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  1. Trevor May May will turn 31-years old later this month and this winter will mark his first chance to be a free agent. Over the last two seasons, he has developed into one of the team’s best and most trusted relief arms. In just over 78 innings, he’s posted a 3.22 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 101 strikeouts. His high leverage usage also means he is in the top-20 for win probability added among AL relief arms. It stinks that May is hitting free agency for the first time during the current financial situation. He has been one of the league’s best relievers and he deserves to be paid appropriately. Likely, this won’t happen with the way free agency is going to be approached by many front offices. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi could have been a free agent last off-season, but he decided to take the team’s one-year qualifying offer and head back to Minnesota. He was coming off an All-Star season, so the time seemed right to hit the open market, but last year’s free agent pitching class had a lot of names ahead of Odorizzi. At the time, it seemed like a good decision for him and the Twins with the one-year deal. It would give him the chance to stay with a coaching staff he liked and to build off his 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, he and his agent didn’t have a crystal ball to see everything that would happen in 2020. MLB’s season was delayed, and this gave Odorizzi fewer opportunities to showcase his abilities. He’s also been on the injured list multiple times and he hasn’t performed well on the mound. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and now free agency is waiting for him. Ehire Adrianza Adrianza is in an interesting spot, because his skill set is readily available on the open market. In fact, Minnesota had a similar player in Ildemaro Vargas on the roster this season before he was claimed by the Cubs. In his first three seasons with the Twins, he averaged 89 games and slashed .260/.321/.391 with decent defense at multiple infield positions. Basically, what a team would want from a utility infielder. The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to Adrianza as he has been limited to a .466 OPS with 14 strikeouts in 59 at-bats. He’s making $1.6 million this season and it seems like his role on the team could be filled by a similar player in the organization like Nick Gordon. Adrianza is a superior defender to other internal options, but his value continues to be limited and he will be 31-years old next season. He seems like a player that might be forced to take a minor league deal before forcing his way onto a big-league roster. What do you think about this free agent trio? What will their market be this winter? 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. Next winter’s MLB free agency is going to take on a very different look and feel. Clubs have seen their revenues drastically cut and teams aren’t going to want to deal out big contracts with such an uncertain future facing the sport. Players like Nelson Cruz and Alex Avila will likely do fine in free agency because of their skill set and the role they can fill on multiple clubs, but other Twins players are going to have a little tougher time finding the right free agent deal.Trevor May May will turn 31-years old later this month and this winter will mark his first chance to be a free agent. Over the last two seasons, he has developed into one of the team’s best and most trusted relief arms. In just over 78 innings, he’s posted a 3.22 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 101 strikeouts. His high leverage usage also means he is in the top-20 for win probability added among AL relief arms. It stinks that May is hitting free agency for the first time during the current financial situation. He has been one of the league’s best relievers and he deserves to be paid appropriately. Likely, this won’t happen with the way free agency is going to be approached by many front offices. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi could have been a free agent last off-season, but he decided to take the team’s one-year qualifying offer and head back to Minnesota. He was coming off an All-Star season, so the time seemed right to hit the open market, but last year’s free agent pitching class had a lot of names ahead of Odorizzi. At the time, it seemed like a good decision for him and the Twins with the one-year deal. It would give him the chance to stay with a coaching staff he liked and to build off his 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, he and his agent didn’t have a crystal ball to see everything that would happen in 2020. MLB’s season was delayed, and this gave Odorizzi fewer opportunities to showcase his abilities. He’s also been on the injured list multiple times and he hasn’t performed well on the mound. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and now free agency is waiting for him. Ehire Adrianza Adrianza is in an interesting spot, because his skill set is readily available on the open market. In fact, Minnesota had a similar player in Ildemaro Vargas on the roster this season before he was claimed by the Cubs. In his first three seasons with the Twins, he averaged 89 games and slashed .260/.321/.391 with decent defense at multiple infield positions. Basically, what a team would want from a utility infielder. The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to Adrianza as he has been limited to a .466 OPS with 14 strikeouts in 59 at-bats. He’s making $1.6 million this season and it seems like his role on the team could be filled by a similar player in the organization like Nick Gordon. Adrianza is a superior defender to other internal options, but his value continues to be limited and he will be 31-years old next season. He seems like a player that might be forced to take a minor league deal before forcing his way onto a big-league roster. What do you think about this free agent trio? What will their market be this winter? 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 Click here to view the article
  3. Box Score Odorizzi: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Odorizzi -0.259, Eddie Rosario -0.090, Max Kepler -0.068. Odorizzi Struggles; Leaves Early With Injury Jake Odorizzi made his third start of the year tonight and all three starts have come against the Kansas City Royals. Odorizzi ran into trouble in the first inning when he gave up a three-run home run to Jorge Soler. His defense didn’t help him much either. Sano and Vargas misplayed a pop up behind the first base bag, which allowed Whit Merrifield to score the first run of the game. In the fourth inning, Jake Odorizzi was hit in the ribs from a line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon. Odorizzi immediately dropped to all fours and was in obvious pain. He got back to his feet and attempted to stay in the game, but was eventually walked off the field by Minnesota’s head trainer, Michael Salazar. Jorge Alcala came in the game following the injury to Odorizzi and gave up a bunt single to load the bases and walked Merrifield, allowing another Kansas City run to score before recording back-to-back strikeouts against Nicky Lopez and Hunter Dozier to end the inning. Jake ended his night with a final line of 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 K Jorge Alcala Shines in Emergency Role After struggling early upon entering in relief of the injured Odorizzi, Alcala settled down and worked quickly shutting down the Kansas City lineup. In his second inning of work, Alcala struck out the first two batters of the inning on six pitches and induced a first pitch pop up for the third out. Alcala worked a second scoreless inning in the sixth, striking out two more Royals hitters and keeping the Twins within relative striking distance. Alcala pitched a total of three innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Also, he throws gas, which is always fun to watch. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1296986951606775809 Injuries Continue to Mount Much like many teams across the league, the 2020 Minnesota Twins have suffered their share of injuries, most notably to this point on the offensive side. Entering tonight, the Twins were without Buxton, Donaldson and Garver due to injury. The injured list got a bit more crowded tonight. As previously noted, Jake Odorizzi left the game in the fourth after being hit in the ribs by a line drive. Later in the game, Zack Littell, who entered the game in relief of Jorge Alcala, also had his night cut short due to injury. After hitting Soler on the hands, Littell signaled to the dugout for pitching coach Wes Johnson and expressed discomfort in his pitching arm. He was removed from the game and relieved by Caled Thielbar. Losing two pitchers to injury in the first game of a 10-game road trip is not an ideal situation. The No Bomba Squad The offensive woes for the 2020 Minnesota Twins have been well documented. We’re now nearly halfway through this shortened season and the lineup is still sputtering and shows very little resemblance to the powerhouse they were a year ago. Tonight was no exception. Through the first seven innings, Minnesota mustered five hits, all of which were singles, and their lone run came courtesy of a fielders’ choice groundout from Ehire Adrianza, scoring Rosario. Their first extra base hit did not come until the eighth inning when Miguel Sano doubled following a walk from Cruz, who later scored on a wild pitch. The good news is the Twins are still in first place and have another game tomorrow. Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Full recap coming soon ... Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Postgame Pint Nick, Rena and Nash discussed a bad night for the Twins, both because of the result and the potential injuries that the Twins Daily community witnessed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt9kFiMUGA0&feature=youtu.be Download The Postgame Pint Podcast You can also listen to the Postgame Pint and never miss another one. Just head over to our iTunes page and subscribe. Every morning you'll have a new episode waiting for you. Or listen wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
  4. The Twins headed to Kansas City to take on the Royals for three more games. Four batters into the game, the Twins were down 4-0. By the end of the evening, they had lost two pitchers to injury.Box Score Odorizzi: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Odorizzi -0.259, Eddie Rosario -0.090, Max Kepler -0.068. Odorizzi Struggles; Leaves Early With Injury Jake Odorizzi made his third start of the year tonight and all three starts have come against the Kansas City Royals. Odorizzi ran into trouble in the first inning when he gave up a three-run home run to Jorge Soler. His defense didn’t help him much either. Sano and Vargas misplayed a pop up behind the first base bag, which allowed Whit Merrifield to score the first run of the game. In the fourth inning, Jake Odorizzi was hit in the ribs from a line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon. Odorizzi immediately dropped to all fours and was in obvious pain. He got back to his feet and attempted to stay in the game, but was eventually walked off the field by Minnesota’s head trainer, Michael Salazar. Jorge Alcala came in the game following the injury to Odorizzi and gave up a bunt single to load the bases and walked Merrifield, allowing another Kansas City run to score before recording back-to-back strikeouts against Nicky Lopez and Hunter Dozier to end the inning. Jake ended his night with a final line of 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 K Jorge Alcala Shines in Emergency Role After struggling early upon entering in relief of the injured Odorizzi, Alcala settled down and worked quickly shutting down the Kansas City lineup. In his second inning of work, Alcala struck out the first two batters of the inning on six pitches and induced a first pitch pop up for the third out. Alcala worked a second scoreless inning in the sixth, striking out two more Royals hitters and keeping the Twins within relative striking distance. Alcala pitched a total of three innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Also, he throws gas, which is always fun to watch. Injuries Continue to Mount Much like many teams across the league, the 2020 Minnesota Twins have suffered their share of injuries, most notably to this point on the offensive side. Entering tonight, the Twins were without Buxton, Donaldson and Garver due to injury. The injured list got a bit more crowded tonight. As previously noted, Jake Odorizzi left the game in the fourth after being hit in the ribs by a line drive. Later in the game, Zack Littell, who entered the game in relief of Jorge Alcala, also had his night cut short due to injury. After hitting Soler on the hands, Littell signaled to the dugout for pitching coach Wes Johnson and expressed discomfort in his pitching arm. He was removed from the game and relieved by Caled Thielbar. Losing two pitchers to injury in the first game of a 10-game road trip is not an ideal situation. The No Bomba Squad The offensive woes for the 2020 Minnesota Twins have been well documented. We’re now nearly halfway through this shortened season and the lineup is still sputtering and shows very little resemblance to the powerhouse they were a year ago. Tonight was no exception. Through the first seven innings, Minnesota mustered five hits, all of which were singles, and their lone run came courtesy of a fielders’ choice groundout from Ehire Adrianza, scoring Rosario. Their first extra base hit did not come until the eighth inning when Miguel Sano doubled following a walk from Cruz, who later scored on a wild pitch. The good news is the Twins are still in first place and have another game tomorrow. Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Full recap coming soon ... Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Postgame Pint Nick, Rena and Nash discussed a bad night for the Twins, both because of the result and the potential injuries that the Twins Daily community witnessed. Download The Postgame Pint Podcast You can also listen to the Postgame Pint and never miss another one. Just head over to our iTunes page and subscribe. Every morning you'll have a new episode waiting for you. Or listen wherever you download your favorite podcasts. Click here to view the article
  5. Jake Cave, OF Byron Buxton’s injury is one of the biggest reasons Cave was given the opportunity to play in two of the team’s first three games. He certainly made his presence felt in Sunday’s game by cracking a first inning grand slam that put the Twins on the way to a blowout win. For the series, he finished 3-for-9 with six RBI. The argument can also be made that he is the best fourth outfielder in baseball. https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1287454374978039810?s=20 Defensively, Cave has been playing in centerfield, which could be viewed as an interesting choice by manager Rocco Baldelli. Max Kepler is the better defender in center as he played nearly 460 innings there last season and was worth 4 DRS and 3.6 DEF. Cave was worth -3 DRS and -2.1 DEF, so there is little question that Baldelli should put Kepler in center. However, Cave’s impact was felt in both of the team’s victories this weekend so maybe this formula works (for now). Ehire Adrianza, IF Adrianza played in one of the team’s games this weekend and it was the only game the Twins lost, but he still can impact the game. He went 1-for-4 and scored one of the team’s three runs that game. His biggest influence comes on the defensive side of the ball because he is the best defensive infielder on the roster not named Josh Donaldson. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287106518672908290?s=20 Last season, he played 59 innings or more at second base, first base, shortstop and third base. Looking at the regulars penciled in at those positions, it is going to be tough for Adrianza to get playing time at any of those spots this season. This means he will likely have to settle for being used sparingly unless an injury were to occur (knock on wood). Marwin Gonzalez, OF/1B Gonzalez entered the 2020 season in a different spot than last season. Miguel Sano started 2019 injured and this meant Gonzalez started the year as the team’s everyday third baseman. Sano isn’t injured this season, but his positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the start of Summer Camp, and he could have put his swing a little behind schedule. This allowed Gonzalez to start two games over the weekend and he went 2-for-8 with a homer. https://twitter.com/HomeRunVideos/status/1287518369462341633?s=20 One of the most impressive things from Gonzalez this weekend might have been his professional approach at the plate. On Saturday afternoon, he faced off against former teammate Dallas Keuchel who was rolling through the early innings. Gonzalez did his best to mess with Keuchel’s timing and even Justin Morneau made note of it from the booth. He did the same thing on Sunday when Reynaldo Lopez was struggling early in the game. Out of players still on the Twins, Gonzalez had the fifth most plate appearances last season, so it will be interesting to see how the club finds him at-bats this year. Which player adds the most to the Twins depth? 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
  6. Ehire Adrianza Adrianza has been part of three different organization and gotten claimed off waivers multiple times, but he has never been a free agent. He provides an interesting case, because he has mostly served a role player during his Twins tenure. In three seasons in Minnesota he has hit .260/.321/.391 (.711) while averaging 89 games played. His 2018 season might give the best glimpse of how he could produce if he was an everyday player. Adrianza was given the opportunity to man shortstop while Jorge Polanco started the year suspended. He played in 114 games that season and compiled a .680 OPS and this included playing over 750 innings at shortstop and third base. He could possibly serve as an everyday player on a club, but he would need an opportunity to prove himself this season. It would take an injury to Polanco for Adrianza to play every day and the Twins certainly don’t want that to happen. Trevor May May’s transition from starter to reliever came with some growing pains, but he has turned into one of the team’s best late-inning options. Something clicked for him when he came back from Tommy John surgery back in 2018. Since that time, he has held opponents to a .195 average with a terrific 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Outside of Taylor Rogers, May might be Minnesota’s best relief option and that’s saying a lot with the current make-up of the bullpen. He should see plenty of time late in games this year and it will be interesting to see if Rocco Baldelli continues to use him in a similar fashion. He was only used for more than an inning in 10 of his appearances last season. Could that change in 2020? If May continues to pitch like he has over the last two seasons, there’s a chance a team would want to add him as a potential closer, even if the closer role continues to evolve. That could lead to an even bigger payday for the 30-year old free agent-to-be. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi bet on himself this season by accepting the Twins' one-year qualifying offer. Granted the $17.8 million one-year deal is more money than he has made in his entire career, but now he knows he will be a free agent next winter. He might have been kicking himself for accepting the offer after seeing the contracts being handed out to other starters on the open market. He made his first All-Star team this past season on the heels of a first half where he posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP. Opponents hit only .214/.285/.335 (.620) against him and he had 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched. The second half didn’t go nearly as well as batters' OPS rose 111 points. He finished the year by starting Game 3 of the ALDS by allowed two earned runs on five hits over five innings. In an offensive environment like 2019, Odorizzi’s first half is certainly impressive. If he can put together a full season like he did last year then he will be looking at a handsome free agent contract next winter and this time it will be a multi-year deal. Which player has the most to prove this season? Who will score big next off-season? 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
  7. Impending free agents can have a lot to prove in their final year under contract. Can they outperform their career numbers and hit a big payday? Or do they succumb to the pressure and underperform in one of their most important professional seasons? For three Twins players, there might be even more to prove before becoming free agents for the first time.Ehire Adrianza Adrianza has been part of three different organization and gotten claimed off waivers multiple times, but he has never been a free agent. He provides an interesting case, because he has mostly served a role player during his Twins tenure. In three seasons in Minnesota he has hit .260/.321/.391 (.711) while averaging 89 games played. His 2018 season might give the best glimpse of how he could produce if he was an everyday player. Adrianza was given the opportunity to man shortstop while Jorge Polanco started the year suspended. He played in 114 games that season and compiled a .680 OPS and this included playing over 750 innings at shortstop and third base. He could possibly serve as an everyday player on a club, but he would need an opportunity to prove himself this season. It would take an injury to Polanco for Adrianza to play every day and the Twins certainly don’t want that to happen. Trevor May May’s transition from starter to reliever came with some growing pains, but he has turned into one of the team’s best late-inning options. Something clicked for him when he came back from Tommy John surgery back in 2018. Since that time, he has held opponents to a .195 average with a terrific 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Outside of Taylor Rogers, May might be Minnesota’s best relief option and that’s saying a lot with the current make-up of the bullpen. He should see plenty of time late in games this year and it will be interesting to see if Rocco Baldelli continues to use him in a similar fashion. He was only used for more than an inning in 10 of his appearances last season. Could that change in 2020? If May continues to pitch like he has over the last two seasons, there’s a chance a team would want to add him as a potential closer, even if the closer role continues to evolve. That could lead to an even bigger payday for the 30-year old free agent-to-be. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi bet on himself this season by accepting the Twins' one-year qualifying offer. Granted the $17.8 million one-year deal is more money than he has made in his entire career, but now he knows he will be a free agent next winter. He might have been kicking himself for accepting the offer after seeing the contracts being handed out to other starters on the open market. He made his first All-Star team this past season on the heels of a first half where he posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP. Opponents hit only .214/.285/.335 (.620) against him and he had 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched. The second half didn’t go nearly as well as batters' OPS rose 111 points. He finished the year by starting Game 3 of the ALDS by allowed two earned runs on five hits over five innings. In an offensive environment like 2019, Odorizzi’s first half is certainly impressive. If he can put together a full season like he did last year then he will be looking at a handsome free agent contract next winter and this time it will be a multi-year deal. Which player has the most to prove this season? Who will score big next off-season? 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 Click here to view the article
  8. Projected Starter: Jorge Polanco Likely Backup: Ehire Adrianza Depth: Luis Arraez, Marwin Gonzalez Prospects: Royce Lewis, Wander Javier THE GOOD When I counted down the top assets in the Minnesota Twins organization a couple months back, I had Polanco at No. 1, mainly because of that wonderfully favorable contract: The 26-year-old is controlled through 2025 at reasonable rates (around $7 million on average). Fresh off inking his new deal, Polanco burst out of the gates with a ridiculously strong start in 2019. At the end of May his OPS checked in at an even 1.000, and he hung near the top of the AL batting race throughout the first half, earning himself a starting nod on the All-Star team. Even with a second-half cooldown, Polanco still ended up logging excellent numbers across the board. Overall, he slashed .295/.356/.485 with 20 home runs, 44 doubles, seven triples, and 107 runs scored. A reliable everyday fixture, Polanco made 704 plate appearances – 108 more than the next-highest finisher on the team (Max Kepler at 596). Every single one of Polanco's 150 starts came in either the first, second, or third spot in the batting order, reflecting how highly he was regarded by Rocco Baldelli as an offensive factor. Polanco delivered this outstanding production at shortstop, where quality hitters tend to be at a premium. And there's a decent chance he's only getting started. It can be easy to lose sight because he's been around so long now, but Polanco doesn't turn 27 until July. He's still just entering the age range where skills generally peak. In his early-to-mid 20s, he set himself a solid baseline as a big-leaguer, slashing .271/.327/.418 from 2016 through 2018 for a 100 OPS+ that was exactly average. Last year he shattered all previous benchmarks and reached new levels of performance, slashing ropes from both sides while ranking as the team's most valuable player per Baseball Reference's WAR calculation. The Twins have the ability to keep him around through age 31. THE BAD Polanco's red-hot start at the plate in 2019 was offset somewhat by a late decline. After starting in the All-Star Game, he slashed .273/.341/.447 in the second half, gravitating back toward his previous career norms (.272/.329/.420). In September he posted a mere .706 OPS with six walks and eight extra-base hits over 102 plate appearances, though he rallied with a strong showing in the ALDS. Polanco underwent ankle surgery in November "to address a chronic impingement injury stemming from repetitive stress" after taking on an intensive season-long workload, so it's very possible he simply wore down on a bum wheel. Something to watch. Defense is the real concern. Statcast recently unveiled a new metric, Infield Outs Above Average, which seeks to measure the defensive contributions of infielders. The initial rankings for 2019 included 139 players, and pegged Polanco at... 138. The Twins shortstop was in front of only Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a bulky 20-year-old rookie third basemen best known for his bat. Granted, it's only one stat, but the IOAA assessment speaks to an undeniable reality: Polanco has mostly been a defensive liability at shortstop, stretched beyond his means with an erratic arm that is constantly manifesting in troublesome ways. Among all MLB players, only White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (26) committed more errors last year than Polanco, and nobody had more throwing errors. In all likelihood, this problem will be magnified in 2020, because C.J. Cron – who led all American League first basemen in Scoops with 31 in 2019 – is being replaced by the inexperienced Miguel Sano. The Twins smartly do what they can to minimize Polanco's defensive shortcomings, shifting him all around the diamond relentlessly and signing Josh Donaldson to bolster the left side, but he's barely tenable all the same. There's not a simple solution, though. Even if Polanco could be moved elsewhere in the infield (second and third are pretty well spoken for), Minnesota lacks standout gloves that might represent an upgrade at short. Ehire Adrianza, who slots as Polanco's top backup, might be the best defensive shortstop in the organization at present, which isn't saying much because he's just okay there. Marwin Gonzalez is no more than an emergency option, and the same should be true of Luis Arraez, who played a handful of games at short as a rookie. The minors offer nothing approaching a sure thing. Nick Gordon has all but fallen out of the shortstop conversation (always borderline, he was starting primarily at second in Rochester by the time he got hurt last year). Royce Lewis, the organization's top prospect, could stick at short, but the jury is very much out. Wander Javier is probably the best bet among upper-tier prospects to play shortstop long-term, but he's coming off a disastrous season at Low-A. THE BOTTOM LINE Locked in long-term with no obvious place to move, and no one necessarily coming up behind him, Polanco isn't going anywhere soon. So the team will just have to work around his defensive deficiencies, while hoping that his offensive output from the first half of 2019 was no mirage. Given that he's still on the front end of his prime with a sturdy track record, odds of continued improvement or at least sustained excellence are pretty good. Polanco was playing second base exclusively at Rochester before being called up in 2016, and has been worth negative-31 runs as a big-league shortstop (per DRS). His viability at this position is in doubt. The Twins have nevertheless run him out there for nearly 3,500 innings, and they don't seem inclined – or able, really – to change course. If the long-tenured stalwart hits like he's capable of, we can live with a few extra runs sacrificed to the opponent, which is more or less the mantra of this Twins team as a whole. ~~~ Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Catcher Twins 2020 Position Analysis: First Base Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Second Base Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Third Base MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Expectations may never have been higher for the Minnesota Twins at the start of a season. The club is coming of a 101-win season and the roster has made improvements to build on last year’s success. Through the course of a 162-game season, there are always going to be injuries and the best clubs are forced to rely on their depth to keep themselves on a playoff path. Below is a ranking of all Minnesota’s position groups by depth from 1-10. Editor’s Note: In the originally posted article, the writer did not have catchers included on the list. Below you will see an updated ranking with catchers included.All depth chart information was taken from MLB.com and the team’s official depth chart. Some players are not listed on the official depth chart at this time due to suspension, injury or contract status. Those players have been added to the depth chart or included in the discussion. 11. Center Field Depth Chart: Buxton, Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr. Byron Buxton might not be ready for the season’s start and this could push Max Kepler from right field to center field where he filled in admirably last season. However, he has flaws as a defensive center fielder. If Buxton and Kepler were both hurt, someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade Jr. would be forced to play up the middle and this would certainly not be ideal for the team. 10. Shortstop Depth Chart: Polanco, Adrianza, Gordon Jorge Polanco was the AL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star Game, but there were some struggles for him in the second half including a nearly 100-point drop in his OPS. Should Polanco go down with an injury, Ehire Adrianza has proven himself to be a strong defensive replacement even if he can’t be at the same offensive level as Polanco. Nick Gordon, a former top-5 pick, has started over 500 games at shortstop throughout his professional career, but he’s been getting more innings at second base in recent years. 9. Second Base Depth Chart: Arraez, Adrianza, Gordon Over his last three seasons, Luis Arraez has averaged 122 games played per seasons including with last year marking a career high 146 games played. as at shortstop, Adrianza would be a defensive upgrade and it would be interesting to see how the Twins would handle a long-term injury to Arraez. Would they consider moving Polanco to second and playing Adrianza at shortstop? 8. First Base Depth Chart: Sano, Gonzalez, Astudillo Sano has missed time in every big-league season, so there is a likelihood he’ll miss time again this year. Luckily for the Twins, Gonzalez and Astudillo could both fill in at first base when Sano is out of the line-up. Outside of the players on the team’s official depth chart, Adrianza logged over 118 innings at first base last season as well. His defensive skills are probably better utilized elsewhere, but he can fill in if there is a need. 7. Left Field Depth Chart: Rosario, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez Minnesota has no shortage of corner outfield options, but the depth can get stretch if Buxton is not in center and Kepler is forced to take his spot. There is no guarantee Jake Cave and Lamonte Wade Jr. make the 26-man roster out of spring training, which would leave Marwin Gonzalez as one of the few on-roster options for the club. Adrianza made appearances at both corner outfield spots last season, but almost all his time was in right field. 6. Right Field Depth Chart: Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez Like in left field, Cave and Wade Jr. are hardly guaranteed a roster spot to start the year. An injury to Kepler or Buxton, could mean Cave or Wade Jr. end up playing on a regular basis and this might not be a terrible transition for the club. Gonzalez provides some defensive flexibility, but he has played less time in right field than any other position, so it seems more likely for the team to use other outfield options. 5. Designated Hitter Depth Chart: Cruz Nelson Cruz was the team’s MVP last year, but he lost some time on the IL with a ruptured wrist tendon. Sano seems like an easy replacement for Cruz at DH, but then the options at first base become Gonzalez, Astudillo, or Adrianza. Would the club consider bringing up a prospect like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach or Alex Kirilloff to take over the DH role if Cruz were injured? 4. Third Base Depth Chart: Donaldson, Adrianza, Gonzalez, Astudillo Josh Donaldson certainly upgrades this group, but an injury to him and Adrianza or Gonzalez would take over regular playing time. Adrianza is in a contract year, so it seems likely that he’d like an opportunity to show he can be an everyday player. Gonzalez took over at third base last season when Sano was on the IL. While the Twins are committed to Sano at first base, the team could always plug him back in at third if Donaldson was going to miss an extended amount of time. 3. Catcher Depth Chart: Garver, Avila, Astudillo Garver established himself as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball last season and he appeared in less than half of the team’s games. Avila and Astudillo add depth to the backstop department and these two could certainly fill in for Garver if he had to miss a considerable amount of time. Ryan Jeffers, the team’s top catching prospect, also played some time at Double-A last season. The team is high on him and the improvements he has made on both sides of the ball. 2. Rotation Depth Chart: Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Bailey, Pineda (Restricted List), Hill (Injured List) Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Poppen Minnesota already has built in rotational depth with Michael Pineda (suspension) and Rich Hill (elbow surgery) scheduled to join the rotation in May and June or July, respectively. Another name not included on the Twins depth chart is Jhoulys Chacin who could have the inside route to the fifth starter spot, especially with Thorpe being away from spring training for two weeks for personal reasons. 1. Bullpen Depth Chart: Rogers, May, Duffey, Romo, Clippard, Littell, Stashak, Romero, Wisler, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak Think back to the middle of last season and it seemed like the Twins were struggling to find reliable late inning relief options. It seemed like the club trusted Taylor Rogers and the rest of the options were question marks. At last year’s trade deadline, the club traded for two relief pitchers, Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo, because the position group was viewed as having some holes. Now this group might be one of the game’s strongest bullpens. Romo was getting some closing opportunities last season and he might be a fifth or sixth inning option on the current roster. Veteran additions like Tyler Clippard and Matt Wisler provide even more depth. If players underperform or get injured, the Twins can turn to other options at Rochester. How would you rank the position groups? Which one has the most depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  10. All depth chart information was taken from MLB.com and the team’s official depth chart. Some players are not listed on the official depth chart at this time due to suspension, injury or contract status. Those players have been added to the depth chart or included in the discussion. 11. Center Field Depth Chart: Buxton, Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr. Byron Buxton might not be ready for the season’s start and this could push Max Kepler from right field to center field where he filled in admirably last season. However, he has flaws as a defensive center fielder. If Buxton and Kepler were both hurt, someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade Jr. would be forced to play up the middle and this would certainly not be ideal for the team. 10. Shortstop Depth Chart: Polanco, Adrianza, Gordon Jorge Polanco was the AL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star Game, but there were some struggles for him in the second half including a nearly 100-point drop in his OPS. Should Polanco go down with an injury, Ehire Adrianza has proven himself to be a strong defensive replacement even if he can’t be at the same offensive level as Polanco. Nick Gordon, a former top-5 pick, has started over 500 games at shortstop throughout his professional career, but he’s been getting more innings at second base in recent years. 9. Second Base Depth Chart: Arraez, Adrianza, Gordon Over his last three seasons, Luis Arraez has averaged 122 games played per seasons including with last year marking a career high 146 games played. as at shortstop, Adrianza would be a defensive upgrade and it would be interesting to see how the Twins would handle a long-term injury to Arraez. Would they consider moving Polanco to second and playing Adrianza at shortstop? 8. First Base Depth Chart: Sano, Gonzalez, Astudillo Sano has missed time in every big-league season, so there is a likelihood he’ll miss time again this year. Luckily for the Twins, Gonzalez and Astudillo could both fill in at first base when Sano is out of the line-up. Outside of the players on the team’s official depth chart, Adrianza logged over 118 innings at first base last season as well. His defensive skills are probably better utilized elsewhere, but he can fill in if there is a need. 7. Left Field Depth Chart: Rosario, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez Minnesota has no shortage of corner outfield options, but the depth can get stretch if Buxton is not in center and Kepler is forced to take his spot. There is no guarantee Jake Cave and Lamonte Wade Jr. make the 26-man roster out of spring training, which would leave Marwin Gonzalez as one of the few on-roster options for the club. Adrianza made appearances at both corner outfield spots last season, but almost all his time was in right field. 6. Right Field Depth Chart: Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez Like in left field, Cave and Wade Jr. are hardly guaranteed a roster spot to start the year. An injury to Kepler or Buxton, could mean Cave or Wade Jr. end up playing on a regular basis and this might not be a terrible transition for the club. Gonzalez provides some defensive flexibility, but he has played less time in right field than any other position, so it seems more likely for the team to use other outfield options. 5. Designated Hitter Depth Chart: Cruz Nelson Cruz was the team’s MVP last year, but he lost some time on the IL with a ruptured wrist tendon. Sano seems like an easy replacement for Cruz at DH, but then the options at first base become Gonzalez, Astudillo, or Adrianza. Would the club consider bringing up a prospect like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach or Alex Kirilloff to take over the DH role if Cruz were injured? 4. Third Base Depth Chart: Donaldson, Adrianza, Gonzalez, Astudillo Josh Donaldson certainly upgrades this group, but an injury to him and Adrianza or Gonzalez would take over regular playing time. Adrianza is in a contract year, so it seems likely that he’d like an opportunity to show he can be an everyday player. Gonzalez took over at third base last season when Sano was on the IL. While the Twins are committed to Sano at first base, the team could always plug him back in at third if Donaldson was going to miss an extended amount of time. 3. Catcher Depth Chart: Garver, Avila, Astudillo Garver established himself as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball last season and he appeared in less than half of the team’s games. Avila and Astudillo add depth to the backstop department and these two could certainly fill in for Garver if he had to miss a considerable amount of time. Ryan Jeffers, the team’s top catching prospect, also played some time at Double-A last season. The team is high on him and the improvements he has made on both sides of the ball. 2. Rotation Depth Chart: Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Bailey, Pineda (Restricted List), Hill (Injured List) Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Poppen Minnesota already has built in rotational depth with Michael Pineda (suspension) and Rich Hill (elbow surgery) scheduled to join the rotation in May and June or July, respectively. Another name not included on the Twins depth chart is Jhoulys Chacin who could have the inside route to the fifth starter spot, especially with Thorpe being away from spring training for two weeks for personal reasons. 1. Bullpen Depth Chart: Rogers, May, Duffey, Romo, Clippard, Littell, Stashak, Romero, Wisler, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak Think back to the middle of last season and it seemed like the Twins were struggling to find reliable late inning relief options. It seemed like the club trusted Taylor Rogers and the rest of the options were question marks. At last year’s trade deadline, the club traded for two relief pitchers, Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo, because the position group was viewed as having some holes. Now this group might be one of the game’s strongest bullpens. Romo was getting some closing opportunities last season and he might be a fifth or sixth inning option on the current roster. Veteran additions like Tyler Clippard and Matt Wisler provide even more depth. If players underperform or get injured, the Twins can turn to other options at Rochester. How would you rank the position groups? Which one has the most depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. MLB Statcast recently unveiled its Outs Above Average (OAA) rankings for MLB infielders (it was previously only available for outfielders) and the numbers make a compelling case for Marwin Gonzalez. With Gonzalez rated as Minnesota’s best defensive infielder and a current need to fill in C.J. Cron’s place at first base, moving Miguel Sano to first and slotting Gonzalez into the everyday third base role may be the Twins best move going forward. According to MLB’s Baseball Savant site (where Statcast is featured), “Outs Above Average (OAA) is the cumulative effect of all individual plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them.” OAA measures the distance and time it takes a fielder to reach the ball, how far the fielder is from the base the ball will be thrown to, and how fast the baserunner is. Based on OAA, Gonzalez is far and away the Twin’s best returning infield option. In 2019 he was good for a 7 OAA, meaning he was seven outs above the average infielder. That may not seem like a lot, but it places Gonzalez as the 19th best infielder in all of baseball (Javier Baez led all of baseball with a 19 OAA). Of the returning Twins infielders, Gonzalez is the only one who posted an above-average ranking (Jonathan Scope was second with a 5 OAA, but will be replaced by Luis Arraez’s -6 OAA). He successfully completed 93% of the plays he was involved in with just an 88% estimated success rate, meaning that he made 5% more plays than he was expected to. Placing Gonzalez at third would push Sano to first, which may not be such a bad thing. Sano finished 2019 with a -5 OAA, which, while not terrible is significantly below average. Sano is likely to move off third sooner or later, and with Gonzalez as the superior defensive option, now may be a good time. Sano has some experience playing first base and seems athletic enough to be at least an average defender once he settles in. His 137 wRC+ in 2019 ensures that his bat is certain to fit in at first. Moving Gonzalez into the everyday third base role does raise a few concerns. The first being Gonzalez’s bat. Gonzalez got off to a notoriously slow start in 2019 after signing late and missing most of spring training, and finished the year as a below average hitter with a 93 wRC+. However, his numbers were much better after April (he had just a 33 wRC+ in Mar./Apr.) and he has been a slightly above average hitter over the course of his career. With above-average defense and an average bat he would be a net positive at third. Minnesota also has a stacked lineup, so having one position filled with an average hitter isn’t really an issue. The other concern would be the utility role with Gonzalez moving to third full time. Gonzalez’s ability to fill in anywhere was huge in Minnesota’s injury-plagued 2019 and not having him available for that role in 2020 would seem a detriment. However, Minnesota has another great option for the utility role in Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza rates as the Twins second best returning infielder with a -1 OAA and has the ability to play all around the infield, including shortstop. He also had a really good offensive year in 2019 (relative to being a utility infielder), with a 102 wRC+. Plus, the need for Gonzalez to fill in in the outfield is mitigated by the depth of Jake Cave, Lamonte Wade, and near-ready prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Luke Raley, and Trevor Larnach. There are legitimate concerns with Minnesota’s infield defense coming into the 2020 season, and moving Sano to first and letting Gonzalez take over third should help some. Additionally, with Adrianza in the main utility role, his ability to play average defense would give the Twins an occasional defensive upgrade over Arraez at second or Jorge Polanco at short, who had a team-worst -16 OAA in 2019 (read Twerk Twonk Twin’s recent blog post for a great breakdown of Polanco’s defense). With Minnesota unlikely to sign Josh Donaldson, and really only Mitch Moreland left on the first base free-agent market, moving Gonzalez to third seems to be the best option for 2020. If someone like Alex Kirilloff emerges and Minnesota decides to put him at first, Gonzalez can always slide back into the utility role, but Gonzalez’s presence at third with an increased utility role for Adrianza at least gives the infield defense some hope. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. The final game of the regular season came right down to the end, but unfortunately the Royals won it by a score of 5-4 on a walk off sacrifice fly. After 162 regular season games, the Twins finished with a 101-61 record and an AL Central title. Oh by the way, THE HOME RUN RECORD BELONGS TO THE TWINS. The Yankees hit one, but the Twins hit three and now the all time record belongs to the team in Minnesota.Box Score Perez: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 62% strikes (63 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cron (25), Cave (8), Castro (13) Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Brusdar Graterol (-.358), Lewis Thorpe (-.340), Jonathan Schoop (-.117) Ehire Adrianza (manager) knows how to make a home run lineup. Rookie manager Ehire Adrianza put together the final lineup of the regular season and they got off to a hot start. The game started with the Twins trailing New York by one in the home run race, but the Twins had something to say about that. The first inning had a pulled home run from C.J. Cron at 115.6 MPH (22nd hardest hit ball in the majors) and then Cave hit an opposite field home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Martin Perez shows some encouraging signs for the playoffs. The playoffs begin on Friday and I think Perez should make the team (don’t ask @Matthew_bTwins on Twitter if Perez should make it). He is excellent against left handed hitters (.233/.292/.301) and the playoffs will be a good time for him to come in and get a few lefties out. He did not have that bad of a start today, going nearly six innings and allowing three runs. Kyle Gibson came on in relief in the middle of an inning thanks to a smart pitching change from rookie manager Arraez. He came in and struck out the lone batter he faced in what was his final audition for a playoff spot. He and Martin Perez will be two of the most interesting decisions made this week. Kohl Stewart took over in the seventh inning. He will not make the playoff roster. Despite that, he pitched an excellent seventh inning that took a total of four pitches to finish off with a 4-3 lead. Royals take the lead and win in the final innings In a game loaded with playoff auditions, Lewis Thorpe did not have an excellent outing. The eighth inning started with a leadoff triple from Hunter Dozier which was followed by an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn. Thorpe would go on to strike out the next hitter but was then pulled for Fernando Romero. It started to seem like Adrianza’s job was on the line unless he could pull out a win. Luckily for Ehire, Fernando Romero got the next two guys to keep the game tied but the managerial job definitely wasn’t safe at this point. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brusdar Graterol gave up a double and a single which eventually led to a game-ending walk-off sacrifice fly to cap off the 2019 regular season. I’m hearing rumors that Adrianza is being removed as manager The home run record belongs to the Minnesota Twins The Twins were able to barely pull out the home run title in the final game, hitting 307 total bombas while the Yankees finished with 306. Who would have thought Jason Castro would be the guy to set the record? That means Garver (catcher) broke the original record and now Castro (also catcher) broke the final record. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  13. Box Score Perez: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 62% strikes (63 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cron (25), Cave (8), Castro (13) Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Brusdar Graterol (-.358), Lewis Thorpe (-.340), Jonathan Schoop (-.117) Ehire Adrianza (manager) knows how to make a home run lineup. Rookie manager Ehire Adrianza put together the final lineup of the regular season and they got off to a hot start. The game started with the Twins trailing New York by one in the home run race, but the Twins had something to say about that. The first inning had a pulled home run from C.J. Cron at 115.6 MPH (22nd hardest hit ball in the majors) and then Cave hit an opposite field home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Martin Perez shows some encouraging signs for the playoffs. The playoffs begin on Friday and I think Perez should make the team (don’t ask @Matthew_bTwins on Twitter if Perez should make it). He is excellent against left handed hitters (.233/.292/.301) and the playoffs will be a good time for him to come in and get a few lefties out. He did not have that bad of a start today, going nearly six innings and allowing three runs. Kyle Gibson came on in relief in the middle of an inning thanks to a smart pitching change from rookie manager Arraez. He came in and struck out the lone batter he faced in what was his final audition for a playoff spot. He and Martin Perez will be two of the most interesting decisions made this week. Kohl Stewart took over in the seventh inning. He will not make the playoff roster. Despite that, he pitched an excellent seventh inning that took a total of four pitches to finish off with a 4-3 lead. Royals take the lead and win in the final innings In a game loaded with playoff auditions, Lewis Thorpe did not have an excellent outing. The eighth inning started with a leadoff triple from Hunter Dozier which was followed by an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn. Thorpe would go on to strike out the next hitter but was then pulled for Fernando Romero. It started to seem like Adrianza’s job was on the line unless he could pull out a win. Luckily for Ehire, Fernando Romero got the next two guys to keep the game tied but the managerial job definitely wasn’t safe at this point. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brusdar Graterol gave up a double and a single which eventually led to a game-ending walk-off sacrifice fly to cap off the 2019 regular season. I’m hearing rumors that Adrianza is being removed as manager The home run record belongs to the Minnesota Twins The Twins were able to barely pull out the home run title in the final game, hitting 307 total bombas while the Yankees finished with 306. Who would have thought Jason Castro would be the guy to set the record? That means Garver (catcher) broke the original record and now Castro (also catcher) broke the final record. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1178436363315601408 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  14. Box Score Starter Jake Odorizzi: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 69.2% strikes (63 of 91 pitches) Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Ehire Adrianza (5) Multi-Hit Games: Max Kepler (2-for-5), Jorge Polanco (3-for-5), Nelson Cruz (2-for-5), Luis Arraez (3-for-4), Ehire Adrianza (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Kepler (.368), Arraez (.227), Adrianza (.204) Bottom 3 WPA: Cron (-.247), Cave (-.246), Rosario (-.128) Miguel Cabrera struck first for the Tigers with a solo shot off Jake Odorizzi in the first inning. The Twins quickly answered, with Ehire Adrianza playing third for Miguel Sano and doing his best impression of the big man. Adrianza went ahead and launched a two-run shot to deep right-center field. The Tigers added two more runs to retake the lead in the fifth inning, making the score 3-2. After Jake Cave bobbled a grounder in the sixth inning it looked like the Tigers might extend their lead, but Tyler Duffey was able to strike out two batters, which stranded runners on second and third. The solid appearance comes off of a good August where Duffey put up a stat line of 10.2 IP, 0 ER, 17/5 K/BB and a 0.00 ERA. Kepler comes up clutch once again. Max Kepler gave the Twins the lead in the eighth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single to score LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez. Once again the lefty showed off just how important he is to this team. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1168613219025543170 Garver leaves game early After getting hit in the mask, Mitch Garver was removed from the game in favor of Willians Astudillo. Thankfully according to all reports coming mid-game Garver doesn’t seem to have any concussion symptoms. Instead he was removed because of a sore jaw. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1168627947017621505 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  15. It wasn’t that the Twins offense was completely on vacation with most of the rest of Twins Territory for most of their Labor Day finale against the Tigers, but it certainly wasn’t finishing the job either. Finally, in the eighth inning the winning run crossed the plate Monday afternoon for the team's 85th win. A total that matches the 2017 playoff team's win total.Box Score Starter Jake Odorizzi: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 69.2% strikes (63 of 91 pitches) Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Ehire Adrianza (5) Multi-Hit Games: Max Kepler (2-for-5), Jorge Polanco (3-for-5), Nelson Cruz (2-for-5), Luis Arraez (3-for-4), Ehire Adrianza (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Kepler (.368), Arraez (.227), Adrianza (.204) Bottom 3 WPA: Cron (-.247), Cave (-.246), Rosario (-.128) Miguel Cabrera struck first for the Tigers with a solo shot off Jake Odorizzi in the first inning. The Twins quickly answered, with Ehire Adrianza playing third for Miguel Sano and doing his best impression of the big man. Adrianza went ahead and launched a two-run shot to deep right-center field. The Tigers added two more runs to retake the lead in the fifth inning, making the score 3-2. After Jake Cave bobbled a grounder in the sixth inning it looked like the Tigers might extend their lead, but Tyler Duffey was able to strike out two batters, which stranded runners on second and third. The solid appearance comes off of a good August where Duffey put up a stat line of 10.2 IP, 0 ER, 17/5 K/BB and a 0.00 ERA. Kepler comes up clutch once again. Max Kepler gave the Twins the lead in the eighth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single to score LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez. Once again the lefty showed off just how important he is to this team. Garver leaves game early After getting hit in the mask, Mitch Garver was removed from the game in favor of Willians Astudillo. Thankfully according to all reports coming mid-game Garver doesn’t seem to have any concussion symptoms. Instead he was removed because of a sore jaw. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  16. Box Score Perez: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) Bullpen: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (26), Kepler (36), Polanco (20), Cron (24), Cruz (34) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB), Polanco (2-for-4, HR, BB), Cruz (2-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-3, HR, BB) Bottom 3 WPA: Perez -.519, Sano -.079, Rosario -.056 Martin Perez came into this start with some positive momentum. He’d pitched to a 2.12 ERA in his previous three outings, though he had also walked nine batters in 17 innings. Still, a matchup against Detroit seemed to be the perfect opportunity to keep that positive momentum rolling. It did not end up going that direction. In fact, Perez had his worst start as a Twin. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while recording just eight outs. Again, this is by far the worst hitting team in baseball the Twins were facing tonight. Detroit scored seven runs in the third inning, the most the Twins have surrendered in any single frame all season. Ehire Adrianza played some disgusting defense out in right field that contributed to that inning. Still … worst hitting team in baseball. Ah, but there were bombas. Those sweet, sweet bombas that allowed the Twins media staff to completely ignore the results of the game and gush about all the records that fell. The Twins hit six home runs tonight; two from Mitch Garver one each from Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz. They set the MLB single-season home run record with 268 bombas. Polanco’s tater gave the Twins eight players with 20 or more homers, a new record. Garver’s blasts gave the Twins 39 homers from their catchers this year, also a new record. It would have been a lot more fun if all those milestones were reached in a victory. It’s been a fun journey leading up to all those accomplishments, of course, but losing to the worst team in baseball leaves a terrible aftertaste on what should have been a delicious evening. At least Cleveland lost. In celebration of the Twins breaking the home run record, Cooper shared the 10 biggest Twins home runs this season as ranked by WPA. Make sure to go check that out for some fun reminiscing on what’s been a fantastic season. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. One More Thing ... "Up yours Anthony." -Bert Blyleven https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1167978806537310209
  17. What was that? The Detroit Tigers have averaged an MLB-low 3.59 runs per game. They scored a total of three runs in their most recent series against Cleveland. A lineup that had zero hitters carrying an OPS above league average managed to beat the Twins, the greatest home run hitting team of all time, 10-7 Saturday.Box Score Perez: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) Bullpen: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Garver 2 (26), Kepler (36), Polanco (20), Cron (24), Cruz (34) Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB), Polanco (2-for-4, HR, BB), Cruz (2-for-5, HR), Kepler (2-for-3, HR, BB) Bottom 3 WPA: Perez -.519, Sano -.079, Rosario -.056 Martin Perez came into this start with some positive momentum. He’d pitched to a 2.12 ERA in his previous three outings, though he had also walked nine batters in 17 innings. Still, a matchup against Detroit seemed to be the perfect opportunity to keep that positive momentum rolling. It did not end up going that direction. In fact, Perez had his worst start as a Twin. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while recording just eight outs. Again, this is by far the worst hitting team in baseball the Twins were facing tonight. Detroit scored seven runs in the third inning, the most the Twins have surrendered in any single frame all season. Ehire Adrianza played some disgusting defense out in right field that contributed to that inning. Still … worst hitting team in baseball. Ah, but there were bombas. Those sweet, sweet bombas that allowed the Twins media staff to completely ignore the results of the game and gush about all the records that fell. The Twins hit six home runs tonight; two from Mitch Garver one each from Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz. They set the MLB single-season home run record with 268 bombas. Polanco’s tater gave the Twins eight players with 20 or more homers, a new record. Garver’s blasts gave the Twins 39 homers from their catchers this year, also a new record. It would have been a lot more fun if all those milestones were reached in a victory. It’s been a fun journey leading up to all those accomplishments, of course, but losing to the worst team in baseball leaves a terrible aftertaste on what should have been a delicious evening. At least Cleveland lost. In celebration of the Twins breaking the home run record, Cooper shared the 10 biggest Twins home runs this season as ranked by WPA. Make sure to go check that out for some fun reminiscing on what’s been a fantastic season. Postgame With Baldelli Click here to view the article
  18. Things are starting to heat up and the postseason is getting closer. Today, among Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference, the lowest odds of the Twins making the playoffs is 97.8% and the lowest of them winning the division is 86.1%. So, one way or the other, only a tragedy would keep Minnesota out. With that in mind and with the September roster expansions coming up, here are four questions we should be asking ourselves, regarding the roster that they’re taking to October.First, we have to look at the Twins and figure out what are their needs and what they can do about it. At this moment, ten pitchers and ten position players (provided Byron Buxton is healthy) are considered by most as locks for the postseason. Those 20 players don't include the players below, so when the time comes for the Twins to set a final playoff roster, some very productive position players could not be included. Do you leave off Luis Arráez, Jonathan Schoop or Ehire Adrianza? To me that’s the toughest and potentially most dangerous problem to solve. Luis Arráez leads all AL rookies in batting average (.335) and is at the top five in fWAR (1.4), WPA (1.34), OPS (.836) and wRC+ (123). How can you realistically not want this guy in the playoffs? The problem is that you don’t have other very clear options. One could argue that Jonathan Schoop has a considerably lower offensive production than him, with .254 AVG, 0.9 fWAR, -1.19 WPA (dead last on the team), .769 OPS and 97 wRC+. Or that, statistically, his defense isn’t much better than that of Arráez, since the rookie has better UZR and DEF, while Schoop has produced only one DRS more than him. But that’s not even the main point here. Schoop was the clear starting second baseman acquisition in the offseason. He’s being paid good money to do so. Usually, that would mean there’s virtually zero chance he’s not part of a playoff roster. Schoop is a vital part of the “Bomba Squad” spirit. With 18 home runs on the year, he’s very likely to become the seventh or eighth Twin with 20 dingers this season. Other than the Bombas, experience counts a lot during playoffs and Schoop can provide that. Adrianza becomes the second realistic option to be excluded, which would be a huge bummer. Not because I think he’s an Eduardo Escobar-type bench player. He’s not. But he is so hard-working, so patient and has made such a good contribution to this organization in the past three years that it would be heartbreaking to see him out of the playoff roster. He did make the cut for the 2017 Wild Card team, but still, there’s no guarantee that he will be included this time. He’s also producing at the highest he’s ever produced in a Twin uniform. This season he is slashing .287/.371/.431 (.802), with a 112 wRC+. He also represents a statistically better defender than Schoop, for example, when he played second base. But the latter still holds the same upper-hand mentioned in the last paragraph. And you’re definitely not leaving out Marwin Gonzalez to include Adrianza. So tell us, reader, what would you do here in this infield puzzle? But before you make a decision here, let me say that in the next paragraph you may find a solution, if you feel like all three deserve to make the roster. But it’s not any easier. Do you leave off Jake Cave and use Gonzalez as the fourth outfielder? When Buxton is back, the Twins will have four primary outfielders, with Jake Cave being on the bench. Now, if the Twins want, they can keep extra infielder by deploying Gonzalez as their fourth outfielder, when necessary. The question here is: do you exclude Cave on their behalf? Cave has already done a pretty good job when he was called to fill in for Buxton lass season. But this year? Hoo, boy. Fine, his overall numbers in 2019 are not extremely better than 2018, but he's currently having an out-of-the-earth month of August. Since being recalled on Aug. 3, he’s slashing .442/.500/.767 (1.267) with a 232 wRC+ and a .696 BABIP. He leads the Twins in all those metrics this month, except SLG, OPS and wRC+, losing to Nelson Cruz in them by very little. So, what would you do here? As much as we might like Adrianza and as well as Arráez might be playing offensively, how can you turn your back on this? Granted, Cave’s numbers could very well come down to earth after a whole month of September, which would make this decision much easier. If they don’t, what a tough decision to make. However, let’s not forget that when we talk about Cave, we’re talking about a much smaller sample size. So far, he’s got only 148 plate appearances, against 205 from Adrianza and 249 from Arráez. What do you do with Willians Astudillo? Since coming back from his oblique strain injury, “La Tortuga” is slashing .368/.368/.421 (.789) in four Triple-A games and .353/.421/.765 (1.186) in five Double-A games, striking out only once overall. If he comes back and maintain that level, do you have a spot for him on your postseason roster? Over who? Personally, I can’t see it happening and I can’t see anyone I would choose him over. But you never know what’s going to happen. Which pitchers make the postseason staff? Assuming that all the position players questions are answered when October comes. There are 10 pitchers who are considered locked in for a playoff spot: José Berríos, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson as starters. Martín Pérez, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sam Dyson, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers as relievers. You need to add two or three more. Who do you have? Here are four names. 1. Zack Littell What a great job this kid has been doing this year. He had one bad outing in late May, in which he gave up eight of his ten earned runs in the year. So, if you removed that one outing, you find out that he would have a 0.87 ERA the whole year. Granted, he’s pitched only 25 innings this season, but that’s still impressive. Since June 18, when he got called up for the second time, he’s posting a 0.96 ERA, which is good for the fifth best in baseball. I was honestly very confused when he was the chosen one to be optioned last week. Can he handle high leverage situations in the postseason? I wouldn’t want to test that -- although in the very few moments (three and one third innings) he’s been put under pressure, he hasn’t allowed a single run and has held opposing batters to a ridiculous .091/.167/.091 slash line. 2. Trevor Hildenberger Hildy had an amazing start to the year, followed by a horrendous month of May, which resulted in him being sent down. Then, he started dealing with injuries and was sidelined for nearly two months. Now, he’s back and, apparently, he’s back to his old self. Before the start of May, Hildenberger was one of the team’s best relievers, posting a 1.92 ERA. Now, since coming back from injury, he’s pitched five games (seven innings) and is posting a 1.28 ERA, while striking out nine batters per nine and with a 7.03 K/BB ratio. He’s had some serious ups and downs in his short major league career, which can make us a bit suspicious, but he’s definitely earned the right to be looked at in September. 3. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer didn’t shy away when he got his chance. He impressed everyone when he shutout the Yankees for five innings of relief in late July, so you can tell the kid is ready for the big stage. As a reliever this year, he has a 3.38 ERA for the Twins. In medium or high leverage situations, that goes down to 3.09. But that’s not even his spot. Along with Pérez, he could be the best option if a starter can’t get deep into a game and you need a long man. Besides, you absolutely need another lefty over there. 4. Brusdar Graterol The organization’s top pitching prospect doesn’t even need introductions. You can read a more in depth analysis of him in two of our latest articles, one by Jeremy Nygaard here and one by Andrew Thares here, as well as our daily Minor League reports. He’s pitched 59 innings in three different minor league levels this year and is holding opponent batters to a .180 AVG, striking out 8.84 times per nine. His ERA this year is 1.53 overall and 0.00 in 8 1/3 innings of relief. It would be a longshot if he actually made the playoff team after a callup in September. But, who knows? Other callups that are going to be looked at during September and maybe could earn a spot include Ryne Harper, Jorge Alcala, Randy Dobnak, Fernando Romero and Kohl Stewart. Harper was a regular on the Twins bullpen all year, but got out of track lately. He should get another chance, because he’s shown good stuff before. So who is on your final roster? Click here to view the article
  19. First, we have to look at the Twins and figure out what are their needs and what they can do about it. At this moment, ten pitchers and ten position players (provided Byron Buxton is healthy) are considered by most as locks for the postseason. Those 20 players don't include the players below, so when the time comes for the Twins to set a final playoff roster, some very productive position players could not be included. Do you leave off Luis Arráez, Jonathan Schoop or Ehire Adrianza? To me that’s the toughest and potentially most dangerous problem to solve. Luis Arráez leads all AL rookies in batting average (.335) and is at the top five in fWAR (1.4), WPA (1.34), OPS (.836) and wRC+ (123). How can you realistically not want this guy in the playoffs? The problem is that you don’t have other very clear options. One could argue that Jonathan Schoop has a considerably lower offensive production than him, with .254 AVG, 0.9 fWAR, -1.19 WPA (dead last on the team), .769 OPS and 97 wRC+. Or that, statistically, his defense isn’t much better than that of Arráez, since the rookie has better UZR and DEF, while Schoop has produced only one DRS more than him. But that’s not even the main point here. Schoop was the clear starting second baseman acquisition in the offseason. He’s being paid good money to do so. Usually, that would mean there’s virtually zero chance he’s not part of a playoff roster. Schoop is a vital part of the “Bomba Squad” spirit. With 18 home runs on the year, he’s very likely to become the seventh or eighth Twin with 20 dingers this season. Other than the Bombas, experience counts a lot during playoffs and Schoop can provide that. Adrianza becomes the second realistic option to be excluded, which would be a huge bummer. Not because I think he’s an Eduardo Escobar-type bench player. He’s not. But he is so hard-working, so patient and has made such a good contribution to this organization in the past three years that it would be heartbreaking to see him out of the playoff roster. He did make the cut for the 2017 Wild Card team, but still, there’s no guarantee that he will be included this time. He’s also producing at the highest he’s ever produced in a Twin uniform. This season he is slashing .287/.371/.431 (.802), with a 112 wRC+. He also represents a statistically better defender than Schoop, for example, when he played second base. But the latter still holds the same upper-hand mentioned in the last paragraph. And you’re definitely not leaving out Marwin Gonzalez to include Adrianza. So tell us, reader, what would you do here in this infield puzzle? But before you make a decision here, let me say that in the next paragraph you may find a solution, if you feel like all three deserve to make the roster. But it’s not any easier. Do you leave off Jake Cave and use Gonzalez as the fourth outfielder? When Buxton is back, the Twins will have four primary outfielders, with Jake Cave being on the bench. Now, if the Twins want, they can keep extra infielder by deploying Gonzalez as their fourth outfielder, when necessary. The question here is: do you exclude Cave on their behalf? Cave has already done a pretty good job when he was called to fill in for Buxton lass season. But this year? Hoo, boy. Fine, his overall numbers in 2019 are not extremely better than 2018, but he's currently having an out-of-the-earth month of August. Since being recalled on Aug. 3, he’s slashing .442/.500/.767 (1.267) with a 232 wRC+ and a .696 BABIP. He leads the Twins in all those metrics this month, except SLG, OPS and wRC+, losing to Nelson Cruz in them by very little. So, what would you do here? As much as we might like Adrianza and as well as Arráez might be playing offensively, how can you turn your back on this? Granted, Cave’s numbers could very well come down to earth after a whole month of September, which would make this decision much easier. If they don’t, what a tough decision to make. However, let’s not forget that when we talk about Cave, we’re talking about a much smaller sample size. So far, he’s got only 148 plate appearances, against 205 from Adrianza and 249 from Arráez. What do you do with Willians Astudillo? Since coming back from his oblique strain injury, “La Tortuga” is slashing .368/.368/.421 (.789) in four Triple-A games and .353/.421/.765 (1.186) in five Double-A games, striking out only once overall. If he comes back and maintain that level, do you have a spot for him on your postseason roster? Over who? Personally, I can’t see it happening and I can’t see anyone I would choose him over. But you never know what’s going to happen. Which pitchers make the postseason staff? Assuming that all the position players questions are answered when October comes. There are 10 pitchers who are considered locked in for a playoff spot: José Berríos, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson as starters. Martín Pérez, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sam Dyson, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers as relievers. You need to add two or three more. Who do you have? Here are four names. 1. Zack Littell What a great job this kid has been doing this year. He had one bad outing in late May, in which he gave up eight of his ten earned runs in the year. So, if you removed that one outing, you find out that he would have a 0.87 ERA the whole year. Granted, he’s pitched only 25 innings this season, but that’s still impressive. Since June 18, when he got called up for the second time, he’s posting a 0.96 ERA, which is good for the fifth best in baseball. I was honestly very confused when he was the chosen one to be optioned last week. Can he handle high leverage situations in the postseason? I wouldn’t want to test that -- although in the very few moments (three and one third innings) he’s been put under pressure, he hasn’t allowed a single run and has held opposing batters to a ridiculous .091/.167/.091 slash line. 2. Trevor Hildenberger Hildy had an amazing start to the year, followed by a horrendous month of May, which resulted in him being sent down. Then, he started dealing with injuries and was sidelined for nearly two months. Now, he’s back and, apparently, he’s back to his old self. Before the start of May, Hildenberger was one of the team’s best relievers, posting a 1.92 ERA. Now, since coming back from injury, he’s pitched five games (seven innings) and is posting a 1.28 ERA, while striking out nine batters per nine and with a 7.03 K/BB ratio. He’s had some serious ups and downs in his short major league career, which can make us a bit suspicious, but he’s definitely earned the right to be looked at in September. 3. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer didn’t shy away when he got his chance. He impressed everyone when he shutout the Yankees for five innings of relief in late July, so you can tell the kid is ready for the big stage. As a reliever this year, he has a 3.38 ERA for the Twins. In medium or high leverage situations, that goes down to 3.09. But that’s not even his spot. Along with Pérez, he could be the best option if a starter can’t get deep into a game and you need a long man. Besides, you absolutely need another lefty over there. 4. Brusdar Graterol The organization’s top pitching prospect doesn’t even need introductions. You can read a more in depth analysis of him in two of our latest articles, one by Jeremy Nygaard here and one by Andrew Thares here, as well as our daily Minor League reports. He’s pitched 59 innings in three different minor league levels this year and is holding opponent batters to a .180 AVG, striking out 8.84 times per nine. His ERA this year is 1.53 overall and 0.00 in 8 1/3 innings of relief. It would be a longshot if he actually made the playoff team after a callup in September. But, who knows? Other callups that are going to be looked at during September and maybe could earn a spot include Ryne Harper, Jorge Alcala, Randy Dobnak, Fernando Romero and Kohl Stewart. Harper was a regular on the Twins bullpen all year, but got out of track lately. He should get another chance, because he’s shown good stuff before. So who is on your final roster?
  20. Tyler Duffey: 3.07 ERA, 29.6 K%, 1.15 WHIP, .211 AVG As you all probably know, the Twins bullpen has been the main area of concern all season with guys like Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejia (I could do this all day), and many more competing for high leverage spots behind Taylor Rogers. Only one guy has been able to firmly hold his spot and that has been Tyler Duffey. Duffey entered his third season in a relief role in 2019 and something finally clicked for him. The last two seasons were about as bad as could be for him, as he could never take that final step. His career as a reliever had a rough start with him having a 4.94 ERA in 2017 and a 7.43 ERA in 2018. There definitely were some changes made this season, but the most notable has been the large increase in his fastball usage from 36% to 51% in just one season. He also dropped the changeup and sinker and throws the curveball as his only secondary pitch. His value to the team is a bit under-appreciated because of all the hate the bullpen has received, but Tyler Duffey had quietly helped stabilize it until the trade deadline reinforcements showed up. Among all AL relievers he ranks 19th in K%, 25th in ERA, and 23rd in opponent AVG. He is currently the Twins fourth reliever on the depth chart, so that shows just how deep this bullpen has become. Mitch Garver: .263/.343/.597 (.940), 139 wRC+, 23 HR The third surprising performance comes from catcher Mitch Garver, and his breakout has been equally impressive, if not more so, than the other two on this list. After ending last season with a lot of criticism about his defense not being good enough to be a major league starting catcher, Mitch set out with a mission and came back improved in the defensive aspect of the game by notably dropping his catching ERA from 4.60 to 3.82, along with putting up some elite offensive numbers to go with it. The season began with Castro as the number one catcher and Garver as the backup, but Garver has blown away every single projection or expectation by becoming one of the premiere hitting catchers in baseball. Among MLB catchers, he ranks second in home runs (23), first in OPS (.937), and first in wRC+ (138). With Castro mashing against right-handed pitchers, the Twins have the best catching platoon in all of baseball. Mitch Garver is looking like the catcher of the future for the Twins, and there were some arguments made that he should have been in the All-Star Game this season. If he continues to hit like he currently is, there will be a lot more opportunities for him to lead AL catchers in the All-Star Game. Luis Arraez: .348/.416/.456 (.872), 133 wRC+, 1.50 BB/K I’m sure you’re all well aware of rookie sensation Luis Arraez by now. He could even be in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award. Since being called up in the middle of role May, he has done nothing but get hits in whatever situation he is put in. He is well known around baseball for his outstanding walk against Edwin Diaz after coming into the game down two strikes in the count. He has one of the most professional approaches you will see at the plate. https://twitter.com/parkerhageman/status/1151538159102152712?s=21 Luis Arraez’s impact came at the perfect time for the Twins, as Opening Day second baseman Jonathan Schoop has fallen into a huge slump since June. Arraez has performed better than anyone could have expected and to see him filling the everyday second base in August is still surprising. To put his impact into one number, his Win Probability Added (WPA) is already third among Twins hitters at 1.61 despite him missing a couple of months. So can he win the Rookie of the Year Award? Among all AL rookies, Arraez is first in AVG, first in OBP, fifth in SLG and second in OPS. The Twins pulled a hidden gem out of the minor leagues this season and he was ranked down at 22 in the Twins Daily top 30 prospects to open the season. For a 22-year-old in the middle of a pennant race, his performance has been nearly perfect so far and his approach at the plate looks like he has been here for ten years already. The way he walks up to the box, scans the field, and then pokes a single wherever the defenders aren’t standing is a rare skill that people who say “I’m tired of all these home runs! Where did the sacrifice bunt and hit-and-run play go?” really like to watch. Overall, there have been many players to step up this season like Ehire Adrianza, Devin Smeltzer, Michael Pineda and more but I tried picking the three that had the largest impact while having low expectations coming into the season. Every playoff team has to rely on some unexpected key players in order to win and this year’s Minnesota Twins team has plenty.
  21. Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist! https://open.spotify.com/episode/2zkrkUDa1SktTSHgncuos0?context=spotify%3Ashow%3A6i0VQTvQS0kuDFRW5rjWRH&si=N8y28S-ZQk2Vb_T2VzxwxQ 1:30 Reviewing the 5-1 week 11:00 Michael Pineda/Who is the Twins #1? 15:40 Jose Berrios 21:30 Bullpen still a concern? 29:30 Jorge Polanco/Ehire Adrianza 36:50 Nelson Cruz injury 39:20 Fan Questions 56:15 Martin Perez 61:30 Minor Leagues 72:00 looking ahead Let us know what you think in the comments, and ask questions if you have any.
  22. Hey everyone, we’re back with another podcast fresh off a four-game sweep over Texas! Matt and I talk about Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Cleveland and much more in this episode so give it a listen and let us know what you think!Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist! https://open.spotify...ZQk2Vb_T2VzxwxQ 1:30 Reviewing the 5-1 week 11:00 Michael Pineda/Who is the Twins #1? 15:40 Jose Berrios 21:30 Bullpen still a concern? 29:30 Jorge Polanco/Ehire Adrianza 36:50 Nelson Cruz injury 39:20 Fan Questions 56:15 Martin Perez 61:30 Minor Leagues 72:00 looking ahead Let us know what you think in the comments, and ask questions if you have any. Click here to view the article
  23. It did make some sense to have Adrianza around. Although Polanco’s bat looked like it would play at the MLB level, there were plenty of question marks pertaining to his ability to play short. Many in the industry, and Twins organization, felt Polanco’s long-term home would be at second, where he was then blocked by Dozier. Things were also a bit uncertain with Escobar as he had really struggled with the bat in 2016 and was underwhelming defensively. Adrianza at least gave the Twins a player who could step in and play solid defense, if not offering much with the bat. Up to this season, Adrianza has pretty much been the player fans could expect. He has been dependable, if not overly impressive. Adrianza has shown the ability to play short and play all around the diamond as well. In his time with Minnesota, he has played every position outside of center field and catcher, even pitching an inning this year. While his bat wasn’t great in 2017-18, he did show significant improvement from his number with the Giants. In 552 plate appearances, Adrianza slashed .256/.309/.380 for an OPS of .689, acceptable for a glove-first utility player. Coming into 2019, Adrianza’s role seemed even more up in the air as the Twins signed Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year, $21 million contract. With Gonzalez serving as the main ultility player, Adrianza was in a familiar position as the second utility option. With Minnesota’s stacked lineup, opportunities looked to be sparse, but Adrianza still filled a need as he is more palatable defensively at short than Gonzalez if Polanco were to suffer an injury. The season definitely got off to a slow start for Adrianza. Through May 10 Adrianza was hitting an unsightly .125/.218/.188 (.406 OPS). As the weather warmed so has Adrianza, batting a remarkable .355/.443/.518 (.961 OPS) in 47 games (31 starts) since May 11. This has been the best run of Adrianza’s career and thus far 2019 has been a career year for the utility man. Adrianza’s 2019 looks great against his career numbers, but he has also stacked up well against his peers in 2019. He currently holds a .348 wOBA (.297 career) compared to the MLB average of .320 and a 115 wRC+. For a utility player more regarded for his ability to fill in anywhere on the diamond, it’s pretty impressive that Adrainza has been an above average hitter in 2019. By comparison, Minnesota’s “everyday” utility man, Marwin Gonzalez, has a below average .310 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 90. Gonzales has accumulated a bWAR of 1.5 in 97 games (391 plate appearances) while Adrianza has a 1.2 bWAR in just 67 games (189 plate appearances). Image courtesy of FanGraphs This is not to imply that Adrianza should be getting playing time over Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been extremely valuable, playing the best defense of his career and providing the Twins with a much needed quality outfielder in the absence of Bryon Buxton. Gonzalez also has a better track record than Adrianza, offers more power and has valuable experience as a World Series champion. Gonzalez is heating up and he came up huge with his recent three-run homer in game one of the Milwaukee series (Adrianza also had a clutch pinch-hit RBI double earlier in that game). The main catalyst in Adrianza’s improvement on offense seems to be his improved plate discipline. In 2018, Adrianza walked in just 6.6% of his plate appearances and had a 22.4 % strikeout rate. This season, Adrianza has raised his walk rate to 10% (MLB average – 8.3%) and has lowered his strikeout rate to 15.3% (MLB average – 21.6%). Adrianza is also hitting the ball to all fields (he has pulled the ball less this year) and has reduced the amount of soft contact on batted balls from 21.4% for his career to 11.3 % in 2019. On the year, Adrianza’s playing time has been limited, but he has seen more action in August due to all of the injuries the Twins have experienced. Until Nelson Cruz comes back, Minnesota has the luxury of giving Polanco an occasional break as DH and letting Adrianza fill in at short. However, when Cruz is back, Minnesota may want to consider getting Adrianza in against lefties and sitting Polanco. While Polanco has had a great year, he has really struggled as a right-handed hitter, slashing just .262/.301/.376. Adrianza, on the other hand, has crushed .316/.400/.526 against southpaws (he’s done okay against righties as well - .275/.369/.383). As the season has dragged on Polanco has looked like he could use some rest. Polanco started the year red-hot, slashing .338/.409/.590 through May 31, but has hit just .260/.313/.408 since. He is nearing his career high in plate appearances and is on pace to play the most games of his career. Utilizing Adrianza a bit more could help Polanco perform better down the stretch by being better rested and not having to face left-handed pitching as much. Although Adrianza was formerly known as a defensive specialist, his defensive numbers on the year have not been all that great. His numbers have been the worst at third and short and he rates best at second base and as an outfielder. With that said, we’re dealing with a very small sample size, making the defensive metrics more unreliable and there is certainly value in Adrianza’s ability to play almost everywhere on the diamond. He has made some big plays of late and is also the only realistic option to fill in at short, as both Gonzalez and Luis Arraez are stretched on the left side of the middle infield. On a team that has set the all-time franchise record for home runs and is on pace to break the MLB record, it is easy to overlook a player like Ehire Adrianza. However, Adrianza has been invaluable to Minnesota because of his ability to step in and play virtually any position while providing above average offense and getting on base at a .380 clip. His ability to put up great numbers since mid-May without consistent playing time has been a major boost to the team. Marwin Gonzalez will continue to get more playing time than Adrianza, but with Gonzalez filling in at right and Max Kepler sliding over to center in Byron Buxton’s absence, Adrianza should get plenty of opportunities down the stretch. Next season will be Adrianza’s last year of arbitration should the Twins decide to bring him back, which they certainly seem likely to do at this point. With Gonzalez around for one more season as well, Adrianza will probably continue to play second fiddle, but it would be interesting to see what Adrianza could do with more playing time. Escobar soared to new heights in his age-29 season with regular playing time and has been even better in 2019. While Adrianza is unlikely to ever see quite the power surge that Escobar has, his numbers are also improving with age, and if he keeps it up maybe he too can one day become an everyday player.
  24. Luis Arraez has been a revelation for the Twins offense and at the same time, Ehire Adrianza has been a very strong utility player. Jonathan Schoop was brought in to take over second base from fan favorite Brian Dozier. He’s had some great hot streaks, but it might make more sense to play Arraez and Adrianza at this point. Could Schoop become the odd-man out?The Twins had a lot of questions when it came to replacing Brian Dozier this off-season. Jonathan Schoop seemed to be a nice, short-term solution at second base. Ehire Adrianza has always seemed to fit the role of utility infielder and few could have predicted the impact Luis Arraez would have at the big-league level. Over the last two seasons, Adrianza has hit .254/.319/.384 with 40 extra-base hits in 176 games. He has also shown defensive flexibility by playing all over the infield including over 660 innings at shortstop during that stretch. Schoop is limited to playing second base as he has logged less than 230 innings at other positions throughout his seven years at the MLB level. The rise of Arraez has also cut into Schoop's time on the field. As a 22-year old, Arraez has put together some unbelievably professional at-bats in his 182 plate appearances. Entering play on Tuesday, he is hitting .356/.429/.444 and he might have a strong argument to be named the AL Rookie of the Year. First year manager Rocco Baldelli certainly has faith in Arraez and if the playoffs started today Arraez would be penciled in at second base. Schoop has compiled some strong numbers in a Twins uniform and Baseball Reference has he accounting for 1.2 WAR. May was a good month for him as he posted an .835 OPS with six home runs and five doubles. He hasn’t had more than four home runs in any other month and his OPS dipped to .622 in June and .787 in July. Since the calendar turned to August, he’s gone 1-for-5 with no extra-base hits. He’s also only started one game in that stretch, Saturday’s contest with the Royals. Currently, the Twins have gotten by with having him relegated to a bench role. What happens if the club needs another relief pitcher? This could force the front office to make a choice between Schoop and one of the other infielders. At this point, Schoop might be the odd man out. While Schoop has been worth more than replacement level when it comes to WAR, his win probability added total is one of the worst totals of his career. He entered play on Tuesday with a -1.28 WPA. His only year with a lower total was 2014 with the Orioles when he accounted for a -3.00 WPA. Schoop has the lowest WPA among qualified batters on the Twins roster and he’s over a full win lower than the next closest qualified batter. Schoop could have some big hits for the Twins in the weeks ahead but he shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from Arraez. At season’s end, Schoop will be a free agent and Arraez will enter the year as the team’s starting second baseman. It helps to have Schoop to add depth to the roster, but it’s getting closer to the point where he might be holding the team back from adding other players (especially pitchers). Do you think it’s time to cut Schoop loose? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  25. The Twins had a lot of questions when it came to replacing Brian Dozier this off-season. Jonathan Schoop seemed to be a nice, short-term solution at second base. Ehire Adrianza has always seemed to fit the role of utility infielder and few could have predicted the impact Luis Arraez would have at the big-league level. Over the last two seasons, Adrianza has hit .254/.319/.384 with 40 extra-base hits in 176 games. He has also shown defensive flexibility by playing all over the infield including over 660 innings at shortstop during that stretch. Schoop is limited to playing second base as he has logged less than 230 innings at other positions throughout his seven years at the MLB level. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1158833346786603008?s=20 The rise of Arraez has also cut into Schoop's time on the field. As a 22-year old, Arraez has put together some unbelievably professional at-bats in his 182 plate appearances. Entering play on Tuesday, he is hitting .356/.429/.444 and he might have a strong argument to be named the AL Rookie of the Year. First year manager Rocco Baldelli certainly has faith in Arraez and if the playoffs started today Arraez would be penciled in at second base. Schoop has compiled some strong numbers in a Twins uniform and Baseball Reference has he accounting for 1.2 WAR. May was a good month for him as he posted an .835 OPS with six home runs and five doubles. He hasn’t had more than four home runs in any other month and his OPS dipped to .622 in June and .787 in July. Since the calendar turned to August, he’s gone 1-for-5 with no extra-base hits. He’s also only started one game in that stretch, Saturday’s contest with the Royals. Currently, the Twins have gotten by with having him relegated to a bench role. What happens if the club needs another relief pitcher? This could force the front office to make a choice between Schoop and one of the other infielders. At this point, Schoop might be the odd man out. While Schoop has been worth more than replacement level when it comes to WAR, his win probability added total is one of the worst totals of his career. He entered play on Tuesday with a -1.28 WPA. His only year with a lower total was 2014 with the Orioles when he accounted for a -3.00 WPA. Schoop has the lowest WPA among qualified batters on the Twins roster and he’s over a full win lower than the next closest qualified batter. Schoop could have some big hits for the Twins in the weeks ahead but he shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from Arraez. At season’s end, Schoop will be a free agent and Arraez will enter the year as the team’s starting second baseman. It helps to have Schoop to add depth to the roster, but it’s getting closer to the point where he might be holding the team back from adding other players (especially pitchers). Do you think it’s time to cut Schoop loose? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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