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  1. According to the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse, Buxton might be unhappy with the Twins. There are a variety of reasons Buxton might be displeased including the handling of his service time back at the end of 2018. If he had been called up in September that year, he would reach free agency this winter. Instead, he has one more year of team control. From the Twins perspective, this extra year is very valuable, because it allows the team to keep him for 2022 or it adds to what the team can get in a trade. Obviously, Buxton is going to need to come back and show that he is healthy for other teams to seriously consider a trade So, what teams need a centerfield upgrade for October? New York Yankees Twins fans might not want to hear it, but the Yankees make a lot of sense when it comes to a Buxton deal. Former Twin Aaron Hicks is recovering from left wrist surgery. New York has been shuffling through a lot of non-traditional center field options in recent weeks like Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner. Among AL teams, only the Mariners and Tigers have gotten less WAR in centerfield than the Yankees. It’s also been widely reported that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is open to dealing for a center field upgrade. Houston Astros Houston saw their long-time centerfielder, George Springer, leave via free agency last winter and now the club might be looking for an upgrade for a postseason run. The Astros find themselves in the second Wild Card position and their primary center fielder, Myles Straw, is not exactly a household name. Only two positions on the Astros, CF and C, have produced an OPS under .800 this year. Straw entered play on Tuesday with a .637 OPS and 10 extra-base hits in 61 games. Among AL teams, the Astros have gotten the 10th lowest WAR total out of the center field position. Milwaukee Brewers The Brewers are in the thick of the NL Central race and they have the NL Wild Card spot to fall back on if they lose out in the division title. Only one NL team, the Braves, have accumulate less WAR in center than the Brewers. Most of Milwaukee’s negative WAR total has come on the offensive side where their center fielders have combined for a -15.6 offensive runs above average which is the worst in baseball. As a small market team, Milwaukee needs to take advantage of every postseason opportunity, especially since the club has made the playoffs in three of the last four years. Boston Red Sox After finishing in last place last season, the Red Sox are back in the hunt for the AL East crown. There have been offensive struggles at multiple positions in their line-up, so Buxton provides an opportunity for an offensive upgrade. Enrique Hernandez has played the most games in center, but his .669 OPS isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Also, Boston hasn’t been getting a lot of production at first base, so maybe they would be interested in a package deal that includes Buxton and Sano. Do you think Buxton gets dealt to one of these teams? What other teams could make the list? 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
  2. Byron Buxton might be unhappy in Minnesota, and this can lead to plenty of speculation about his future. Here are four contending teams that might be interested in a Buxton deal before the deadline. According to the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse, Buxton might be unhappy with the Twins. There are a variety of reasons Buxton might be displeased including the handling of his service time back at the end of 2018. If he had been called up in September that year, he would reach free agency this winter. Instead, he has one more year of team control. From the Twins perspective, this extra year is very valuable, because it allows the team to keep him for 2022 or it adds to what the team can get in a trade. Obviously, Buxton is going to need to come back and show that he is healthy for other teams to seriously consider a trade So, what teams need a centerfield upgrade for October? New York Yankees Twins fans might not want to hear it, but the Yankees make a lot of sense when it comes to a Buxton deal. Former Twin Aaron Hicks is recovering from left wrist surgery. New York has been shuffling through a lot of non-traditional center field options in recent weeks like Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner. Among AL teams, only the Mariners and Tigers have gotten less WAR in centerfield than the Yankees. It’s also been widely reported that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is open to dealing for a center field upgrade. Houston Astros Houston saw their long-time centerfielder, George Springer, leave via free agency last winter and now the club might be looking for an upgrade for a postseason run. The Astros find themselves in the second Wild Card position and their primary center fielder, Myles Straw, is not exactly a household name. Only two positions on the Astros, CF and C, have produced an OPS under .800 this year. Straw entered play on Tuesday with a .637 OPS and 10 extra-base hits in 61 games. Among AL teams, the Astros have gotten the 10th lowest WAR total out of the center field position. Milwaukee Brewers The Brewers are in the thick of the NL Central race and they have the NL Wild Card spot to fall back on if they lose out in the division title. Only one NL team, the Braves, have accumulate less WAR in center than the Brewers. Most of Milwaukee’s negative WAR total has come on the offensive side where their center fielders have combined for a -15.6 offensive runs above average which is the worst in baseball. As a small market team, Milwaukee needs to take advantage of every postseason opportunity, especially since the club has made the playoffs in three of the last four years. Boston Red Sox After finishing in last place last season, the Red Sox are back in the hunt for the AL East crown. There have been offensive struggles at multiple positions in their line-up, so Buxton provides an opportunity for an offensive upgrade. Enrique Hernandez has played the most games in center, but his .669 OPS isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Also, Boston hasn’t been getting a lot of production at first base, so maybe they would be interested in a package deal that includes Buxton and Sano. Do you think Buxton gets dealt to one of these teams? What other teams could make the list? 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 View full article
  3. Add Judge to the list of Yankees out for Opening Day. At what point do they start to wonder what they're paying the Strength and Conditioning staff for? I can see an injury or two but this is now almost 2 years of one guy dropping after another. https://www.amny.com/sports/cashman-yankees-aaron-judge-doubtful-for-opening-day/
  4. There are so many similarities between the Twins offense and the Yankees offense in 2019 While the Yankees have the names that are known nationally, hopefully this series can put the names of several Twins players into the limelight. As we eagerly look to tonight’s Game 1, lets take a look at two powerful, prolific, historic offenses and see where the teams have some advantages. Most would predict that the teams will score a lot of runs, so get to know some of the guys to watch.Let’s take a position-by-position look at this Twins/Yankees series. Catchers Twins: Mitch Garver (28) - .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles, 31 HR, 67 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gary Sanchez (26) - .232/.316/.525 (.841) with 12 doubles, 34 HR, 77 RBI (18 playoff games) Summary: Simply looking at 2019 numbers, it’s clear that Garver had the better season of these two. After hitting seven homers last year, he set out to hit the ball in the air more often in 2019, and he did that. Likewise, he went to work on his defense last offseason and has made himself into an adequate defensive backstop. That is where Garver gains the edge over Sanchez as well. Advantage: Slight edge to the Twins. First Base Twins: CJ Cron (29) - .253/.311/.469 (.780) with 24 doubles, 25 HR, 78 RBI (3 playoff games) Yankees: DJ LeMahieu (31) - .327/.375/.518 (.893) with 33 doubles, 26 HR, 102 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: CJ Cron had a terrific, powerful first half of the season with the Twins. Unfortunately a thumb injury before the All Star break cost him two IL stints and really sapped him of his power much of the rest of the season. LeMahieu can play all over the infield, but he’s found most of his playing time in the second half at first base. He should receive strong consideration for MVP as he was such a huge piece for the Yankees all season. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees. Second Base Twins: Jonathan Schoop (27) - .256/.304/.473 (.777) with 23 doubles, 23 HR, 59 RBI (12 playoff games) Twins: Luis Arraez (22) - .334/.399/.439 (.838) with 20 doubles, 4 HR, 28 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gleyber Torres (22) - .278/.337/.535 (.871) with 26 doubles, 38 HR, 90 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: We will find out on Friday morning whether or not Luis Arraez will be on the ALDS roster or not. He had such a positive impact on the team immediately after his promotion. The quality of his at-bats is veteran-like. Schoop’s at-bats may not be as pretty, but look at the numbers. He has had a solid season despite losing playing time. Regardless, Torres is an All-Star at a very young age. Sure, about 1/3 of his homers came against the Orioles, but he had a fantastic season and plays solid defense too. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees. Third Base Twins: Miguel Sano (26) - .247/.346/.576 (.923) with 19 doubles, 34 HR, 79 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gio Urshela (27) - .314/.355/.534 (.889) with 34 doubles, 21 HR, 74 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: Sano put up monster numbers in 2019 despite his season not starting until May 15th. He had his week of extreme struggle, but since then, he has been pretty well locked in. He’ll be making his postseason debut because he missed the 2017 Wild Card game with a broken tibia. Urshela did play in the 2017 postseason, for Cleveland. He’s been a backup player the last few years in Cleveland and Toronto. He got an opportunity to play in 2019 because of the Miguel Andujar injury, and he took full advantage. Advantage: Edge to the Twins. Shortstop Twins: Jorge Polanco (26) - .295/.356/.485 (.841) with 40 doubles, 22 HR, 79 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Didi Gregorius (29) - .238/.276/.441 (.718) with 14 doubles, 16 HR, 61 RBI (19 playoff games) Summary: Gregorius missed the first half of the season due to Tommy John surgery. He returned in the second half and never got on a great roll. That said, he can be great, and he certainly has hurt the Twins in recent years. Polanco had a terrific, breakout season in 2019. He had a big first half and earned his first All-Star appearance (and start). Advantage: Slight Edge to the Twins. Left Field Twins: Eddie Rosario (28) - .276/.300/.500 (.800) with 28 doubles, 32 HR, 109 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton (29) - .288/.403/.492 (.894) with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 13 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: Because of injury, Stanton was limited to just 18 games at 72 plate appearances in 2019. But if he’s healthy, the former MVP can have a huge impact in this series with his power. Rosario had a rough second half, but just looking at his numbers (except that OBP), he put together another solid season for the Twins. Staton has played in five postseason games. Rosario played in just one, but he homered in that game. Advantage: Push. The edge would clearly go to the Yankees if not for the injury factor. Center Field Twins: Max Kepler (26) - .252/.336/.519 (.855) with 32 doubles, 36 HR, 90 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Brett Gardner (36) - .251/.325/.503 (.829) with 26 doubles, 28 HR, 78 RBI (52 playoff games) Summary: Gardner has played in 52 playoff games in his long Yankees career. He has really changed his game in the last couple of years from a slappy, on-base hitter to a power guy. If Kepler had stayed healthy and had played at all in the last three weeks, the edge would likely go to Kepler in this “matchup.” He had a huge breakout year. His health is the lone question. Advantage: Push Right Field Twins: Marwin Gonzalez (30) - .264/.322/.414 (.736) with 19 doubles, 15 HR, 55 RBI (30 playoff games) Yankees: Aaron Judge (27) - .272/.381/.540 (.921) with 18 doubles, 27 HR, 55 RBI (18 playoff games) Summary: Judge missed some time early in the season but returned to put up Judge-like numbers again. I have Gonzalez listed here, but he could play some at first base, and if he does someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade could play right field. In addition, Gonzalez missed the final handful of games due to his oblique tightening, but he expects to be back. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees Designated Hitter Twins: Nelson Cruz (39) - .311/.392/.639 (1.031) with 26 doubles, 41 HR, 108 RBI (41 playoff games) Yankees: Edwin Encarnacion (36) - .244/.344/.531 (.875) with 18 doubles, 34 HR, 86 RBI (26 playoff games) Summary: This “matchup” pits two members of the 400 Home Run club. Both have been prolific power hitters for years. Both have missed time with injuries in 2019. Encarnacion is expected to return to the Yankees lineup for the playoffs after missing time with an oblique injury. Advantage: Slight Edge Twins Bench Twins: The Twins will likely have a bench that includes Jason Castro, Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade (and Jonathan Schoop, if Arraez is healthy). Yankees: The Yankees will likely have Austin Romine as their backup catcher. Guys like Luke Voit (21 HR), Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier will also possibly be on the bench. Mike Tauchman is another possibility if he is healthy. Overall Twins: .270/.338/.494 (.832) with 318 doubles, 307 HR, 939 Runs Yankees: .267/.339/.490 (.829) with 290 doubles, 306 HR, 943 Runs Advantage: Even Summary: Expect to see a lot of home runs, a lot of runs scored. Or, because baseball can be funny sometimes, maybe we will see a series of pitcher’s duels. Click here to view the article
  5. Let’s take a position-by-position look at this Twins/Yankees series. Catchers Twins: Mitch Garver (28) - .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles, 31 HR, 67 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gary Sanchez (26) - .232/.316/.525 (.841) with 12 doubles, 34 HR, 77 RBI (18 playoff games) Summary: Simply looking at 2019 numbers, it’s clear that Garver had the better season of these two. After hitting seven homers last year, he set out to hit the ball in the air more often in 2019, and he did that. Likewise, he went to work on his defense last offseason and has made himself into an adequate defensive backstop. That is where Garver gains the edge over Sanchez as well. Advantage: Slight edge to the Twins. First Base Twins: CJ Cron (29) - .253/.311/.469 (.780) with 24 doubles, 25 HR, 78 RBI (3 playoff games) Yankees: DJ LeMahieu (31) - .327/.375/.518 (.893) with 33 doubles, 26 HR, 102 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: CJ Cron had a terrific, powerful first half of the season with the Twins. Unfortunately a thumb injury before the All Star break cost him two IL stints and really sapped him of his power much of the rest of the season. LeMahieu can play all over the infield, but he’s found most of his playing time in the second half at first base. He should receive strong consideration for MVP as he was such a huge piece for the Yankees all season. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees. Second Base Twins: Jonathan Schoop (27) - .256/.304/.473 (.777) with 23 doubles, 23 HR, 59 RBI (12 playoff games) Twins: Luis Arraez (22) - .334/.399/.439 (.838) with 20 doubles, 4 HR, 28 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gleyber Torres (22) - .278/.337/.535 (.871) with 26 doubles, 38 HR, 90 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: We will find out on Friday morning whether or not Luis Arraez will be on the ALDS roster or not. He had such a positive impact on the team immediately after his promotion. The quality of his at-bats is veteran-like. Schoop’s at-bats may not be as pretty, but look at the numbers. He has had a solid season despite losing playing time. Regardless, Torres is an All-Star at a very young age. Sure, about 1/3 of his homers came against the Orioles, but he had a fantastic season and plays solid defense too. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees. Third Base Twins: Miguel Sano (26) - .247/.346/.576 (.923) with 19 doubles, 34 HR, 79 RBI (0 playoff games) Yankees: Gio Urshela (27) - .314/.355/.534 (.889) with 34 doubles, 21 HR, 74 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: Sano put up monster numbers in 2019 despite his season not starting until May 15th. He had his week of extreme struggle, but since then, he has been pretty well locked in. He’ll be making his postseason debut because he missed the 2017 Wild Card game with a broken tibia. Urshela did play in the 2017 postseason, for Cleveland. He’s been a backup player the last few years in Cleveland and Toronto. He got an opportunity to play in 2019 because of the Miguel Andujar injury, and he took full advantage. Advantage: Edge to the Twins. Shortstop Twins: Jorge Polanco (26) - .295/.356/.485 (.841) with 40 doubles, 22 HR, 79 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Didi Gregorius (29) - .238/.276/.441 (.718) with 14 doubles, 16 HR, 61 RBI (19 playoff games) Summary: Gregorius missed the first half of the season due to Tommy John surgery. He returned in the second half and never got on a great roll. That said, he can be great, and he certainly has hurt the Twins in recent years. Polanco had a terrific, breakout season in 2019. He had a big first half and earned his first All-Star appearance (and start). Advantage: Slight Edge to the Twins. Left Field Twins: Eddie Rosario (28) - .276/.300/.500 (.800) with 28 doubles, 32 HR, 109 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton (29) - .288/.403/.492 (.894) with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 13 RBI (5 playoff games) Summary: Because of injury, Stanton was limited to just 18 games at 72 plate appearances in 2019. But if he’s healthy, the former MVP can have a huge impact in this series with his power. Rosario had a rough second half, but just looking at his numbers (except that OBP), he put together another solid season for the Twins. Staton has played in five postseason games. Rosario played in just one, but he homered in that game. Advantage: Push. The edge would clearly go to the Yankees if not for the injury factor. Center Field Twins: Max Kepler (26) - .252/.336/.519 (.855) with 32 doubles, 36 HR, 90 RBI (1 playoff game) Yankees: Brett Gardner (36) - .251/.325/.503 (.829) with 26 doubles, 28 HR, 78 RBI (52 playoff games) Summary: Gardner has played in 52 playoff games in his long Yankees career. He has really changed his game in the last couple of years from a slappy, on-base hitter to a power guy. If Kepler had stayed healthy and had played at all in the last three weeks, the edge would likely go to Kepler in this “matchup.” He had a huge breakout year. His health is the lone question. Advantage: Push Right Field Twins: Marwin Gonzalez (30) - .264/.322/.414 (.736) with 19 doubles, 15 HR, 55 RBI (30 playoff games) Yankees: Aaron Judge (27) - .272/.381/.540 (.921) with 18 doubles, 27 HR, 55 RBI (18 playoff games) Summary: Judge missed some time early in the season but returned to put up Judge-like numbers again. I have Gonzalez listed here, but he could play some at first base, and if he does someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade could play right field. In addition, Gonzalez missed the final handful of games due to his oblique tightening, but he expects to be back. Advantage: Edge to the Yankees Designated Hitter Twins: Nelson Cruz (39) - .311/.392/.639 (1.031) with 26 doubles, 41 HR, 108 RBI (41 playoff games) Yankees: Edwin Encarnacion (36) - .244/.344/.531 (.875) with 18 doubles, 34 HR, 86 RBI (26 playoff games) Summary: This “matchup” pits two members of the 400 Home Run club. Both have been prolific power hitters for years. Both have missed time with injuries in 2019. Encarnacion is expected to return to the Yankees lineup for the playoffs after missing time with an oblique injury. Advantage: Slight Edge Twins Bench Twins: The Twins will likely have a bench that includes Jason Castro, Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade (and Jonathan Schoop, if Arraez is healthy). Yankees: The Yankees will likely have Austin Romine as their backup catcher. Guys like Luke Voit (21 HR), Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier will also possibly be on the bench. Mike Tauchman is another possibility if he is healthy. Overall Twins: .270/.338/.494 (.832) with 318 doubles, 307 HR, 939 Runs Yankees: .267/.339/.490 (.829) with 290 doubles, 306 HR, 943 Runs Advantage: Even Summary: Expect to see a lot of home runs, a lot of runs scored. Or, because baseball can be funny sometimes, maybe we will see a series of pitcher’s duels.
  6. Achilles has his heel. Samson has his haircut. Superman, his kryptonite. We build our myths with their weaknesses, and so it is with baseball’s myth, the Yankees. A high-level overview of the Yankees lineup reveals some strategies for approaching the Evil Empire. For even more detail I highly recommend Andrew Thares' excellent deeper dive into several of the Yankees hitters.The Yankees Lineup (Also) Looks Like The Walking Wounded Twins fans who are lamenting the injury bug that has afflicted their lineup can take some consolation in the Yankees travails. Like the Twins, their starting center fielder (Aaron Hicks) is out for the season. Twins fans are wondering if Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez will be at full speed since they missed the last series of the season. Yankees fans are wondering the same about designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who has 34 home runs this year, suffered an oblique injury, and was held out of the last Yankees series. There’s more. While Twins fans wonder if nagging injuries might limit some of their better players, Yankees slugging catcher Gary Sanchez just returned last week, played in two games and went 1-6 with four strikeouts. Finally, Twins killer Didi Gregorius, who went 8-10 with 10 RBI in two games this year at Target Field (read that last fragment again), seems to be wearing down as the season goes on after returning mid season from Tommy John surgery. He’s batting just .190 in September. That raises questions about the #3, #5 and #6 hitters in the Yankees lineup, which isn’t to say this isn’t a killer lineup. But recognizing that some players might not live up to their previously established reputations makes it easier to concentrate on match-ups. Which is handy because…. The Heart Of The Lineup Can Be Navigated Using Match-ups Overall, the Yankees offense has been pretty effective versus both right-handed (.823 OPS against) and left-handed (.852 OPS against) pitching. But that high-level balance is a result of a lot of blending of extreme splits. Leading off is right-handed batting DJ LeMahieu. The 31-year-old is having one of his best years, hitting .327 with an .893 OPS. That includes a respectable .830 OPS against right-handed pitching, but in insane 1.066 versus left-handed pitching. Next up is Aaron Judge, one of the superstars in MLB right now. The 27-year-old also bats right-handed and features similar splits: .847 OPS (including a .247 BA) against right-handers but a .343 BA with an 1.124 OPS against left-handers. Likely batting fourth will be Giancarlo Stanton, who has had a legitimately crummy year due to a variety of injuries, posting just 72 plate appearances. But the (stop me if you’ve heard this before) right-handed batter has crushed left-handers in those 72 plate appearances to the tune of 1.055 OPS. Against right-handers, he loses 200 points of slugging percentage, with an .844 OPS. This is fairly consistent with the rest of his career. It goes on. Seven of the nine regulars in the Yankees lineup will be batting from the right-handed side of the plate, with two left-handers. One is the previously mentioned Gregorius, who has killed Twins right-handed pitchers over his career. The other is center fielder Brett Gardner, who posts similar crazy splits, but the opposite way: right-handers must be very careful against him, while he’s posted just a .654 OPS against southpaws. So expect to see a lot of right-handed relievers on the Twins roster on Friday. Before you get too giddy, limiting the best players to a mid .800s OPS doesn’t ensure victory. For comparison purposes, the Twins lineup as a whole posted a .832 OPS this year. But to take the heart of the Yankees lineup and downgrade it to “better than average” is a trade the Twins should gladly take. Of course, they’ll still need to score some runs. We’ll take a look at how they might be able to do that in Part 2 tomorrow. Again, for even more on the batters I mentioned above, check out Andrew Thares' breakdown of how the Twins will likely approach LeMahieu, Sanchez and Stanton. Click here to view the article
  7. The Yankees Lineup (Also) Looks Like The Walking Wounded Twins fans who are lamenting the injury bug that has afflicted their lineup can take some consolation in the Yankees travails. Like the Twins, their starting center fielder (Aaron Hicks) is out for the season. Twins fans are wondering if Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez will be at full speed since they missed the last series of the season. Yankees fans are wondering the same about designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who has 34 home runs this year, suffered an oblique injury, and was held out of the last Yankees series. There’s more. While Twins fans wonder if nagging injuries might limit some of their better players, Yankees slugging catcher Gary Sanchez just returned last week, played in two games and went 1-6 with four strikeouts. Finally, Twins killer Didi Gregorius, who went 8-10 with 10 RBI in two games this year at Target Field (read that last fragment again), seems to be wearing down as the season goes on after returning mid season from Tommy John surgery. He’s batting just .190 in September. That raises questions about the #3, #5 and #6 hitters in the Yankees lineup, which isn’t to say this isn’t a killer lineup. But recognizing that some players might not live up to their previously established reputations makes it easier to concentrate on match-ups. Which is handy because…. The Heart Of The Lineup Can Be Navigated Using Match-ups Overall, the Yankees offense has been pretty effective versus both right-handed (.823 OPS against) and left-handed (.852 OPS against) pitching. But that high-level balance is a result of a lot of blending of extreme splits. Leading off is right-handed batting DJ LeMahieu. The 31-year-old is having one of his best years, hitting .327 with an .893 OPS. That includes a respectable .830 OPS against right-handed pitching, but in insane 1.066 versus left-handed pitching. Next up is Aaron Judge, one of the superstars in MLB right now. The 27-year-old also bats right-handed and features similar splits: .847 OPS (including a .247 BA) against right-handers but a .343 BA with an 1.124 OPS against left-handers. Likely batting fourth will be Giancarlo Stanton, who has had a legitimately crummy year due to a variety of injuries, posting just 72 plate appearances. But the (stop me if you’ve heard this before) right-handed batter has crushed left-handers in those 72 plate appearances to the tune of 1.055 OPS. Against right-handers, he loses 200 points of slugging percentage, with an .844 OPS. This is fairly consistent with the rest of his career. It goes on. Seven of the nine regulars in the Yankees lineup will be batting from the right-handed side of the plate, with two left-handers. One is the previously mentioned Gregorius, who has killed Twins right-handed pitchers over his career. The other is center fielder Brett Gardner, who posts similar crazy splits, but the opposite way: right-handers must be very careful against him, while he’s posted just a .654 OPS against southpaws. So expect to see a lot of right-handed relievers on the Twins roster on Friday. Before you get too giddy, limiting the best players to a mid .800s OPS doesn’t ensure victory. For comparison purposes, the Twins lineup as a whole posted a .832 OPS this year. But to take the heart of the Yankees lineup and downgrade it to “better than average” is a trade the Twins should gladly take. Of course, they’ll still need to score some runs. We’ll take a look at how they might be able to do that in Part 2 tomorrow. Again, for even more on the batters I mentioned above, check out Andrew Thares' breakdown of how the Twins will likely approach LeMahieu, Sanchez and Stanton.
  8. Mitch Garver had a breakout 2019 season. His college coach says that the best is yet to come for the talented backstop. Have you had Twins fans come up to you and ask about Mitch Garver? Often, you may hear them say that he came out of nowhere. But Mitch Garver did not just come out of nowhere. I ran into former Twins GM Terry Ryan at Target Field recently. We talked briefly about Garver, and I mentioned that so many people seem to think that Garver came out of nowhere, but Ryan quickly stopped me and said he definitely did not come out of nowhere. They always loved his bat, and he was also a Twins Minor League Player of the Year one year. Those who have followed Twins Daily for several years will remember that he was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year in both 2014 (Cedar Rapids) and 2017 (Rochester). Ask Mitch Garver where he came from, and it won’t take long for him to let you know that he is from New Mexico, and he is proud of it. Recently, Twins Daily caught up with Garver’s college coach at the University of New Mexico for four seasons, Ray Birmingham, to talk about his rise. Find out what he saw in Garver as a high school athlete and how he developed while in college. Learn how he helped the team on the field and off the field, and how he continues to show his New Mexico pride as a big leaguer. It won’t take long for you to see how much pride and belief Ray Birmingham has in Mitch Garver.Ray Birmingham has been coaching baseball for a long time. He has been coaching, he says, “for parts of six decades.” He became a head coach in 1988 at College of the South West. Two years later, he became the head coach at New Mexico Junior College. In 2007, he was named the head coach at the University of New Mexico. In his 12 seasons with the Lobos, he has won 384 games. He’s won over 1,200 games (65% winning percentage) over his 32 years as a head coach. He has sent over 150 players to professional baseball. In 2014, he was the hitting coach for USA Baseball’s College National team where he coached tournament MVP, and fellow New Mexican, Alex Bregman. photos from golobos.com Mitch Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended La Cuevas High School where he was a star on the baseball diamond and on the soccer pitch. That is where and when Ray Birmingham first saw Garver and saw the talent that made him an intriguing prospect. Birmingham admits that he has a soft spot for New Mexico. “I took this job because of my passion for New Mexico kids. I grew up here. I”m a native, and I’ve watched so many kids who just needed a little good work to have a shot at playing pro ball. Mitch was one of those kids. He was one of those poster kids. He was a great goalie. He was a soccer player too. He was physical. He was raw. He had the physical tools, if he could take the time to develop and he wanted to. He was a good fit. He came from great parents. He has a great family. His head was on straight. He came to play. He walked on.” As a walk-on, Garver had to work for everything he got, and he did. But he wasn’t handed anything. In particular, he wasn’t immediately the Lobos starting catcher. That position was already taken. Birmingham notes, “We’ve had a lot of freshman All-Americans here, but unfortunately for Mitch, we had named Rafael Neda (who was drafted by the Brewers) who was a big-time catch-and-throw guy and a hitter. He was a junior that year, and Mitch was a freshman. So Mitch’s work was sporadic.” Garver played in 30 games that season, exactly half of the team’s games. He hit a respectable .277/.356/.385 (.741) with five doubles and a triple. Garver was a really good student, along with being an athlete. His goals heading to college had little to do with baseball, at least now beyond his four years of college. “Mitch wanted to be a chiropractor, and his girlfriend at that time, wanted to be a veterinarian. So he was going to school to become a chiropractor. They were very good academics, very intelligent young people. So he was going to school to play some baseball and to become a chiropractor. As most freshman, they take a back seat and wait their turn. Mitch was no different. Mitch was fine with that.” But Birmingham saw real baseball talent in Garver, and wasn’t afraid to let him know, to challenge him, and ultimately to believe in him. “I remember walking out of the weight room one day, and Neda was ahead of us, maybe a few yards in front of us. I told Mitch, ‘You’re better than he is if you just give yourself the effort and time. You’ll be an All American and get drafted.’ And Mitch went on a mission.” As a sophomore, Garver played in all 61 Lobos games. He hit .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 12 doubles and two homers. He still wasn’t catching all the time, but he was getting opportunities to play every game. “Mitch is capable of playing first base and the outfield very well. We had him at center field at one time, but that was later on. He just needed to get his feet wet in Division 1. That’s a big jump from La Cueva high school, especially with the schedule we played.” photo from golobos.com As a junior, Garver took a huge leap forward. He played 61 games again, and he hit .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles and ten home runs. He was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award for the top catcher in college baseball. That season, Mike Zunino from the University of Florida won the award. Said Birmingham, “So I thought, he’ll win it next year for sure. And he repeated.” Garver was a candidate again in 2013, in part because he was not drafted after his strong junior season. “I was surprised. Well, I was and I wasn’t. I’m glad he didn’t. He wasn’t on anybody’s radar until then. You know the scouts, and they were likely wondering if this was an anomaly. What was this? So they were worried about him. So they said, he’s a junior. We’ll let it ride until his senior year.” That senior season, Garver hit a remarkable .390/.458/.589 (1.047) with 21 doubles and six homers. He was drafted in the ninth round by the Twins and went to Elizabethton where he was a teammate of Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner, who the Twins had selected in the third round in 2013. One weekend, both players were excused and able to go to the Johnny Bench Award ceremony. Both were nominated. Birmingham wasn’t happy with the result. “Stuart Turner won it, and I was upset about it. I was. And I made it known that I was upset about it. No offense to Turner. He was a really good player. Mitch deserved it. Mitch won it, but Mitch wasn’t from the SEC, and the SEC gets more votes.” He continued, “I was upset, and I told Johnny Bench too. Mitch told me that Bench congratulated him on the achievement and we’re all good now, but I was upset.” Birmingham added, “I told Johnny Bench that Mitch is going to pass Mr. Turner, and he’s going to play in the big leagues and then you’re going to see that I was right. Mitch proved it. I believe in that kid, and I think there are a lot of kids that need a little confidence, a little time. People are asking why he’s hitting so well. Well, he’s playing a lot more and experience is the best teacher.” photo from golobos.com Fast-forward six years to today. Birmingham hopes that there isn’t a replay of that situation. “Silver Slugger is for the best hitter at each position. He should get it this year. There should be no doubt that he should get it. And if it comes out any other way, I’m going to be just like I was with the Johnny Bench award. I’m going to be upset.” No doubt, Mitch Garver has become a star, and he has put up the numbers to warrant being the 2019 American League Silver Slugger award winner at catcher. Garver ended his 2019 season by hitting .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 homers in 93 games played. His nearest competition for the award would appear to be Yankees backstop Gary Sanchez. He hit .232/.316/.527 (.843) with 12 doubles and 34 home runs in 105 games. What’s more, Birmingham says that there is more to come. “He has worked his butt off to get there, and he’s making an impact, and you haven’t seen the best of him yet. He’s sure of himself now. He’s sure that he can do this now, and he will only continue to get better. ” ------------------------------------------------------------------ Ray Birmingham has had a lot of success at New Mexico, and he is continuing to build and develop a culture. “You’ll find that these small-population states, we don’t get out much. And Coach Anderson at Minnesota is a good friend of mine. We find that once we get our players the confidence and they realize they can, then stand back, baby, because here they come. And that’s Mitch. Once Mitch knows he can... get out of his way because he will.” Birmingham says that he has a picture in his office. There are of batting practices in January, before players head off to their spring training destinations. The weather is great. The pictures show Jordan Pacheco who played for three MLB teams between 2011 and 2016. He spent part of 2018 with the Rochester Red Wings. That picture also shows Alex Bregman, the Albuquerque native who was drafted 2nd overall by the Astros out of LSU. Blake Swihart, a former 1st round pick out of high school in New Mexico, who has spent part of each of the last five seasons in the big leagues. Former first-round pick from the Lobos DJ Peterson is in the pictures. “There are big leaguers hanging around, talking hitting, working on hitting, trying to talk about what they need to do. It’s a culture,” says Birmingham. “It takes time to build. It’s a culture of, we all have a chip on our shoulders, we’re all from New Mexico and we’re going to prove that we can play with anybody in the country.” Garver comes back and works out, but also talks to the current Lobo players as they prepare for their next season. And he gets involved in the community as well. “Mitch is showing that (he can compete with anybody). He comes back and he gets involved in the community. His wife is a sweetheart. His parents are unbelievably awesome. It’s a culture, and we’re all proud to be New Mexicans.” “Half our team is New Mexico kids. We take a bullet with them sometimes, and we’re going to get beat by giving them experience, but eventually they’ll come together. We’ve been nationally ranked in the top 25 six of the 13 years we’ve been there because they’ve learned and they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, which we promote. I put them in high competition, and they finally get that confidence that they can do that. Mitch is a poster child for that. So is Bregman. So is Swihart. So is Pacheco. I can go all the way back to Brendan Donnelly, who played for me. It’s a confidence deal that they can, and if they get the right work together, they’ll do it.” In the last couple of years, Birmingham has held some watch parties. “We’ve had the team get together and eat pizza and watch Mitch play.” They’ve done that for other New Mexico players including 2017 Marlins first-round pick Trevor Rogers, a graduate of Carlsbad (NM) High School. ------------------------------------------------------- In his senior season, Garver was the co-MVP of the Mountain West conference with teammate DJ Peterson. He was part of a team that went to four straight regional tournaments, a rarity in the college game. Peterson was a first-round pick that year (2013). That same season, an outfielder from Fresno State named Aaron Judge was a second-team all-conference, and a first round pick. But back to Garver, Birmingham sums up his thoughts real well. “He’s a fantastic human being and I love him like he’s my own child. That’s his strong suit, his character. And he gets that from his mom and dad. They are fantastic people. Mitch knows he can, and he will. We are family. We’re one family, and we try to promote that. New Mexico is one family. We’re all pushing the rock in the same direction. Mitch is not afraid of things being hard, and he’s very intelligent. Very intelligent. He’s going to be a big leaguer for a long time. You haven’t seen the best of Mitch yet.” And hey, if Garver and the Twins can beat Aaron Judge and the Yankees in the ALDS, there may just be a matchup between Garver’s Twins and Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros. If that’s the case, you can rest assured that Ray Birmingham will be hosting a watch party with a bunch of pizzas at the University of New Mexico. Click here to view the article
  9. Ray Birmingham has been coaching baseball for a long time. He has been coaching, he says, “for parts of six decades.” He became a head coach in 1988 at College of the South West. Two years later, he became the head coach at New Mexico Junior College. In 2007, he was named the head coach at the University of New Mexico. In his 12 seasons with the Lobos, he has won 384 games. He’s won over 1,200 games (65% winning percentage) over his 32 years as a head coach. He has sent over 150 players to professional baseball. In 2014, he was the hitting coach for USA Baseball’s College National team where he coached tournament MVP, and fellow New Mexican, Alex Bregman. photos from golobos.com Mitch Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended La Cuevas High School where he was a star on the baseball diamond and on the soccer pitch. That is where and when Ray Birmingham first saw Garver and saw the talent that made him an intriguing prospect. Birmingham admits that he has a soft spot for New Mexico. “I took this job because of my passion for New Mexico kids. I grew up here. I”m a native, and I’ve watched so many kids who just needed a little good work to have a shot at playing pro ball. Mitch was one of those kids. He was one of those poster kids. He was a great goalie. He was a soccer player too. He was physical. He was raw. He had the physical tools, if he could take the time to develop and he wanted to. He was a good fit. He came from great parents. He has a great family. His head was on straight. He came to play. He walked on.” As a walk-on, Garver had to work for everything he got, and he did. But he wasn’t handed anything. In particular, he wasn’t immediately the Lobos starting catcher. That position was already taken. Birmingham notes, “We’ve had a lot of freshman All-Americans here, but unfortunately for Mitch, we had named Rafael Neda (who was drafted by the Brewers) who was a big-time catch-and-throw guy and a hitter. He was a junior that year, and Mitch was a freshman. So Mitch’s work was sporadic.” Garver played in 30 games that season, exactly half of the team’s games. He hit a respectable .277/.356/.385 (.741) with five doubles and a triple. Garver was a really good student, along with being an athlete. His goals heading to college had little to do with baseball, at least now beyond his four years of college. “Mitch wanted to be a chiropractor, and his girlfriend at that time, wanted to be a veterinarian. So he was going to school to become a chiropractor. They were very good academics, very intelligent young people. So he was going to school to play some baseball and to become a chiropractor. As most freshman, they take a back seat and wait their turn. Mitch was no different. Mitch was fine with that.” But Birmingham saw real baseball talent in Garver, and wasn’t afraid to let him know, to challenge him, and ultimately to believe in him. “I remember walking out of the weight room one day, and Neda was ahead of us, maybe a few yards in front of us. I told Mitch, ‘You’re better than he is if you just give yourself the effort and time. You’ll be an All American and get drafted.’ And Mitch went on a mission.” As a sophomore, Garver played in all 61 Lobos games. He hit .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 12 doubles and two homers. He still wasn’t catching all the time, but he was getting opportunities to play every game. “Mitch is capable of playing first base and the outfield very well. We had him at center field at one time, but that was later on. He just needed to get his feet wet in Division 1. That’s a big jump from La Cueva high school, especially with the schedule we played.” photo from golobos.com As a junior, Garver took a huge leap forward. He played 61 games again, and he hit .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles and ten home runs. He was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award for the top catcher in college baseball. That season, Mike Zunino from the University of Florida won the award. Said Birmingham, “So I thought, he’ll win it next year for sure. And he repeated.” Garver was a candidate again in 2013, in part because he was not drafted after his strong junior season. “I was surprised. Well, I was and I wasn’t. I’m glad he didn’t. He wasn’t on anybody’s radar until then. You know the scouts, and they were likely wondering if this was an anomaly. What was this? So they were worried about him. So they said, he’s a junior. We’ll let it ride until his senior year.” That senior season, Garver hit a remarkable .390/.458/.589 (1.047) with 21 doubles and six homers. He was drafted in the ninth round by the Twins and went to Elizabethton where he was a teammate of Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner, who the Twins had selected in the third round in 2013. One weekend, both players were excused and able to go to the Johnny Bench Award ceremony. Both were nominated. Birmingham wasn’t happy with the result. “Stuart Turner won it, and I was upset about it. I was. And I made it known that I was upset about it. No offense to Turner. He was a really good player. Mitch deserved it. Mitch won it, but Mitch wasn’t from the SEC, and the SEC gets more votes.” He continued, “I was upset, and I told Johnny Bench too. Mitch told me that Bench congratulated him on the achievement and we’re all good now, but I was upset.” Birmingham added, “I told Johnny Bench that Mitch is going to pass Mr. Turner, and he’s going to play in the big leagues and then you’re going to see that I was right. Mitch proved it. I believe in that kid, and I think there are a lot of kids that need a little confidence, a little time. People are asking why he’s hitting so well. Well, he’s playing a lot more and experience is the best teacher.” photo from golobos.com Fast-forward six years to today. Birmingham hopes that there isn’t a replay of that situation. “Silver Slugger is for the best hitter at each position. He should get it this year. There should be no doubt that he should get it. And if it comes out any other way, I’m going to be just like I was with the Johnny Bench award. I’m going to be upset.” No doubt, Mitch Garver has become a star, and he has put up the numbers to warrant being the 2019 American League Silver Slugger award winner at catcher. Garver ended his 2019 season by hitting .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 homers in 93 games played. His nearest competition for the award would appear to be Yankees backstop Gary Sanchez. He hit .232/.316/.527 (.843) with 12 doubles and 34 home runs in 105 games. What’s more, Birmingham says that there is more to come. “He has worked his butt off to get there, and he’s making an impact, and you haven’t seen the best of him yet. He’s sure of himself now. He’s sure that he can do this now, and he will only continue to get better. ” ------------------------------------------------------------------ Ray Birmingham has had a lot of success at New Mexico, and he is continuing to build and develop a culture. “You’ll find that these small-population states, we don’t get out much. And Coach Anderson at Minnesota is a good friend of mine. We find that once we get our players the confidence and they realize they can, then stand back, baby, because here they come. And that’s Mitch. Once Mitch knows he can... get out of his way because he will.” Birmingham says that he has a picture in his office. There are of batting practices in January, before players head off to their spring training destinations. The weather is great. The pictures show Jordan Pacheco who played for three MLB teams between 2011 and 2016. He spent part of 2018 with the Rochester Red Wings. That picture also shows Alex Bregman, the Albuquerque native who was drafted 2nd overall by the Astros out of LSU. Blake Swihart, a former 1st round pick out of high school in New Mexico, who has spent part of each of the last five seasons in the big leagues. Former first-round pick from the Lobos DJ Peterson is in the pictures. “There are big leaguers hanging around, talking hitting, working on hitting, trying to talk about what they need to do. It’s a culture,” says Birmingham. “It takes time to build. It’s a culture of, we all have a chip on our shoulders, we’re all from New Mexico and we’re going to prove that we can play with anybody in the country.” Garver comes back and works out, but also talks to the current Lobo players as they prepare for their next season. And he gets involved in the community as well. “Mitch is showing that (he can compete with anybody). He comes back and he gets involved in the community. His wife is a sweetheart. His parents are unbelievably awesome. It’s a culture, and we’re all proud to be New Mexicans.” “Half our team is New Mexico kids. We take a bullet with them sometimes, and we’re going to get beat by giving them experience, but eventually they’ll come together. We’ve been nationally ranked in the top 25 six of the 13 years we’ve been there because they’ve learned and they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, which we promote. I put them in high competition, and they finally get that confidence that they can do that. Mitch is a poster child for that. So is Bregman. So is Swihart. So is Pacheco. I can go all the way back to Brendan Donnelly, who played for me. It’s a confidence deal that they can, and if they get the right work together, they’ll do it.” In the last couple of years, Birmingham has held some watch parties. “We’ve had the team get together and eat pizza and watch Mitch play.” They’ve done that for other New Mexico players including 2017 Marlins first-round pick Trevor Rogers, a graduate of Carlsbad (NM) High School. ------------------------------------------------------- In his senior season, Garver was the co-MVP of the Mountain West conference with teammate DJ Peterson. He was part of a team that went to four straight regional tournaments, a rarity in the college game. Peterson was a first-round pick that year (2013). That same season, an outfielder from Fresno State named Aaron Judge was a second-team all-conference, and a first round pick. But back to Garver, Birmingham sums up his thoughts real well. “He’s a fantastic human being and I love him like he’s my own child. That’s his strong suit, his character. And he gets that from his mom and dad. They are fantastic people. Mitch knows he can, and he will. We are family. We’re one family, and we try to promote that. New Mexico is one family. We’re all pushing the rock in the same direction. Mitch is not afraid of things being hard, and he’s very intelligent. Very intelligent. He’s going to be a big leaguer for a long time. You haven’t seen the best of Mitch yet.” And hey, if Garver and the Twins can beat Aaron Judge and the Yankees in the ALDS, there may just be a matchup between Garver’s Twins and Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros. If that’s the case, you can rest assured that Ray Birmingham will be hosting a watch party with a bunch of pizzas at the University of New Mexico. https://twitter.com/BirminghamRay/status/1178902702396325888
  10. Other AL Previews AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem Boston Red Sox Boston has a legitimate shot to be the first repeat World Series champion since the Yankees won three-straight from 1998-2000. Mookie Betts is coming off an MVP performance and JD Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game. Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. join Betts as arguably the best outfield in baseball. Just don’t tell the Yankees. Realistically, the line-up doesn’t really have a hole from top to bottom and their bench adds depth as well. On the mound, Chris Sale needs to be back to his healthy self. David Price looked great in the postseason, but will that transition to the regular season? The bullpen might be the one thing preventing a Boston repeat. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are gone, and Steven Wright was suspended for 80-games. Matt Barnes will take over closer duties and he has a career 4.14 ERA. A strong line-up will keep the Red Sox in the division, but the pitching staff has some questions. New York Yankees While Boston’s bullpen is cloudy, New York’s bullpen might be one of the best in baseball history. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green make it seem like the late-innings are all but locked down in the Bronx. In the rotation, Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t exactly been a work-horse, as he has never pitched 200 innings in a season. Luis Severino’s shoulder is a question mark. This means James Paxton is going to need to acclimate to New York in a hurry. New York’s line-up is anchored by power hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Former Twin Aaron Hicks rounds out a terrific trio of outfielders. Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar add depth to the line-up. Troy Tulowitzki is trying to fill in for Didi Gregorius. Could the former Rockies star provide some magic before Gregorius returns? New York’s offense and bullpen should separate them from the pack, and they should win the division for the first time since 2012. Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay is coming off a 90-win season, and it could be tough to run with the big dogs ahead of them in the AL East. Cy Young winner Blake Snell is joined at the top of the rotation by Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow. All three of these pitchers will be relied on heavily if the club is going to make any kind of run at a playoff spot. The Rays official depth chart only lists three players in the rotation and then a bunch of arms in the bullpen. Tampa created the opener strategy last season and it seems likely for the club to use this strategy again in 2019. Mike Zunino will take over behind the plate after years in Seattle. He joins a young core that includes the likes of Willy Adames, Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, and Avisail Garcia. Younger players can be a fickle bunch. Sometimes they can come together, find some magic, and put together some great performances on the field. Other times, they can get into prolonged slumps. Tampa can’t afford a slump in a top-heavy AL East. Toronto Blue Jays Toronto’s biggest excitement this season will come when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his much-anticipated debut. The team will keep him in the minor leagues until they can pick up an extra year of service time because the Blue Jays don’t have much of a shot to compete this year. Bo Bichette, another top prospect, will also make his debut in 2019. For now, the likes of Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, and Kendrys Morales will hold down the fort. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will lead the rotation. Stroman is looking to bounce back after pitching to a 5.54 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He also failed to reach 200 innings pitched for the first time since 2015. Sanchez has pitched fewer than 150 innings the last two seasons combined. Toronto hopes the 2016 version (192 IP and a 3.00 ERA) of Sanchez shows up again. Toronto has a great farm system, but the players are just starting to emerge this season. Baltimore Orioles If you think things got bad in Minnesota in recent years, think about the Orioles losing 115 games last season. That’s a whole lot of nothing happening at Camden Yards. Manny Machado was dealt away and found his way to San Diego this off-season. Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo can hit for some power, but Davis is coming off a horrific season at the plate. Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, and Alex Cobb are at the top of the rotation. Those three arms might be able to keep Baltimore in some close games. However, it seems more likely for this team to be on its way to another 100 losses. What do you think about the AL East? Can the Yankees beat out the Red Sox? Does Tampa have enough for a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. I posted the following comment in the discussion of Lynn’s White Sox game: When I look at the lineup I see such a gap at 4.The guys filling in the 3 - 4 - 5 spots are doing great, but with Morrison still trying to find the Mendoza line we really need Sano to give us a big bat.Of course we need a Sano who learns to strikeout a lot less.When I look at the Yankees big boppers you can see how it really changes the game, but they also have a better approach. Sano with 506 Ks in 1220 ABs wastes so many opportunities. Judge has 294 ks in 748 ABs. If Ks were hits Sano would have a 414 average and Judge 393. But Judge has an OPS of 989 career and Sano 837.Miquel has the potential, but so far he is most effective at getting on the DL rather than the bases. This seems to be the new baseball – at least for now – Relief pitchers, Ks, and HRs. It is not the baseball I enjoy. Then I went to ESPN and found an essay by Buster Olney that I found a perfect compliment to what I am trying to convey: “Fact: A starting pitcher facing a lineup for a third time or fourth time will experience a decline in performance, generally. As a result, starters are getting pulled from games earlier than ever. Fact: Relief pitchers are throwing at a higher velocity than ever, diminishing hitters' chances to put the ball in play. Fact: As it has become more difficult to generate hits against higher velocity and defensive shifts, hitters are taking more aggressive swings, at higher launch angles, in an effort to lift the ball. This approach is generating more homers and, apparently, rocket-fueling the pace of strikeouts. Some executives who have followed the numbers and helped design the dramatic changes to the sport are OK with the big swings, big flies and big whiffs. “I’ve got no problem with it,” one club official said the other day. “We’re just trying to adapt and win ballgames.” But a lot of executives abhor the Frankenstein monster that the numbers and science have helped create, with the dueling parades of relief pitchers and increasingly overpowered hitters. “I hate it,” one high-ranking evaluator said. “It’s just not that fun to watch.” http://www.espn.com/blog/buster-olney/insider/post/_/id/18486/olney-have-big-swings-big-flies-and-big-whiffs-broken-baseball I chose Judge and Sano to compare because they represent the new approach, but one has been much better at it than the other. Sano has both the K and the DL as issues – the most games he has appeared in during his Twins career is 71% of the season. He has collected 5.5 WAR in 4 seasons, Judge has 9.3 in three seasons. My problem is, that I think Sano has as much potential as Judge. How do we get him to realize it? In an era where the big K and big HR totals are everywhere the player that succeeds is the one with fewer Ks and more HRs or else establishes his ability in other stats. Sano has 76 HRs in 330 games, Judge has 64 in 215 games. Judge beats Sano in OPS, but more important as a Twin fan – Sano set his OPS bar in year one and has come no where close to it since. Baseball is worried about length of game, but it should be worried about the action that keeps fans attention from inning to inning. Waiting for a K or HR is boring - Last year “117 batters hitting 20 or more homers -- far more than in 2001, in the height of the steroid era, when 88 hitters clubbed 20 or more homers, and far more than in 2011, when 68 hitters got to the 20-homer mark.” At the same time starting pitchers are pitching less – an Ace is still only a 5 or 6 inning arm. Do we really enjoy a parade of relief pitchers? I would love to see the manager limited to three per game. I am also out of touch with many in that I love the 300+ hitter more than the 20 HR hitters. And I liked the SB and all the moves that involved both bat control and speed. I would like Sano back, but I would also like an improved approach.
  12. This is an excerpt of an original post; please read this article in full on Zone Coverage here. For a half inning Tuesday night, the Minnesota Twins showed the New York Yankees the equivalent of a pair of middle fingers as they raced out to a 3-0 lead. However, the rest of the night was all too familiar, as the Bronx Bombers outscored the Twins 8-1 the rest of the way for an 8-4 win at Yankee Stadium. The loss was the Twins’ 13th in a row in postseason play, dating back to Johan Santana outdueling Mike Mussina in Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS, which was played at the previous iteration Yankee Stadium, just across East 161st Street from where Tuesday’s game was played. The final pitch came after midnight Eastern time, meaning these two teams came 24 hours shy of playing on the 13th anniversary of the Twins’ last playoff win. As it stands, the Twins haven’t won a playoff game in 4,747 days — a 13-game losing skid that is now tied with the Boston Red Sox (1986, ‘88, ‘90 and ‘95) for the longest in MLB history. Fans will cite the history as though it means something, and frankly to them, it does. Through thick and thin, fans remain the same. But the faces change — on both sides, really — and so while the Twins have a staggering 33-91 record against the Yankees dating back to the beginning of the Ron Gardenhire era, the history doesn’t matter much to the players. Sure, they’re aware of it, but it’s just like why citing Joe Mauer’s career numbers against C.C. Sabathia aren’t as meaningful as they sound. Mauer and Sabathia might have an extensive history replete with a lot of battles, but neither even remotely resembles the player they were when they squared off in Joe’s MLB debut in 2004. Winston Churchill may have said that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, but the honest-to-goodness fact was the Twins simply didn’t have the horses to keep up with the Yankees. With that said, on any given day, an MLB team can beat any other — and for a while, it seemed like the Twins had a good chance. Brian Dozier ambushed a 3-1 fastball to lead the game off with a home run, and five pitches in, the Twins had a 1-0 lead. After Mauer hit a pop foul to third, Jorge Polanco walked and Eddie Rosario hit a laser into the right field seats, and just 17 pitches into the game, the Twins had a 3-0 lead and had stud righty Luis Severino reeling. The Twins had jumped him in his mid-September starter for three runs as well, but that took three innings rather than four batters. It didn’t stop there, as Eduardo Escobar hit a sizzling liner into center for a single, and took third when Max Kepler was credited with a double to right on a ball Aaron Judge mishandled for just a brief second. Maybe most write-ups of the game won’t focus in on this point, but we will — this is where manager Joe Girardi more or less won the game. Rather than sticking with the righty who was for all intents and purposes the third-best starter in the American League all season, he turned the game over to the bullpen with just one out in the first inning. That is, the bullpen with the best strikeout rate in baseball — one that rolled five deep before any of their relievers could be considered a peer with what the Twins were working with. Like all relievers, much of the Yankees ‘pen ebbed and flowed as the season went along. Probably the most consistent performer all season long was Chad Green, and that’s who Girardi went to with one out, runners on second and third and a game teetering on the precipice.
  13. The discussion heading into the Home Run Derby was all about Aaron Judge and defending-champion Giancarlo Stanton. In the end, Aaron Judge was the champion, but he had to beat Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano. Sano was the first Twins player to reach the finals since Justin Morneau won the Home Run Derby nearly a decade ago. Since going to the new format two years ago, the excitement of the home run derby has taken off. Each round, hitters have four minutes to hit as many home runs as they can. They also get one time out in each round, and two in the finals. If they hit one ball 440 feet or more, they earn a 30 second bonus. It becomes quite entertaining.Sano was the #5 seed, so in the first round, he took on Royals third baseman Mike Moustakus. Sano went first and hit 11 home runs. "Moose" followed. He hit his tenth home run with just under a minute to go, but was unable to hit another. In the second round, Sano topped fellow 2009 international signing from the Dominican Republic Gary Sanchez. Sanchez surprised everyone by beating hometown guy Giancarlo Stanton. Judge had a tougher road to the second round than likely anticipated. Marlins first baseman Justin Bour put on a show, hitting 22 homers in the first round as the 7th seed. Judge, however, nearly hit that number before getting his 30-second bonus for one of his many 440+ foot homers. In the second round, Judge had little trouble ending the night for Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger. In the final round, it was clear that Miguel Sano was very tired. It was also clear that his pitcher, former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, was also tiring. Sano had a lot of takes, and had to try to go the other way often due to poor pitches. However, he ended the final round with 10 home runs, a very strong showing. Judge was last to hit. He hit his 11th home runs with 2:00 remaining. It was an incredible showing for Judge, and a remarkable show by Sano as well. Call it a coming out for Sano, if you like. Twins fans (myself included) are shocked that Sano seems to be little known nationally, but if that was the case, that has changed. Of course, he was the leader in the fan vote right up until the final tally, so fans know Sano. Now they just know him a little better. What were your thoughts on the performance of Sano, and the home run derby in general? Hey, if nothing else, Sano had the prettiest, most electrifying home run of the night... Click here to view the article
  14. Sano was the #5 seed, so in the first round, he took on Royals third baseman Mike Moustakus. Sano went first and hit 11 home runs. "Moose" followed. He hit his tenth home run with just under a minute to go, but was unable to hit another. In the second round, Sano topped fellow 2009 international signing from the Dominican Republic Gary Sanchez. Sanchez surprised everyone by beating hometown guy Giancarlo Stanton. Judge had a tougher road to the second round than likely anticipated. Marlins first baseman Justin Bour put on a show, hitting 22 homers in the first round as the 7th seed. Judge, however, nearly hit that number before getting his 30-second bonus for one of his many 440+ foot homers. In the second round, Judge had little trouble ending the night for Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger. In the final round, it was clear that Miguel Sano was very tired. It was also clear that his pitcher, former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, was also tiring. Sano had a lot of takes, and had to try to go the other way often due to poor pitches. However, he ended the final round with 10 home runs, a very strong showing. Judge was last to hit. He hit his 11th home runs with 2:00 remaining. It was an incredible showing for Judge, and a remarkable show by Sano as well. Call it a coming out for Sano, if you like. Twins fans (myself included) are shocked that Sano seems to be little known nationally, but if that was the case, that has changed. Of course, he was the leader in the fan vote right up until the final tally, so fans know Sano. Now they just know him a little better. What were your thoughts on the performance of Sano, and the home run derby in general? Hey, if nothing else, Sano had the prettiest, most electrifying home run of the night... https://twitter.com/OldComiskey/status/884596166461140993
  15. There are a couple of different scenarios. He's easily defined as a three-true -outcomes (the hits that aren't dependent on defense: strikeout, walk, or home run) player. Sano also is flirting with sustainability when it comes to BABIP (batting average on balls in play) from which home runs are excluded. So, when looking at those two scenarios, the question becomes how much should we believe in his current .319/.439/.638 slash line? In answering that question, we can present the notion that it's both a mirage and sustainable at the same time. When the dust settles in 2017, I think it'd be foolish to expect Miguel Sano to hit above .300. He simply strikes out far too often for that to happen. However, he's not a traditional three-true-outcomes batter. Let's look at what the numbers tell us. 34.5% of the time in 2017, Miguel Sano is striking out. That is the 5th worst percentage in the big leagues, and behind a group that includes Keon Broxton, Joey Gallo, Chris Davis, and Byron Buxton. On the flip side, Sano walks a ridiculous 17.5% of the time, good enough for third best in the big leagues. In generating free passes, he is able to sustain his on base percentage, even before looking at what happens when he makes contact. That contact is where things get interesting. As of May 23, Sano has generated 82 batted ball events, or balls in play. 43 of those have been hit at 98 mph or more. His 98.2 mph average exit velocity leads the big leagues, and is nearly 4 mph above the second place finisher, Yankees Aaron Judge. Breaking down the 43 balls put in play above 98 mph, Sano has generated 32 hits and barreled 20 balls (5th most in MLB). To summarize, and as I wrote on May 1, Miguel Sano is crushing the ball. So, is it a problem that Sano strikes out in nearly one third of his plate appearances? Sure, it's not ideal. Is it likely that the Twins third basemen is going to sustain a .439 BABIP and continue to bat above .300? No, probably not. What is worth noting however, is that the results are a by-product of an approach that has Sano swinging with all he has in virtually every plate appearance. Production for Sano is a result of consistent hard contact. He has generated hard contact 52.4% of the time (first in MLB) while making soft contact just 3.7% of the time (lowest in MLB by nearly 5%). Those numbers suggest that while his BABIP will flatten out (and his average will follow suit) the decline will not nearly be as stark as it would be in a different scenario. Realistically, the decline for Sano will come more from a lack of swing power on his own accord, as opposed to the numbers normalizing from an inflated level. Just two months into the season, it's hard to suggest that Miguel Sano is going to be consistently able to swing as hard in September as he is right now. His legs, torso and upper body will undoubtedly go through wear and tear as the season goes on and it'll be worth monitoring to see if his swing loses oomph because of it. Should things stay consistent though, Miguel Sano is going to consistently experience inflated BABIP numbers, and will remain a non-traditional three-true- outcomes player because of the quality of the balls being put in play. Until Sano is consistently fooled on pitches, or can no longer catch up to heat, he's going to get the upper hand on opposing pitchers every time the ball hits his bat. The results are there to prove that, and while they'll level off some, we aren't watching Adam Dunn (even in his prime) here. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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