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  1. For Twins fans who buy into analytics, as the front office does, Jose Abreu presents a paradox. He's an aging slugger with no defensive value – major red flags for a free agency pursuit. At the same time, there's plenty of (statistical!) evidence to suggest Abreu can provide exactly what Minnesota was missing in 2022. Image courtesy of Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports When you think back to this past year's team, and where it came up short, what comes to mind first? Some might point to late-inning bullpen lapses. Others will call out starters who couldn't stay healthy or pitch deep into games. These are valid answers, but for me, it's an offense that woefully underproduced because of a perpetual inability to cash in on scoring opportunities and keep key fixtures in the lineup. Despite generally a fielding a good group of hitters – at least up until the position corps became completely depleted late in the year – the Twins were shut out with stunning frequency, and they often gave their pitching staff no margin for error, which bit them time and time again. Enter: Jose Abreu. He's spent the past nine years terrorizing the Twins and other teams around the league from the heart of Chicago's lineup. Now he's a free agent, likely to be available on a shorter-term, high-AAV deal. When you look at the qualities that were amiss from Minnesota's lineup in 2022, you basically find them all present in Abreu's profile. The 35-year-old has been ridiculously durable, playing in 528 of a possible 546 games (97%) since 2019, with 145+ games played in all but one full season since he debuted in 2014. He obliterates left-handed pitching, with a career .925 OPS against southpaws. And above all, the man produces runs like an absolute machine. Last year he slashed .268/.366/.471 with RISP and in his career he's at .311/.389/.554. This, along with his reliable everyday presence in the lineup, helped him generate some of the gaudiest RBI totals in baseball over the course of his career. Since 2014 he ranks second among all MLB players with 863. Abreu has driven in 100-plus runs six times and led the league twice, including his MVP season in the truncated 2020. Of course, RBI is not a metric that's going to get a lot of resonance from the analytically inclined crowd. Including me! It tends to be a very overrated stat, reflecting opportunity and circumstance much more than individual excellence. In Abreu's case though, it does help tell the real story. He has been one of the most dependable, consistent run producers in all of baseball for nearly a decade. He is the prototype for an effective cleanup hitter. There's a reason the guy has received MVP votes in seven of his nine seasons. The analytical case against Abreu doesn't end with RBIs inflating his value. There's also the matter of his one-sided impact. As a defensively limited first baseman, Abreu doesn't add much in the field, helping explain why metrics like WAR view him in a relatively negative light despite his durability and production. Consider this: according to fWAR, Abreu has been a less valuable player on whole than Byron Buxton (12.3 to 11.1) since 2019, despite playing in literally almost twice as many games (528 to 279) and winning an MVP during that span. There's validity to this arithmetic. Baseball is a two-way sport, and you certainly can't build a whole team of Abreus. But there's evidence you kinda need at least ONE of those guys. One might look at Abreu's numbers at surface level and perceive a hitter in decline. In 2022 he hit a career-low 15 home runs, his total of 75 RBIs was his second-lowest for a full season, and his .824 OPS was down 36 points from his career mark. However, these figures need to be colored by the context of a depressed offensive environment and an underperforming lineup around him. Abreu's 133 OPS+ was his highest in a full season since 2017. His 40 doubles ranked sixth in the AL. A quick glance at his Statcast sliders does not give the impression of a guy who is wearing down in his mid-30s, with elite measures for exit velo and hard-hit rate. In the past season, Abreu produced an fWAR of 3.9. It was the second-highest since his rookie campaign back in 2014. Not exactly the most reassuring for a player who figures to command somewhere in the $20 million range annually. But consider this: Abreu's fWAR in 2022 was higher than Justin Morneau's (3.8) when he won the AL MVP in 2006. It was higher than Jim Thome's (3.1) in 108 games when he helped lead the Twins to a division title. It was in the same range as Nelson Cruz's (4.3) when he powered the Bomba Squad to 101 wins. These were the three best Twins teams of the past two decades, and all were supported in essential ways by cornerstone sluggers whose contributions are somewhat downplayed by advanced metrics. You can argue Morneau didn't deserve the MVP award in '06. You can argue Cruz's one-sided contribution prevented him from being the team's MVP in '19 (we named Max Kepler for that reason). But can anyone, from the oldest-school to newest-age mentality, plausibly claim these players were not integral to their team's resounding success? At its core, analytics is about analyzing what has happened to form insights for the future. We've watched Cruz – who had the same value-oriented quibbles back in 2019, as an aging slugger with no defensive value – become the most impactful free agent signing in franchise history. Incidentally, Cruz ranks right behind Abreu at third among MLB hitters in RBIs since 2014. No, runs batted in are not predictive indicators of value. But they are indicators of something: the demonstrated ability to stay on the field and consistently generate offense. Minnesota has been lacking for these traits since Cruz left – in 2022, they had only three players reach 500 plate appearances, and no one drove in even 70 runs. (Jose Miranda's 66 RBIs were the lowest total to lead a Twins team in a full season since John Castino's 64 in 1980.) Abreu is the elixir this lineup needs to reach the next level, and the Twins are well equipped to handle his defensive limitations, since they have no full-time DH and all of their current options at first base – Miranda, Alex Kirilloff, Luis Arraez – are capable of playing elsewhere. The fit here is very obvious once you zoom out past a myopic lens of what constitutes value. Abreu is in the same mold as the most celebrated and difference-making free agent signings in Twins history, and he's precisely what their lineup was missing in 2022. You can read more about Abreu, plus many more options available at positions of need for the Twins, by download the complete Offseason Handbook, now available to Caretakers! View full article
  2. When you think back to this past year's team, and where it came up short, what comes to mind first? Some might point to late-inning bullpen lapses. Others will call out starters who couldn't stay healthy or pitch deep into games. These are valid answers, but for me, it's an offense that woefully underproduced because of a perpetual inability to cash in on scoring opportunities and keep key fixtures in the lineup. Despite generally a fielding a good group of hitters – at least up until the position corps became completely depleted late in the year – the Twins were shut out with stunning frequency, and they often gave their pitching staff no margin for error, which bit them time and time again. Enter: Jose Abreu. He's spent the past nine years terrorizing the Twins and other teams around the league from the heart of Chicago's lineup. Now he's a free agent, likely to be available on a shorter-term, high-AAV deal. When you look at the qualities that were amiss from Minnesota's lineup in 2022, you basically find them all present in Abreu's profile. The 35-year-old has been ridiculously durable, playing in 528 of a possible 546 games (97%) since 2019, with 145+ games played in all but one full season since he debuted in 2014. He obliterates left-handed pitching, with a career .925 OPS against southpaws. And above all, the man produces runs like an absolute machine. Last year he slashed .268/.366/.471 with RISP and in his career he's at .311/.389/.554. This, along with his reliable everyday presence in the lineup, helped him generate some of the gaudiest RBI totals in baseball over the course of his career. Since 2014 he ranks second among all MLB players with 863. Abreu has driven in 100-plus runs six times and led the league twice, including his MVP season in the truncated 2020. Of course, RBI is not a metric that's going to get a lot of resonance from the analytically inclined crowd. Including me! It tends to be a very overrated stat, reflecting opportunity and circumstance much more than individual excellence. In Abreu's case though, it does help tell the real story. He has been one of the most dependable, consistent run producers in all of baseball for nearly a decade. He is the prototype for an effective cleanup hitter. There's a reason the guy has received MVP votes in seven of his nine seasons. The analytical case against Abreu doesn't end with RBIs inflating his value. There's also the matter of his one-sided impact. As a defensively limited first baseman, Abreu doesn't add much in the field, helping explain why metrics like WAR view him in a relatively negative light despite his durability and production. Consider this: according to fWAR, Abreu has been a less valuable player on whole than Byron Buxton (12.3 to 11.1) since 2019, despite playing in literally almost twice as many games (528 to 279) and winning an MVP during that span. There's validity to this arithmetic. Baseball is a two-way sport, and you certainly can't build a whole team of Abreus. But there's evidence you kinda need at least ONE of those guys. One might look at Abreu's numbers at surface level and perceive a hitter in decline. In 2022 he hit a career-low 15 home runs, his total of 75 RBIs was his second-lowest for a full season, and his .824 OPS was down 36 points from his career mark. However, these figures need to be colored by the context of a depressed offensive environment and an underperforming lineup around him. Abreu's 133 OPS+ was his highest in a full season since 2017. His 40 doubles ranked sixth in the AL. A quick glance at his Statcast sliders does not give the impression of a guy who is wearing down in his mid-30s, with elite measures for exit velo and hard-hit rate. In the past season, Abreu produced an fWAR of 3.9. It was the second-highest since his rookie campaign back in 2014. Not exactly the most reassuring for a player who figures to command somewhere in the $20 million range annually. But consider this: Abreu's fWAR in 2022 was higher than Justin Morneau's (3.8) when he won the AL MVP in 2006. It was higher than Jim Thome's (3.1) in 108 games when he helped lead the Twins to a division title. It was in the same range as Nelson Cruz's (4.3) when he powered the Bomba Squad to 101 wins. These were the three best Twins teams of the past two decades, and all were supported in essential ways by cornerstone sluggers whose contributions are somewhat downplayed by advanced metrics. You can argue Morneau didn't deserve the MVP award in '06. You can argue Cruz's one-sided contribution prevented him from being the team's MVP in '19 (we named Max Kepler for that reason). But can anyone, from the oldest-school to newest-age mentality, plausibly claim these players were not integral to their team's resounding success? At its core, analytics is about analyzing what has happened to form insights for the future. We've watched Cruz – who had the same value-oriented quibbles back in 2019, as an aging slugger with no defensive value – become the most impactful free agent signing in franchise history. Incidentally, Cruz ranks right behind Abreu at third among MLB hitters in RBIs since 2014. No, runs batted in are not predictive indicators of value. But they are indicators of something: the demonstrated ability to stay on the field and consistently generate offense. Minnesota has been lacking for these traits since Cruz left – in 2022, they had only three players reach 500 plate appearances, and no one drove in even 70 runs. (Jose Miranda's 66 RBIs were the lowest total to lead a Twins team in a full season since John Castino's 64 in 1980.) Abreu is the elixir this lineup needs to reach the next level, and the Twins are well equipped to handle his defensive limitations, since they have no full-time DH and all of their current options at first base – Miranda, Alex Kirilloff, Luis Arraez – are capable of playing elsewhere. The fit here is very obvious once you zoom out past a myopic lens of what constitutes value. Abreu is in the same mold as the most celebrated and difference-making free agent signings in Twins history, and he's precisely what their lineup was missing in 2022. You can read more about Abreu, plus many more options available at positions of need for the Twins, by download the complete Offseason Handbook, now available to Caretakers!
  3. 1. How much can A.J. Hinch help the Tigers? Ron Gardenhire is no longer at the helm in the Motor City with former Astros manager A.J. Hinch taking over a young roster. Hinch was suspended for all of 2020 as part of the fallout related to the Astros cheating scandal. The Tigers are ready to give him a second chance, especially with an organization close to making the turn back to being relevant. Detroit’s farm system that includes some of the game’s top prospects and Hinch will be there to pull all the strings. Hinch will bring a new focus to the Tigers and he might help to change the organization’s direction. He was at the helm of the Astros as they became a juggernaut in the American League. In five seasons, he never had a losing record and the club won over 100 games in three different seasons. Hinch’s data driven approach might help turn around a Tigers team that has averaged over 100 losses in each of the last three full seasons. 2. Will the White Sox suffer a sophomore slump? Chicago got a lot of national love this winter with some of their offseason moves and a young core that fought the Twins for the AL Central last year. However, young rosters are tough to predict because there can be volatility with players as they adjust to playing at baseball’s highest level. Baseball Prospectus uses PECOTA to predict every team’s final record and they have the White Sox finishing eight wins behind Minnesota and two games behind Cleveland. Luis Robert was sensational in the outfield, but there were some slumps at the plate. How will he adjust to a full season of work? Yoan Moncada is a former top prospect and he is still trying to put it all together at the big-league level. More veteran players like Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal should help to stabilize the offense. Lance Lynn joins Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel at the top of the Sox rotation. Even if they slump, it’s looking like the White Sox will challenge the Twins for the Central’s top spot. 3. How far will Cleveland fall? It’s amazing to consider the pitchers that Cleveland has dealt away over the last two seasons. Gone are names like Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevenger, and Carlos Carrasco. It helps to have the reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber and other young arms set to take on more important roles on the pitching staff. PECOTA has Cleveland finishing second in the AL Central, so maybe the team won’t fall too far. Cleveland also dealt away one of baseball’s superstars, Francisco Lindor, to the Mets. As a team that already had offensive issues, trading away a player of Lindor’s caliber certainly will have long-term ramifications. Jose Ramirez will be asked to carry more of the offensive load and new additions like Eddie Rosario and Ahmed Rosario will be looked to fill some of Lindor’s void. 4. How good can Kansas City really be? Kansas City had a sneaky good off-season by adding players like Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana, Michael Taylor, and Mike Minor. Players like Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield each bring their own unique skillset that can help bolster Kansas City’s line-up. Even with these players, PECOTA pegs the Royals for a 71-90 finish, which is closer to the Tigers than to the White Sox. Also, they have less than a 1.0% chance of winning the division. One of Kansas City’s strengths might be their bullpen with players like Greg Holland, Jesse Hahn, Kyle Zimmer, Scott Barlow, and Josh Staumont. Former Twin Ervin Santana has a shot to get some innings in their rotation, but he certainly isn’t a different maker at this point in his career. Their farm system has some top tier talent, but they are still rebuilding after dealing away prospects to make back-to-back World Series runs. 5. Who will win the AL Central? Minnesota is the back-to-back AL Central champions, but other teams are trying to impede on their run for a three-peat. Kansas City and Detroit don’t seem to have the firepower necessary to sustain winning over a full season. This leaves Minnesota, Chicago, and Cleveland vying for the top spot. Some betting lines have the White Sox as favorites, while others have Minnesota and Chicago in a near dead heat. The division still belongs to the Twins especially if the White Sox suffer any kind of slump in 2021. Cleveland’s pitching might be strong enough to keep them in the conversation, but one or two key injuries and they won’t have the depth to stay in the race. How would you answer these questions? Leave a COMMENT and join 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
  4. Cleveland Indians What went right? The Indians seemed to be set up well to find a way to win. Shane Bieber was the American League’s best pitcher for the entire season and the rest of the rotation was strong with Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco, and Triston McKenzie making strong contributions. After struggling through parts of 2019, Jose Ramirez posted a .993 OPS while leading the AL in runs. Cesar Hernandez, an eight-year vet, made an impact by leading the AL with 20 doubles. The club won 9 of its final 11 games to pass the White Sox and finish in second place in the division. What went wrong? Cleveland was one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs, but the Yankees were just that much hotter as the Bronx Bombers got healthy at just the right time. New York pounced on Beiber for seven runs in Game 1 as Gerrit Cole cruised through seven innings with 13 strikeouts. Cleveland jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in Game 2, but New York scored nine runs in the last six innings to seal the deal. When Cleveland needed it the most, their pitching didn’t hold up and their season came to an end. What’s next? Francisco Lindor has one arbitration year remaining before he can hit the open market. He’s one of the top players in baseball and he plays a premier defensive position. He turns 27-years old so he could just be entering his prime year and it seems likely for the Indians to try and move him before the start of next season. Chicago White Sox What went right? It seemed like almost everything was going well for the White Sox as the season entered its final weeks. Jose Abreu played like an MVP candidate, Tim Anderson continued to be a masterful hitter, and Luis Robert broke onto the scene as one of the most exciting young players in the game. With eight games remaining, the team held a comfortable three game lead as they looked to lock up their first AL Central title since 2008. Things seemingly couldn’t have gone much better in what was certainly a strange 2020 campaign. What went wrong? After losing seven of their final eight contests, Chicago went from the AL Central frontrunner to the AL’s seventh seed and a first-round match-up against Oakland. The A’s couldn’t solve Lucas Giolito in game 1 and it looked like the White Sox could be the only Central team to make it out of the Wild Card round. In Game 2, Oakland got out to an early 4-0 lead and two unearned runs turned out to be the difference in the game. Both teams went with a bullpen game in Game 3 with no pitchers throwing more than two innings. Chicago outhit Oakland in every game, but the A’s walked away winners. What’s next? Chicago’s young core showed plenty of promising signs and they certainly look like they will be a threat in the AL Central for years to come. With few holes in the line-up, the White Sox could be looking to add to their pitching staff this off-season. Last off-season, the front office gave out some large contracts to fill areas of need and that could be the case again this year. They fired their manager Rick Renteria too, so that's another hole to fill. Minnesota Twins What went right? For the second straight year, the Twins ended up as AL Central Champions. A year removed from the Bomba Squad, the Twins sought ways to improve their starting staff and acquiring Kenta Maeda turned out to be the team’s best off-season move. He helped the Twins’ pitching staff to finish second overall in fWAR behind Cleveland. Minnesota’s bullpen was also a strength for much of the season as they finished tied with Tampa Bay for the AL’s highest fWAR. Nelson Cruz led the offense through the first part of the season and Byron Buxton showed again why he is one of baseball’s most dynamic players. What went wrong? Minnesota struggled to consistently score runs as the team finished 10th in the AL behind non-playoff teams like the Angels and the Red Sox. Injuries played a big part in Minnesota’s struggles. Josh Donaldson (calf), Byron Buxton (concussion), Jorge Polanco (ankle) and Luis Arraez (knee) were all playing through injuries down the stretch. Houston limited the Twins offense to two runs in the two-game series and Minnesota was eliminated before the calendar turned to October. What’s next? Minnesota has four free agent hitters and up to five free agent pitchers if the team doesn’t pick-up Sergio Romo’s $5 million option for next season. The Twins are going to need to add to their starting rotation depth with Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill becoming free agents. Another option is turning the reins over to a young core of top prospects that are on the cusp of being big league ready. What do you think happens next in the AL Central? 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
  5. Cleveland Indians (Twins up 4-3 in season series) What We Know The Indians haven’t had an off-day since last Thursday, so they won’t be exactly rested heading into a three-game series this weekend. Unfortunately for the Twins, Shane Bieber is lined up to pitch Game 1 at Target Field. He’s faced the Twins twice this season and picked up the win in both contests while striking out 10 batters or more. Minnesota hitters have gone 7-for-49 (.143 BA) against him with one extra-base hit. He’s the front runner for the AL Cy Young and he’s the type of pitcher that could wreak havoc in a playoff series. What’s Left to Find Out Cleveland’s offense has been anemic for a majority of the season, so will they find enough offense to win the division? Only five teams have a lower OPS than the Indians and their wRC+ is also near the bottom of all of baseball. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Franmil Reyes have carried the offensive load, but who’s to say if they will be able to carry the team all the way to October glory. Cleveland’s pitching is good enough to keep them in any game and they will have to take a wait and see approach with the team’s offense. Chicago White Sox (Twins up 4-2 in season series) What We Know Chicago was a wild card coming into the season, because few knew how their young players were going to gel at the big-league level. It turns out their offense is legitimate as they have the American League’s highest wRC+ and highest OPS. They also have barreled up the ball over 10% of the time and only the Padres have done it more often. Eloy Jimenez, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert all have Hard Hit %’s north of 40%. For Twins fans, their offense is reminiscent of what was expected from Minnesota this season, even though that hasn’t come to fruition. What’s Left to Find Out It has become clear throughout the Twins six games with Chicago that the White Sox defense certainly struggles. Could these defensive woes be an Achilles heel for the club? Minnesota currently has the highest Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) in baseball and the fourth highest Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). In comparison, Chicago’s defense doesn’t rank that low. They rank one spot better than the Twins in DRS, the highest total in the AL, and they are third in baseball in DEF. Chicago’s defensive blunders come through in other statistics such as having 29 errors, which is the fourth highest in baseball. All three top teams in the AL Central will make the postseason, so some of the drama is removed from these late-season games. However, there are bragging rights that come with being the team that wins the division and having homefield advantage in the first round would certainly be helpful. The Twins don’t need to win the division, but the club is in control of its own destiny over the next seven games. How do you feel about the up-coming seven games? 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. Other American League Previews AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem AL East: New York State of Mind Central Intelligence: Clawless Tigers Central Intelligence: Rebuilding Royals Key Additions: Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Ivan Nova, Yonder Alonso, Jon Jay, James McCann Chicago’s bullpen might be its most improved part. Colome and Herrera have combined for over 100 saves the last two seasons. This includes Colome’s league leading 47 saves in 2017. Ivan Nova is a familiar name as a former Yankees pitcher, and he looks to take over the veteran role in a young White Sox rotation. As will be clear in the Indians preview tomorrow, the Tribe dumped as many pieces as possible this off-season. This included Yonder Alonso who could help Jose Abreu in the middle of the line-up. Jon Jay was brought in to help lure Manny Machado to Chicago but that didn’t work out. Instead the club will add an everyday corner outfielder that isn’t projected to have that much pop. Key Departures: Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields, Avisail Garcia Nova takes over the rotation role left vacant by James Shields. Shields led the AL in losses last season with 16. He pitched over 200 innings for the first time since 2015 but he posted a 4.53 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP to go along with a 154 to 78 strikeout to walk ratio. Garcia’s was not tendered a contract even though he was an All-Star in 2017. Last year in Chicago, he hit .236/.281/.438 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI in 93 games. Gonzalez only pitched in three games last season and allowed 17 earned runs in 12.1 innings. For his career, he has a 4.06 ERA in over 880 innings pitched. Potential X-Factors: Yoan Moncada He was once considered baseball’s best prospect, but he is coming off a season where he had over 200 strikeouts. He finished the year hitting .235/.315/.400 with 17 home runs and 32 doubles. He could be a difference maker in the line-up if he can finally put it all together at the big-league level. His batting average has been in the tank since making his big-league debut but he is only 24-years old, so there is still time for him to take the next step. FanGraphs Projected 2019 Record: 70-92 My Projected 2019 Record: 74-86 2018 Record: 62-100, (4th Place in the AL Central) 2017 Record: 67-95 (4th Place in the AL Central) 2016 Record: 78-84 (4th Place in the AL Central)
  7. It's going to be a crowded weekend for sports fans. Gorgeous weather plus the dreaded White Sox mean it's a perfect weekend to catch a game - but which one? As usual, we break it down scientifically: Best Game To Watch An Ace Pitcher Before He Serves A Suspension The White Sox had two pitchers suspended for “five games”: Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija. But Samardzija pitched in Wednesday’s bizarre empty-ballpark game, so Twins fans will only get to watch Sale this series. He pitches Thursday night.Watching him might be fun for pitching connoisseurs, but likely won’t be for Twins fans. Sale has a career 2.37 ERA versus the Twins, which includes nine starts and eight relief appearances. Not that the suspension would have pushed him back more than a single game anyway, but he’s appealing it, which is why the Twins get to see him this homestand. Winner: Thursday, unless the Twins can find a way to get Sale suspended some more. Hmmm… Best Game To Watch the White Sox Lose Their Minds We all know by now that the way to make the White Sox go Defcon 6 and pile up a bunch of suspensions is to yell at one of them after a comebacker. But that takes a special kind of crazy, as demonstrated by Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. Unless the Twins plan on putting Oswaldo Arcia on the mound, I don’t think we have a player who can generate those kind of fireworks. But hitting a few Sox with pitches might do the trick. Only one pitcher on the Twins staff has hit more than one guy with a pitch this year: Mike Pelfrey. He’s also known as one of the nicest guys in the game, unfortunately. But that won’t necessarily stop the White Sox. Winner: Sunday, because Pelfrey pitches that day. Unless the Twins decide to let Oswaldo Arcia pitch, in which case you do whatever it takes to make it to the ballpark Like miss the birth of your only child. Trust me on this. . Best Weather The baseball gods might not like Twins fans, but we’re in good standing with the weather gods this year. We have four straight days of 70s and 80s coming up and May is just starting. It doesn’t look like rain during game time for any of the matchups right now, with the possible exception of Sunday. So let’s go with: Winner: Saturday, because it’s an afternoon game and 81 degrees. #SuckItWinter Least Likely To Interfere With Binge Watching The NFL Draft Winner: Sunday, which is also the day there is a chance for rain. The weather gods apparently hate the football gods. Best Game For Getting A Free Beer And Celebrating The Wild In The Playoffs Friday night the Twins play at 7:00 and whenever you lose interest in the game, you can stroll two block over to Mason’s (6th and Hennepin) and join the MinnCentric guys, including yours truly, at our Wild Support Group Game One Party. It’s free and includes a free beer and “Lucky Lemon Bar”. It does not get better than this. Winner: Friday Best Game For A Sneaky Twins Victory The White Sox this year only have a 541 OPS as a team against left-handers. That includes a loss against Tommy Milone, who takes the hill for the Twins on Saturday afternoon. The White Sox just haven’t faced many southpaws so far this year – but that’s a good thing too. Winner: Saturday Best Game At Which To Catch A Home Run Ball White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has started 2015 right where he ended 2014 – by slugging the snot out of defenseless baseballs. He already has five home runs on the year and most have been pulled to left field, which is the easiest place to hit home runs in Target Field. By the way, I see a pair or tickets in the second row of section 128, right next to the left field foul pole, for just $11 apiece on Ticket King. Winner: Four way tie. Best Game At Which To Meet The Love Of Your Life Twenty-five years ago tonight I was mocked for my exceptional volleyball skills by a cute Philadelphia blonde. Four years to the day later, I married her. We have spent most April 30ths since then, and several other key moments, at baseball games and Thursday night will be no exception. If you’re looking for magic in this world, I highly recommend a baseball park. It has worked for me. Winner: Me. Click here to view the article
  8. Watching him might be fun for pitching connoisseurs, but likely won’t be for Twins fans. Sale has a career 2.37 ERA versus the Twins, which includes nine starts and eight relief appearances. Not that the suspension would have pushed him back more than a single game anyway, but he’s appealing it, which is why the Twins get to see him this homestand. Winner: Thursday, unless the Twins can find a way to get Sale suspended some more. Hmmm… Best Game To Watch the White Sox Lose Their Minds We all know by now that the way to make the White Sox go Defcon 6 and pile up a bunch of suspensions is to yell at one of them after a comebacker. But that takes a special kind of crazy, as demonstrated by Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. Unless the Twins plan on putting Oswaldo Arcia on the mound, I don’t think we have a player who can generate those kind of fireworks. But hitting a few Sox with pitches might do the trick. Only one pitcher on the Twins staff has hit more than one guy with a pitch this year: Mike Pelfrey. He’s also known as one of the nicest guys in the game, unfortunately. But that won’t necessarily stop the White Sox. Winner: Sunday, because Pelfrey pitches that day. Unless the Twins decide to let Oswaldo Arcia pitch, in which case you do whatever it takes to make it to the ballpark Like miss the birth of your only child. Trust me on this. . Best Weather The baseball gods might not like Twins fans, but we’re in good standing with the weather gods this year. We have four straight days of 70s and 80s coming up and May is just starting. It doesn’t look like rain during game time for any of the matchups right now, with the possible exception of Sunday. So let’s go with: Winner: Saturday, because it’s an afternoon game and 81 degrees. #SuckItWinter Least Likely To Interfere With Binge Watching The NFL Draft Winner: Sunday, which is also the day there is a chance for rain. The weather gods apparently hate the football gods. Best Game For Getting A Free Beer And Celebrating The Wild In The Playoffs Friday night the Twins play at 7:00 and whenever you lose interest in the game, you can stroll two block over to Mason’s (6th and Hennepin) and join the MinnCentric guys, including yours truly, at our Wild Support Group Game One Party. It’s free and includes a free beer and “Lucky Lemon Bar”. It does not get better than this. Winner: Friday Best Game For A Sneaky Twins Victory The White Sox this year only have a 541 OPS as a team against left-handers. That includes a loss against Tommy Milone, who takes the hill for the Twins on Saturday afternoon. The White Sox just haven’t faced many southpaws so far this year – but that’s a good thing too. Winner: Saturday Best Game At Which To Catch A Home Run Ball White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has started 2015 right where he ended 2014 – by slugging the snot out of defenseless baseballs. He already has five home runs on the year and most have been pulled to left field, which is the easiest place to hit home runs in Target Field. By the way, I see a pair or tickets in the second row of section 128, right next to the left field foul pole, for just $11 apiece on Ticket King. Winner: Four way tie. Best Game At Which To Meet The Love Of Your Life Twenty-five years ago tonight I was mocked for my exceptional volleyball skills by a cute Philadelphia blonde. Four years to the day later, I married her. We have spent most April 30ths since then, and several other key moments, at baseball games and Thursday night will be no exception. If you’re looking for magic in this world, I highly recommend a baseball park. It has worked for me. Winner: Me.
  9. MINNESOTA TWINS – JOE MAUER After ten years as a major league catcher, foul tips to the mask finally caught up to Mauer and he made the move to first base in 2014. Did the concussion(s) affect the beginning of Mauer’s 2014 season at the plate? I think it would be hard to argue that it didn’t, and Mauer had the most difficult offensive season of his career. (Admittedly, he had set the bar very high) He hit just .277/.361/.371 (.732) with 27 doubles and four home runs. One big question for the Minnesota Twins in 2015 has to do with the soon-to-be 32-year-old Mauer. Will he be able to get close to those remarkable offensive numbers he put up for most of his first decade in the big leagues, or did that decade behind the plate do him in and he’ll continue to “struggle” in 2015? That’s the question, and of course, there is no way to answer that question with any certainty. So what are we projecting from Joe Mauer in 2015? The projections of our Twins Daily writers: Seth – .296/.371/.428 (.799) with 37 doubles and 8 HR. Nick – .315/.410/.445 (.855) with 40 doubles and 10 HR. Parker – John – .300/.380/.400 (780 OPS) with 35 doubles, and 8 HR. AL CENTRAL FIRST BASEMEN Opponent – Player – 2015 Age – 2014 Statistics Chicago – Jose Abreu – 28 - .317/.383/.581 (.964) with 35 doubles, 36-HR Cleveland – Carlos Santana – 29 - .231/.365/.427 (.792) with 25 doubles, 27-HR Detroit – Miguel Cabrera – 32 - .313/.371/.524 (.895) with 52 doubles, 25-HR Kansas City – Eric Hosmer – 25 - .270/.318/.398 (.716) with 35 doubles, 9-HR AL CENTRAL FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS #1 – Jose Abreu – Chicago #2 – Miguel Cabrera – Detroit #3 – Carlos Santana – Cleveland #4 – Joe Mauer – Minnesota #5 – Eric Hosmer – Kansas City NOW IT’S YOUR TURN Give it a little thought and then go to the comments section below and post two things. First, make your statistical projection for Joe Mauer in 2015. Second, how would you rank the AL Central first basemen? Of course, then discuss with the rest of the Twins Daily community. Finally, check back throughout this next week as we’ll do these same things for each of the positions.
  10. Earlier, we discussed Kurt Suzuki and the rest of the AL Central catchers. Now, we take a look at Joe Mauer and the AL Central first basemen. Mauer had a tough season in 2014 and looks to rebound in 2015. There are some really good first basemen in the division as well. As we continue through this series, we’ll be taking a look at the Twins roster. We’ll make some projections and compare the Twins players to the rest of the American League Central.MINNESOTA TWINS – JOE MAUER After ten years as a major league catcher, foul tips to the mask finally caught up to Mauer and he made the move to first base in 2014. Did the concussion(s) affect the beginning of Mauer’s 2014 season at the plate? I think it would be hard to argue that it didn’t, and Mauer had the most difficult offensive season of his career. (Admittedly, he had set the bar very high) He hit just .277/.361/.371 (.732) with 27 doubles and four home runs. One big question for the Minnesota Twins in 2015 has to do with the soon-to-be 32-year-old Mauer. Will he be able to get close to those remarkable offensive numbers he put up for most of his first decade in the big leagues, or did that decade behind the plate do him in and he’ll continue to “struggle” in 2015? That’s the question, and of course, there is no way to answer that question with any certainty. So what are we projecting from Joe Mauer in 2015? The projections of our Twins Daily writers: Seth – .296/.371/.428 (.799) with 37 doubles and 8 HR. Nick – .315/.410/.445 (.855) with 40 doubles and 10 HR. Parker – John – .300/.380/.400 (780 OPS) with 35 doubles, and 8 HR. AL CENTRAL FIRST BASEMEN Opponent – Player – 2015 Age – 2014 Statistics Chicago – Jose Abreu – 28 - .317/.383/.581 (.964) with 35 doubles, 36-HR Cleveland – Carlos Santana – 29 - .231/.365/.427 (.792) with 25 doubles, 27-HR Detroit – Miguel Cabrera – 32 - .313/.371/.524 (.895) with 52 doubles, 25-HR Kansas City – Eric Hosmer – 25 - .270/.318/.398 (.716) with 35 doubles, 9-HR AL CENTRAL FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS #1 – Jose Abreu – Chicago #2 – Miguel Cabrera – Detroit #3 – Carlos Santana – Cleveland #4 – Joe Mauer – Minnesota #5 – Eric Hosmer – Kansas City NOW IT’S YOUR TURN Give it a little thought and then go to the comments section below and post two things. First, make your statistical projection for Joe Mauer in 2015. Second, how would you rank the AL Central first basemen? Of course, then discuss with the rest of the Twins Daily community. Finally, check back throughout this next week as we’ll do these same things for each of the positions. Click here to view the article
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