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  1. In mid-November the Minnesota Twins packed the Mall of America rotunda to introduce a couple of new things. One was known at the time, and the other one would be revealed later. New jerseys and a new head of ownership. Both of those things may help to highlight the offseason thus far, but fans want to know this group will spend before spending their own money. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports For years there have been remarks made towards the Pohlad family regarding their hesitancy to spend on the Minnesota Twins. For as much as any owner wants to claim they are fans of the team, the overarching reality is that their ownership is still an asset and they are running a business. At some juncture, revenues and expenses have to correlate. During the uniform unveiling a new face was on stage. Joe Pohlad was talking next to Twins President Dave St. Peter, not his uncle Jim. There was no announcement that day, but it seemed odd that Jim, who has been known as the visible owner for at least the past decade, was not present. Not long after it was reported that Joe would be assuming that position, and a change was being made. Obviously that leaves fans to question what may happen with the dollars being spent on the team. While Jim remains plenty involved, and Joe has his own personality that seemingly will be more public facing, the family still retains the asset that is the Twins. On that day, when the Twins rebranded and rolled out jerseys asking fans to spend over $300 on each, they have also yet to commit on bringing in talent alongside their superstar Byron Buxton. Last season the Opening Day payroll checked in just shy of $137 million. $35.1 million of that was handed to Carlos Correa on a three-year deal, although everyone knew he would opt out after year one. In talking with a front office source when Trevor Story or others were in play, the comment was made that a $150 million payroll never was going to seem feasible. That’s where Minnesota should begin to lose the trust of fans. While it isn’t fair to suggest that the team won’t spend money after pushing franchise records in that regard over the past few years, having an arbitrary stopping point that falls only in line or below league average isn’t workable. Certainly there are teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians that can do more with less. They have exceptional development, analytical, and scouting processes that help to squeeze additional value from lesser costs. While the Twins have taken significant strides in those regards, they simply aren’t there yet. Going into 2022 the Twins landed on a $15 million annual salary for Buxton. That’s peanuts for a player of his caliber, even with the health issues, and the lack of availability is the only reason they could get that done. Unfortunately, if there isn’t going to be substantial work to supplement his abilities, the entirety of that deal will go to waste. It’s not so much that there is a magic number to spend, but the representative talent that can be acquire with an additional $20 million or so is significant for a mid-market team like Minnesota. Getting to $160 million in 2023 would be a leap for the front office. Doing so would be a year over year boost of just under 17%. Alongside the likes of minimum salary players like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and eventually Royce Lewis, that should be a no-brainer. Being able to provide your pipelined talent with Major League help is the way this should work, and books being as clean as they are going forward makes now as good of a time as any. Despite what Rob Manfred tried to sell fans during the lockout, owning a baseball team is an incredibly profitable venture. Revenues are only increasing throughout the sport, but on a team-by-team basis, Minnesota jumping their own is only going to happen with winning. For a team that saw the worst home attendance since the days of the Metrodome, trying to save cents while costing dollars isn’t a workable route any longer. Maybe it doesn’t have to be exactly $160 million when the Twins open their 2023 season, but the payroll can’t be close to $140 million either. View full article
  2. For years there have been remarks made towards the Pohlad family regarding their hesitancy to spend on the Minnesota Twins. For as much as any owner wants to claim they are fans of the team, the overarching reality is that their ownership is still an asset and they are running a business. At some juncture, revenues and expenses have to correlate. During the uniform unveiling a new face was on stage. Joe Pohlad was talking next to Twins President Dave St. Peter, not his uncle Jim. There was no announcement that day, but it seemed odd that Jim, who has been known as the visible owner for at least the past decade, was not present. Not long after it was reported that Joe would be assuming that position, and a change was being made. Obviously that leaves fans to question what may happen with the dollars being spent on the team. While Jim remains plenty involved, and Joe has his own personality that seemingly will be more public facing, the family still retains the asset that is the Twins. On that day, when the Twins rebranded and rolled out jerseys asking fans to spend over $300 on each, they have also yet to commit on bringing in talent alongside their superstar Byron Buxton. Last season the Opening Day payroll checked in just shy of $137 million. $35.1 million of that was handed to Carlos Correa on a three-year deal, although everyone knew he would opt out after year one. In talking with a front office source when Trevor Story or others were in play, the comment was made that a $150 million payroll never was going to seem feasible. That’s where Minnesota should begin to lose the trust of fans. While it isn’t fair to suggest that the team won’t spend money after pushing franchise records in that regard over the past few years, having an arbitrary stopping point that falls only in line or below league average isn’t workable. Certainly there are teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians that can do more with less. They have exceptional development, analytical, and scouting processes that help to squeeze additional value from lesser costs. While the Twins have taken significant strides in those regards, they simply aren’t there yet. Going into 2022 the Twins landed on a $15 million annual salary for Buxton. That’s peanuts for a player of his caliber, even with the health issues, and the lack of availability is the only reason they could get that done. Unfortunately, if there isn’t going to be substantial work to supplement his abilities, the entirety of that deal will go to waste. It’s not so much that there is a magic number to spend, but the representative talent that can be acquire with an additional $20 million or so is significant for a mid-market team like Minnesota. Getting to $160 million in 2023 would be a leap for the front office. Doing so would be a year over year boost of just under 17%. Alongside the likes of minimum salary players like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and eventually Royce Lewis, that should be a no-brainer. Being able to provide your pipelined talent with Major League help is the way this should work, and books being as clean as they are going forward makes now as good of a time as any. Despite what Rob Manfred tried to sell fans during the lockout, owning a baseball team is an incredibly profitable venture. Revenues are only increasing throughout the sport, but on a team-by-team basis, Minnesota jumping their own is only going to happen with winning. For a team that saw the worst home attendance since the days of the Metrodome, trying to save cents while costing dollars isn’t a workable route any longer. Maybe it doesn’t have to be exactly $160 million when the Twins open their 2023 season, but the payroll can’t be close to $140 million either.
  3. In 2023 the Minnesota Twins will be largely reliant on a handful of former top prospects that have graduated to positions of weight on the major league roster. Maybe no one in that group will be more important than the expected first basemen, Alex Kirilloff. Is this the year it finally comes together? Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Over the past few seasons we have heard plenty about Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and Alex Kirilloff. High-round picks and gaudy draft grades, each of them has developed plenty of fanfare while producing on the farm. Kirilloff was the first of the bunch to reach the big leagues, making his debut in 2020 during the postseason when Josh Donaldson left a void in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. In the two full seasons since, Kirilloff has done, little playing just 104 games with a career .694 OPS. Is this the season that finally sees it come together? Last year Kirilloff began the season as Minnesota’s Opening Day left fielder. Miguel Sano was still on the roster and had yet to go through his handful of completely ineffective games. Kirilloff was going to figure prominently into the plans at first base, but there was no reason to limit his athleticism until absolutely necessary. We know now that Sano didn’t last long for the Twins in 2022, and Kirilloff spent almost half of his time in the big leagues last year playing first base. Like Sano however, Kirilloff saw his production tail off in dealing with a wrist injury and it was ultimately a combination of Miranda and Luis Arraez that needed to man an abandoned position. With the hope of health in the year ahead, Minnesota is counting on Kirilloff to be who he showed he was on the farm. After a nagging wrist injury sapped Kirilloff’s power in 2021 and caused him to play just 59 games for Minnesota, he underwent offseason surgery to address the problem. The slow start in 2022 eventually led to a demotion to Triple-A St. Paul in hopes of figuring out a way to play through the injury effectively. The former first round pick noted that he had to shut down his offseason program due to discomfort, and he truly never worked his way back to 100% coming into the year. That was a gut-punch knowing what Minnesota needed from him, and led to an entirely unsurprising result when he managed just 45 games in 2022. This offseason Kirilloff will again be coming back from surgery, but this time he’s had a bone in his wrist shaved down in hopes of alleviating pain and providing a more realistic path forward. In over 316 minor league games the former top prospect posted an .895 OPS. While that doesn’t directly correlate to Major League success, the hope has always been that the true production would be somewhat similar. Kirilloff was shut down earlier in 2022 and wound up having surgery in August. With more of a runway to work himself back into baseball activities, the hope would be that Minnesota returns 100% of the player that they counted on when calling him up for the 2020 postseason. Kirilloff too has to be hoping for an ability to regain the form that saw him as the darling of so many prospect lists. A year ago the Minnesota Twins experienced some of the most substantial stays on the injured list across all of baseball. With a new head athletic trainer in the fold, there has to have been some level of communication with expected producers even in the early stages of Nick Paparesta’s time with the club. Connecting with Kirilloff and making sure the plan for the offseason is going smoothly is a must. The Twins can’t get to Spring Training and have uncertainty, and it would be catastrophic to hear initial reports of a shutdown or lack of healing come the regular season for the second year in a row. Now 25-years-old, it’s not as though Kirilloff’s injury history is a death sentence, but it’s becoming increasingly necessary to see a substantial level of performance at the highest level. The Twins are counting on him in the season ahead, and you can bet he’s itching to prove he belongs as well. View full article
  4. Over the past few seasons we have heard plenty about Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and Alex Kirilloff. High-round picks and gaudy draft grades, each of them has developed plenty of fanfare while producing on the farm. Kirilloff was the first of the bunch to reach the big leagues, making his debut in 2020 during the postseason when Josh Donaldson left a void in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. In the two full seasons since, Kirilloff has done, little playing just 104 games with a career .694 OPS. Is this the season that finally sees it come together? Last year Kirilloff began the season as Minnesota’s Opening Day left fielder. Miguel Sano was still on the roster and had yet to go through his handful of completely ineffective games. Kirilloff was going to figure prominently into the plans at first base, but there was no reason to limit his athleticism until absolutely necessary. We know now that Sano didn’t last long for the Twins in 2022, and Kirilloff spent almost half of his time in the big leagues last year playing first base. Like Sano however, Kirilloff saw his production tail off in dealing with a wrist injury and it was ultimately a combination of Miranda and Luis Arraez that needed to man an abandoned position. With the hope of health in the year ahead, Minnesota is counting on Kirilloff to be who he showed he was on the farm. After a nagging wrist injury sapped Kirilloff’s power in 2021 and caused him to play just 59 games for Minnesota, he underwent offseason surgery to address the problem. The slow start in 2022 eventually led to a demotion to Triple-A St. Paul in hopes of figuring out a way to play through the injury effectively. The former first round pick noted that he had to shut down his offseason program due to discomfort, and he truly never worked his way back to 100% coming into the year. That was a gut-punch knowing what Minnesota needed from him, and led to an entirely unsurprising result when he managed just 45 games in 2022. This offseason Kirilloff will again be coming back from surgery, but this time he’s had a bone in his wrist shaved down in hopes of alleviating pain and providing a more realistic path forward. In over 316 minor league games the former top prospect posted an .895 OPS. While that doesn’t directly correlate to Major League success, the hope has always been that the true production would be somewhat similar. Kirilloff was shut down earlier in 2022 and wound up having surgery in August. With more of a runway to work himself back into baseball activities, the hope would be that Minnesota returns 100% of the player that they counted on when calling him up for the 2020 postseason. Kirilloff too has to be hoping for an ability to regain the form that saw him as the darling of so many prospect lists. A year ago the Minnesota Twins experienced some of the most substantial stays on the injured list across all of baseball. With a new head athletic trainer in the fold, there has to have been some level of communication with expected producers even in the early stages of Nick Paparesta’s time with the club. Connecting with Kirilloff and making sure the plan for the offseason is going smoothly is a must. The Twins can’t get to Spring Training and have uncertainty, and it would be catastrophic to hear initial reports of a shutdown or lack of healing come the regular season for the second year in a row. Now 25-years-old, it’s not as though Kirilloff’s injury history is a death sentence, but it’s becoming increasingly necessary to see a substantial level of performance at the highest level. The Twins are counting on him in the season ahead, and you can bet he’s itching to prove he belongs as well.
  5. In 2022 the Minnesota Twins showed off a handful of their young talent. Some were by way of design, while others were out of necessity in response to injury. Arguably no one forced their way into action more than infielder Jose Miranda. In 2023, he’s a lock for the roster and now a prominent fixture. Are the Twins right in sticking him at the third base? Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Throughout the majority of his minor league career, Minnesota prospect Jose Miranda has played at third base. When he was eventually promoted to the big leagues in early 2022, it came with the caveat that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had acquired veteran Gio Urshela to be Rocco Baldelli’s third basemen. When Alex Kirilloff got hurt and Miguel Sano went down, there was some thought that Urshela could slide across the diamond, but instead it was Miranda who saw the bulk of his playing time there. Although the Twins utilized both Miranda and Luis Arraez plenty at first base in 2022, the dealing of Urshela to the Los Angeles Angels suggests that the young Puerto Rican is destined to lock down the hot corner in 2023. How much should fans be worried about that reality? The unfortunate truth for Minnesota is that their infield defense has not been good the past couple of seasons. In 2022, it was particularly bad. Minnesota fared fine as a whole defensively thanks to a strong outfield. They were held together on the dirt by superstar Carlos Correa, but the likes of Urshela, Arraez, Miranda, and Jorge Polanco were often culprits holding the club back. Specifically looking at Miranda, he was what one may call a butcher at first base. Playing nearly 600 innings at first last season, Miranda posted an awful -6 defensive runs saved and Statcast agreed, attributing him a -4 outs above average number. Among 29 players to record at least 550 innings at first base last season, only the Rangers Nathaniel Lowe posted a lower DRS number. OAA had Miranda a bit better, but 20th still placed him in the bottom third of the league. At third base, in a much smaller sample size, Miranda fared better. He recorded just under 250 innings at the hot corner and was neutral by both DRS and OAA on the season. That could be a positive thing, but small samples are also extremely difficult to read into when considering defensive metrics. Now shifting across the diamond, Miranda will look to settle back into a role he grew familiar with on the farm. One caveat to that is he’ll be doing so alongside someone other than Correa (more than likely). Needing to acclimate to a new teammate, and their range, he’ll also be working in a season where the shift is banned for the first time. Positioning as a whole will be an entirely new exercise for Minnesota. The Statcast data for Miranda is largely unhelpful at third base. He never reached the minimum threshold for arm strength calculations, and while he was credited with the greatest negative OAA value going towards third base, it was miniscule at best. We won’t know what Miranda is at third until he has more time to settle in there, but we can hope that the missteps at first base were largely related to learning a new position on the fly. It would be disappointing to see a 24-year-old locked into first base so soon, and seeing him produce defensively at third base would help to calm those notions. Minnesota has options at first, and they are now counting on Miranda to be the guy at third. Here’s to hoping he can rise to the occasion. View full article
  6. Throughout the majority of his minor league career, Minnesota prospect Jose Miranda has played at third base. When he was eventually promoted to the big leagues in early 2022, it came with the caveat that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had acquired veteran Gio Urshela to be Rocco Baldelli’s third basemen. When Alex Kirilloff got hurt and Miguel Sano went down, there was some thought that Urshela could slide across the diamond, but instead it was Miranda who saw the bulk of his playing time there. Although the Twins utilized both Miranda and Luis Arraez plenty at first base in 2022, the dealing of Urshela to the Los Angeles Angels suggests that the young Puerto Rican is destined to lock down the hot corner in 2023. How much should fans be worried about that reality? The unfortunate truth for Minnesota is that their infield defense has not been good the past couple of seasons. In 2022, it was particularly bad. Minnesota fared fine as a whole defensively thanks to a strong outfield. They were held together on the dirt by superstar Carlos Correa, but the likes of Urshela, Arraez, Miranda, and Jorge Polanco were often culprits holding the club back. Specifically looking at Miranda, he was what one may call a butcher at first base. Playing nearly 600 innings at first last season, Miranda posted an awful -6 defensive runs saved and Statcast agreed, attributing him a -4 outs above average number. Among 29 players to record at least 550 innings at first base last season, only the Rangers Nathaniel Lowe posted a lower DRS number. OAA had Miranda a bit better, but 20th still placed him in the bottom third of the league. At third base, in a much smaller sample size, Miranda fared better. He recorded just under 250 innings at the hot corner and was neutral by both DRS and OAA on the season. That could be a positive thing, but small samples are also extremely difficult to read into when considering defensive metrics. Now shifting across the diamond, Miranda will look to settle back into a role he grew familiar with on the farm. One caveat to that is he’ll be doing so alongside someone other than Correa (more than likely). Needing to acclimate to a new teammate, and their range, he’ll also be working in a season where the shift is banned for the first time. Positioning as a whole will be an entirely new exercise for Minnesota. The Statcast data for Miranda is largely unhelpful at third base. He never reached the minimum threshold for arm strength calculations, and while he was credited with the greatest negative OAA value going towards third base, it was miniscule at best. We won’t know what Miranda is at third until he has more time to settle in there, but we can hope that the missteps at first base were largely related to learning a new position on the fly. It would be disappointing to see a 24-year-old locked into first base so soon, and seeing him produce defensively at third base would help to calm those notions. Minnesota has options at first, and they are now counting on Miranda to be the guy at third. Here’s to hoping he can rise to the occasion.
  7. As we go into the final days of November, and soon turn the page on 2022, it’s time to look back over the past season and give thanks. While the 2022 Minnesota Twins season didn’t go the way anyone would have hoped, there was plenty to be thankful for during a season of Thanksgiving. Image courtesy of © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports Coming off such an uncompetitive 2021 Major League Baseball season, there’s no doubt that Rocco Baldelli and the Twins front office hoped to turn the page in 2022. For a matter of months it looked like they would be the darling of a bad division, but ultimately, injury and poor performance caught up to them. When looking back at the year that was, there was still plenty of things to be excited and thankful for. In no particular order, here’s five things that Twins fans can give thanks for as they cut into their turkey this week: Byron Buxton Got Paid Despite an offseason of uncertainty, and lockout uncertainty, the Minnesota Twins did what they had to and paid Byron Buxton. Sure, he’s injured a whole lot. Sure, you never know when he’s going to miss a boatload of games. There’s also the reality that when he’s on the field he’s among the best players in the entire sport. His 92 games in 2022 were the most he’s played in a season since 2017, and despite injuring his knee early on and having to play through what ultimately required surgery, he was an MVP candidate for much of the campaign. Buxton proved his worth again, and though all parties are hoping he can be on the field more, the front office absolutely did the right thing in getting a dynamic talent at a discount. Carlos Correa Was Fun Knowing that Minnesota had money to spend and replacing Andrelton Simmons at shortstop was a must, there was plenty of late spring excitement regarding Trevor Story. Then in the middle of the night Derek Falvey and Thad Levine struck a deal with Scott Boras client Carlos Correa. It was a three-year deal that was never going to matter beyond year one. Sure, it would be great if the parties came together for a long term pact this offseason, but even if they don’t, we’ll always remember the time that the Twins signed the best free agent available in a given season. Royce Lewis Appeared From the moment that Royce Lewis was the Minnesota Twins number one overall draft pick, there was hope he would become a superstar. He dealt with injuries and a pandemic that set him back while in the minors, but he returned from a torn ACL to light the farm system on fire. When Correa went down, he forced the organization’s hand. He was so good in fact, that the Twins needed to reposition him to keep him in the lineup. A second flukey ACL injury was certainly suboptimal, but we saw the talent that has been anticipated all along. He’ll be back at some point in 2023, and if the rehab goes smoothly, Minnesota certainly has a star in the making. Jose Miranda Cemented His Performance There hasn’t been a minor league season as good as Miranda had in 2021 for Minnesota in quite some time. His .973 OPS between Double and Triple-A was something to behold. Even with that, he didn’t crack the Opening Day roster. Once he was given an opportunity at the big leagues, Miranda was determined not to go back. His 116 OPS+ wasn’t otherworldly in 2022, but the slash line was even gaudier before a late season swoon. The rookie still managed to blast 15 homers in his first 125 Major League games, and he’ll be an integral part of the 2023 roster. Jhoan Duran Lights It Up, Literally You can go back as far as you’d like in Minnesota Twins history, and you won’t find a pitcher throwing triple-digits consistently. Not expected to make the Opening Day roster, Duran not only did that, but also emerged as the best arm in Minnesota’s pen and one of the best across baseball. He certainly could’ve been voted an All-Star as a rookie, and should expect to see more than a few of those games during his career. While the abnormal sprinkler is a pitch that drew plenty of discussion, his ridiculous fastball is what you show up for. He earned his own entrance music at Target Field, and is must-watch baseball every time he steps on the mound. What else would you include in your list? What are you most thankful for as a Twins fan over the past year? View full article
  8. Coming off such an uncompetitive 2021 Major League Baseball season, there’s no doubt that Rocco Baldelli and the Twins front office hoped to turn the page in 2022. For a matter of months it looked like they would be the darling of a bad division, but ultimately, injury and poor performance caught up to them. When looking back at the year that was, there was still plenty of things to be excited and thankful for. In no particular order, here’s five things that Twins fans can give thanks for as they cut into their turkey this week: Byron Buxton Got Paid Despite an offseason of uncertainty, and lockout uncertainty, the Minnesota Twins did what they had to and paid Byron Buxton. Sure, he’s injured a whole lot. Sure, you never know when he’s going to miss a boatload of games. There’s also the reality that when he’s on the field he’s among the best players in the entire sport. His 92 games in 2022 were the most he’s played in a season since 2017, and despite injuring his knee early on and having to play through what ultimately required surgery, he was an MVP candidate for much of the campaign. Buxton proved his worth again, and though all parties are hoping he can be on the field more, the front office absolutely did the right thing in getting a dynamic talent at a discount. Carlos Correa Was Fun Knowing that Minnesota had money to spend and replacing Andrelton Simmons at shortstop was a must, there was plenty of late spring excitement regarding Trevor Story. Then in the middle of the night Derek Falvey and Thad Levine struck a deal with Scott Boras client Carlos Correa. It was a three-year deal that was never going to matter beyond year one. Sure, it would be great if the parties came together for a long term pact this offseason, but even if they don’t, we’ll always remember the time that the Twins signed the best free agent available in a given season. Royce Lewis Appeared From the moment that Royce Lewis was the Minnesota Twins number one overall draft pick, there was hope he would become a superstar. He dealt with injuries and a pandemic that set him back while in the minors, but he returned from a torn ACL to light the farm system on fire. When Correa went down, he forced the organization’s hand. He was so good in fact, that the Twins needed to reposition him to keep him in the lineup. A second flukey ACL injury was certainly suboptimal, but we saw the talent that has been anticipated all along. He’ll be back at some point in 2023, and if the rehab goes smoothly, Minnesota certainly has a star in the making. Jose Miranda Cemented His Performance There hasn’t been a minor league season as good as Miranda had in 2021 for Minnesota in quite some time. His .973 OPS between Double and Triple-A was something to behold. Even with that, he didn’t crack the Opening Day roster. Once he was given an opportunity at the big leagues, Miranda was determined not to go back. His 116 OPS+ wasn’t otherworldly in 2022, but the slash line was even gaudier before a late season swoon. The rookie still managed to blast 15 homers in his first 125 Major League games, and he’ll be an integral part of the 2023 roster. Jhoan Duran Lights It Up, Literally You can go back as far as you’d like in Minnesota Twins history, and you won’t find a pitcher throwing triple-digits consistently. Not expected to make the Opening Day roster, Duran not only did that, but also emerged as the best arm in Minnesota’s pen and one of the best across baseball. He certainly could’ve been voted an All-Star as a rookie, and should expect to see more than a few of those games during his career. While the abnormal sprinkler is a pitch that drew plenty of discussion, his ridiculous fastball is what you show up for. He earned his own entrance music at Target Field, and is must-watch baseball every time he steps on the mound. What else would you include in your list? What are you most thankful for as a Twins fan over the past year?
  9. Minnesota traded Gio Urshela last week and handed Jose Miranda the third base job. So, what does the upper minors' depth chart look like at the hot corner? Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most consistent players in 2022, but that didn't guarantee him a spot on the 2023 roster. Comments from the front office at the season's end pointed to them wanting to hand the reins to Jose Miranda after a strong rookie campaign. Offensively, Miranda struggled down the stretch, but he was one of the organization's top prospects entering the season. His future's still bright, but where will the Twins turn if he struggles or gets injured? MLB Options: Jose Miranda, Kyle Farmer, Luis Arraez Minnesota is entering the season with Miranda penciled in as the starting third baseman. He isn't the strongest defender, so Miranda will likely see time at first base and designated hitter. Last season, he played over 70% of his innings at first base, but Urshela's presence forced the Twins to use the better defender at the hot corner. Last week, the Twins also acquired Farmer in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 2022 season, Farmer played 74% of his defensive innings at shortstop, but he started 35 games at third base. At shortstop, only two qualified players had a lower SDI total than Farmer. He posted -2 defensive runs saved at third base with a 0.1 UZR. He has defensive flexibility, but he currently projects as the team's starting shortstop. Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger as a utility player. The Twins likely want Arraez to move back to the utility spot to try and keep him healthier than last season. During the 2021 season, Arraez played over 400 innings at third, but the presence of better defenders meant he was limited to fewer than 45 innings last season. Nick Gordon can fill in at third base in a pinch, but he saw very limited innings at the position last season. Triple-A Options: Andrew Bechtold, Yunior Severino, Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee Bechtold played over 80 innings at four defensive positions in 2022, but third base was the lone position he logged over 400 innings. In 123 games, he hit .233/.329/.400 (.729) with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. Severino split time between second and third base last season while reaching Double-A. He's been limited to fewer than 100 games in two consecutive seasons, but he posted a .907 OPS during the 2022 campaign. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so that adds an extra wrinkle if they are needed at the big-league level. Fans can debate whether Lewis or Lee is the Twins' top prospect, but both can fit into the team's future plans at third base. Lewis is out following his second ACL surgery until the middle of the 2023 season. He has played 21 defensive innings at third base in his professional career. Lee's played shortstop since the Twins drafted him with the eighth overall pick, but many project him to move off the position. Lee likely starts the year at Double-A, but the Twins showed last season that they would be aggressive with his promotions, especially with his college experience. Double-A Options: Edouard Julien, Seth Gray, Jake Rucker Julien was one of Minnesota's breakout prospects in the 2022 season, and he'd likely get a big-league shot before the other minor-league options on this list. He played 113 games at Double-A last season and hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His success continued in the Arizona Fall League, where MLB recently named him the AFL's Breakout Player of the Year. Julien hasn't played a lot of innings at third in the minors, but his bat will perform at any defensive position. Minnesota took Gray in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft, and he spent most of 2022 at High-A. In Cedar Rapids, he had a .740 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 113 games. He splits time between both corner infield positions, but he likely needs more upper-minor experience. Rucker played at three levels last season, even getting a short stint at Triple-A. Last season, he made 47 starts at third base, the position he played most regularly in college. In 124 games, he hit .236/.333/.378 (.711) with 25 doubles, six triples, and nine home runs. Who do you think the Twins will turn to if Miranda struggles or gets injured? Does Minnesota have enough depth at third base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  10. The Minnesota Twins are currently working towards filling out their Opening Day roster for 2023, and while there’s plenty of question as to who the players will be, a focus must be in addressing defensive woes. A few seasons ago this club had one of the better fielding teams in baseball. That identity was all but lost in 2022, and injuries or otherwise, it must be found again. Image courtesy of © Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports There’s no denying that Minnesota’s front office is currently navigating a way forward without Gio Urshela, and they’ve yet to bring back star shortstop Carlos Correa. That leaves plenty of questions on the dirt, and it’s there that Rocco Baldelli’s team struggled the most a season ago. As much as Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez may contribute offensively, neither have been particularly valuable on defense. A season ago the Twins ranked 13th in baseball in terms of defensive runs saved (23). That’s misleading however, as the outfield alone contributed 24 DRS (4th best), meaning the infield was responsible for a -1 tally. Minnesota was also worth 16 outs above average (4th best) in the outfield, but Statcast’s metric had them at -11 OAA overall, meaning the infield was worth a horrid -27 OAA. It’s not a surprise that the Twins would have a strong outfield defense. Byron Buxton is arguably the best center fielder in baseball, and Max Kepler can lay a similar claim in right field defensively. Left field has been somewhat of a revolving door for Minnesota, especially with injuries to Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, but the group together is a very solid one. It is imperative that the Twins figure out a way to match that on the infield. We’ll see somewhat of a different look for Baldelli’s team this season. With Urshela being dealt to the Los Angeles Angels, Jose Miranda is set to be the starter at the hot corner. He was worth -6 DRS and -4 OAA in just shy of 600 innings at first base, but was exactly average in roughly 250 innings at third base. The eye test suggested that Miranda has his deficiencies across the diamond, but it’s clear he has good instincts and the arm can play. Getting full trust their in his second season will give us a better indication of what is to come. There’s not going to be a change at second base as Polanco is entrenched there. After a solid showing in his new position during 2021, Polanco regressed by advanced metrics standards in 2022. His -1 DRS was down from 3 the year prior, and his -9 OAA was a far cry from the near-neutral -1 OAA in 2021. There had been hope that Polanco could emerge as a strong defender moving away from shortstop, but we’ve yet to see that. With the shift banning infielders from playing deep in the grass, it may help that Polanco’s throw distance is dramatically reduced. We haven’t seen enough of Kirilloff at first base to make a judgment as to what he’ll be there, and we know that Arraez has his own deficiencies. The latter racked up all of the offensive awards in 2022, but recently told me at the Twins uniform unveiling that his next goal is to win a Gold Glove. Minnesota will continue to make Arraez a utility contributor, but he could be the most consistent first basemen in 2023 without having clarity on the status of Kirilloff’s wrist. The front office has yet to acquire a starting shortstop, and if it’s not going to be Correa, a strong defender could wind up being the linchpin for the infield. Andrelton Simmons was supposed to represent that two seasons ago, and did provide significant defensive value. Limiting range without a shift is going to require individual contributors to provide the utmost ability. Knowing Polanco’s limitations on the opposite side of second base, Minnesota can’t afford to miss on shortstop. The goal for the Twins would certainly be to score more runs in 2023, but they also must do a substantially better job at limiting them. Everyone will be tested without the shift, but having a cleaner and more crisp set of fielders on the dirt is imperative. The Twins outfield may be one of envy defensively, but no one has desired what they’ve put out immediately behind the mound in recent seasons. It’s time to fix that. View full article
  11. Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most consistent players in 2022, but that didn't guarantee him a spot on the 2023 roster. Comments from the front office at the season's end pointed to them wanting to hand the reins to Jose Miranda after a strong rookie campaign. Offensively, Miranda struggled down the stretch, but he was one of the organization's top prospects entering the season. His future's still bright, but where will the Twins turn if he struggles or gets injured? MLB Options: Jose Miranda, Kyle Farmer, Luis Arraez Minnesota is entering the season with Miranda penciled in as the starting third baseman. He isn't the strongest defender, so Miranda will likely see time at first base and designated hitter. Last season, he played over 70% of his innings at first base, but Urshela's presence forced the Twins to use the better defender at the hot corner. Last week, the Twins also acquired Farmer in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 2022 season, Farmer played 74% of his defensive innings at shortstop, but he started 35 games at third base. At shortstop, only two qualified players had a lower SDI total than Farmer. He posted -2 defensive runs saved at third base with a 0.1 UZR. He has defensive flexibility, but he currently projects as the team's starting shortstop. Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger as a utility player. The Twins likely want Arraez to move back to the utility spot to try and keep him healthier than last season. During the 2021 season, Arraez played over 400 innings at third, but the presence of better defenders meant he was limited to fewer than 45 innings last season. Nick Gordon can fill in at third base in a pinch, but he saw very limited innings at the position last season. Triple-A Options: Andrew Bechtold, Yunior Severino, Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee Bechtold played over 80 innings at four defensive positions in 2022, but third base was the lone position he logged over 400 innings. In 123 games, he hit .233/.329/.400 (.729) with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. Severino split time between second and third base last season while reaching Double-A. He's been limited to fewer than 100 games in two consecutive seasons, but he posted a .907 OPS during the 2022 campaign. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so that adds an extra wrinkle if they are needed at the big-league level. Fans can debate whether Lewis or Lee is the Twins' top prospect, but both can fit into the team's future plans at third base. Lewis is out following his second ACL surgery until the middle of the 2023 season. He has played 21 defensive innings at third base in his professional career. Lee's played shortstop since the Twins drafted him with the eighth overall pick, but many project him to move off the position. Lee likely starts the year at Double-A, but the Twins showed last season that they would be aggressive with his promotions, especially with his college experience. Double-A Options: Edouard Julien, Seth Gray, Jake Rucker Julien was one of Minnesota's breakout prospects in the 2022 season, and he'd likely get a big-league shot before the other minor-league options on this list. He played 113 games at Double-A last season and hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His success continued in the Arizona Fall League, where MLB recently named him the AFL's Breakout Player of the Year. Julien hasn't played a lot of innings at third in the minors, but his bat will perform at any defensive position. Minnesota took Gray in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft, and he spent most of 2022 at High-A. In Cedar Rapids, he had a .740 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 113 games. He splits time between both corner infield positions, but he likely needs more upper-minor experience. Rucker played at three levels last season, even getting a short stint at Triple-A. Last season, he made 47 starts at third base, the position he played most regularly in college. In 124 games, he hit .236/.333/.378 (.711) with 25 doubles, six triples, and nine home runs. Who do you think the Twins will turn to if Miranda struggles or gets injured? Does Minnesota have enough depth at third base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  12. It’s hard not to like what Jose Miranda brings to the Twins’ offense. After an initial slow start in May, he quickly caught fire and elevated himself to one of the more reliable bats in the lineup: In 150 plate appearances in June and July, he posted a .329/.373/.557 slash line while adding 8 home runs. He had the presence of a savvy veteran, taking professional at-bats and spraying line drives all around the field. Nevertheless, Miranda’s performance began to cool in August and leveled out for the remainder of the year. He hit .262 over his final 136 plate appearances with far less power production. How did teams adjust to him and what does it say about his potential going forward? Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports Before we start disparaging Miranda’s late-season performance, let’s consider some of his strengths. His 117 weighted runs created plus – a rate stat that takes into consideration park factors and current run environment of the league – was the seventh-best by a Minnesota Twins rookie and tied with notable legend Rod Carew. From June through August, he led the team with 49 runs driven in and collected 74 hits (behind the eventual AL hit king, Luis Arraez). He was anointed the AL’s Rookie of the Month in July. He carried the Twins offense as best he could through a stretch in which the team was preparing for a late season nosediIn that time Miranda showed a keen ability to hit non-fastballs well. His .325 average against non-fastballs during that stretch was the 5th best in major league baseball. This is noteworthy considering how often rookie hitters struggle with spin: Over the last ten years, rookies have posted a .230/.270/.378 line against non-fastballs. Unsurprisingly, pitchers adjusted their game plan to Miranda after he showed the propensity to wallop non-fastballs left in the strike zone. In August, teams started to shift to throwing him more sliders and locating them off the plate. Miranda began to swing more often and chased more frequently and so teams continued that trend throughout the rest of the season. We have arrived at the point of the analysis where I normally post heat maps, charts, and video clips to support the trends and tendencies outlined above. I have done that and more but that content is reserved for Twins Daily Caretaker’s eyes only. Fear not: You too can become a Caretaker for as low as $4/month. In addition to getting to read the rest of the meaty Miranda post, you also get free Twins Daily publications, Winter Meltdown tickets and other special recognition. Finally, if you do jump into the TD Caretaker pool and read the rest of this article and are not completely satisfied, you can totally call me out publicly on Twitter – @HagemanParker -- and… I will likely mute you. I have a very fragile ego. View full article
  13. There’s no denying that Minnesota’s front office is currently navigating a way forward without Gio Urshela, and they’ve yet to bring back star shortstop Carlos Correa. That leaves plenty of questions on the dirt, and it’s there that Rocco Baldelli’s team struggled the most a season ago. As much as Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez may contribute offensively, neither have been particularly valuable on defense. A season ago the Twins ranked 13th in baseball in terms of defensive runs saved (23). That’s misleading however, as the outfield alone contributed 24 DRS (4th best), meaning the infield was responsible for a -1 tally. Minnesota was also worth 16 outs above average (4th best) in the outfield, but Statcast’s metric had them at -11 OAA overall, meaning the infield was worth a horrid -27 OAA. It’s not a surprise that the Twins would have a strong outfield defense. Byron Buxton is arguably the best center fielder in baseball, and Max Kepler can lay a similar claim in right field defensively. Left field has been somewhat of a revolving door for Minnesota, especially with injuries to Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, but the group together is a very solid one. It is imperative that the Twins figure out a way to match that on the infield. We’ll see somewhat of a different look for Baldelli’s team this season. With Urshela being dealt to the Los Angeles Angels, Jose Miranda is set to be the starter at the hot corner. He was worth -6 DRS and -4 OAA in just shy of 600 innings at first base, but was exactly average in roughly 250 innings at third base. The eye test suggested that Miranda has his deficiencies across the diamond, but it’s clear he has good instincts and the arm can play. Getting full trust their in his second season will give us a better indication of what is to come. There’s not going to be a change at second base as Polanco is entrenched there. After a solid showing in his new position during 2021, Polanco regressed by advanced metrics standards in 2022. His -1 DRS was down from 3 the year prior, and his -9 OAA was a far cry from the near-neutral -1 OAA in 2021. There had been hope that Polanco could emerge as a strong defender moving away from shortstop, but we’ve yet to see that. With the shift banning infielders from playing deep in the grass, it may help that Polanco’s throw distance is dramatically reduced. We haven’t seen enough of Kirilloff at first base to make a judgment as to what he’ll be there, and we know that Arraez has his own deficiencies. The latter racked up all of the offensive awards in 2022, but recently told me at the Twins uniform unveiling that his next goal is to win a Gold Glove. Minnesota will continue to make Arraez a utility contributor, but he could be the most consistent first basemen in 2023 without having clarity on the status of Kirilloff’s wrist. The front office has yet to acquire a starting shortstop, and if it’s not going to be Correa, a strong defender could wind up being the linchpin for the infield. Andrelton Simmons was supposed to represent that two seasons ago, and did provide significant defensive value. Limiting range without a shift is going to require individual contributors to provide the utmost ability. Knowing Polanco’s limitations on the opposite side of second base, Minnesota can’t afford to miss on shortstop. The goal for the Twins would certainly be to score more runs in 2023, but they also must do a substantially better job at limiting them. Everyone will be tested without the shift, but having a cleaner and more crisp set of fielders on the dirt is imperative. The Twins outfield may be one of envy defensively, but no one has desired what they’ve put out immediately behind the mound in recent seasons. It’s time to fix that.
  14. Trey Mancini has been an all-star caliber hitter, but has had his highs and lows since. Last year, those highs made him a big target at the trade deadline, but the lows make him an affordable free agent. That’s just one reason why Mancini could be a perfect fit for the Twins' roster. Image courtesy of Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports Trey Mancini is just coming off the best feeling in the world of baseball: a World Series championship. At the beginning of the season, Mancini was with the Baltimore Orioles, the organization he had played for since they drafted him in 2013. The Orioles were just getting hot as Mancini's bat cooled off, but the Astros still saw something. The 30-year-old was part of a three-team trade that sent him from Baltimore to Houston. Mancini was hitting .268/.347/.404 with ten homers before the trade and was a "high-value" hitter, which would undoubtedly have helped in the postseason. Mancini came in as a veteran player at first base and helped alleviate some pressure from struggling first baseman Yuli Gurriel. He could also serve as a DH, and played 31 games in the corner outfield positions, but his bat was most attractive to the Astros. However, Mancini slumped in Houston, hitting .176/.258/.364, and struggled in the postseason. One could easily blame that on a major trade late in the season and after being with a club for six seasons, but he certainly did not produce like the Astros’ thought he would at the plate. However, he did play great defense, which helped secure game five of the World Series. He snagged a hit off Kyle Schwarber and got his first postseason hit in game six, which resulted in a run. He did both of these coming off the bench. He shared his frame of mind with Michael Shapiro of Chron in a post-game interview. “In a series of this magnitude, you can’t reflect on what’s going on. You have to look forward,” Mancini explained. “You gotta wash [your mistakes], go to the next day and be ready for your team.” The Twins can relate to late-season and postseason struggles. They started hot last season but faltered after the All-Star break, mainly due to injuries. Those injuries forced the organization to bring up many Triple-A players pushed to the big leagues potentially before they were ready, and those injuries leave a lot of question marks in exactly the positions where Mancini played. Twins players cycled through first base and designated hitter last year after Miguel Sano was injured. Luis Arraez will certainly play one of those spots after earning himself the American League batting title and contributing heavily to many of the Twins' wins. But even Arraez's time was limited due to injuries and pain, but still earned his first Silver Slugger Award. Meanwhile, the Twins' corner outfield positions are mostly manned by unproven younger players, many of whom have injury concerns, and almost all of whom hit left-handed. Mancini's veteran right-handed bat is a great compliment to those spots, too. So there are a lot of places where he would be a benefit to the squad. Plus, with Mancini's late-season fade, the Twins could likely offer him a short-term deal. Mancini would be a better overall player than the Twins' Kyle Garlick, who the Twins signed on November 15 to a one-year $750,000 deal to avoid arbitration. Garlick managed to have good numbers in 2022 despite being hurt throughout the season. Garlick has worked out well for the team, particularly his ability to get clutch hits off lefties, but his role has been limited, and he's had trouble staying healthy, too. Mancini's health is also a significant part of his story. After his breakthrough 2019 season, he missed the 2020 season with stage III colon cancer. His return earned him the 2021 AL Comeback Player of the Year award. 2022 was another step forward, and ended in a World Championship. Perhaps 2023 can, too? That would also be a good fit for Mancini and the Twins. What do you think? Do you like Mancini as a pickup for the Twins this offseason? Tell us in the comments below. View full article
  15. Before we start disparaging Miranda’s late-season performance, let’s consider some of his strengths. His 117 weighted runs created plus – a rate stat that takes into consideration park factors and current run environment of the league – was the seventh-best by a Minnesota Twins rookie and tied with notable legend Rod Carew. From June through August, he led the team with 49 runs driven in and collected 74 hits (behind the eventual AL hit king, Luis Arraez). He was anointed the AL’s Rookie of the Month in July. He carried the Twins offense as best he could through a stretch in which the team was preparing for a late season nosediIn that time Miranda showed a keen ability to hit non-fastballs well. His .325 average against non-fastballs during that stretch was the 5th best in major league baseball. This is noteworthy considering how often rookie hitters struggle with spin: Over the last ten years, rookies have posted a .230/.270/.378 line against non-fastballs. Unsurprisingly, pitchers adjusted their game plan to Miranda after he showed the propensity to wallop non-fastballs left in the strike zone. In August, teams started to shift to throwing him more sliders and locating them off the plate. Miranda began to swing more often and chased more frequently and so teams continued that trend throughout the rest of the season. We have arrived at the point of the analysis where I normally post heat maps, charts, and video clips to support the trends and tendencies outlined above. I have done that and more but that content is reserved for Twins Daily Caretaker’s eyes only. Fear not: You too can become a Caretaker for as low as $4/month. In addition to getting to read the rest of the meaty Miranda post, you also get free Twins Daily publications, Winter Meltdown tickets and other special recognition. Finally, if you do jump into the TD Caretaker pool and read the rest of this article and are not completely satisfied, you can totally call me out publicly on Twitter – @HagemanParker -- and… I will likely mute you. I have a very fragile ego.
  16. The Minnesota Twins faced a decision on their eight arbitration eligible candidates. While some were plenty straightforward, others were more difficult. Count Gio Urshela among the latter, and now we know his fate: Urshela was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine went into Friday with a full 40-man roster. Eight of those players needed to be tendered a contract for the 2023 season or be sent to waivers prior to being determined free agents. Among them was Gio Urshela, who was acquired along with Gary Sanchez last offseason from the New York Yankees for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Sanchez is now a free agent, while Urshela had one more season of team control. His fate was in question because it would be false to suggest that Urshela wasn’t valuable for the Twins. In his first season with Minnesota, Urshela posted a 2.4 fWAR, which ranked fourth among Minnesota hitters. It was also only slightly behind his 2.8 fWAR from the 2019 season in which he broke out for New York. Offensively, Urshela’s 121 OPS+ was well above the mediocre 96 OPS+ he posted a season ago. Although there were low points, his 13 homer runs and gap power came in handy. Defensively, Urshela was somewhat of a mixed bag. Twins fans saw plenty of highlight reel plays from the hot corner, but it was some of the more straightforward plays that weren’t made which dragged him down. Fangraphs own Defensive Runs Saved metric viewed Urshela favorably at +4, while MLB’s Statcast had him at -5 per their Outs Above Average metric. For Minnesota, the determination largely came down to how they wanted to spend their capital, while also figuring out what Urshela’s role would be. In talking to a few sources, they seem content with internal options at third base. Jose Miranda, Luis Arraez, and eventually Royce Lewis can all play the position. It remains to be seen which of them are adequate defensively, but none of them carry the $9.2 million price tag MLB Trade Rumors projected Urshela to receive in arbitration. In knowing they would ultimately decide to move on from Urshela, it became important to find any sort of return for him. Just hours before Friday night's 7pm deadline, the team came to an agreement with the Los Angeles Angels. ESPN Insider Jeff Passan reported that Minnesota sent their starting third basemen to Los Angeles for Single-A pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo . Hidalgo is a Venezuelan native that spent 2022 at Single-A Inland Empire for just his second season of professional baseball. He posted a 4.62 ERA across 39 innings, all of them coming as a starter. He tallied an impressive 58/19 K/BB and is the exact kind of lottery ticket you'd hope to get as opposed to non-tendering a player for nothing. Recently Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson called Urshela the Twins toughest arbitration decision and considering all of the factors, it’s hard to dispute that. As things stand presently, and with Carlos Correa unsigned, Minnesota’s entire left side of the infield remains up in the air. It will be on the front office to sort that out over the coming months before Spring Training. View full article
  17. Trey Mancini is just coming off the best feeling in the world of baseball: a World Series championship. At the beginning of the season, Mancini was with the Baltimore Orioles, the organization he had played for since they drafted him in 2013. The Orioles were just getting hot as Mancini's bat cooled off, but the Astros still saw something. The 30-year-old was part of a three-team trade that sent him from Baltimore to Houston. Mancini was hitting .268/.347/.404 with ten homers before the trade and was a "high-value" hitter, which would undoubtedly have helped in the postseason. Mancini came in as a veteran player at first base and helped alleviate some pressure from struggling first baseman Yuli Gurriel. He could also serve as a DH, and played 31 games in the corner outfield positions, but his bat was most attractive to the Astros. However, Mancini slumped in Houston, hitting .176/.258/.364, and struggled in the postseason. One could easily blame that on a major trade late in the season and after being with a club for six seasons, but he certainly did not produce like the Astros’ thought he would at the plate. However, he did play great defense, which helped secure game five of the World Series. He snagged a hit off Kyle Schwarber and got his first postseason hit in game six, which resulted in a run. He did both of these coming off the bench. He shared his frame of mind with Michael Shapiro of Chron in a post-game interview. “In a series of this magnitude, you can’t reflect on what’s going on. You have to look forward,” Mancini explained. “You gotta wash [your mistakes], go to the next day and be ready for your team.” The Twins can relate to late-season and postseason struggles. They started hot last season but faltered after the All-Star break, mainly due to injuries. Those injuries forced the organization to bring up many Triple-A players pushed to the big leagues potentially before they were ready, and those injuries leave a lot of question marks in exactly the positions where Mancini played. Twins players cycled through first base and designated hitter last year after Miguel Sano was injured. Luis Arraez will certainly play one of those spots after earning himself the American League batting title and contributing heavily to many of the Twins' wins. But even Arraez's time was limited due to injuries and pain, but still earned his first Silver Slugger Award. Meanwhile, the Twins' corner outfield positions are mostly manned by unproven younger players, many of whom have injury concerns, and almost all of whom hit left-handed. Mancini's veteran right-handed bat is a great compliment to those spots, too. So there are a lot of places where he would be a benefit to the squad. Plus, with Mancini's late-season fade, the Twins could likely offer him a short-term deal. Mancini would be a better overall player than the Twins' Kyle Garlick, who the Twins signed on November 15 to a one-year $750,000 deal to avoid arbitration. Garlick managed to have good numbers in 2022 despite being hurt throughout the season. Garlick has worked out well for the team, particularly his ability to get clutch hits off lefties, but his role has been limited, and he's had trouble staying healthy, too. Mancini's health is also a significant part of his story. After his breakthrough 2019 season, he missed the 2020 season with stage III colon cancer. His return earned him the 2021 AL Comeback Player of the Year award. 2022 was another step forward, and ended in a World Championship. Perhaps 2023 can, too? That would also be a good fit for Mancini and the Twins. What do you think? Do you like Mancini as a pickup for the Twins this offseason? Tell us in the comments below.
  18. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine went into Friday with a full 40-man roster. Eight of those players needed to be tendered a contract for the 2023 season or be sent to waivers prior to being determined free agents. Among them was Gio Urshela, who was acquired along with Gary Sanchez last offseason from the New York Yankees for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Sanchez is now a free agent, while Urshela had one more season of team control. His fate was in question because it would be false to suggest that Urshela wasn’t valuable for the Twins. In his first season with Minnesota, Urshela posted a 2.4 fWAR, which ranked fourth among Minnesota hitters. It was also only slightly behind his 2.8 fWAR from the 2019 season in which he broke out for New York. Offensively, Urshela’s 121 OPS+ was well above the mediocre 96 OPS+ he posted a season ago. Although there were low points, his 13 homer runs and gap power came in handy. Defensively, Urshela was somewhat of a mixed bag. Twins fans saw plenty of highlight reel plays from the hot corner, but it was some of the more straightforward plays that weren’t made which dragged him down. Fangraphs own Defensive Runs Saved metric viewed Urshela favorably at +4, while MLB’s Statcast had him at -5 per their Outs Above Average metric. For Minnesota, the determination largely came down to how they wanted to spend their capital, while also figuring out what Urshela’s role would be. In talking to a few sources, they seem content with internal options at third base. Jose Miranda, Luis Arraez, and eventually Royce Lewis can all play the position. It remains to be seen which of them are adequate defensively, but none of them carry the $9.2 million price tag MLB Trade Rumors projected Urshela to receive in arbitration. In knowing they would ultimately decide to move on from Urshela, it became important to find any sort of return for him. Just hours before Friday night's 7pm deadline, the team came to an agreement with the Los Angeles Angels. ESPN Insider Jeff Passan reported that Minnesota sent their starting third basemen to Los Angeles for Single-A pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo . Hidalgo is a Venezuelan native that spent 2022 at Single-A Inland Empire for just his second season of professional baseball. He posted a 4.62 ERA across 39 innings, all of them coming as a starter. He tallied an impressive 58/19 K/BB and is the exact kind of lottery ticket you'd hope to get as opposed to non-tendering a player for nothing. Recently Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson called Urshela the Twins toughest arbitration decision and considering all of the factors, it’s hard to dispute that. As things stand presently, and with Carlos Correa unsigned, Minnesota’s entire left side of the infield remains up in the air. It will be on the front office to sort that out over the coming months before Spring Training.
  19. After weeks of build-up, the Twins' new uniform and logo design were unveiled at Mall of America on Friday, featuring models like Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda and Joe Ryan. Image courtesy of Theo Tollefson BLOOMINGTON – The Minnesota Twins have a new look for the 2023 season, and fans, front office members, and players gathered at the Mall of America on Friday to see the new design of the Twins jerseys. Revealing the first new jersey design on the baseball diamond catwalk was Jose Miranda in the new home, white jerseys. Miranda is coming off an impressive rookie season with the Twins leading the team in RBI. He is most excited about accessorizing his cleats and glove with the new look. “I haven't really customized cleats yet but for sure next year. I want to do something with them and there are some people that want to meet on some designs during the winter with custom cleats. I'm gonna do something but I got to see what we're going to wear on Opening Day,” said Miranda. Matthew Wolff, a longtime Twins fan and designer for the new Twins look, spoke on keeping the history of the old with the new uniforms. “It was really important to respect the history of the team. Twins fans have a strong emotional attachment to the team's marks and uniforms and it was really important from the start of the project to respect them.” The message that the Twins organization wanted to incorporate with the new uniform designs was to include the state of Minnesota as a whole, and not just the Twin Cities. The new M hats now include the North Star above them to add that state-wide incorporation. While not directly an homage to the old North Stars hockey team, Wolff hopes fans could recognize it as one and appreciate the tie-in to an old franchise. The player consensus for which of the new uniforms is their favorite goes toward the new road grey jerseys. These jerseys call back to the Twins road uniforms from 1987-2009, while still incorporating the new M design for the road. Luis Arraez had the honor of sporting the new road uni and believes they will be a good luck charm. “I think we can score like 10 runs with these uniforms every game. I can't wait to wear this next year,” said Arraez. His teammate Jorge Polanco did wear the same pants but had on the new navy blue road, alternative jersey. Polanco, slightly jealous he didn’t wear the greys, still complemented Arraez appearance in them. “He’s [Arraez] wearing it, he looks good. I wish I would have worn it.” The material that goes into making these jerseys is also new, which Polanco already feels will be better for each game. “It’s a lot lighter and that makes us feel easier to move around the infield,” said Polanco. The only Twins pitcher in attendance was Joe Ryan, rocking the new home, navy blue alternative jerseys. Ryan (top picture) had the most exciting catwalk on the diamond stage, running out as if he had just finished throwing a no-hitter. The only thing missing to add a grand crescendo to Ryan's stage walk/run was his famous turtle neck under the jersey. "They said be quicker, so I was like, 'Alright, take a zip around the bases," said Ryan. The man dawning the newest alternative home jerseys for the team was star centerfielder Byron Buxton. Buxton spoke on how the new uniforms keep the Twins' tradition intact while also evolving it. “When I got drafted in 2012 it was pinstripes. To come out of that was a little bit different, knowing the Minnesota tradition was pinstripes. But over the years we've tried to change tradition quite a bit so this is just a new look for us. We got a new team, a new outlook, new meaning for us and this is just the start of something new,” said Buxton. While the decision for which of the Twins' uniforms will be worn on Opening Day is still months away. Fans can narrow it down to either the new pinstripe grey, road uniforms, or alternate navy blues as the Twins start the season in Kansas City on March 30. Fans can now buy the new uniforms at the Twins team store at Target Field, Mall of America or order them online at Twinsbaseball.com/shop. View full article
  20. BLOOMINGTON – The Minnesota Twins have a new look for the 2023 season, and fans, front office members, and players gathered at the Mall of America on Friday to see the new design of the Twins jerseys. Revealing the first new jersey design on the baseball diamond catwalk was Jose Miranda in the new home, white jerseys. Miranda is coming off an impressive rookie season with the Twins leading the team in RBI. He is most excited about accessorizing his cleats and glove with the new look. “I haven't really customized cleats yet but for sure next year. I want to do something with them and there are some people that want to meet on some designs during the winter with custom cleats. I'm gonna do something but I got to see what we're going to wear on Opening Day,” said Miranda. Matthew Wolff, a longtime Twins fan and designer for the new Twins look, spoke on keeping the history of the old with the new uniforms. “It was really important to respect the history of the team. Twins fans have a strong emotional attachment to the team's marks and uniforms and it was really important from the start of the project to respect them.” The message that the Twins organization wanted to incorporate with the new uniform designs was to include the state of Minnesota as a whole, and not just the Twin Cities. The new M hats now include the North Star above them to add that state-wide incorporation. While not directly an homage to the old North Stars hockey team, Wolff hopes fans could recognize it as one and appreciate the tie-in to an old franchise. The player consensus for which of the new uniforms is their favorite goes toward the new road grey jerseys. These jerseys call back to the Twins road uniforms from 1987-2009, while still incorporating the new M design for the road. Luis Arraez had the honor of sporting the new road uni and believes they will be a good luck charm. “I think we can score like 10 runs with these uniforms every game. I can't wait to wear this next year,” said Arraez. His teammate Jorge Polanco did wear the same pants but had on the new navy blue road, alternative jersey. Polanco, slightly jealous he didn’t wear the greys, still complemented Arraez appearance in them. “He’s [Arraez] wearing it, he looks good. I wish I would have worn it.” The material that goes into making these jerseys is also new, which Polanco already feels will be better for each game. “It’s a lot lighter and that makes us feel easier to move around the infield,” said Polanco. The only Twins pitcher in attendance was Joe Ryan, rocking the new home, navy blue alternative jerseys. Ryan (top picture) had the most exciting catwalk on the diamond stage, running out as if he had just finished throwing a no-hitter. The only thing missing to add a grand crescendo to Ryan's stage walk/run was his famous turtle neck under the jersey. "They said be quicker, so I was like, 'Alright, take a zip around the bases," said Ryan. The man dawning the newest alternative home jerseys for the team was star centerfielder Byron Buxton. Buxton spoke on how the new uniforms keep the Twins' tradition intact while also evolving it. “When I got drafted in 2012 it was pinstripes. To come out of that was a little bit different, knowing the Minnesota tradition was pinstripes. But over the years we've tried to change tradition quite a bit so this is just a new look for us. We got a new team, a new outlook, new meaning for us and this is just the start of something new,” said Buxton. While the decision for which of the Twins' uniforms will be worn on Opening Day is still months away. Fans can narrow it down to either the new pinstripe grey, road uniforms, or alternate navy blues as the Twins start the season in Kansas City on March 30. Fans can now buy the new uniforms at the Twins team store at Target Field, Mall of America or order them online at Twinsbaseball.com/shop.
  21. Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most reliable players in 2022, but Jose Miranda's emergence might make him expendable. Will the Twins trade Urshela? Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates. What Did He Do in 2022? Gio Urshela's first season in a Twins uniform went about as good as one could expect. He hit .285/.338/.429 (.767) with a 119 wRC+ and a 121 OPS+. He ranked in the 60th percentile or higher in max exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, and K%. Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Byron Buxton were the only Twins players to accumulate more WAR. His defense was below average as he ranked 8th among AL third baseman in SDI while also being in the 11th percentile for Outs Above Average. Overall, Urshela is an above-average big-leaguer, proving that again in 2022. Many will compare Urshela to Josh Donaldson since they played the same position and were included in the same trade. Urshela's OPS+ was 27 points higher than Donaldson's while accumulating 0.7 more WAR. Donaldson continues to be a superior defender to Urshela, but he was a below-average hitter in 2022. They are unique players at different points in their careers, but Urshela had the stronger 2022 season. Why is He a Trade Candidate? Jose Miranda's emergence over the last two seasons points to him becoming the team's long-term third baseman. In his rookie season, Miranda hit .268/.325/.426 (.751) with a 117 wRC+. He finished second in the TD Rookie of the Year voting, which came on the heels of a breakout 2021 season in the minors. Miranda plans to make improvements this winter by training with Carlos Correa. Derek Falvey also spoke highly of Miranda in his year-end press conference, which can signify that the team is ready for him to have a full-time role. Urshela's presence on the roster may be superfluous with Miranda's accolades. What is His Trade Value? Urshela will enter his final arbitration year and projects to get more than $9 million. FanGraphs pegs his value last season at $18.9 million, so his salary is below his production level. There will likely be a variety of teams interested in adding a solid regular to their line-up. However, Urshela is in his final year of team control, which impacts how much teams will be willing to surrender. It doesn't seem likely for Urshela to be worth a king's ransom, but he is worth multiple mid-tier prospects with upside. The Twins aren't forced to trade Urshela this winter because he showed the team the value he can provide in 2022. But injuries can impact the big-league roster, and Urshela might be needed as depth if there are injuries to other parts of the roster. Urshela will be the lone player remaining from the Josh Donaldson trade, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can continue to get value from what looked like a salary dump trade. Do you think the Twins will try and trade Urshela? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  22. Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates. What Did He Do in 2022? Gio Urshela's first season in a Twins uniform went about as good as one could expect. He hit .285/.338/.429 (.767) with a 119 wRC+ and a 121 OPS+. He ranked in the 60th percentile or higher in max exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, and K%. Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Byron Buxton were the only Twins players to accumulate more WAR. His defense was below average as he ranked 8th among AL third baseman in SDI while also being in the 11th percentile for Outs Above Average. Overall, Urshela is an above-average big-leaguer, proving that again in 2022. Many will compare Urshela to Josh Donaldson since they played the same position and were included in the same trade. Urshela's OPS+ was 27 points higher than Donaldson's while accumulating 0.7 more WAR. Donaldson continues to be a superior defender to Urshela, but he was a below-average hitter in 2022. They are unique players at different points in their careers, but Urshela had the stronger 2022 season. Why is He a Trade Candidate? Jose Miranda's emergence over the last two seasons points to him becoming the team's long-term third baseman. In his rookie season, Miranda hit .268/.325/.426 (.751) with a 117 wRC+. He finished second in the TD Rookie of the Year voting, which came on the heels of a breakout 2021 season in the minors. Miranda plans to make improvements this winter by training with Carlos Correa. Derek Falvey also spoke highly of Miranda in his year-end press conference, which can signify that the team is ready for him to have a full-time role. Urshela's presence on the roster may be superfluous with Miranda's accolades. What is His Trade Value? Urshela will enter his final arbitration year and projects to get more than $9 million. FanGraphs pegs his value last season at $18.9 million, so his salary is below his production level. There will likely be a variety of teams interested in adding a solid regular to their line-up. However, Urshela is in his final year of team control, which impacts how much teams will be willing to surrender. It doesn't seem likely for Urshela to be worth a king's ransom, but he is worth multiple mid-tier prospects with upside. The Twins aren't forced to trade Urshela this winter because he showed the team the value he can provide in 2022. But injuries can impact the big-league roster, and Urshela might be needed as depth if there are injuries to other parts of the roster. Urshela will be the lone player remaining from the Josh Donaldson trade, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can continue to get value from what looked like a salary dump trade. Do you think the Twins will try and trade Urshela? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. The Atlanta Braves won the 2021 World Series and have a chance to be baseball's first back-to-back champion in over 20 years. Atlanta's front office has been aggressive with signing their young core. Is that an approach for Minnesota to consider? Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today Sports Baseball organizations tend to follow the trends set by other successful teams. In recent years, the Braves have solidified themselves as a model franchise, and other organizations will look to copy their winning model. The club's ability to sign players to long-term contracts is part of its success. Is this approach something the Twins should consider? Earlier this week, the Braves announced they signed rookie starting pitcher Spencer Strider to an extension that buys out his arbitration seasons while giving the team two extra years of control. Michael Harris II, another Braves rookie, also signed an extension earlier this season that followed a similar structure. These aren't the only players the Braves have been able to lock up. Besides Strider and Harris, Atlanta has also signed some of their other top players to long-term deals. Matt Olson and Austin Riley signed extensions during the 2022 season. Previously, the Braves had signed Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies to very friendly long-term deals. Atlanta is guaranteeing money to players beyond their arbitration years which has risk, but the Braves are hoping to see the players outperform the value they are paying. The Braves and the Twins have different philosophies when creating their rosters. Atlanta has over $150 million in guaranteed money on the books for 2024, with nearly $100 million going out as far as 2028. Minnesota's front office likes to have payroll flexibility and tends to avoid long-term deals. Byron Buxton and Randy Dobnak are the only Twins players with options that extend beyond 2025. During the 2022 season, the Braves' payroll ranked in baseball's top 10, while the Twins ranked slightly below league average at 16th. Atlanta's long-term investments come with inherited risk. Players can suffer catastrophic injuries and miss significant playing time. There is also no guarantee that these players will continue to develop at the big-league level. The Braves have already won a World Series, and they hope they can contend for multiple other titles over the next five years. Fans can forget poor play if World Series flags are flying forever. Atlanta can also hope that a few of these players produce at a superstar level to outweigh the dead money on the other contracts. For the Twins to follow the Braves' strategy, the right players are needed to make these deals work out in the team's favor. Minnesota signed Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler to team-friendly extensions, and an argument can be made that both contracts worked out in the team's favor. Polanco's contract can max out at $48.25 million, and he has provided the Twins with nearly $80 million in value since 2019. Kepler's deal can be worth just over $42 million, and he has been worth $72.6 million. Those deals have worked out in Minnesota's favor, so who can the team target for extensions? Health has been the biggest issue for young Twins players, including many of the team's recent top prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Matt Canterino, and Trevor Larnach. All these players might be extension candidates if health wasn't a question at the beginning of their big-league careers. Those aren't the only players who are extension candidates following the 2022 season. Luis Arraez, Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, and Jose Miranda are some younger players the Twins could consider for a long-term extension. Arraez won his first batting title in 2022, and the Twins have him under team control for three more seasons. It will be harder to lock-up Arraez as he gets closer to free agency. Ryan, Duran, and Miranda are pre-arbitration eligible, so they are under team control through the 2027 season. The Twins can try and sign them early to gain extra years of team control. Minnesota's current front office likes to clean the team's long-term books, which allows for more flexibility. However, other teams are locking up their young players to help the organization continue to win. Do you think the Twins front office needs to change strategies? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. Baseball organizations tend to follow the trends set by other successful teams. In recent years, the Braves have solidified themselves as a model franchise, and other organizations will look to copy their winning model. The club's ability to sign players to long-term contracts is part of its success. Is this approach something the Twins should consider? Earlier this week, the Braves announced they signed rookie starting pitcher Spencer Strider to an extension that buys out his arbitration seasons while giving the team two extra years of control. Michael Harris II, another Braves rookie, also signed an extension earlier this season that followed a similar structure. These aren't the only players the Braves have been able to lock up. Besides Strider and Harris, Atlanta has also signed some of their other top players to long-term deals. Matt Olson and Austin Riley signed extensions during the 2022 season. Previously, the Braves had signed Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies to very friendly long-term deals. Atlanta is guaranteeing money to players beyond their arbitration years which has risk, but the Braves are hoping to see the players outperform the value they are paying. The Braves and the Twins have different philosophies when creating their rosters. Atlanta has over $150 million in guaranteed money on the books for 2024, with nearly $100 million going out as far as 2028. Minnesota's front office likes to have payroll flexibility and tends to avoid long-term deals. Byron Buxton and Randy Dobnak are the only Twins players with options that extend beyond 2025. During the 2022 season, the Braves' payroll ranked in baseball's top 10, while the Twins ranked slightly below league average at 16th. Atlanta's long-term investments come with inherited risk. Players can suffer catastrophic injuries and miss significant playing time. There is also no guarantee that these players will continue to develop at the big-league level. The Braves have already won a World Series, and they hope they can contend for multiple other titles over the next five years. Fans can forget poor play if World Series flags are flying forever. Atlanta can also hope that a few of these players produce at a superstar level to outweigh the dead money on the other contracts. For the Twins to follow the Braves' strategy, the right players are needed to make these deals work out in the team's favor. Minnesota signed Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler to team-friendly extensions, and an argument can be made that both contracts worked out in the team's favor. Polanco's contract can max out at $48.25 million, and he has provided the Twins with nearly $80 million in value since 2019. Kepler's deal can be worth just over $42 million, and he has been worth $72.6 million. Those deals have worked out in Minnesota's favor, so who can the team target for extensions? Health has been the biggest issue for young Twins players, including many of the team's recent top prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Matt Canterino, and Trevor Larnach. All these players might be extension candidates if health wasn't a question at the beginning of their big-league careers. Those aren't the only players who are extension candidates following the 2022 season. Luis Arraez, Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, and Jose Miranda are some younger players the Twins could consider for a long-term extension. Arraez won his first batting title in 2022, and the Twins have him under team control for three more seasons. It will be harder to lock-up Arraez as he gets closer to free agency. Ryan, Duran, and Miranda are pre-arbitration eligible, so they are under team control through the 2027 season. The Twins can try and sign them early to gain extra years of team control. Minnesota's current front office likes to clean the team's long-term books, which allows for more flexibility. However, other teams are locking up their young players to help the organization continue to win. Do you think the Twins front office needs to change strategies? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. In a crummy season like this one, it's nice to have legitimate silver linings to fall back on. The 2022 Twins provided those, by receiving so many impact performances from major-league rookies with bright (cost-controlled) futures ahead of them that it was very difficult for our panel to settle on this award. Ultimately, the winner is flame-throwing phenom Jhoan Durán. Image courtesy of Thiéres Rabelo, Twins Daily Twins Daily panelists had three excellent choices in front of them when trying to select the best rookie on this year's Twins team. Joe Ryan delivered one of the best rookie campaigns by a starting pitcher in team history, posting a 13-8 record and 3.55 ERA in 27 starts. He led the team in innings. José Miranda shook off a slow start after debuting in May with a torrid summer on the way to a 116 OPS+, 15 home runs, and a team-leading 66 RBIs. Both Ryan and Miranda were essential to keeping their respective units afloat. Ryan, outside of a bout with COVID, stayed healthy all year in an injury-plagued rotation, and was consistently effective for the most part. Miranda was at times the only credible threat in a slump-prone lineup, the antidote for an offense allergic to hitting with RISP. But I don't think anyone can argue against the fact that Jhoan Durán's importance to this year's bullpen is unparalleled. He was not only their most reliable reliever, but oftentimes their only reliable reliever. He did marvelous, magical things on the mound that Minnesota Twins fans (and major-league baseball fans) have never seen before. Durán was barely the choice for Twins Daily Rookie of the Year, beating out Miranda by an extremely slim margin, but he was absolutely the right choice. These five numbers explain why. Jhoan Duran's Spectacular Rookie Season, by the Numbers 103.8 MPH The radar reading on Durán's hardest fastball of the season, thrown on September 27th, setting a new Twins franchise record for fastest recorded pitch. Naturally, he broke his own record, set at 103.3 MPH back in May, which itself broke his own record set earlier that month. Durán's laser beam against Elvis Andrus of the White Sox was rounded up on the TV broadcast, flashing an absurd 104 MPH. 100.8 MPH The velocity of a "splinker" thrown by Durán on August 29th against Boston, becoming the first offspeed pitch in major-league history to clock at 100-plus MPH. It was one of the nastiest and most untouchable pitches ever witnessed, sending a hopeless Alex Verdugo to the bench on strike three. The presence of Durán's splitter-sinker combo alongside his red-hot heater is crucial to his success, giving batters the almost impossible task of deciphering which one's coming within a sliver of a second. While the right-hander's fastball velo is rare – only a select few pitchers like Ryan Helsley and Jordan Hicks operate in that realm – his "offspeed" juice is what truly sets him apart. No one else is coming close to this velocity on a splitter. He's a unicorn. Of course, all of this eye-popping velocity wouldn't mean much if he couldn't command it and throw it in the zone. But he did. 69.31% Percentage of pitches thrown for strikes by Durán, the 11th-best mark for any MLB reliever. He allowed only 16 walks in 67 ⅔ innings (2.1 BB/9), and issued multiple free passes in an appearance once all year. The dread felt by opposing hitters stepping in against the imposing 6-foot-5 specimen was only made worse by the fact that trying to coax a walk was unlikely to be fruitful. As Aaron Gleeman marveled at The Athletic not long ago: "He relentlessly pounds the strike zone with arguably the best raw stuff in the world, changing speeds and eye levels in a way that almost seems unfair. Duran is destined to be one of the greatest relievers in Twins history if they can keep him healthy. He’s unreal." 1.86 Durán's final ERA in 2022, the 7th-best mark for any reliever in Twins history. His combination of elite stuff and precision command have led to complete and total dominance for Durán, who held opponents to a .207 average and struck out more than a third of the batters he faced (33.5%). His 1.86 ERA trails only these six seasons from Twins relievers, half of which belong to the great Joe Nathan: Dennys Reyes, 2006 (0.89) Joe Nathan, 2008 (1.33) Al Worthington, 1964 (1.37) Joe Nathan, 2006 (1.58) Joe Nathan, 2004 (1.62) Caleb Thielbar, 2013 (1.76) Durán was at his best during the second half, posting a 1.05 ERA with only one home run allowed in 24 appearances. 4.59 Durán's final Win Probability Added, which led all American League pitchers and ranked second among MLB relievers. Only Daniel Bard of the Rockies made a bigger impact on his team's outcomes. To me, this measurement gets to the core of what made Durán so remarkable and indispensable. Not only was he putting absolutely ridiculous numbers against big-league hitters ... he was doing it against the BEST big-league hitters in the BIGGEST spots. Once Rocco Baldelli became aware of what he had in Durán, the reliever was permanently pushed into a "fireman" role. Nearly every appearance was under duress, with the game hanging in the balance, and the heart of the opposing order due up. To pitch so well, in such consistently difficult circumstances, as a rookie with 16 previous innings of experiences above Double-A ... it's incomprehensible. Among all MLB rookie relievers since 1990, only Jonathan Papelbon has posted a higher WPA than Durán did in 2022. That was in 2006, the first of four straight All-Star seasons for Papelbon. Amidst all of these amazing numbers, the most important one for Durán might be 57. That's the number of appearances he made for the Twins, staying healthy and strong all year long as a go-to linchpin in the bullpen after totaling five appearances last year, when a forearm strain derailed his season. For all the worst-case scenarios that played out with the Twins this year from a health standpoint, Durán completely shaking off last year's elbow issues was a direly needed exception to the rule. If he can continue to keep that golden arm rocking, he'll be a vital asset in whatever this team is trying to build. Durán's rookie season was one for the ages. FINAL VOTING POINTS TALLY: Durán: 42 Miranda: 40 Ryan: 31 Moran: 6 Winder: 3 Celestino: 3 Varland: 1 View full article
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