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  1. For years Derek Jeter was synonymous with making jump throws at shortstop for the New York Yankees. It was one of the flashiest and most emulated plays across diamonds all over the world, but his range was always a question. The Twins now seem to have a similar defender in third baseman Gio Urshela. The Minnesota Twins acquired Gio Urshela as their starting third basemen when they swapped Josh Donaldson over to the New York Yankees. That was always likely to be a win simply through addition by subtraction. The hope was that Urshela may find some of his 2019 and 2020 plate production while playing a solid third base. Although the bat has come around of late, translating to a 114 OPS+ on the season because of a .919 OPS over his last 21 games, the glove has been more of a question mark. It’s hard to suggest that when you see Urshela making plays like the one below, but that’s really where the problem is. Conversing with Statcast Savant, Mike Petriello, recently he did the work of highlighting what is going on with Urshela. Starting the discussion around Minnesota having a league worst -17 OAA (outs above average), I wondered how Urshela was contributing to that. Knowing both OAA and DRS (defensive runs saved) don’t see Urshela as an asset defensively, there has to be more going on considering they are entirely different systems. Defensive analytics account for positioning and shifting, while being able to quantify a player’s performance far more than simply attributing something like an error in the box score. Petriello is based in New York, a place in which Urshela has previously played, and he’s had eyes on him plenty. Knowing of the dazzling plays Urshela makes, he succinctly dubbed this suggesting “strong Derek Jeter vibes.” While lack of range is in part why Jeter would make so many plays look fantastic, it’s probably not the same situation with Urshela. Both RngR (range runs above average) and UZR (ultimate zone rating) have Urshela in average territory. He gets to balls on the line because of reactions, and his ability to deliver a strong throw with a big arm has been seen plenty. Where Urshela has struggled seems to be balls hit directly at him. The reactions and first step give him opportunity to make a big play, but the ball getting on him provides troubles. In the examples Petriello immediately is able to provide, Urshela is seen not making plays that should be routine for a Major League third basemen, but also aren’t categorized as errors. Those types of plays come up significantly more often than the flashy ones, and it’s those plays that lead to additional base runners and sap the impact of impact plays. Maybe Petriello looked at Urshela’s OAA profile before suggesting the issues, but it’s here that we see the numbers bear out belief. Urshela has generated -2 OAA when fielding a ball directly at him, or coming in, while being worth -3 OAA when going to his right (or the line). That could also highlight some reason why he’s needed to make strong throws from the line, because getting there costs him time. Urshela has been aided on his left side as well, playing alongside a fine defensive shortstop in Carlos Correa for the majority of his starts. This type of defensive breakdown likely won’t be caught by the average fan. I found myself getting lulled by Urshela’s exciting plays as well, but knowing what the analytics are, consistently questioned where the breakdown was. Facing hard hit balls off the bats of right-handed hitters has been a bugaboo of sorts at the hot corner. Although the bat has picked up, it’s worth wondering if third base isn’t a position where Royce Lewis could find some additional playing time when he returns from the injured list. None of this is to suggest that Urshela is a butcher at third base, but it’s always worth exercising caution when the excitement provides a false sense of security. After all, Minnesota employs a center fielder in Byron Buxton that makes plays look routine while a good percentage of his competition wouldn’t have a chance to make them. View full article
  2. The Minnesota Twins acquired Gio Urshela as their starting third basemen when they swapped Josh Donaldson over to the New York Yankees. That was always likely to be a win simply through addition by subtraction. The hope was that Urshela may find some of his 2019 and 2020 plate production while playing a solid third base. Although the bat has come around of late, translating to a 114 OPS+ on the season because of a .919 OPS over his last 21 games, the glove has been more of a question mark. It’s hard to suggest that when you see Urshela making plays like the one below, but that’s really where the problem is. Conversing with Statcast Savant, Mike Petriello, recently he did the work of highlighting what is going on with Urshela. Starting the discussion around Minnesota having a league worst -17 OAA (outs above average), I wondered how Urshela was contributing to that. Knowing both OAA and DRS (defensive runs saved) don’t see Urshela as an asset defensively, there has to be more going on considering they are entirely different systems. Defensive analytics account for positioning and shifting, while being able to quantify a player’s performance far more than simply attributing something like an error in the box score. Petriello is based in New York, a place in which Urshela has previously played, and he’s had eyes on him plenty. Knowing of the dazzling plays Urshela makes, he succinctly dubbed this suggesting “strong Derek Jeter vibes.” While lack of range is in part why Jeter would make so many plays look fantastic, it’s probably not the same situation with Urshela. Both RngR (range runs above average) and UZR (ultimate zone rating) have Urshela in average territory. He gets to balls on the line because of reactions, and his ability to deliver a strong throw with a big arm has been seen plenty. Where Urshela has struggled seems to be balls hit directly at him. The reactions and first step give him opportunity to make a big play, but the ball getting on him provides troubles. In the examples Petriello immediately is able to provide, Urshela is seen not making plays that should be routine for a Major League third basemen, but also aren’t categorized as errors. Those types of plays come up significantly more often than the flashy ones, and it’s those plays that lead to additional base runners and sap the impact of impact plays. Maybe Petriello looked at Urshela’s OAA profile before suggesting the issues, but it’s here that we see the numbers bear out belief. Urshela has generated -2 OAA when fielding a ball directly at him, or coming in, while being worth -3 OAA when going to his right (or the line). That could also highlight some reason why he’s needed to make strong throws from the line, because getting there costs him time. Urshela has been aided on his left side as well, playing alongside a fine defensive shortstop in Carlos Correa for the majority of his starts. This type of defensive breakdown likely won’t be caught by the average fan. I found myself getting lulled by Urshela’s exciting plays as well, but knowing what the analytics are, consistently questioned where the breakdown was. Facing hard hit balls off the bats of right-handed hitters has been a bugaboo of sorts at the hot corner. Although the bat has picked up, it’s worth wondering if third base isn’t a position where Royce Lewis could find some additional playing time when he returns from the injured list. None of this is to suggest that Urshela is a butcher at third base, but it’s always worth exercising caution when the excitement provides a false sense of security. After all, Minnesota employs a center fielder in Byron Buxton that makes plays look routine while a good percentage of his competition wouldn’t have a chance to make them.
  3. There may be some unclogging of ballots after multiple years where some writers felt there were more than 10 worthy candidates. This season could allow writers to consider the resumes of some of the other top candidates that have been held over from previous years. If I were lucky enough to have a ballot, this is how I would vote: Class of 2020 Derek Jeter: Jeter’s resume is undeniable. He was part of five World Series teams and a critical component in bringing the Yankees franchise back after struggling through the 1980s. He has played in the most postseason series all-time and he hit .308 in the playoffs. He ranks in the all-time top-30 for games played, total bases, and runs scored while finishing in the top-10 for hits and at-bats. Twice he led the AL in hits, and he had more than 200-hits in eight seasons. He did all of this while playing shortstop where he played the second most games at that position. The only question remaining is if he will tie Rivera and become the second player to be a unanimous selection. Future Inductees Omar Vizquel: I’m a big Ozzie Smith fan and Vizquel follows in the same mold as Smith. Both players provided almost all their value on the defensive side of the ball. Also, their longevity at one of baseball’s most important positions is something to be commended. Smith has the most Gold Gloves all-time among shortstops, but Vizquel is only two behind him and his 11 total awards are nothing to scoff at. He received 42.8% of the vote in 2019, so I don’t think there is much of a chance for him to make the big jump to 75%. May Never Get In (But Still on My Ballot) Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andrew Jones, Todd Helton, Larry Walker Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players I will ever see play the game. Unfortunately, they made some poor decisions during the height of the steroid era. I think both players would have been inducted into Cooperstown even without using steroids and that’s why I continue to have them on my ballot. Andrew Jones was a freak in the outfield and his career .823 OPS shows that he was more than able to hold his own. He only got 32 votes last season, so he has a long way to go. Helton and Walker are both very intriguing players. Walker is in his last year of eligibility and he finished the last voting period being named on 42.8%. I truly believe he is a Hall of Famer, but I think he will have to be elected through one of the other committee votes. Helton has only been on one ballot, but I see him taking a very similar path to Walker. He will make subtle gains in the years ahead but it seems unlikely for the writers to elect him. To be transparent, little has changed on my ballot from last year to this year. I correctly predicted three of the four players who would be elected last year (Holladay, Martinez, and Rivera) while having Mussina on my future inductions list. I have only added one player to this year’s ballot with Jeter being a lock to make the Hall. To see the full 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot CLICK HERE. On January 21, the BBWAA will announce the results of the 2020 Hall of Fame balloting. Any players chosen will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend starting on Sunday, July 26 at 12:30 pm CST. Who makes your ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Once again, it's that time of year and December 1 saw my inbox being hit with the yearly IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. Although this isn't part of the official BBWAA vote to enshrine players in Cooperstown, there's plenty of crossover between voting parties and many of the same principles are the same. At this time the IBWAA allows voters to select up to 12 candidates. You can find my 2018 ballot here, and my 2019 selections here. As was the case last year, I wound up with a ballot less than the maximum amount. The IBWAA has cleared a backlog of candidates already enshrining Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Although I could've included more players I had previously left off, I chose to stay the course. When sending my ballot back to the IBWAA I wound up with four holdovers and the expected unanimous selection who makes his first appearance. Here we go: Curt Schilling: 79.7 fWAR Bloody sock nonsense aside, Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, and six-time All Star. He struck out 3,116 batters in his career and owns a 3.46 ERA while totaling more than 200 wins. Three World Series rings, an MVP, and a 2.23 postseason ERA do him favors as well. Since voting for him last year, Schilling has made plenty of splashes in the media. He's not well liked off the field, but the character clause is among the most dated pieces of inclusion into the Hall of Fame. On baseball merit alone, he's worthy of the nod. Derek Jeter 73.0 fWAR The Yankees Captain enters the ballot as a near-lock for unanimous selection. He had an incredible career with significant accolades in both the regular season and playoffs. Over-glorified in part because of the market in which he played, Jeter will go down as one of the best to ever play the shortstop position. What he lacked on defense he contributed with his bat. The 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series winner will forever be one of the most celebrated Yankees of All-Time. Scott Rolen 70.1 fWAR Vastly under appreciated, Rolen started as a Rookie of the Year winner, and went on to tally eight Gold Glove awards. He was a seven time All Star and among the best to ever field the Hot Corner. With an .855 career OPS, his bat more than does enough to supplement what was an exceptional defensive career. Larry Walker: 68.7 fWAR Although he played the field plenty, Walker also turned in a nice run spending time in both the infield and outfield. He was the 1997 NL MVP and made five All Star games. His glove netted him seven Gold Gloves and his bat produced three Silver Slugger awards. Walker finished his 17 seasons with 383 homers and drove in over 1,300 runs. Andruw Jones 67.1 fWAR Jones's 17 year career is often going to be questioned as he held on for five uninspiring seasons to closer out his time as a big leaguer. That aside, the 10 year stretch from 199-2007 was one for the ages. With 10 Gold Glove's and five All Star appearances, he was easily among the greatest in the game for a decade. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  5. Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/975328810831941633 He is aggressive and yet he rarely takes a swing that looks out of control. He doesn’t strike out real often (15.0% in Cedar Rapids and 16.8% in Ft. Myers). He will use the whole field, though he typically has shown much more power to his pull side. Very few hit .300 in MLB anymore, but he could be a .280-.300 type of hitter. HIT FOR POWER - Through the first 32 games of the season, Lewis was hitting .305, but he had just four doubles and one home run. Many were clamoring for him to be promoted to Ft. Myers because he had spent 18 games with the Kernels to end 2017. Over his next 43 games with the Kernels, the power arrived. He hit .323, but he added 19 doubles and eight home runs. He earned his promotion to the Miracle, and while he struggled some, he showed really good power in the pitcher-friendly parks for the Florida State League. In 46 games, he hit six doubles, three triples and knocked five home runs. (For comparison’s sake, Alex Kirilloff had seven homers in 65 games for the Miracle) While 30 home runs may be excessive, but Lewis could be a 20-25 homer per year guy during his big league career. SPEED - Byron Buxton. Who is the one player in the Twins organization who might - might! - be faster than Royce Lewis. As important as the pure speed, Lewis knows how to utilize his speed on the baseball diamond. His 28 stolen bases led the organization. He was caught just eight times and he is still learning the finer points. He is able to go from first-to-home or first-to-third really well. He also shows good instincts most of the time on the bases. He also uses his speed on defense. DEFENSE - Lewis has good range both up the middle and deep into the 5.5 hole. There are times when he winds up (no, not like Shawon Dunston for those of you who are in my age category) a little bit. He does a really nice job going back on pop ups and he takes leadership on the infield, another important trait for a shortstop. Tom Froemming put Lewis's defense under the Prospect Spotlight. Take a look below. In the video, I was at the game in Cedar Rapids when he made the running catch down the left field line. First, it reminded me of Derek Jeter, but when he caught it and knew it was a great catch, he had a Griffey Jr-like smile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pNhG2RIZkI ARM - Lewis has a strong arm. He can make all of the throws. For those that think his future may be better out in center field, he has plenty of arm to play out there. INTANGIBLES - Lewis is a natural leader. By that I mean that he doesn’t have to work to lead, but teammates gravitate to him. He has a great charisma that plays well on the field and in the clubhouse. Lewis works hard. He added weight last season through a regimented lifting program in-season. He’s got good size. He’s tall and he’s strong but he has added the size and strength without losing any speed. In addition, Lewis never takes a play off. He hustles out every grounder. He looks to take second on singles to the outfield. He has instincts. And while some may not think that it matters, but when you watch Royce Lewis play baseball and practice, you can see the joy that he has, the love of the game. It is an intangible, but it is one of the reasons that Francisco Lindor is so much fun to watch and cheer for even if he is on the Twins top competitor. What’s Left To Work On The easy response for Lewis as far as things he needs to work out would be the cliche, “He needs to continue working on everything” or “He just needs more at-bats” or “He just needs more real-time situations on defense.” Well, let’s just say that cliches usually become cliches for a reason, because they’re true. Lewis does simply need more at-bats. He needs to continue working up the ladder and seeing pitchers with better command of their pitch mix. He needs to see more sharp sliders down and away so that he can keep working on trying to lay off of them. There are still question marks about Lewis’s defense. While I’ve talked to several people who saw him play in 2018 that said he took big strides and there is more of a certainty that he can be at least an average defensive shortstop. There are still some scouts who think that his speed and instinct would best play in center field. Lewis can make the great play. As noted, he has great range and can make the great plays. He just needs to keep working and be more consistent on the routine plays and the routine throws. Again, needs more time at shortstop and more opportunities. What makes Lewis so exciting as a prospect is that he does everything so well already. But what makes him so intriguing is knowing that he can still improve all areas of his game (even quite a bit in some places). While he is ahead of the pace at this point in this career than top young shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, the Twins can be as patient as they need to be. What’s Next Royce Lewis is traveling to Ft. Myers today and will report as a non-roster invite to Minnesota Twins spring training. He will get the opportunity to work with and learn from the veterans, and also work with and be seen by the big-league coaches. With just 46 games in High-A Ft. Myers, plus a playoff run that that led to a Florida State League championship, it is likely that he will begin the season with the Miracle. It is very likely that he will spend most of his season with the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola. While I think that the odds are low that Lewis surfaces in the big leagues in 2019, I wouldn’t put anything past him. With Jorge Polanco now signed long-term, Jonathan Schoop set to spend the year in a Twins uniform, and Nick Gordon in Triple A, the Twins do not need to rush this talented prospect in 2019. I would not be surprised if Lewis is the Twins Opening Day shortstop and #2 hitter when they open the 2020 season (though being promoted 20 days later might make more economic sense). Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS 10. Akil Baddoo, OF 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis Get to know more about Royce Lewis and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.
  6. We have spent the last two weeks counting down the Twins Daily Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects heading into the 2019 season. Today, we arrive at #1. It will surprise no one that shortstop Royce Lewis fits the top spot. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft had a strong 2018 season between Cedar Rapids. He didn’t turn 19 until early June. He is a consensus Top 10 prospect among national publications. This weekend, he will report to Ft. Myers for his first big-league spring training. All of that, and it is important to note that it was not an easy decision for any of the voters. Alex Kirilloff had an incredible return to the diamond in 2018, putting up some of the best offensive numbers in all of minor league baseball. Brusdar Graterol has a triple-digit fastball and potentially three above-average pitches. He could give the Twins a true ace in the not-too-distant future. The Twins drafted a College World Series hero in the first round in 2018, and he had a solid professional debut. The Twins have a Top 5 minor league system, so it is meaningful and well-considered that we continue to rank Royce Lewis as the #1 Twins prospect. Below you will find out more about the future star. Hopefully you have enjoyed this Top 20 series and have renewed hope that there are several future stars in the system. With this information, we certainly encourage you to share your thoughts on Lewis, but also consider how you would rank the Twins top prospects.Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers.
  7. I looked at all of the first-round draft picks going all the way back to the beginning. 1965 was the first year of the amateur draft. I lumped all of the first-round picks together and ran some fun pivot tables. Some of the results are interesting, even surprising. First, let’s take a look the Average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the top 12 players selected each year. Admittedly, there is no perfect way of making the data mean a lot. The sample size is just too small. There have been 50 drafts, but the data is incomplete for anyone who continues to play. So, be sure to take this information with a grain of salt. Pick / Avg WAR 1 / 40.8 2 / 35.5 3 / 48.4 4 / 44.6 5 / 38.6 6 / 56.7 7 / 37.1 8 / 49.2 9 / 28.8 10 / 34.5 11 / 26.3 12 / 32.0 The data on this chart shows that the #6 pick has proven to be the best over the history of the MLB Draft. At 56.7 WAR, the #6 spot is 7.5 WAR ahead of the next highest position, the #8 spot. Now, the #6 spot has produced some of the best baseball players in history. The Pittsburgh Pirates took an outfielder from Arizona State with the sixth pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. Barry Bonds turned into one of the best hitters of all time. He posted 162.4 WAR. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted a shortstop out of a high school in Tampa Bay. Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his playing days. He posted a career WAR of 60.2. In 1992, the New York Yankees took a tall, skinny shortstop out of a Michigan high school with the sixth pick. Derek Jeter became the face of Major League Baseball for almost two decades. He posted a career WAR of 71.8. Jeter will most likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Bonds is the all time home run leader and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for similar reasons, despite over 500 home runs and an OPS over .900, Sheffield was not, but should have been, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is a second tier of players that were also taken with the sixth overall pick in an MLB Draft. Zack Greinke was the sixth overall pick out of high school in 2002. He was at 42.0 WAR coming into this season. That is just ahead of Andy Van Slyke (41.2 WAR) who was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 1979. Kevin McReynolds (29.9) was the top pick of the Padres in 1981. John Mayberry (24.7) was the Astros top pick in 1967. The Cardinals selected Terry Kennedy (21.5) with the sixth overall pick in 1977. Spike Owen (12.5) was the Mariners first round pick in 1982. Former Twins outfielder Ken Landreaux (10.4) was the Angels first round pick in 1976. Former Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (10.2) was the sixth pick in the 2000 draft. If not for his injuries, his numbers could have been greater. Of 50 sixth overall picks in the MLB draft, only those 11 players have posted a WAR of 10 for their career. To be fair, there are players selected with the sixth overall pick in recent years who are likely to surpass 10 WAR in the next few years. That includes Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon and New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler. The last three #6 picks were Albert Almora (Cubs 2012), Colin Moran (Marlins 2013), and Alex Jackson (Mariners 2014). Obviously they have yet to play in the big leagues and could alter these numbers. Of the 50 players taken with the sixth overall pick, 13 players have a negative WAR or 0 WAR. Another 14 of them never (or have not yet) played in the big leagues. Twins fans will likely remember the 1998 draft. The Minnesota Twins took a left-handed starting pitcher. He was very successful in college baseball while playing at powerhouse Arizona State University. He was said to have great mechanics and had worked with his father all the way up. Ryan Mills never pitched in a big league game. The draft is one way for an organization to accumulate talent. Having a high draft pick certainly should increase the odds of getting a more talented, elite-level prospect. But it doesn’t guarantee anything. We would all love for whoever the Twins pick this year to become the next Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield or Derek Jeter. We should also be thrilled if that player becomes the next Zack Greinke or Andy Van Slyke. The important thing to remember is that it’s possible to get a Brian Dozier in the eighth round or a Kent Hrbek in the 17th round.
  8. As we continue to review information as the 2015 MLB Draft approaches, I thought it would be interesting to look back at players selected with the sixth overall pick. That is the pick that the Minnesota Twins will make on Monday, June 8. So often, we look at the draft and think that, especially with a high first-round pick, the team has to get it right. The team has to find a big league star. The reality is that the draft is a complete crap shoot and it is nearly impossible to predict which players will become big leaguers, much less perennial All Stars.I looked at all of the first-round draft picks going all the way back to the beginning. 1965 was the first year of the amateur draft. I lumped all of the first-round picks together and ran some fun pivot tables. Some of the results are interesting, even surprising. First, let’s take a look the Average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the top 12 players selected each year. Admittedly, there is no perfect way of making the data mean a lot. The sample size is just too small. There have been 50 drafts, but the data is incomplete for anyone who continues to play. So, be sure to take this information with a grain of salt. Pick / Avg WAR 1 / 40.8 2 / 35.5 3 / 48.4 4 / 44.6 5 / 38.6 6 / 56.7 7 / 37.1 8 / 49.2 9 / 28.8 10 / 34.5 11 / 26.3 12 / 32.0 The data on this chart shows that the #6 pick has proven to be the best over the history of the MLB Draft. At 56.7 WAR, the #6 spot is 7.5 WAR ahead of the next highest position, the #8 spot. Now, the #6 spot has produced some of the best baseball players in history. The Pittsburgh Pirates took an outfielder from Arizona State with the sixth pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. Barry Bonds turned into one of the best hitters of all time. He posted 162.4 WAR.The Milwaukee Brewers drafted a shortstop out of a high school in Tampa Bay. Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his playing days. He posted a career WAR of 60.2.In 1992, the New York Yankees took a tall, skinny shortstop out of a Michigan high school with the sixth pick. Derek Jeter became the face of Major League Baseball for almost two decades. He posted a career WAR of 71.8.Jeter will most likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Bonds is the all time home run leader and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for similar reasons, despite over 500 home runs and an OPS over .900, Sheffield was not, but should have been, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is a second tier of players that were also taken with the sixth overall pick in an MLB Draft. Zack Greinke was the sixth overall pick out of high school in 2002. He was at 42.0 WAR coming into this season. That is just ahead of Andy Van Slyke (41.2 WAR) who was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 1979. Kevin McReynolds (29.9) was the top pick of the Padres in 1981. John Mayberry (24.7) was the Astros top pick in 1967. The Cardinals selected Terry Kennedy (21.5) with the sixth overall pick in 1977. Spike Owen (12.5) was the Mariners first round pick in 1982. Former Twins outfielder Ken Landreaux (10.4) was the Angels first round pick in 1976. Former Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (10.2) was the sixth pick in the 2000 draft. If not for his injuries, his numbers could have been greater. Of 50 sixth overall picks in the MLB draft, only those 11 players have posted a WAR of 10 for their career. To be fair, there are players selected with the sixth overall pick in recent years who are likely to surpass 10 WAR in the next few years. That includes Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon and New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler. The last three #6 picks were Albert Almora (Cubs 2012), Colin Moran (Marlins 2013), and Alex Jackson (Mariners 2014). Obviously they have yet to play in the big leagues and could alter these numbers. Of the 50 players taken with the sixth overall pick, 13 players have a negative WAR or 0 WAR. Another 14 of them never (or have not yet) played in the big leagues. Twins fans will likely remember the 1998 draft. The Minnesota Twins took a left-handed starting pitcher. He was very successful in college baseball while playing at powerhouse Arizona State University. He was said to have great mechanics and had worked with his father all the way up. Ryan Mills never pitched in a big league game. The draft is one way for an organization to accumulate talent. Having a high draft pick certainly should increase the odds of getting a more talented, elite-level prospect. But it doesn’t guarantee anything. We would all love for whoever the Twins pick this year to become the next Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield or Derek Jeter. We should also be thrilled if that player becomes the next Zack Greinke or Andy Van Slyke. The important thing to remember is that it’s possible to get a Brian Dozier in the eighth round or a Kent Hrbek in the 17th round. Click here to view the article
  9. Giggle. Let's not fight it, OK? Let's embrace the schadenfreud. For years, small market wallet watchers have been predicting the Yankees were due for a fall as the Bronx Bombers relied more and more on free agents, big contracts and an aging roster as revenue sharing limits gained more and more teeth. Last year, we finally got a taste of what that will be like, and it was delicious. Vegas noticed too, and have picked the best team money can buy to finish fourth in the AL East. Ooh-ooh-ooh - and did I mention they also get to pay Alex Rodriguez $20M to strut around the locker room for the next three years? I'll say it again: giggle.Year In Review Like the fall of most empires, it wasn't a huge implosion, but a series of ever-widening cracks that led to deterioration. Vegas watched the Yankees offseason spending spree and set a number in the mid to high 80s to meet, but a lot of the big signings came up short. Biggest among them was (and continues to be) ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tananka dominated to the tune of a 2.77 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, but there were too few of those innings - just 136 - because he was limited to 20 starts with a sore elbow. Worse, he still has pain that he's just (effectively) pitching through. So there is no guarantee that he'll be healthy for the duration of this year. Tanaka's status mirrored that of a lot of the team. The new slimmer CC Sabathia was limited to only eight starts, big free agent signee Carlos Beltran played in only 109 games, Mark Teixeira struggled with a wrist injury and of course A-Rod was suspended. The Yankees are counting on bounceback seasons from these guys, and if they stay healthy, the could get it, but here are their respective ages as of July 1: 34, 38, 35, 39. Their expected health is debatable. Add that all up, and the Yankees still finished over .500 with 84 wins, which is an accomplishment given that they were outscored on the year. With those results amid all their injuries, it may not be surprising that the Yankees had a pretty quiet offseason. They replaced free agent closer David Robertson by signing setup stud Andrew Miller, but other than that, the Yankees treated this offseason like a do-over. They let Hiroki Kuroda walk. He was their most durable and effective starting pitcher. The other two big departures are probably more about losing big names than impact players, but they're still losses: Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter. Vegas Says “There are enough Yankees bobos betting money in New York that the number has to be higher than they deserve, and maybe they'll get lucky and keep people healthy. Still, I'm lowering last year's 86.5 line.” = 81.5. Beating Vegas I try not to bet on the Yankees for the same reason I try not to bet on the Twins; wishful thinking gets in the way. But if I had to bet, I'd bet the under. Practically, their run differential is more like a 77 win team than the 84 wins they tallied last year, and there is a lot more room for downside than upside given the age of this team. And karmically, it feels a lot like a franchise that just lost its identity, is floating through purgatory and is a lot closer to hell than heaven. . Click here to view the article
  10. Year In Review Like the fall of most empires, it wasn't a huge implosion, but a series of ever-widening cracks that led to deterioration. Vegas watched the Yankees offseason spending spree and set a number in the mid to high 80s to meet, but a lot of the big signings came up short. Biggest among them was (and continues to be) ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tananka dominated to the tune of a 2.77 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, but there were too few of those innings - just 136 - because he was limited to 20 starts with a sore elbow. Worse, he still has pain that he's just (effectively) pitching through. So there is no guarantee that he'll be healthy for the duration of this year. Tanaka's status mirrored that of a lot of the team. The new slimmer CC Sabathia was limited to only eight starts, big free agent signee Carlos Beltran played in only 109 games, Mark Teixeira struggled with a wrist injury and of course A-Rod was suspended. The Yankees are counting on bounceback seasons from these guys, and if they stay healthy, the could get it, but here are their respective ages as of July 1: 34, 38, 35, 39. Their expected health is debatable. Add that all up, and the Yankees still finished over .500 with 84 wins, which is an accomplishment given that they were outscored on the year. With those results amid all their injuries, it may not be surprising that the Yankees had a pretty quiet offseason. They replaced free agent closer David Robertson by signing setup stud Andrew Miller, but other than that, the Yankees treated this offseason like a do-over. They let Hiroki Kuroda walk. He was their most durable and effective starting pitcher. The other two big departures are probably more about losing big names than impact players, but they're still losses: Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter. Vegas Says “There are enough Yankees bobos betting money in New York that the number has to be higher than they deserve, and maybe they'll get lucky and keep people healthy. Still, I'm lowering last year's 86.5 line.” = 81.5. Beating Vegas I try not to bet on the Yankees for the same reason I try not to bet on the Twins; wishful thinking gets in the way. But if I had to bet, I'd bet the under. Practically, their run differential is more like a 77 win team than the 84 wins they tallied last year, and there is a lot more room for downside than upside given the age of this team. And karmically, it feels a lot like a franchise that just lost its identity, is floating through purgatory and is a lot closer to hell than heaven. .
  11. With Derek Jeter set to retire this week, former Minnesota Twins minor leaguer Jamie Ogden shares his memories about playing with the Yankees' shortstop when they were both in the Florida State League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLPwTo89nMk For more stories from Ogden, be sure to subscribe to the No Juice Podcast on iTunes and listen to next week's episode. Follow the Twins Daily YouTube for more video.
  12. With the Yankees in town, it got me to thinking about how I remember Derek Jeter helping the Yankees win the 1996 World Series when I was 14 years old. At the time, I was sick and tired of the Braves being in it every year, and recall actually cheering for New York, who had been pretty terrible most of my life to that point, to win it. Now here's Jeter in 2012, in his 18th season, and really showing no signs of slowing down. Every year I keep thinking he's got to start aging and his skills have to start declining, but he's in all likelihood going to set his career high in hits at his age-38 season! If a guy like Julio Franco can stick around and continue to be productive into his late 40s, Jeter seems like he could easily do the same if he wanted to. Anyone think Jeter will still be playing in 2020, in his 26th season, approaching 5000 hits?
  13. When Molitor was finishing up his career with the Twins, he set the record for most hits by a player 38 or older. He had 225 hits in 1996 at age 39. Derek Jeter is 34 hits away from breaking that mark so he would need to get hot over the course of the rest of the season. Check out the story here and discuss below.
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