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  1. The Twins are closing in on 1,000 home runs at Target Field and plenty of memorable players have helped them reach this milestone. Here are the players that cracked the back-half of the top-10 and their biggest hits. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 View full article
  2. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15
  3. Nelson Cruz clocked his 40th home run over the weekend and in the process became a member of the 400-home run club. Earlier in the year, I wrote about his unlikely quest for 400 home runs with the biggest caveat being that he didn’t hit his first home runs until he was 26 years old. Now he’s on the brink of one of the best seasons ever for a 39-year old player and it certainly looks like the Twins stole him on the free agent market. So how does Cruz stack up against the other top free agents in Twins history?Nelson Cruz (2019) Baseball Reference WAR: 4.0 Cruz has smashed almost every designated hitter record in Twins history. He became only the third player in franchise history to hit 40 home runs following in the footsteps of Harmon Killebrew and Brian Dozier. He set the team’s DH records for home runs and RBIs and will add to those totals with a handful of games remaining this season. The influence of Cruz goes well beyond the numbers he has put up on the field as he has served in a mentor role to many players on the Twins roster. There’s no doubt in my mind that Miguel Sano wouldn’t have hit 30 home runs this season if not for the mentorship provided by Cruz. Josh Willingham (2012) Baseball Reference WAR: 3.3 Willingham doesn’t get as much reignition for his impact because he played on a pair of bad Twins teams. However, his 2012 campaign was one of the best in franchise history for a free agent signing. His defense was atrocious in the outfield, but he clubbed 35 home runs and collected 110 RBI, both career highs. He’d be out of the league after two more seasons, but it doesn’t take anything away from his first year in a Twins uniform. Like Cruz, he was credited with being a mentor to other players and he helped Brian Dozier turn in to a power-hitting threat in the years that followed his signing. Jim Thome (2010) Baseball Reference WAR: 3.6 At his signing,Thome was near the end of a career that led him to be enshrined in Cooperstown, but he had a little magic left in the tank during Target Fields’ first season. He hit 25 home runs, but it sure felt like a lot more with his foul pole shot and walk-off hits to help the club. Target Field was packed on a nightly basis and Thome was certainly helping the club on their way to the AL Central title. Heck, even Sports Illustrated did a story on him that season and it takes a lot for them to make their way to Minnesota. He hit his 600th home run while in a Twins uniform, but his impact on the club was felt long after he had left the city. Jack Morris (1991) Baseball Reference WAR: 4.3 Jack Morris only played one season in a Twins uniform, but it was certainly a memorable one. He went on to be an All-Star that season and pitched one of the greatest games in baseball history. At age 36, it would be his last All-Star appearance and it would be the last season he pitched over 245 innings. He led the American League in games started for only the second time in his career and he had 10 complete games to his credit by season’s end. He was a workhorse on a team that needed starting pitching help to reach the ultimate goal. Other pitchers like Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson were able to outperform expectations that season and maybe Morris and his example were able to play a role in helping the team. These are just a few of the team’s best free agent signings. Who was left off the list? Who would you rank as the team’s best free agent signing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  4. Nelson Cruz (2019) Baseball Reference WAR: 4.0 Cruz has smashed almost every designated hitter record in Twins history. He became only the third player in franchise history to hit 40 home runs following in the footsteps of Harmon Killebrew and Brian Dozier. He set the team’s DH records for home runs and RBIs and will add to those totals with a handful of games remaining this season. The influence of Cruz goes well beyond the numbers he has put up on the field as he has served in a mentor role to many players on the Twins roster. There’s no doubt in my mind that Miguel Sano wouldn’t have hit 30 home runs this season if not for the mentorship provided by Cruz. Josh Willingham (2012) Baseball Reference WAR: 3.3 Willingham doesn’t get as much reignition for his impact because he played on a pair of bad Twins teams. However, his 2012 campaign was one of the best in franchise history for a free agent signing. His defense was atrocious in the outfield, but he clubbed 35 home runs and collected 110 RBI, both career highs. He’d be out of the league after two more seasons, but it doesn’t take anything away from his first year in a Twins uniform. Like Cruz, he was credited with being a mentor to other players and he helped Brian Dozier turn in to a power-hitting threat in the years that followed his signing. Jim Thome (2010) Baseball Reference WAR: 3.6 At his signing,Thome was near the end of a career that led him to be enshrined in Cooperstown, but he had a little magic left in the tank during Target Fields’ first season. He hit 25 home runs, but it sure felt like a lot more with his foul pole shot and walk-off hits to help the club. Target Field was packed on a nightly basis and Thome was certainly helping the club on their way to the AL Central title. Heck, even Sports Illustrated did a story on him that season and it takes a lot for them to make their way to Minnesota. He hit his 600th home run while in a Twins uniform, but his impact on the club was felt long after he had left the city. Jack Morris (1991) Baseball Reference WAR: 4.3 Jack Morris only played one season in a Twins uniform, but it was certainly a memorable one. He went on to be an All-Star that season and pitched one of the greatest games in baseball history. At age 36, it would be his last All-Star appearance and it would be the last season he pitched over 245 innings. He led the American League in games started for only the second time in his career and he had 10 complete games to his credit by season’s end. He was a workhorse on a team that needed starting pitching help to reach the ultimate goal. Other pitchers like Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson were able to outperform expectations that season and maybe Morris and his example were able to play a role in helping the team. These are just a few of the team’s best free agent signings. Who was left off the list? Who would you rank as the team’s best free agent signing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Brian Dozier has been on quite the streak to start the season. With a hit on Sunday, Dozier has hit safely in a team record 16 games to start the season. He has the longest active streak in baseball and his streak actually dates back to September 22 last season. What’s been working for Dozier? How has a career .252 hitter compiled the best streak of his career?Inside the Numbers Entering play on Monday, Dozier has hit in 23 straight games and he’s batting .378 (37-for-98) during that stretch. Dozier’s 16-game hitting streak to start the season allowed him to pass Kirby Puckett and Josh Willingham for longest in club history to start a season. Puckett started the 1994 season with a 15 game streak and Josh Willingham matched the feat in 2012. In Monday night’s game, Dozier did collect a hit to move his streak to 24 straight games. An even more impressive streak might be the fact that Dozier has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games. The last time Dozier didn’t reach base was September 10, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals. He went 0-for-3 in the game before being lifted for a pinch hitter in a blow-out loss. With a walk in his first at-bat on Monday, Dozier stretched this streak to 34 games. During his on-base streak, Dozier’s .346 batting average trails Carlos Correa (.355) in the entire American League. Aaron Judge (.482 OBP) and Xander Bogaerts (.429 OBP) are the only AL players with a better on-base percentage during that stretch. A New Approach? Dozier has been known as a pull-hitter for most of his career. Even this season, you can see that all of his home runs are pulled down the third base line. However over the last couple of seasons, there has been a shift in his approach at the plate. The 2016 season saw all but three of his home runs come outside of left-center to the first base foul line. In 2017, he had seven home runs in that range but he also had more hits to the opposite field. As part of Minnesota’s trip to New York, Dozier stopped by MLB Network to discuss how his swing has evolved throughout his career. One golf outing with Tom Brunansky might have unlocked Dozier’s power potential. The video below is a great conversation to hear some insights into Dozier’s approach at the plate. He talks at length about his home run in last year’s Wild Card game. Golfing for the Fences Dozier’s approach at the plate has allowed him to have some good coverage of the entire strike zone. During his 34-game on-base streak, pitches in the bottom half of the zone have been where Dozier has done the most damage. Apparently, Dozier’s golf swing is also helping him to get to pitches lower in the zone. Dozier will be a free agent at season’s end and he’s certainly seemed to be on a mission so far this season. His new swing could also help him reach some Minnesota Twins milestones in the coming months. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak is still a long ways away but Twins fans can have some fun watching Dozier as he goes streaking. Around Twins Daily Week in Review: Too Many Missteps Twins Minor League Report (4/22): Romero Strikes Out 10, Buxton Rehabs Max Kepler Improving His Approach in 2018 Click here to view the article
  6. Inside the Numbers Entering play on Monday, Dozier has hit in 23 straight games and he’s batting .378 (37-for-98) during that stretch. Dozier’s 16-game hitting streak to start the season allowed him to pass Kirby Puckett and Josh Willingham for longest in club history to start a season. Puckett started the 1994 season with a 15 game streak and Josh Willingham matched the feat in 2012. In Monday night’s game, Dozier did collect a hit to move his streak to 24 straight games. An even more impressive streak might be the fact that Dozier has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games. The last time Dozier didn’t reach base was September 10, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals. He went 0-for-3 in the game before being lifted for a pinch hitter in a blow-out loss. With a walk in his first at-bat on Monday, Dozier stretched this streak to 34 games. During his on-base streak, Dozier’s .346 batting average trails Carlos Correa (.355) in the entire American League. Aaron Judge (.482 OBP) and Xander Bogaerts (.429 OBP) are the only AL players with a better on-base percentage during that stretch. A New Approach? Dozier has been known as a pull-hitter for most of his career. Even this season, you can see that all of his home runs are pulled down the third base line. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/988508948310478848 However over the last couple of seasons, there has been a shift in his approach at the plate. The 2016 season saw all but three of his home runs come outside of left-center to the first base foul line. In 2017, he had seven home runs in that range but he also had more hits to the opposite field. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/988510747478183937 As part of Minnesota’s trip to New York, Dozier stopped by MLB Network to discuss how his swing has evolved throughout his career. One golf outing with Tom Brunansky might have unlocked Dozier’s power potential. The video below is a great conversation to hear some insights into Dozier’s approach at the plate. He talks at length about his home run in last year’s Wild Card game. https://twitter.com/markdero7/status/988553917729574913 Golfing for the Fences Dozier’s approach at the plate has allowed him to have some good coverage of the entire strike zone. During his 34-game on-base streak, pitches in the bottom half of the zone have been where Dozier has done the most damage. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/988580710771552256 Apparently, Dozier’s golf swing is also helping him to get to pitches lower in the zone. Dozier will be a free agent at season’s end and he’s certainly seemed to be on a mission so far this season. His new swing could also help him reach some Minnesota Twins milestones in the coming months. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak is still a long ways away but Twins fans can have some fun watching Dozier as he goes streaking. Around Twins Daily Week in Review: Too Many Missteps Twins Minor League Report (4/22): Romero Strikes Out 10, Buxton Rehabs Max Kepler Improving His Approach in 2018
  7. Today, though, I'm going to pick out the worst players for the Twins at each position, DH included, since 1989. Here are the stipulations. 1. The players have to come from a losing season. 2. They had to have played at least half of their season at the specific position during a losing season. 2a. For the DH position, they had to lead the team in appearances as a DH in that given year. 2b. The starting pitcher had to make at least 15 starts during the season. 3. While the Twins have strung together consecutive losing seasons, I am not allowing players to span seasons. They had to play in a specific year. 4. We are excluding 2016 because we are not even a quarter of the way into the season. We could revisit this at the end of the season. 5. I'm only picking one starting pitcher and no one from the bullpen. Again, that is a post for another time. The rules are set! Let's do this. Catcher - Matt Walbeck 1994 Walbeck was never known for his offense but really had no business ever being a starting catcher. He played in 97 games for the Twins in 1994, starting 89 of them at catcher. He hit a measly .204 and had a minus 20 runs above average. His defense was above league average and he threw out a career high 39 percent of base stealers that season. That still wasn't enough to avoid putting him on this team. Especially when you consider the 1994 Twins had the fifth best team batting average in the American League. First Base - Scott Stahoviak 1997 The Twins thought they had found the first baseman of the future in 1996 when Stahoviak hit .284 with 13 home runs and 30 doubles. Problem was that Stahoviak did not return in 1997. Stahoviak hit .229 in 91 games, was a minus 13 in runs above average and committed seven errors on defense. Stahoviak also struck out a lot. He struck out 114 times in 1996 and 73 times in 1997. His career percentage of at bats that ended in strikeouts was 24. The league average over that time span was 16.3 percent. We should have seen the dramatic drop off. Stahoviak hit .364 on balls put in play in 1996. That dropped to .270 in 1997. The Twins would move on from one tough-to-spell last name to another in the next couple seasons. Second Base - Wally Backman 1989 The Twins probably believed they were getting a middle-of-his-prime player in Wally Backman when they received him in an off-season trade. Backman, at age 28, had hit .303 in 99 games in 1988. He was a veteran and the term "professional" was probably thrown around a bunch of times when describing him. He ended up being pretty terrible in his lone season with the Twins. A .231 average was just the half of it. His WAR, -2.7, and RAA, -18, were both career lows for Backman. He hit .268 on balls put in play and had a .306 on base percentage. Both were well below his career averagesfor those stats. He was never a great defensive second baseman but was solid during his time with the Mets. With the Twins, though, he had a minus 6 total zone fieldiung runs above average. Backman would spend 14 years in the league and never have one more trying than his season with the Twins. He would move on to Pittsburgh the next season and only return to the American League in 1993 when he played 10 games in Seattle. Shortstop - Cristian Guzman 1999 This one was hard. It was between Guzman and 2013 Pedro Florimon. Both were pretty terrible at the plate but it was Guzman's struggles in the field that give him the edge. He committed 24 errors as a shortstop that season. That ended up being tied for second in the American League for a shortstop and tied fifth most in the AL for any position that season. His batting didn't win him any fans either. He hit .226 with 90 strikeouts. He was striking out in nearly 20 percent of his plate appearances. Considering that he played 131 games in 1999 shows you how committed the Twins were to the young man. It would eventually pay off as he led the league in triples three times and go on to be a career .271 hitter. Third Base - Danny Valencia 2011 Known more for his looks than playing ability, Valencia surprised some people with a strong 2010. His power numbers were solid in 2011 but it was the strikeouts and defense that were down right ugly. He struck out 102 times in 608 plate appearances. He was a team leader in that category. The defense was even worse. Valencia committed 18 errors at third base and had a total zone rating of minus 18. He would never again close in on the nearly 1,300 innings he played in 2011. In defense of Valencia, he was the Twins most consistent player in 2011. His 154 games led a team that was plagued by injury. There really was no other option but to play the guy. Left Field - Josh Willingham 2013 Josh Willingham mashed 35 home runs and drove in 110 RBIs in 2012. Both career highs and numbers the Twins hoped he would duplicate in 2012. Instead they got a .208 hitter that had a runs better than average of minus 15. His homer per at bat rate in 2012 was 14.8. It dropped to 28.8 in 2013. Never a great fielder, Willingham's defensive runs saved above average was minus 8. That number was minus 13 the year prior but you could ignore that when you are driving in 110 runs. The other problem Willingham tended to encounter was injuries and 2013 was no different. Maybe a healthy Willingham, much like the one the Twins had in 2012, would've performed differently. We will never know. Center Field - Rich Becker 1995 Rich Becker's first full season in the majors was one to forget. He was not quite ready for the duties of patrolling the outfield. Add in the pressure of replacing the greatest Twins of all-time in Kirby Puckett and you have the makings of a disaster. Becker's runs above average was minus 24 as a hitter and his .303 on base percentage was the worst of his career. His defense was not terrible but he was taking over for a six-time gold glove winner. Unless you are Torii Hunter, you are not going to win approval based on being average. Becker would improve and hit .279 while driving in 116 runs over the next two seasons. Numbers the Twins would gladly take from their center fielder today. Right Field - Oswaldo Arcia 2014 Arcia hit 20 home runs in 2014 and at the age of 23 was believed to be an up-and-coming power hitter. However, the power numbers belied the reality behind Arica. He struck out 127 times or once every three at-bats. His patience was starting to go away as well as he swung at the 1st pitch 32 percent of the time. He struck out 31 percent of time and would have been 4th in the majors had he qualified. His defense wasn't much better. He had a .975 fielding percentage, well bellow the league average of .986 for a right fielder. He would become way more impatient at the plate the next season and was eventually sent down to the minors. He's back, now, and showing more patience at the plate although the strike outs are still prevalent. Designated Hitter - Ryan Doumit 2013 Doumit led the team with 49 games played as the DH in 2013. He hit .220 with a .351 slugging percentage and just five homers as a DH that season. He also struck out 43 times in 191 at-bats. He split time between there, right field and catcher in 2013. The Twins would trade him in the off-season to the Atlanta Braves. Starting Pitcher - Nick Blackburn 2012 Nick Blackburn appeared in 19 games for the Twins in 2012, all of them starts. He had a 7.39 ERA, a ERA+ of 56, gave up an average of 2.1 home runs per nine innings over the span of 98.2 innings pitched. All 81 runs he gave up were earned and he only once got past the seventh inning. You have to take into account the starting pitching rotation to really appreciate how bad Blackburn was. The Twins had Scott Diamond start 27 games. Francisco Liriano started 17 games. Cole De Vries and Liam Hendriks both started 16 games. Sam Deduno started 15 and P.J. Walters started 12. Of all of those players, only Hendriks and Liarano are still in the league with several being out of the majors by 2013. It might be the Twins worst starting rotation ever. Of course, that is a different discussion for a different post.
  8. The Minnesota Twins have struggled this year. They have been swept six times and have only two victories on the road. Instead of building on last year's success, they have brought plenty of things into question. I could spend several days on what the reasons are behind the failures. That would just end up in a lot of head shaking and maybe even some tears. Instead, I intend to start a bar room type discussion. Some of you remember the Twins of the 60s or 70s or even the 80s. For me, it is the 1990s to now. I was born in 1989 and have been alive for 15 losing seasons. Some of those 15 seasons have been worse than the others and at a different time I may rank them accordingly.Today, though, I'm going to pick out the worst players for the Twins at each position, DH included, since 1989. Here are the stipulations. 1. The players have to come from a losing season. 2. They had to have played at least half of their season at the specific position during a losing season. 2a. For the DH position, they had to lead the team in appearances as a DH in that given year. 2b. The starting pitcher had to make at least 15 starts during the season. 3. While the Twins have strung together consecutive losing seasons, I am not allowing players to span seasons. They had to play in a specific year. 4. We are excluding 2016 because we are not even a quarter of the way into the season. We could revisit this at the end of the season. 5. I'm only picking one starting pitcher and no one from the bullpen. Again, that is a post for another time. The rules are set! Let's do this. Catcher - Matt Walbeck 1994 Walbeck was never known for his offense but really had no business ever being a starting catcher. He played in 97 games for the Twins in 1994, starting 89 of them at catcher. He hit a measly .204 and had a minus 20 runs above average. His defense was above league average and he threw out a career high 39 percent of base stealers that season. That still wasn't enough to avoid putting him on this team. Especially when you consider the 1994 Twins had the fifth best team batting average in the American League. First Base - Scott Stahoviak 1997 The Twins thought they had found the first baseman of the future in 1996 when Stahoviak hit .284 with 13 home runs and 30 doubles. Problem was that Stahoviak did not return in 1997. Stahoviak hit .229 in 91 games, was a minus 13 in runs above average and committed seven errors on defense. Stahoviak also struck out a lot. He struck out 114 times in 1996 and 73 times in 1997. His career percentage of at bats that ended in strikeouts was 24. The league average over that time span was 16.3 percent. We should have seen the dramatic drop off. Stahoviak hit .364 on balls put in play in 1996. That dropped to .270 in 1997. The Twins would move on from one tough-to-spell last name to another in the next couple seasons. Second Base - Wally Backman 1989 The Twins probably believed they were getting a middle-of-his-prime player in Wally Backman when they received him in an off-season trade. Backman, at age 28, had hit .303 in 99 games in 1988. He was a veteran and the term "professional" was probably thrown around a bunch of times when describing him. He ended up being pretty terrible in his lone season with the Twins. A .231 average was just the half of it. His WAR, -2.7, and RAA, -18, were both career lows for Backman. He hit .268 on balls put in play and had a .306 on base percentage. Both were well below his career averagesfor those stats. He was never a great defensive second baseman but was solid during his time with the Mets. With the Twins, though, he had a minus 6 total zone fieldiung runs above average. Backman would spend 14 years in the league and never have one more trying than his season with the Twins. He would move on to Pittsburgh the next season and only return to the American League in 1993 when he played 10 games in Seattle. Shortstop - Cristian Guzman 1999 This one was hard. It was between Guzman and 2013 Pedro Florimon. Both were pretty terrible at the plate but it was Guzman's struggles in the field that give him the edge. He committed 24 errors as a shortstop that season. That ended up being tied for second in the American League for a shortstop and tied fifth most in the AL for any position that season. His batting didn't win him any fans either. He hit .226 with 90 strikeouts. He was striking out in nearly 20 percent of his plate appearances. Considering that he played 131 games in 1999 shows you how committed the Twins were to the young man. It would eventually pay off as he led the league in triples three times and go on to be a career .271 hitter. Third Base - Danny Valencia 2011 Known more for his looks than playing ability, Valencia surprised some people with a strong 2010. His power numbers were solid in 2011 but it was the strikeouts and defense that were down right ugly. He struck out 102 times in 608 plate appearances. He was a team leader in that category. The defense was even worse. Valencia committed 18 errors at third base and had a total zone rating of minus 18. He would never again close in on the nearly 1,300 innings he played in 2011. In defense of Valencia, he was the Twins most consistent player in 2011. His 154 games led a team that was plagued by injury. There really was no other option but to play the guy. Left Field - Josh Willingham 2013 Josh Willingham mashed 35 home runs and drove in 110 RBIs in 2012. Both career highs and numbers the Twins hoped he would duplicate in 2012. Instead they got a .208 hitter that had a runs better than average of minus 15. His homer per at bat rate in 2012 was 14.8. It dropped to 28.8 in 2013. Never a great fielder, Willingham's defensive runs saved above average was minus 8. That number was minus 13 the year prior but you could ignore that when you are driving in 110 runs. The other problem Willingham tended to encounter was injuries and 2013 was no different. Maybe a healthy Willingham, much like the one the Twins had in 2012, would've performed differently. We will never know. Center Field - Rich Becker 1995 Rich Becker's first full season in the majors was one to forget. He was not quite ready for the duties of patrolling the outfield. Add in the pressure of replacing the greatest Twins of all-time in Kirby Puckett and you have the makings of a disaster. Becker's runs above average was minus 24 as a hitter and his .303 on base percentage was the worst of his career. His defense was not terrible but he was taking over for a six-time gold glove winner. Unless you are Torii Hunter, you are not going to win approval based on being average. Becker would improve and hit .279 while driving in 116 runs over the next two seasons. Numbers the Twins would gladly take from their center fielder today. Right Field - Oswaldo Arcia 2014 Arcia hit 20 home runs in 2014 and at the age of 23 was believed to be an up-and-coming power hitter. However, the power numbers belied the reality behind Arica. He struck out 127 times or once every three at-bats. His patience was starting to go away as well as he swung at the 1st pitch 32 percent of the time. He struck out 31 percent of time and would have been 4th in the majors had he qualified. His defense wasn't much better. He had a .975 fielding percentage, well bellow the league average of .986 for a right fielder. He would become way more impatient at the plate the next season and was eventually sent down to the minors. He's back, now, and showing more patience at the plate although the strike outs are still prevalent. Designated Hitter - Ryan Doumit 2013 Doumit led the team with 49 games played as the DH in 2013. He hit .220 with a .351 slugging percentage and just five homers as a DH that season. He also struck out 43 times in 191 at-bats. He split time between there, right field and catcher in 2013. The Twins would trade him in the off-season to the Atlanta Braves. Starting Pitcher - Nick Blackburn 2012 Nick Blackburn appeared in 19 games for the Twins in 2012, all of them starts. He had a 7.39 ERA, a ERA+ of 56, gave up an average of 2.1 home runs per nine innings over the span of 98.2 innings pitched. All 81 runs he gave up were earned and he only once got past the seventh inning. You have to take into account the starting pitching rotation to really appreciate how bad Blackburn was. The Twins had Scott Diamond start 27 games. Francisco Liriano started 17 games. Cole De Vries and Liam Hendriks both started 16 games. Sam Deduno started 15 and P.J. Walters started 12. Of all of those players, only Hendriks and Liarano are still in the league with several being out of the majors by 2013. It might be the Twins worst starting rotation ever. Of course, that is a different discussion for a different post. Click here to view the article
  9. April 21, 1961 Inaugural Home Opener The 5-1 Twins played their first ever home game, taking on the expansion Washington Senators at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. The teams were tied 3-3 when the Senators scored 2 off of Ray Moore in the top of the 9th to win 5-3. Only 24,606 fans attended the game, 6,000 short of a sell-out despite a gametime temperature of 63 degrees. April 21, 1985 John Butcher 1hr 55min Complete Game Shutout The Twins had lost 9 in a row, falling to 2-9 on the season, entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when Twins pitcher John Butcher hurled a remarkable complete game shutout. Butcher allowed 3 hits, but faced just 28 batters, one over the minimum. He threw just 81 pitches and the game was over in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in both Twins runs in the 2-0 victory. It was the beginning of a 10-game Twins winning streak. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160417_192941%201_zpsqyt6tfrd.jpg April 21, 2007 Twins Start Season with 19 Consecutive Stolen Bases In the 17th game of the season, Alexi Casilla stole second base for the Twins' 19th consecutive successful steal attempt to start the season. Torii Hunter was caught stealing in the 8th to end the streak. With a 7-5 lead in Kansas City, Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th, with all three outs coming on called third strikes. April 21, 2012 Willingham Begins Twins Career with 15-Game Hit Streak First-year Twin, Josh Willingham, led off the top of the 9th in Tampa Bay with a line drive single to center, extending his season-opening hit streak to 15 games. Willingham would score on a Ryan Doumit sac fly, but the Twins lost 4-1. Willingham’s streak was the longest to begin a Twins career, and tied Kirby Puckett’s 1994 streak for the longest by a Twin to begin a season. For more Minnesota Twins history, like the Twins Almanac on Facebook, and follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
  10. In 2014, the position originally was intended for the incumbent Josh Willingham but on April 7th he was sidelined with a fractured wrist from a Justin Masterson’s pitch. That forced Jason Kubel into duty. But before long the position turned over again when Kubel was DFA’d and Willingham was traded to the Royals at the non-waiver deadline. The Twins used a mixture of Chris Parmelee, Eduardo Nunez and Jordan Schafer to conclude the year. With the exception of Schafer, and a handful of games from Sam Fuld, this unit was not particularly good. In fact, you might say it was the worst in baseball, at least by advanced fielding metrics standards. According to Ultimate Zone Rating found at Fangraphs.com, the left field position held a -19.3 UZR, the worst in baseball. Over at BillJamesOnline.net, their Plus/Minus rating provided by BIS said the Twins left field was at -25. If you look toward Inside Edge’s scouted data -- how many balls which were hit to left field were converted into outs -- well, it gets just slightly better. Inside Edge assigns a catchability value to each play that is then loaded into their overall database. These are broken down into categories like 90%-to-100% catchable, 60%-to-90%, 40%-to-60% and so on. For the Twins, they managed to catch 98.7% (27 of 30) of all balls that fell within the 90%-to-100% range. In the 60%-to-90% range, they tracked down an MLB-worst 56% of those plays. Of course, advanced fielding metrics have flaws. Scouts have biases. In terms of just the raw counts, the Twins fared OK. A generous OK. According to ESPN/TruMedia’s data, the Twins left fielders faced 769 fly balls or line drives that traveled over 200 feet in the air and stayed in the ballpark. Of those, they managed to convert 59.9% into outs which was roughly comparable to the league average of 60.4%. For those following the playoffs and watching the Royals’ Alex Gordon, you might hear that he has been viewed as one of the best defenders in the game. Not just the best defender in left field: everywhere. According to Fangraphs.com’s UZR, his 25.0 mark is the best in baseball in all positions. He apparently did not just get that way by being born into in. Gordon has a pregame warmup routine in the field which is borderline psychotic: That’s how players go from good to great. If Aaron Hicks ultimately takes the left field role in 2015, he should adopt something similar to improve his game. Next to the Twins’ 769 total flies/liners hit in left field, the Royals are second in baseball. Whereas the Twins were below average in converting balls into outs, the Royals’ left fielders, headlined by Gordon, stopped 63.7% of those balls from becoming hits. For the visual learners, here is the ESPN/TruMedia spray charts associated with the two teams. Notice the significant real estate gap that does not contain hits from the Royals (right) compared to the Twins (left): Gordon has been a beacon of hope to his pitching staff when balls have been launched in his direction; he is particularly skilled at going back on balls. On the other hand, Twins pitchers have suffered due to the inability of getting back on plays such as this one. http://i.imgur.com/Lsdop8J.gif That Dayan Viciedo fly ball, which was catchable on the track, was turned into a triple thanks to the misplay. And if you look at the spray chart above, there are other examples of this happening. This was a far too common occurrence according to the data. While it may not seem critical to some, the defensive integrity of this position is important because of the nature of the Twins’ pitching staff. As high-contact, low-strikeout hurlers they tend to allow more batted balls in play. As mentioned above, the Twins had the highest number of liners and flies hit toward left field. Many of them were deemed catchable by Inside Edge’s scouts. At worst, failing to do so gives the opposing team more opportunities to score and at the very least it adds unnecessary pitches to a highly-compensated pitcher’s totals. Be it internal, through trade or free agency, employing a left fielder in 2015 who can turn more of these hits into outs should be a priority for the front office this offseason.
  11. If there is one position that will be different for the Minnesota Twins in 2015, it appears that it will be left field. And if the team wants to reward it’s pitching staff, it should be a defensive-minded individual.In 2014, the position originally was intended for the incumbent Josh Willingham but on April 7th he was sidelined with a fractured wrist from a Justin Masterson’s pitch. That forced Jason Kubel into duty. But before long the position turned over again when Kubel was DFA’d and Willingham was traded to the Royals at the non-waiver deadline. The Twins used a mixture of Chris Parmelee, Eduardo Nunez and Jordan Schafer to conclude the year. With the exception of Schafer, and a handful of games from Sam Fuld, this unit was not particularly good. In fact, you might say it was the worst in baseball, at least by advanced fielding metrics standards. According to Ultimate Zone Rating found at Fangraphs.com, the left field position held a -19.3 UZR, the worst in baseball. Over at BillJamesOnline.net, their Plus/Minus rating provided by BIS said the Twins left field was at -25. If you look toward Inside Edge’s scouted data -- how many balls which were hit to left field were converted into outs -- well, it gets just slightly better. Inside Edge assigns a catchability value to each play that is then loaded into their overall database. These are broken down into categories like 90%-to-100% catchable, 60%-to-90%, 40%-to-60% and so on. For the Twins, they managed to catch 98.7% (27 of 30) of all balls that fell within the 90%-to-100% range. In the 60%-to-90% range, they tracked down an MLB-worst 56% of those plays. Of course, advanced fielding metrics have flaws. Scouts have biases. In terms of just the raw counts, the Twins fared OK. A generous OK. According to ESPN/TruMedia’s data, the Twins left fielders faced 769 fly balls or line drives that traveled over 200 feet in the air and stayed in the ballpark. Of those, they managed to convert 59.9% into outs which was roughly comparable to the league average of 60.4%. For those following the playoffs and watching the Royals’ Alex Gordon, you might hear that he has been viewed as one of the best defenders in the game. Not just the best defender in left field: everywhere. According to Fangraphs.com’s UZR, his 25.0 mark is the best in baseball in all positions. He apparently did not just get that way by being born into in. Gordon has a pregame warmup routine in the field which is borderline psychotic: That’s how players go from good to great. If Aaron Hicks ultimately takes the left field role in 2015, he should adopt something similar to improve his game. Next to the Twins’ 769 total flies/liners hit in left field, the Royals are second in baseball. Whereas the Twins were below average in converting balls into outs, the Royals’ left fielders, headlined by Gordon, stopped 63.7% of those balls from becoming hits. For the visual learners, here is the ESPN/TruMedia spray charts associated with the two teams. Notice the significant real estate gap that does not contain hits from the Royals (right) compared to the Twins (left): Download attachment: MIN_KC Spray Chart.png Gordon has been a beacon of hope to his pitching staff when balls have been launched in his direction; he is particularly skilled at going back on balls. On the other hand, Twins pitchers have suffered due to the inability of getting back on plays such as this one. http://i.imgur.com/Lsdop8J.gif That Dayan Viciedo fly ball, which was catchable on the track, was turned into a triple thanks to the misplay. And if you look at the spray chart above, there are other examples of this happening. This was a far too common occurrence according to the data. While it may not seem critical to some, the defensive integrity of this position is important because of the nature of the Twins’ pitching staff. As high-contact, low-strikeout hurlers they tend to allow more batted balls in play. As mentioned above, the Twins had the highest number of liners and flies hit toward left field. Many of them were deemed catchable by Inside Edge’s scouts. At worst, failing to do so gives the opposing team more opportunities to score and at the very least it adds unnecessary pitches to a highly-compensated pitcher’s totals. Be it internal, through trade or free agency, employing a left fielder in 2015 who can turn more of these hits into outs should be a priority for the front office this offseason. Click here to view the article
  12. "Joe Mauer. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time..." Joe Mauer might be the crazy, old wizard of Minnesota Twins lore at some point, but the former MVP has shown that he still has some magic left. The Minnesota Twins beat the Houston Astros 4-2 last night. Mauer returned to the line-up after missing six weeks, and went 2-4 with a walk and an RBI. Not a bad return for the 3 time Batting Champion. After the game he stated that he, "...expects his oblique soreness to continue for the rest of the season (Berardino, Pioneer Press)." I think it's safe to say that most Twins fans at this point expect his leg and back issue to continue for the rest of his career. Tommy Milone, the pitcher acquired for Sam Fuld, made his Twins debut, and went six strong innings. He gave up 8 hits, and 2 earned runs, off of 2 solo home runs. Milone struck out 5, and issued 3 walks. Milone was yanked after 97 pitches, typical for most Twins pitchers who flirt around the magical '100' number. It wasn't a shocker to see Jose Altuve hit a homer, but it was Chris Carter who really surprised me. As a former wide receiver for the Vikings, it's pretty disheartening to see him playing for the Astr...no? Wrong guy? Sorry. Danny Santana had a great night. He was 3-5 at the plate with a run. Kennys Vargas is going through some growing pains, and had a rather forgettable night. He was 1-5 with 2 strikeouts. Jordan Schafer was 0-3 with a walk, run, and strikeout. Brian Duenslinger picked up the win after Milone drew a no decision, and Glen Perkins got his 29th save of the season. Not bad for a team that only has 53 wins on the season. Josh Willingham was traded to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Jason Adam. Adam is 23 years young, and owns a career 4.67 ERA in 27 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He's pitched 100 strikeouts to 34 walks, which is a nice line for the youngster. The Royals hope to add a veteran "bat" to their line-up. *stifled laughter* The Twins are on a two game winning streak, and chasing the White Sox for 4th place in the AL Central. If the Twins can find some sort of a spark by calling up their minor leaguers, and adding some fresh faces to the team, I still don't expect them to finish any higher than 3rd, and that's quite the stretch. In Twins And Losses news, we have some announcements coming up within the month. Stay tuned for that, and thank you for the support! We appreciate everyone who's taken the time to read our posts, and left a comment, or engaged in conversation with us.
  13. Josh Willingham signed with the Twins prior to the 2012 season, ostensibly to fill the gap left by the departure of Michael Cuddyer. Initially, his 3 year/$21 million contract looked like a bargain. His right-handed pull swing seemed well-suited for Target Field as he slugged 35 home runs and won his first career Silver Slugger Award. But the next two years were plagued by injuries and sluggish performance. He hit just .208 last year with 14 home runs in 2013. This year, he has 12 home runs and a .210 batting average after a prolonged slump in late June and early July, albeit with a .345 on-base percentage. In his last game with the Twins, he hit a two-run home run, extending the Twins lead to 4-1 in a 6-1 win over the Athletics.
  14. The Minnesota Twins have announced that they have traded Josh Willingham to the Kansas City Royals for 23-year-old minor league pitcher Jason Adam. Adam was promoted to AAA last month after making 18 starts at AA, striking out 89 in 98.1 IP and walking 30 en route to a 5.03 ERA. In AAA, he has served solely as a reliever, posting a 2.35 ERA in 8 games, striking out 11 in 15 innings. He was a 5th round pick for the Royals in 2010. Prior to the season, the 6’4” right-hander still projected as a possible middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, albeit one who has struggled with his command, resulting in some very high hit rates. He was ranked as the 9th best prospect in the Royals system by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus prior to the season. He will report to AA-New Britain with the Twins and will return to starting.Josh Willingham signed with the Twins prior to the 2012 season, ostensibly to fill the gap left by the departure of Michael Cuddyer. Initially, his 3 year/$21 million contract looked like a bargain. His right-handed pull swing seemed well-suited for Target Field as he slugged 35 home runs and won his first career Silver Slugger Award. But the next two years were plagued by injuries and sluggish performance. He hit just .208 last year with 14 home runs in 2013. This year, he has 12 home runs and a .210 batting average after a prolonged slump in late June and early July, albeit with a .345 on-base percentage. In his last game with the Twins, he hit a two-run home run, extending the Twins lead to 4-1 in a 6-1 win over the Athletics. Click here to view the article
  15. On Tuesday, Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers had to report to Ft. Myers for spring training. Although many infielders and outfielders have already been working out at the Lee County Complex, they officially have to report on Friday and the team will have the first official full squad workout on Saturday. On Tuesday, I posted my first roster projections for the pitchers and catchers, and today, I’ll post my roster projections for the infielders and outfielders Each Friday through spring training, I’ll be taking a weekly look at the Twins roster and project who will make the Opening Day roster. After looking at 43 pitchers and catchers who reported Tuesday, today I’ll post a percent likelihood that each infielder and outfielder will be on the Twins Opening Day roster. As we learned on Thursday when the Twins signed Rafael Perez to a minor league contract with a spring training invite, the roster is still subject to change, and I will account for those each week.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] INFIELDERS 40 MAN ROSTER Jamey Carroll (100%), Justin Morneau (100%), Trevor Plouffe (100%), Pedro Florimon (66%), Brian Dozier (62%), Eduardo Escobar (51%), Danny Santana (0.6%) Justin Morneau will be at first base, and Trevor Plouffe will be at third base. After that, there are still plenty of question marks remaining. Question marks that may not be answered until the final week of the spring. Jamey Carroll will be on the roster. He could start at shortstop or second base, and he could be a three-position utility player. Pedro Florimon appears to be the favorite to start the season at shortstop. Brian Dozier could be given a very good opportunity to start at second base and told us not to give up on him as a shortstop. Remember that the Twins traditionally have two utility infielders on the roster. Eduardo Escobar can play all three positions very well, and was a utility infielder for the Chicago White Sox in 2012 until he was traded to the Twins for Francisco Liriano. Danny Santana will likely head to New Britain to start the season. NON-ROSTER INVITES Ray Olmedo (8.0%), Chris Colabello (1.0%), Jeff Clement (0.9%), Deibinson Romero (0.8%), Mark Sobolewski (0.7%), James Beresford (0.4%) In 2003, Ray Olmedo got 250 plate appearances as a 22-year-old for the Cincinnati Reds. Over the next three seasons, he had another 138 total plate appearances. He played in 27 games for the 2007 Toronto Blue Jays. He then was in the minor leagues until the White Sox called him up as a 31-year-old for 20 games in August and September (after Escobar was traded). Colabello was one of the best stories in the Twins farm system in 2012, his first year in affiliated ball. He also crushed the ball in Mexico this winter. He likely will go to Rochester, but with left-handed hitting 1B options (Morneau, Parmelee, Mauer), he could find a role as a right-handed part-time player for the Twins. The Twins drafted Clement out of high school, but he went to college and was the #3 overall pick of the Mariners in 2005. He has played in 152 games in the big leagues, for the Mariners and Pirates), including going 3-22 for the Pirates in 2012. Romero returns to Twins big league camp for the first time since he was a 40-man-roster member in 2009 spring training. A year later, he was off the 40 man roster, but he has remained with the only organization he has played for since signing with the team in 2006. Last year in New Britain, he hit .267/.356/.441 with 23 doubles and 19 home runs. Sobolewski was a minor league Rule 5 selection of the Twins in December. The third baseman was a 4th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2008. He hit 20 home runs in 2012 (18 in AA, 2 in AAA) and is known to be very good defensively at the hot corner. James Beresford became a free agent following the 2012 season, but he decided to remain with the only organization he’s known since signing with the Twins from Australia. He will again be on the Australian team in the WBC this spring. The middle infielder is a terrific leader and has a great glove. THE OUTFIELDERS 40 Man Roster Josh Willingham (100%), Darin Mastroianni (100%), Chris Parmelee (99%) Aaron Hicks (48%), Joe Benson (42%), Oswaldo Arcia (1.2%) Josh Willingham had the best season of his career and earned his Silver Slugger Award with career-high 35 home runs and 110 RBI. Right Field has been opened up for Chris Parmelee to take after he dominated AAA and has earned the opportunity. He will have to take the job and make it his as Twins minor league hitter of the year, Oswaldo Arcia, is quickly moving up the system behind him and should make his major league debut sometime in 2013. The biggest question mark of spring training is who will take the centerfield position. Darin Mastroianni will make the team. He will be given a shot to win the starting job after doing a nice job in the 4th outfielder role. Aaron Hicks is the name that most people are talking about. The 23-year-old had a breakout season in 2012 in AA New Britain, showing the immense talent that made him the 14th overall pick in 2008. He will have to take the job in spring, but there is little doubt that he will debut in 2013 with the Twins. The name that is too often forgotten is Joe Benson. One year ago at this time, he came to spring training after making his major league debut the September before. He was as highly-regarded last year as Hicks is this year. He was hurt the entire 2012 season and tried to play through the pain as long as he could. He is blessed with amazing athleticism and talent, and if healthy, he can still be an impact player. One important question is whether Benson would be considered an option as the 4th outfielder, or would they still want the ultra-competitive 25-year-old to continue to play every day. Non-Roster Invites Brandon Boggs (17%), Clete Thomas (14%), Wilkin Ramirez (7.0%), Brian Dinkelman (1.9%) If Mastroianni starts the season as a starter, and the Twins decide that they want Hicks and Benson to play every day in Rochester, Brandon Boggs and Clete Thomas will compete for the 4th outfield spot on the roster. We saw Thomas last year when he had one impressive game before becoming unable to make contact. Once he went down to Rochester, he was OK, and he certainly could be a 4th outfielder because he’s good defensively and we know he’s better than he showed with the Twins in 2012. Boggs was the 4th round pick of the Rangers in 2004 out of Georgia Tech. As a 25-year-old in 2008, he played in 101 games for the Rangers. He played in just 13 games for the Rangers over the next two seasons and 16 games for the Brewers in 2011. Last year in AAA Indianapolis, he hit .259/.359/.408 with 24 doubles, five triples and nine home runs. In 481 plate appearances, he walked 62 times, but he also struckout 120 times. But again, we’re just talking about a 4th outfield spot for a month or two. Ramirez came to Twins camp a year ago, but unfortunately, he was hurt in camp. After rehabbing, he hit .276/.316/.451 with 18 doubles and 15 home runs in 98 games in Rochester. He played 15 games (13 PAs) for Detroit as a 23-year-old in 2009 and 20 games (30 PAs) for the Atlanta Braves in 2011. What hurts his chances of making the Twins roster as a fourth outfielder is that he is really a corner outfielder with limited centerfield time in his career. Brian Dinkelman was the Twins 8th round pick in 2006 out of NAIA McKendree University. He debuted and played in 23 games as a 27-year-old in 2011. He hit .301 in his 73 big league at bats. In 2012, he missed a lot of time with injury. ROSTER PROJECTION #1 (2/15/13): Infielders (6): Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar Outfielders (4): Josh Willingham, Chris Parmelee, Darin Mastroianni, Joe Benson Catchers (3): Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera Starting Pitchers (5): Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia, Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks, Kyle Gibson (Diamond and/or Pelfrey likely starting season on DL) Relief Pitchers (7): Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Josh Roenicke, Tim Wood (Anthony Swarzak possibly on the DL?) What are your thoughts or projections on the Twins Opening Day roster as Pitchers and Catchers report? Make your 25-man-roster projections and we'll check back on Opening Day to see who got the most right. View full article
  16. On Tuesday, Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers had to report to Ft. Myers for spring training. Although many infielders and outfielders have already been working out at the Lee County Complex, they officially have to report on Friday and the team will have the first official full squad workout on Saturday. On Tuesday, I posted my first roster projections for the pitchers and catchers, and today, I’ll post my roster projections for the infielders and outfielders Each Friday through spring training, I’ll be taking a weekly look at the Twins roster and project who will make the Opening Day roster. After looking at 43 pitchers and catchers who reported Tuesday, today I’ll post a percent likelihood that each infielder and outfielder will be on the Twins Opening Day roster. As we learned on Thursday when the Twins signed Rafael Perez to a minor league contract with a spring training invite, the roster is still subject to change, and I will account for those each week.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] INFIELDERS 40 MAN ROSTER Jamey Carroll (100%), Justin Morneau (100%), Trevor Plouffe (100%), Pedro Florimon (66%), Brian Dozier (62%), Eduardo Escobar (51%), Danny Santana (0.6%) Justin Morneau will be at first base, and Trevor Plouffe will be at third base. After that, there are still plenty of question marks remaining. Question marks that may not be answered until the final week of the spring. Jamey Carroll will be on the roster. He could start at shortstop or second base, and he could be a three-position utility player. Pedro Florimon appears to be the favorite to start the season at shortstop. Brian Dozier could be given a very good opportunity to start at second base and told us not to give up on him as a shortstop. Remember that the Twins traditionally have two utility infielders on the roster. Eduardo Escobar can play all three positions very well, and was a utility infielder for the Chicago White Sox in 2012 until he was traded to the Twins for Francisco Liriano. Danny Santana will likely head to New Britain to start the season. NON-ROSTER INVITES Ray Olmedo (8.0%), Chris Colabello (1.0%), Jeff Clement (0.9%), Deibinson Romero (0.8%), Mark Sobolewski (0.7%), James Beresford (0.4%) In 2003, Ray Olmedo got 250 plate appearances as a 22-year-old for the Cincinnati Reds. Over the next three seasons, he had another 138 total plate appearances. He played in 27 games for the 2007 Toronto Blue Jays. He then was in the minor leagues until the White Sox called him up as a 31-year-old for 20 games in August and September (after Escobar was traded). Colabello was one of the best stories in the Twins farm system in 2012, his first year in affiliated ball. He also crushed the ball in Mexico this winter. He likely will go to Rochester, but with left-handed hitting 1B options (Morneau, Parmelee, Mauer), he could find a role as a right-handed part-time player for the Twins. The Twins drafted Clement out of high school, but he went to college and was the #3 overall pick of the Mariners in 2005. He has played in 152 games in the big leagues, for the Mariners and Pirates), including going 3-22 for the Pirates in 2012. Romero returns to Twins big league camp for the first time since he was a 40-man-roster member in 2009 spring training. A year later, he was off the 40 man roster, but he has remained with the only organization he has played for since signing with the team in 2006. Last year in New Britain, he hit .267/.356/.441 with 23 doubles and 19 home runs. Sobolewski was a minor league Rule 5 selection of the Twins in December. The third baseman was a 4th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2008. He hit 20 home runs in 2012 (18 in AA, 2 in AAA) and is known to be very good defensively at the hot corner. James Beresford became a free agent following the 2012 season, but he decided to remain with the only organization he’s known since signing with the Twins from Australia. He will again be on the Australian team in the WBC this spring. The middle infielder is a terrific leader and has a great glove. THE OUTFIELDERS 40 Man Roster Josh Willingham (100%), Darin Mastroianni (100%), Chris Parmelee (99%) Aaron Hicks (48%), Joe Benson (42%), Oswaldo Arcia (1.2%) Josh Willingham had the best season of his career and earned his Silver Slugger Award with career-high 35 home runs and 110 RBI. Right Field has been opened up for Chris Parmelee to take after he dominated AAA and has earned the opportunity. He will have to take the job and make it his as Twins minor league hitter of the year, Oswaldo Arcia, is quickly moving up the system behind him and should make his major league debut sometime in 2013. The biggest question mark of spring training is who will take the centerfield position. Darin Mastroianni will make the team. He will be given a shot to win the starting job after doing a nice job in the 4th outfielder role. Aaron Hicks is the name that most people are talking about. The 23-year-old had a breakout season in 2012 in AA New Britain, showing the immense talent that made him the 14th overall pick in 2008. He will have to take the job in spring, but there is little doubt that he will debut in 2013 with the Twins. The name that is too often forgotten is Joe Benson. One year ago at this time, he came to spring training after making his major league debut the September before. He was as highly-regarded last year as Hicks is this year. He was hurt the entire 2012 season and tried to play through the pain as long as he could. He is blessed with amazing athleticism and talent, and if healthy, he can still be an impact player. One important question is whether Benson would be considered an option as the 4th outfielder, or would they still want the ultra-competitive 25-year-old to continue to play every day. Non-Roster Invites Brandon Boggs (17%), Clete Thomas (14%), Wilkin Ramirez (7.0%), Brian Dinkelman (1.9%) If Mastroianni starts the season as a starter, and the Twins decide that they want Hicks and Benson to play every day in Rochester, Brandon Boggs and Clete Thomas will compete for the 4th outfield spot on the roster. We saw Thomas last year when he had one impressive game before becoming unable to make contact. Once he went down to Rochester, he was OK, and he certainly could be a 4th outfielder because he’s good defensively and we know he’s better than he showed with the Twins in 2012. Boggs was the 4th round pick of the Rangers in 2004 out of Georgia Tech. As a 25-year-old in 2008, he played in 101 games for the Rangers. He played in just 13 games for the Rangers over the next two seasons and 16 games for the Brewers in 2011. Last year in AAA Indianapolis, he hit .259/.359/.408 with 24 doubles, five triples and nine home runs. In 481 plate appearances, he walked 62 times, but he also struckout 120 times. But again, we’re just talking about a 4th outfield spot for a month or two. Ramirez came to Twins camp a year ago, but unfortunately, he was hurt in camp. After rehabbing, he hit .276/.316/.451 with 18 doubles and 15 home runs in 98 games in Rochester. He played 15 games (13 PAs) for Detroit as a 23-year-old in 2009 and 20 games (30 PAs) for the Atlanta Braves in 2011. What hurts his chances of making the Twins roster as a fourth outfielder is that he is really a corner outfielder with limited centerfield time in his career. Brian Dinkelman was the Twins 8th round pick in 2006 out of NAIA McKendree University. He debuted and played in 23 games as a 27-year-old in 2011. He hit .301 in his 73 big league at bats. In 2012, he missed a lot of time with injury. ROSTER PROJECTION #1 (2/15/13): Infielders (6): Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar Outfielders (4): Josh Willingham, Chris Parmelee, Darin Mastroianni, Joe Benson Catchers (3): Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera Starting Pitchers (5): Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia, Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks, Kyle Gibson (Diamond and/or Pelfrey likely starting season on DL) Relief Pitchers (7): Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Josh Roenicke, Tim Wood (Anthony Swarzak possibly on the DL?) What are your thoughts or projections on the Twins Opening Day roster as Pitchers and Catchers report? Make your 25-man-roster projections and we'll check back on Opening Day to see who got the most right.
  17. There are a million ways to try to prepare for an upcoming season. In just four days, the Minnesota Twins will be at Target Field taking on the division-favorite Detroit Tigers. Everyone knows that the Twins starting pitchers will not be able to compete on paper with the other pitchers in the division, but what about the hitters? [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Let's check out the projected starters for the AL Central teams and compare them by position. Below, I'll go position-by-position with my ranking of the players. In the comments, be sure to post your rankings, and let's see how we did at the end of the year. Catchers Joe Mauer - Minnesota Twins Carlos Santana - Cleveland Indians Salvador Perez - Kansas City Royals Alex Avila - Detroit Tigers Tyler Flowers - Chicago White Sox First Basemen Prince Fielder - Detroit Tigers Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins Nick Swisher - Cleveland Indians Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox Eric Hosmer - Kansas City Royals Second Basemen Jason Kipnis - Cleveland Indians Gordon Beckham - Chicago White Sox Omar Infante - Detroit Tigers Brian Dozier - Minnesota Twins Chris Getz - Kansas City Royals Third Basemen Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers Mike Moustakus - Kansas City Royals Trevor Plouffe - Minnesota Twins Lonnie Chisenhall - Cleveland Indians Jeff Keppinger - Chicago White Sox Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland Indians Alexi Ramirez - Chicago White Sox Jhonny Peralta - Detroit Tigers Alcides Escobar - Kansas City Pedro Florimon - Minnesota Twins Left Field Alex Gordon - Kansas City Josh Willingham - Minnesota Twins Dayan Viciedo - Chicago White Sox Michael Brantley - Cleveland Indians Andy Dirks - Detroit Tigers Center Field Austin Jackson - Detroit Tigers Michael Bourn - Cleveland Indians Aaron Hicks - Minnesota Twins Alejandro de Aza - Chicago White Sox Lorenzo Cain - Kansas City Royals Right Field Torii Hunter - Detroit Tigers Alex Rios - Chicago White Sox Jeff Francoer - Kansas City Royals Drew Stubbs - Cleveland Indians Chris Parmelee - Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter Billy Butler - Kansas City Royals Victor Martinez - Detroit Tigers Adam Dunn - Chicago White Sox Ryan Doumit - Minnesota Twins Mark Reynolds - Cleveland Indians So, there you have the postional rankings for the AL Century. Based on my rankings, if I were to add up the total numbers (of their placement within each position), there is a clear-cut paper projection winner. That is the Detriot Tigers. So, the Tigers have a starting staff of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, yet their offense will also be strong. Miguel Cabrera is coming off of a Triple Crown season. Prince Fielder was terrific in his debut season in Detroit. The also are adding Torii Hunter and they'll return the potent bat of Victor offense. On offense, the Twins are right with the rest of the division and with any pitching will help lead to some more wins in 2013. Here are my rankings: Detroit Tigers - 21 Cleveland Indians - 26 Kansas City Royals - 29 Minnesota Twins - 29 Chicago White Sox - 30 So again, how would you rank all of the positions, and how does your team, or your favorite?
  18. There are a million ways to try to prepare for an upcoming season. In just four days, the Minnesota Twins will be at Target Field taking on the division-favorite Detroit Tigers. Everyone knows that the Twins starting pitchers will not be able to compete on paper with the other pitchers in the division, but what about the hitters? [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Let's check out the projected starters for the AL Central teams and compare them by position. Below, I'll go position-by-position with my ranking of the players. In the comments, be sure to post your rankings, and let's see how we did at the end of the year. Catchers Joe Mauer - Minnesota Twins Carlos Santana - Cleveland Indians Salvador Perez - Kansas City Royals Alex Avila - Detroit Tigers Tyler Flowers - Chicago White Sox First Basemen Prince Fielder - Detroit Tigers Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins Nick Swisher - Cleveland Indians Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox Eric Hosmer - Kansas City Royals Second Basemen Jason Kipnis - Cleveland Indians Gordon Beckham - Chicago White Sox Omar Infante - Detroit Tigers Brian Dozier - Minnesota Twins Chris Getz - Kansas City Royals Third Basemen Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers Mike Moustakus - Kansas City Royals Trevor Plouffe - Minnesota Twins Lonnie Chisenhall - Cleveland Indians Jeff Keppinger - Chicago White Sox Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland Indians Alexi Ramirez - Chicago White Sox Jhonny Peralta - Detroit Tigers Alcides Escobar - Kansas City Pedro Florimon - Minnesota Twins Left Field Alex Gordon - Kansas City Josh Willingham - Minnesota Twins Dayan Viciedo - Chicago White Sox Michael Brantley - Cleveland Indians Andy Dirks - Detroit Tigers Center Field Austin Jackson - Detroit Tigers Michael Bourn - Cleveland Indians Aaron Hicks - Minnesota Twins Alejandro de Aza - Chicago White Sox Lorenzo Cain - Kansas City Royals Right Field Torii Hunter - Detroit Tigers Alex Rios - Chicago White Sox Jeff Francoer - Kansas City Royals Drew Stubbs - Cleveland Indians Chris Parmelee - Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter Billy Butler - Kansas City Royals Victor Martinez - Detroit Tigers Adam Dunn - Chicago White Sox Ryan Doumit - Minnesota Twins Mark Reynolds - Cleveland Indians So, there you have the postional rankings for the AL Century. Based on my rankings, if I were to add up the total numbers (of their placement within each position), there is a clear-cut paper projection winner. That is the Detriot Tigers. So, the Tigers have a starting staff of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, yet their offense will also be strong. Miguel Cabrera is coming off of a Triple Crown season. Prince Fielder was terrific in his debut season in Detroit. The also are adding Torii Hunter and they'll return the potent bat of Victor offense. On offense, the Twins are right with the rest of the division and with any pitching will help lead to some more wins in 2013. Here are my rankings: Detroit Tigers - 21 Cleveland Indians - 26 Kansas City Royals - 29 Minnesota Twins - 29 Chicago White Sox - 30 So again, how would you rank all of the positions, and how does your team, or your favorite? View full article
  19. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins minor leaguers report to the Twins minor league complex in Ft. Myers. Soon after, the players will have their first full-squad workouts. In between, the players will have to run a mile, and the pitchers will also need to do a shuttle run. After a few days of workouts, the players will start playing some intra-squad games. Eventually they’ll start getting into some games against other teams, and then in early April, most of the players will be put on a roster and head to their Opening Day destinations. Starting today, I will start looking at the Twins organizational depth chart, starting with the outfielders. We will consider which players are in line for roster spots with the Twins and each of their minor league affiliates. I’ll try to project which players will start the season with the various teams.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Please note that this is my educated guess. This information could be altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where each and every player will wind up. The reality is that some players will be placed at a lower level than I project just due to numbers. Some will go on the Disabled List. The unfortunate reality is that some of the players who report to spring training will be released. Hopefully readers will be reminded who is in the organization or see who the team has added since last season. Today, we will begin this series with a look at the Outfielders: Minnesota Twins Josh Willingham (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Chris Parmelee (RF), Darin Mastroianni Willingham sure made Target Field look like a regular-sized ballpark, with a career-high in home runs and RBI. We also know that Chris Parmelee will be the primary starter in right field. Centerfield remains the question mark. It’s clear that many with the Twins really want Aaron Hicks to win the job to start the season. Darin Mastroianni is certainly a given to be on the roster and could start, but most likely will be the team’s fourth outfielder. Rochester Red Wings Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Clete Thomas, Brian Dinkelman, Brandon Boggs, Evan Bigley At least a couple of these outfielders could still be with the Twins on Opening Day. Joe Benson is still in the running for the centerfield job, and if the Twins decide to carry a fifth outfielder, he could be that player. The Twins would likely prefer he play every day. That would open the door for the likes of Dinkelman, Ramirez, Thomas and Boggs, all of whom have big league service time under their belts. Dinkelman play for the Twins in 2011 when he hit .301 in two stints with the team. Boggs spent time with the Rangers from 2008 through 2010, and with the Brewers in 2011. Thomas played 142 games with the Tigers between 2008 and 2009. Then he played in three games for Detroit in 2012 before they cut ties with him and the Twins claimed him (and he struckout an impressive 16 times in 29 plate appearances). Ramirez was once a top prospect with the Tigers. He played 15 games for Detroit in 2009 and then 20 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. In 2012, after missing much of the first half of the season with injury, he hit 18 doubles and 15 home runs in just 98 games with the Red Wings. Although he will catch much of the time, expect to see Chris Herrmann playing a bit in left field as well. New Britain Rock Cats Angel Morales (LF), Antoan Richardson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Lance Ray, Danny Rams There was likely a chance that Arcia would have started the 2013 with AAA Rochester, but having missed his time in big league camp with injury may affect where he begins the year. He crushed the ball in the Venezuelan Winter League and was poised to make a strong showing in camp. Unfortunately, he has been completely limited because of the intercostal injury. The key is for him to, first, get healthy, and then, play every day. None of the guys listed in Rochester will block the path of Arcia’s tremendous upside to the majors. 29-year-old Antoan Richardson is a Ben Revere clone. He is about 5-8 and very fast. He was drafted four times before signing with the Giants in 2005. He remained with the Giants organization and reached AA before signing with Schaumburg of the Independent Northern League. He began the 2010 season in Schaumburg before signing with the Braves. In September of 2011, he was promoted to the Braves where he hit .500 in 9 games (just 2-4). In 2012, he was with the Orioles organization. In 90 AA games, he hit .279 and got on base at an incredible .415 clip. It is a huge make or break season for Angel Morales. The one-time, top prospect has struggled mightily the last two years. He can become a minor league free agent following the season, so he will either want the Twins to put him on the 40 man roster, or play well enough for another organization to be interested in giving him an opportunity. Lance Ray (23) hit just .234 but hit 13 home runs in Ft. Myers . He will play a lot and likely hit quite a few home runs. He can also play some first base and DH. Danny Rams was a Twins 2nd round pick as a catcher. In 2012, he moved out to the outfield. After struggling immensely early in the season and went on the DL. When he returned, he was much better. Like Morales, he will need to have a solid year and make an impact as he can become a free agent following the season. Primarily a catcher, don't be surprised to see Dan Rohlfing get some time out in the outfield. Ft. Myers Miracle Drew Leachman (LF), Jhonatan Goncalves (CF), Danny Ortiz (RF), JD Williams, Nate Roberts Ortiz had a successful Puerto Rican season. On a team that included Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, Ortiz was the team’s #3 hitter. He spent the first month of 2012 back in Beloit, but he played much better after his promotion to the Miracle. Goncalves could have become a free agent following the 2012 season, but he chose to return by signing with the Twins. Leachman was a late-round pick in 2011 from a Division III school. He began 2012 in Extended Spring Training but after his promotion to Beloit, he became a solid, fairly consistent, middle-of-the-lineup hitter. JD Williams could, and probably should, spend another half-season in the Midwest League before moving up to the Miracle, but as you will see shortly, there are very good outfielders who should head to Cedar Rapids. Here We Go Again - After leading the Arizona Fall League in 2012 in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage, many hoped to see Nate Roberts skip Ft. Myers and jump straight to AA New Britain. That may still be possible, but unfortunately, it isn't likely to happen right at the beginning of the season. Twins Daily has learned that while working out this winter, Roberts tore his meniscus and needed surgery. He is rehabbing and may not miss a lot of the season, but it is certainly a set back and likely will keep him in Ft. Myers. Cedar Rapids Kernels Max Kepler (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Adam Walker (RF), John Murphy, Romy Jimenez, Jeremias Pineda Buxton is the big name here. The 2nd overall pick just last season impressed in his professional debut in which he played in the Gulf Coast League and at Elizabethton. It certainly is not unusual for the Twins to send first round high school hitters to the Midwest League the year after their draft. That’s where players like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Matt Moses, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson went. It has occurred less in recent years, likely due to players signing so late and not debuting in the year that they were drafted. It will certainly be a challenge for the 19-year-old. Max Kepler spent the last two years at Elizabethton. In 2012, he was much improved. The young outfielder from Germany can certainly play centerfield. In fact, he played the position in Elizabethton right up until Buxton came to town. He remains a five-tool talent with a lot of power potential. Speaking of power potential, if 2012 3rd round pick Adam Walker can make contact, he has as much power as anyone in the Twins system. Romy (formerly Trinidad) Jimenez was very good in Elizabethton in 2012 until he tore his meniscus. Jeremias Pineda came to the Twins last August in the trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Red Sox. John Murphy is the brother of the Mets’ Daniel Murphy. He was a 2012 draft pick. Extended Spring Training/Short-Season Jake Proctor, Zach Larson, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez If not for a hamstring injury, Dereck Rodriguez may have moved up to Elizabethton during the 2012 season. He was hitting very well, showing power even, until the injury. As you recall, he is the son of former big league catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Jake Proctor is said to be a five-tool type of athlete. He was expected to be drafted last year earlier than when the Twins got him (14th round), but he had arthroscopic knee surgery was not cleared to play until after the season. 2013 will be his professional debut. He is listed at 6-2 and 221 pound, but his best tool is said to be tremendous speed. Zach Larson was taken last year in the 19th round out of high school and given $190,000 to sign (because the Twins had extra available to spend). He is a great athlete in high school, having accumulated three varsity letters in football despite not playing his senior season to focus on baseball. Kelvin Mention was JD Williams’ high school teammate in high school. Unfortunately, he has not played much since signing late in 2010. He was hurt for the 2011 season and didn’t play a lot at Elizabethton last year, which is probably where he will return in 2013. Ortiz was considered a bit of a prospect while playing in the Dominican Summer League for a couple of season. However, the transition to the States and the GCL have not been easy for Ortiz who will likely need to make the Elizabethon roster. TOP PROSPECTS 1.) Byron Buxton, 2.) Oswaldo Arcia, 3.) Aaron Hicks, 4.) Max Kepler, 5.) Joe Benson, 6.) Adam Walker, 7.) Danny Ortiz Buxton is in all of the Top 100 lists, generally in the Top 20. Baseball America his him at #10, one spot behind Miguel Sano. Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the year in 2012 and had a strong Venezuelan Winter League performance. Hicks is generally in the second half of Top 100 lists. Kepler and Benson are generally found in the 10-12 range of Twins top prospect lists but on opposite ends of the prospect range. Kepler is young and raw and still needs to play for a full season team. Benson is now 25, has seen big league team, went through a lost 2012 season due to injury and is now hoping to regain his status as a part of the Twins future. Walker has tremendous power potential, and Ortiz is just a solid all-around player that is often forgotten because of the high-upside guys. SUMMARY The Twins have long been strong on outfielders throughout the system. They have a knack for finding and developing at this position. They had enough depth throughout the organization that they were able to acquire two hard-throwing pitching prospects (Alex Meyer, Trevor May) and a solid pitcher with over 2 years of solid big league pitching (Vance Worley) for two talented starting big league outfielders (Denard Span and Ben Revere). Josh Willingham was tremendous with the bat in 2012, winning a Silver Slugger Award, but the deals have opened up opportunities for others to show what they can do. Chris Parmelee will get an everyday gig. And Mastroianni, Hicks and Benson will be one of the better storylines to follow throughout spring training. There is still talent down below, although the risk is now much higher for outfielders. We will likely see Oswaldo Arcia in 2013, but the rest of the prospects are now in the lower levels. This is not a bad thing, however, as the Twins outfield will be very young by the end of the 2013 season. If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!
  20. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins minor leaguers report to the Twins minor league complex in Ft. Myers. Soon after, the players will have their first full-squad workouts. In between, the players will have to run a mile, and the pitchers will also need to do a shuttle run. After a few days of workouts, the players will start playing some intra-squad games. Eventually they’ll start getting into some games against other teams, and then in early April, most of the players will be put on a roster and head to their Opening Day destinations. Starting today, I will start looking at the Twins organizational depth chart, starting with the outfielders. We will consider which players are in line for roster spots with the Twins and each of their minor league affiliates. I’ll try to project which players will start the season with the various teams.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Please note that this is my educated guess. This information could be altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where each and every player will wind up. The reality is that some players will be placed at a lower level than I project just due to numbers. Some will go on the Disabled List. The unfortunate reality is that some of the players who report to spring training will be released. Hopefully readers will be reminded who is in the organization or see who the team has added since last season. Today, we will begin this series with a look at the Outfielders: Minnesota Twins Josh Willingham (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Chris Parmelee (RF), Darin Mastroianni Willingham sure made Target Field look like a regular-sized ballpark, with a career-high in home runs and RBI. We also know that Chris Parmelee will be the primary starter in right field. Centerfield remains the question mark. It’s clear that many with the Twins really want Aaron Hicks to win the job to start the season. Darin Mastroianni is certainly a given to be on the roster and could start, but most likely will be the team’s fourth outfielder. Rochester Red Wings Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Clete Thomas, Brian Dinkelman, Brandon Boggs, Evan Bigley At least a couple of these outfielders could still be with the Twins on Opening Day. Joe Benson is still in the running for the centerfield job, and if the Twins decide to carry a fifth outfielder, he could be that player. The Twins would likely prefer he play every day. That would open the door for the likes of Dinkelman, Ramirez, Thomas and Boggs, all of whom have big league service time under their belts. Dinkelman play for the Twins in 2011 when he hit .301 in two stints with the team. Boggs spent time with the Rangers from 2008 through 2010, and with the Brewers in 2011. Thomas played 142 games with the Tigers between 2008 and 2009. Then he played in three games for Detroit in 2012 before they cut ties with him and the Twins claimed him (and he struckout an impressive 16 times in 29 plate appearances). Ramirez was once a top prospect with the Tigers. He played 15 games for Detroit in 2009 and then 20 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. In 2012, after missing much of the first half of the season with injury, he hit 18 doubles and 15 home runs in just 98 games with the Red Wings. Although he will catch much of the time, expect to see Chris Herrmann playing a bit in left field as well. New Britain Rock Cats Angel Morales (LF), Antoan Richardson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Lance Ray, Danny Rams There was likely a chance that Arcia would have started the 2013 with AAA Rochester, but having missed his time in big league camp with injury may affect where he begins the year. He crushed the ball in the Venezuelan Winter League and was poised to make a strong showing in camp. Unfortunately, he has been completely limited because of the intercostal injury. The key is for him to, first, get healthy, and then, play every day. None of the guys listed in Rochester will block the path of Arcia’s tremendous upside to the majors. 29-year-old Antoan Richardson is a Ben Revere clone. He is about 5-8 and very fast. He was drafted four times before signing with the Giants in 2005. He remained with the Giants organization and reached AA before signing with Schaumburg of the Independent Northern League. He began the 2010 season in Schaumburg before signing with the Braves. In September of 2011, he was promoted to the Braves where he hit .500 in 9 games (just 2-4). In 2012, he was with the Orioles organization. In 90 AA games, he hit .279 and got on base at an incredible .415 clip. It is a huge make or break season for Angel Morales. The one-time, top prospect has struggled mightily the last two years. He can become a minor league free agent following the season, so he will either want the Twins to put him on the 40 man roster, or play well enough for another organization to be interested in giving him an opportunity. Lance Ray (23) hit just .234 but hit 13 home runs in Ft. Myers . He will play a lot and likely hit quite a few home runs. He can also play some first base and DH. Danny Rams was a Twins 2nd round pick as a catcher. In 2012, he moved out to the outfield. After struggling immensely early in the season and went on the DL. When he returned, he was much better. Like Morales, he will need to have a solid year and make an impact as he can become a free agent following the season. Primarily a catcher, don't be surprised to see Dan Rohlfing get some time out in the outfield. Ft. Myers Miracle Drew Leachman (LF), Jhonatan Goncalves (CF), Danny Ortiz (RF), JD Williams, Nate Roberts Ortiz had a successful Puerto Rican season. On a team that included Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, Ortiz was the team’s #3 hitter. He spent the first month of 2012 back in Beloit, but he played much better after his promotion to the Miracle. Goncalves could have become a free agent following the 2012 season, but he chose to return by signing with the Twins. Leachman was a late-round pick in 2011 from a Division III school. He began 2012 in Extended Spring Training but after his promotion to Beloit, he became a solid, fairly consistent, middle-of-the-lineup hitter. JD Williams could, and probably should, spend another half-season in the Midwest League before moving up to the Miracle, but as you will see shortly, there are very good outfielders who should head to Cedar Rapids. Here We Go Again - After leading the Arizona Fall League in 2012 in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage, many hoped to see Nate Roberts skip Ft. Myers and jump straight to AA New Britain. That may still be possible, but unfortunately, it isn't likely to happen right at the beginning of the season. Twins Daily has learned that while working out this winter, Roberts tore his meniscus and needed surgery. He is rehabbing and may not miss a lot of the season, but it is certainly a set back and likely will keep him in Ft. Myers. Cedar Rapids Kernels Max Kepler (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Adam Walker (RF), John Murphy, Romy Jimenez, Jeremias Pineda Buxton is the big name here. The 2nd overall pick just last season impressed in his professional debut in which he played in the Gulf Coast League and at Elizabethton. It certainly is not unusual for the Twins to send first round high school hitters to the Midwest League the year after their draft. That’s where players like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Matt Moses, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson went. It has occurred less in recent years, likely due to players signing so late and not debuting in the year that they were drafted. It will certainly be a challenge for the 19-year-old. Max Kepler spent the last two years at Elizabethton. In 2012, he was much improved. The young outfielder from Germany can certainly play centerfield. In fact, he played the position in Elizabethton right up until Buxton came to town. He remains a five-tool talent with a lot of power potential. Speaking of power potential, if 2012 3rd round pick Adam Walker can make contact, he has as much power as anyone in the Twins system. Romy (formerly Trinidad) Jimenez was very good in Elizabethton in 2012 until he tore his meniscus. Jeremias Pineda came to the Twins last August in the trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Red Sox. John Murphy is the brother of the Mets’ Daniel Murphy. He was a 2012 draft pick. Extended Spring Training/Short-Season Jake Proctor, Zach Larson, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez If not for a hamstring injury, Dereck Rodriguez may have moved up to Elizabethton during the 2012 season. He was hitting very well, showing power even, until the injury. As you recall, he is the son of former big league catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Jake Proctor is said to be a five-tool type of athlete. He was expected to be drafted last year earlier than when the Twins got him (14th round), but he had arthroscopic knee surgery was not cleared to play until after the season. 2013 will be his professional debut. He is listed at 6-2 and 221 pound, but his best tool is said to be tremendous speed. Zach Larson was taken last year in the 19th round out of high school and given $190,000 to sign (because the Twins had extra available to spend). He is a great athlete in high school, having accumulated three varsity letters in football despite not playing his senior season to focus on baseball. Kelvin Mention was JD Williams’ high school teammate in high school. Unfortunately, he has not played much since signing late in 2010. He was hurt for the 2011 season and didn’t play a lot at Elizabethton last year, which is probably where he will return in 2013. Ortiz was considered a bit of a prospect while playing in the Dominican Summer League for a couple of season. However, the transition to the States and the GCL have not been easy for Ortiz who will likely need to make the Elizabethon roster. TOP PROSPECTS 1.) Byron Buxton, 2.) Oswaldo Arcia, 3.) Aaron Hicks, 4.) Max Kepler, 5.) Joe Benson, 6.) Adam Walker, 7.) Danny Ortiz Buxton is in all of the Top 100 lists, generally in the Top 20. Baseball America his him at #10, one spot behind Miguel Sano. Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the year in 2012 and had a strong Venezuelan Winter League performance. Hicks is generally in the second half of Top 100 lists. Kepler and Benson are generally found in the 10-12 range of Twins top prospect lists but on opposite ends of the prospect range. Kepler is young and raw and still needs to play for a full season team. Benson is now 25, has seen big league team, went through a lost 2012 season due to injury and is now hoping to regain his status as a part of the Twins future. Walker has tremendous power potential, and Ortiz is just a solid all-around player that is often forgotten because of the high-upside guys. SUMMARY The Twins have long been strong on outfielders throughout the system. They have a knack for finding and developing at this position. They had enough depth throughout the organization that they were able to acquire two hard-throwing pitching prospects (Alex Meyer, Trevor May) and a solid pitcher with over 2 years of solid big league pitching (Vance Worley) for two talented starting big league outfielders (Denard Span and Ben Revere). Josh Willingham was tremendous with the bat in 2012, winning a Silver Slugger Award, but the deals have opened up opportunities for others to show what they can do. Chris Parmelee will get an everyday gig. And Mastroianni, Hicks and Benson will be one of the better storylines to follow throughout spring training. There is still talent down below, although the risk is now much higher for outfielders. We will likely see Oswaldo Arcia in 2013, but the rest of the prospects are now in the lower levels. This is not a bad thing, however, as the Twins outfield will be very young by the end of the 2013 season. If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments Section! View full article
  21. On Monday night, the Minnesota Twins began a three game series in Detroit against the Tigers. It was Mike Pelfrey facing Max Scherzer. You likely watched the game or saw the box score already when you read this, so you know that the Twins fell by the final score of 4-3. It was interesting to watch the game while at the same time calculating the Twins Win Expectancy after each and every play throughout the game.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Win Expectancy is a number that changes with every game situation. Someone who had too much time on his hands looked at every play in MLB games from 1957 through 2005. It assigns a percent likelihood of a team winning based on what happened over nearly 100,000 games. Here is a look at the Top 5 Plays from tonight’s Twins-Tigers game in terms of effect on Win Expectancy. #5 – Florimon Turns Double Play from Back Side. It was the bottom of the 5th inning and the Twins led 3-1. Mike Pelfrey had allowed a lead-off single to Alex Avila. With Avila on 1st, the Twins’ Win Probability was at 66.1% Omar Infanta blasted a one-hopper right at the Twins shortstop. Florimon fielded the ball cleanly but as he was throwing to second base, he was falling backwards. Despite his imbalance, he made a perfect feed to Brian Dozier who quickly turned and fired to first base to complete the double play. Now with two outs and no one on, the Twins’ Win Expectancy increased to 76.2% Win Expectancy Change – 10.1% #4 – “Hammer” Homers to give Twins 1-0 Lead. A visiting team’s Win Expectancy when the game starts is just 46.1% Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer flied out. When Josh Willingham stepped to the plate, that Win Expectancy was down to 42.1%. Scherzer didn’t give up many hard hit baseballs through the game, but Willingham did get a hold of this one for a solo home run that gave the Twins the 1-0 lead. Following the homer, the Twins Win Expectancy was 53.0% Win Expectancy Change- 10.9% #3 – Dirks Homers to Cut Twins’ Lead in Half. In the 2nd inning, the Twins added a second run on an Aaron Hicks’ ground out to take a 2-0 lead (which increased the Twins Win Expectancy by 4.3% to 69.8% After the Tigers and the Twins each posted "three up-three down" innings, Andy Dirks came up with two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the third. The left-hander’s solo home run cut the Twins’ lead to 2-1. It also cut the Twins’ Win Expectancy from 71.0% to 58.9% Win Expectancy Change – 12.1% #2 – Arcia Double Gives Twins 3-1 Lead. The Tigers (Dirks) had cut the Twins lead to one run in the bottom of the third, but the Twins were able to get two doubles to get that run back and reclaim a two-run lead. With one out, Chris Parmelee doubled to very deep right center field. After Trevor Plouffe struck out for the second out, Oswaldo Arcia fell behind Scherzer 0-2. However, he was able to fight off a fastball and hit a soft liner just inside the left field line for an RBI double. After the Plouffe strikeout, the Twins Win Expectancy was 57.8% However, after the RBI double, the Twins Win Expectancy jumped to 71.6% Win Expectancy Change – 13.8% #1 – Fielder Blast Gives Tigers 4-3 Lead. If you watched the game, or saw highlights, it was pretty clear which play of the game had the biggest impact on Win Expectancy. When the bottom of the 6th inning began, the Twins’ Win Expectancy was at 73.3% After an Andy Dirks bunt single to lead off the inning, it fell to 67.5%. Following the Miguel Cabrera walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd the Win Expectancy fell to 59.5%. However, after Pelfrey’s first pitch to Prince Fielder landed behind the wall in centerfield, the Twins Win Expectancy was just 23.1% Win Expectancy Change – 36.4% (Please note that this chart shows the Win Probability for the HOME team, the Tigers, throughout the game.) Pelfrey was very good through the first five innings. Unfortunately, the struggles in the sixth inning happened, and happened quite quickly. Win Expectancy is a nice, fun tool that can be used to see the impact of individual plays on the game. Like all statistics, it isn’t a perfect tool. For instances, when Fielder came up, the Twins Win Expectancy was 73.3% whether it was Prince Fielder or Don Kelly or Tom Kelly stepping to the plate. If you take a look at the Win Expectancy change for each player in the Twins lineup, it can show who had the biggest impact, positive or negative, in the game. It is extremely important to point out that this is a one-game sample, so performance (or clutchness), good or bad, has to be taken for what it’s worth. For this one game, here are the Twins hitters impact on Win Expectancy. Brian Dozier -15.5% Joe Mauer -9.2% Josh Willingham +5.6% Justin Morneau -11.4% Chris Parmelee -4.4% Trevor Plouffe -4.9% Oswaldo Arcia +14.3% Aaron Hicks -2.1% Pedro Florimon -0.1% It is safe to say that Oswaldo Arcia was the Twins player who gave the team the best chance to win on Monday night. Win Expectancy is just one way to look at a game. It is kind of fun to see how much each play, from the first to the last, affects the game. On this night, one pitch completely altered the outlook of the game. Unfortunately, it was one pitch that meant a Twins loss instead of a Twins win. View full article
  22. On Monday night, the Minnesota Twins began a three game series in Detroit against the Tigers. It was Mike Pelfrey facing Max Scherzer. You likely watched the game or saw the box score already when you read this, so you know that the Twins fell by the final score of 4-3. It was interesting to watch the game while at the same time calculating the Twins Win Expectancy after each and every play throughout the game.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Win Expectancy is a number that changes with every game situation. Someone who had too much time on his hands looked at every play in MLB games from 1957 through 2005. It assigns a percent likelihood of a team winning based on what happened over nearly 100,000 games. Here is a look at the Top 5 Plays from tonight’s Twins-Tigers game in terms of effect on Win Expectancy. #5 – Florimon Turns Double Play from Back Side. It was the bottom of the 5th inning and the Twins led 3-1. Mike Pelfrey had allowed a lead-off single to Alex Avila. With Avila on 1st, the Twins’ Win Probability was at 66.1% Omar Infanta blasted a one-hopper right at the Twins shortstop. Florimon fielded the ball cleanly but as he was throwing to second base, he was falling backwards. Despite his imbalance, he made a perfect feed to Brian Dozier who quickly turned and fired to first base to complete the double play. Now with two outs and no one on, the Twins’ Win Expectancy increased to 76.2% Win Expectancy Change – 10.1% #4 – “Hammer” Homers to give Twins 1-0 Lead. A visiting team’s Win Expectancy when the game starts is just 46.1% Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer flied out. When Josh Willingham stepped to the plate, that Win Expectancy was down to 42.1%. Scherzer didn’t give up many hard hit baseballs through the game, but Willingham did get a hold of this one for a solo home run that gave the Twins the 1-0 lead. Following the homer, the Twins Win Expectancy was 53.0% Win Expectancy Change- 10.9% #3 – Dirks Homers to Cut Twins’ Lead in Half. In the 2nd inning, the Twins added a second run on an Aaron Hicks’ ground out to take a 2-0 lead (which increased the Twins Win Expectancy by 4.3% to 69.8% After the Tigers and the Twins each posted "three up-three down" innings, Andy Dirks came up with two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the third. The left-hander’s solo home run cut the Twins’ lead to 2-1. It also cut the Twins’ Win Expectancy from 71.0% to 58.9% Win Expectancy Change – 12.1% #2 – Arcia Double Gives Twins 3-1 Lead. The Tigers (Dirks) had cut the Twins lead to one run in the bottom of the third, but the Twins were able to get two doubles to get that run back and reclaim a two-run lead. With one out, Chris Parmelee doubled to very deep right center field. After Trevor Plouffe struck out for the second out, Oswaldo Arcia fell behind Scherzer 0-2. However, he was able to fight off a fastball and hit a soft liner just inside the left field line for an RBI double. After the Plouffe strikeout, the Twins Win Expectancy was 57.8% However, after the RBI double, the Twins Win Expectancy jumped to 71.6% Win Expectancy Change – 13.8% #1 – Fielder Blast Gives Tigers 4-3 Lead. If you watched the game, or saw highlights, it was pretty clear which play of the game had the biggest impact on Win Expectancy. When the bottom of the 6th inning began, the Twins’ Win Expectancy was at 73.3% After an Andy Dirks bunt single to lead off the inning, it fell to 67.5%. Following the Miguel Cabrera walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd the Win Expectancy fell to 59.5%. However, after Pelfrey’s first pitch to Prince Fielder landed behind the wall in centerfield, the Twins Win Expectancy was just 23.1% Win Expectancy Change – 36.4% (Please note that this chart shows the Win Probability for the HOME team, the Tigers, throughout the game.) Pelfrey was very good through the first five innings. Unfortunately, the struggles in the sixth inning happened, and happened quite quickly. Win Expectancy is a nice, fun tool that can be used to see the impact of individual plays on the game. Like all statistics, it isn’t a perfect tool. For instances, when Fielder came up, the Twins Win Expectancy was 73.3% whether it was Prince Fielder or Don Kelly or Tom Kelly stepping to the plate. If you take a look at the Win Expectancy change for each player in the Twins lineup, it can show who had the biggest impact, positive or negative, in the game. It is extremely important to point out that this is a one-game sample, so performance (or clutchness), good or bad, has to be taken for what it’s worth. For this one game, here are the Twins hitters impact on Win Expectancy. Brian Dozier -15.5% Joe Mauer -9.2% Josh Willingham +5.6% Justin Morneau -11.4% Chris Parmelee -4.4% Trevor Plouffe -4.9% Oswaldo Arcia +14.3% Aaron Hicks -2.1% Pedro Florimon -0.1% It is safe to say that Oswaldo Arcia was the Twins player who gave the team the best chance to win on Monday night. Win Expectancy is just one way to look at a game. It is kind of fun to see how much each play, from the first to the last, affects the game. On this night, one pitch completely altered the outlook of the game. Unfortunately, it was one pitch that meant a Twins loss instead of a Twins win.
  23. We are now less than a week from the July 31 trade deadline, and more moves have been made in recent days. On Wednesday, the Tigers acquired reliever Joakim Soria for a couple minor leaguers. So far, we have looked at a couple of Twins Trade Candidates, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Correia. Today, we continue this series by considering Twins outfielder Josh Willingham. When Terry Ryan reclaimed the GM duties in the fall of 2011, he acted quickly on the Twins roster by signing three hitters. Before signing Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit, Ryan inked Josh WIllingham to a three year, $21 million contract. At the time, it was the biggest free agent contract the Twins had signed with a player from outside the organization.In 2012, Willingham made Ryan look wise. "Hammer" put up career highs in most statistical categories. He hit .260/.366/.524 (.890) with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 110 RBI. He won his first Silver Slugger Award. Unfortunately, his age started to show in 2013. He played in 111 games and hit just .208/.342/.368 (.709) with 20 doubles and 14 home runs. This year things have been even worse for the now 35 year old player. Just a handful of games into the season, he was hit on the wrist with a pitch and missed over six weeks. In his return, he has hit .212/.358/.412 (.780) in 53 games with five doubles and nine home runs. WHY TRADE HIM Willingham becomes a free agent five days after the completion of the World Series. There is no reason to sign him (or any player at his age) to an extension. If they can acquire even a Grade C type of prospect for him, they should do so as they continue to add potential pieces for the future. Something is better than nothing, which is what they would receive for him if he leaves via free agency at the end of the season. WHY KEEP HIM I've got nothing. Anyone? He can be a solid right-handed bat with power. He hit the game-winning home run last week. That's what he can do. That's also the selling point for why to trade him, hoping he can show that kind of power over the final two months. WHO NEEDS HIM Cleveland and Cincinnati were a couple teams reportedly interested in Willingham when he was a free agent. Seattle has been mentioned as a possible destination for some time as they are looking for offense. Again, those teams would be banking on the possibility of him having a strong final two months. I don't think teams would be willing to give up anything resembling a top prospect for two months of Hammer, but I think he could bring a C and a C- prospect. If so, jump on it! SUMMARY Josh Willingham came to the Twins in 2012 and put up remarkable, career-best numbers for the Twins. That offseason likely was the time to trade him, but it's understandable that they didn't as well. He's a good character guy who has helped out a couple of the Twins other right-handed, young players the last two years on and off the field. Unfortunately, he got hurt in 2013 and struggled, and was hurt again this year. At 35, and really limited defensively, the Twins won't be able to get much return for him. Hopefully they can put him into a good situation on a winning team and play a role in which he can succeed. I believe the odds of Willingham being traded in July are quite high, but certainly in August. I'd put the odds at about 70% by the end of July and maybe 85% by the end of August. YOUR TURN What should the Twins do with Josh Willingham? Sign him to a one-year extension? (Just kidding!) Let him play out his contract and see what happens? Trade him? What do you think? Click here to view the article
  24. In 2012, Willingham made Ryan look wise. "Hammer" put up career highs in most statistical categories. He hit .260/.366/.524 (.890) with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 110 RBI. He won his first Silver Slugger Award. Unfortunately, his age started to show in 2013. He played in 111 games and hit just .208/.342/.368 (.709) with 20 doubles and 14 home runs. This year things have been even worse for the now 35 year old player. Just a handful of games into the season, he was hit on the wrist with a pitch and missed over six weeks. In his return, he has hit .212/.358/.412 (.780) in 53 games with five doubles and nine home runs. WHY TRADE HIM Willingham becomes a free agent five days after the completion of the World Series. There is no reason to sign him (or any player at his age) to an extension. If they can acquire even a Grade C type of prospect for him, they should do so as they continue to add potential pieces for the future. Something is better than nothing, which is what they would receive for him if he leaves via free agency at the end of the season. WHY KEEP HIM I've got nothing. Anyone? He can be a solid right-handed bat with power. He hit the game-winning home run last week. That's what he can do. That's also the selling point for why to trade him, hoping he can show that kind of power over the final two months. WHO NEEDS HIM Cleveland and Cincinnati were a couple teams reportedly interested in Willingham when he was a free agent. Seattle has been mentioned as a possible destination for some time as they are looking for offense. Again, those teams would be banking on the possibility of him having a strong final two months. I don't think teams would be willing to give up anything resembling a top prospect for two months of Hammer, but I think he could bring a C and a C- prospect. If so, jump on it! SUMMARY Josh Willingham came to the Twins in 2012 and put up remarkable, career-best numbers for the Twins. That offseason likely was the time to trade him, but it's understandable that they didn't as well. He's a good character guy who has helped out a couple of the Twins other right-handed, young players the last two years on and off the field. Unfortunately, he got hurt in 2013 and struggled, and was hurt again this year. At 35, and really limited defensively, the Twins won't be able to get much return for him. Hopefully they can put him into a good situation on a winning team and play a role in which he can succeed. I believe the odds of Willingham being traded in July are quite high, but certainly in August. I'd put the odds at about 70% by the end of July and maybe 85% by the end of August. YOUR TURN What should the Twins do with Josh Willingham? Sign him to a one-year extension? (Just kidding!) Let him play out his contract and see what happens? Trade him? What do you think?
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