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  1. The Twins visit Seattle in the second game of their series with the Mariners. They lost last night 4-3 as the bullpen yielded three runs in four innings. The Twins continue to hit and allow home runs. They are (were) second in MLB in homers and third in allowing home runs. If you want to see home runs, go to a Twins game. JA Happ takes the hill versus a pretty weak Seattle lineup. Happ has struggled, as almost all of the Twins pitchers have, with allowing homers. The Twins bullpen leads MLB in losses, not a stat to lead the majors. Luis Arraez returns to the Twins starting lineup, hitting leadoff and playing second base. Nick Gordon gets another start in center field and apparently Byron Buxton is not yet ready to go. OK, diehard fans, enjoy another late night watching two below .500 teams square off. Pitchers: PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR J.A. Happ 3-2 5.75 1.37 56.1 60 39 17 10 C. Flexen 5-3 4.68 1.39 59.2 71 36 12 7 Lineups--Twins HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG L. Arraez2B 39-142 14 1 0 .275 J. Donaldson3B 45-186 26 10 0 .242 T. LarnachLF 27-99 9 3 0 .273 N. CruzDH 58-195 31 13 1 .297 J. PolancoSS 56-224 30 9 3 .250 A. KirilloffRF 31-122 19 5 0 .254 M. Sano1B 32-177 32 13 0 .181 N. GordonCF 11-32 2 1 5 .344 B. RortvedtC 6-40 4 1 0 .150 Mariners HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG J.P. CrawfordSS 64-234 23 3 2 .274 J. FraleyCF 14-51 15 4 4 .275 T. France1B 52-210 22 3 0 .248 K. Seager3B 55-255 40 13 2 .216 D. Moore2B 24-132 22 6 9 .182 T. MurphyC 23-127 14 6 0 .181 J. BauersRF 24-119 9 3 0 .202 L. TorrensDH 16-90 6 2 0 .178 S. Long Jr.LF 3-20 0 0 0 .150
  2. The Twins look to even the series tonight in a 6:15 tilt against the Houston Astros. The Twins version of an ace, José Berríos, will face Luis Garcia of the Astros. Garcia has impressive numbers. I don't know anything about him. Yesterday, the Twins hit four homers (all solos) and still lost to Houston 6-4. The Twins lead MLB in homers, yet their offense is only 11th best in scoring runs, while they are third worst allowing runs. Too many solo homers, too few innings where hits were strung together. A couple of comments about the big talker--substances pitchers have been using to "get a grip" and spin the ball effectively. Offense is way down again this year. Just about every box score I check, I see hitters in the lineup who aren't over the Mendoza line. Strikeouts are continuing to surge and an old timer like me sees pitcher after pitcher with velocities over 95 mph and wonders what Juan Berenguer and his 90 mph fastball would do in today's climate. I'd personally like to see the ball in play more and more facets of the game on display. When there are 20 strikeouts in a game, there are fewer chances for great defensive plays. All of the all or nothing at bats also discourages base stealing and advancing on the bases. Maybe something will happen to change the focus of the game. What I still love about baseball is that you never know with even near certainty how a game will play out. The pitchers might enter the game with terrible stats, but for one day, anything can happen. Over the course of a season, teams with better health and talent win out, but on any given day, the lesser team can win. Pitchers: PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR L. Garcia 5-3 2.75 1.00 59.0 40 68 19 8 J. Berrios 6-2 3.58 1.11 70.1 59 73 19 8 Lineups--Astros HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG J. Altuve2B 64-217 30 12 2 .295 M. BrantleyLF 59-180 17 3 0 .328 A. Bregman3B 63-216 33 7 1 .292 Y. AlvarezDH 59-194 33 8 0 .304 Y. Gurriel1B 71-213 46 10 1 .333 K. TuckerRF 60-230 40 11 5 .261 R. GarciaSS 4-26 2 0 0 .154 C. McCormickCF 15-76 19 5 2 .197 M. MaldonadoC 27-159 17 4 0 .17 Twins HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG J. Polanco2B 51-211 27 8 3 .242 J. Donaldson3B 44-176 26 10 0 .250 N. CruzDH 53-184 30 12 1 .288 T. LarnachLF 22-88 8 3 0 .250 M. Sano1B 30-165 31 13 0 .182 A. KirilloffRF 30-115 18 4 0 .261 N. GordonCF 10-27 2 1 3 .370 A. SimmonsSS 41-163 14 2 0 .252 B. RortvedtC 5-36 3 1 0 .139
  3. It's taken 2 seasons for the catcher position to go from the top of the league to the bottom. In 2021, the catcher position has 40 K's in 86 PA, with 6 BB. On pace for 324 K's over 162 games. HR trend (162-game rate)... 2019: 307 2020: 246 2021: 170 (Buxton, Cruz on pace to account for 104 of those) 2021 Record when scoring 3 or fewer runs (13 games, 65% of all games): 3-10 2021 Record when scoring 5 or more runs (6 games, 30% of all games): 3-3
  4. The Twins face Oakland this after noon in the finale of a difficult road trip to the West Coast. The Twins are currently 6-10, having lost eight of their last nine games. They've lost two doubleheaders and three extra-inning games. Sixteen games is roughly one-tenth of a season and the Twins have had spotty pitching, poor hitting and have also made too many defensive mistakes. In other words, they have been a bad ball club. The opponent today, the Oakland Athletics, started slowly, but is now perhaps the hottest club in baseball having won ten straight games. The lineup is swinging well, they have a decent pitching staff and a fine defensive team. Today's starting pitcher matchup features Frankie Montas versus Kenta Maeda. Montas was drilled for seven runs in his first start, but has been outstanding since. The Twins counter with Maeda, who has been okay, but not dominant in his three starts. It would be a good time for Maeda to toss a gem, given the struggles of the team's hitters. Lineups and Comments: Minnesota (6-10) Arraez 2b Donaldson 3b Cruz dh Buxton cf Polanco ss Astudillo 1b Cave lf Rooker rf Jeffers c Pitching: Maeda 1-1 3.07 ERA Oakland (11-7) Canha lf Laureano cf Lowrie 2b Olson 1b Chapman 3b Moreland 1b Murphy c Brown rf Andrus ss Pitching: Montas 2-1 4.91 ERA Riddle is now on the COVID list for unspecified reasons, replaced by Telis (yet another catcher). Sanó is listed by ESPN as day-to-day. I don't know what his injury or illness might be. The fact that the team has a day off tomorrow and returns home for a series might be why the changes that have been made were made IMHO. I expect more roster moves when the team gets home.
  5. What does Bonds, McGwire, or Sosa's home run records mean in a game that is just another version of video game? Set their record up as per cent of HRs hit. Ruth hit 60 and the teams averaged 58, Bonds hit 73 and teams averaged 185. Time to get some real perspective. Bonds would have needed to hit 191. In an era where we seem to forget how great baseball has been and have instead focused on the "three true outcomes" we have also lost the three great values - excitement, speed, and drama. I do not want to watch 3 hour and 7 minute versions of HR derby where only three HRs are hit. No wonder BB is losing out on fan response. Put it next to Basketball and football on TV and there is no comparison. I have always preferred radio for my baseball fix, but if I went back to my childhood with my transistor under my pillow I could no longer stay awake long enough for the extra 45 minutes, nor would I be captivated by the potential to steal, to hit and run, to bunt. Strike outs are just a prolonged whack-a-mole game. In 2019 the best pitcher in baseball - Gerrit Cole struck out 326 hitters and there were 21,415 strike outs in the AL. In 1946, Bob Feller the best pitcher in baseball struck out 348 batters and the AL had 5225. Cole struck out 0.015% while Feller struck out struck out 0.06% of all the batters who had a K in the AL that year. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrk4.shtml Yes, I like the bunt, the stolen base, and the hit and run. I do not mind the shift because in the past the batters would have adjusted. I do like BA/RBI/OBP/Slugging but I hate to see a percentage like Miguel Sano with 90 Ks in 186 AB - .483 average versus his real BA of .204. Miguel is projected for 2021 to bat 227 with 185 Ks. Baseball Reference. Here is the list of top strikeout percentages (lowest) for 1000 batters in MLB history. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrkop1.shtml or https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/at_bats_per_strikeout_career.shtml MLB has now hired Theo Epstein to help make the game more marketable, more appealing. I know - the true BB fan loves the game and does not need change. If we are going to attract the best athletes, the most fans, the most income for the game then we need to address more than the hardline stathead. In honor of my favorite player of all time - Hank Aaron never had a season with 100 strikeouts! He came close with 97 and 96 in 1966 - 67, but never reached 90 in the other 21 years! In 1958 he hit 44 HRs and struck out 58 times! The Minneapolis Tribune had this note - 0 Times Aaron struck out 100 times in a season; in 23 seasons he struck out 1,383 times, an average of 60 per season. Jason Stark adds, "And as long as we’re talking active hitters, you know how many have already had more multi-strikeout games than Hank Aaron had in 23 seasons? How about 51! That group includes the likes of Miguel Sanó (70 more multi-K games in 2,759 fewer games than Aaron) … and Mike Zunino (246 multi-K games despite 647 fewer homers than Aaron). … And coming right up, it’s Joey Gallo (202 multi-K games in the first 473 games of his career)."
  6. The Twins conclude their week in Chicago with a Sunday night game against the Cubs. The Twins have won two of the first six games against the White Sox and Cubs (leaders of the AL Central and NL Central respectively. However, last night's win clinched a playoff spot for the Twins. They appear to be on a collision course with the Yankees, who finally lost today, giving the Twins a chance to be the home team for the first round of the playoffs. Starting pitchers are Yu Darvish for the Cubs and Jose Berríos for the Twins. Darvish has had a fantastic season with a 7-2 record and less than 2 ERA. Darvish's WHIP is under 1.00. Berríos has found his form after struggling through the first half of this shortened season. Both teams have had unexpected struggles on offense. The Cubs and the Twins have both scored about 4.5 runs per game. The Cubs have a team batting average of .227 with a team OPS of .716, the Twins are slightly better. The season has reached 54 games, which would be a third of a full season. Multiplying the counting numbers by three would give projections for a full season. Some notable numbers: Cruz would have 48 homers, the Twins would hit in excess of 250 homers, but score somewhere around 720 runs, and have less than 200 doubles. LINEUPS: Twins (32-22) Kepler rf Donaldson 3b Rosario lf Sanó dh Wade 1b Polanco ss Garver c Cave cf Gonzalez 2b Berríos p (4-4) 4.15 ERA Chicago Cubs (31-21) Happ cf Rizzo 1b Bryant 3b Schwarber lf Contreras dh Heyward rf Baez ss Caratini c Kipnis 2b Darvish p (7-2) 1.86 ERA
  7. When the Twins Bombas broke the MLB record for HRs there was elation - and rightfully so. It is fun to see records fall and even to have some marks like 56 straight game hitting streaks seem to be impossible to break. When I was young (1950s) I got hooked on baseball and my little transistor radio would sneak under my pillow at night so I could follow the Milwaukee Braves. I loved the way baseball connected me with my dad and Grandpa, the way it related to the old town teams my relatives played on and the symmetry of the game. It just seemed to be one of the constants in a buzzing world of change. BUT........... There is the juiced ball which periodically makes an appearance when baseball seems to need a boost or the juiced players like Sosa and McGwire who also came at a time when baseball needed a boost. Of course they cheated, just like the league itself and I would not put them in the HOF except in an exhibit - the Flawed Savoirs of Baseball. So does the Bombas record mean as much as the HR record because of the ball? Or the record of 131 triples by the 1894 Phillies when the ball was bruised, cut, stained, softened? The record of 191 triples by Paul Waner hasn't been challenged since Musial retired with 177 in 1963 and no one remembers that amazing number by Stan as much as his hits 3630 and Home-runs 475. Doubles are still important, but we seldom talk about - Stan Musial was also third all time with 725 doubles! Why is he so often forgotten in talks about the greats? Tris Speaker had 792 and Pete (tarnished) Rose had the second most - 746. Earl Webb is hardly a name that gets much air time, but he has the single season record of 67. The closest for a modern player is (HOF ballet) Todd Helton with 59 in 2000. I loved the symmetry of 60, but I have no relationship to 73. I guess Mark McGwire caught my fancy with 70 because of the number, not the player. 61 had the same blah position as 73, but the year and the story are so compelling - Maris losing his hair versus Bond growing a bigger head. Then there was the fair-haired boy Mantle who everyone rooted for and the brooding boy from the plains that nobody in NY could understand - and he won. I can hardly get started on pitching. My hero was Warren Spahn - despite missing multiple years in the military he still won 20+ games 13 times (don't even start on the wins don't mean anything) and he won 363 games in the era when Maris went for 60 and Mantle did multiple 50 HRs. He also finished his games - what a concept. The pitchers ahead of him played in the deadball era - Johnson, Matthewson, Young, Gavin or the emerging modern era - Alexander. I know we cannot compare Radbourne's 48 and 59 win back to back seasons. They had 2 man rotations back then, but then we had four man rotations when Spahn pitched, then 5 man rotations and now we have bullpen games! So how do the records compare? Spitballs, batters asking for high or low pitches in 1867 - 1887, scuffed balls, cut balls - of course Perry belongs in the hall, he should be in the spitter wing - it was legal until 1920. The pitchers had to throw underhand until 1883 - and, no this was not softball. So how do we measure our 5 inning starters, or the (yuck) openers? Batters cork their bats - sometimes with hilarious results , and for the seasons from 1885 - 1893 batters were allowed to flatten one side of their bats. In 1887 11 players hit 400! Of course that was the only year that walks counted as hits. With the OPS emphasis maybe we should go back to that. Up to 1864 balls caught on one bounce were outs and until 1883 foul balls caught on one bounce were outs. Want a walk-off, you get a single, or double. It depends on how many bases you needed to score the winning run until 1920. No walk-off home runs. Of course you could make up the difference with a ground rule double that counted as a HR until 1930 - MLB was still chasing HR records. Then Babe Ruth showed them he did not need them, he had no ground rules in his 60. So this long winded rant is because I have now lost faith in baseball records. All the changes that I list pale in comparison to the long history of excluding black players. Take out Brock and Gibson and what were the Cardinals in 1967? Remove Aaron from the Braves, Clemente from the Pirates, Mays from the Giants. We have added teams and diluted the talent, we have added 8 games to the season and not accounted for it in the record book. We think we are so statistically smart that we no longer need SBs, but what would the Dodgers have done with Wills on the bases, of the Yankees and A's without the disruption of Rickey? By the way, the unwritten rules are not part of this discussion, because I find them so stupid. There have been greenies, alcohol, and PEDs and the records go on and on. We have added a short season of playoff games and continue to compare the current records with the past for post season statistics. Imagine what Yogi Berra would have had in his ten World Series years if he could have added at least 7 more games to each seasons end. We lament the loss of a large percentage of young fans and I keep thinking that two things moved many of us - the minor leagues (which are now contracting) and baseball cards with what seemed like simple and biblical numbers. It is also the ability to recognize the player - NFL has an issue because they could swap numbers on the players and from the stands no one will know. It is like watching knights joust - without unique armor they were just riding robots. This is the appeal of soccer - same number of players and you can see their faces! Hockey has the same problem as NFL, compounded with the fact that we cannot see that little puck and they change lines so often no one who is not a fanatic really knows who is in the game. The NBA has stolen the face recognition - fewer players, lots of close ups, an emphasis on personalities. This is what the MLB had, but they missed the connection and let it slip. So I will keep watching and thinking about the game because I am too old to switch now so I will quit - I am sure I tweaked many of your ideas so take a shot at educating a 74 year old fan.
  8. The Twins visit Detroit in the second game of a three game season with only five games to play. Their magic number is two. Any combination of two Twins wins or Cleveland losses wins the Central for Minnesota, their first division championship since 2010. Detroit is wrapping up a terrible season, they are 46-110 and they have talent commensurate with their record. They have hit pretty well against the Twins, but lack power. The Tigers will face Twins folk hero Randy Dobnak today. Dobnak has climbed from independent minor league to the major leagues and has pitched very effectively, first as an opener and in his last two starts as a legitimate starter. Dobnak started 2019 in Class A Fort Myers and now stands a legitimate chance of starting a postseason game for the Central champions, if the Twins get there. Health. IMHO, is the key element of the Twins hopes in postseason. If they are to compete against either the Astros or Yankees, they must put forward the best possible 25-man roster and currently about a half dozen players are not as full strength. Today's starting lineup features the return of Mitch Garver and another start for CJ Cron. Marwin Gonzalez and Max Kepler are out, as is Ehire Adrianza. The Twins have a rested bullpen, which will be leaned on heavily, most likely. Regarding the aforementioned magic number, Cleveland plays Chicago again and the White Sox are putting out a less-than-stellar starter. I am not counting on the Sox helping the Twins clinch the division. Minnesota 97-60 Garver c Polanco ss Cruz dh Rosario rf Sanó 3b Arraez lf Cron 1b LaMarre cf Schoop 2b Dobnak p Detroit 46-110 Reyes rf Castro, H. cf Cabrera dh Candelario 1b Stewart lf Lugo 3b Mercer 2b Greiner c Castro, W. ss Norris p
  9. With the Minnesota Twins on the verge of setting the all-time MLB home run record, they have gotten many great individual home run efforts from their players. Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have paved the way with 35 and 33 long-balls while Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano are closing in on 30 homers as well. Jorge Polanco’s next dinger will allow the Twins to set the MLB record with the most players hitting at least 20 home runs at eight. Today, we will take a look at which Twins players have set career highs in home runs in 2019 and who still has a chance to do so. Let’s start with the players who have already set career highs. Max Kepler - 35 Max Kepler has taken a giant step forward this year and greatly contributed to the Twins winning ways. A big part of that has been his power surge. Kepler has already hit 35 home runs this season, surpassing his career high of 20 which he set last season. His uptake of +15 is second only to the next player we will talk about. Mitch Garver - 24 In 2018 Mitch Garver hit seven home runs in 103 games. This year has been a completely different story as Garver has demolished the ball, hitting 24 homers in just 75 games. That’s an improvement of +17 while playing in significantly less games up to this point in the season. Like Kepler, Garver’s greatly increased production has been a big part of the Twin’s success in 2019. Jorge Polanco - 19 Look no further than Jorge Polanco to find another young position player who has taken a huge step forward for Minnesota this year. Polanco’s overall numbers are far and away the best of his MLB career and his 19 home runs on the year surpass his previous high of 13 set in 2017. Next are three more Twins players who are closing in on career highs. Eddie Rosario - 27 Eddie Rosario has actually already tied his career high of 27 which he originally reached in 2017, so he is all but certain to set a new career high. Rosario did the bulk of his heavy lifting early in the season, hitting 17 home runs through May, but he has a good chance of reaching 30 this year as he is back in the lineup after a few days off with a hamstring injury. Rosario has tied his career high while only playing in a total of 109 games so far this season. It took him 151 games to get 27 in 2017. Miguel Sano – 26 Like Rosario, Miguel Sano is nearly a lock to set a new career high in home runs. Sano is just two short of his career high of 28 home runs which he set in 2017. Sano will also probably get it done with less games played as he has played in 82 games so far compared to 114 in 2017. Sano has an even 13/13 split of home runs between the first and second half. Ehire Adrianza – 4 Forget about Rosario and Sano, Ehire Adrianza’s chase for a new career high is clearly what will captivate Twins Territory down the stretch. Joking aside, Adrianza is deserving of appreciation for the great numbers he has put up in limited duty this season. Adrianza set his career high for home runs last year with six, so he will need three more dingers down the stretch to set a personal best. Finally, here are the numbers for the remainder of the Twins position players (Luis Arraez is not included since this is his first season). Nelson Cruz has hit 17 homers in 33 games in the second half so he might have a chance. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Jake Cave have been hot of late, but time is short and their playing time could be somewhat limited. It would take an epic home run binge for any of them to set a career high, but if there was ever a year for an epic binge, it’s 2019. Player - 2019 total / Career high (year) Nelson Cruz - 33 / 44 (2015) C.J. Cron - 22 / 30 (2018) Jonathan Schoop - 21 / 32 (2017) Marwin Gonzalez - 15 / 23 (2017) Jason Castro - 12 / 18 (2013) Byron Buxton - 10 / 16 (2017) Jake Cave - 7 / 13 (2018) Whose power surge has impressed you the most in 2019? Do you think any of the last group has a chance to reach a new career high?
  10. Read this article and was not surprised to see this disclaimer (it is, after all, the Twins, right???) : "Now, obviously, there are environmental factors in play here." What are those OBVIOUS environmental factors?
  11. I could not resist putting up this Home Run Derby between Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. In this contest the two who had tied for the HR championship of the AL faced off. It is preceded by Harmon taking the crown from Mickey Mantle - And followed by a contest Harmon lost to Ken Boyer - a third baseman who belongs in the Ken did not last long - his next challenge was Hank Aaron who took over the program. It is so amazing to see these greats playing for $2000 - chump change today. It is also fun to see Harmon, pre-Twins days in his Senator's uniform. These are great players without the science of today. I love watching them. Nostalgia - enjoy.
  12. Also posted a link in the forums here. https://twitter.com/BombazoMLB/status/1160032536761909248?s=20 https://twitter.com/BombazoMLB/status/1160034261992443905?s=20 https://twitter.com/BombazoMLB/status/1160035921393332224?s=20 https://twitter.com/BombazoMLB/status/1160235495957381120?s=20
  13. What if the all star game was the end of the season? What kind of records would we have? Home Runs – 12 have 33 or more – Harmon Killebrew in 1964 had 30 and the total with 30+ first half homeruns is – 36 and Harmon is the only Twin on the list. TOP 12: • Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants, 39 • Chris Davis, 2013 Orioles, 37 • Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals, 37 • Reggie Jackson, 1969 Athletics, 37 • Luis Gonzalez, 2001 D-backs, 35 • Ken Griffey Jr., 1998, Mariners, 35 • Frank Howard, 1969 Senators, 34 • Sammy Sosa, 1998 Cubs, 33 • Ken Griffey Jr., 1994 Mariners, 33 • Matt Williams, 1994 Giants, 33 • Mark McGwire, 1987 Athletics, 33 • Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees, 33 I know that George Brett (390) was hitting 341 on July 10, Tony Gwynn (394) was hitting 387 on July 4, and Rod Carew (388) hit 403 on July 4. Beyond that I cannot find stats for All-Star break leaders. Maybe you can add something.
  14. With the announcement that Nelson Cruz suffered a wrist injury yesterday, my immediate thought was who would replace him in the lineup and on the roster if he had to go on the injured list. It would appear to me that the answer is the much-discussed Miguel Sanó, who is on his third and last stop in his rehab program. Much has been written about Sanó. I wish to confine this discussion to the ballplayer between the lines. The other stuff has been beaten to death IMHO. What will the Twins get when a healthy Sanó is on the active roster? Sanó came up to the big leagues with much hype in 2015. He was going to be the power hitter the Twins hadn't had since Harmon Killebrew. Another comparison, because of size, was Frank Thomas. Sanó's rookie year was excellent. Despite being called up only at midseason, he was a contender for Rookie-of-the-Year. His traditional state line--.269 BA, 18 homers, 52 RBI was very good. Double the homers and RBIs for a full season, and there is a perennial All-Star, future Hall of Famer. Plus, he was only 22 years of age. A deeper look at his rookie stats was probably even more encouraging, while Miguel struck out over 100 times (in a half season), he also walked more than 50 times, giving him a solid OBP of .385. His OPS was a stellar .916 which yielded an OPS+ of 149. After a minor injury, Miguel only played 11 games in the field, so we couldn't be sure about his defense. For his superior half-season of work, Miguel Sanó was voted the Twins' Player of the Year. 2016 started with Sanó installed as the new right fielder. He was never competent or comfortable there and it seemed to affect his hitting. After a month and a half of futility in right field, Miguel moved back to third to demonstrate a rocket arm, but less-than-soft hands. His metrics at third came in below average, but at least he could hit. Well, the hitting didn't go as well either. Sanó ended up playing in 116 game, having an OPS of .781 with 19 homers and 51 RBI as the Twins flailed and failed and lost over 100 games. Sanó missed over 30 games due to injuries. Again, a deeper look into Sanó's numbers is a mixed bag. In 160 additional plate appearances, Sanó only hit one more homer than 2015, his walk rate plummeted while his strikeout rate stayed basically steady. The batting average ended at .236 and his OBP fell to.319. Sanó was a deserved All-Star in 2017. He came to camp as the third baseman, healthy and came out of the gate on fire. His first-half stats were outstanding--.276, 21 homers, 62 RBI and his defense at third was satisfactory. The strikeout rate remained about the same (35%), but he also walked 44 times, a big improvement over 2016 and the OBP was .368 at the break. Since the 2017 All-Star break, Miguel Sanó hasn't been very good. The combined numbers from the second half of '17 and 2018 are .211 BA, 20 homers, 56 RBI. OBP at .292, slugging .408, with an OPS of .700. The walk rate is below 10% and the strikeout rate is 38%. These are not future Hall-of-Fame numbers. They aren't even starter numbers. In addition, according to metrics (and my eyes) Sanó remains a below-average third baseman, despite a plus-plus arm. To summarize this rather elongated prologue, Sanó's on-field performance has been a roller coaster. He started looking like one of the brightest stars, faded, came back to that level again and faded again. Does this up-and-down have to do with injuries? Certainly. The point here is to suggest that the Twins shouldn't be counting on Sanófor too much. Expectations of another Frank Thomas or Miguel Cabrera should be tempered by now. I think they should expect more than they gotten since the All-Star break of 2017. They should get more than Mark Reynolds-like production. If the strikeouts keep coming and the homers are too infrequent, he can still be optioned. This club looks like at least a contender for postseason. If that is the case, they shouldn't be playing guys based on potential or upside. Miguel Sanó is at a crossroads in his career (in my opinion). He soon will have a chance to step on stage with a good team and help them make postseason, and maybe have success there. He's now 26 and shouldn't be judged on what he might do, he should be judged by how he is actually performing on the field.As a Twins fan and a baseball fan, I hope he can find his earlier success. As someone who has seen a lot of hyped players come and go, I am a bit skeptical.
  15. Here we are on May 9th and the Twins have the best record in Major League Baseball. They have had some low moments, but mostly everything has gone as well as, or better than, expected. Chatter about the Twins has been positive, especially after dominating a bad Baltimore team and then winning a series (and the season series) against the Houston Astros. A 4-2 road trip, including a dominant sweep in Toronto have put the Twins a season-high 11 games over .500. I doubt everything will continue to come up roses for the Twins, it never does. They will suffer injuries and players will slump or disappoint. Even in the best of years, these things happen. However, it appears that in most respects, the team assembled by the relatively new executive team of Falvey and Levine is set up well to handle struggles and snags when they occur. Let's look at what has transpired in the mostly cold and wet months of April and early May. With the exception of Miguel Sanó, the offense has been healthy and rolling. The Twins are in the top tier in the league for run-scoring, home runs, slugging and OPS. They don't walk much (most of the lineup is comprised of aggressive hitters), but they don't strike out much, relative to the rest of the league. The Twins are averaging well over five runs a game, playing many games in poor weather conditions. They appear set to challenge team records in runs scored and home runs this year. The power is well-distributed, with most of the regular lineup already hitting six or more homers. They have endured slumps from regulars and a slow start from Marwin Gonzalez (who has essentially replaced Sanó) without suffering much on the scoreboard. Pitching has been a surprise. The team is in the top half of many key pitching stats, including runs per game, quality starts, shutouts, innings pitched by starters, and opponent's batting average. Three of the five starters have been outstanding, with a fourth (Kyle Gibson) rounding into form in recent starts. The starters good work has taken pressure off of the bullpen. The bullpen hasn't been spotless, but they've gotten the job done. The late-inning quartet of May, Hildenberger, Rogers and Parker has been satisfactory, if not dominating. Defensively, the team is also doing very well. New acquisitions Gonzalez, Schoop and Crom have all played well in the field and the team has mostly been able to keep it's regular outfielders on the field, all of whom are plus defenders. Individual performances of note include José Berríos ascending to ace or near ace status. Jorge Polanco playing good defense and breaking out with the bat, Martín Pérez finding a few mph on his fastball and coming up with a cut fastball to (so far) become an outstanding rotation piece. The catching duo of Mitch Garver and Jason Castro (with a few appearances by Willians Astudillo) has been outstanding with the bat and has been given credit for helping the pitching improve. On the negative side, Marwin Gonzalez hasn't hit much, new rotation member Michael Pineda has struggled mightily in his last four starts and several relievers at the front end of the bullpen have had trouble getting people out. Many more players have stepped it up beyond those mentioned. Basically, the good play to this point has been a team effort. Can this run continue? Well, I think the competition changes with many more games against familiar opponents in the Central Division--three of those teams (KC, Chicago and Detroit) are in one stage or the other of rebuilding--so the schedule figures to be somewhat more favorable. I doubt the Twins can keep hitting so many homers (they are on a pace to hit almost 300!) and I also doubt the pitching will continue to be dominant, but there is no doubt that they are improved. I think the need going forward this year is adding pitching. A starter to perhaps supplant Pineda and a strong bullpen arm would be helpful and when injuries happen, such improvements might be vital. The Twins are now considered favorites to win the Central, but they need to keep doing what they're doing. Credit for this improvement should be given to Falvey and Levine, who also hired rookie manager Rocco Baldelli. They've shown they pay attention to the metrics that are part of the game now and made good decisions in putting together a team for today without breaking the bank or mortgaging the future. There's a long way to go, but the ride this year promises to be fun and it might be magical.
  16. Game 2 of the four-game series features Michael Pineda versus Gerrit Cole. The Twins currently have the second-best record in MLB while the Astros are percentage points ahead in the AL West. Pineda has been inconsistent so far, while Cole has been disappointing. It would figure that many more runs will be scored tonight in cold, wet Target Field. Today marks the end of April and the Twins, in addition to their 17-9 record, have some good stats going for them. They lead in homers per game, OPS, and are in the top quadrant for runs per game. Pitching is middle-of-the-pack. They have out-homered their opponents by a 50-29 count. Even in good years, the Twins haven't outhomered their opponents often. This year's club is constructed differently, for sure.
  17. It's a sad day in Minnesota. After today, the Twins will be done playing the Baltimore Orioles. So far, the Twins are 5-0 vs. the Birds, with a chance to sweep the season series today. They have averaged more than four homers per game against the Baltimore pitching staff. It is tough to win six straight against anyone, but a loss today would be a disappointment. Today's lineups: Baltimore 10-18 J. Villar2B 31-114 10 3 6 .272 S. WilkersonRF 3-16 1 1 1 .188 D. Smith Jr.LF 27-97 19 5 3 .278 R. NunezDH 29-101 18 6 0 .287 R. Ruiz3B 21-84 10 2 0 .250 A. WynnsC ----- -- -- -- -- C. Davis1B 9-62 10 2 0 .145 J. RickardCF 17-80 6 2 1 .213 R. MartinSS 10-62 1 0 1 .161 Pitching: Dylan Bundy 0-3 6.56 ERA Minnesota 15-9 M. KeplerRF 21-80 15 6 0 .263 J. PolancoSS 31-91 10 5 0 .341 N. CruzDH 22-70 15 5 0 .314 E. RosarioLF 25-95 24 11 0 .263 C.J. Cron1B 19-76 14 5 0 .250 M. Gonzalez3B 12-73 5 2 0 .164 M. GarverC 16-40 10 5 0 .400 J. Schoop2B 21-79 11 4 0 .266 B. BuxtonCF 19-71 9 0 6 .268 Pitching: Kyle Gibson 1-0 6.10 ERA
  18. I posted the following comment in the discussion of Lynn’s White Sox game: When I look at the lineup I see such a gap at 4.The guys filling in the 3 - 4 - 5 spots are doing great, but with Morrison still trying to find the Mendoza line we really need Sano to give us a big bat.Of course we need a Sano who learns to strikeout a lot less.When I look at the Yankees big boppers you can see how it really changes the game, but they also have a better approach. Sano with 506 Ks in 1220 ABs wastes so many opportunities. Judge has 294 ks in 748 ABs. If Ks were hits Sano would have a 414 average and Judge 393. But Judge has an OPS of 989 career and Sano 837.Miquel has the potential, but so far he is most effective at getting on the DL rather than the bases. This seems to be the new baseball – at least for now – Relief pitchers, Ks, and HRs. It is not the baseball I enjoy. Then I went to ESPN and found an essay by Buster Olney that I found a perfect compliment to what I am trying to convey: “Fact: A starting pitcher facing a lineup for a third time or fourth time will experience a decline in performance, generally. As a result, starters are getting pulled from games earlier than ever. Fact: Relief pitchers are throwing at a higher velocity than ever, diminishing hitters' chances to put the ball in play. Fact: As it has become more difficult to generate hits against higher velocity and defensive shifts, hitters are taking more aggressive swings, at higher launch angles, in an effort to lift the ball. This approach is generating more homers and, apparently, rocket-fueling the pace of strikeouts. Some executives who have followed the numbers and helped design the dramatic changes to the sport are OK with the big swings, big flies and big whiffs. “I’ve got no problem with it,” one club official said the other day. “We’re just trying to adapt and win ballgames.” But a lot of executives abhor the Frankenstein monster that the numbers and science have helped create, with the dueling parades of relief pitchers and increasingly overpowered hitters. “I hate it,” one high-ranking evaluator said. “It’s just not that fun to watch.” http://www.espn.com/blog/buster-olney/insider/post/_/id/18486/olney-have-big-swings-big-flies-and-big-whiffs-broken-baseball I chose Judge and Sano to compare because they represent the new approach, but one has been much better at it than the other. Sano has both the K and the DL as issues – the most games he has appeared in during his Twins career is 71% of the season. He has collected 5.5 WAR in 4 seasons, Judge has 9.3 in three seasons. My problem is, that I think Sano has as much potential as Judge. How do we get him to realize it? In an era where the big K and big HR totals are everywhere the player that succeeds is the one with fewer Ks and more HRs or else establishes his ability in other stats. Sano has 76 HRs in 330 games, Judge has 64 in 215 games. Judge beats Sano in OPS, but more important as a Twin fan – Sano set his OPS bar in year one and has come no where close to it since. Baseball is worried about length of game, but it should be worried about the action that keeps fans attention from inning to inning. Waiting for a K or HR is boring - Last year “117 batters hitting 20 or more homers -- far more than in 2001, in the height of the steroid era, when 88 hitters clubbed 20 or more homers, and far more than in 2011, when 68 hitters got to the 20-homer mark.” At the same time starting pitchers are pitching less – an Ace is still only a 5 or 6 inning arm. Do we really enjoy a parade of relief pitchers? I would love to see the manager limited to three per game. I am also out of touch with many in that I love the 300+ hitter more than the 20 HR hitters. And I liked the SB and all the moves that involved both bat control and speed. I would like Sano back, but I would also like an improved approach.
  19. With all the technological advancements made in baseball, its easy to get lost in the mess. There's new stats that make zero sense to some people, but the issue is just understanding what they tell us. Batting average and ERA are easy to grasp. What percentage of this batter's at-bats have resulted in hits? How many earned-runs does this pitcher give up on average in 9 innings? These are how we read stats, because they answer our questions. So what question does launch angle and exit velocity answer? "It just shows how hard a player hits the ball.", is an answer that makes me cringe because its so far from the truth. Yes, it is used to see who's hitting the ball the hardest, but that's not a question we need answered. The question shouldn't be "how hard can he hit it?", rather we should be asking "how well does he hit it?" and "how often does he hit it well?". What makes for a well hit ball? The magic numbers lie between 10 to 30 degrees. Batted balls that are hit at these angles off the bat have the greatest chance to fall for a hit (or better yet home runs). Why does this matter? Because if a player is able to hit a ball consistently this way, he will have more hits (higher batting average for those who will never be convinced that Statcast is a good thing). Even if a guy can't hit the ball 100+ mph, he can have success with a good launch angle. There is an opposite end of the Statcast love-hate spectrum. Those that gush over exit velocity and nothing else. This group of people are just as bad, if not worse, than Statcast haters. This is the over excitable group that is driving the non-believers away. Don't get me wrong, I love it when guys hit 110+ mph moonshots. But if a guy hits a ball 100 mph and grounds out to third, its just a ground out. Launch angle should be the most important thing we look at when it comes to analyzing hitters. Is it okay for players to have low launch angles? Absolutely! Dee Gordon is wasting his time if he's trying to lift the ball over the fence because he's built and has the ability to slap the ball up the middle and leg out singles. For players like Mookie Betts or Chris Taylor, launch angle is extremely important because they lack size and and blazing speed. Betts (5'9" 180lbs) and Taylor (6'1" 190lbs) look the exact opposite of power hitters, but they are still able to hit 20+ homers a year. Chris Taylor is a perfect example of a player that revived his career by improving his average launch angle. Below are his average launch angle, average exit velocity, % of batted balls hit between 15 and 30 degrees, along with his corresponding stats. 2015 and 2016 Avg. Launch Angle............................11.0 deg. Avg. Exit Velocity...............................86.6 mph Stats: .187/.236/.277 2017 and 2018 Launch Angle....................................12.0 deg. Exit Velocity.......................................87.1 mph Stats: .281/.344/.488 It took just a 1 degree increase in average launch angle and 0.5 mph increase in average exit velocity to go from a -1.0 WAR player to a 4.9 WAR player. Chris Taylor is not the only example either. Here is another example, this time looking at Anthony Rendon. This was a player who was already a solid hitter who was able to progresses even more. 2015 and 2016 Avg. Launch Angle............................14.5 deg. Avg. Exit Velocity...............................90.5 mph Stats: .268/.346/.419 WAR: 4.4 2017 and 2018 Launch Angle....................................18.2 deg. Exit Velocity.......................................89.6 mph Stats: .300/.399/.521 WAR: 6.0 Rendon's improvements also show us that a slight decrease in average exit velocity does not cause is drop in offensive production. Rendon also increased his average launch angle by 3.7 degrees and had a huge jump in offensive value, making him one of the most underrated third basemen in the MLB. In closing, if I was not able to change anyone's mind about the use of Statcast data, I hope I was able to prove that this information has a place in the game. Radar guns were once seen as overrated too when collecting data on pitchers.
  20. The first 81 games for the Minnesota Twins were dreadful. A mere 27 wins, the worst record in baseball, is the result of bad pitching, hitting and just really, really bad baseball. Usually the mid-way point of a season gives us, the fans, a time to reflect and think of the positive things. Things we believe the team can build on moving forward. Nope! Not this year! The straw that broke this camel's back, for me, was when the Twins designated Kevin Jepsen for assignment. If you are having a tough time remember who this guy is, let me remind you. The Twins, in need of some bullpen help last season, traded away two minor league players to the Tampa Bay Rays in order to get Jepsen. He had a stellar two months with the organization. He appeared in 29 games giving up just one home run, striking out 25 while walking just seven and giving up just five earned runs over 28 innings. Now, he's no longer on the team. And that's not even the worst part of the Jepsen story. It's a mess, for sure, and one that I would like to reflect on by handing out some awards. Not your high school make-everyone-feel-good-participation awards. No, these awards are a bit different. Biggest Disappointment Oh man. You want to talk about tough. So many people to consider for this award, Jepsen and Joe Mauer included. In the end, however, I have to give it to Eddie Rosario. I believed that he was going to improve after a solid first-season in 2015. Sure, he is a free swinger that thinks taking a pitch is some sort of illness. Sure, he was pegged for regression knowing that he has no idea what a strike-zone is. Still, I believed. That is why his .200 batting average through the first 32 games of the season, along with 31 strike-outs and just three walks, were so sad. Not disappointing. No. Sad. After a stint in the minors, where he hit .319 over 41 games with 21 extra-base hits, he's back in the majors. Rosario will have his work cut out for him with Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler both playing well. If the strike-outs continue, he may find himself the way of Oswaldo Arcia. I guess this will teach me to pin my hopes on a dude who is a free-swinger. Most Similar to Tsuyoshi Nishioka Is this fair? I mean, we all know who this award goes to. Byung Ho-Park, now in the minors, hit .191 through 62 games. His 80 strike-outs is a team high and his .409 slugging percentage is worse than Kurt Suzuki's. The "big move" in the off-season for the Twins, Park started off well enough. He had a .578 slugging percentage through the first 32 games along with nine home runs. Then, he fell off a friggin' cliff. Over the last 30 games, Park has hit .123 with 42 strike-outs and just three home-runs. He's now in the minors trying to figure it out but that's not where you want a guy you spent $12.85 million on just to negotiate a contract. He is suppose to have "figured it out" already. I said when the signing went down that we could have another Nishioka on our hands. A terribly easy correlation, I know, but still one that is beginning to come to fruition. Worst Pitcher Again, so many options. Phil Hughes? Trevor May? Kyle Gibson? All viable candidates. For me, though, I like Kevin Jepsen for this role. Those other three have been dealing with injuries this season. Hughes' injury is so significant he has been shut down for the rest of the year. Jepsen, though, hasn't had to deal with any of these things. I already covered the statistical side of things in the opening of this post. I think that would do more than enough to make you understand why he has been this season's worst pitcher. Then there is this: One of the players the Twins gave up in the Jepsen trade, Chih-Wei Hu, is headed to this season's Futures Game on July 10. Which leads me to my next and final award... Who Is To Blame Terry Ryan. What kind of bullpen help did he bring in? Frenando Abad. Granted, he's been the lone bright spot for the Twins this season. Past that... What kind of rotation help did he think about bringing in? Re-signing Tommy Milone and hoping a guy like Ricky Nolasco could turn it around. He figured Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana would be better. He also figured guys like Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios would push the veterans like Milone and Nalsco. Yet.... You also have the issue of Trevor May. Is he a starter? Isn't he a starter? They couldn't quite figure it out. I can't imagine what that does to the psyche of a pitcher. A guy that either has to mentally prepare every day or every fifth day. He can't get into a grove for either job. The Jepsen trade, which at the time was questionable, now just looks laughable. The Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy trade? Would have been the worst in his tenure as Twins' General Manager if not for the fact Hicks has been awful for the Yankees this season. There is the lack of looking to trade Trevor Plouffe and insisting that Miguel Sano will be just fine out in right field. Now, Plouffe's trade value is much lower than and Sano has never seemed comfortable in right field. The organization lacks pitching prospect depth and a catcher of the future. Last season's success seems more like a fluke than something the Twins could have built on. If you want to blame the coaching staff you certainly can. I won't argue with that point. I believe the problems rest more on Ryan's shoulders than anybody else. I don't think he returns for 2017. He may be the beginning of a long list of changes the organization should go through this off-season. Or sooner.
  21. I know a lot of players had great months of June, but Dozier should be considered, Besides the extra base hit streak, he hit .364 with an OPS of 1.140. Dozier totaled 18 XBH (most in the AL) with seven homers and 19 RBI. Dozier went from .215 BA with an OPS of .632 on June 1 to .264 with an OPS of .824 through today. Other good months for the Twins included Suzuki (.377 1.011 OPS), Escobar (.302 .850 OPS), and Nuñez (.282 .768 OPS).
  22. "You never know what you're gonna get" (from Forrest Gump), this little witticism also applies to baseball players. Every front office projects what their prospects will become, but it is never a sure bet. Consider two current Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier came to the Twins as a shortstop, thought to be fundamentally sound in the field, but without great tools. As a hitter, he had never hit below .274 and never exceeded nine homers in a season, with his top year yielding at .320 average in a year split between advanced A ball and AA. Typical middle infielder profile. Sometime in 2013, the scouting report changed--Dozier has become a second baseman and a guy with a low batting average, but with the most extra base sock for his position in major league baseball. It could be argued that from the start of 2014 (or perhaps midseason of 2013) until the All-Star break in 2015 that Dozier put together elite numbers based on his power numbers. Overall, despite the low batting average and middling overall OBP, Dozier has established himself as a hitter based on his extra-base hits. Since 2013 he has compiled 105 doubles and 69 homers from second base. Now, lets look at Oswaldo Arcia: Coming through the system, the most used comp for Arcia was Bobby Abreu, a fine hitter with some power. Arcia hit his way throught the minors, always as a young player for the league. He topped out at 17 homers in 2012, splitting his season between A+ and AA and hitting a combined .320. As a Twin, Arcia has become a true home run threat, hitting 34 homers (including some prodigious long balls) in under 800 plate appearances in 2013 and 2014. However, the batting average and more importantly strike zone discipline have diminished dramatically. Both players have increased their power numbers at the highest level, but lost something in the transition. Dozier hasn't cracked .250 for batting average and this season set the club strikeout record. Arcia's K percentage is much higher than Dozier's and he seldom takes a free pass, in fact this year for the Twins Arcia didn't get a non-intentional walk (65 PAs). I think the Twins would be happy if both Dozier and Arcia became more complete hitters, even if it costs a few home runs. In Arcia's case, I think his time in Minnesota will end if he doesn't modify his approach (and results), while with Dozier, becoming someone who uses the whole field more often would be an adjustment to the adjustments that major league pitchers have used on him.
  23. Max Kepler has struggled in September. He did get a game-winning 2 RBI single to win the first playoff game of the first round, but he hasn't been putting up multiple hit games and he has struck out quite a bit. So...... Kepler homered in the first to put his team up 1-0. Then in the fifth inning he hit a grand slam. Two homers, five RBI.
  24. I don't pay much attention to All-Star voting. I know that no Twins will be voted in, and I agree with that decision. Further, I know that Brian Dozier isn't in the Top 5 in voting at his position. However, with each passing day I am more and more convinced that Dozier both could be and should be in Cincinnati for the All-Star game next month. Last year I had hopes until the last day that Dozier would be named as a late sub for a middle infield injury because he was already participating in the Home Run Derby and the game was in Minneapolis. This year, I have hope he will be named to the squad and think that he deserves the honor. Dozier supplies power and extra-base sock from the second base position. He is a fine base runner and a good defender. Let's look at the numbers, shall we? Fueled by a high number of walks, Dozier's OBP is tied for third, trailing the guy who should start (Kipnis) and Dustin Pedroia. He is the leader in slugging and second in OPS (behind Kipnis). Dozier also leads all AL second basemen is home runs, runs, and RBI. Brian is also second in WAR, again behind Kipnis. Now for the downside. There is big competition at second base. Defending batting champ Jose Altuve is a fine player, as are Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. Robbie Cano also has been a perennial All-Star, but this year has struggled mightily. Altuve leads in the voting and Kipnis is a near guarantee to be in Cincinnati. Dozier would have to prevail over All-Stars Pedroia and Kinsler to make it as the third second baseman. The best thing that could happen would be for Kipnis to overtake Altuve, but it doesn't look like that will happen. The best way for Dozier to make the All-Star team is for him to keep producing. With less than a month to go before selections are made, he certainly has stepped up his game and I hope he gets the deserved honor.
  25. With his second homer last night, Joe Mauer moved into a tie with several others for most homers as a left handed hitter. No left handed or switch hitter has hit more than two homers from the left handed batter's box. There is obviously a need for more power from LH hitters. Can it be Arcia or Vargas? Someone on the roster or should they go outside the organization?
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