fix Jorge Lopez?
In 2021 Jorge Lopez was not a good pitcher. To be fair, he really hadn’t been a good pitcher in the 102 games he’d thrown at the Major League level. Across three organizations Lopez tallied a 6.04 ERA while working 350 innings. That is why, after starting 25 games in 2021, the Baltimore Orioles moved him to the bullpen.
Lopez was acquired on a waiver claim from the Kansas City Royals, and now was gifted an opportunity to work in relief at 29-years-old. The results couldn’t have been better. Across 44 games, Lopez racked up 19 saves and a cool 1.68 ERA. His strikeouts jumped to double-digits per nine for the first time in his career, and while the walk rate held steady, he stopped allowing home runs. It earned him his first trip to the All-Star Game, and Baltimore parlayed the success into a solid return featuring Cade Povich and Yennier Cano.
Then Lopez got to Minnesota’s bullpen. In 23 games, he lost a hold of the closer role, recorded just three saves, and posted a 4.37 ERA. His strikeout rate tumbled while the walks ticked up and he allowed more than a hit per inning pitched. To say it was a complete reversal of what was expected to be acquired would be putting it lightly.
As a whole, the chief change for Lopez was to stop throwing a four-seam fastball. He used the pitch less than 5% of the time last season, and instead funneled his energy into a sinker. The pitch has gained more than two miles per hour in velocity, averaging over 97 mph in 2022. It’s been an absolute weapon, but clearly things changed a bit with Minnesota.
Looking at the numbers, it’s not clear that Lopez changed a whole lot with his pitch mix. The slider and changeup usage has risen since joining the Twins, but not by more than nominal percentage points. The key difference looks to be in pitch location.
For whatever reason, Lopez utilized the lower portion of the strike zone with the Twins. Newly adapted thinking has suggested that fastballs up in the zone, depending on spin rates, can cause additional issues for hitters. With Lopez throwing a sinker, any amount of run could be manipulated to travel back within the zone as well.
Any team acquiring a new talent is likely to make tweaks or suggest options, but caution would seem wise with an arm going so well. It’s also possible that Lopez made changes to his location, tunneling techniques, or sequencing on his own accord or the game calling from Minnesota catchers. No matter who is responsible for the changes having been made, it’s clearly imperative that both sides get together and figure out a better path forward.
Due to his bouncing around early in his career, Lopez is under team control for two more seasons still. The Twins absolutely want him in their bullpen if he’s the Orioles version, but they can’t afford him to turn back into what he was as a starter, or be as hittable as he was down the stretch in 2022.
Minny505 reacted to Matt Braun for an article, What Can We Learn From the Playoff Catchers?
I looked at the playoff catchers—no need to thank me, it’s all in a day’s work—and one glaring, obvious, apparent, unmistakable, overt trend exists: framing wins ballgames. This isn’t news. At least, it shouldn’t be. Through a combo platter of decreased stealing, increased stuff, and the realization that those extra strikes actually do matter, the catching position has evolved to fit the framing niche. MLB has shifted towards a homogenized framing aesthetic so dominant that the Houston Astros actively happily stomach watching Martin Maldonado hit just to enjoy his defense rewards.
If you’ve stumbled onto a broadcast, any broadcast over the last few seasons, you’ve likely noticed the catcher kneeling in a position that would give Sparky Anderson a heart attack. Even with a man on first base, the catcher will remain touching the ground, utterly unphased by whatever threat the runner poses while focusing on receiving the ball with masterful precision. A stolen base is palatable; a missed strike is not.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that eight of the top nine catchers by Baseball Prospectus’ framing stat belong to playoff teams. The tenth was a 27-year-old rookie in Colorado named Brian Serven. Hi, Brian. In contrast, only two of the worst 10 framers—Austin Nola and Francisco Mejia —started for a playoff team.
The other fascinating trend had to do with playing time: almost no team relies on a singular catcher anymore. Outside of J.T. Realmuto, a true athletic freak who can do everything well, Alejandro Kirk, a well-rounded youngster in Toronto, and Cal Raleigh, the big dumper, playoff teams rely on a tandem of framers, eschewing ideas of one star in favor of a two-headed team. Although, the star-catcher approach may have returned somewhat amongst the MLB landscape as a whole; there were five primary catchers with more than 500 plate appearances in 2022, the highest total in a full season since 2018.
That’s great and all, but what can the Twins glean from this? They may already have one of their pieces in Ryan Jeffers. He can frame with the best of them (24th out of 120 catchers, according to Baseball Prospectus), and his .208/.285/.363 slash line in 2022 is in the ballpark of your average major league catcher, as backstops collectively hit .226/.295/.363. He may have more in his bat; Baseball Savant thinks he underperformed his batted-ball data, and his top-end exit velocity is elite. Still, he’s just one player—one not nearly good enough to carry a team like Realmuto. The Twins need a sidekick.
There are a few names available at the peak—Omar Narvaez, Christian Vazquez , Sean Murphy if they’re feeling spicy—who can provide varying degrees of batting prowess, but the middle of the free-agent pack provides defensive gurus like Tucker Barnhart and Austin Hedges. Although, offensive capabilities in this group drop from “acceptable” to “Lovecraftian horror.”
Of course, there’s a wrench that MLB will toss into this: new rule changes next season will encourage and likely boost the run game. With bigger bases and a pitch clock entering the fold, players might release their inner Vince Coleman, pushing teams to find a happy medium between hyper-focused framing and stolen base watchdogging. Or maybe stolen bases remain stagnant. Baseball moves like that sometimes. If the steal does return, the Twins may be wise to anticipate the trend and sign a gun-slinger to catch beside Jeffers.
Really, this entire article could read as “Gary Sanchez was not the answer.” Backstops with offensive upside—and only offensive upside—must reach some sort of Willson Contreras plateau before serious playoff teams consider them a legitimate option. That’s just the game these days. Sanchez was a potentially explosive addition—ushering him away from the New York media seemed wise—but the move didn’t work, and the team should learn that lesson. The Twins will probably need to find Jason Castro 2.0 if they want to play meaningful baseball beyond September.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Joe Ryan Has Another Level
The Rays were likely willing to part with Joe Ryan because of his pitch mix concerns, as he dominated every stop in the minors by using a unique fastball almost exclusively. The pitch was deceptive and unhittable, as his low arm slot made it hard for hitters to anticipate where the ball is going to end up. No fastball is good enough to sustainably dominate the majors, however, and Ryan is set to work on diversifying his pitch mix in 2022.
He threw his fastball 60% of the time in 2022, down about 5% from 2021 as he began mixing sliders 20% of the time while also throwing an occasional changeup or curveball. His final line of a 3.55 ERA across 147 innings points to this pitch mix change being a massive success, although there is some context to consider.
Ryan had a few months that prevented him from putting up some eye-popping numbers in his rookie season. In June, he posted a 5.74 ERA, followed by a 5.06 mark in July and a 4.13 in August. At the time the explanation was the difficulties he was having returning from COVID, which likely did carry some weight. Still, almost every bit of failure Ryan had in 2022 stemmed from his offspeed offerings.
Ryan’s slider allowed a .245/.330/.497 line, his changeup .277/.492/.355, and his curveball .286/.333/.393. For comparison sake, his fastball allowed a .145/.263/.300 mark. It seemed like every home run he allowed was on an offspeed pitch. After plenty of scouting reports saying Ryan was a reliever because of his pitch mix, the floor that many worried about showed itself for several months. Even with his solid final numbers, the questions that were raised about Joe Ryan being able to navigate top-tier lineups remain. Moving forward there’s reason to be optimistic.
The biggest issue of Ryan’s game is clearly the success of his offspeed pitches, and the final numbers on them certainly validate those concerns. Ryan got incredibly unlucky according to his expected numbers for the entire season. His slider accounted for 40% of the home runs he gave up despite throwing it just 40% of the time. The pitch allowed a .245 BA but had a .221 expected batting average. While getting clubbed to the tune of a .497 SLG, the pitch had an expected SLG of just .354, an even better mark than his highly touted fastball. This is true of both his changeup and curve as well, as all of his secondaries' actual numbers were on the wrong side of the expected stats.
This is no call to reward Ryan for what Statcast says his pitches “should” be. There are a lot of factors that go into expected numbers. It is odd however that in a season where the ball was assumedly changed to negatively impact offense that Ryan would underperform so consistently. There’s no telling how these pitches will look in 2023, but it's safe to assume that Ryan and the Twins will continue to refine these offspeed pitches, and the deep numbers say they have a surprisingly strong base to build off of. His slider in particular appears to have a chance at being his best pitch based on the expected stats and the near 30% whiff rate.
Things often went wrong when Joe Ryan turned to his secondary pitches in 2022. It confirmed many of the predictions that were made about the fastball first right-hander and likely still leaves a few concerned about his future as a starter. Still, Ryan put up dominant stretches despite these struggles, and the final numbers say that his pitch mix isn’t nearly the disaster some thought. In 2023, Ryan’s goal will surely be to establish one more reliable offering to pair with his fastball. Doing so opens a whole new ceiling for a pitcher that already helped anchor the rotation in 2022. The best part is, Joe Ryan is closer than we think.
Minny505 reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Eleven Free Agents the Twins Should Avoid
The Minnesota Twins have several needs to meet this offseason. Shortstop. A top-of-the-rotation starter. Probably another catcher. Bullpen help. You can’t swing a dead cat without a local writer offering their suggestions.
This is fine. What’s equally important, and what these so-called experts refuse to address, are the moves the Twins shouldn't make. A bad signing or ill-begotten trade can derail a season before it even begins. Andrelton Simmons. Tommy Herr. Matt Shoemaker. Names that live in Minnesota baseball infamy as surely as Phil Cuzzi or the marshmallow salesman who got clocked by Billy Martin.
Here then are the free agents the Minnesota Twins should avoid as they build their 2023 roster. Reasonable people can often disagree, but not in this case:
Matthew Perry. The former Friends star is releasing a memoir about his decades-long struggle with drug addiction, but it’s being overshadowed by his disparaging remarks regarding Keanu Reeves. Everyone loves Keanu Reeves. Off-the-field controversy is never something a team wants to court, especially if the free agent is 50 and only plays celebrity hockey. Ty Cobb. Dead. A 3BR, 2 BA house in Eagan. The spike in interest rates can’t help but make a financially conscious team like the Twins wary, and this spacious rambler with an open-concept kitchen and walk out basement doesn’t fit any of their current needs. Kevin Costner in Bull Durham. The team clearly wants Ryan Jeffers to be the everyday catcher, but his injury-marred 2022 and Minnesota’s lack of MLB-ready depth at the position points to the need for help. Unfortunately, Kevin Costner in Bull Durham is unavailable, as he was just acting and is much older now. Whitey Ford. Dead. The Papa John’s Papa Bowl. While the team might have gluten issues or are looking to cut out the healthy dose of carbs in pizza crust, a pile of hot pizza toppings in a bowl feels like it creates more problems than it solves. Lean proteins and vegetables feel like a better fit. Aaron Judge. He’s such a big dude he might bonk his head on Target Field’s doorways. For a team with a recent history of concussion issues, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Rod Carew. He’d still probably hit .300, but the power and speed just aren’t there, as he’s a 77-year-old man. Kanye West. Google “kanye+west”. Walter “Big Train” Johnson. Dead. Pat Mahomes. Twins lineage, generational arm talent, and a bona fide star. However, plays a different sport and would be unavailable for much of the season. Also his voice kinda sounds like a Muppet with a scratchy throat, which may cause problems with Twins outfielder Max Kepler, whose wife recently left him for Grover per Alpha News.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez Named 2022 Silver Slugger Finalists
On Thursday, MLB named the finalist for the Rawlings Silver Slugger Awards, which honors the top offensive players at each position. The winners are scheduled to be announced on Thursday, November 10th. While the BBWAA votes for many end-of-season awards, MLB managers and coaches select the finalists. Rocco Baldelli and three other Twins coaches served as the team's voting members this season.
According to MLB.com, "MLB managers and coaches vote for the Silver Sluggers, which go to one player apiece in each league at catcher, DH, and each infield position, plus three outfielders. Like the Gold Glove Awards, the Silver Sluggers also added a utility category in 2022." Carlos Correa was named an AL shortstop finalist, and Luis Arraez finished in the top 3 at the utility spot. Both players face a challenging field, so let's see if either has a shot at the award.
Correa is one of four AL shortstop finalists, along with Bo Bichette, Xander Bogaerts, and Corey Seager. According to fWAR, Bogaerts accumulated 8.7 more offensive runs above average than the other top-four shortstops. Correa played over 13 games fewer than the other candidates but ranked as the best AL shortstop in wRC+. Bichette had the most hits in the AL, and Seager hit over 30 home runs in his first AL season. Only Bichette ranked higher than Correa in Win Probability Added among the finalists. Correa's slow start and games missed likely means he finishes behind the other candidates.
Arraez faces a competitive field in the utility spot because two of his competitors are finalists at other positions. Shohei Ohtani is a former Silver Slugger winner at DH and is in the conversation for AL MVP. He is a Silver Slugger finalist at DH and utility. DJ LeMahieu has two Silver Sluggers at second base while being a finalist at that spot again this season. Arraez will get consideration for this award since he won the AL batting title and kept Aaron Judge from winning the Triple Crown.
Ohtani had better offensive numbers than Arraez, but it's hard to know if coaches viewed him as a utility player. During the 2022 season, he didn't play an inning at any defensive position other than pitcher. Arraez made defensive starts at first base, second base, and third base, which helped his case to be considered a utility player. There is no precedent for voting history at this position since the utility spot is new for 2022.
Minnesota is looking for its first Silver Slugger winner since Nelson Cruz (DH) took home the award in 2020. Back in 2019, Mitch Garver (Catcher) and Cruz (DH) won the honors as part of the Bomba Squad team. Before that, the Twins hadn't won a Silver Slugger since Joe Mauer in 2013. Congratulations to Arraez and Correa on their nomination.
Just eight days ago, Arraez and Correa, along with Max Kepler were named nominees for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Do you think Correa or Arraez will win the Silver Slugger? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Reclamation Starters for Twins Need to End
Going into 2021, manager Rocco Baldelli was strapped with ineffective veterans Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ. The latter posted mediocre numbers with the New York Yankees in a truncated 2020, and hadn’t truly been good since 2018. The former wouldn’t know a clean bill of health if a doctor prescribed it, and while decent when healthy, was nothing short of a trainwreck for the Twins.
In total, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s constructed roster saw a record 35 pitchers brought to the mound. Short starts were a constant due to ineffectiveness, and team mascot Willians Astudillo made four different appearances on the bump.
Fast forward to free agency 2022 and Dylan Bundy was the first acquisition made by Minnesota. Bundy’s lone good season came during the 2020 debacle, and despite being a former 4th overall pick, he’s never looked the part of a legit starting arm. It was a fine back-of-the-rotation edition, but ultimately he made 29 starts and far too often in big spots.
Doubling down on more of the same, the Twins opted for Chris Archer who had recently had Thoracic Outlet surgery and repaired a hip labrum. His 19 1/3 innings dating back to 2019 should’ve never had him beginning 2022 in anyone’s starting rotation. Falvey told reporters recently Minnesota wanted to ease him along, but things never got better.
The Twins President of Baseball Operations said, “Our hope was that if we started a little slow with him … to be able to unleash that a little more through the course of the year,” Falvey said. “And we were just never able to get there. Then when we had other injuries, as a result of the other guys going down … we then ultimately had to continue to lean on Chris at that stage to make those starts.”
Despite using a club record 38 pitchers in 2022, again because of poor performances both in the rotation and bullpen, a positive caveat was discovered depth. Louie Varland followed up a 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award by making it to the big leagues and grabbing his first game on the final day of the season. Simeon Woods Richardson, a piece acquired with Austin Martin from the Blue Jays when Minnesota sent out Jose Berrios, also took a turn in the majors. Add in the continued growth for Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder and you’ve got a solid set of depth starters.
We won’t see Devin Smeltzer back in the organization next season as he opted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, but Cole Sands could continue to develop. There’s hope that Jordan Balazovic will return to form, and another big jump from Marco Raya, David Festa, or Blayne Enlow could put them in the conversation as well. In short, there are plenty of options to fill out the group.
That puts pressure on Falvey and Levine to adequately allocate pitching funds this offseason. Whether on the open market or in trade, the time to bargain shop has come and gone. Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle are all capable top-half rotation pieces. Chris Paddack could be that too, assuming he comes back well mid-summer. No one else brought in can even flirt with the notion of slotting in behind that group.
Aces are few and far between in baseball. Rarely do they hit the open market, and it’s always a bit of a dice roll as to which will thrive in a new situation. Minnesota isn’t an ideal market, but money talks and it’s time for the front office to speak with it. Another throw-in starter being signed to anything but a camp invite deal should be cause for significant ire. It’s time to add big or stop asking to be taken seriously.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Trade Candidate: Jorge Polanco
Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates.
What Did He Do in 2022?
Jorge Polanco has been one of the Twins' most valuable players recently. Since the start of 2019, Polanco has produced the team's second-most WAR behind Byron Buxton. The 2022 season saw Polanco miss significant time for the first time since 2018. He tried to play through a left knee injury, but his performance was still above average. In 104 games, he hit .235/.346/.405 (.751) with a 117 OPS+. One area significantly impacted by his injury was his defensive performance. He ranked in the 4th percentile according to Outs Above Average, and only three AL second basemen ranked lower than him in SDI. Like many Twins, injuries prevented him from having an even better season.
Why is He a Trade Candidate?
There are multiple directions the Twins can go with lineup construction for the 2023 campaign. Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon can get more regular playing time at second base, or the Twins can look into the minors to fill the spot. Austin Martin and Edouard Julien are on pace to debut in 2023, especially with standout performances in the AFL. Martin is building off a strong September, while Julien has been an on-base machine. Both of these prospects have a chance to be the team's second baseman of the future, so the Twins may be willing to open the position for a younger player.
What is His Trade Value?
Polanco is under team control for the next three seasons, which makes him one of the team's most valuable trade assets. He is under contract for $7.5 million in 2023, and he has a $10.5 million option for 2024 and a $12 million option for 2025. While missing time this season, FanGraphs pegged Polanco's value as $14.6 million. In 2021, he was worth over $33 million; in 2018, he was worth over $26 million. Polanco has significantly outperformed his contract, which might make other teams willing to trade for the second baseman.
The current offseason might not be the optimal time to deal Polanco, but the front office needs to add some higher-level starting pitching options. Other prospects might not be ready until the second half, and the team might not want to hand over second base to Arraez or Gordon. Can Polanco be used to acquire starting pitchers that are MLB-ready?
Do you think the Twins will trade Polanco? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
Minny505 reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, and Max Kepler Named Gold Glove Finalists
Keep up with which Twins, if any, are named 2022 Rawlings Gold Glove finalists. The finalists are being announced by Rawlings, approximately 5 minutes apart, so this article will be updated over the next hour. So check back often.
In September, Cody Christie looked at which Twins players were on pace to be a Gold Glove finalist. Today, we find out which players are finalists.
NL Pitchers: Tyler Anderson (Dodgers), Corbin Burnes (Brewers), Max Fried (Braves)
AL Pitchers: Jose Berrios (Blue Jays), Shane Bieber (Guardians), Jameson Taillon (Yankees)
Twins fans got to see the incredible athleticism that Berrios brought to the mound during his years with the Twins. It wasn't until after last season that he was first names a finalist. Can he win his first Gold Glove this year?
NL Catchers: Travis d'Arnaud (Braves), Tomas Nido (Mets), JT Realmuto (Phillies)
AL Catchers: Sean Murphy (A's), Cal Raleigh (Mariners), Jose Trevino (Yankees)
NL First Base: Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals), Matt Olson (Braves), Christian Walker (Diamondbacks)
AL First Base: Luis Arraez (Twins), Vladimir Guerrero Jr.(Blue Jays), Anthony Rizzo (Yankees).
Luis!! Coming into the season, Luis Arraez didn't have a full-time position. In fact, he wasn't in the Opening Day lineup. Since then, he has been named an All Star, won the Rod Carew American League Batting Championship, and now he has been named a finalist for Gold Glove at first base.
NL Second Base: Jake Cronenworth (Padres), Tommy Edman (Cardinals), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies)
AL Second Base: Andres Gimenez (Guardians), Jonathan Schoop (Tigers), Marcus Semien (Rangers)
Jonathan Schoop has always been a solid defensive player, at least when he has played second base. The former Twins' defense has been acknowledged as a Gold Glove finalist.
NL Shortstop: Ha-Seong Kim (Padres), Miguel Rojas (Marlins), Dansby Swanson (Braves)
AL Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Carlos Correa (Twins), Jeremy Pena (Astros)
The Twins star was a Gold Glove and the Platinum Glove winner a year ago. Can he repeat? Or will the kid who took his spot in Houston surpass him?
NL Third Base: Nolan Arenado (Cardinals), Ke'Bryan Hayes (Pirates), Ryan McMahon (Rockies)
AL Third Base: Matt Chapman (Blue Jays), Ramon Urias (Orioles), Jose Ramirez (Guardians)
Twins fans may be a little surprised not to see Gio Urshela on this list. While he made a lot of very memorable, incredible plays, the defensive metrics are not quite as high on him.
NL Left Field: Ian Happ (Cubs), David Peralta (Diamondbacks), Christian Yelich (Brewers).
AL Left Field: Andrew Benintendi (Royals/Yankees), Steven Kwan (Guardians), Brandon Marsh (Angels)
No Nick Gordon!?
NL Center Field: Trent Grisham (Padres), Victor Robles (Nationals), Alek Thomas (Diamondbacks)
AL Center Field: Cedric Mullins (Orioles), Myles Straw (Guardians), Michael A. Taylor (Royals)
Again, it's a case of too few games and too few innings in center field for Byron Buxton. If he qualified, he would likely win every year. Maybe.
NL Right Field: Mookie Betts (Dodgers), Juan Soto (Nationals/Padres), Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks)
AL Right Field: Jackie Bradley, Jr (Red Sox/Blue Jays), Max Kepler (Twins), Kyle Tucker (Astros).
#MightyMax! After his defense has been snubbed in recent years, Max Kepler has been named a finalist for the AL Right Field Gold Glove. While he was unable to run during September, the defense he provided in right remained fantastic!
NL Utility: Brendan Donovan (Cardinals), Tommy Edman (Cardinals), Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks)
AL Utility: DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), Whit Merrifield (Royals/Blue Jays), Luis Rengifo (Angels)
Daulton Varsho was named a finalist for the Gold Glove at two positions on the same day that the Twins named him the Dick Siebert Award winner for the Upper Midwest Player of the Year.
There you have it. The finalists for 2022 Gold Glove Awards.
The Twins have three Gold Glove finalists, Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, and Max Kepler. How do you feel about that? Should others have been finalists? Should those three have been finalists? Share your thoughts below.
Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Need to Fix Revolving Door Up the Middle
This offseason Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are faced with a decision as to how much money they will offer Carlos Correa to remain in a Twins uniform. It probably won’t be the most money he gets offered, and it’s ultimately unlikely that he returns to Minnesota. Even if he does though, he’d join Jorge Polanco and Pedro Florimon as the only shortstops to start consecutive Opening Day games since Cristian Guzman in 2004.
Looking back at the list for Minnesota, it’s been a revolving door at one of baseball’s most important positions.
Prior to Correa, it was Andrelton Simmons, Polanco, Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana, Florimon, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, J.J. Hardy, Nick Punto, Adam Everett, Jason Bartlett, and Juan Castro. It’s a group that features zero superstars, and even fewer regular talents. Over the past two decades, Terry Ryan, Bill Smith, and Derek Falvey have all but punted on continuity for one of the most important positions on the diamond. Signing Correa to a long-term deal is the only way to snuff this scenario out.
The Twins are faced with an interesting situation this offseason. Correa’s $35.1 million deal for 2022 was always looked at like a one-year agreement. Despite being a three-year contract, the player options following each of the first two years allowed the former Houston Astros superstar an opportunity to get paid. Yes, the Twins could’ve done that during the season, or immediately after, but his best bet was always to consult the open market.
Yes, Royce Lewis looked the part of an eventual superstar, but we’re dealing with a very small sample size. Austin Martin doesn’t appear to be a long-term answer at shortstop, and while Brooks Lee might be, he certainly isn’t ready to take over the position on Opening Day in 2023. Again, we revert back to Correa as the lone answer for continuity going forward.
As good teams go, so do their superstars. The Twins are again in a position to figure out where they turn. Another star starting pitching option is probably necessary, and if Correa isn’t the answer at shortstop, then someone else has to be. They shored up the centerfield position with Byron Buxton, even if he’s only available for a portion of the season.
For the Minnesota fan, you have to be hoping an emergence of the next Guzman happens sooner rather than later. To be fair, Guzman was not a good player. He posted an 80 OPS+, well below league average offensively. He held down the position until someone else was available, however, and was a mainstay during a period in which baseball was evaluated differently.
Now knowing how integral the up-the-middle positions are, it’s time for Falvey and Levine to get the spot right. If they aren’t going to pay Correa, there better be a rock-solid belief in one of the internal option's ability to be a multi-year starter into the foreseeable future.
Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Is Elvis Andrus Really a Shortstop Candidate for the Twins?
There were rumors and reports prior to the 2022 MLB season that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine may entertain Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics in hopes of dealing for Frankie Montas. The popular “Where’s Frankie” monkey reared its head all over Twitter. One avenue toward making that happen seemed to be acquiring Elvis Andrus’s $14.25 million deal. As you all know, it never happened.
Eventually, the Athletics released Andrus after the 33-year-old posted a .673 OPS across 106 games. That equated to just a 96 OPS+ in a year in which Major League Baseball saw offense down as a whole, but the terrible Athletics had no use for an aging veteran posting numbers below the league average.
When Tim Anderson was injured, the Chicago White Sox signed Andrus and made him their starting shortstop. In 43 games, Andrus posted a .271/.309/.464 slash line with 17 extra-base hits including nine home runs. He’s a free agent coming off an eight-year, $120 million deal signed by the Texas Rangers, and now there’s the question as to whether he can (or should) be a stopgap option with any remaining upside for a team like the Twins.
Although the Twins' best bet for production is a new contract with Carlos Correa, they’ll likely explore all options. Andrus could be an answer until Royce Lewis returns midseason, and he won’t block the likes of Austin Martin or Brooks Lee.
In his time with the White Sox, Andrus was largely the same player. His 30/9 K/BB was still far too out of whack when it comes to getting on base, and the .464 slugging was hardly an overwhelming tradeoff. Despite being a 14-year veteran, Andrus has never hit more than 20 homers in a season, and his 17 this year seems relatively uncharacteristic. After launching just eight homers in more than 100 games with the Athletics, Andrus somehow blasted another nine dingers with Chicago in just 43 contests.
To categorize Andrus’ season as positive offensively, you have to look at his numbers with the White Sox in a vacuum. They aren’t in line with his career norms from a power perspective, and you’d be kidding yourself to suggest a 34-year-old is now entering his prime having reinvented himself.
The last time Andrus posted a positive Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was 2018, but his Outs Above Average (OAA) do equate to him being above average. Realistically, the offensive production shouldn’t be expected to continue, and while he can be average or slightly above defensively, that’s where the payday needs to derive from.
When it comes to aging veteran stopgap options for the Twins, Andrus will be among them. They simply can’t get drawn into what he should ask for from his time with the White Sox, and must instead pay for what remains likely based on the workload as a whole.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Trade Candidate: Emilio Pagan
Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates.
What Did He Do in 2022?
Minnesota acquired Emilio Pagan shortly before last year's Opening Day. Minnesota's bullpen was shaping up to have Taylor Rogers as the anchor, but that plan shifted when the Twins sent Rogers to San Diego for Pagan and Chris Paddack. On the surface, it was easy to see the long-term value in the deal because Pagan and Paddack were both under contract for multiple seasons. However, the trade timing was tough to understand, and things couldn't have gone much worse from the Twins' point of view.
Paddack looked great to start the year but quickly suffered an arm injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery. The Twins put Pagan into a prominent late-inning role, and he struggled for most of the season. He posted a 5.23 ERA in the first half with a 1.38 WHIP while allowing eight home runs in 32 2/3 innings. His ERA (3.56) and WHIP (1.35) dropped in the second half, but the Twins moved him to a lower-leverage role. Since leaving Tampa Bay in 2019, Pagan has yet to post an above-average OPS+, and he has struggled to keep the ball in the park (1.9 HR/9). There is a reason San Diego looked for a new closer, and now the Twins may be trying to pass on Pagan.
Why is He a Trade Candidate?
Bullpen depth can be tough to evaluate because of how volatile performances can be on a year-to-year basis. Tyler Duffey was arguably one of baseball's best relievers for multiple seasons before his performance declined significantly. That being said, the Twins have many options to consider for the 2023 bullpen. Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, and Caleb Thielbar will continue to serve in late-inning roles. Younger arms like Cole Sands and Jovani Moran may move into more prominent roles. Multiple players are also returning from injury, including Jorge Alcala and Cody Stashak. Minnesota's front office might decide Pagan isn't needed compared to the other bullpen options.
What is His Trade Value?
Pagan is heading into his final arbitration season and is projected to make roughly $3.7 million. That is a reasonable contract for a pitcher with late-inning experience, but there are no guarantees with Pagan's performance. His stuff and strikeout numbers make it easy to see why teams viewed him as a viable late-inning relief option. If the Twins decide to trade him, they may need to send some money to pay down his 2023 contract, and this can allow the team to get a low-level prospect in return. Pagan hurt the Twins in 2022, and moving to a new team may help him to get his career back on track.
Last winter, the Twins had an option on Alex Colome, whose Twins tenure resembled Pagan's. He pitched poorly in the first half before turning it around in the second half. Minnesota decided it was better to cut their losses and move on from Colome. This situation seems similar in that the team and player might be better served if Pagan is no longer on the Twins.
Do you think the Twins can get anything back for Pagan? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
Minny505 reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, How the Twins Top 30 Prospects from 2017 Performed in 2022
It’s been six seasons since the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime in the Twins Front Office began. When they took over in 2017, they inherited a farm system that Baseball America ranked as 21 out of 30 in Major League Baseball. A system ranked 10th best in 2016 during Terry Ryan’s last season as the general manager.
The top 30 Twins prospects from 2017 on MLB.com’s list have all made their way to different levels of the game. Some finished their season at the Major League level, others hurt but played at the Major League level for the season, or found themselves out of professional baseball completely this year.
Here’s how the top 30 Twins prospects from 2017 had their 2022 seasons end up.
On Active Rosters for the end of 2022
1. Nick Gordon
The Twins' top prospect in 2017 had his best season in the Major Leagues for 2022 during his sophomore season. For a while, it seemed that the Twins’ first-round pick in 2014 might not make it to the big leagues.
Fortunately, Gordon appears to have reached his potential this season. He played in 138 games around the diamond for the Twins and had a triple slash of .272/.316/.427 (.743).
Gordon’s future with the Twins seems all but secured until his free agency year in 2028. The team will likely look to him to be their super utility player.
10. Lewin Diaz
The Twins parted ways with Lewin Diaz in July of 2019 when they acquired Sergio Romo from the Miami Marlins. Diaz has remained in the Marlins system since that time and played in 58 big-league games this season.
Diaz has not seen too much success at the Major League level since first being called up in 2020. Although he played his most career games this season, Diaz had a .169 batting average in 174 plate appearances with five home runs and 11 RBI. He is a plus-plus defensive first baseman.
Diaz has yet to find success in the Majors, but it's possible he can turn his career around at age 26 with the Marlins in 2023.
11. JT Chargois
JT Chargois made his MLB debut with the Twins in 2016 and pitched in 25 games with 23 innings of work that season. However, the low amount of innings kept him qualifying as a rookie in 2017 and on the Twins' top prospect list.
Chargois was claimed off waivers to the Dodgers in 2018 and made a career as a journeyman reliever including spending time in Japan. This season he spent with the Tampa Bay Rays and had his best year yet. Chargois pitched in only 21 games but posted a 2.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and walked only five batters in 22.1 innings of work with the Rays. Knowing how the Rays are with improving random relievers, Chargois may continue thriving in Florida as long as he remains with the Rays.
13. LaMonte Wade Jr.
The Twins traded LaMonte Wade Jr. to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Shaun Anderson. The deal was certainly was a flop in 2021. Wade Jr.’s 2022 didn’t pan out as well as the previous season. He played in only 77 games and posted a triple slash of .207/.305/.359 (.665).
Wade Jr. seems to remain in the Giants' plans as a backup outfielder and first baseman which may soon include the likes of Aaron Judge. He’ll certainly hope to improve in 2023 as he enters his final season in his 20s.
24. Jose Miranda
Jose Miranda turned into the biggest rookie asset to the Twins' offense in 2022. He played in 125 games and split time between first and third base. Even with a slow start in his first 19 games, Miranda still slugged 15 home runs and led the Twins in RBI with 66. Miranda has lived up to expectations of being one of the Twins' top prospects in recent years but exceeded the expectations of someone ranked 24th in the system in 2017.
There is still room for growth for Miranda as he looks to continue splitting time at the corners for the Twins in 2023.
25. Akil Baddoo
The Twins left Baddoo off their 40-man roster after the 2020 season. He was lost in the December 2020 Rule 5 Draft to the Detroit Tigers. After a strong rookie campaign with Detroit in 2021, Akil Baddoo came victim to the sophomore slump. Baddoo played in just 73 games for the Tigers in 2022. His numbers completely plummeted, dropping to a triple slash of .204/.289/.269 (.558) in 225 plate appearances. The athletic outfielder is still very young and has much time ahead of his career having just turned 24 in August.
28. Luis Arraez
Luis Arraez used to be an overlooked prospect in the Twins farm system. Now he is an American League Batting Champion.
With one batting title now on his resume, many expect more from Arraez. The only question surrounding Arraez for 2023 is where he will play in the field? His versatility at different positions is not the same caliber as Nick Gordon, but he is proven capable at multiple positions.
30. Griffin Jax
The most improved pitcher on the Twins 2022 staff, Captain Jax made a complete turnaround in the Twins bullpen this season. Pitching in 65 games for the Twins, Jax posted a 3.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 3.17 FIP in 72 1/3 innings pitched. He will certainly be a key asset to the Twins' bullpen plans for 2023, likely continuing his role of high-leverage opportunities to start the season.
Played in 2022 but were mainly hurt
3. Alex Kirilloff
His wrist injury continued to plague Alex Kirilloff in 2022. It kept him at St. Paul for some time in May and June. Having played in only 45 major-league games this year, Hopefully, Kirilloff's July surgery will have him ready for everyday play in 2023. The health of Kirilloff’s wrist will be the biggest concern in 2023, but as long as he remains strong, he can expect his first season with over 100 games in the big leagues.
15. Mitch Garver
Garver was traded to the Texas Rangers before the season for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronny Henriquez. The former Silver Slugger had season-ending surgery in July to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. Prior to being sidelined with the torn tendon, Garver played in 54 games with the Rangers having caught in only 14 of those games.
23. Huascar Ynoa (Braves)
Only making two starts with the Atlanta Braves, the former Elizabethton Twins pitcher that was traded for Twin-for-a-day, Jaime Garcia, had his 2022 season end with Tommy John surgery. Having the surgery done on September 7, Ynoa will not be returning to the Braves pitching rotation until 2024 in hopes of resurging his career from a successful 2021.
Played in 2022, mostly in the Minors, Japan, or Indy Ball
2. Stephen Gonsalves
This former top Twins pitching prospect had a short-lived 2022 season in the minors pitching in only eight games Triple AAA for the Iowa Cubs. His season ended early with Tommy John surgery. Gonsalves last pitched in the big leagues with the Red Sox for three games in 2021.
4. Fernando Romero
Fernando Romero was once a high-hope pitching prospect for the Twins rotation. His 2022 was spent between Japan's Central League and Eastern League. Romero pitched in 28 games between the leagues with a 4.49 ERA.
5. Tyler Jay
The Twins' top pick from 2015 had taken a leave of absence from baseball in 2020 and 2021. This year he found himself in Indy Ball playing in the Frontier League. He worked in 22 games and posted a 2.05 ERA with the Joilet Slammers.
7. Travis Blankenhorn
Travis Blankenhorn got a cup of coffee with the New York Mets this season, playing in one game in July. Other than that, the majority of his season was spent at Triple AAA Syracuse where he played in 91 games.
12. Ben Rortvedt
Flipped with Josh Donaldson to the New York Yankees in March, Ben Rortvedt battled injuries that kept him off the Major League active roster all season. When he was healthy, he spent his time between three of the Yankees Minor League affiliates playing in 48 games across the minors.
14. Daniel Palka
Daniel Palka hasn’t played in the Major Leagues since 2019. He spent 2020 in Korea and has been working his way back to the big leagues in 2021 and 2022. This season Palka was with the Mets organization and played 109 games with Syracuse.
17. Wander Javier
Wander Javier remains the only player from the Twins top 30 prospect list in 2017 that is in their farm system and has yet to make his major-league debut. Javier spent the majority of the year at High-A Cedar Rapids and finished the season playing seven games with the St. Paul Saints. He will become a minor-league free agent. Will the Twins bring him back?
18. Lewis Thorpe
This former farmhand’s story isn’t pretty in 2022. Lewis Thorpe made one start with the St. Paul Saints in April and found himself let go by the organization he joined in 2012. After being cut, Thorpe spent the remainder of the season with the Kansas City Monarchs (American Association). He made 16 starts and posted a 4.96 ERA for the season.
19. Trevor Hildenberger
One of the better minor-league stories of the season belongs to Trevor Hildenberger. Although he did pitch six games across the Giants system, he played a larger role toward the season’s end helping in the unionization of Minor League Baseball players. Hildenberger has been an active advocate in the unionization of Minor League Baseball for years and over the course of August, he spoke with many other minor league players to help advocate for them to vote yes for an election to make the unionization official.
20. Jake Reed
Another former prospect who spent some time in the Majors this season with three teams, the Mets, Dodgers, and Orioles. In his 18 games in the big leagues, Reed posted an ERA north of 7.00. He pitched in 20 games between the Dodgers and Orioles minor league affiliates this season. He recorded his first MLB Save with the Dodgers this year.
Out of Baseball by 2022
The list of players here did not play professionally at all in 2022 and have listed their last season playing professionally.
6. Kohl Stewart (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
8. Adalberto Mejia (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
9. Felix Jorge (Hasn’t pitched since 2018)
16. Nick Burdi (Hasn’t pitched since 2020), spent 2022 on the IL.
21. Mason Melotakis (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
22. Zack Granite (Hasn’t played since 2021)
26. Lachlan Wells (Hasn’t pitched since 2019)
27. Randy Rosario (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
29. Engelb Vielma (Hasn’t played since 2019)
Here are the totals for where the Twins top 30 prospects of 2017 ended up with their careers in 2022.
8 players on Active MLB rosters
3 players who could be on Active Rosters but are hurt
10 players who are in the Minors, Japan, or Independent Ball
9 players completely out of baseball in 2022
The majority of these players are still in professional baseball, but only around a third of them (11 total) played roles on Major League rosters this season.
Some of these players still have great chances of long careers (Arraez and Gordon). Others, not so much, but how do the current career payouts of these 30 players so far look to Twins fans? Leave your thoughts below.
Minny505 reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, The Single Biggest Flaw with This Minnesota Twins Front Office
Matt Shoemaker. J.A. Happ. Alexander Colomé. Chris Archer. Dylan Bundy. Emilio Pagán. Each of these players are veteran pitchers who struggled mightily out of the gate in a Twins’ uniform, yet were given a leash long enough to pitch well into the Summer (in the cases of Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ) or for the entirety of the season (for the rest of the players listed).
The Derek Falvey-led front office of the Minnesota Twins has repeatedly shown an affinity for signing aging middle-tier pitchers and a hesitancy to move on from those veteran pitchers, even when those pitchers are performing especially poorly.
In 2021, this issue was seen all over the roster. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were giving up 5+ earned runs per start for months and Alexander Colomé was continuously trotted out to the mound to blow game after game.
Rather than learning from those mistakes in 2021, Falvey’s propensity for sticking with veterans too long was even more prominent in 2022. Both Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy somehow made it through the entire season on the roster, despite both of them being terrible all season and each finishing with ERAs in the high 4’s.
And then there’s Emilio Pagán. We all know of the struggles that Pagán had in 2022, yet he was continuously relied upon in big moments throughout the season, and the Twins suffered mightily as a result. One would think that after the Alexander Colomé disaster of 2021 that Falvey would have learned his lesson, but things only got worse this season, as Pagán finished third on the team in innings pitched despite having the 8th worst win probability added in the American League.
The most common rebuttal that I’ve heard from Twins fans defending Derek Falvey for sticking with his veterans is that there were so many injuries that the Twins had no choice but to stick with these guys. The final months of the 2022 season for the Twins, though, proved otherwise.
Over the final months of the season, the Minnesota Twins saw impressive debuts from rookies such as Louie Varland, Ronny Henriquez, and Simeon Woods Richardson. They also had other arms in the minors performing well, namely Evan Sisk, who posted a 2.00 ERA over 63 innings in Double-A and Triple-A.
Not only were the Minnesota Twins trotting out pitchers day after day that were actively losing them baseball games, but they proved at the end of the year that they had plenty of talent in the minor leagues that could have performed better and also gotten valuable experience they needed as part of the long-term future of this ball club.
Looking ahead to free agency of 2023, let’s hope that the Twins front office has finally learned from their mistakes with trusting middle-tier veteran pitchers. Time and time again, we have learned that veteran-ness does not automatically make you a better player and that by giving an opportunity to younger pitchers, you are unlocking opportunity and ceiling that simply isn’t there with the Dylan Bundy’s and Matt Shoemaker’s of the world.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, 4 Surprising Observations from Minnesota's Arm Strength Leaderboard
For baseball fans, there continue to be new forms of data to help build discussions around various topics. Defensive data has continued to improve, especially in the Statcast era. Earlier this season, MLB began posting data about players' defensive arm strength. Currently, arm strength data covers the 2020 through 2022 seasons, but a few observations stand out from Minnesota's data.
1. Gilberto Celestino has underrated arm strength
Few fans may be able to identify the Twins player with the best arm strength, but Gilberto Celestino has one of baseball's best arms. Celestino topped the arm strength leaderboard with a 92.4 mph average on over 300 throws. He topped out at 102.3, which was the highest velocity throw by a Twins defender this season. Throughout baseball, only two players had a throw with a higher velocity in 2022. He ranks 10th at the MLB level and fourth in the American League. It will be interesting to see what type of playing time Celestino gets in 2023 and how his arm continues to develop.
2. Luis Arraez might be underserved at first base
Minnesota's injury situation forced the Twins to be creative with the team's defensive alignment in 2022. Luis Arraez played a significant amount of time at first base with players like Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff on the IL. According to the available data, Arraez has the best arm strength of any current Twins infielder at 90.2 mph. That ranks even better than Carlos Correa, who posted an 88.0 mph total in his first year with the Twins. During the 2021 season, Arraez finished fifth among third basemen in SDI but only played seven games at third base this season. Next season, it seems likely for Arraez to be moved around to multiple defensive positions, but his arm is better served away from first base.
3. Byron Buxton continues to be one of baseball's best defenders
Celestino may have led the team in arm strength this past season, but his sample size is more limited than some of the team's other outfielders. Among players with over 1000 throws, Buxton has the team's highest arm strength rating (91.2 MPH) and the highest max arm speed (101.4 mph). The league average for center fielders has been 88.8 mph over the last three seasons. These totals won't surprise those who have followed Buxton since he was an amateur. In high school, his arm strength was good enough to be one of his team's starting pitchers.
4. Carlos Correa's arm wasn't as strong with the Twins
Last season, Carlos Correa compiled elite defensive numbers. He won the AL's Platinum Glove and led the league in SDI. His defensive numbers didn't fare well at the season's start, with him ranking 9th among AL shortstops in SDI. He rose in the rankings throughout the season, and there is a chance for him to be a Gold Glove finalist. Even with his strong defense, Correa's arm strength has dropped in each of the last three seasons. In the shortened 2020 season, his arm strength was in the 87th percentile but down to the 72nd percentile in 2022. Minnesota's defensive alignment might have impacted his totals this season, so it will be interesting to see how Correa fares as he continues to age.
What stands out to you about the Twins and arm strength? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Minny505 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Daily 2022 Awards: Most Valuable Player
Luis Arraez is, in so many ways, not the guy you'd expect to finish atop a team's MVP vote – or alongside the absolute legends in Twins history who've preceded him as AL batting champs.
You compare him to the other players on that exclusive list – Rod Carew, Joe Mauer, Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett – and you're talking about thoroughbred Hall of Famers who looked the part. Many would count those four players among the five best in franchise history.
Even comparing Arraez to the players who finished second and third behind him in Twins Daily's MVP balloting – Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, respectively – is an amusing exercise. We're talking about preternatural teen talents who went 1-2 in the draft a decade ago – big-bucks superstars who smash the ball, and derive much of their value from premier defense at premium positions.
Then, you have Luis Arraez. The Venezuelan was not a highly regarded property when signed by the Twins as an international free agent in 2013 for a measly $40,000 bonus. Just looking at him, you can see why. He is small and stubby – generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 175 lbs – with neither the speed, nor power, nor defensive skill to impress any onlooker.
But Arraez brings one truly preternatural tool of his own, and it has become his signature. As Jake Mauer, his manager at Cedar Rapids back in 2016 – and a guy who has his own familial knowledge on the subject – said of a then-unknown Arraez back then: "He's got a knack for finding the barrel."
Oh yes. And it's carried him from anonymity to All-Star status.
It doesn't matter where he's at. It doesn't matter who's pitching to him. It doesn't matter the count. Arraez just hits. He's irrepressible, with contact rates that top the charts. Virtually no one swings and misses less or strikes out less. Yet despite his ability to put the bat on everything, he is disciplined enough to pass on most out-of-zone offerings, and walked more (50) than he struck out (43) this season.
In a lineup that was prone to slumps, and often far too over-reliant on power at the expense of consistent quality ABs and rally-building, Arraez was a breath of fresh air. He was never an easy out, reflexively tapping outside pitches the other way for singles and then inviting pitchers to the inner half, where he could turn on the ball and unlock new levels of power.
Arraez's .421 slugging percentage was nothing to write home about but he launched a respectable 40 extra-base hits, and doubled his previous career high for home runs with eight.
Now, before I go any further, a disclosure: I didn't have Arraez at the top of my team MVP ballot. In fact, I didn't have him among my top three. Because, analytically, it's hard to make that case.
Yes, he led the league in average. But that's merely one piece of the value equation. Arraez ranked third on the team in fWAR behind Correa and Buxton, with a 3.2 mark that is one of the lowest for a Twins Daily MVP since we started awarding it. Baseball Reference's WAR formula viewed Arraez more favorably (4.0) but he was still second to Correa.
Even the seemingly more narrative-based Win Probability Added metric placed Arraez sixth on the team, behind Jhoan Duran, Jorge Polanco, Buxton, Joe Ryan, and Correa. But even WPA doesn't seem to capture the full narrative behind Arraez, and the positive impact that lifted him to the top of our collective balloting.
It's true that Correa was difference-maker down the stretch – he had the sixth-highest WPA in the AL after July – and technically that portion of the schedule mattered a lot. It's also true that Arraez's bat went relatively quiet in those final months, as he battled a hamstring strain that limited him mostly to DH duty in September.
But by then, it felt like the decimated Twins were engaged in an inevitably losing fight. When the team emerged early on and grasped first place, Arraez was the beating heart of the lineup. In the month of May, where the Twins went 18-12 to reach their greatest heights of the season, Arraez batted .377 with a .480 on-base percentage and 19 runs scored. He then flashed his emergent power in June, notching four doubles, three homers and a triple while driving in 15 runs.
Compared to the likes of Correa and Buxton, Arraez loses a lot of value from metrics like WAR because of his reduced defensive value. And that's fair: no one would argue that Arraez impacts games with his glove like Buck in center or C4 at short.
But the Twins didn't ask him to, or need it. What they needed him to do, after Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff went down, was take over at first base, a position he had essentially never played before. Arraez is not exactly physically suited for the position either. But sure enough, he adapted quickly and proved to be a perfectly solid defender at first.
Ultimately, I think that's what it came down to, and why the vote swung to Arraez. He simply showed up. He answered the call, time and time again. While the roster succumbed to injuries around him, he kept playing all year long, leading the team in plate appearances and games played (despite – as it's now easy to forget – being a healthy scratch on Opening Day!).
By season's end, Arraez was the only worthwhile attraction for Twins fans, who could tune in to watch him battle Aaron Judge down to the wire, for a superficial honor, amidst a Triple-A lineup in a lost year. Arraez kept on showing up through the very last day, barely able to run and clearly limping, because he wanted "to win the batting title fighting."
He did just that, and it's the fight he demonstrated down to the bitter end that likely helped elevate Arraez as the unlikely Twins Daily 2022 team MVP.
FINAL BALLOTING POINTS TALLY
Arraez: 55 Correa: 46 Buxton: 33 Durán: 27 Gray: 13 Miranda: 11
Minny505 reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Twins Daily 2022 Awards: Best Pitcher
While the majority of the Twins’ bullpen struggled to close games, Duran was invaluable all season long. He led American League relievers in Win Probability Added (4.59), frequently facing the opponent’s best hitters in the highest leverage spots. Duran’s “clutch” score registered at 1.26, also the highest in the AL.
If you looked only at Duran on the surface, you’d crown him as one of the best relievers in baseball. His incredible season was impressive without context. The context, however, is where the magic lies. Duran was a rookie thrust into the tightest spots for a team fighting for the playoffs. He had never pitched in relief before 2022, save for a couple games at Triple-A in 2019 and 2021.
After working at the Twins' alternate site in 2020, Duran threw only 16 innings a season ago in St. Paul. He had a 5.06 ERA before an elbow injury shut down his season, putting his future in question. Duran dazzled in spring training and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even the most optimistic believers in Duran’s incredible stuff couldn’t have predicted what came next.
Among pitchers who threw at least 250 offerings in 2022, Duran’s four-seamer ranked first in average velocity (100.8). His splitter also paced the league at a ridiculous 96.4 mph. Duran unquestionably has the best raw stuff in Twins history and one of the most electrifying repertoires the game has ever seen.
There have been plenty of young pitchers with electric arms but Duran’s command is the separator. His 27.4% strikeout-to-walk rate was tied for 10th among qualified relievers, ahead of Cleveland phenom Emmanuel Clase. Duran throws extremely hard and he throws strikes. That combo led to nearly three Wins Above Replacement at Baseball Reference.
Duran worked through early pitch-selection pains and got better as the season went on. Only two AL relievers had a lower ERA than Duran in the second half (1.05), minimum of 25 innings. The rookie was also lights-out in front of the home crowd, posting a 0.83 ERA at Target Field, the lowest in a season in the park’s history.
Handing your most pivotal bullpen spot to a rookie can be a risky proposition, given the pressure of that role. Duran was unfazed. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Duran held opponents to a 1-for-25 mark, with the lone hit a single. In high-leverage situations, opponents hit .180 with a .489 OPS. Duran’s pulse is impossible to see.
Twins fans were understandably sad to see the team trade Eduardo Escobar at the 2018 deadline. The reward, however, looks to be potentially game-changing. Duran has instantly become one of the game’s best relievers and he’s under contract with the Twins through at least 2027. He’s a joy to watch.
The Twins traded their first-round pick from a year ago for Sonny Gray, who was very good when healthy in his first season as a Twin. Gray had trouble staying healthy and pitching deep into games, but his 3.08 ERA and 3.41 FIP show he’s still a frontline starter.
Also in his first season as a full-time reliever, Griffin Jax enjoyed a massive spike in velocity and effectiveness. Jax posted a solid 3.36 ERA in 65 games, regularly setting up Duran as the second-best reliever in the bullpen. Jax averaged over 95 mph with his four-seamer and produced a 37% whiff rate on his elite, high-spin slider.
Caleb Thielbar is another example of why we should trust the expected statistics. A ballooned ERA was backed by much better metrics early in 2022. Thielbar was outstanding in the second half with a 1.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. The lefty filled in more than admirably for Taylor Rogers.
Joe Ryan set the Twins’ single-season rookie record for strikeouts, backed by a 3.55 ERA in a team-leading 147 innings. Ryan was exceptional down the stretch with a 2.81 ERA over his last nine starts. Still just a rookie, Ryan has been impressive for many of his now 32 starts in the big leagues.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Twins Daily 2022 Awards: Most Improved
Griffin Jax: 72.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 26.9% K rate, 6.9% BB rate, 0.9 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR
At the end of 2021, it became clear Jax lacked the pitch mix to thrive as a starter so he made the switch to the bullpen. It’s hard to expect more than what he provided the Twins. Arguably a Top 3 reliever for the team for most of the year, Jax turned to his wipeout slider nearly 50% of the time and the pitch was dominant in every way. Headed into 2023, it’ll be interesting to see if Jax can continue improving in his new role.
Luis Arraez: .316/.375/.420, 8.3% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 3.2 fWAR, 4.4 bWAR
It’s hard for one of the team’s best players over the last few years to get “most improved” consideration but Arraez has earned it. Not only did he take his offense to the next level by winning a batting title and slugging a career-high eight home runs, but he also had an underrated season defensively. After struggling to stick at any one position, Arraez found himself playing first base for the first time in his career and more than held his own. Though his hamstring caused him issues at season’s end, he played a career-high 144 games. Hopefully, we can see more of the same moving forward.
Gilberto Celestino: .238/.313/.302, 9.2% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, 0 fWAR, 0.5 bWAR
To be fair, Celestino didn’t look to be an MLB-caliber player in 2021, and so even his modest 2022 numbers got him some love as one of the Twins most improved players. He showed flashes throughout the year that hint at his ability to at least become a solid fourth outfielder. He put up comfortably positive defensive metrics in center field across the board, and any kind of power development would be huge. Still just 23 years old, Celestino may very well find himself on this list again next year.
Twins Daily's Most Improved Player Nick Gordon: .272/.316/.427, 4.3% BB rate, 23.7% K rate, 1.5 fWAR, 1.6 fWAR
So much to be impressed by with Gordon’s 2022 season. Early calls to jettison him off the roster in favor of Royce Lewis were quickly rescinded, as Gordon found himself in a trial by fire due to injuries and came out on the other side looking like a legitimate piece of the Twins future. Gordon showed contact ability and power like never before and even did a little bit of damage against left-handed pitching on occasion. Though the Twins tailed off at the beginning of September, they’d have been out of the race well before without their former 2014 1st round pick.
Gordon pivoted off of his longtime position in the middle infield and is likely a better defensive outfielder at this point, a testament to the work he put in and his raw physical ability. The Twins outfield has plenty of left-handed hitters, but Gordon is a nice complement to the hulking sluggers such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner. He seems like a favorite to fill a platoon-type role moving forward, finding himself in the lineup regularly when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound.
One thing that should really be appreciated about Gordon is the joy he plays with. Perhaps stemming from the long path to get to this point, Gordon isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve in every situation. From a huge smile on his face following a big hit to his visible frustration when being pulled for a pinch hitter, you just have to love how invested he looks no matter the situation.
With team control until 2028 and a versatile skill set, Nick Gordon may just be getting started. In the midst of a disappointing season, the development he’s shown was truly a bright spot. For that reason, join us in congratulating Nick Gordon as Twins Daily’s Most Improved Player!
Minny505 reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Should The Twins Look to Upgrade From Kyle Garlick?
2019 seems like a long time ago, back when the Twins’ eyes would light up seeing a left-handed pitcher take the mound. The outfield in particular has become so left-handed heavy that the team’s performance against southpaws as a whole has taken a hit. Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, and Nick Gordon all saw significant time in 2022 and the Twins ranked 20th in OPS matching up against lefties.
A handful of outfield prospects remain, though not of the right-handed variety. We’ve seen Matt Wallner, and another top outfield prospect, Emmanuel Rodriguez, hits from the left side as well. In other words, help in this department is not on the way internally. For that reason, bringing back the cheap and known commodity Kyle Garlick makes sense… right?
Garlick’s overall numbers fail to impress, but the Twins brought him in to hit lefties and he’s done that well. Posting an .805 OPS and 128 wRC+, six of his nine homers came in these matchups. When healthy, Garlick was penciled into the top of most lineups in an advantageous matchup.
One issue at this point, however, is Garlick’s health. After playing in just 36 games in 2021 due to a core muscle injury, he again missed significant time, playing 66 games in 2022 before rib and wrist issues shut his season down and limited his effectiveness. Now over the age of 30, is it fair to count on Garlick suddenly becoming healthier?
Also, consider the state of the Twins outfield. Byron Buxton is going to miss time. Kirilloff and Larnach have also done so in each of the last two seasons. Max Kepler may be on the outs, but if he remains with the team it seems a foregone conclusion that he’ll be limping his way through September every season. Garlick’s complementary right-handed bat may be canceled out by his inability to stay on the field.
Even if healthy, it’s important to keep in mind that Garlick is a one-dimensional player. He was brought in to mash lefties and that’s about where his capabilities end. Though a nice potential role player on a competing team, it’s fair to ask whether a team coming off back-to-back losing seasons can justify giving a roster spot to such a player. Without much defense to provide, Garlick also posted just a .631 OPS against right-handed pitching. On a roster such as the Twins where players are simply going to miss time, Garlick is bound to find himself in inopportune situations as we saw this year. In those cases, the negative impact Garlick has on games begins to overshadow the somewhat rare opportunities he was brought in to fill against lefties.
It’s possible the Twins bring Garlick back. He’s cheap and his skillset does complement their roster. Big changes are needed, however, and the Twins days of pretending they have the baseline of a first-place roster capable of carrying one-dimensional role players may be in the past. A roster shakeup may be coming. Many have called for parting ways with Max Kepler. While the Twins have prospects such as Wallner ready, they could also part with someone like Garlick and bring in a right-handed bat with more than just one skill to offer.
After parts of two seasons, we know what Kyle Garlick is. While he has his flaws, his career will certainly carry on with another team should the Twins move on. The question is whether they should. Is Kyle Garlick the perfect match for the Twins left-handed heavy outfield, or should they look for an upgraded version of his skillset?
Minny505 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Weirdest Move Minnesota Could Make
Right before Opening Day 2022 Derek Falvey and Thad Levine sent Taylor Rogers to the San Diego Padres (along with Brent Rooker) in exchange for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan (as well as Brayan Medina). Without them ever suggesting as much, I think there’s a few reasons this deal was made.
Rogers was coming off an injury and lacking performance in 2021. He wasn’t going to be re-signed and was in the final year of his contract. Minnesota saw an opportunity to buy low on a high-ceiling starter pitcher, and they assumed risk, likely knowing his medical issues. Without Rogers in the fold, and Joe Smith being the only bullpen addition last winter, Pagan was targeted as a necessary add to the relief unit. He hadn’t been good for a while, but the stuff suggested it could play, and previous success with Tampa Bay was just two years away.
So, the decision (at least in a vacuum) to swing the deal from Minnesota’s perspective made sense. Now though, we know exactly how this has gone.
Rocco Baldelli was saddled with Pagan as his closer from the get-go. He made a negative impact in his second outing of the year, taking a loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Minnesota’s fifth game. His ERA ballooned to 5.34 by his 30th outing, and he wound up responsible for six losses and seven blown saves. Pagan was demoted from the closer role all the way to mop-up duty, and he constantly struggled even there. It was a complete disaster. Bought into by the front office, Baldelli had to deploy an arm that was at his disposal, even when the result became predictable.
From a few different sources within the front office and connected to the team, I have been told there had been some initial pushback from Pagan in regard to change. The Twins clearly saw an opportunity to get him right, or at least tap into analytically-driven numbers suggesting his stuff could play. Rather than embracing the information, he leaned on the belief that what he was doing could work, and the definition of insanity continued to play out for a period. I don’t know whether a lacking connection with former pitching coach Wes Johnson, or current coach Pete Maki, was ever an issue, but something changed.
Over his last 13 outings, dating back to August 23rd, Pagan has allowed a run just four times and none of those instances were crooked numbers. He owns a 2.16 ERA across 16 2/3 innings with an 21/8 K/BB and, most notably, just one home run. It seems he’s deployed a new pitch, and if it helps to keep the ball in the yard while limiting walks, everyone is better for it.
I’m not here to suggest that 13 outings is reason to keep Pagan around for 2023. What would make absolutely zero sense though, is to cut bait over the winter after hanging on through what the Twins did. The front office all but allowed Pagan to sink their season at critical junctures this season, and even with the cloud of dust that was 2022, his statistics are better than what they were when he was traded for. Making just $2.3 million this year, he’ll be due for a bump in arbitration, but the results should mute just how far it goes.
The Twins focus over the winter has to be figuring out how to marry their starting and relief pitching plans. Either acquire and develop better starters or create a lockdown bullpen. Keeping Pagan, at least to start the year, as a middle reliever would make sense. There’s no downside to that move, as long as there is a quicker hook when things go sideways.
There’s no reason the Twins should feel compelled to carry Pagan all of 2023, but in doing so through 2022, dumping him where he’ll likely be claimed on recent success alone at this point would be a suggestion of process gone entirely wrong.
Minny505 reacted to John Bonnes for an article, The Minnesota Twins' 2023 Payroll Preview
This offseason, we’ll see what Falvine does with their blank canvas, because there has never been a Twins team that could pivot in so many directions in an offseason. It’s the result of sticking to short contracts, dumping Josh Donaldson, and developing minor leaguers to fill spots.
But now they are faced with the challenge: what do they do with a blank canvas?
You likely don’t need to be convinced that payroll is the Twins’ primary limitation every offseason. So, to get some idea of what to expect, every offseason we break down the Twins’ roster’s payroll for the upcoming season at a back-of-the-napkin level.
The goal isn’t to precisely define each player’s upcoming salary; there are too many unknowns. The goal is to get close enough to be directional, call out what we know and don’t know, and the decisions the team likely needs to make.
OK – it’s not a COMPLETELY blank canvas. The Twins have some obligations, and they have some no-brainers, at least as a starting point for this discussion. So let’s start filling in some blanks. We can always adjust them later. (And so can Falvey and Thad Levine. Which is what makes it a blank canvas.)
Let’s go position by position, starting with…
Catcher – Ryan Jeffers is a no-brainer to return, provided you think he’ll return to full health from his broken thumb, and all indications are he will. He’s also a no-brainer because he still hasn’t reached arbitration, so he’s likely to be paid slightly in excess of $700K. Whether you trust him to be the starting catcher or the backup is up to you, but either way he’s on our list.
Gary Sanchez and Sandy Leon, on the other hand, are both free agents. We’ll need to leave them off the napkin.
First Base – Luis Arraez mostly filled this role, and will be in his second year of arbitration, though he has two more years of team control after that because he hit arbitration a year than most players. He’ll get a significant raise to $4-5M, Still that’s a bargain for him so he’s obviously added to the napkin.
Jose Miranda also saw a lot of time at first base, and he’ll be coming back at close to MLB’s $700K minimum wage. It’s a no-brainer that he needs to be on this napkin somewhere. We’re just not sure where yet….
If you would like another thousand-plus words of details and charts on individual player's salaries, then you’re going to LOVE the Offseason Handbook, as that’s the tip of the iceberg. Plus, you get to support all Twins Daily’s great writers who work every day throughout the offseason to deep dive into the Twins. Sign up here. But in this story, we'll skip to the conclusion....
A Blank Canvas
Adding all that up represents about $95M in salary, which leaves the Twins almost $45M in salary to spend. That’s a big number, but could get even bigger if they want to trade away some salaries like that of Max Kepler or Gio Urshela, which would free up $15M to $20M more.
Even more striking is that there aren’t many true holes to fill. The team certainly needs to figure out what to do at shortstop, but even there, Royce Lewis is expected to return midseason. As exciting as he looked this season, nobody would blame the Twins if they only signed a fill-in shortstop so Lewis could step in as soon as he’s recovered from his knee surgery.
This is what a blank canvas looks like. The Twins have lots of money, and very few true gaps. So which direction do they go? Add a dependable big bat? A high-end shortstop? A dependable #1 starter? Or another closer-caliber bullpen arm? All of those moves could be prioritized, but none of them are required.
After six years of organization building, including two years of disappointing sub-.500 finishes, the team and its management are at a crossroads. The self-imposed limitations they’ve placed on long-term deals, along with a surge of prospects hitting the major league roster, have given them this offseason of opportunity.
But it also means there are no excuses. The team has worked for, and achieved, a blank canvas. Now we’ll see what they do with it.
Minny505 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Daily 2022 Awards: Rookie of the Year
Twins Daily panelists had three excellent choices in front of them when trying to select the best rookie on this year's Twins team.
Joe Ryan delivered one of the best rookie campaigns by a starting pitcher in team history, posting a 13-8 record and 3.55 ERA in 27 starts. He led the team in innings.
José Miranda shook off a slow start after debuting in May with a torrid summer on the way to a 116 OPS+, 15 home runs, and a team-leading 66 RBIs.
Both Ryan and Miranda were essential to keeping their respective units afloat. Ryan, outside of a bout with COVID, stayed healthy all year in an injury-plagued rotation, and was consistently effective for the most part. Miranda was at times the only credible threat in a slump-prone lineup, the antidote for an offense allergic to hitting with RISP.
But I don't think anyone can argue against the fact that Jhoan Durán's importance to this year's bullpen is unparalleled. He was not only their most reliable reliever, but oftentimes their only reliable reliever. He did marvelous, magical things on the mound that Minnesota Twins fans (and major-league baseball fans) have never seen before.
Durán was barely the choice for Twins Daily Rookie of the Year, beating out Miranda by an extremely slim margin, but he was absolutely the right choice. These five numbers explain why.
Jhoan Duran's Spectacular Rookie Season, by the Numbers
The radar reading on Durán's hardest fastball of the season, thrown on September 27th, setting a new Twins franchise record for fastest recorded pitch. Naturally, he broke his own record, set at 103.3 MPH back in May, which itself broke his own record set earlier that month. Durán's laser beam against Elvis Andrus of the White Sox was rounded up on the TV broadcast, flashing an absurd 104 MPH.
The velocity of a "splinker" thrown by Durán on August 29th against Boston, becoming the first offspeed pitch in major-league history to clock at 100-plus MPH. It was one of the nastiest and most untouchable pitches ever witnessed, sending a hopeless Alex Verdugo to the bench on strike three.
The presence of Durán's splitter-sinker combo alongside his red-hot heater is crucial to his success, giving batters the almost impossible task of deciphering which one's coming within a sliver of a second. While the right-hander's fastball velo is rare – only a select few pitchers like Ryan Helsley and Jordan Hicks operate in that realm – his "offspeed" juice is what truly sets him apart. No one else is coming close to this velocity on a splitter. He's a unicorn.
Of course, all of this eye-popping velocity wouldn't mean much if he couldn't command it and throw it in the zone. But he did.
Percentage of pitches thrown for strikes by Durán, the 11th-best mark for any MLB reliever. He allowed only 16 walks in 67 ⅔ innings (2.1 BB/9), and issued multiple free passes in an appearance once all year.
The dread felt by opposing hitters stepping in against the imposing 6-foot-5 specimen was only made worse by the fact that trying to coax a walk was unlikely to be fruitful.
As Aaron Gleeman marveled at The Athletic not long ago: "He relentlessly pounds the strike zone with arguably the best raw stuff in the world, changing speeds and eye levels in a way that almost seems unfair. Duran is destined to be one of the greatest relievers in Twins history if they can keep him healthy. He’s unreal."
Durán's final ERA in 2022, the 7th-best mark for any reliever in Twins history. His combination of elite stuff and precision command have led to complete and total dominance for Durán, who held opponents to a .207 average and struck out more than a third of the batters he faced (33.5%). His 1.86 ERA trails only these six seasons from Twins relievers, half of which belong to the great Joe Nathan:
Dennys Reyes, 2006 (0.89) Joe Nathan, 2008 (1.33) Al Worthington, 1964 (1.37) Joe Nathan, 2006 (1.58) Joe Nathan, 2004 (1.62) Caleb Thielbar, 2013 (1.76) Durán was at his best during the second half, posting a 1.05 ERA with only one home run allowed in 24 appearances.
Durán's final Win Probability Added, which led all American League pitchers and ranked second among MLB relievers. Only Daniel Bard of the Rockies made a bigger impact on his team's outcomes. To me, this measurement gets to the core of what made Durán so remarkable and indispensable.
Not only was he putting absolutely ridiculous numbers against big-league hitters ... he was doing it against the BEST big-league hitters in the BIGGEST spots. Once Rocco Baldelli became aware of what he had in Durán, the reliever was permanently pushed into a "fireman" role. Nearly every appearance was under duress, with the game hanging in the balance, and the heart of the opposing order due up.
To pitch so well, in such consistently difficult circumstances, as a rookie with 16 previous innings of experiences above Double-A ... it's incomprehensible. Among all MLB rookie relievers since 1990, only Jonathan Papelbon has posted a higher WPA than Durán did in 2022. That was in 2006, the first of four straight All-Star seasons for Papelbon.
Amidst all of these amazing numbers, the most important one for Durán might be 57. That's the number of appearances he made for the Twins, staying healthy and strong all year long as a go-to linchpin in the bullpen after totaling five appearances last year, when a forearm strain derailed his season.
For all the worst-case scenarios that played out with the Twins this year from a health standpoint, Durán completely shaking off last year's elbow issues was a direly needed exception to the rule. If he can continue to keep that golden arm rocking, he'll be a vital asset in whatever this team is trying to build. Durán's rookie season was one for the ages.
FINAL VOTING POINTS TALLY:
Durán: 42 Miranda: 40 Ryan: 31 Moran: 6 Winder: 3 Celestino: 3 Varland: 1
Minny505 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Cleaning Up the Twins’ 40-Man Roster Will Take Some Work
Minnesota has 18 players on the injured list, with 11 players on the 60-day IL. Because of these injuries, the team currently has 50 players on the 40-man roster. Before the team makes any moves this winter, the 40-man roster must be cleaned up. Here are the moves the Twins will need to explore before the offseason begins.
Heading to Free Agency: Carlos Correa (player option), Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Billy Hamilton, Michael Fulmer, Miguel Sano (club option), Chris Archer (club option), Dylan Bundy (club option)
Correa’s opt-out will be something fans eagerly watch, but all signs point to him opting out and looking for a significant free agent contract. Minnesota will need catching depth with Sanchez and Leon out of the picture, so the team may look to re-sign one of their veterans. Fulmer is an intriguing option if the club wants to add him to the bullpen mix for 2023. Based on their performances this season, it seems unlikely for the team to bring back Sano, Archer, or Bundy.
40-Man Roster: Down to 42 with these subtractions
Designate for Assignment: Jake Cave, Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Emilio Pagan (arbitration-eligible), Kyle Garlick, Danny Coulombe, Jhon Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Trevor Megill
There are some tough decisions in this group and some players many fans don’t want to see again. Cave was optioned off the 40-man roster earlier this season and stayed in the organization, so the Twins may try something similar this winter. Minnesota can attempt to trade Pagan for a low-level prospect, or the team might DFA him without receiving anything in return. Megill is also a tough call to make for the roster. Megill looked good at different points during the 2022 season, and certainly has some really good "stuff," but has struggled recently.
40-Man Roster: Down to 33 with these subtractions
Prospects to Add: Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Edouard Julien, Misael Urbina
Woods Richardson was added on Sunday before his MLB debut and is part of the team’s long-term pitching plans. Canterino will miss most of the 2023 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. However, he has one of the highest upsides of any prospect in the organization. Julien posted a .931 OPS at Double-A this season and has experience playing multiple defensive positions. According to MLB Pipeline, Urbina is a top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. He struggled in 2021 with a .585 OPS in Fort Myers, and his 2022 season started late because of visa issues. This year, he hit .247/.323/.407 (.730) with 26 extra-base hits in 60 games. Do the Twins still view him as highly as when he signed back in 2018?
40-Man Roster: Up to 37 with these additions
The Twins will have room to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft by making these moves. This roster flexibility also allows the team to add other players via free agency when the World Series ends. Will Minnesota keep any of the players mentioned above on the 40-man roster? Has Urbina done enough to earn a 40-man spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Minny505 reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, What To Do With Gio Urshela?
The Twins front office has some decisions to make for 2023 with time likely running out on their job security. With so many players set to return, there are some tough decisions to be made in order to shake this roster up and try to build a winner following two massively disappointing seasons. Gio Urshela is one of those many decisions.
Having made $6.55 million in 2022 and being a decent supporting piece, Urshela has likely set himself up for something like a $10m payday for 2023 if they run through the arbitration process. He’s done his part in making the team want to bring him back with a bounce-back season of being over 15% above league average. His Wins Above Replacement of over 2.0 would make a $10m salary a worthwhile investment. That being said, there are several independent factors that will determine how the Twins proceed with their current starting third baseman.
Jose Miranda was a third baseman throughout most of his minor league career. It was only after losing Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff that he made the switch to playing first for most of the season. As someone who had rarely played the position in his career, he was a bit rough around the edges and established himself as a terrible fielder in the eyes of fans. That being said, his numbers at third base were predictably better. Miranda was a neutral 0 Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average at the hot corner. It's possible the Twins don’t see him as a long-term third baseman, but if they have any hope at all of him holding down that position it’s easy to see them paying him the league minimum and spreading Urshela’s money around elsewhere.
A lot has to do with health and other moves as well. Kirilloff in theory has the kind of bat you don’t platoon, and if he’s finally healthy in 2023, the goal is likely for him to play first every day. The Twins have also lacked some offensive thump against left-handed pitching for years. They could bring in several established options who play a legit first base such as Josh Bell or Trey Mancini to replace Urshela’s spot in the lineup while turning third base over to their star rookie. Their options are wide open.
In terms of sure-fire free agents, the best third baseman on the market this winter may be Matt Carpenter. It’s one of the worst free agent third base markets in recent history and could be an opportunity for Urshela to cash in if he’s cut loose. Instead, the Twins could play it smart and tender him a contract regardless of their plans. Teams are certain to be in need of third base help and the Twins could shop him around on the trade market to teams who are too competitive to pencil in Marwin Gonzalez as their everyday third baseman.
Would Urshela bring some enormous haul back? Certainly not. Even something like a decent middle reliever or prospect facing a 40-man crunch would be a nice alternative to letting Urshela just walk away for free, however. They could still dump the $10ish million to spend elsewhere and get just a little something in return if that’s the route they choose to take. Gio Urshela is a likable player and has single-handedly made the Donaldson trade an inarguable win. That being said the Twins face a tricky offseason with the need to shake things up while having so many returning players in place. You don’t want him playing over Miranda, Polanco, or a healthy Kirilloff. It’ll be a difficult decision, but it’s just one of the many considerations this front office will have to take into account as they ponder how to restore the faith of the fanbase and ownership.
How should the Twins handle Gio Urshela in 2023? Should he be the starting third baseman? Platoon/utility player? Should he perhaps be playing for another team entirely?