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  1. Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021?
  2. 3. Buxton Blasts Burnes The Twins looked to flush a forgettable Opening Day in Game 2 of their season in Milwaukee. José Berríos started and dominated the National League Central champions. Berríos pitched six innings of no-hit ball with 12 strikeouts and zero walks. It was one of the best performances of his career and further evidenced his immense talent. Berríos would’ve owned the stage if not for Corbin Burnes, who matched him with six walk-less and hit-less innings. Burnes went on to lead baseball with an incredible 2.43 ERA, 1.63 FIP, and 6.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Byron Buxton still wouldn’t be denied. With Burnes eight outs from a perfect game, Buxton roped a painted 96 mph cutter to Toyota Territory. It was the beginning of one of the most remarkable months by a player in Twins history. The Twins won 2-0. 2. Saturday Sanó Storm With the season quickly spiraling into the abyss and losses in eight of their last nine games, the Twins needed something positive. They trailed 4-2 with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Oakland turned to Jake Diekman to face Miguel Sanó, who was 8-for-67 (.119) with only two extra-base hits in 21 games up to that Saturday. In one of the unlikeliest and best moments of the year, Sanó used his strength to muscle a homer just over the limestone in right field. It was precisely what he and the team needed, and it created hope that there could be something more in 2021. Of course, it was just a brief positive amid a lot of negativity. For Sanó, the homer kicked off a 10-game stretch where he hit six homers, three doubles, and produced an OPS over 1.150. 1. Crushing Chapman Once again at risk of a sweep to the Yankees, the Twins needed a miracle late. Aroldis Chapman trotted out from the bullpen with a two-run lead and a 0.39 ERA in 23 games. Opponents were hitting .097 and had struck out in over 50% of plate appearances against Chapman to that point. He might beat you nine times out of 10, but not that night. The Twins ambushed the imposing lefty. In just nine pitches, Chapman gave up four hits, including two monstrous two-run homers to Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz. Beating the Yankees is always satisfying. To watch the two leaders of the team smash one of the best closers in the game at home made it extra special. Donaldson and Cruz showed Twins fans what could’ve (and should’ve) been in 2021’s best moment. That ninth inning also began a stretch where Chapman allowed 14 runs in 5 2/3 innings. What were your favorite moments from the season? Comment below!
  3. Last season the Minnesota Twins played Houston in a three-game series and was swept, scoring just two runs in 18 innings of work. The 2020 club wasn’t the 2019 Bomba Squad, but they still won the division over Chicago and Cleveland while playing at a 97-win clip. The Twins looked well-positioned, with Kenta Maeda pitching like a Cy Young and Jose Berrios being a formidable starter in his own right. The lineup was still plenty scary, and distancing themselves from an insufferable Postseason losing streak was no doubt the goal. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, they needed to break in rookie Alex Kirilloff out of necessity, and star third basemen Josh Donaldson couldn’t go. Jorge Polanco made a critical throwing error, and the Twins were done in mainly by their ineffectiveness. This season, they were expected to compete for a third straight division title, but after fumbling out of the gate, the Chicago White Sox represented the Central against the same foe. This time around, a Chicago team looked plenty capable of knocking off Houston but yet has thus far suffered the same fate. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito should both get Cy Young votes this season. Along with Carlos Rodon, the South Siders have a trio of talented arms. Defense isn’t Tony La Russa’s club’s calling card, but the lineup is plenty potent. With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert back, Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal get help with the heavy lifting. It shouldn’t have been expected to go this way, but now down 2-0, Chicago is backed up against the wall. They won’t have a pitching advantage in game three but will get the game back at home. Barring a miraculous three-in-a-row run, the Central division winner will bow out quickly for the second year in a row. I’ve seen it suggested that the White Sox, and probably Minnesota last season, are just division-winning good. The AL Central was expected to be down this year, and given the Twins performance, it wasn’t as top-heavy as expected, but it’s hardly the doldrums of baseball. No team in the Central lost 90 games, the Royals got off to a strong start, and the Tigers finished playing good baseball. While the group as a whole didn’t have a herculean frontrunner, there’s no denying it played competitive baseball on a nightly basis. Suggesting that the White Sox weren’t in the same tier as Houston falls on deaf ears for this writer. The lineup, rotation, and pieces of the pen can compete with anyone. I think the Astros are being slept on some as they look to fly under the radar following the fallout of their cheating scandal. What takes place in a five-game series doesn’t define the body of work necessary to reach this point. Chicago dealt with some of the most crippling injuries this season and still ripped off 93 wins. Minnesota battled through a weird year a season ago and lost two in a row at the wrong time. Houston is good, the Central is OK, and the only problem may be Chicago returning this core next season. The Twins, and everyone else, are on notice. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Box Score Griffin Jax: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Josh Donaldson (26) Top 3 WPA: Griffin Jax .290, Josh Donaldson .058, Caleb Thielbar .056 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) For all of his ups and downs this season, Griffin Jax ended his rookie campaign on a high note as the Minnesota Twins brushed past the Kansas City Royals Saturday night. Jax tossed five innings of one-hit, scoreless ball and was bolstered by the hot bats of Miguel Sano (2-for-4, 2B), Luis Arráez (2-for-3, 2 RBI), and Josh Donaldson (1-for-3, HR) as the Twins picked up their 72nd win of the season, keeping them at 89 losses headed into Sunday's regular season finally. Jax was once thought of as a long shot to ever reach the major leagues after posting mediocre strikeout numbers during his minor league career. However, while he likely won't be counted on as a starter in the long run due to his propensity to surrender home runs his second time through the order, Jax displayed enough talent to warrant a shot in next season's bullpen, one that figures to look much different than the 2021 iteration. Byron Buxton (1-for-5) also continued his success at the plate by connecting for his 22nd double of the season. Entering play, Buxton had accumulated 4.0 fWAR in 59 games, which is an MVP-caliber pace when extrapolated over the course of a full season (i.e. 120 or so games). Buxton's status will be one of the biggest talking points this offseason as he figures to be one of the most sought after names on the trade market. The Twins could — and arguably should — off him a contract extension as well. While many will bring up his injury history as a reason not to extend him, Buxton will be worth every penny of his next contract extension, regardless of the dollar amount and regardless of which team it is with. As a reference, Jorge Polanco has been the Twins’ most valuable player this season and likely would garner MVP votes if his team wasn’t one of the 10 worst in all of baseball. Entering play on Saturday, he had accumulated 4.1 fWAR. The Twins conclude the 2021 season on Sunday when Charlie Barnes (0-3, 5.86 ERA) goes up against Jackson Kowar (0-5, 11.28 ERA). First pitch is slated for 2:10 p.m. CT. Postgame Interviews Griffin Jax on his final start. Tyler Duffey on the bullpen's performance and more. Finally, Rocco Baldelli's postgame comments. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Duffey 18 21 0 0 15 54 Thielbar 13 0 14 0 26 53 Colomé 26 18 0 0 7 51 Farrell 0 0 0 38 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 38 0 38 Garza Jr. 19 0 12 0 0 31 Alcalá 10 0 13 0 0 23 Minaya 0 22 0 0 0 22 Vincent 0 0 16 0 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 0 15 0 15 Barraclough 0 0 14 0 0 14 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  5. Box Score Ryan: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Home runs: Donaldson (25), Buxton (17, 18), Rooker (9) Bottom 3 WPA: Ryan -.442, Garver -.085, Polanco -.082 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs In a game that was started by two promising starting pitching prospects, offense ruled the day as both pitchers struggled to keep the opposing bats in check. The scoring started quickly for the Minnesota Twins when in the bottom of the first inning, leadoff man Byron Buxton crushed his 17th home run of the season 426 feet to give the Twins an early 1-0 lead. Not long after, in the top of the third inning, old friend Niko Goodrum hit a solo home run of his own to tie the game. Things looked like they were coming up Twins in the third inning, though, when Josh Donaldson connected with a three-run home run to left field, his 25th home run of the season. The home run marked the sixth time in Donaldson’s career in which he has eclipsed 25 home runs in a season, and it was the 250th home run of his career. While Joe Ryan had limited damage for the Twins through the first three innings of the game, the Tigers got to Ryan and opened up the game in the fourth inning when the Tigers converted an RBI double from Harold Castro and another home run from Goodrum to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead. The Twins offense continued to fight back, though, this time a solo home run from Brent Rooker to tie the game, the ninth of the season for the right-hander. After Jonathan Schoop and Luis Arraez exchanged RBI singles for each team, Byron Buxton hit his second home run of the night in the bottom of the 7th inning to break the tie and give the Twins a 7-6 lead. The Minnesota Twins’ bullpen was unable to hold the lead for the Twins as the Tigers scored four unanswered runs in the final two innings of the game to give the Detroit Tigers a 10-7 win over the Twins. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will head to Kansas City tomorrow night as they begin their final series of the season.
  6. Recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and the MLB Pipeline All-Prospect 1st Team, Miranda has picked up all of the accolades. It’s hard to be surprised, given his performance. For the season, he owns a .347/.403/.574 (.977) slash line along with 60 extra-base hits, of which 29 are home runs. His 73/41 K/BB rate suggests a strong eye and plate discipline ability, and despite the year with no minor league action, it’s hard to see anything but an immense amount of work put in. For a Minnesota Twins team that saw their season end essentially before it ever got off the ground, it’s worth wondering how Miranda wasn’t selected to see action at the big-league level. The role isn’t straightforward, though, and it’s something Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli will need to sort out for the year ahead. In 2021, Miranda played games at every infield position aside from catcher, and he even got three starts in left field. Primarily a third basemen, that role is currently occupied by Josh Donaldson, who has been one of the Twins better hitters and is signed to a large contract. Miranda is blocked at second base by one of the game’s best in Jorge Polanco, and he’s miscast playing shortstop. It appeared that the Twins wanted to see his abilities at first base, but that’s a role currently held down by Miguel Sano and likely Alex Kirilloff next season. So, where does he go? Had the Twins dealt Donaldson at the trade deadline, it essentially would’ve been to swing a cash dump. Donaldson, and more notably his contract, will never net the Twins anything close to an equal value. Given his uptick in production, it made sense to keep him around for the year ahead. If Minnesota is entering a rebuild, though, Donaldson’s services are much less needed, and he’d likely desire an opportunity to win elsewhere. The man at the hot corner remains much of the linchpin to this situation, though. Suppose Donaldson was out of the picture, an immediate opening is created for Miranda. He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen. The other option would be to roll with Jorge Polanco as the team’s shortstop next season. We’ve seen that he’s stretched defensively in that position, and for a guy who’s looked so good at second base, it’d be a tough sell to put him in that spot. With Polanco at short though, Miranda could draw the most starts at second base, with Luis Arraez continuing to operate in a super-utility role as he has. The other possibility is at first base, moving Miguel Sano to a full-time designated hitter role. That forces Alex Kirilloff into the outfield, however, and leaves Trevor Larnach or Max Kepler twisting in the wind. Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis. It's an option, but wouldn't strike me as a desirable one. No matter what the decision-making process is, the Twins need a solution. Miranda was not a top-100 prospect entering the season, but coming off his production at the highest levels and being just 23-years-old, forcing his way into the immediate plans has been accomplished. From my perspective, the Twins still need to sign a starting-caliber shortstop, preferably on a one-year deal. That doesn’t help the chances of Miranda making the Opening Day roster or squeezing his way in quickly, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that the roster turnover comes quickly and often. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Jax 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Gordon (3) Top 3 WPA: Gordon .217, Donaldson .192, Buxton .175 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The battle for 2022 draft positions continued on Tuesday night, as Minnesota kicked off a two-game set in Chicago against the Cubs. Here’s how the Twins lined up to face Alec Mills. The Twins got off to a strong start, with back-to-back singles putting Luis Arraez on third and Byron Buxton on first base. Buxton stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Wilson Contreras, with Arraez scoring. A Josh Donaldson sacrifice fly made it 2-0 Twins after the top of the first. The Cubs immediately chipped away at the Twins lead, scoring one in the first, one in the second, and one in the third. The later two runs came from solo home runs from Trayce Thompson and Willson Contreras, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead after three innings. The familiar home run bug has continued to bite Griffin Jax, who only managed to make it through three innings. The Twins fought back in the top of the fourth inning. A Josh Donaldson walk, wild pitch, and Max Kepler single cut the deficit to 3-2. A Nick Gordon home run to left center field added two more runs, giving the Twins a 5-3 lead. The Twins continued to add to their lead in the top of the fifth. A Luis Arraez walk and Byron Buxton single were backed up by further singles from Josh Donaldson and Max Kepler, increasing the Twins lead to 7-3. The Cubs trimmed the lead in the sixth inning. A Rafael Ortega single was followed up by a Frank Schwindel double. Jorge Alcala replaced Danny Coulombe and struck out Wilson Contreras, but allowed a Patrick Wisdom single, scoring two runs. Alcala, however, has been on a recent run of good form which is encouraging news for a bullpen which needs padding heading into 2022. The Twins immediately increased the lead. Doubles from Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano, followed by singles from Nick Gordon and Mitch Garver added two runs, pushing the lead to 9-5 and giving the Twins offense 16 hits on the night. Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch in the foot in the top of the ninth inning. Mercifully, Alexander Colome threw a scoreless inning to draw a marathon four-hour game to a close, bringing the Twins record for the season to 66-85. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN TUE TOT Barraclough 0 0 32 0 35 67 Vincent 0 0 0 40 0 40 Thielbar 0 0 0 22 16 38 Minaya 0 0 0 36 0 36 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Farrell 0 0 0 34 0 34 Duffey 0 16 0 0 11 27 Alcalá 0 13 0 0 10 23 Colomé 0 14 0 0 7 21 Garza Jr. 0 0 17 0 0 17 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 17 17 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will finish their short series in Chicago. Joe Ryan will take the mound against Kyle Hendricks. First pitch is at 6:40 CST. Postgame Interviews
  8. Box Score SP: Bailey Ober: 4.0 IP,4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (74 pitches, 48 strikes (64.9%)) Home Runs: Josh Donaldson (24) Bottom 3 WPA: Bailey Ober (-0.143), Ryan Jeffers (-0.143), Joe Ryan (-0.097) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Second Time Not the Charm for Ober Bailey Ober has had a terrific showing in his rookie season, and on Saturday things looked to be going quite well. Ober got outs on the first eight batters he faced before issuing a four-pitch walk to nine-hitter Reese McGuire. He recovered to strike out leadoff man, George Springer for the final out of the third inning. However, things went south in a hurry in the fourth inning. Ober thought things were going to start out well. He thought he got Marcus Semien looking at a called third strike. Unfortunately, it was called a ball. The next pitch, Semien crushed his 40th home run of the season. Ober then walked Vlad Guerrero, Jr. before Bo Bichette lined a single to center field. That brought All Star Teoscar Hernandez to the plate. He hit a high fly ball to left field that landed just beyond the fence for a three run homer. Ober gave up one more hit, but he was able to complete the fourth inning. Donaldson at Home in Toronto For the second straight day, Josh Donaldson got an ovation before his first at-bat at Rogers Centre in Toronto. For the second straight day, Donaldson hit a home run against the team he spent almost four seasons playing for. In his time in Toronto, he played in two All Star games, won two Silver Slugger awards and was named the 2015 AL MVP. Unfortunately, the Twins had just four hits in the game. Ups and Downs for Jovani Moran The value of getting your feet wet in the big leagues is different for every player. Generally, it is to help get rid of some of the nerves that can appear early in a player's career. That's especially important for a guy like Jovani Moran. We know how good he can be. Just look at those strikeout numbers and read accounts of hitters trying to hit his changeup when it is on. However, we can also acknowledge that he can sometimes get wild and issue walks. While we will be able to see the splits over his big-league career, it would likely be more anecdotal for me to guess that in the minor leagues, it seemed like he often struggled most with his control in big situations. On Saturday, we got to see both. Moran came in with a runner on in the sixth inning and completed the inning by coaxing a big double-play ball. Unfortunately, in the seventh inning, Moran could not find the plate and walked the bases loaded. At one point, Wes Johnson came out to talk to him. From that point forward, he threw almost exclusively changeups, and with more success. He did get a Marcus Semien strikeout. But after the third walk, he was replaced by Kyle Barraclough who allowed two inherited runners to score. The point, at least for me, is that it will be nice for Moran to go through the ups and downs and have some of these good and bad experiences down the stretch. Clearly, his stuff can play in the big leagues. He just needs to find a way to relax on the mound. If he can, he can be very impactful. If he can't, he can't be use in big situations. I'll bet that he'll be impactful. What’s Next? The Twins will finish their series in Toronto and face #OldFriend Jose Berrios. The Twins have yet to announce their Sunday starter, but this will be updated as soon as it is announced. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Moran 0 34 0 0 34 68 Barraclough 0 0 0 0 32 32 Coulombe 27 0 0 0 0 27 Colomé 11 0 0 14 0 25 Vincent 0 21 0 0 0 21 Alcalá 8 0 0 13 0 21 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 0 17 17 Duffey 0 0 0 16 0 16 Minaya 13 0 0 0 0 13 Farrell 0 0 0 0 0 0 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 0 0
  9. Box Score Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8) Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings. Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto. Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot. The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors. Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season. Pineda, bullpen finish off strong Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota. Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022? Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH. Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022? Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Duffey 38 0 0 0 16 54 Colomé 27 11 0 0 14 52 Barraclough 23 16 0 0 0 39 Farrell 34 0 0 0 0 34 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Coulombe 0 27 0 0 0 27 Vincent 0 0 21 0 0 21 Alcalá 0 8 0 0 13 21 Minaya 0 13 0 0 0 13 Thielbar 11 0 0 0 0 11 Garza Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 6
  10. After failing to contend in 2021, the Twins are in an intriguing position when planning for the future. Can the team be competitive in 2022? Is it going to take multiple years to get back near the top of the AL Central? Josh Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a chance he isn’t part of Minnesota’s next winning club. Concern 1: Offensive Production Minnesota paid a hefty premium to sign Donaldson because they were in the middle of a winning window. Generally speaking, the Twins knew what they were getting with Donaldson, and he has lived up to that billing. He’s posted an .822 OPS and a 127 OPS+ during his Twins tenure, which is probably more than fans expected when signing a player in his mid-30s. Since signing, Donaldson ranks ninth in WAR among AL third basemen, just behind Alex Bregman. Only four AL third basemen rank higher than Donaldson when it comes to Win Probability Added. His Baseball Savant page is also full of plenty of red. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and BB %. His offensive skills are still there even at age 35. Concern 2: Long-Term Health This season, health has been less of an issue as he has appeared in over 115 games for only the second time since 2016. Chronic calf issues seem to be part of the Donaldson equation, but maybe he has figured out the proper regimen to stay on the field. Minnesota has also given Donaldson regular rest and time at designated hitter. During the 2021 season, Donaldson has missed the most time with hamstring injuries. He altered his running style to put less pressure on his calves, which might have hampered his hamstrings. Even if he has put some doubts to rest, his age and previous injury history will factor into any Donaldson trade. Concern 3: Large Contract Finding a taker for Donaldson’s contract might be another challenge, because Donaldson has over $50 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Minnesota will likely need to pay some of his remaining guaranteed money to get any value in return. According to FanGraphs, Donaldson was worth just under $7 million in 2020, and he has been worth $12.7 million so far in 2021. That’s lower than the $21.75 million he is due in each of the next two years. Would the Twins be willing to pay $20-25 million of his remaining guaranteed money? That might seem like a lot, but that’s what it may take to get a decent return. Concern 4: Personality There are also some teams that aren't going to be interested in Donaldson because of his on and off the field behavior. Overall, he has a personality that rubs some people the wrong way. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but the Twins were willing to deal with his on and off-field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Obviously, Donaldson has yet to help the team to October glory, and the team may be ready to move on from him. Do you think Donaldson gets traded this winter? Will the team spend the money needed to get a prospect back? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Box Score Jax: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (75% strikes) Home Runs: Buxton (12), Donaldson (22) Bottom 3 WPA: Refsnyder -.296, Rooker -.274, Gordon -.208 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Seven runs scored right away, in the first inning of this game. Looking to bounce back after three consecutive bad starts, Griffin Jax struggled early tonight. Despite getting ahead on the count, the Twins starter gave up a double to Nicky Lopez and a walk to Salvador Pérez before facing Andrew Benintendi. A lifetime .349 hitter (1.035 OPS) at Target Field, the former Red Sock improved those numbers even more by hitting a three-run bomb to put Kansas City ahead. But rookie lefty Daniel Lynch didn’t take advantage of all the run support. The Virginia native gave up four consecutive hits to open the game. The first one was a mammoth, 457-feet leadoff home run to Byron Buxton. Minnesota was definitely not done hitting that inning. Jorge Polanco followed that Buxton homer with a double, with Rob Refsnyder adding a single. Josh Donaldson didn’t care that Lynch hadn’t brought an umbrella with him and brought the rain to catapult the Twins into the lead, 4-3. But contrary to what happened in the first inning, both starters settled down and mostly dominated their opposing lineups for the following innings. Lynch tossed four scoreless, and, beginning with the final two outs of the first, Jax was able to retire eight in a row, including a pair of 1-2-3 innings. Benintendi broke the streak leading off the fourth and later scored from first on a long double from Michael Taylor, tying the game. That didn’t affect Jax at all. The rookie retired seven of the final eight batters he saw, going scoreless in the fifth and the sixth. He didn’t come back for the seventh, even though his pitch count was still at only 76 pitches, 57 of which were thrown for strikes (75%!). Tonight’s start was the first since Aug. 16, in which Jax completed six innings of work. After a 23-pitch first inning, he navigated through the next five on only 53 pitches. Can he use this outing to regain some confidence and finish the season on a high note? Neither offense performed well against opposing bullpens. Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcalá threw a couple of scoreless innings on only 20 pitches, 80% of which were strikes. Royals hitters didn’t know what hit them. While Kansas City’s relievers were just as effective, Donaldson did drew a two-out walk in the eighth, bringing Miguel Sanó to the plate. However, he struck out, ending the threat. Benintendi was at it again, hitting a leadoff single off Alexander Colomé in the ninth inning. But Colomé did a great job, striking out the next two batters on six pitches, before retiring Taylor. The offense couldn’t take advantage of yet another great outing by a Twins reliever, as they fell in order in the bottom half of the inning, taking the game to extra innings. To the extras, we go Red-hot Juan Minaya came in to pitch the 10th, posting a 0.98 ERA in his previous 14 outings. He struck out the first batter he saw but then gave up a walk to Kansas City’s number nine hitter, Edward Olivares, forcing him to face the top of the Royal lineup with two men on. He struck out Whit Merrifield but then committed a fielding error against Lopez, loading the bases to face Pérez. Fortunately, “Salvy” swung on the first pitch he saw and grounded out, with a beautiful throw from Polanco to first. In the bottom half of the 10th, Luis Arráez drew a leadoff walk, putting two men on. But the Twins couldn’t move either runner, with the following three batters being retired. Buxton, who hit immediately after Arraez, made an absolutely awful bunt attempt. Following that, Minaya continued in the game, and Benintendi (who else?) swung on the first pitch he saw, homering to center field, scoring him and Pérez, the ghost runner. Kansas City took a definitive two-run lead, 6-4. Donaldson, Sanó, and Brent Rooker went down in order in the bottom of the 11th. Minnesota drops the first of three games of the series. They send Michael Pineda to the mound on Saturday evening, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:10 pm CDT. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Minaya 0 21 0 0 40 61 Colomé 9 17 0 0 12 38 Duffey 8 0 17 0 11 36 Thielbar 0 25 8 0 0 33 Farrell 0 0 0 32 0 32 Alcalá 0 19 0 0 9 28 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 19 0 19 Coulombe 0 0 0 15 0 15
  12. August represented the first month of the season in which Minnesota had a winning record. Curiously enough, according to several metrics, it was also the month in which they had their lowest offensive productivity. This controversy (given that their pitching wasn’t substantially better either) could be explained by the fact that Twins hitters performed very well in clutch situations, making the difference between losing and winning in at least a handful of games. Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner! Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez This is how good Luis Arraez is: despite having a slight dip in productivity during August, he still had one of the top 15 batting averages in baseball. Also, by slashing .291/.371/.384 (.755), he finished the month with the highest batting average on the team. Unsurprisingly, his power numbers aren’t impressive, but he compensates for that with a ton of plate discipline. Among all qualified batters in August, Arraez’s strikeout rate (8.2%) ranked fourth-best in baseball. He only struck out more than one of his teammates in August: bullpen legend Willians Astudillo (2.9%). It should be brought to your attention that Arraez’s final numbers in August started to drop only during the last week of the month. Until Aug 24, he was slashing .314/.381/.404 (.785) before an 0-for-16 slump. Hopefully, the turn of the calendar will help him get back on track. Honorable Mention #2: Miguel Sanó Miguel Sanó’s mere presence in this Twins lineup was a question mark for quite some time. When he struggles, as he did during April and May, many people are vocal about it. Well, for the past three months, he’s been proving many people wrong, having a very consistent, above league average productivity. His highlight of the month happened last week, when he hit the longest home run in all of baseball this year, sending the poor baseball completely out of Fenway Park. During August, Sanó had his highest number of plate appearances of the season (106), and he was able to sustain a season-best .820 OPS while also having a .344 wOBA and 118 wRC+. It seems as if consistent playing time makes all the difference for the big fellow. Sanó had the team’s second-most extra-base hits (11) and third-highest SLG (.489) in August. Not to mention that he stepped up when the team needed him the most, putting the ball in play 50% of the time in high-leverage situations, the eighth-best BABip in all of baseball in such situations. Honorable Mention #1: Josh Donaldson “The Bringer of Rain” had an incredible month of August, possibly his best in a Twins uniform. Donaldson led the team in batting average for the month, slashing .278/.360/.519 (.878) while also posting .376 wOBA and 140 wRC+, both ranking second-best on the team and considerably above league average. This was the fourth month out of five this year in which he maintained a wRC+ of at least 125. For those who believe the Twins should pursue a trade involving him next winter, his improved second half of the season can seriously increase his trade value. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco For the first time since we’ve established the hitter of the month award, we have a player to be named for a second time. In August, Jorge Polanco was easily the Twins’ best hitter, leading the team in fWAR, with 1.1 and also most of the other relevant offensive metrics, including .945 OPS, .612 SLG, .390 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. But what was even more impressive about Polanco’s August was how clutch and decisive he was! He was responsible for three consecutive walk-off RBI hits for Minnesota this month alone. Check out this video from Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming with every one of his five walk-off hits this season. Given his track record and expected statistics, his current power surge is probably unsustainable over an entire season. He slugged .421 for the first three months of 2021 before jumping to .548 in July and .612 in August. Nonetheless, Polanco’s August was just the icing on the cake of what has been one of his best seasons as a major-leaguer, entitling him to be a front-runner to be named the Twins’ hitter of the year. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Box Score Starter: Bailey Ober 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Home Runs: Josh Donaldson (21) Top 3 WPA: Alcala (.259), Colome (.214), Donaldson (.191) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Monday was a day the Twins were initially scheduled to have a day off but instead spent the afternoon making up a game against division foe Detroit before heading home for a series against the Cubs. While it had all the makings of a “throw-away” game, with two below .500 teams facing off, it gave us a good starting pitching matchup. The Tigers sent former top draft pick Casey Mize to the mound, who entered the game with 24 starts and a 3.55 ERA. The Twins counter with their hottest starter in Bailey Ober. In his 4 August starts, Ober holds a 2.11 ERA, .265 batting average against, and a .697 OPS. The majority of the first three innings produced quick three up, three down baseball. That is until the end of the third inning when Ober needed to get one more out to start the game with nine straight batters retired. Instead, Derek Hill smashed an up and in 92.7 mph fastball for his second home run of the season to put the Tigers up 1-0. The Twins would answer immediately in the 4th. Buxton collected the Twins first hit with a 1-out double down the left-field line. With Polanco up to bat, a Mize pitch would find the backstop, allowing Buxton to move to third and easily be singled home by Polanco to tie the game up 1-1. With Polanco on first base, Josh Donaldson took a Mize slider to center field for his 21st home run and a Twins 3-1 lead. The Tigers would get one back in the 5th. Harold Perez was standing on second after a lead-off double. He scored on a bloop single from Zack Short that landed beyond a diving Simmons who played in a bit on the infield. While the hit wasn’t the most impressive of hits, it was enough to bring Perez around to score. Down to the Wire Once again, an Alex Colome outing turned interesting. This time it wasn't necessarily because of his pitching but because of his fielding. Two fielding miscues put Colome in a position where he needed to get out of a 2-out, runners on the corners jam. He thankfully popped up old friend Robbie Grossman to end the game and get the team on the road back to the Twin Cities. Bailey Ober Solid Again As the Twins will be looking to fill rotation spots for 2022, Ober again makes a good case that he will need to be in the mix for one of those spots. He put his team in a spot to win and himself in a place to earn a win. Didn’t give up any free passes and collected a good number of whiffs as well. He continues to be one of the exciting players to follow down the stretch of a lost season. When it comes to the development of Ober, there are encouraging signs surrounding his fastball, as pointed out by Nash Walker. Josh Donaldson Showing His Worth Donaldson’s aforementioned 21st home run of the season also was his 5th of the month. While the Twins may continue to look to offload his contract because of the injury risk, if he sticks around for 2022, the Twins will look forward to penciling his bat into the lineup every day he is healthy. Monday showed again how valuable Donaldson could be as he can change a game quickly with one at-bat, one swing. Here is a breakdown of Donaldson's home run swing by our own Nash Walker: Tomorrow the Twins kick off their series with the Chicago Cubs. It should be a fun mid-week series even if neither team is looking at the playoffs. Don't forget Wednesday night you could order a drink from John Bonnes if you are at the game! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Albers 0 88 0 0 0 88 Colomé 0 13 13 0 23 49 Alcalá 0 12 0 0 25 37 Gibaut 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 0 23 0 0 23 Coulombe 0 20 0 0 0 20 Minaya 0 0 17 0 0 17 Garza Jr. 4 0 0 11 0 15 Duffey 0 6 0 0 0 6
  14. Box Score SP: Charlie Barnes: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (64 pitches, 47 strikes (73.4%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Miguel Sano (.184), Juan Minaya (.177), Josh Donaldson (.119) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) As the game proceeded, it was as if the goal was to get through five innings to make the game complete. Through the game’s first four innings, Charlie Barnes took advantage of aggressive Brewers hitters. Before the rains came, Barnes was sharp with his fastball, changeup and slider, coaxing a lot of weak content. Through four innings, he had allowed only one hit. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins scored four runs. With the bases loaded, Miguel Sano grounded a 3-0 pitch past shortstop and turned it into a double. (some might say very similar to Byron Buxton) Adrian Houser's control was certainly affected by the wet conditions. He hit two batters and had a couple of walks. Unfortunately, with a 4-0 lead and the rains continuing to come down, harder than previously, Barnes took the mound needing three outs to qualify for his first MLB Win. He issued his first walk to the leadoff batter. It was followed with three soft singles. Barnes left the game with the Twins holding on to a 4-2 lead. Caleb Thielbar came on and got a pop out for the first out. Willy Adames singled to load the bases for Christian Yelich. Thielbar got the former MVP to fly out to medium-deep right field. Max Kepler caught and threw toward home. Miguel Sano cut it off and threw wildly to third base allowing a second run to score on the error. Thielbar got the team out of the inning with a strikeout. Thielbar recorded a 1-2-3 sixth inning, striking out two batters. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Miguel Sano singled, Brent Rooker was hit by a pitch, and Ryan Jeffers singled to load the bases. Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play, but the Twins did re-take the lead at 5-4. Veteran Juan Minaya came on for the seventh inning. He needed just six pitches to get three outs that inning. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Josh Donaldson drove in Jorge Polanco with a double to give the Twins a two-run lead. Despite a one-out single to Yelich, Minaya needed just 11 pitches to complete a scoreless eighth inning. Alexander Colome came in for the ninth inning, looking to record the save after a couple of bad outings earlier in the week. He got one out, but then things got interesting by walking a batter and serving up a single to Omar Narvaez. However, before Twins fans were even starting to get too nervous, Jace Peterson grounded out to Simmons who turned the double play to end the game. The Twins will play the Brewers on Sunday afternoon, having already won the series, and they lead the season series 4-1. This month, the Twins are 13-11 and have series wins over the Astros, the White Sox, Cleveland, the Rays and the Brewers. Bullpen Notes Caleb Thielbar gets the win to improve to 6-0. Juan Minaya threw two scoreless innings. He hasn't allowed a run in nine of his past ten appearances. In that time frame, his ERA is just 1.29. In 14 innings, he has 17 strikeouts and the opponents are hitting just .128. The 30-year-old pitched in 125 games for the White Sox between 2016 and 2019. He spent 2020 at the Twins alternate site. He was actually called up for a couple of games, but before he got into a game, he was DFAd. He re-signed with the Twins on a minor league deal, and since his promotion, he has now pitched to a 3.20 ERA over 17 games and 25 1/3 innings. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Albers 0 0 0 88 0 88 Garza Jr. 0 24 4 0 0 28 Coulombe 0 19 0 20 0 39 Thielbar 14 22 0 0 23 59 Duffey 19 9 0 6 0 34 Colomé 0 20 0 13 13 46 Minaya 30 0 0 0 17 47 Gibaut 23 0 0 0 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 0 12 0 12 Barnes 0 0 0 0 64 64
  15. Box Score Andrew Albers: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Donaldson (20) Top 3 WPA: Albers .306, Donaldson .177, Coulombe .080 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Before either team even took the field, two special stories were already on display. First, third baseman Eduardo Escobar, now with the Brewers, made his first visit to Target Field as an opposing player since he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. He got a warm welcome from Twins fans! The other story, the most important one, was also about a player’s return. After spending over two months on the injured list recovering from a hand fracture caused by a hit-by-pitch, Byron Buxton was activated by the Twins roughly an hour before the game. He took the leadoff spot in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup, starting what might be a crucial stretch for his continuity as a Twin. While Buxton’s first plate appearance in the majors since Jun. 22 was unimpressive, with a three-pitch strikeout, that didn’t mean Minnesota’s offense wasn’t going to make some noise early. With two outs in the first, Rob Refsnyder singled, reaching with a head-first slide. Josh Donaldson hit a line drive home run to left in the following at-bat, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. This was Donaldson’s fourth home run in the last six games. Even though they came out of the second inning empty-handed, the Twins offense kept Brewers starter Eric Lauer on the ropes. They loaded the bases with only one out and suddenly had the chance to blow this game wide open. One of those runners was Buxton himself, who worked a five-pitch walk after getting ahead in the count with 3-0. Refsnyder hit a ground ball to left that would’ve cleared the bases had it stayed fair. But it landed inches into foul territory, and he ended up being struck out briefly after that to end the inning. Albers picks up where he left off Meanwhile, Andrew Albers began putting together a nice start. Over a week after his relief appearance in New York, where he provided four innings of one-run ball, he dominated Milwaukee’s lineup the first time through the order. He retired nine of his first 11 batters faced, pitching three shutout innings on 41 pitches. He pitched himself into a jam during the fourth inning. After allowing only one hit through three, he gave up two and hit a batter, loading the bases. But he managed to induce weak enough contact to get out of it. In fact, this is what he was able to do a lot tonight. His stuff wasn’t electric, but everything was well located, causing Brewers batters to ground out multiple times. With an arsenal of five pitches, very few of them were not thrown for a strike. According to Statcast, he didn’t give up a single barrel during this outing. After a shaky fourth inning, he returned to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth and retired one batter in the sixth before being removed from the game. Jorge Alcala, also making his return to the team from the IL, came in in his relief and finished off the Brewers on ten pitches. Offense quiets down, but the bullpen is lights out Minnesota didn’t get a lot done on offense for the remainder of the game. The only time they could pose a threat was during the sixth inning when Buxton had men in the corners with two outs. Kirk Cousins’ cousin, Jake, painted the inside part of the strike zone to strike him out. Fortunately for the Twins, their bullpen was lights out. Jorge Alcala and Danny Coulombe held the Brewers scoreless until the eighth before Tyler Duffey came in to get the final out of the inning. Duffey, in fact, caught a huge break with a slow curveball out of the zone that was called for a strike – framed brilliantly by Ryan Jeffers. But on the previous pitch, a pitch that painted the lower corner of the zone and got called for a ball should’ve ended the inning. Alexander Colomé pitched the ninth inning, looking to bounce back from his previous two disastrous outings. This time, he was able to retire the side on only 13 pitches (10 strikes) to earn his eighth save of the year. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT TUE WED THU FRI TOT Albers 0 0 0 0 88 88 Garza Jr. 31 0 24 4 0 59 Coulombe 0 0 19 0 20 39 Thielbar 0 14 22 0 0 36 Duffey 0 19 9 0 6 34 Colomé 0 0 20 0 13 33 Minaya 0 30 0 0 0 30 Gibaut 0 23 0 0 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 0 0 12 12 Barnes 0 0 0 0 0 0
  16. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO Home runs: Sano (22), Polanco (24), Donaldson (19), Cave (3) Top 3 WPA: Ober (.257), Donaldson (.130) Polanco (.118) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Miguel Sano Hits Longest Home Run in MLB This Season Last week Miguel Sano blasted a 475 foot bomb as part of the Twins extra inning win against Cleveland. At the time, it was the longest home run hit by a Minnesota Twin this season. Well... Sano wasn’t content with just having the Twins longest home run of the season, he wanted more and tonight he did just that as he blasted a 495 foot home run not just over the monster, but the billboards at the back of the deepest part of the monster. Truly a majestic home run that you need to see to believe. Jorge Polanco Hits 24th Home Run of the Season After failing to come through with bases loaded and just one out in the second, Jorge Polanco redeemed himself in his next at-bat. With one on and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Polanco became the second Twins hitter in as many innings to take Nick Pivetta deep. Bailey Ober Has Another Strong Outing While Griffin Jax has gotten more recognition for his performance of late, Bailey Ober has quietly been very good over the past month as he carried a 2.81 ERA over his last five starts entering Wednesday night’s game. Those numbers only continued to improve after Ober went five shutout innings against the Red Sox. Tonight’s outing was as impressive as any he has made in his young Major League career. The only inning where the Red Sox put together a scoring threat was in the third. Christian Vasquez got the threat started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout from Enrique Hernandez. Kyle Schwarber then came through with a two-out hit, but poor baserunning from Vasquez caused him to be held up a third. This was the second chance Bailey Ober needed, as he got Xander Bogaerts to fly out to right to end the threat. Alex Colome Blows Yet Another Save If there has been one single theme to this disappointing season from the Twins, it has been Alex Colome blowing save after save. It started from day one and it hasn’t stopped as he blew yet another great performance from his teammates that should have led to a Twins 4-2 victory. Instead, he gave up this game-tying two-run blast to Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the ninth. Colome then gave up a single and a walk to put the winning run on second base with still nobody out. However, he was able to work out of the jam and send this game to extra innings. Donaldson and Cave Go Yard in the 10th Just when all hope seemed lost, the Twins bats took back the lead with a five-run 10th inning. The inning got started with a two-run home run from Josh Donaldson. While those two runs were nice, it hardly felt like a safe lead for the Twins to hold in the bottom of the inning. Luckily, the Twins were not done hitting. With two outs in the inning, Rob Refsnyder got on base with a line drive single to center. Ryan Jeffers followed by getting hit by his second pitch of the game, setting the stage for Jake Cave who crushed a no-doubter over the bullpen in right, giving the Twins a much more comfortable 9-4 lead. Ralph Garza gave up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning, but the Twins won 9-6. Bullpen Usage Chart THURS FRI SAT TUE WED TOT Barnes 0 109 0 0 0 109 Minaya 0 16 0 30 0 46 Albers 63 0 0 0 0 63 García 0 0 28 0 0 28 Gant 61 0 0 0 0 61 Garza Jr. 0 0 31 0 24 55 Barraclough 0 46 0 0 4 50 Duffey 0 0 0 19 9 33 Colomé 0 0 0 0 20 0 Coulombe 19 0 0 0 19 19 Thielbar 0 0 0 14 22 23 What's Next? The Twins will face the Red Sox in Game 3 of the series on Thursday night. John Gant is the scheduled Twins pitcher, and he will square off against Chris Sale. Post Game Interviews
  17. Box Score Charlie Barnes: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 2 K (53.2 % strikes) Home Runs: Donaldson (17) Bottom 3 WPA: Barnes -.352, Astudillo -.051, Polanco -.036 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Early on, things didn’t go the Twins’ way at all, but they could’ve been much worse. Facing Néstor Cortes Jr., the offense was utterly dominated by the Cuban, who needed only 11 pitches to retire the top of Minnesota’s order. Then, the Yankees took a 4-0 lead in the bottom half of the first, with Charlie Barnes loading the bases twice. He really struggled with his control and command, giving up three walks and hitting a batter before stranding three runners to conclude the inning. A leadoff single by D.J. LeMahieu followed by a home run to the Short Porch by Aaron Judge in the second inning put the Yankees ahead 6-0. Barnes was able to cool down at this point forward,. He was able to retire six of the next eight batters, including a 12-pitch scoreless third inning. But Barnes settling down wasn’t enough. The Twins needed their offense to step up. Through the first three innings, Minnesota’s lineup got no-hit by Cortes Jr. The only Twins baserunner came via (checks notes) an Andrelton Simmons’ walk. The first sign of life from the Twins offense came during the fourth inning. Mitch Garver drew a two-out walk shortly before Rob Refsnyder ended Cortes Jr.’s no-hit bid. Nick Gordon was hit by a pitch, and, suddenly, the Twins were one swing away from getting right back into this game. It was up to Willians Astudillo, and he made contact with every pitch he saw, maybe putting a little pressure over Cortes Jr. But eventually, he flied out to right, ending the Twins’ threat. Barnes pitched himself into a jam once again in the fourth, giving up two consecutive one-out walks. Luke Voit hit a ball deep to center, and Gordon couldn’t make the diving catch on the warning track. Fortunately for the Twins, that ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, and New York settled for only one run batted in, extending their lead to 7-0. Barnes came back to deliver a scoreless fifth. Twins get on the board After getting only one-hit through five innings, the Twins offense finally made some noise. Luis Arraez hit a leadoff double, coming back from an 0-2 count. Josh Donaldson had a full count after getting ahead 3-0, but Cortes Jr. hung a slider in the heart of the plate, and Donaldson brought the rain. Garver hit a single immediately after that Donaldson home run, prompting the first mound visit for the Yankees in the game. With no outs yet, Minnesota had a great chance to spark a rally. But Cortes Jr. managed to retire the following batter and then induced a ground ball double play to put the inning on the books. As it turned out, after that Garver single, Yankees pitching retired eight consecutive Twins batters. Kyle Barraclough was the Twins 40th round draft pick in 2011. He chose not to sign and was drafted the next year by the Marlins. He has spent parts of several seasons in the big leagues, and tonight, he made his Twins debut. He came in in relief of Barnes and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth frame. However, New York managed to add three more runs: a leadoff home run by Voit in the seventh and a two-run shot by LeMahieu in the eighth. Juan Minaya took over and finished the inning. Garver drew another walk, to lead off the ninth inning, but that was all Minnesota got out of that inning. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THURS FRI TOT Barnes 0 0 0 0 109 109 Gant 17 0 0 61 0 78 Minaya 19 0 40 0 16 75 Albers 0 0 0 63 0 63 Barraclough 0 0 0 0 46 46 Colomé 10 0 31 0 0 41 Garza Jr. 0 13 23 0 0 36 García 0 0 35 0 0 35 Thielbar 19 0 9 0 0 28 Coulombe 0 0 7 19 0 26 Duffey 0 0 14 0 0 14
  18. Taylor Rogers It seemed like a certainty for a Taylor Rogers trade to occur before the deadline, but his recent finger injury made it tougher to swing a deal. He is still under team control for 2021, and there isn’t a guarantee the Twins will be in the race next season. On the most recent episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman mentioned that multiple teams were interested in adding Rogers even with his injury. Relievers, especially late-inning options, are a valuable commodity, and Rogers seems like one of the most likely candidates to be dealt in the off-season. Byron Buxton Like Rogers, Byron Buxton trade rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the deadline. There are some similarities between the two players because they were both on the IL, and have one more year of team control. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the deadline, but Buxton’s rejection of those offers means his name will be out there this winter. Nothing stops the Twins from revisiting a contract extension before other teams are offered him in a trade. That being said, a player with Buxton’s ceiling has the potential to draw trade interest even on an expiring contract. Josh Donaldson Donaldson is a little trickier proposition when looking at potential trades because the Twins would need to pay down part of his contract to find a partner. By multiple metrics, Donaldson is having a solid season for the Twins as he has posted a 133 OPS+ for the second consecutive year. Health questions are part of the Donaldson equation, but he is on pace to play over 120 games for only the second time since 2016. It will take the right kind of team to get a Donaldson trade done, but more teams might be interested in him if he finishes the season healthy. Max Kepler While the names above might be obvious, Kepler has the potential to be one of the organization’s most valuable trade assets. He is under team control through 2024, and the maximum he can earn is $25.3 million. As Twins fans know, it’s a very team-friendly deal, which might make other teams interested in adding him. He has value because he produces consistent numbers while also providing some defensive flexibility. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s emergence in the outfield make Kepler more expendable. Trading teams looking for a left-handed bat with multiple years of team control may be willing to part with the right package. Which player do you think is most likely to be dealt? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month. Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones. Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras. Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins.
  20. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but he was coming off being named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. The Twins were willing to deal with his on and off field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Now two years into his massive deal and the outcome has been unfavorable to say the least. Last season, Donaldson played in less than half of the team’s games and his most memorable moment might have been being ejected after hitting a home run. This year he has been much healthier, but he has become the crusader for all batters in the battle against sticky substances. He called out the Yankees Gerrit Cole and then struck out twice against him later that week. Just this week he showboated a first inning home run against Lucas Giolito in a game the Twins ended up losing. Then he ended up confronting him in the parking lot after the game. These moments aside, Donaldson’s on field performance has come as advertised as he has been one of the game’s top offensive third basemen while also playing solid defense. So, do the distractions outweigh his other value to the team? And does that put him in the conversation for one of the all-time least likeable Twins players? There are plenty of former Twins in the conversation for least likeable player in team history. Lance Lynn has been one of baseball’s best pitchers in recent years, but his Twins tenure was filled with poor performances and a poor attitude. From the beginning, he seemed upset with the free agent process and that frustration came out in his performance. However, his stay in a Twins uniform was short so that hardly puts him at the top of the least likeable list. Other candidates for the least likeable Twins player include multiple players from the Metrodome Era. Kyle Lohse took a baseball bat to Ron Gardenhire’s office door. Needless to say, his days in Minnesota were numbered after that incident. A.J. Pierzynski was part of one of the greatest Twins trades of all-time, but his attitude didn’t fit well in multiple clubhouses during his big-league career. Both players went on to have careers outside of Minnesota, but they left on a sour note. Stretching even further back, Chuck Knoblauch had an infamous end to his Twins career. Since the team moved to Minnesota, he ranks in the top-10 for WAR, which puts him ahead of names like Johan Santana, Jim Kaat, and Torii Hunter. Eventually, he demanded a trade from the Twins and took shots at the city on his way out of town. Then there was the famous hot dog throwing incident when he returned as an outfielder for the Yankees. His off the field issues probably mean he won’t be welcomed back in Minnesota any time soon. Donaldson has rubbed some people the wrong way throughout his career. It’s hard to imagine him being in the same level as Knoblauch or Pierzynski, but there will be plenty of fans that aren’t happy with his attitude and the attention he is drawing on a last place team. How would you rank these players according to their likeability? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. No, the problem is not that the Twins don’t spend money, but rather that they don’t know HOW to spend money. Said another way, they don’t correctly know how to spend money. As we embark upon a quasi-deadline for homegrown talents like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios, it seems the front office is faced with a decision to extend or deal both talents. Buxton would be looking at a payday north of $200 million as a free agent coming off a season of health. Jose Berrios wants to max out his value, and it seems he’s all but gone in this club’s mind. Those are problems, but only because they compound an already developing issue. Way back when the Twins paid Joe Mauer. He was worth every penny and was underpaid throughout his career. Nothing about his contract hamstrung a mid-market team without a salary cap. What prevented the hometown nine from winning was the lack of supplementation on the roster, both in youth and acquired talent. Fast forward to where we are now, and once again, the Twins are showing a lack of ability to spend wisely. This club paid Josh Donaldson nearly $100 million following one season with Atlanta. The Bringer of Rain posted a .259/.379/.521 slash line in 2019 while playing in 155 games. His first year in Minnesota was challenging in that the pandemic cut short any real season, but nagging leg injuries kept him to just 28 games and out of the most important during October. Look at what Donaldson has done for Minnesota, however, and it’s nothing short of what this club should’ve hoped. After his 124 OPS+ in Atlanta, Donaldson has posted a .244/.358/.485 slash and 135 OPS+ with the Twins. The slugging has slid a bit, but the ball has changed, and arguably the only knock has been losing a step defensively. After an injury-plagued season a year ago, he’s been one of the most consistently available Twins in 2021. So, here we are with a big contract given out to a free agent that’s performing, and Minnesota is looking at a teardown. Donaldson could be had for salary relief, Berrios could command prospects, and Buxton may be the most exciting asset the sport has seen in a long time. Once again, though, this club looks to have failed to spend. Over the winter, the thought process should’ve been acquiring talent to supplement this group. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles had appeal on paper, but neither is the impact arm the provides insurance for the group headlined by Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were veteran starters with relatively decent floors, but neither would push Berrios or Kenta Maeda for the top of the rotation duty. When acquiring talent to raise the water level, this organization changed out oars and continued to tread water. Donaldson was a significant expense, and nothing was done to truly supplement him. Here we are now facing an awful result, and the outcome could be moving assets for hope in the future. Target Field was opened under the assumption that Minnesota would be able to retain its homegrown talent. Watching Buxton and Berrios be moved isn’t a reality that is supposed to take place. Suppressed payrolls for much of the past decade should pave the way for an influx of dollars to be utilized around a core that’s shown it can compete. Right now, it feels like that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t believe that Minnesota’s strategy should be to play in the pool near a $200 million mark. Acquiring top-tier talent only to keep them on an island and then piecing things out for another cycle when things go wrong looks like a misappropriated allocation of funds. Development isn’t linear and should be the focus internally. Still, it’s time this organization made financial commitments to those they’ve seen bear fruit and then continue to support the roster as a whole with acquired talent that makes more sense than just cents on the dollar. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. What's Their Situation? The Nationals checked in at the All-Star break with a 42-47 record. They're in fourth place but only six games out of first, precisely where they sat at the break in 2019. Granted, this team is clearly in worse shape overall than that one (which was 47-42 and within closer range of a wild-card spot), but the current Nats squad should be considered a player with intent to add at the deadline. Especially because, as we'll discuss, they've got an aging veteran ace reaching the end of his deal, and a barren farm system. Now is the time to push for one more, and perhaps even add some help for the coming years. What Do They Need? You may recall that when the Nationals made their improbable run two years ago – from 19-31 in May to hoisting a trophy in October – they were fueled by star power: a three-headed monster in the rotation (Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin), plus a lineup powered by MVP candidate Anthony Rendon and rookie phenom Juan Soto. Most of those pieces are still in place (minus Rendon), which is why it seems silly for the Nationals not to make a push. Especially because one of those remaining pieces – Max Scherzer – is at the height of his prowess. He was the All-Star Game starter and is a Cy Young front-runner. He's also 36, so it's not like he's got too many years like this left in him. This is his final year under contract with the Nats. The trouble is that, while Scherzer is the kind of horse who can carry you through a postseason, he needs some help in the rotation if they're gonna get there. Stephen Strasburg's been out almost two months weeks with a neck injury. Patrick Corbin is struggling. Jon Lester has proven to be a J.A. Happ-caliber veteran pickup. A significant outside boost for this rotation would make a world of difference, especially with Strasburg expected back around the deadline. Can a return of that three-headed monster formula in August and September fuel a familiar surge? Of course, the Nationals could also use a boost in the lineup. They rank 11th out of 15 National League teams in runs scored, despite the pre-injury slugging heroics of Kyle Schwarber. The most glaring weakness in their lineup is Rendon's former home, third base, where Starlin Castro produced 0.5 fWAR before going on administrative leave last week amidst domestic abuse allegations. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? If we're making a list of plausible destinations for Josh Donaldson, I'm pretty sure Washington is at the very top. I mean, the Nats were finalists to sign Donaldson two offseasons ago, when he opted for the Twins. They're a free-spending big-market club that could afford to take on a healthy portion of his contract. And the need at third base is crystal clear. A healthy Donaldson delivers a transformative jolt for this team, and going forward, he wouldn't be blocking anyone set to emerge from their ... thin farm system (more on that in a moment). Donaldson is, of course, a considerable risk. Maybe a bigger one than this semi-longshot wants to take on. The real prize in Washington's eyes is likely José Berríos. Adding a durable top-end starter to their rotation alongside Scherzer and Strasburg for the stretch run would give the Nats a huge boost, and Berríos' return in 2022 (at least) would help fill the void of Scherzer's potential departure as a free agent. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Here's the sticking point: Washington is not rich with prospect capital. Coming into this season, their system was ranked as the 30th out of 30 teams by MLB.com. They had only two prospects in the overall Top 100, and one of them – 2019 first-rounder Jackson Rutledge – has been hampered by shoulder issues all year. The real prize would seem to be right-hander Cade Cavalli, who ranked as MLB.com's #77 prospect before the season (two spots ahead of Jhoan Duran) and recently graduated to Double-A, where he's been missing plenty of bats. He would be an excellent get, and perhaps a worthy headliner in a Berríos package, but Cavalli is just one year removed from being drafted in the first round. He's Washington's only bona fide stud prospect and is on track to be ready next year. Are the Nats going to part with such a cost-controlled asset in exchange for the pricy proposition of acquiring and extending Berríos? If they choose to lower their sights and go for someone like Donaldson, there are plenty of interesting pieces in this system for Minnesota to pick from. Seven of Washington's top 10 prospects are pitchers, and the system has several raw young position players that could soften the blow of losing JD in a salary dump. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. What's their situation? The Mets' presence in October looks pretty likely, although it's not a sure thing. They went into the All-Star break leading the NL East by 3.5 games over the Philadelphia Phillies, with a record of 47-40. After a slow start in April, they exploded to go 17-9 in May. This helped them improve from the fourth-worst record in the NL to the top of their division by the end of the month. Winning the division – something they did last in 2015 – appears to be the safest way for them to make it into the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers (56-35) and the San Diego Padres (53-40), the two clubs currently in ownership of the two wild card spots, both have records considerably better than New York at this point. If one of them manages to win the NL West, the San Francisco Giants (currently at 57-32) suddenly become the Mets' competition for the wild card. New York finished the first half of the season with a winning record within the division, 19-18. But against their two main threats, the Phillies and the Braves, they are at 14-10. The Braves, unfortunately, lost Ronald Acuña Jr. for the season due to a torn ACL, so their already-average offensive productivity (100 wRC+) may take a dip during the second half. With the Mets having one of baseball's best pitching staffs, making the right additions in this trade deadline could be key to put them over the top in the NL East. Steven Cohen, the team's new boss since last October, is baseball's richest team owner with a net worth that has reached the $16 billion thresholds last April, according to Forbes. Not three months after acquiring Francisco Lindor from Cleveland last January, Cohen demonstrated his business aggressiveness and locked him up in late March with a 10-year, $341 million extension. Not only this proves his total commitment to building a World Series-caliber team, but it also puts the Mets into a very convenient position when they need to lure free agents or top trade targets into the club. Trading for and then signing Lindor to an extension wasn't the only move from the Mets for this season. Over the winter, they made some key free-agent additions, such as keeping Marcus Stroman, as well as All-Star starter Taijuan Walker, former All-Star catcher James McCann, and our dear Trevor May. The Mets being in a position of entering a pennant race after the trade deadline additions is certainly not an accident. What do they need? As good as the Mets' pitching staff has been, they could still use some help. Their starting rotation has produced 9.9 fWAR (4th most in baseball) while also having the second-best ERA, with 2.98, and the best FIP, at 3.36. However, they did that relying basically on three arms: Stroman, Walker, and Jacob deGrom, who's having one of the most dominant seasons a starting pitcher has had in years, possibly decades. Outside of the trio mentioned above, if you put together all the other pitchers who started at least one game for the Mets this season, they have a combined 4.62 ERA and 4.61 FIP. If they don't pursue pitching help now, that's the kind of productivity they'll be relying on should any severe injuries happen to one of their top three starters. Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have slight chances of returning to the team this season, but that definitely shouldn't be something to count on. If you're the Mets, shopping for a solid starter to strengthen your rotation in the second half and into October should be your top priority. Next on their list are, of course, bats. The Mets as a team have had a very poor offense – to sugarcoat it – throughout this season, ranking 17th in wRC+ (93) and 25th in OPS (.683), while striking out 24.4% of the time, which represents the 10th highest percentage in baseball. They've produced the second-fewest runs in all of baseball so far this season, with a total of 327. deGrom, who constantly doesn't get run support from New York's lineup, has a .758 OPS, which is higher than those of seven of the eight qualified hitters in the team. Lindor appears to have found his mojo this month, but he's had an abysmal first three months as a Met, being booed several times by the fans. J.D. Davis has been sidelined for most of the season, which creates a huge gap in their lineup. Even though he's expected to be activated very soon, you have no idea what version of him is coming back from the injured list. So it makes a lot of sense to look for some help at third base. Besides, if he does come back hitting as well as he was in April, they can easily move him to one of their corner outfield spots. Good pitching is never enough, but so far, the Mets haven't been linked to any significant relief pitching rumors. They appear to be satisfied with what their bullpen is bringing to the table, a staff with a 2.12 WPA so far this season, the 12th-best in baseball. Seven of their eight most-used relievers this season have a sub-four ERA. Which Twins are the best fit? Having that in mind, the Twins may immediately become the best trading partner available for New York, as they can kill two birds with one stone by dealing with Minnesota. Josh Donaldson might not be a frontrunner, but he would be the perfect fit for the Mets. Earlier this month, it was reported that both sides started preliminary talks. However, things didn't progress. Nonetheless, 'The Bringer of Rain' is undeniably an upgrade over veteran Jonathan Villar, the Mets' primary hot corner starter this season. Donaldson's .831 OPS for the season (1.035 over his last 30 games) are considerably above Villar's .745. Besides, even with some of his defensive metrics being below his career average right now, Donaldson still provides the Mets much better defense. José Berríos is the next big thing the Twins have to offer. The former All-Star is not an ace, as we all know, but he is absolutely solid and, at 27 and under team control for this season and next, the upside is huge. After 18 starts this season, 'La Makina' is posting some career numbers, such as 3.48 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP. In several metrics, Berríos is a superior pitcher to Walker himself, providing more strikeouts and giving up fewer walks. Having Berríos as their number three or four starter would make the Met rotation much, much scarier. Adding Berríos would also be huge for New York because both Stroman and Syndergaard will be free agents at the end of the season. The upside that he brings to the table is so significant that some Mets fans even consider him the 'condition' to accept all the potential downside of bringing in Donaldson, such as the age, the injury history, and the high salary. However, names like Kris Bryant, Adam Frazier, and Eduardo Escobar might get in the way of them making another blockbuster trade, such as the one they did with Cleveland in January. Who could the Twins get back? In mid-June, New York-based SNY presented this package in exchange for Berríos: Ronny Mauricio, a 20-year-old shortstop, is currently the organization's #2 prospect, while J.T. Ginn (RHP) is their #6, and Junior Santos (RHP) their #11. While this is a package containing some of your best-ranked prospects, looking at their productivity in the minors this season makes you think. Santos', who's only 19, still hasn't had a very good season in the Mets' system, with a 4.37 career ERA so far. On the other hand, Ginn has a solid 2.48 ERA this season, his first out of college, but the sample might still be too small to judge him. Mauricio is a very attractive piece, even though he doesn't have eye-popping numbers so far. However, it's uncertain how much the Twins would be willing to have the most valuable trade piece be a shortstop. This position already accounts for four of the team's top 30 prospects list, including their #1, Royce Lewis, and #7, Keoni Cavaco. Not to mention that Nick Gordon just made the big league team and is doing pretty well. But those are all more of a wondering than it is a reason to say no. It's hard to imagine that the Mets would toss in anything more than this for Berríos. Would they be willing to add a low-end prospect to the package in exchange for Donaldson? As much as Berríos and Donaldson would be the perfect fit for them, perhaps they won't be willing to go any higher than something similar to what's been suggested above. They could probably land a better third baseman with those same pieces if they decide to trade with some other team. At the same time, I also feel like the Twins could get a better return in exchange for Berríos. That is if they're really willing to deal him – which we aren't sure they are. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SDI has been used as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 2.2 SDI (6th); Michael Pineda, 0.6 SDI (19th); Kenta Maeda, 0.1 SDI (23rd) Berrios has always been a strong defensive pitcher and his defensive metrics point to him being near the top of the AL. Last season, Berrios finished 10th in SDI after finishing 16th in 2019. For his career, his highest 162-game season finish was in 2018 when he ranked 13th in the AL. Maeda was a Gold Glove finalist last season, but he hasn’t accumulated enough SDI to be in the discussion so far this year. Catcher (AL Ranking): Mitch Garver 1.3 SDI (10th); Ryan Jeffers 1.2 SDI (11th) Jeffers has been touted as the better defensive catcher, but he is slightly behind Garver in the first half SDI rankings. Garver has been on the shelf since his gruesome injury, and this means Jeffers has accumulated more innings behind the plate. Ben Rortvedt doesn’t have enough big-league time to show up on the SDI rankings, but he might by season’s end if the team is careful with Garver’s catching innings as he returns from injury. First Base (AL Ranking): Alex Kirilloff 1.7 SDI (3rd); Miguel Sano -0.9 SDI (11th) Outside of Simmons (See Below), Kirilloff ranks as the highest defender on the team at his position. Jake Bauers (2.6 SDI) and Ty France (2.3 SDI) have logged more than double the defensive innings compared to Kirilloff’s total. Kirilloff is much better than Sano at first and he has a chance to be a finalist for a Gold Glove in his rookie season. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco 1.1 SDI (8th); Luis Arraez -0.8 SDI (15th) Polanco had flaws as a defensive shortstop and his move to second base was seen as a way to increase his defensive value. Even with his current ranking, he is only 0.5 SDI out of ranking in the AL’s top three. Marcus Semien, another converted shortstop, leads the AL by one of the biggest margins at any position. Third Base (AL Ranking): Josh Donaldson -1.1 SDI (11th) Donaldson has long been considered a strong defender, but he might be in the middle of his worst defensive season. According to SDI, he ranked as high as second back in 2019 when he only finished behind Nolan Arenado in the NL. He’s been playing through hamstring issues that have significantly slowed him down and this might be one of the reasons for the decline in his defensive numbers. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons 4.4 SDI (1st) Simmons might be one of the all-time best defensive players, so it makes sense to see him at the top of the SDI rankings among shortstops. Only seven AL defenders have accumulated a higher SDI than Simmons including Semien, another player the Twins targeted for middle infield depth this winter. Simmons might have the inside track for another Gold Glove, but will he be with the Twins after the trade deadline? Left Field (AL Ranking): Trevor Larnach -2.2 SDI (14th) Larnach isn’t in the big leagues because of his defense, and this shows up in his SDI total. Only four qualified players rank lower than Larnach among AL left fielders. Former Twin Eddie Rosario currently ranks second with a 2.5 SDI and he is only 0.6 SDI behind first place. This might surprise Twins fans because he was never known for his defense when he was in Minnesota. Center Field (AL Ranking) Minnesota doesn’t currently have any players that qualify for the SDI rankings. <Insert sad trombone sound for Byron Buxton> Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler -0.1 SDI (10th) Kepler’s total might be the most surprising on the midseason rankings. Throughout his career, he has been considered a strong defensive player with the Twins even using him in center field. Kepler is a year older, and he might have lost a step, or his hamstring injuries have slowed him down. Which of these rankings surprises you the most? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. What’s Their Situation? The Brewers have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central but still need to close the gap on the top of the NL West if they want to have a chance at home-field advantage. The Brewers currently have the 7th-best odds of winning the World Series, according to Vegas Insider, and their deadline mentality should be “we’re going for it.” They may not match up perfectly, but there is no way the Brewers don’t call the Twins and vice versa. There is too much that the Brewers could use that the Twins have for them to not have conversations for at least a few players. What Do They Need? If the Brewers intend to go for it, they need to do it at their most significant areas of weakness: First base (-2.0 bWAR, last in NL) and third base (-1.2 bWAR, 13th). Milwaukee needs to do something at these positions to give themselves a shot at postseason success. The Brewers may also want to improve their bullpen. Don’t get me wrong, the Brewers bullpen, led by Josh Hader, has been terrific in 2021. It ranks 7th in opposing batting average (.221) and is tied for first in strikeouts per nine (11.0). But aside from Hader, who has posted otherworldly numbers (15.6 K/9, 281 ERA+), plus the rebounding Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and Brent Suter, there are places to upgrade. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Josh Donaldson would fill the Brewers’ greatest on-field need. It’s the other stuff - contract and injuries - that give Brewers fans pause. And that doesn’t even get into all the other recent happenings that could potentially make Donaldson not well-liked in other clubhouses. Jose Berrios, under control in 2022, is an excellent fit for 29 teams not named the Twins and the Brewers are no exception, but he, like Taylor Rogers, would both be luxuries, and it’s hard to say how much the Brewers want to deplete their farm system. Nelson Cruz isn’t an obvious fit for a National League team, but Craig Counsell is well known for doing things out of the ordinary. And even Brewers bloggers are sipping that Kool-Aid. At a minimum, could you imagine having that option on the bench every game? Plus, there are DH days available in September with trips to Cleveland and Detroit, not to mention a late August visit to none other than Target Field. Additionally, Michael Pineda as a #4 starter, Hansel Robles as another mid-innings option, and Miguel Sano getting a change of scenery and opportunities at first and/or third base might all be things the Brewers front office discusses. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Unless the Twins are moving Berrios, I can’t believe any of Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang, or Hedbert Perez would be available. Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby are probably safe to be included in that group as well. The strength of the Brewers system is behind the plate. Depending on which ranking outlet you prefer, the club boasts six catchers in their Top 22 prospects, or maybe you want to call it three in the top 10. It’s not that the Twins don’t have catching options, but quick, who’s their highest-rated catching prospect? (I’ll give you a hint, when you take Jeffers and Rortvedt out, neither MLB.com nor Baseball America has a catcher listed. TwinsDaily’s midseason rankings go 20-deep… no catchers.) Nick Kahle, C, 23yo - Kahle is probably the most likely match from a value perspective. He would profile as a backup with a chance to be more, considering he’s still got a few years to up his stock and has only played 76 games since being drafted. Kahle did play in both the American Association and Australia during the 2020 season to work on his development. Abner Uribe, RHP, 20yo - You’re not going to find Uribe at the top of any prospect lists… unless you sort by mph. He’s a lottery ticket, no doubt, and he’s already spending most of his time coming out of the bullpen, but he’s a flamethrower who’s broken 100 mph. Zavier Warren, C, 22yo - The Twins would be wise to ask about catcher/utility player Warren, who may have the chops to stick behind the plate, but has the bat and athleticism to play elsewhere. Antoine Kelly, LHP, 21yo - Kelly projects as one of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the system after being drafted in 2019 and showing off his powerful fastball in rookie league. He impressed during his stint at the alternate training site, but momentum was lost when he underwent Thoracic Outlet Surgery this spring. An already high-risk/high-reward prospect has seen the gap between his floor and ceiling widen even further and is a huge question mark. But that’s the fun of the trade deadline.
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