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  1. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason.
  2. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason. View full video
  3. Every team has players that don't get the credit they deserve. Minnesota's season has been tough to watch, but these three players have made things a little more tolerable. "Underrated" can mean slightly different things to different people. Briefly, it's simply defined as - using baseball players in this example - a player who is not rated as highly by people as you think they should be. So, here are three Twins players that I believe are most underrated by Twins fans. Do you agree? Or, feel free to add your most-underrated Twins in the Comments below. 3. Bailey Ober, SP Following the trade deadline, things could have completely fallen apart for the Twins. The front office had traded away two pitchers from the team's Opening Day rotation. By doing this, the team looked to internal options that might fit into the 2022 starting rotation. Enter Bailey Ober and a boost some fans might not have been expecting. Ober has all but solidified his spot in next year's rotation with a tremendous rookie campaign. According to MLB.com, he has a 5.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranks first among rookie seasons in Twins history (minimum 80 innings). Currently, he ranks among baseball's best in walk percentage (93rd percentile) and chase rate (84th percentile). The Twins have played .500 baseball in the second half, and Ober has provided some rotational stability. 2. Caleb Thielbar, RP Minnesota's bullpen was in shambles at the beginning of the season, but Caleb Thielbar has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in a dull year. Pitch selection has been one of the most significant changes for Thielbar in his second stint with the Twins. He uses his slider nearly 35% of the time, and batters have posted a .172 batting average and a .313 slugging percentage. Out of necessity, Thielbar shifted to a set-up role near the trade deadline, and he has been part of a bullpen turnaround. Since then, the Twins bullpen has posted a 3.20 ERA and has the American League's highest Win Probability Added. Among the AL's left-handed relievers, Thielbar ranks third in WPA. His baseball-playing career was supposed to be over, and now the Twins hope he sticks around for a while. 1. Luis Arraez, UTL There have certainly been multiple reasons to turn off the Twins this season, but Luis Arraez hasn't been one of them. Only two Twins players, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton, have a higher WAR than Arraez. He is getting on base 36% of the time and hitting close to .300, which has him just outside the AL's top-10. His 106 OPS+ is a career-low, but it also points to a good offensive season, even for a player with minimal power. Defensively, he has also played over 40 games at second base and third base. Minnesota switched Arraez to a utility role because the team wanted to get better defensively. At last check, Arraez ranks as the seventh-best AL third baseman according to SABR's Defensive Index. He likely will never win a Gold Glove, but he has been more than competent at the hot corner. How would you rank these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. "Underrated" can mean slightly different things to different people. Briefly, it's simply defined as - using baseball players in this example - a player who is not rated as highly by people as you think they should be. So, here are three Twins players that I believe are most underrated by Twins fans. Do you agree? Or, feel free to add your most-underrated Twins in the Comments below. 3. Bailey Ober, SP Following the trade deadline, things could have completely fallen apart for the Twins. The front office had traded away two pitchers from the team's Opening Day rotation. By doing this, the team looked to internal options that might fit into the 2022 starting rotation. Enter Bailey Ober and a boost some fans might not have been expecting. Ober has all but solidified his spot in next year's rotation with a tremendous rookie campaign. According to MLB.com, he has a 5.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranks first among rookie seasons in Twins history (minimum 80 innings). Currently, he ranks among baseball's best in walk percentage (93rd percentile) and chase rate (84th percentile). The Twins have played .500 baseball in the second half, and Ober has provided some rotational stability. 2. Caleb Thielbar, RP Minnesota's bullpen was in shambles at the beginning of the season, but Caleb Thielbar has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in a dull year. Pitch selection has been one of the most significant changes for Thielbar in his second stint with the Twins. He uses his slider nearly 35% of the time, and batters have posted a .172 batting average and a .313 slugging percentage. Out of necessity, Thielbar shifted to a set-up role near the trade deadline, and he has been part of a bullpen turnaround. Since then, the Twins bullpen has posted a 3.20 ERA and has the American League's highest Win Probability Added. Among the AL's left-handed relievers, Thielbar ranks third in WPA. His baseball-playing career was supposed to be over, and now the Twins hope he sticks around for a while. 1. Luis Arraez, UTL There have certainly been multiple reasons to turn off the Twins this season, but Luis Arraez hasn't been one of them. Only two Twins players, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton, have a higher WAR than Arraez. He is getting on base 36% of the time and hitting close to .300, which has him just outside the AL's top-10. His 106 OPS+ is a career-low, but it also points to a good offensive season, even for a player with minimal power. Defensively, he has also played over 40 games at second base and third base. Minnesota switched Arraez to a utility role because the team wanted to get better defensively. At last check, Arraez ranks as the seventh-best AL third baseman according to SABR's Defensive Index. He likely will never win a Gold Glove, but he has been more than competent at the hot corner. How would you rank these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Defensive improvement was a focus for the Twins this season, but that plan hasn’t gone perfectly. So, has the Twins’ defense improved or declined in the second half? Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SABR has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Here is how the Twins rank through games played on August 22, 2021: Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 3.7 SDI (3rd) Berrios was traded before the deadline, but he accumulated the bulk of his SDI total while still in a Twins uniform. Earlier this season, he ranked sixth overall in the AL, so he has made a significant jump in the second half. However, his defense isn’t helping the Twins anymore, and there are no other Twins players on the current leaderboard. Dallas Keuchel is the favorite among AL pitchers as he has nearly double the SDI total of the second-ranked pitcher. Catcher (AL Ranking): No Twins’ Players Qualify At the All-Star Break, both Twins catchers ranked in the top-12 when it came to SDI. Garver’s extended time on the IL pushed him out of the rankings, while Jeffers spent some time in St. Paul trying to find his swing. Over the last few weeks, Jeffers has been catching regularly, so it will be interesting to see if he winds up on the final leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Miguel Sano -2.5 SDI (10th) Only two qualified first basemen, Nathaniel Lowe and Bobby Delbec, have a lower SDI total than Miguel Sano. His months of July and August continued to bring down his total as he was at -0.9 SDI. It also doesn’t help that Minnesota’s best defensive first baseman, Alex Kirilloff, is injured and won’t be back in 2021. At the All-Star break, he ranked third among all AL first basemen. For 2022, Minnesota should pencil Kirilloff in at first base every day. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco, 3.3 SDI (3rd) Polanco has been on an offensive tear in the second half, and his defense has also significantly improved. In less than two months, he moved from 8th to 3rd in SDI among AL second basemen. At that time, I mentioned that he was only 0.5 SDI out of the top-3, and he now ranks 1.2 SDI ahead of fourth place. Polanco looks to be in line to be a Gold Glove finalist, but Whit Merrified and Marcus Semiem have accumulated over twice as much SDI as Polanco. Third Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez, 0.4 SDI (7th) Arraez isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess, so this ranking might come as a surprise to some Twins fans. Every third baseman ranked below Arraez has a -4.0 SDI or lower. Josh Donaldson was known for being a strong defender when the Twins signed him, but he has fallen off the leaderboard since the All-Star break. At that time, he looked to be in the middle of his worst defensive season. Does the future at this position belong to Arraez or Jose Miranda? Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons, 6.4 SDI (3rd) Simmons is having another solid defensive season, but he has taken a step back in the second half. In July, he ranked as one of the AL’s best defenders, and he was the number one ranked shortstop. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Correa have stormed past him over the last two months. Simmons looks like he will be a Gold Glove finalist, but he won’t be coming away with the hardware. Left Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Trevor Larnach was on these rankings at the All-Star break, but he was near the bottom with a -2.2 SDI. He no longer qualifies as the team demoted him to Triple-A after some offensive struggles. Overall, this race looks to be one of the AL's tightest when it comes to the Gold Glove winner. There is no clear-cut favorite, with Austin Hays (2.1 SDI) and Michael Brantley (1.8 SDI) leading the rankings. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Byron Buxton is still one of baseball's best defenders, but a hip injury and a broken hand have kept him sidelined for a good chunk of the second half. Former Twins prospect Akil Baddoo has the third-lowest SDI total among qualified AL center fielders. Michael Taylor (9.5 SDI) and Myles Straw (7.1 SDI) are at the top of the leaderboard with a month to go in the season. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler, 0.8 SDI Kepler has a positive SDI, but only one qualified right fielder sits below him in the rankings. His second-half defense has improved because he had accumulated a -0.1 SDI in right field at the All-Star break. He dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the season, which might have brought down his SDI total. Do any of these rankings surprise you? Do you think the team's defense has been worse in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SABR has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Here is how the Twins rank through games played on August 22, 2021: Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 3.7 SDI (3rd) Berrios was traded before the deadline, but he accumulated the bulk of his SDI total while still in a Twins uniform. Earlier this season, he ranked sixth overall in the AL, so he has made a significant jump in the second half. However, his defense isn’t helping the Twins anymore, and there are no other Twins players on the current leaderboard. Dallas Keuchel is the favorite among AL pitchers as he has nearly double the SDI total of the second-ranked pitcher. Catcher (AL Ranking): No Twins’ Players Qualify At the All-Star Break, both Twins catchers ranked in the top-12 when it came to SDI. Garver’s extended time on the IL pushed him out of the rankings, while Jeffers spent some time in St. Paul trying to find his swing. Over the last few weeks, Jeffers has been catching regularly, so it will be interesting to see if he winds up on the final leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Miguel Sano -2.5 SDI (10th) Only two qualified first basemen, Nathaniel Lowe and Bobby Delbec, have a lower SDI total than Miguel Sano. His months of July and August continued to bring down his total as he was at -0.9 SDI. It also doesn’t help that Minnesota’s best defensive first baseman, Alex Kirilloff, is injured and won’t be back in 2021. At the All-Star break, he ranked third among all AL first basemen. For 2022, Minnesota should pencil Kirilloff in at first base every day. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco, 3.3 SDI (3rd) Polanco has been on an offensive tear in the second half, and his defense has also significantly improved. In less than two months, he moved from 8th to 3rd in SDI among AL second basemen. At that time, I mentioned that he was only 0.5 SDI out of the top-3, and he now ranks 1.2 SDI ahead of fourth place. Polanco looks to be in line to be a Gold Glove finalist, but Whit Merrified and Marcus Semiem have accumulated over twice as much SDI as Polanco. Third Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez, 0.4 SDI (7th) Arraez isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess, so this ranking might come as a surprise to some Twins fans. Every third baseman ranked below Arraez has a -4.0 SDI or lower. Josh Donaldson was known for being a strong defender when the Twins signed him, but he has fallen off the leaderboard since the All-Star break. At that time, he looked to be in the middle of his worst defensive season. Does the future at this position belong to Arraez or Jose Miranda? Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons, 6.4 SDI (3rd) Simmons is having another solid defensive season, but he has taken a step back in the second half. In July, he ranked as one of the AL’s best defenders, and he was the number one ranked shortstop. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Correa have stormed past him over the last two months. Simmons looks like he will be a Gold Glove finalist, but he won’t be coming away with the hardware. Left Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Trevor Larnach was on these rankings at the All-Star break, but he was near the bottom with a -2.2 SDI. He no longer qualifies as the team demoted him to Triple-A after some offensive struggles. Overall, this race looks to be one of the AL's tightest when it comes to the Gold Glove winner. There is no clear-cut favorite, with Austin Hays (2.1 SDI) and Michael Brantley (1.8 SDI) leading the rankings. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Byron Buxton is still one of baseball's best defenders, but a hip injury and a broken hand have kept him sidelined for a good chunk of the second half. Former Twins prospect Akil Baddoo has the third-lowest SDI total among qualified AL center fielders. Michael Taylor (9.5 SDI) and Myles Straw (7.1 SDI) are at the top of the leaderboard with a month to go in the season. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler, 0.8 SDI Kepler has a positive SDI, but only one qualified right fielder sits below him in the rankings. His second-half defense has improved because he had accumulated a -0.1 SDI in right field at the All-Star break. He dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the season, which might have brought down his SDI total. Do any of these rankings surprise you? Do you think the team's defense has been worse in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. From that very first moment when Luis Arraez stepped in against Edwin Diaz and owned the batter’s box, something seemed different. Now more than 200 games into his big-league career, the narrative hasn’t changed. Never a top prospect or one worthy of national attention, Arraez has long gone about his business quietly. He put up a .331 average across more than 300 minor league games, and the Venezuelan has continued to replicate that success at the Major League level. He’s a second baseman by trade, but not in the same vein that Minnesota has seen in recent seasons. He’s not a great defender, but it matters a whole lot less when the stick keeps him producing. Ever since Jorge Polanco moved off of shortstop for the Twins and Josh Donaldson took over at the hot corner, Rocco Baldelli has needed to get creative in deploying his best batting average hitter. Arraez has adapted to playing a utility role, which has included time in the outfield and given some additional rest for a balky knee issue. Playing multiple positions has allowed for offensive flexibility, and really, that’s why he’s here in the first place. To date Luis Arraez owns a .326/.388/.421 career slash line. The power production will likely never trend towards a .500 slugging mark, but it’s that average that has Twins fans dreaming of two All-Time greats. Rod Carew is a legend among these parts, and the late Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters ever to play the game. Between the two of them, both Hall of Famers, there’s a total of 15 batting titles. Minnesota hasn’t had a player accomplish that feat since future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer did so in 2009. Dreaming on Arraez with a career trajectory like that of Carew or Gwynn is probably far-fetched, but expecting similar offensive accomplishments is far from hyperbole. Right now, Arraez is just 24-years-old. Carew debuted at 21, while Gwynn showed up at 22. In his first three big-league seasons, the former owned a .299 average, while the latter put up a .329 mark. Both captured their first batting crown in year three. Right now, Arraez doesn’t have the plate appearances to qualify for the award, but he trails only the Astros Michael Brantley (.325) in the American League. Neither Carew nor Gwynn would win their second award for another three seasons but then did pull off a run of multiple years in a row. Hoping that Arraez takes crowns year over year before grabbing his first is putting the cart before the horse, but it’s clear the recipe is there. Carew had virtually the same strikeout to walk tallies, while Gwynn loaded up on free passes and went back to the dugout just over half as often. Minnesota’s two-bagger owns the same on-base percentage as the Padres legend, and the parallels run deep between this threesome. If we can separate career expectations from production viewed at the moment in time, it’s fun to see just how closely this trio is related. There’s a lot of career left for Luis Arraez, and as long as the knee issues subside or stay at bay, there’s plenty of reason to believe that one thing he’ll always do is hit for average. Maybe Minnesota wasn’t banking on him working out like this, but he’s made his mark and established it as truth. This is the type of guy you describe as rolling out of bed and being ready to hit. He’ll continue to put up the numbers in a Twins uniform, and one can only hope that there’s a shoulder full of batting titles at rest when it’s all said and done. Make no mistake about it, comparing Arraez to the best average hitters of All-Time is fairer than you may think. He’s got the goods, and they keep on coming. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Never a top prospect or one worthy of national attention, Arraez has long gone about his business quietly. He put up a .331 average across more than 300 minor league games, and the Venezuelan has continued to replicate that success at the Major League level. He’s a second baseman by trade, but not in the same vein that Minnesota has seen in recent seasons. He’s not a great defender, but it matters a whole lot less when the stick keeps him producing. Ever since Jorge Polanco moved off of shortstop for the Twins and Josh Donaldson took over at the hot corner, Rocco Baldelli has needed to get creative in deploying his best batting average hitter. Arraez has adapted to playing a utility role, which has included time in the outfield and given some additional rest for a balky knee issue. Playing multiple positions has allowed for offensive flexibility, and really, that’s why he’s here in the first place. To date Luis Arraez owns a .326/.388/.421 career slash line. The power production will likely never trend towards a .500 slugging mark, but it’s that average that has Twins fans dreaming of two All-Time greats. Rod Carew is a legend among these parts, and the late Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters ever to play the game. Between the two of them, both Hall of Famers, there’s a total of 15 batting titles. Minnesota hasn’t had a player accomplish that feat since future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer did so in 2009. Dreaming on Arraez with a career trajectory like that of Carew or Gwynn is probably far-fetched, but expecting similar offensive accomplishments is far from hyperbole. Right now, Arraez is just 24-years-old. Carew debuted at 21, while Gwynn showed up at 22. In his first three big-league seasons, the former owned a .299 average, while the latter put up a .329 mark. Both captured their first batting crown in year three. Right now, Arraez doesn’t have the plate appearances to qualify for the award, but he trails only the Astros Michael Brantley (.325) in the American League. Neither Carew nor Gwynn would win their second award for another three seasons but then did pull off a run of multiple years in a row. Hoping that Arraez takes crowns year over year before grabbing his first is putting the cart before the horse, but it’s clear the recipe is there. Carew had virtually the same strikeout to walk tallies, while Gwynn loaded up on free passes and went back to the dugout just over half as often. Minnesota’s two-bagger owns the same on-base percentage as the Padres legend, and the parallels run deep between this threesome. If we can separate career expectations from production viewed at the moment in time, it’s fun to see just how closely this trio is related. There’s a lot of career left for Luis Arraez, and as long as the knee issues subside or stay at bay, there’s plenty of reason to believe that one thing he’ll always do is hit for average. Maybe Minnesota wasn’t banking on him working out like this, but he’s made his mark and established it as truth. This is the type of guy you describe as rolling out of bed and being ready to hit. He’ll continue to put up the numbers in a Twins uniform, and one can only hope that there’s a shoulder full of batting titles at rest when it’s all said and done. Make no mistake about it, comparing Arraez to the best average hitters of All-Time is fairer than you may think. He’s got the goods, and they keep on coming. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Brian Dozier had a string of seasons for the Minnesota Twins where it was arguable that he was the best second basemen in baseball. That torch has now been passed, and with two options in the mix, it may be one of the strongest roles Minnesota has had in quite some time. From 2013-2018 Brian Dozier played in nearly 900 games and blasted 161 homers for the Twins as their primary second basemen. He took time to settle into the role and changed his approach at the plate, but became an All-Star in 2015 and earned top-15 votes each of the next two seasons. In 2016-17 Dozier combined to hit 76 dingers with an .871 OPS. For a position often seen as an afterthought in the infield, he’d become a beacon of strength. Fast-forward to where we are now, and the Twins have successfully passed the torch to a new pair of talents. Signed to an extension in 2019, Jorge Polanco is potentially under team control through the 2025 season. He dealt with an ankle injury that changed his abilities drastically, but now with a clean bill of health, he looks like one of the best in baseball at the position. Since June 1 this season, Polanco owns a .926 OPS. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019 and has posted an .806 OPS over the past three seasons, even with the dismal 2020 factored in. There were always legitimate concerns regarding Polanco’s range and arm at shortstop. It was a position he had played often, but one he was ultimately miscast in. Sliding over to second base full time this season, Twins coaches talked up the fact that not only would his bat play, but his glove may find gold there. It’s safe to say the experiment has been wildly successful, and the return to offensive prowess is a welcomed shot in the arm. Recently turning 28-years-old, it’s fair to assume Polanco’s best seasons are still ahead of him, and for a Twins team looking to rebound, that’s a great thing to dream on. Then there’s the opposite but an equally successful type of player at second base for the Twins. Luis Arraez may be the second coming of Rod Carew, and he’s here to challenge for a batting title on an annual basis. Nagging knee injuries have kept him off the field at times, but the bat has remained intact when he’s out there. A .317 average this season marks a career-low, but it’s continued to rise, and the .325 mark across his first 205 big-league games is nothing to scoff at. Arraez will never play with the power that either Dozier or Polanco has, and he’s more Dozier (Gold Glove’s are offensive awards sometimes) than Polanco with the leather, but calling second his primary home helps to push this narrative. Luis has done well for himself by establishing utility around the diamond, but make no mistake that the pipeline Minnesota has pushed here is impressive. Add in that Nick Gordon is beginning to realize some of his potential in the big leagues, a converted shortstop moving to the first base side, and this situation continues to be worth monitoring. Spencer Steer is another name down on the farm that’s pushing his way towards the top and watching the Twins develop these athletes is exciting. Second base is often considered the fallback for a shortstop with a lackluster arm. Be that what it may, but Minnesota isn’t simply throwing out good defenders that have little other tools at the position. Rocco Baldelli has employed lineups that can do damage, and even before the current skipper got here, second base has become an area of strength in the system. Maybe Jorge Polanco pushes for the best in baseball title down the line, but even if he doesn’t, he’s currently headlining an impressive position group within this organization. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. From 2013-2018 Brian Dozier played in nearly 900 games and blasted 161 homers for the Twins as their primary second basemen. He took time to settle into the role and changed his approach at the plate, but became an All-Star in 2015 and earned top-15 votes each of the next two seasons. In 2016-17 Dozier combined to hit 76 dingers with an .871 OPS. For a position often seen as an afterthought in the infield, he’d become a beacon of strength. Fast-forward to where we are now, and the Twins have successfully passed the torch to a new pair of talents. Signed to an extension in 2019, Jorge Polanco is potentially under team control through the 2025 season. He dealt with an ankle injury that changed his abilities drastically, but now with a clean bill of health, he looks like one of the best in baseball at the position. Since June 1 this season, Polanco owns a .926 OPS. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019 and has posted an .806 OPS over the past three seasons, even with the dismal 2020 factored in. There were always legitimate concerns regarding Polanco’s range and arm at shortstop. It was a position he had played often, but one he was ultimately miscast in. Sliding over to second base full time this season, Twins coaches talked up the fact that not only would his bat play, but his glove may find gold there. It’s safe to say the experiment has been wildly successful, and the return to offensive prowess is a welcomed shot in the arm. Recently turning 28-years-old, it’s fair to assume Polanco’s best seasons are still ahead of him, and for a Twins team looking to rebound, that’s a great thing to dream on. Then there’s the opposite but an equally successful type of player at second base for the Twins. Luis Arraez may be the second coming of Rod Carew, and he’s here to challenge for a batting title on an annual basis. Nagging knee injuries have kept him off the field at times, but the bat has remained intact when he’s out there. A .317 average this season marks a career-low, but it’s continued to rise, and the .325 mark across his first 205 big-league games is nothing to scoff at. Arraez will never play with the power that either Dozier or Polanco has, and he’s more Dozier (Gold Glove’s are offensive awards sometimes) than Polanco with the leather, but calling second his primary home helps to push this narrative. Luis has done well for himself by establishing utility around the diamond, but make no mistake that the pipeline Minnesota has pushed here is impressive. Add in that Nick Gordon is beginning to realize some of his potential in the big leagues, a converted shortstop moving to the first base side, and this situation continues to be worth monitoring. Spencer Steer is another name down on the farm that’s pushing his way towards the top and watching the Twins develop these athletes is exciting. Second base is often considered the fallback for a shortstop with a lackluster arm. Be that what it may, but Minnesota isn’t simply throwing out good defenders that have little other tools at the position. Rocco Baldelli has employed lineups that can do damage, and even before the current skipper got here, second base has become an area of strength in the system. Maybe Jorge Polanco pushes for the best in baseball title down the line, but even if he doesn’t, he’s currently headlining an impressive position group within this organization. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Box Score Barnes: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Polanco (18) Bottom 3 WPA: Barnes (-0.299), Sano (-0.259), Rooker (-0.215) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Jorge Polanco Gets the Twins on the Board Early Just a matter of hours after hitting the game winning home run in the top of the ninth in Tuesday night’s ballgame, Jorge Polanco went deep again in the first inning of today’s game, giving the Twins the early 1-0 lead. Polanco had another good performance at the plate again today, as he would go 2-for-4 with a walk. Charlie Barnes Gets the Nod for Second Career Start 25-year-old Charlie Barns began the game on the mound this afternoon for the Twins. In his only previous start, the 2017 4th round pick out of Clemson did well, as he only allowed one run, on a solo shot, over four innings of work to the Detroit Tigers back on July 17th. Things went well for Burns to begin the ballgame. He gave up a leadoff single to Jonathan India, who has lived up to the hype so far as the former 5th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft was recently named the NL Rookie of the Month for July. That would be no trouble for Burns, however, as he got Jesse Winker to flyout to left before Kyle Farmer grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the second, Burns gave up a two out single to Eugenio Suarez, but other than that looked sharp. The third inning is where things got away from Burns. Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama singled to begin the inning, before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Reds pitcher Luis Castillo. Burns then got Jonathan India to strikeout and appeared to be on the cusp of getting out of the inning with no damage done. That would not be the case, however, as the next four Reds batters went walk, single, double, single and before you knew it they had a 4-1 lead. The Reds would tack on another run against Charlie Burns in the fourth. After Aristides Aquino flew out to begin the inning, Burns issued a one out walk to Shogo Akiyama. The Reds then executed National League style baseball to perfection, as they had Luis Castillo sacrifice him over to second and Jonathan India came through with a clutch two out single to give the Red the 5-1 lead. Juan Minaya Strikes Out Five in Two Innings of Relief Work A week removed from his outing against Detroit in the emphamis 17-14 Twins loss, where Juan Minaya was cruising until everything fell apart on him in the ninth, Rocco Baldelli learned his lesson and only left Minaya in for two innings of work. The outing did not get off to a great start for Juan Minaya, as he walked both Kyle Farmer and Joey Votto to leadoff the fifth. However, after a mound visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson, Minaya found his rhythm as he struck out each of the next three batters to get out of the inning. Minaya would follow that up with another scoreless inning in the sixth, where he gave up a two out double to Jonathan India, but struck out two more hitters, including Jesse Winker to get out of the inning unscathed. Reds Add Crucial Insurance Run in the 7th After an excellent outing from Juan Minaya, Rocco Baldelli turned to Beau Burrows in the seventh, with the Twins still trailing 5-1 at the time. Burrows looked decent in the inning, as he retired three of the four batters he faced. Unfortunately for the Twins, the loan batter he failed to get out was Tyler Stephenson, who took Burrows deep to center field giving the Reds a 6-1 lead. While it may not have seemed like it at the time, that run would be monumental just an inning later. Twins Comeback Effort Falls Short With the Twins trailing 6-1 entering the eighth inning, it seemed as though the game was getting out of reach of the Twins if they didn’t get something going with the bats in a hurry, and that is exactly what they did. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez leadoff the inning with a couple of walks, before Miguel Sano laced an opposite field double into right, bringing Polanco around to score and advancing Arraez to third. The Reds then went to the bullpen and brought in Luis Cessa to face Trevor Larnach, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at that point in the game. That would change quickly, though, as Larnach delivered with a ground ball double that was just fair down the first baseline, bringing around both Arraez and Sano to score. With Nick Gordon up with Trevor Larnach on second, and the Twins now down by just two with still nobody out, they seemed primed to finish off the big comeback right here. Gordon would wind up advancing Larnach to third on a groundout, before Ryan Jeffers brought him in with a one out single. The Reds would go to the bullpen once again, this time bringing in Michael Lorenzen. With the pitcher’s spot in the order due up, Josh Donaldson made an appearance as a pinch hitter, but he would fail to help the cause as he struck out for the second out of the inning. It was then Max Kepler’s turn, who would come up with a big double of his own. Despite being two outs in the inning, Ryan Jeffers was unable to score for first and was held up at third. While Jeffers being not the most fleet of foot base runners did not help, credit the Reds defense for getting the ball back in so quickly and forcing Tony Diaz to put the stop sign up for Jeffers as he rounded third. This put the pressure on an already 0-for-4 Brent Rooker to come up with a big two out hit. However, things did not turn out the Twins' way, as Rooker struck out to end the scoring threat. The Twins would have another chance in the top of the ninth with Polanco, Arraez and Sano due up. Polanco put up a good battle, but eventually struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Luis Arraez then did his job as he got on base with a one out single. Nothing came of that however, as Miguel Sano would immediately ground into a double play to end the ballgame. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Coulombe 0 21 0 13 0 34 Burrows 0 45 0 0 13 58 Gant 0 16 0 22 0 38 Colomé 16 0 0 20 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 0 0 0 Alcala 21 0 0 0 0 21 Minaya 18 0 0 0 44 62 Thielbar 14 0 0 0 22 36 Postgame Interviews What's Next The Twins will travel to Houston to face the Astros in a four-game series beginning Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. CDT. Griffen Jax (6.41 ERA) is scheduled to be on the mound against Astros starter Framber Valdez (3.01 ERA).
  12. After a ninth inning comeback last night, the Minnesota Twins tried to make another this afternoon, but came up short as the Cincinnati Reds held on to split the two-game series. Box Score Barnes: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 5R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Polanco (18) Bottom 3 WPA: Barnes (-0.299), Sano (-0.259), Rooker (-0.215) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Jorge Polanco Gets the Twins on the Board Early Just a matter of hours after hitting the game winning home run in the top of the ninth in Tuesday night’s ballgame, Jorge Polanco went deep again in the first inning of today’s game, giving the Twins the early 1-0 lead. Polanco had another good performance at the plate again today, as he would go 2-for-4 with a walk. Charlie Barnes Gets the Nod for Second Career Start 25-year-old Charlie Barns began the game on the mound this afternoon for the Twins. In his only previous start, the 2017 4th round pick out of Clemson did well, as he only allowed one run, on a solo shot, over four innings of work to the Detroit Tigers back on July 17th. Things went well for Burns to begin the ballgame. He gave up a leadoff single to Jonathan India, who has lived up to the hype so far as the former 5th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft was recently named the NL Rookie of the Month for July. That would be no trouble for Burns, however, as he got Jesse Winker to flyout to left before Kyle Farmer grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the second, Burns gave up a two out single to Eugenio Suarez, but other than that looked sharp. The third inning is where things got away from Burns. Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama singled to begin the inning, before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Reds pitcher Luis Castillo. Burns then got Jonathan India to strikeout and appeared to be on the cusp of getting out of the inning with no damage done. That would not be the case, however, as the next four Reds batters went walk, single, double, single and before you knew it they had a 4-1 lead. The Reds would tack on another run against Charlie Burns in the fourth. After Aristides Aquino flew out to begin the inning, Burns issued a one out walk to Shogo Akiyama. The Reds then executed National League style baseball to perfection, as they had Luis Castillo sacrifice him over to second and Jonathan India came through with a clutch two out single to give the Red the 5-1 lead. Juan Minaya Strikes Out Five in Two Innings of Relief Work A week removed from his outing against Detroit in the emphamis 17-14 Twins loss, where Juan Minaya was cruising until everything fell apart on him in the ninth, Rocco Baldelli learned his lesson and only left Minaya in for two innings of work. The outing did not get off to a great start for Juan Minaya, as he walked both Kyle Farmer and Joey Votto to leadoff the fifth. However, after a mound visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson, Minaya found his rhythm as he struck out each of the next three batters to get out of the inning. Minaya would follow that up with another scoreless inning in the sixth, where he gave up a two out double to Jonathan India, but struck out two more hitters, including Jesse Winker to get out of the inning unscathed. Reds Add Crucial Insurance Run in the 7th After an excellent outing from Juan Minaya, Rocco Baldelli turned to Beau Burrows in the seventh, with the Twins still trailing 5-1 at the time. Burrows looked decent in the inning, as he retired three of the four batters he faced. Unfortunately for the Twins, the loan batter he failed to get out was Tyler Stephenson, who took Burrows deep to center field giving the Reds a 6-1 lead. While it may not have seemed like it at the time, that run would be monumental just an inning later. Twins Comeback Effort Falls Short With the Twins trailing 6-1 entering the eighth inning, it seemed as though the game was getting out of reach of the Twins if they didn’t get something going with the bats in a hurry, and that is exactly what they did. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez leadoff the inning with a couple of walks, before Miguel Sano laced an opposite field double into right, bringing Polanco around to score and advancing Arraez to third. The Reds then went to the bullpen and brought in Luis Cessa to face Trevor Larnach, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at that point in the game. That would change quickly, though, as Larnach delivered with a ground ball double that was just fair down the first baseline, bringing around both Arraez and Sano to score. With Nick Gordon up with Trevor Larnach on second, and the Twins now down by just two with still nobody out, they seemed primed to finish off the big comeback right here. Gordon would wind up advancing Larnach to third on a groundout, before Ryan Jeffers brought him in with a one out single. The Reds would go to the bullpen once again, this time bringing in Michael Lorenzen. With the pitcher’s spot in the order due up, Josh Donaldson made an appearance as a pinch hitter, but he would fail to help the cause as he struck out for the second out of the inning. It was then Max Kepler’s turn, who would come up with a big double of his own. Despite being two outs in the inning, Ryan Jeffers was unable to score for first and was held up at third. While Jeffers being not the most fleet of foot base runners did not help, credit the Reds defense for getting the ball back in so quickly and forcing Tony Diaz to put the stop sign up for Jeffers as he rounded third. This put the pressure on an already 0-for-4 Brent Rooker to come up with a big two out hit. However, things did not turn out the Twins' way, as Rooker struck out to end the scoring threat. The Twins would have another chance in the top of the ninth with Polanco, Arraez and Sano due up. Polanco put up a good battle, but eventually struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Luis Arraez then did his job as he got on base with a one out single. Nothing came of that however, as Miguel Sano would immediately ground into a double play to end the ballgame. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Coulombe 0 21 0 13 0 34 Burrows 0 45 0 0 13 58 Gant 0 16 0 22 0 38 Colomé 16 0 0 20 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 0 0 0 Alcala 21 0 0 0 0 21 Minaya 18 0 0 0 44 62 Thielbar 14 0 0 0 22 36 Postgame Interviews What's Next The Twins will travel to Houston to face the Astros in a four-game series beginning Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. CDT. Griffen Jax (6.41 ERA) is scheduled to be on the mound against Astros starter Framber Valdez (3.01 ERA). View full article
  13. After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month. Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones. Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras. Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins.
  14. As a team the Minnesota Twins hitters ranked 22nd in all of baseball accruing 2.8 fWAR in the month of July. Individually, the Twins had some solid month long performances including one familiar name who is vying for Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Hitter of the Year. After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month. Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones. Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras. Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins. View full article
  15. Box Score Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (64 pitches, 44 strikes (68.8%)) Home Runs: Jeffers (9), Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (0.126), Bailey Ober (0.117), Miguel Sano (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Return of Arraez Before Saturday’s game, the Twins announced that Luis Arraez was being activated from the Injured List. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul (will he finally make his Saints debut?). He was put into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. It paid immediate dividends for the team. In the first inning, he came up with runners on second and third base. He gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. He added another RBI his second time up. With runners on first and second, he hit a double down the right field line. He added a walk later in the game. Bailey’s Big Hit Bailey Ober had not had an at-bat in a baseball game in eight years, since he and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury were starring at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina. He stepped to the plate, and on an 0-1 pitch, lined a single to right field for his first big-league hit. OK, softly lined a single to right field. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations to Ober! The Twins' pitchers haven’t had a lot of hits of late. More importantly, Bailey Ober pitched well. He began with three scoreless innings, and then in the fourth, he gave up a run but was able to limit damage with a big double play ball. Despite a 7-1 lead, Ober was due to bat for the third time but Willians Astudillo pinch hit and grounded a single through the infield to give the Twins an 8-1 lead. Ober’s fastball sat between 92 and 93 mph, but he is able to get swings and misses with it up in the strike zone. Why? As important, the Twins bullpen combined for five shutout innings. Jorge Alcala worked two innings, and then Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alexander Colome each pitched one inning. (see the bullpen usage chart below) Jeffers Jolts In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the season, but it was his third in his past two starts. Remember, he had two homers in that crazy, 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. In his past nine games, Jeffers is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles, three homers and an OPS north of 1.000). Since returning from the IL, Mitch Garver has played in five games and hit .278 (1.324 OPS) with two doubles, three homers and ten RBI. After both struggled mightily at the plate in April, Twins fans are now seeing what we thought we might from the Twins catching duo. It feels appropriate to talk about the performance of Twins catchers on a night when Hall of Fame catcher Ted Simmons' number was retired by the Cardinals and a statue of his likeness was unveiled outside the stadium. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 10 0 0 23 0 33 Thielbar 13 16 0 0 0 14 43 Alcala 0 11 0 0 0 21 32 Gant 0 0 24 0 0 0 24 Colomé 16 0 0 0 0 16 32 Minaya 0 0 45 0 0 18 63 Duffey 11 7 0 0 32 0 50 Burrows 0 0 63 0 0 0 63
  16. After a long and emotional trade deadline day on Friday that ended in another Twins loss, the team came out hitting on Saturday and the pitching backed them up on the way to a nice 8-1 win in St. Louis. Box Score Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (64 pitches, 44 strikes (68.8%)) Home Runs: Jeffers (9), Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (0.126), Bailey Ober (0.117), Miguel Sano (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Return of Arraez Before Saturday’s game, the Twins announced that Luis Arraez was being activated from the Injured List. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul (will he finally make his Saints debut?). He was put into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. It paid immediate dividends for the team. In the first inning, he came up with runners on second and third base. He gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. He added another RBI his second time up. With runners on first and second, he hit a double down the right field line. He added a walk later in the game. Bailey’s Big Hit Bailey Ober had not had an at-bat in a baseball game in eight years, since he and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury were starring at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina. He stepped to the plate, and on an 0-1 pitch, lined a single to right field for his first big-league hit. OK, softly lined a single to right field. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations to Ober! The Twins' pitchers haven’t had a lot of hits of late. More importantly, Bailey Ober pitched well. He began with three scoreless innings, and then in the fourth, he gave up a run but was able to limit damage with a big double play ball. Despite a 7-1 lead, Ober was due to bat for the third time but Willians Astudillo pinch hit and grounded a single through the infield to give the Twins an 8-1 lead. Ober’s fastball sat between 92 and 93 mph, but he is able to get swings and misses with it up in the strike zone. Why? As important, the Twins bullpen combined for five shutout innings. Jorge Alcala worked two innings, and then Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alexander Colome each pitched one inning. (see the bullpen usage chart below) Jeffers Jolts In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the season, but it was his third in his past two starts. Remember, he had two homers in that crazy, 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. In his past nine games, Jeffers is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles, three homers and an OPS north of 1.000). Since returning from the IL, Mitch Garver has played in five games and hit .278 (1.324 OPS) with two doubles, three homers and ten RBI. After both struggled mightily at the plate in April, Twins fans are now seeing what we thought we might from the Twins catching duo. It feels appropriate to talk about the performance of Twins catchers on a night when Hall of Fame catcher Ted Simmons' number was retired by the Cardinals and a statue of his likeness was unveiled outside the stadium. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 10 0 0 23 0 33 Thielbar 13 16 0 0 0 14 43 Alcala 0 11 0 0 0 21 32 Gant 0 0 24 0 0 0 24 Colomé 16 0 0 0 0 16 32 Minaya 0 0 45 0 0 18 63 Duffey 11 7 0 0 32 0 50 Burrows 0 0 63 0 0 0 63 View full article
  17. What's Their Situation? The Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2020 offseason with a clear goal in mind: return to the American League playoffs in 2021 and make some noise. The first step in attempting to accomplish this task was bringing in veteran offensive talent to complement young studs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, so they went out and spent big on shortstop Marcus Semien (1-year, $18 million) and outfielder George Springer (6-years, $150 million). The next step was to shore up the starting rotation, so they brought back Robbie Ray on a 1-year, $8 million deal and consummated a trade with the New York Mets for Steven Matz. The final step was to bet that their aforementioned young core would take the next step in their development and become legitimate All-Star talent. To this point, the Jays' plan has gone exceptionally well. While Springer has only appeared in 20 games due to oblique and quadriceps injuries, and Matz has mainly been mediocre (4.72 ERA), Toronto finds themselves in third place in the AL East and within striking distance of an AL Wild Card spot with 75 games remaining on their schedule. For this reason, in addition to the fact that they are hoping to (conveniently) return to the Bold North by July 30, there is perhaps no team more compelled to make a significant trade or two in the coming weeks than Toronto. What Do They Need? The Jays' offense was among the most fearsome in baseball during the first half of the season as they ranked second overall in home runs (130), OPS (.776), and OPS+ (110). Guerrero has officially completed his metamorphosis into one of the game's most feared sluggers, leading the team with 28 bombs and an absurd 1.089 OPS. Semien's production isn't far behind with his 22 homers and 4.3 WAR, and neither is Bichette's 16 dingers and 3.0 WAR. In all, the three form the foundation of a lineup that will leave any opposing pitchers shaking in their cleats should they qualify for the playoffs. While it may not be their greatest need, Toronto would likely benefit greatly from adding a fourth outfielder or a super-utility player that can slot into one of the corner outfield spots on occasion. Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. all have nice pop and are deserving to be full-time starters, but they sometimes struggle with reaching base consistently. Jonathan Davis, the Jays' primary fourth outfielder as of this writing, and his -0.3 WAR leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, adding someone who can spell Cavan Biggio and his mediocre production at third base (.699 OPS) would be all the more valuable for Toronto. One could also argue that Toronto could benefit from buying a pure DH-type bat, but doing so would be more of a luxury than addressing a glaring need. If they believe Guerrero can be a passable first baseman and there will be enough at-bats for everybody once Springer returns to the lineup, pursuing DH options becomes much more palatable. Otherwise, Toronto would likely be better off seeking to remedy more pressing needs. Speaking of which: What the Jays truly need is pitching, particularly in the bullpen. General manager Ross Atkins told reporters in mid-June that the team would focus on adding bullpen arms as the season progressed and, so far, he has kept to his word. Toronto has already swapped first baseman Rowdy Tellez and second baseman Joe Panik for Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber to shore up the pen. (The Jays also added outfielder Corey Dickerson, though he has yet to appear in a game due to injury and a return date remains murky at best.) Still, Toronto would benefit from adding another arm, particularly one that could slot in alongside standout closer Jordan Romano in save situations and close scores late in games. Additionally, it may behoove the Jays to add one more starting pitcher. Hyun Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray have performed like legitimate number one and two options to date, but some degree of regression is inevitable. Adding a true ace or a competent number four starter would put them in a position to improve their pitching unit significantly. As a team, Toronto ranks 12th in ERA (3.99), 11th in ERA+ (112), and 16th in FIP (4.28). Which Twins Are the Best Fit? It wouldn't surprise me if reports started popping up that the Jays are among the most aggressive teams trying to pry Taylor Rogers away from the Twins. The fit makes too much sense. Toronto needs a lockdown bullpen arm, and Rogers will likely be the best reliever on the market. Add that he is left-handed while Romano is right-handed, and the fit becomes even more apparent. Similarly, Toronto is one of the more obvious landing spots for José Berríos should the Twins choose to move him. They need a pitcher with ace-level potential who lines up with the timeline of their young core. They also have a great farm system when looking strictly at their top 10 prospects, making them an ideal trade partner for the Twins. Finally, Luis Arraez's emergence as a super-utility man this season makes him a fantastic fit for Toronto. His ability to get on base would have Guerrero and company salivating, while his defensive versatility would allow for off-days for most of the Jays' primary offensive contributors. He may not be great anywhere, but Arraez is serviceable almost everywhere, and that has value. Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles, and Caleb Thielbar are also potential targets for Toronto should they seek to make a big splash elsewhere or not at all. Who Could the Twins Get Back? The Jays boast six prospects inside MLB Pipeline's top 100, headlined by No. 9 RHP Nate Pearson and No. 16 UTIL Austin Martin. Both players, including No. 90 RHP Alek Manoah, who has performed well for Toronto since being called up, are likely off-limits, even in a trade involving Berríos. Perhaps the most exciting prospect they could pry away from Toronto is No. 68 RHP Simeon Woods Richardson. Woods Richardson, who is currently pitching in Double-A at 20-years-old, stands 6-foot-3-inches tall and possesses four pitches - a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup - that are considered plus offerings. He has reasonable control and fits the physical profile that the Twins like in their pitching prospects (i.e. tall and athletic). In a best-case scenario, Woods Richardson develops into a José Berríos-Esque pitcher, making losing him more palatable for the Twins. An intriguing name that may be included in a deal for any of the three players listed above is utility man Otto Lopez. He's young, versatile on defense, has good bat-to-ball skills, and some power potential. Thus far, his power has primarily presented itself as a propensity to hit doubles, but a tweak here or there could turn that double power into home run power. Other prospects the Twins could potentially ask for are SS Jordan Groshans, ARHP Adam Kloffenstein, and CRHP CJ Van Eyk. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. The Toronto Blue Jays entered the All-Star Break with a 45-42 record, 4.5 games back of the final American League Wild Card spot. The Jays reached the playoffs last season but otherwise haven't made the postseason since their back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016. Toronto is one of the teams most likely to make a move, and they could find an excellent trade partner in the Minnesota Twins. What's Their Situation? The Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2020 offseason with a clear goal in mind: return to the American League playoffs in 2021 and make some noise. The first step in attempting to accomplish this task was bringing in veteran offensive talent to complement young studs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, so they went out and spent big on shortstop Marcus Semien (1-year, $18 million) and outfielder George Springer (6-years, $150 million). The next step was to shore up the starting rotation, so they brought back Robbie Ray on a 1-year, $8 million deal and consummated a trade with the New York Mets for Steven Matz. The final step was to bet that their aforementioned young core would take the next step in their development and become legitimate All-Star talent. To this point, the Jays' plan has gone exceptionally well. While Springer has only appeared in 20 games due to oblique and quadriceps injuries, and Matz has mainly been mediocre (4.72 ERA), Toronto finds themselves in third place in the AL East and within striking distance of an AL Wild Card spot with 75 games remaining on their schedule. For this reason, in addition to the fact that they are hoping to (conveniently) return to the Bold North by July 30, there is perhaps no team more compelled to make a significant trade or two in the coming weeks than Toronto. What Do They Need? The Jays' offense was among the most fearsome in baseball during the first half of the season as they ranked second overall in home runs (130), OPS (.776), and OPS+ (110). Guerrero has officially completed his metamorphosis into one of the game's most feared sluggers, leading the team with 28 bombs and an absurd 1.089 OPS. Semien's production isn't far behind with his 22 homers and 4.3 WAR, and neither is Bichette's 16 dingers and 3.0 WAR. In all, the three form the foundation of a lineup that will leave any opposing pitchers shaking in their cleats should they qualify for the playoffs. While it may not be their greatest need, Toronto would likely benefit greatly from adding a fourth outfielder or a super-utility player that can slot into one of the corner outfield spots on occasion. Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. all have nice pop and are deserving to be full-time starters, but they sometimes struggle with reaching base consistently. Jonathan Davis, the Jays' primary fourth outfielder as of this writing, and his -0.3 WAR leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, adding someone who can spell Cavan Biggio and his mediocre production at third base (.699 OPS) would be all the more valuable for Toronto. One could also argue that Toronto could benefit from buying a pure DH-type bat, but doing so would be more of a luxury than addressing a glaring need. If they believe Guerrero can be a passable first baseman and there will be enough at-bats for everybody once Springer returns to the lineup, pursuing DH options becomes much more palatable. Otherwise, Toronto would likely be better off seeking to remedy more pressing needs. Speaking of which: What the Jays truly need is pitching, particularly in the bullpen. General manager Ross Atkins told reporters in mid-June that the team would focus on adding bullpen arms as the season progressed and, so far, he has kept to his word. Toronto has already swapped first baseman Rowdy Tellez and second baseman Joe Panik for Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber to shore up the pen. (The Jays also added outfielder Corey Dickerson, though he has yet to appear in a game due to injury and a return date remains murky at best.) Still, Toronto would benefit from adding another arm, particularly one that could slot in alongside standout closer Jordan Romano in save situations and close scores late in games. Additionally, it may behoove the Jays to add one more starting pitcher. Hyun Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray have performed like legitimate number one and two options to date, but some degree of regression is inevitable. Adding a true ace or a competent number four starter would put them in a position to improve their pitching unit significantly. As a team, Toronto ranks 12th in ERA (3.99), 11th in ERA+ (112), and 16th in FIP (4.28). Which Twins Are the Best Fit? It wouldn't surprise me if reports started popping up that the Jays are among the most aggressive teams trying to pry Taylor Rogers away from the Twins. The fit makes too much sense. Toronto needs a lockdown bullpen arm, and Rogers will likely be the best reliever on the market. Add that he is left-handed while Romano is right-handed, and the fit becomes even more apparent. Similarly, Toronto is one of the more obvious landing spots for José Berríos should the Twins choose to move him. They need a pitcher with ace-level potential who lines up with the timeline of their young core. They also have a great farm system when looking strictly at their top 10 prospects, making them an ideal trade partner for the Twins. Finally, Luis Arraez's emergence as a super-utility man this season makes him a fantastic fit for Toronto. His ability to get on base would have Guerrero and company salivating, while his defensive versatility would allow for off-days for most of the Jays' primary offensive contributors. He may not be great anywhere, but Arraez is serviceable almost everywhere, and that has value. Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles, and Caleb Thielbar are also potential targets for Toronto should they seek to make a big splash elsewhere or not at all. Who Could the Twins Get Back? The Jays boast six prospects inside MLB Pipeline's top 100, headlined by No. 9 RHP Nate Pearson and No. 16 UTIL Austin Martin. Both players, including No. 90 RHP Alek Manoah, who has performed well for Toronto since being called up, are likely off-limits, even in a trade involving Berríos. Perhaps the most exciting prospect they could pry away from Toronto is No. 68 RHP Simeon Woods Richardson. Woods Richardson, who is currently pitching in Double-A at 20-years-old, stands 6-foot-3-inches tall and possesses four pitches - a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup - that are considered plus offerings. He has reasonable control and fits the physical profile that the Twins like in their pitching prospects (i.e. tall and athletic). In a best-case scenario, Woods Richardson develops into a José Berríos-Esque pitcher, making losing him more palatable for the Twins. An intriguing name that may be included in a deal for any of the three players listed above is utility man Otto Lopez. He's young, versatile on defense, has good bat-to-ball skills, and some power potential. Thus far, his power has primarily presented itself as a propensity to hit doubles, but a tweak here or there could turn that double power into home run power. Other prospects the Twins could potentially ask for are SS Jordan Groshans, ARHP Adam Kloffenstein, and CRHP CJ Van Eyk. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  19. Mitch Garver: .497 xwOBAcon What makes Garver’s injury tough to swallow is how well he had been hitting at the plate. His Statcast numbers point to this improvement even after his slow start to the season. For those unfamiliar, xOBAcon uses three variables: exit velocity (EV), launch angle (LA), and sprint speed. Garver’s exit velocity and launch angle have allowed him to spray the ball all over the field. He currently ranks in the top 6% of the league in xwOBAcon so the hope is he can return sooner rather than later. As Rocco Baldelli alluded to after Tuesday’s game, it’s hard to imagine he will be behind the plate anytime soon. Luis Arraez: .308 xBA Arraez is another player the Twins are missing on the IL. During his big-league career, Arraez has been known for his bat to ball skills with many thinking a batting title is in the realm of possibility for him. Expected batting average (xBA) is a metric that measures the likelihood a batted ball will become a hit. Sometimes a player gets lucky, and ball falls in for a hit and other times a hard-hit ball ends up being an out. Arraez currently has a .277 batting average, but his xBA is over 30 points higher as he ranks in the top 3% of the league. Arraez provides an energy at the plate and the Twins offense has been struggling to find energy in recent weeks with him out of the line-up Andrelton Simmons: 9 Outs Above Average The Twins signed Simmons to provide a defensive upgrade and he has certainly come as advertised on that side of the ball. Only three players have produced an outs above average total of nine as Simmons is joined by Matt Chapman and Nick Ahmed. His recent play has moved him up this list so it will be intriguing to see if he can stay healthy and producing on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, his strikeout numbers have made him a disappointment on the offensive side, but he might be on his way to winning another Gold Glove. As a veteran with an expiring contract, the only question that remains is whether or not he is with the Twins after July. Nelson Cruz: 10.5 Barrels/Plate Appearance % Like Simmons, Cruz struggled mightily in the month of May, but this was on the heels of a torrid stretch at season’s start. Only five AL batters have a higher Barrels/PA % than Cruz and that isn’t the only Statcast metric where he ranks near the top of the league. He ranks well in barrel % (Top 7%), max exit velocity (Top 1%), and hard hit % (top 5%). His xwOBA over his last 100 plate appearances is dropping faster than Rob Refsynder running into the outfield wall in Baltimore. Is age catching up to Cruz or will he be able to solve his offensive woes? Which one of these Statcast numbers stands out the most to you? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. With a third of the 2021 season in the rearview mirror, the Twins struggles have been well documented. However, these four players have stood out in various Statcast categories as the calendar turns to June. Mitch Garver: .497 xwOBAcon What makes Garver’s injury tough to swallow is how well he had been hitting at the plate. His Statcast numbers point to this improvement even after his slow start to the season. For those unfamiliar, xOBAcon uses three variables: exit velocity (EV), launch angle (LA), and sprint speed. Garver’s exit velocity and launch angle have allowed him to spray the ball all over the field. He currently ranks in the top 6% of the league in xwOBAcon so the hope is he can return sooner rather than later. As Rocco Baldelli alluded to after Tuesday’s game, it’s hard to imagine he will be behind the plate anytime soon. Luis Arraez: .308 xBA Arraez is another player the Twins are missing on the IL. During his big-league career, Arraez has been known for his bat to ball skills with many thinking a batting title is in the realm of possibility for him. Expected batting average (xBA) is a metric that measures the likelihood a batted ball will become a hit. Sometimes a player gets lucky, and ball falls in for a hit and other times a hard-hit ball ends up being an out. Arraez currently has a .277 batting average, but his xBA is over 30 points higher as he ranks in the top 3% of the league. Arraez provides an energy at the plate and the Twins offense has been struggling to find energy in recent weeks with him out of the line-up Andrelton Simmons: 9 Outs Above Average The Twins signed Simmons to provide a defensive upgrade and he has certainly come as advertised on that side of the ball. Only three players have produced an outs above average total of nine as Simmons is joined by Matt Chapman and Nick Ahmed. His recent play has moved him up this list so it will be intriguing to see if he can stay healthy and producing on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, his strikeout numbers have made him a disappointment on the offensive side, but he might be on his way to winning another Gold Glove. As a veteran with an expiring contract, the only question that remains is whether or not he is with the Twins after July. Nelson Cruz: 10.5 Barrels/Plate Appearance % Like Simmons, Cruz struggled mightily in the month of May, but this was on the heels of a torrid stretch at season’s start. Only five AL batters have a higher Barrels/PA % than Cruz and that isn’t the only Statcast metric where he ranks near the top of the league. He ranks well in barrel % (Top 7%), max exit velocity (Top 1%), and hard hit % (top 5%). His xwOBA over his last 100 plate appearances is dropping faster than Rob Refsynder running into the outfield wall in Baltimore. Is age catching up to Cruz or will he be able to solve his offensive woes? Which one of these Statcast numbers stands out the most to you? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  21. Sano’s Slow Start Miguel Sano entered the 2021 season as the team’s first baseman, and he seemed locked into that spot after signing an extension entering the 2020 campaign. Prior to his injury, Sano was trying to find himself at the plate. He is hitting .111/.310/.244 (.555) with two extra-base hits, both home runs. One positive among these numbers is the fact that he has already drawn 13 walks, which is just five fewer than his walk total in 53 games last year. Sano is typically among the league leaders when it comes to average exit velocity, hard hit %, and barrel %. During the 2020 campaign, he ranked in the 99th percentile or higher in all three of those areas. This season he is at the completely opposite end of the spectrum with all three being below average. His hard hit % might be the most concerning as that has dipped to the 8th percentile. Kirilloff’s Emergence For most of his professional career, Alex Kirilloff has played in the outfield, but the Twins have been grooming him to get more time at first base. Sano’s trip to the disabled list has allowed Kirilloff to play first on a more regular basis and he is considered a better defender than Sano. In fact, Minnesota might have one of their best defensive infields in team history with Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons, Jorge Polanco, and Kirilloff. It also helps that Kirilloff has been killing the ball even though the results weren’t showing up until this past weekend. Among batters with at least 25 batted ball events, Kirilloff has been barreling up the ball at a higher rate than any player in baseball including Byron Buxton. His hit tool has always been advanced, and he might be putting it all together at the big-league level as a 23-year-old. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1389277969785425924?s=20 Besides Kirilloff’s emergence, the Twins also need to continue to find regular playing time for another key player. The Arraez Puzzle Arraez was penciled in as the team’s utility player, but he has become an everyday player. Only two players, Jake Cave and Nelson Cruz, have appeared in more games than Arraez. He has played regularly in the outfield and at multiple infield positions. He started the season on a strong note at the plate, but his bat has cooled off as the first month progressed and now he is heading to the concussion IL. Injuries have allowed Arraez to be in the line-up on a regular basis and finding spots in the line-up tends to work itself out over the course of 162-games. Other players are going to get injured, and Rocco Baldelli prefers to give players regular days off. This means the Twins can rotate through players at multiple positions, especially with the team’s defensive flexibility. When everyone is healthy, Minnesota’s best line-up doesn’t include Sano. That being said, he will continue to be used at first base and designated hitter as the season progresses. It just might be tough for him to refine his offensive approach if Kirilloff continues to get at-bats at first base. What do you think Sano’s role will be moving forward? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. 5. Josh Donaldson (0.7 rWAR, 0.5 fWAR) .286/.368/.469 (.838), 2 HR, 3 2B, 7 BB, 5 K There are plenty of candidates to be on the back end of this ballot. Andrelton Simmons put together some strong numbers, but he missed time due to COVID. Taylor Rogers was a one of the lone bright spots in the bullpen, while Michael Pineda and Jose Berrios provided value in the rotation. However, Donaldson gets the nod after getting on base nearly 37% of the time and having more walks than strikeouts. His current 144 OPS+ is his highest total since the 2017 season. Many Twins fans would like to see him leading this list, but he ended the month healthy and that’s certainly a positive sign <knock on wood>. 4. J.A. Happ (0.6 rWAR, 0.2 fWAR) 2-0, 1.96 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 13 K, 7 BB, 199 ERA+ Other pitchers rank higher than him in WAR, but Happ’s value has come from what he has meant to the rotation this year. Happ took the mound on April 23rd with the team in the middle of a stretch where they had lost nine out of ten games. He took a no-hitter into the late innings and helped the club to their first victory in over a week. Minnesota lost the next four games before Happ took the mound again and righted the ship. He’s been a steadying veteran presence when the team has needed one the most. 3. Luis Arraez (1.0 rWAR, 0.9 fWAR) .289/.400/.373 (.773), 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 14 BB, 11 K Arraez started the season on fire by hitting safely in six of the team’s first eight games including three multi-hit games. On April 15, he almost single-handedly brought the Twins a victory by going 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Over his last 12 games, things haven’t gone as smooth. He’s gone 10-for-40 (.250 BA) during that stretch with two extra-base hits. Defensively, he’s also being moved all over the diamond including getting accustom to playing in the outfield for the first time in his career. If Arraez would have continued his hot start, he might have been higher on this list. 2. Nelson Cruz (1.1 rWAR, 1.1 fWAR) .321/.375/.655 (1.030), 8 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B(!!), 7 BB, 16 K Cruz, the team’s back-to-back team MVP, is right up there in the running again. Oh yeah, he’s also 40-years-old. He’s tied for second in the league in home runs and he is quietly climbing the all-time home run list. His next two home runs will move him into the top-50 all-time. If he ends the year with 30 homers, he’d jump to 41st all-time. If he can hit 40 homers, he’d move into 38th place. Even without defensive value, he provides leadership on and off the field and that’s one of the biggest reasons the Twins wanted to bring him back for the 2021 campaign. https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1388963798367801358?s=20 1. Byron Buxton (2.4 rWAR, 2.3 fWAR) .408/.444/.842 (1.287), 8 HR, 9 2B, 3 BB, 17 K By many accounts, Buxton just completed the best month in Twins’ history as his 1.363 OPS was higher than Joe Mauer’s (1.338 OPS) in 2009 and Rod Carew’s (1.313 OPS) in 1977. Good news is that Mauer and Carew would both go on to win MVPs in those seasons. Buxton might be on the same path as he leads the American League in WAR and slugging percentage. His defense continues to be otherworldly and his changes to his offensive approach look to be sustainable. Can he stay healthy? Can he play over 145 games? Those are questions that still remain to be answered. How would your ballot look at the end of the season’s first month? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Aaron and John talk about the Twins digging an even bigger hole, Alex Kirilloff's arrival, why the team needs Andrelton Simmons back, the math behind Byron Buxton's signature moments, why Nick Gordon came up to sit on the bench, Alexander Colome vs. Ron Davis, and Mitch Garver vs. Ryan Jeffers. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Here Now Click here to view the article
  24. The Minnesota Twins have now played nine games in the 2021 Major League Baseball season thus far and are scheduled for their tenth today. They haven’t had a fully healthy roster for a full game yet, but batting order positions are starting to take shape. Where and when should we consider questioning them? For most of his tenure as the skipper for Minnesota, Rocco Baldelli has opted to bat lefty Max Kepler in the leadoff hole. He’s a non-traditional fit there as speed isn’t his game, and he is more of a power player than high batting average guy. Through nine games this year Kepler hasn’t batted higher than cleanup and he’s been slotted in as low as ninth. Looking at all options, the ideal fit for Rocco would seem to be Luis Arraez. The former second basemen turned utility man has played all over the place in 2021 and will continue to get reps in the outfield at least until Alex Kirilloff is promoted. In seven of his 10 starts he’ll have led off, but curiously he’s also batted 9th on the other three occasions. This is where the weirdness comes in. From purely a speculative standpoint it seems that Baldelli is looking to shield Luis from left-handed pitchers. Despite an .890 OPS in his career against righties, that drops to .645 against lefties. The caveat here however is that Arraez loses power and average against southpaws, but he still owns a career .371 OBP against them and is synonymous with solid at bats. Before making any determinations, it’s worth bringing up the emergence of Byron Buxton. I have long believed he was primed for a breakout 2021, and so far, that’s looking to be selling things short. Playing otherworldly, and especially at the dish, he’s now drawing starts in the leadoff spot. Traditionally that would make a lot of sense given his speed and gap potential, but things are a bit different for him in recent years. Buxton has found his power stroke. For Byron there’s a few tendencies that run opposite of what Arraez is capable of. While Byron absolutely has thirty homer power potential, he’s still not going to be the on-base asset without hitting for a relatively high average. 2020 was an outlier for sure, but the walk rate is never going to be something Minnesota’s centerfielder hangs his hat on. More alike the former leadoff guy in Kepler, Buxton is plenty capable of putting a charge into a ball and generating extra-base hits. This all may become moot in a few days when Josh Donaldson returns to the Twins lineup, but I think there’s some concrete decisions that can and should be made here. Luis Arraez bats leadoff when he’s in the lineup. It shouldn’t matter where he plays, who is pitching, or what day of the week it is. Don’t overthink it, let your table setter set the table. From there, Buxton has earned his way into the two-hole. That’s a spot occupied lately by the likes of Kyle Garlick. Minnesota is a bit stretched offensively in left field right now, and Garlick is fine, but he’s a bottom third hitter. Buxton should be batting in a run-producing position while still allowing him the ability to be on base for the bigger boppers. Donaldson is going to hit here when he returns, but then moving Buxton to third makes a good deal of sense. Lineup construction is certainly nuanced, and it really only matters in the first inning and on a relatively minute scale. That said, Arraez should be generating as many at bats as he can for Minnesota, and Buxton should always be in a spot to come up and drive runners in. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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