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  1. The Twins took an early lead thanks to Jorge Polanco and Gary Sanchez, but as it has been so many times with this team, the bullpen relinquished the lead in the late innings on the way to an 8-5 loss. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, (80 pitches, 49 strikes (61.3%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (15), Gary Sanchez (11) Bottom 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (-.280), Griffin Jax (-.172), Carlos Correa (-.148) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Byron Buxton was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night. He has only played one inning in the field in the month of August. Rocco Baldelli revealed that his knee has experienced increased swelling since an awkward landing on a jump in San Diego. The best version of the Twins involves Buxton in centerfield and it’s tough to see them making a playoff run without him out there. He can provide plenty of offensive value but part of what makes him such a special player is the value he provides the team in the outfield. Early Deficit Like Tuesday night, the Twins allowed the Dodgers to score first on Wednesday when Max Muncy roped a homer off of Sonny Gray and Cody Bellinger drove in Gavin Lux with a sacrifice fly. Polanco Stays Hot After a tough 0-for-4 night on Tuesday, Jorge Polanco got the scoring started for the Twins in the third inning when he hammered a three-run homer down the right field line to give them a 3-2 lead. Since coming off the injured list on June 28, Polanco is hitting .222/.366/.462 (.828) with eight home runs and 21 RBI Gary Breaks The Drought Gary Sanchez hit his last home run on July 9th. In the fifth inning on Wednesday, he hammered a fastball from Ryan Pepiot 400 feet to right-center for his 11th homer of the year. Between homers, Gary hit .170/.283/.191 (.474) in 54 plate appearances. Hopefully, this home run is the start of one of those Gary Sanchez hot streaks where he can be one of the most prolific power hitters in the league. Sonny Side Down Sonny Gray did not have his best stuff, not making it through five innings before being pulled for Caleb Thielbar. Sonny struck out five batters and allowed three earned runs. He held the Dodgers mostly under control the first two times through the order, but the top of the Dodgers order went double, single, pop-out, double off of him the third time through. Homer Happy Bullpen Chris Taylor hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth off of an 0-2 slider from Michael Fulmer. Before that plate appearance, right-handed hitters had not homered off of Fulmer in 111 plate appearances this year. So naturally, the Dodgers were the first team to do so. One inning later, Joey Gallo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer for his first homer as a Dodger off of Griffin Jax to give the Dodgers an 8-4 lead. Cole Sands did throw a 1-2-3 eighth inning which included strikeouts to Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger so that is a good sign going forward for the rookie. All Rise for Arraez MLB’s leader in batting average, Luis Arraez, continued the heater he has been on lately. After an uncharacteristic 7-for-42 stretch, Arraez has multiple hits in his last three games, going 9-for-14 in those games, including a 3-for-4 performance on Wednesday. This ties Arraez for second in MLB in three-hit games, his 13th three-hit performance of the season. Cold Streak for Kepler Since coming off the IL on Saturday, Max Kepler is 0-for-17 and has not reached base safely. He could still be getting acclimated to playing with a broken pinky toe, but the Twins will need Kepler to start hitting, at the very least, at a league-average clip for him to be a solid contributor to the team. What’s Next? The Twins have an off-day Thursday, followed by a three-game set just 30 miles Southeast against the Los Angeles Angels. On Friday, they play at 8:38 PM CST and Tyler Mahle will make his second start as a Twin against southpaw Patrick Sandoval. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 51 0 0 21 72 Pagan 0 19 0 32 0 51 Megill 12 0 0 35 0 47 Jax 11 0 0 0 21 32 Fulmer 13 0 0 0 17 30 Thielbar 0 21 0 0 3 24 López 17 0 0 0 0 17 Duran 7 0 0 0 0 7 View full article
  2. Why did you stay up to watch this? Alternate Intro: Congratulations on not staying up to watch this one, but check out what happened in the game anyway by clicking to read more. Box Score Joe Ryan: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (27) Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-.378), Max Kepler (-.050), Jose Miranda (-.049) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Individual games aren’t usually supposed to mirror the greater spiritual struggle between two teams, yet here we are. The Dodgers crushed the Twins on Wednesday, never allowing a moment of doubt regarding who the better team was. It started with Joe Ryan: the rookie righty repeated his past Southern California struggles, allowing an elite Dodgers lineup to ring extra-base hits across the outfield. Will Smith—allegedly going by W.D. Smith as he would rather others confuse him with a spray oil company than the actor—rifled an RBI double into right-center field to kick off the scoring. Ryan’s life on the mound remained challenging; the technically worse “bottom-half” of the Dodgers lineup—which includes an All-Star and an MVP—knocked balls into the corner pocket in the 2nd inning, scoring a few more runs. Trea Turner, with some help from Gilberto Celestino not being Byron Buxton, blooped in a double to end the frame at four total runs for the Dodgers. Max Muncy homered in the 3rd. So it goes. The Twins were not completely helpless during this onslaught; Gio Urshela muscled a triple into left-center field, and Celestino pulled him home with one of the shorter hits allowed by the rules. But they weren’t much better than overpowered; Julio Urías worked through early rust to command the ball incredibly in a dominating start. Urshela’s triple would be the only extra-base hit of the game off the Dodgers’ lefty; four lonely singles constituted the remaining Twins’ offense against him. While the Dodgers’ bats parried efficiently, the Twins found no such luck against Julio Urías for the entirety of his seven-inning start. The game slowly morphed into a countdown, with outs acting as a formality, not an accomplishment. Trevor Megill allowed two runs after the Twins attempted to extend him for a second inning; Emilio Pagán netted two outs to end that inning. Buxton provided a jolt—a small one, yes, but one nonetheless. With a man on in the 8th inning, Buxton scraped a low slider off the bottom of the strike zone and deposited it just far enough beyond home plate to count for two runs. The game was still 8-3. A fan ran onto the field. Even the joy from that play did not last long; the Dodgers immediately struck for two runs, hitting the double-digit threshold while claiming a seven-run lead. What’s Next? The Twins and Dodgers will play again on Wednesday at 9:10 PM Central. Sonny Gray will take the mound for Minnesota while Ryan Pepiot will (probably) start for Los Angeles. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Pagan 0 0 19 0 32 51 Sands 0 0 51 0 0 51 Megill 0 12 0 0 35 47 López 30 17 0 0 0 47 Thielbar 13 0 21 0 0 34 Fulmer 15 13 0 0 0 28 Duran 17 7 0 0 0 24 Jax 11 11 0 0 0 22 View full article
  3. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, (80 pitches, 49 strikes (61.3%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (15), Gary Sanchez (11) Bottom 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (-.280), Griffin Jax (-.172), Carlos Correa (-.148) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Byron Buxton was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night. He has only played one inning in the field in the month of August. Rocco Baldelli revealed that his knee has experienced increased swelling since an awkward landing on a jump in San Diego. The best version of the Twins involves Buxton in centerfield and it’s tough to see them making a playoff run without him out there. He can provide plenty of offensive value but part of what makes him such a special player is the value he provides the team in the outfield. Early Deficit Like Tuesday night, the Twins allowed the Dodgers to score first on Wednesday when Max Muncy roped a homer off of Sonny Gray and Cody Bellinger drove in Gavin Lux with a sacrifice fly. Polanco Stays Hot After a tough 0-for-4 night on Tuesday, Jorge Polanco got the scoring started for the Twins in the third inning when he hammered a three-run homer down the right field line to give them a 3-2 lead. Since coming off the injured list on June 28, Polanco is hitting .222/.366/.462 (.828) with eight home runs and 21 RBI Gary Breaks The Drought Gary Sanchez hit his last home run on July 9th. In the fifth inning on Wednesday, he hammered a fastball from Ryan Pepiot 400 feet to right-center for his 11th homer of the year. Between homers, Gary hit .170/.283/.191 (.474) in 54 plate appearances. Hopefully, this home run is the start of one of those Gary Sanchez hot streaks where he can be one of the most prolific power hitters in the league. Sonny Side Down Sonny Gray did not have his best stuff, not making it through five innings before being pulled for Caleb Thielbar. Sonny struck out five batters and allowed three earned runs. He held the Dodgers mostly under control the first two times through the order, but the top of the Dodgers order went double, single, pop-out, double off of him the third time through. Homer Happy Bullpen Chris Taylor hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth off of an 0-2 slider from Michael Fulmer. Before that plate appearance, right-handed hitters had not homered off of Fulmer in 111 plate appearances this year. So naturally, the Dodgers were the first team to do so. One inning later, Joey Gallo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer for his first homer as a Dodger off of Griffin Jax to give the Dodgers an 8-4 lead. Cole Sands did throw a 1-2-3 eighth inning which included strikeouts to Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger so that is a good sign going forward for the rookie. All Rise for Arraez MLB’s leader in batting average, Luis Arraez, continued the heater he has been on lately. After an uncharacteristic 7-for-42 stretch, Arraez has multiple hits in his last three games, going 9-for-14 in those games, including a 3-for-4 performance on Wednesday. This ties Arraez for second in MLB in three-hit games, his 13th three-hit performance of the season. Cold Streak for Kepler Since coming off the IL on Saturday, Max Kepler is 0-for-17 and has not reached base safely. He could still be getting acclimated to playing with a broken pinky toe, but the Twins will need Kepler to start hitting, at the very least, at a league-average clip for him to be a solid contributor to the team. What’s Next? The Twins have an off-day Thursday, followed by a three-game set just 30 miles Southeast against the Los Angeles Angels. On Friday, they play at 8:38 PM CST and Tyler Mahle will make his second start as a Twin against southpaw Patrick Sandoval. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 51 0 0 21 72 Pagan 0 19 0 32 0 51 Megill 12 0 0 35 0 47 Jax 11 0 0 0 21 32 Fulmer 13 0 0 0 17 30 Thielbar 0 21 0 0 3 24 López 17 0 0 0 0 17 Duran 7 0 0 0 0 7
  4. The Minnesota Twins signed Carlos Correa to a three-year deal this offseason that paid him the highest average annual value ever among infielders ($35.1 million). Despite the massive fanfare and top highlights, it’s looking like quite the flop at this point. Where did the good version of their shortstop go? First, to put things into context, it’s worth noting that Correa has seen significant highs this season. He also still owns a 124 OPS+ which puts him well above league average offensively. As a shortstop, his arm remains among the best in the game and he’s been an anchor on the dirt while Minnesota has largely been terrible there defensively. What once trended so positively has taken such a negative turn, however. It’s been a weird progression for the former Houston Astro. Correa owned just a .633 OPS through the first month of the season, and then was hit by a pitch that had a significant amount of time being missed looking likely. That was particularly troublesome due to how he was trending at the time. In eight games before his finger injury, Correa was 14-for-34 with three doubles and a dinger. He wound up missing 12 games and then pushed himself to near All-Star status. From May 18 through the end of June, a stretch of 32 games, Correa slashed .336/.400/.560 with seven doubles and seven homers. Largely unsustainable, that’s every bit the player Minnesota thought they were getting when signing him to such a mega deal. During that period, it looked increasingly likely that Correa would opt out of his three-year deal and angle towards a longer-term extension. Since that point, it’s been nothing but the opposite. In 28 games from July 1 through August 8, Correa has slashed a paltry .186/.294/.333. He has just three doubles and four home runs in that span while still being relied upon near the top of the Twins lineup. It’s certainly not feasible for this slide to continue if Minnesota wants to remain atop the AL Central division, and this production progressing for a few more months certainly hurts and ability to corner the market in looking for a new deal. By fWAR, Correa has yet to surpass 2.0 on the season which would mark only the first time it’s happened during the course of his career. Playing at a career-worst clip while trying to generate another payday is probably not a great strategy. In return on investment terms, Fangraphs values Correa’s production has been worth $13.3 million thus far in 2022, or less than half of what Minnesota has already committed to him. Taking a look at the two rolling windows of differing production, there’s some obvious difference. During the May through June stretch, Correa had a 36.5% hard-hit rate with a 14.6% barrel percentage. He was chasing just over 30% of the time, but whiffing only 9.6% of the time. Fast forward to where we are now and the hard hit rate has dropped 4% with the barrel rate down 5%. He’s actually chasing and missing less, which suggests an issue regarding the quality of contact. While he’s been going poorly, Correa has put the ball on the ground 45.8% of the time. He’s pulled it a bit less and utilized the middle more, but his line drive rate sits at a sad 13.3%. This all comes on an average launch angle of 11.8 degrees. The difference here is minute, but could be creating the issue. When Correa was going well he owned a 12.2-degree launch angle and was hitting line drives over 20% of the time. Nearly 50% of his contact was to the pull side. This is something Twins teammate Max Kepler has seen at times as well. The idea of lifting the baseball and hitting for power doesn’t necessarily have to translate into homers. Correa is the prototypical power guy that doesn’t have to sacrifice misses. He bludgeons doubles and routinely sends the ball out. Pulling it down the left field line at Target Field is the easiest path for him to walk the bases. A slight amount of additional lift for Correa changes things from being a hard grounder to a hard line drive. One of those two outcomes has a substantially better success rate. We’ve now seen Correa go through a period of poor hitting largely equivalent to the time he spent insanely hot. The hope would be that the final stretch is another window of production. It would definitely increase the Twins outlook towards the postseason, and ultimately for the Scott Boras client, is the only way he’ll be able to position himself handsomely back on the open market. View full article
  5. Minnesota’s front office filled multiple needs at the trade deadline, but the team is hardly perfect. So, what are the team’s most significant weaknesses? Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Box Score Joe Ryan: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (27) Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (-.378), Max Kepler (-.050), Jose Miranda (-.049) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Individual games aren’t usually supposed to mirror the greater spiritual struggle between two teams, yet here we are. The Dodgers crushed the Twins on Wednesday, never allowing a moment of doubt regarding who the better team was. It started with Joe Ryan: the rookie righty repeated his past Southern California struggles, allowing an elite Dodgers lineup to ring extra-base hits across the outfield. Will Smith—allegedly going by W.D. Smith as he would rather others confuse him with a spray oil company than the actor—rifled an RBI double into right-center field to kick off the scoring. Ryan’s life on the mound remained challenging; the technically worse “bottom-half” of the Dodgers lineup—which includes an All-Star and an MVP—knocked balls into the corner pocket in the 2nd inning, scoring a few more runs. Trea Turner, with some help from Gilberto Celestino not being Byron Buxton, blooped in a double to end the frame at four total runs for the Dodgers. Max Muncy homered in the 3rd. So it goes. The Twins were not completely helpless during this onslaught; Gio Urshela muscled a triple into left-center field, and Celestino pulled him home with one of the shorter hits allowed by the rules. But they weren’t much better than overpowered; Julio Urías worked through early rust to command the ball incredibly in a dominating start. Urshela’s triple would be the only extra-base hit of the game off the Dodgers’ lefty; four lonely singles constituted the remaining Twins’ offense against him. While the Dodgers’ bats parried efficiently, the Twins found no such luck against Julio Urías for the entirety of his seven-inning start. The game slowly morphed into a countdown, with outs acting as a formality, not an accomplishment. Trevor Megill allowed two runs after the Twins attempted to extend him for a second inning; Emilio Pagán netted two outs to end that inning. Buxton provided a jolt—a small one, yes, but one nonetheless. With a man on in the 8th inning, Buxton scraped a low slider off the bottom of the strike zone and deposited it just far enough beyond home plate to count for two runs. The game was still 8-3. A fan ran onto the field. Even the joy from that play did not last long; the Dodgers immediately struck for two runs, hitting the double-digit threshold while claiming a seven-run lead. What’s Next? The Twins and Dodgers will play again on Wednesday at 9:10 PM Central. Sonny Gray will take the mound for Minnesota while Ryan Pepiot will (probably) start for Los Angeles. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Pagan 0 0 19 0 32 51 Sands 0 0 51 0 0 51 Megill 0 12 0 0 35 47 López 30 17 0 0 0 47 Thielbar 13 0 21 0 0 34 Fulmer 15 13 0 0 0 28 Duran 17 7 0 0 0 24 Jax 11 11 0 0 0 22
  7. Carlos Correa has been a good player in 2022, but far from the superstar type that makes $35m per year. In search of a long-term deal in the near future, it’s becoming more and more intriguing to ask: Could Carlos Correa opt back in for 2023? Carlos Correa has had a weird 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins, who brought him in as a second superstar to hopefully pair with Byron Buxton at the top of the lineup. His wRC+ of 122 indicating he’s been 22% above league average is perfectly acceptable, but in a down offensive year league wide, that number stems from his first sub .800 OPS since the shortened 2020 season. The way the rest of the season plays out may play a big part in whether Correa opts into his $35m option for 2023. Thus far, the Twins haven’t really gotten the Carlos Correa they expected when they handed out so much money to him this spring. Lacking in the Clutch Correa has become a legend because of his incredible clutch play in the postseason year after year. He owns a career .849 OPS in the playoffs with 18 homers and 59 RBI. Historically there are few players in baseball history you’d want up in a big spot when a game is on the line. Unfortunately for the Twins, that hasn’t played out at all this season. Look no further than Correa’s 37 RBI to see that he simply hasn’t cashed in when given the opportunity. With runners in scoring position, Correa has posted a triple slash of .231/.316/.292. An OPS of .608 which is good for 33 percent below the league average hitter in those situations. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Correa has been a complete non-factor, slashing .097/.200/.129, a .329 OPS. If you feel like Correa hasn’t really had many big moments in a Twins uniform at the plate, it’s hard to blame you. Clutch stats can only be looked at so closely as they’re typically pretty random. That being said, Correa’s severe failures in big situations has undoubtedly cost him some counting stats. While teams don’t value things like RBI like they used to, Correa is on pace for some of the worst marks of his career in several areas. Not a great time for it considering he’s seeking a massive long-term contract this winter. Defensive Disappointment Personally, it’s felt like Correa hasn’t been the gold glove caliber defender we expected at shortstop, and upon further investigation, this turns up true in just about every defensive measure you can find. Fangraphs defensive value measurement pegs Correa at a perfectly neutral 0.0 value added on defense this season. He’s been well above average in this statistic in every season of his career since 2016. In addition, Correa scores a -3 Outs Above Average on Statcast, tied with Tim Anderson, Alcides Escobar, and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa for 26th among shortstops league-wide. He’s also on pace for his worst mark in Defensive Runs saved since his rookie season. The newer defensive metrics are tricky and many don’t trust them for good reason. Looking at base defensive measures, however, tells the same story. Correa’s fielding percentage of .975 is his worst since his rookie year and he’s on a full-season pace for a career-high in errors. It goes without saying that in search of a long-term deal at 27 years old, Correa can expect significantly less from teams if they suspect his defensive future at the premium shortstop position is going to be short-lived. At 6 foot 4, Correa had questions dating back to draft day about his ability to stick at shortstop. As he gets into his late 20s, a down season defensively would surely be cited in free agency to try to drive down his price by teams trying to lock him up for the next 8-10 years. Carlos Correa has been far from a bad player in 2022, but for the price tag he has and the number of holes the Twins roster has had for much of the season, it’s fair to be disappointed with the level of output he’s provided. He’s on a 162-game pace of 3.2 Wins Above Replacement on Fangraphs, and trails Buxton, Kepler, Polanco and Arraez. He’s only half a win ahead of Trevor Larnach, who hasn’t played since the end of June. He’s tied with Sonny Gray who’s thrown all of 79 innings so far this year. Since July 1, crunch time for the Twins who hold a one-game lead in the division, Correa is hitting .183/.287/.333. Yet another measure of the Twins' $35m man failing to meet expectations when they’ve needed him most. And so in consideration of Correa’s future with the Twins, it’s fair to say it’s still very possible he opts out. Hitting free agency at the age of 28, it’s possible a team completely disregards 2022 and signs the Twins' current shortstop away long-term in pursuit of a superstar. That being said, you can expect Scott Boras to put out some feelers, and if he gets the sense teams are going to try to cite Correa’s disappointing 2022 season to nickel and dime them on a long-term deal, another one year, $35m deal to recoup some value certainly won’t be out of the cards. Do you think it’s possible Carlos Correa could opt back into the Twins contract in 2023? Do you agree that this has become more likely as the season has gone on? Let us know below! View full article
  8. Baseball’s 162-game season is a long, grueling battle to divide the contenders from the pretenders. The AL Central is one of baseball’s worst divisions this season, which helps the top teams stay in contention. Minnesota needs to solve the weaknesses below, or Chicago and Cleveland will claw their way to a division title. Struggling Veteran Bats All hitters go through streaks, and teams hope that other players pick up the line-up when stars are slumping. Unfortunately, the Twins have seen some of their best hitters struggle since the beginning of July. Carlos Correa was brought in to bring a championship pedigree to the Twins but has hit .186/.288/.333 (.621) in his last 27 games. Only Gary Sanchez has a lower OPS (.470) among regular players during that stretch, but he has done it in a third as many plate appearances. Minnesota’s only regulars with an OPS over .835 since July 1 are Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon, who were hardly expected to lead the team to the playoffs. For the Twins to win the division, the team’s veteran bats need to break their summer slump and start impacting the line-up on a daily basis. Clutch Hitting Hitting in high leverage situations is almost impossible to predict because a player can be clutch for one moment, but it might not translate to an entire season. Also, few hitters can consistently hit in the highest leverage spots. FanGraphs uses a stat called Clutch, which measures how well a player performs in high leverage situations. Minnesota currently ranks 17th with a -0.12 Clutch ranking, which is below average. Among AL Central teams, only the White Sox rank lower than the Twins. Minnesota’s best hitters, according to Clutch, include Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Jose Miranda, who all rank above average. Max Kepler is at the bottom of the team’s Clutch leaderboard with a -1.19 ranking. Other poorly ranked players include Nick Gordon ( -0.76), Carlos Correa (-0.68), and Kyle Garlick (-0.61). Down the stretch, the Twins will need more clutch hitting from all parts of the line-up. Mounting Pitching Problems Luckily, the Twins tried to improve their pitching problems with multiple trade deadline moves, but that doesn’t take away from how bad the team has been recently. Since July 1, the Twins pitching staff ranks 26th in fWAR, with the starters only ranking higher than the last-place Washington Nationals. During that stretch, Minnesota’s starters have a 4.85 ERA, a 69.7 LOB%, and 1.53 HR/9, which all rank among baseball’s bottom ten teams. Tyler Duffey and Joe Smith helped the Twins at different points during the 2022 season, but both had run out of gas in recent weeks. Replacing those two players with Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer will help the team down the stretch. Other injured pitchers like Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Kenta Maeda expect to return in the weeks ahead to give the pitching staff another boost. Even baseball’s best teams have weaknesses, but it’s getting close to the point in the season where the Twins need to start putting their best product on the field. If Minnesota can’t solve these issues, the AL Central race will continue to be close for the season’s remaining games. Which weakness do you feel is the biggest concern? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. First, to put things into context, it’s worth noting that Correa has seen significant highs this season. He also still owns a 124 OPS+ which puts him well above league average offensively. As a shortstop, his arm remains among the best in the game and he’s been an anchor on the dirt while Minnesota has largely been terrible there defensively. What once trended so positively has taken such a negative turn, however. It’s been a weird progression for the former Houston Astro. Correa owned just a .633 OPS through the first month of the season, and then was hit by a pitch that had a significant amount of time being missed looking likely. That was particularly troublesome due to how he was trending at the time. In eight games before his finger injury, Correa was 14-for-34 with three doubles and a dinger. He wound up missing 12 games and then pushed himself to near All-Star status. From May 18 through the end of June, a stretch of 32 games, Correa slashed .336/.400/.560 with seven doubles and seven homers. Largely unsustainable, that’s every bit the player Minnesota thought they were getting when signing him to such a mega deal. During that period, it looked increasingly likely that Correa would opt out of his three-year deal and angle towards a longer-term extension. Since that point, it’s been nothing but the opposite. In 28 games from July 1 through August 8, Correa has slashed a paltry .186/.294/.333. He has just three doubles and four home runs in that span while still being relied upon near the top of the Twins lineup. It’s certainly not feasible for this slide to continue if Minnesota wants to remain atop the AL Central division, and this production progressing for a few more months certainly hurts and ability to corner the market in looking for a new deal. By fWAR, Correa has yet to surpass 2.0 on the season which would mark only the first time it’s happened during the course of his career. Playing at a career-worst clip while trying to generate another payday is probably not a great strategy. In return on investment terms, Fangraphs values Correa’s production has been worth $13.3 million thus far in 2022, or less than half of what Minnesota has already committed to him. Taking a look at the two rolling windows of differing production, there’s some obvious difference. During the May through June stretch, Correa had a 36.5% hard-hit rate with a 14.6% barrel percentage. He was chasing just over 30% of the time, but whiffing only 9.6% of the time. Fast forward to where we are now and the hard hit rate has dropped 4% with the barrel rate down 5%. He’s actually chasing and missing less, which suggests an issue regarding the quality of contact. While he’s been going poorly, Correa has put the ball on the ground 45.8% of the time. He’s pulled it a bit less and utilized the middle more, but his line drive rate sits at a sad 13.3%. This all comes on an average launch angle of 11.8 degrees. The difference here is minute, but could be creating the issue. When Correa was going well he owned a 12.2-degree launch angle and was hitting line drives over 20% of the time. Nearly 50% of his contact was to the pull side. This is something Twins teammate Max Kepler has seen at times as well. The idea of lifting the baseball and hitting for power doesn’t necessarily have to translate into homers. Correa is the prototypical power guy that doesn’t have to sacrifice misses. He bludgeons doubles and routinely sends the ball out. Pulling it down the left field line at Target Field is the easiest path for him to walk the bases. A slight amount of additional lift for Correa changes things from being a hard grounder to a hard line drive. One of those two outcomes has a substantially better success rate. We’ve now seen Correa go through a period of poor hitting largely equivalent to the time he spent insanely hot. The hope would be that the final stretch is another window of production. It would definitely increase the Twins outlook towards the postseason, and ultimately for the Scott Boras client, is the only way he’ll be able to position himself handsomely back on the open market.
  10. With the trade deadline approaching, every team will have to take stock of the players in their organization. Who are the top-five Twins players according to trade value? Annually, FanGraphs creates a top-50 list that ranks players based on their perceived trade value. According to the series, “The central question I considered is straightforward: how much value could a team expect to receive in return for each player on the list? It’s not who would solicit the great number of offers, or the highest average value of the trade offers a team would receive if they put this player on the trading block – it’s who would fetch the highest return if the entire league were making trade bids on each player.” Players closer to free agency rank lower because the value of their current contract is declining. Stars on big contracts also don’t rank well because there isn’t a lot of surplus value in their production. On the Twins, Carlos Correa fits both of these areas as he is on a large contract and can opt to hit free agency at the season’s conclusion. Other younger players, like Jose Miranda and Alex Kirilloff, are just starting to come into their own, so their big-league track record makes it harder to predict future value. Again, these aren’t necessarily the players Minnesota will trade before the deadline, but they are the ones that could receive the highest return. So, who are the team’s most valuable trade assets? 5. Max Kepler, RF Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$32.13M (19-23) & 24 team option ($10.00M) At this point last season, Max Kepler ranked 45th on FanGraphs’ list because he had multiple years of control on a team-friendly deal. He’s having a resurgent offensive season with the second highest OPS+ of his career. Defensively, he may be compiling his best numbers in the field as he is currently on pace to be a Gold Glove finalist in right field. FanGraphs moved him out of their top 50 because he is one year closer to free agency. 4. Jorge Polanco, 2B Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$25.75M (19-23) & 24-25 vesting/team option ($10.5M/$12M) Last season, FanGraphs included Jorge Polanco on its honorable mention list because he was close to the same contract situation as Kepler. They dropped him from the list this year, but the author had a tough time leaving him out of the top 50. Polanco has three more years of team control and is underpaid relative to the value he produces. Many teams would be more than happy to regularly plug Polanco’s name into the line-up. 3. Joe Ryan, SP Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2028 Joe Ryan is one of baseball’s best young starters and is under team control for five more seasons. Minnesota can also pay him close to the league minimum until he becomes arbitration eligible in 2025. It’s still hard to believe the Twins got Ryan for two months of Nelson Cruz, but baseball can be a funny game sometimes. Solid young pitchers under team control are one of baseball’s most valuable assets, and that’s why Ryan ranks higher than the players behind him. 2. Luis Arraez, UTL Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2026 FanGraphs ranks Luis Arraez as having baseball’s 42nd highest trade value, which is quite the jump since he wasn’t even an honorable mention last season. Arraez is near the top of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage while leading the Twins in Baseball-Reference WAR. Arraez loses some overall trade value because he doesn’t have a strong defensive position, and all of his offensive value is tied to one skill. Overall, he’s one of baseball’s best hitters, and he has yet to hit arbitration. 1. Byron Buxton, CF Contract Status: Signed thru 2028, 7 yrs/$100M (22-28) Thankfully, the Twins were able to sign Byron Buxton to a very team-friendly deal for him to remain in Minnesota throughout the prime of his career. Buxton is rewarding the team handsomely with the best season of his career, including his first All-Star appearance. Buxton checks all the boxes regarding trade value as he is one of baseball’s best overall players, and his base salary starts at $15.1 million. Obviously, injuries have been part of Buxton’s professional career, but the Twins have given him regular rest this season, and he has continued to produce. How would you rank the Twins according to trade value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  11. Carlos Correa has had a weird 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins, who brought him in as a second superstar to hopefully pair with Byron Buxton at the top of the lineup. His wRC+ of 122 indicating he’s been 22% above league average is perfectly acceptable, but in a down offensive year league wide, that number stems from his first sub .800 OPS since the shortened 2020 season. The way the rest of the season plays out may play a big part in whether Correa opts into his $35m option for 2023. Thus far, the Twins haven’t really gotten the Carlos Correa they expected when they handed out so much money to him this spring. Lacking in the Clutch Correa has become a legend because of his incredible clutch play in the postseason year after year. He owns a career .849 OPS in the playoffs with 18 homers and 59 RBI. Historically there are few players in baseball history you’d want up in a big spot when a game is on the line. Unfortunately for the Twins, that hasn’t played out at all this season. Look no further than Correa’s 37 RBI to see that he simply hasn’t cashed in when given the opportunity. With runners in scoring position, Correa has posted a triple slash of .231/.316/.292. An OPS of .608 which is good for 33 percent below the league average hitter in those situations. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Correa has been a complete non-factor, slashing .097/.200/.129, a .329 OPS. If you feel like Correa hasn’t really had many big moments in a Twins uniform at the plate, it’s hard to blame you. Clutch stats can only be looked at so closely as they’re typically pretty random. That being said, Correa’s severe failures in big situations has undoubtedly cost him some counting stats. While teams don’t value things like RBI like they used to, Correa is on pace for some of the worst marks of his career in several areas. Not a great time for it considering he’s seeking a massive long-term contract this winter. Defensive Disappointment Personally, it’s felt like Correa hasn’t been the gold glove caliber defender we expected at shortstop, and upon further investigation, this turns up true in just about every defensive measure you can find. Fangraphs defensive value measurement pegs Correa at a perfectly neutral 0.0 value added on defense this season. He’s been well above average in this statistic in every season of his career since 2016. In addition, Correa scores a -3 Outs Above Average on Statcast, tied with Tim Anderson, Alcides Escobar, and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa for 26th among shortstops league-wide. He’s also on pace for his worst mark in Defensive Runs saved since his rookie season. The newer defensive metrics are tricky and many don’t trust them for good reason. Looking at base defensive measures, however, tells the same story. Correa’s fielding percentage of .975 is his worst since his rookie year and he’s on a full-season pace for a career-high in errors. It goes without saying that in search of a long-term deal at 27 years old, Correa can expect significantly less from teams if they suspect his defensive future at the premium shortstop position is going to be short-lived. At 6 foot 4, Correa had questions dating back to draft day about his ability to stick at shortstop. As he gets into his late 20s, a down season defensively would surely be cited in free agency to try to drive down his price by teams trying to lock him up for the next 8-10 years. Carlos Correa has been far from a bad player in 2022, but for the price tag he has and the number of holes the Twins roster has had for much of the season, it’s fair to be disappointed with the level of output he’s provided. He’s on a 162-game pace of 3.2 Wins Above Replacement on Fangraphs, and trails Buxton, Kepler, Polanco and Arraez. He’s only half a win ahead of Trevor Larnach, who hasn’t played since the end of June. He’s tied with Sonny Gray who’s thrown all of 79 innings so far this year. Since July 1, crunch time for the Twins who hold a one-game lead in the division, Correa is hitting .183/.287/.333. Yet another measure of the Twins' $35m man failing to meet expectations when they’ve needed him most. And so in consideration of Correa’s future with the Twins, it’s fair to say it’s still very possible he opts out. Hitting free agency at the age of 28, it’s possible a team completely disregards 2022 and signs the Twins' current shortstop away long-term in pursuit of a superstar. That being said, you can expect Scott Boras to put out some feelers, and if he gets the sense teams are going to try to cite Correa’s disappointing 2022 season to nickel and dime them on a long-term deal, another one year, $35m deal to recoup some value certainly won’t be out of the cards. Do you think it’s possible Carlos Correa could opt back into the Twins contract in 2023? Do you agree that this has become more likely as the season has gone on? Let us know below!
  12. The Twins Injured List continues to grow as the season rolls on as they’re now missing several important contributors who hopefully haven’t made their last marks on this 2022 Twins team. Some absences however weigh a bit heavier than others. It seems like there’s a new player added to the Injured List every other day as the Twins have found themselves filling out the daily lineup card with players we never imagined they’d be relying on. Outfield, catcher, pitchers of all roles, there’s nowhere the Twins haven’t felt the sting of injury. For them to get back on the right track, I’ve ranked the top 3 players in order of importance to how the Twins may wind up finishing their season. 3. Alex Kirilloff Number three is close between Max Kepler and Kirilloff, although Kepler seems like much more of a certainty return given his ailment being a straightforward broken toe. Unlike Kepler, Kirilloff has consistently shown off an impact-level bat when healthy. While his outfield defense isn’t exactly a plus skill, his presence keeps players such as Mark Contreras out of the lineup. His ability to switch over to first base and his possession of a DH-worthy bat also makes the lineup not only better, but more flexible when Alex Kirilloff is healthy. As for the odds of his return, they remain to be seen. His wrist is now a consistent issue, as it’s been a problem more often than not this season. At this point we have to worry not only about his impact on the 2022 Twins, but about his entire career. He recently received another cortisone injection, and if we cross our fingers perhaps he’s available before the end of the season again. 2. Ryan Jeffers Many complained about Jeffers’ bat, myself included for much of the season. While he hasn’t lit the world on fire, it’s hard to deny that Jeffers has a superior glove to Gary Sanchez who’s played nearly daily since Jeffers went down. Gary Sanchez, a bat-first catcher, has given us a newfound appreciation for Jeffers’ modest offensive skills since he’s become the everyday catcher. Gary was 24% below the league average hitter in June, and a Drew Butera-esque 59% below in July. Not only is his defense not up to Jeffers’ standards, but the Twins have basically been giving away 3-4 free outs per game to their opponents from the catcher’s spot for over a month. It’s possible Sandy Leon begins significantly eating into Gary’s playing time as he can at least provide stellar work behind the plate, but the Twins certainly would benefit from Jeffers return sooner rather than later. The floor of his framing work behind the plate and occasional hot streak sounds far superior to the current setup behind the plate. It’s hopeful Jeffers returns towards the end of August and certainly for the stretch run in September. 1. Bailey Ober The Twins had a fantastic trade deadline, there’s no disputing that. They had a significant amount of needs and addressed the most important ones in a market that many teams called difficult. Had they made one more move, another filler starting pitcher likely would have been the best play. The Twins are in an interesting spot with the rotation. Joe Ryan has begun to surpass previous career highs in innings pitched. It’s hard to expect more than four innings pitched from Bundy and Archer every time out, and there’s little to no help on the way in the minors aside from Devin Smeltzer. A lot will hinge not only on the rotation staying healthy, but on the duo of Bundy and Archer occasionally providing starts that give the Twins a chance to win, which is no sure thing. Having Ober back even under the premise that he’s a solid #4 starter would be a game changer for a Twins rotation that lacks any kind of depth. It’s unclear what Ober’s timeline is, but we’ve been told we can expect him back this season still at this point. Hopefully, good news starts to emerge sooner rather than later, as the Twins could sure use one of their lone bright spots from the 2021 rotation. Admittedly this list is plenty interchangeable ad there are several options not even listed here. Let's be honest, we have plenty of injured players to choose from! Do you agree with the order of the list? Do you think someone not listed here deserves to be at the top? Let us know below. View full article
  13. It seems like there’s a new player added to the Injured List every other day as the Twins have found themselves filling out the daily lineup card with players we never imagined they’d be relying on. Outfield, catcher, pitchers of all roles, there’s nowhere the Twins haven’t felt the sting of injury. For them to get back on the right track, I’ve ranked the top 3 players in order of importance to how the Twins may wind up finishing their season. 3. Alex Kirilloff Number three is close between Max Kepler and Kirilloff, although Kepler seems like much more of a certainty return given his ailment being a straightforward broken toe. Unlike Kepler, Kirilloff has consistently shown off an impact-level bat when healthy. While his outfield defense isn’t exactly a plus skill, his presence keeps players such as Mark Contreras out of the lineup. His ability to switch over to first base and his possession of a DH-worthy bat also makes the lineup not only better, but more flexible when Alex Kirilloff is healthy. As for the odds of his return, they remain to be seen. His wrist is now a consistent issue, as it’s been a problem more often than not this season. At this point we have to worry not only about his impact on the 2022 Twins, but about his entire career. He recently received another cortisone injection, and if we cross our fingers perhaps he’s available before the end of the season again. 2. Ryan Jeffers Many complained about Jeffers’ bat, myself included for much of the season. While he hasn’t lit the world on fire, it’s hard to deny that Jeffers has a superior glove to Gary Sanchez who’s played nearly daily since Jeffers went down. Gary Sanchez, a bat-first catcher, has given us a newfound appreciation for Jeffers’ modest offensive skills since he’s become the everyday catcher. Gary was 24% below the league average hitter in June, and a Drew Butera-esque 59% below in July. Not only is his defense not up to Jeffers’ standards, but the Twins have basically been giving away 3-4 free outs per game to their opponents from the catcher’s spot for over a month. It’s possible Sandy Leon begins significantly eating into Gary’s playing time as he can at least provide stellar work behind the plate, but the Twins certainly would benefit from Jeffers return sooner rather than later. The floor of his framing work behind the plate and occasional hot streak sounds far superior to the current setup behind the plate. It’s hopeful Jeffers returns towards the end of August and certainly for the stretch run in September. 1. Bailey Ober The Twins had a fantastic trade deadline, there’s no disputing that. They had a significant amount of needs and addressed the most important ones in a market that many teams called difficult. Had they made one more move, another filler starting pitcher likely would have been the best play. The Twins are in an interesting spot with the rotation. Joe Ryan has begun to surpass previous career highs in innings pitched. It’s hard to expect more than four innings pitched from Bundy and Archer every time out, and there’s little to no help on the way in the minors aside from Devin Smeltzer. A lot will hinge not only on the rotation staying healthy, but on the duo of Bundy and Archer occasionally providing starts that give the Twins a chance to win, which is no sure thing. Having Ober back even under the premise that he’s a solid #4 starter would be a game changer for a Twins rotation that lacks any kind of depth. It’s unclear what Ober’s timeline is, but we’ve been told we can expect him back this season still at this point. Hopefully, good news starts to emerge sooner rather than later, as the Twins could sure use one of their lone bright spots from the 2021 rotation. Admittedly this list is plenty interchangeable ad there are several options not even listed here. Let's be honest, we have plenty of injured players to choose from! Do you agree with the order of the list? Do you think someone not listed here deserves to be at the top? Let us know below.
  14. Jorge Polanco was a lone bright spot in 2021 and after a slow start to 2022, has once again been one of the Twins best overall players. Despite this, it seems like the Twins second baseman remains underrated. It’s time for that to change. 2019 was a banner year for Jorge Polanco. The American League’s starting shortstop in the All Star Game, Polanco followed up a 2018 season in which he posted a 111 wRC+ with a 120 mark in the year of the juiced ball. He was worth a respectable 3.4 Wins Above Replacement despite struggling mightily defensively. Like most players, he took advantage of one of the most offense-friendly environments in years. Unlike several hitters in the Twins lineup, however, Polanco’s juiced 2019 wasn’t a career-best enigma. While he struggled mightily through an ankle injury in 2020, Polanco overcame early struggles in 2021 to post a 122 wRC+ and post a fantastic 4.0 Wins Above Replacement for the last-place Twins. He slugged 33 homers seemingly out of nowhere. With Byron Buxton on ice and several other players being traded away or struggling, Polanco was quite frankly one of the only reasons to tune into Twins games. After such a season it would be hard to blame him if it became a career-best year. Alas… Jorge got off to a slowish start in 2022, something that could debatably be expected at this point. In March and April, the Twins second baseman was 17% below league average with an 83 wRC+. He boosted that mark to 8% above in May as the offense picked up league-wide. Instead of remaining at simply acceptable levels of offensive output for a second baseman, however, Polanco has exploded since the beginning of June. Slashing .265/.391/.540, Jorge Polanco has been 64% above the league average hitter since June 1. As a whole, Jorge Polanco has posted a .242/.351/.429 triple slash, good for a career-high 124 wRC+. With a couple of months left of the season, if Polanco can continue the output he’s had since June he may just finish with yet another career season. He’s debatably been the Twins best hitter once again for the last two months. This time, however, he’s competing with Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and several white hot rookies such as Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda for that title. In short, players such as Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, etc. rightfully have gotten a lot of credit for being the premier players on the Twins roster. They draw a lot of attention both nationally and locally due to their big salaries and eye popping physical skills. Meanwhile, Jorge Polanco has been showing up every year aside from an injury weakened 2020 and simply gone to work. He made his first trip to the IL this season of his entire career for back issues, and immediately contributed upon his activation. He’s otherwise been one of the Twins few legitimate everyday players, and in addition to the quantity he provides, the quality of his production has been a boon over the years for a Twins team that has been up and down. Jorge Polanco deserves to be in the discussion as at least a piece of the backbone of the Minnesota Twins. Few players have been such reliable everyday players and it’s hard to find another player on the roster who so consistently provides value in all facets of the game. We should be appreciating Jorge Polanco. He’s one of the main reasons the Twins have remained in first place for the majority of 2022 and has had attention diverted from himself by big names such as Byron Buxton as well as focal points of disappointment such as the bullpen struggles. Jorge Polanco is one of the best players the Twins have. Do you agree? View full article
  15. 2019 was a banner year for Jorge Polanco. The American League’s starting shortstop in the All Star Game, Polanco followed up a 2018 season in which he posted a 111 wRC+ with a 120 mark in the year of the juiced ball. He was worth a respectable 3.4 Wins Above Replacement despite struggling mightily defensively. Like most players, he took advantage of one of the most offense-friendly environments in years. Unlike several hitters in the Twins lineup, however, Polanco’s juiced 2019 wasn’t a career-best enigma. While he struggled mightily through an ankle injury in 2020, Polanco overcame early struggles in 2021 to post a 122 wRC+ and post a fantastic 4.0 Wins Above Replacement for the last-place Twins. He slugged 33 homers seemingly out of nowhere. With Byron Buxton on ice and several other players being traded away or struggling, Polanco was quite frankly one of the only reasons to tune into Twins games. After such a season it would be hard to blame him if it became a career-best year. Alas… Jorge got off to a slowish start in 2022, something that could debatably be expected at this point. In March and April, the Twins second baseman was 17% below league average with an 83 wRC+. He boosted that mark to 8% above in May as the offense picked up league-wide. Instead of remaining at simply acceptable levels of offensive output for a second baseman, however, Polanco has exploded since the beginning of June. Slashing .265/.391/.540, Jorge Polanco has been 64% above the league average hitter since June 1. As a whole, Jorge Polanco has posted a .242/.351/.429 triple slash, good for a career-high 124 wRC+. With a couple of months left of the season, if Polanco can continue the output he’s had since June he may just finish with yet another career season. He’s debatably been the Twins best hitter once again for the last two months. This time, however, he’s competing with Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and several white hot rookies such as Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda for that title. In short, players such as Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, etc. rightfully have gotten a lot of credit for being the premier players on the Twins roster. They draw a lot of attention both nationally and locally due to their big salaries and eye popping physical skills. Meanwhile, Jorge Polanco has been showing up every year aside from an injury weakened 2020 and simply gone to work. He made his first trip to the IL this season of his entire career for back issues, and immediately contributed upon his activation. He’s otherwise been one of the Twins few legitimate everyday players, and in addition to the quantity he provides, the quality of his production has been a boon over the years for a Twins team that has been up and down. Jorge Polanco deserves to be in the discussion as at least a piece of the backbone of the Minnesota Twins. Few players have been such reliable everyday players and it’s hard to find another player on the roster who so consistently provides value in all facets of the game. We should be appreciating Jorge Polanco. He’s one of the main reasons the Twins have remained in first place for the majority of 2022 and has had attention diverted from himself by big names such as Byron Buxton as well as focal points of disappointment such as the bullpen struggles. Jorge Polanco is one of the best players the Twins have. Do you agree?
  16. Annually, FanGraphs creates a top-50 list that ranks players based on their perceived trade value. According to the series, “The central question I considered is straightforward: how much value could a team expect to receive in return for each player on the list? It’s not who would solicit the great number of offers, or the highest average value of the trade offers a team would receive if they put this player on the trading block – it’s who would fetch the highest return if the entire league were making trade bids on each player.” Players closer to free agency rank lower because the value of their current contract is declining. Stars on big contracts also don’t rank well because there isn’t a lot of surplus value in their production. On the Twins, Carlos Correa fits both of these areas as he is on a large contract and can opt to hit free agency at the season’s conclusion. Other younger players, like Jose Miranda and Alex Kirilloff, are just starting to come into their own, so their big-league track record makes it harder to predict future value. Again, these aren’t necessarily the players Minnesota will trade before the deadline, but they are the ones that could receive the highest return. So, who are the team’s most valuable trade assets? 5. Max Kepler, RF Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$32.13M (19-23) & 24 team option ($10.00M) At this point last season, Max Kepler ranked 45th on FanGraphs’ list because he had multiple years of control on a team-friendly deal. He’s having a resurgent offensive season with the second highest OPS+ of his career. Defensively, he may be compiling his best numbers in the field as he is currently on pace to be a Gold Glove finalist in right field. FanGraphs moved him out of their top 50 because he is one year closer to free agency. 4. Jorge Polanco, 2B Contract Status: Signed thru 2023, 5 yrs/$25.75M (19-23) & 24-25 vesting/team option ($10.5M/$12M) Last season, FanGraphs included Jorge Polanco on its honorable mention list because he was close to the same contract situation as Kepler. They dropped him from the list this year, but the author had a tough time leaving him out of the top 50. Polanco has three more years of team control and is underpaid relative to the value he produces. Many teams would be more than happy to regularly plug Polanco’s name into the line-up. 3. Joe Ryan, SP Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2028 Joe Ryan is one of baseball’s best young starters and is under team control for five more seasons. Minnesota can also pay him close to the league minimum until he becomes arbitration eligible in 2025. It’s still hard to believe the Twins got Ryan for two months of Nelson Cruz, but baseball can be a funny game sometimes. Solid young pitchers under team control are one of baseball’s most valuable assets, and that’s why Ryan ranks higher than the players behind him. 2. Luis Arraez, UTL Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Earliest Free Agency: 2026 FanGraphs ranks Luis Arraez as having baseball’s 42nd highest trade value, which is quite the jump since he wasn’t even an honorable mention last season. Arraez is near the top of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage while leading the Twins in Baseball-Reference WAR. Arraez loses some overall trade value because he doesn’t have a strong defensive position, and all of his offensive value is tied to one skill. Overall, he’s one of baseball’s best hitters, and he has yet to hit arbitration. 1. Byron Buxton, CF Contract Status: Signed thru 2028, 7 yrs/$100M (22-28) Thankfully, the Twins were able to sign Byron Buxton to a very team-friendly deal for him to remain in Minnesota throughout the prime of his career. Buxton is rewarding the team handsomely with the best season of his career, including his first All-Star appearance. Buxton checks all the boxes regarding trade value as he is one of baseball’s best overall players, and his base salary starts at $15.1 million. Obviously, injuries have been part of Buxton’s professional career, but the Twins have given him regular rest this season, and he has continued to produce. How would you rank the Twins according to trade value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. Early in the season, Minnesota's defensive flaws were more evident. In SABR's updated Defensive Index rankings, some Twins have declined while others have made significant gains. Defensive metrics have significantly improved over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One metric developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) 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, MLB has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. The rankings below are through games played on July 17, 2022. Pitcher (AL Ranking): No Twins Pitchers Qualify The Twins have yet to have a pitcher qualify for the SDI leaderboard in this season's rankings. Now that some of the team's starters are healthier, they may start appearing on the updated rankings in the season's second half. Former Twin Jose Berrios currently ranks 9th in the AL with a 0.6 SDI. Catcher (AL Ranking): Ryan Jeffers 2.0 SDI (6th) Ryan Jeffers didn't see his SDI score change over the last month, resulting in him losing a spot on the leaderboard. His recent thumb injury and surgery are going to keep him out for most of the remainder of the season. This likely means he won't appear on the final SDI leaderboard. Gary Sanchez does not yet appear on the leaderboard, but that will change as he is given more regular opportunities in the second half. First Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez -0.5 SDI (T-9th) Luis Arraez placed sixth overall in the first SDI ranking last month, but the last month hasn't been kind to him. He lost nearly a whole SDI point and dropped multiple places on the leaderboard. First base was an unfamiliar defensive position for Arraez when the season began, so his ranking may improve as he gets more familiar with the position. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco 0.2 SDI (8th) Since the first SDI rankings, Jorge Polanco missed time on the injured list for the first time in his career. He also dropped one spot on the leaderboard among AL second basemen. Last season, Polanco finished in the top-four at his position, but he would need to have a tremendous second half to jump that many spots in 2022. Third Base (AL Ranking): Gio Urshela -1.8 SDI (T-10th) According to SDI, only one AL third baseman, Boston's Rafael Devers, ranks lower than Gio Urshela. He did move up one spot on the leaderboard since June, but that's because fewer players qualified. Former Twin Josh Donaldson doesn't appear on the rankings because of the time he has appeared as a designated hitter. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Carlos Correa 0.6 SDI (9th) Carlos Correa's first ranking with the Twins was disappointing as he had a negative SDI. It was especially perplexing considering he dominated the rankings last season with an MLB-high 15.8 SDI. He made some of the most significant gains among Twins players over the last month, so it will be intriguing to see if he can continue to improve in the second half. Left Field (AL Ranking): Nick Gordon 0.2 SDI (6th) Trevor Larnach was the team's best-ranking left fielder on the first SDI leaderboard, but he's on the IL after having surgery on a core injury. Even with Larnach no longer qualifying, Nick Gordon dropped a spot on the leaderboard as he lost 0.3 SDI points over the last month. Larnach will still be out for multiple weeks, so Gordon will get playing time in left field. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins Players Qualified No Twins center fielders have appeared on the SDI leaderboard this season because Byron Buxton has been getting regularly scheduled rest days and time at DH. According to Baseball Savant, Buxton has an Outs Above Average in the 96th percentile, which places him among baseball's best defenders. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler 4.4 SDI (2nd) Max Kepler doubled his season SDI total over the last month to move him into second place among AL right-fielders. Only Houston's Kyle Tucker (5.1 SDI) ranks ahead of Kepler. Since he ranks in the AL's top 3, there is a good chance Kepler will be a Gold Glove finalist by the season's end. The next closest qualified player behind Kepler is Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., who has 1.5 fewer SDI points. SABR will continue to update the rankings periodically throughout the remainder of the season. Which rankings above surprise you the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  18. Defensive metrics have significantly improved over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One metric developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) 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, MLB has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. The rankings below are through games played on July 17, 2022. Pitcher (AL Ranking): No Twins Pitchers Qualify The Twins have yet to have a pitcher qualify for the SDI leaderboard in this season's rankings. Now that some of the team's starters are healthier, they may start appearing on the updated rankings in the season's second half. Former Twin Jose Berrios currently ranks 9th in the AL with a 0.6 SDI. Catcher (AL Ranking): Ryan Jeffers 2.0 SDI (6th) Ryan Jeffers didn't see his SDI score change over the last month, resulting in him losing a spot on the leaderboard. His recent thumb injury and surgery are going to keep him out for most of the remainder of the season. This likely means he won't appear on the final SDI leaderboard. Gary Sanchez does not yet appear on the leaderboard, but that will change as he is given more regular opportunities in the second half. First Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez -0.5 SDI (T-9th) Luis Arraez placed sixth overall in the first SDI ranking last month, but the last month hasn't been kind to him. He lost nearly a whole SDI point and dropped multiple places on the leaderboard. First base was an unfamiliar defensive position for Arraez when the season began, so his ranking may improve as he gets more familiar with the position. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco 0.2 SDI (8th) Since the first SDI rankings, Jorge Polanco missed time on the injured list for the first time in his career. He also dropped one spot on the leaderboard among AL second basemen. Last season, Polanco finished in the top-four at his position, but he would need to have a tremendous second half to jump that many spots in 2022. Third Base (AL Ranking): Gio Urshela -1.8 SDI (T-10th) According to SDI, only one AL third baseman, Boston's Rafael Devers, ranks lower than Gio Urshela. He did move up one spot on the leaderboard since June, but that's because fewer players qualified. Former Twin Josh Donaldson doesn't appear on the rankings because of the time he has appeared as a designated hitter. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Carlos Correa 0.6 SDI (9th) Carlos Correa's first ranking with the Twins was disappointing as he had a negative SDI. It was especially perplexing considering he dominated the rankings last season with an MLB-high 15.8 SDI. He made some of the most significant gains among Twins players over the last month, so it will be intriguing to see if he can continue to improve in the second half. Left Field (AL Ranking): Nick Gordon 0.2 SDI (6th) Trevor Larnach was the team's best-ranking left fielder on the first SDI leaderboard, but he's on the IL after having surgery on a core injury. Even with Larnach no longer qualifying, Nick Gordon dropped a spot on the leaderboard as he lost 0.3 SDI points over the last month. Larnach will still be out for multiple weeks, so Gordon will get playing time in left field. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins Players Qualified No Twins center fielders have appeared on the SDI leaderboard this season because Byron Buxton has been getting regularly scheduled rest days and time at DH. According to Baseball Savant, Buxton has an Outs Above Average in the 96th percentile, which places him among baseball's best defenders. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler 4.4 SDI (2nd) Max Kepler doubled his season SDI total over the last month to move him into second place among AL right-fielders. Only Houston's Kyle Tucker (5.1 SDI) ranks ahead of Kepler. Since he ranks in the AL's top 3, there is a good chance Kepler will be a Gold Glove finalist by the season's end. The next closest qualified player behind Kepler is Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., who has 1.5 fewer SDI points. SABR will continue to update the rankings periodically throughout the remainder of the season. Which rankings above surprise you the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  19. It was a fantastic afternoon for pitchers at Target Field, with both teams holding each other to one run each until the bottom of the ninth. But José Miranda came through against one of baseball’s best closers to walk off the Brewers and even the series. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan, 5 1/3 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 3K (78 pitches, 50 strikes, 64.1%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (8) Too 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.250), Joe Ryan (.190), Jhoan Duran (.133) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Coming off one of his roughest starts of the season exactly one week ago, Joe Ryan was determined to turn the page. The last time he was on the mound, he allowed three runs to score (one unearned) while giving up five hits and two walks in just four innings. It was only the third time this season in which he didn’t pitch more than four frames, the first one since May 10. This time around, he looked much sharper and comfortable with his command. If against the White Sox last week, it took him 85 pitches to get through four today, he did it on only 56 pitches with nearly 70% strikes. He was mostly lights out during that span, throwing three 1-2-3 innings and doing so with the lead after two: after Ryan Jeffers and Alex Kirilloff reached on a two-out walk and a hit by pitch, respectively, Gilberto Celestino drove in Jeffers with a liner to center. But Milwaukee tied the game right at the beginning of the third inning with a leadoff home run by Jace Peterson. Celestino made his best effort to steal it at the track, but he fell short. Victor Caratini hit a single right after Peterson’s home run, threatening a Brewer rally, but Ryan didn’t let it get to him, as it appears to have happened a week ago. He followed that single by retiring seven in a row. He did give up back-to-back walks in the fifth but once again was able to pitch around those to end the inning. Minnesota can’t take advantage of runners in scoring position In last night’s game, the Twins lineup had trouble getting men on base, especially against the Milwaukee bullpen. This afternoon, however, Minnesota matched last night’s total hits (six) with only five innings. The problem? They couldn’t capitalize on those runners. Through five, the Twins went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and had a total of nine men left on base. During the fifth inning, Kyle Garlick and José Miranda hit back-to-back one-out singles, ending Aaron Ashby’s afternoon. Minnesota brought in Luis Arraez to pinch hit for Gio Urshela, but reliever Trevor Gott took care of things and stranded both runners. The Brewers defense didn’t make things any easier for Minnesota either. After Carlos Correa drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, Jorge Polanco blasted a long flyball to deep center that had a 66% expected batting average and would very likely turn into an RBI extra-base hit. But Jonathan Davis robbed him of the hit with an outstanding defensive play. But that didn’t stop the Twins' momentum. In that same inning, Max Kepler hit a long double to right, which also sent Correa to third. Miranda popped out next for the second out, then Milwaukee chose to intentionally walk Arráez to load the bases. Jeffers hit a grounder towards second that caused Kolten Wong some problems with its weird hop, but he ultimately was able to make a beautiful play to beat Arráez at second. After Ryan departed the game in the sixth inning, the Twins bullpen took over and did a fine job holding back Milwaukee’s offense. Caleb Thielbar (1 1/3), Griffin Jax (1 1/3), and Jhoan Duran (1.0) combined for 3 2/3 scoreless frames. They pretty much kept alive Minnesota’s chances of winning the game on a walk-off. The problem was that the Brewer bullpen was just as dominant. Gott, Brad Boxberger, and Devin Williams combined for 3 2/3 shutout innings, setting it up for baseball’s best closer in Josh Hader – who only had one blown save this entire season, over a month ago. A recipe for disaster, right? But the Twins offense fought against the odds and managed to overcome such a dominant opponent. Polanco worked a leadoff walk and was followed by a Kepler single. After a mound visit, it was up to Miranda, who was having a two-hit day. He smoked a three-run homer to the second deck of left field to end the game in amazing fashion. What’s Next? Minnesota continues their homestand tomorrow when they begin a four-game set against division foes Chicago White Sox. Game 1 will have Sonny Gray (3.03 ERA) looking for a bounceback start against Johnny Cueto (2.91 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Thielbar 0 23 0 0 29 52 Duffey 26 21 0 0 0 47 Megill 22 0 0 24 0 46 Duran 14 16 0 0 15 45 Jax 15 11 0 0 16 42 Moran 0 0 0 22 0 22 Pagan 0 0 0 13 0 13 Cotton 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  20. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan, 5 1/3 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 3K (78 pitches, 50 strikes, 64.1%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (8) Too 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.250), Joe Ryan (.190), Jhoan Duran (.133) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Coming off one of his roughest starts of the season exactly one week ago, Joe Ryan was determined to turn the page. The last time he was on the mound, he allowed three runs to score (one unearned) while giving up five hits and two walks in just four innings. It was only the third time this season in which he didn’t pitch more than four frames, the first one since May 10. This time around, he looked much sharper and comfortable with his command. If against the White Sox last week, it took him 85 pitches to get through four today, he did it on only 56 pitches with nearly 70% strikes. He was mostly lights out during that span, throwing three 1-2-3 innings and doing so with the lead after two: after Ryan Jeffers and Alex Kirilloff reached on a two-out walk and a hit by pitch, respectively, Gilberto Celestino drove in Jeffers with a liner to center. But Milwaukee tied the game right at the beginning of the third inning with a leadoff home run by Jace Peterson. Celestino made his best effort to steal it at the track, but he fell short. Victor Caratini hit a single right after Peterson’s home run, threatening a Brewer rally, but Ryan didn’t let it get to him, as it appears to have happened a week ago. He followed that single by retiring seven in a row. He did give up back-to-back walks in the fifth but once again was able to pitch around those to end the inning. Minnesota can’t take advantage of runners in scoring position In last night’s game, the Twins lineup had trouble getting men on base, especially against the Milwaukee bullpen. This afternoon, however, Minnesota matched last night’s total hits (six) with only five innings. The problem? They couldn’t capitalize on those runners. Through five, the Twins went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and had a total of nine men left on base. During the fifth inning, Kyle Garlick and José Miranda hit back-to-back one-out singles, ending Aaron Ashby’s afternoon. Minnesota brought in Luis Arraez to pinch hit for Gio Urshela, but reliever Trevor Gott took care of things and stranded both runners. The Brewers defense didn’t make things any easier for Minnesota either. After Carlos Correa drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, Jorge Polanco blasted a long flyball to deep center that had a 66% expected batting average and would very likely turn into an RBI extra-base hit. But Jonathan Davis robbed him of the hit with an outstanding defensive play. But that didn’t stop the Twins' momentum. In that same inning, Max Kepler hit a long double to right, which also sent Correa to third. Miranda popped out next for the second out, then Milwaukee chose to intentionally walk Arráez to load the bases. Jeffers hit a grounder towards second that caused Kolten Wong some problems with its weird hop, but he ultimately was able to make a beautiful play to beat Arráez at second. After Ryan departed the game in the sixth inning, the Twins bullpen took over and did a fine job holding back Milwaukee’s offense. Caleb Thielbar (1 1/3), Griffin Jax (1 1/3), and Jhoan Duran (1.0) combined for 3 2/3 scoreless frames. They pretty much kept alive Minnesota’s chances of winning the game on a walk-off. The problem was that the Brewer bullpen was just as dominant. Gott, Brad Boxberger, and Devin Williams combined for 3 2/3 shutout innings, setting it up for baseball’s best closer in Josh Hader – who only had one blown save this entire season, over a month ago. A recipe for disaster, right? But the Twins offense fought against the odds and managed to overcome such a dominant opponent. Polanco worked a leadoff walk and was followed by a Kepler single. After a mound visit, it was up to Miranda, who was having a two-hit day. He smoked a three-run homer to the second deck of left field to end the game in amazing fashion. What’s Next? Minnesota continues their homestand tomorrow when they begin a four-game set against division foes Chicago White Sox. Game 1 will have Sonny Gray (3.03 ERA) looking for a bounceback start against Johnny Cueto (2.91 ERA). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Thielbar 0 23 0 0 29 52 Duffey 26 21 0 0 0 47 Megill 22 0 0 24 0 46 Duran 14 16 0 0 15 45 Jax 15 11 0 0 16 42 Moran 0 0 0 22 0 22 Pagan 0 0 0 13 0 13 Cotton 0 0 0 0 0 0
  21. The Twins put on an offensive showcase on Tuesday night, touching up White Sox pitching for five home runs. The win secured the series and the Twins moved to 5-0 against the White Sox in 2022. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (77 pitches, 49 strikes) Homeruns: Max Kepler (9), Jose Miranda (6), Jorge Polanco (10), Alex Kirilloff 2 (3) Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .159, Jose Miranda .133, Josh Winder .108 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday evening, after an extra-inning win to open the series, the Twins resumed their three-game set in Chicago. Here’s how they lined up. Josh Winder got the start for the Twins after being added to the taxi squad on Monday. In the corresponding move, Chris Archer was added to the 15-day injured list with a hip strain. Archer’s IL stint means that each of the Twins seven primary 2022 starters have spent at least one stint on the IL, with Gray and Ober having spent two, and Chris Paddack being out for the season. Michael Kopech looked extremely shaky for the White Sox early. He walked three in the first inning, loading the bases, but recovered to get out of the jam unscathed. The Twins struck first in the third inning. Max Kepler hit a center-cut fastball over the right-field wall for his ninth home run of the year. The Twins added two more in the fourth inning. Alex Kirilloff laced a single before Jose Miranda crushed a hanging breaking ball 105 mph into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run, continuing his impressive hitting. Notably, Miranda looked much more comfortable getting the start at third base, making several sharp plays in the first few innings. The White Sox got a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning. A Luis Robert single was followed by a Yoan Moncada double to cut the lead to 3-1. The Twins did not let up on Kopech however. In the sixth inning Jorge Polanco hit a two-run home run off Kopech (after a Kepler single), and Alex Kirilloff went back to back. In the fifth inning alone, Kopech gave up three consecutive batted balls of at least 104 mph. While his command was poor, the Twins did an excellent job taking full advantage, knocking him out of the game in the fifth inning. Winder ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning, surrendering a double and single to lead off the inning. Winder managed to rebound well from any trouble he ran into, limiting the damage to just one run and leaving the game after pitching five innings of two-run baseball. While he returned to the rotation through injury, it’s pretty clear, stuff-wise, that Winder needs to be with the MLB team permanently. Whether that is in the rotation or in the bullpen, he’s a contributor. Caleb Thielbar relieved Winder in the sixth inning and was dominant, striking out the side on just 11 pitches. In the bottom of the sixth, Alex Kirilloff took Reynaldo Lopez deep to left center field for his second home run of the game. Tyler Duffey ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up back-to-back hits to lead off the inning, before striking out Tim Anderson. Andrew Vaughn then lined into a double play on a batted ball with a .730 xBA. Trevor Megill entered in the eighth inning and got one out before the heavens opened. The game went into a 35 minute rain delay. When the teams returned, Jharel Cotton took over in relief for Minnesota and Kyle Garlick entered as a replacement for Max Kepler. The White Sox put Josh Harrison on the mound for the ninth inning. Remarkably, Jose Miranda grounded into a double play after back to back singles to keep the score locked at 8-2. Jharel Cotton returned to finish the game, leaving the bullpen in a good spot for the series finale, where the Twins will go for the sweep. The win moved Minnesota to 47-37 on the season. Cleveland lost to Detroit, so the Twins lead is 4.5 games over the Guardians, and 6.5 games over the White Sox. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 38 0 0 21 59 Duffey 0 0 0 13 18 31 Pagán 0 10 0 18 0 28 Jax 0 0 0 26 0 26 Thielbar 12 0 0 0 11 23 Duran 0 0 0 20 0 20 Moran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Megill 0 0 0 0 2 2 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series against the White Sox. Joe Ryan goes for Minnesota against Lance Lynn for Chicago. First pitch is 1:10 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  22. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (77 pitches, 49 strikes) Homeruns: Max Kepler (9), Jose Miranda (6), Jorge Polanco (10), Alex Kirilloff 2 (3) Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .159, Jose Miranda .133, Josh Winder .108 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday evening, after an extra-inning win to open the series, the Twins resumed their three-game set in Chicago. Here’s how they lined up. Josh Winder got the start for the Twins after being added to the taxi squad on Monday. In the corresponding move, Chris Archer was added to the 15-day injured list with a hip strain. Archer’s IL stint means that each of the Twins seven primary 2022 starters have spent at least one stint on the IL, with Gray and Ober having spent two, and Chris Paddack being out for the season. Michael Kopech looked extremely shaky for the White Sox early. He walked three in the first inning, loading the bases, but recovered to get out of the jam unscathed. The Twins struck first in the third inning. Max Kepler hit a center-cut fastball over the right-field wall for his ninth home run of the year. The Twins added two more in the fourth inning. Alex Kirilloff laced a single before Jose Miranda crushed a hanging breaking ball 105 mph into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run, continuing his impressive hitting. Notably, Miranda looked much more comfortable getting the start at third base, making several sharp plays in the first few innings. The White Sox got a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning. A Luis Robert single was followed by a Yoan Moncada double to cut the lead to 3-1. The Twins did not let up on Kopech however. In the sixth inning Jorge Polanco hit a two-run home run off Kopech (after a Kepler single), and Alex Kirilloff went back to back. In the fifth inning alone, Kopech gave up three consecutive batted balls of at least 104 mph. While his command was poor, the Twins did an excellent job taking full advantage, knocking him out of the game in the fifth inning. Winder ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning, surrendering a double and single to lead off the inning. Winder managed to rebound well from any trouble he ran into, limiting the damage to just one run and leaving the game after pitching five innings of two-run baseball. While he returned to the rotation through injury, it’s pretty clear, stuff-wise, that Winder needs to be with the MLB team permanently. Whether that is in the rotation or in the bullpen, he’s a contributor. Caleb Thielbar relieved Winder in the sixth inning and was dominant, striking out the side on just 11 pitches. In the bottom of the sixth, Alex Kirilloff took Reynaldo Lopez deep to left center field for his second home run of the game. Tyler Duffey ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up back-to-back hits to lead off the inning, before striking out Tim Anderson. Andrew Vaughn then lined into a double play on a batted ball with a .730 xBA. Trevor Megill entered in the eighth inning and got one out before the heavens opened. The game went into a 35 minute rain delay. When the teams returned, Jharel Cotton took over in relief for Minnesota and Kyle Garlick entered as a replacement for Max Kepler. The White Sox put Josh Harrison on the mound for the ninth inning. Remarkably, Jose Miranda grounded into a double play after back to back singles to keep the score locked at 8-2. Jharel Cotton returned to finish the game, leaving the bullpen in a good spot for the series finale, where the Twins will go for the sweep. The win moved Minnesota to 47-37 on the season. Cleveland lost to Detroit, so the Twins lead is 4.5 games over the Guardians, and 6.5 games over the White Sox. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 38 0 0 21 59 Duffey 0 0 0 13 18 31 Pagán 0 10 0 18 0 28 Jax 0 0 0 26 0 26 Thielbar 12 0 0 0 11 23 Duran 0 0 0 20 0 20 Moran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Megill 0 0 0 0 2 2 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series against the White Sox. Joe Ryan goes for Minnesota against Lance Lynn for Chicago. First pitch is 1:10 CT. Postgame Interviews
  23. Minnesota's offense has been one of its strengths this season, but even the best hitters go through slumps. Who do you trust the most in the Twins line-up? Last week, I named the team's most reliable relievers, which can be an exercise in futility. Relief pitchers deal in small sample sizes, and the Twins' relief core has been subpar for most of the season. Luckily, the offense continues to help the team stay in first place. Here are the hitters with the highest level of trust as the season approaches the All-Star Game. 5. Max Kepler Since May 1: 97 wRC+, 065 fWAR Kepler is having a resurgent offensive season after struggling to repeat his output from the 2019 campaign. His OPS+ is over 110 for the second time in his career as he has been an above-average hitter against right and left-handed pitchers this season. Other younger hitters like Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda are in the conversation for the final spot on this list. Still, Kepler has compiled solid numbers over the whole season that earned him a higher level of trust. 4. Jorge Polanco Since May 1: 125 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR Polanco recently returned from his first career stint on the IL, and he hasn't missed a beat. There are clearly better hitters on the Twins roster, but he continues to be a solid contributor. In previous seasons, Polanco has been the team's best offensive player, but his movement down this list points to the team's offensive strength. To stay in first, the Twins need contributions up-and-down the line-up, and Polanco has proven to be a tough out no matter where the Twins use him. 3. Byron Buxton Since May 1: 129 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR The Twins are better with Buxton in the line-up, and that's one of the main reasons the team continues to monitor his playing time. Minnesota needs Buxton healthy and performing at the end of the season when the games are even more critical. He's already set a career-high in home runs as he is on pace to hit over 40 homers. Buxton has been a streaky hitter throughout the season, and that's one of the only reasons he ranks third on this list. 2. Luis Arraez Since May 1: 161 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR Arraez has been a joy to watch at the plate for the entirety of the season. He leads the American League in batting average and on-base percentage, and national outlets have taken notice of his performance. Injuries forced the team to shift him to a new defensive position, and he continued to hit at a high level. MLB's offensive environment has been down this season, but Arraez continues to be a throwback to a bygone era. He has a chance to make his first All-Star team, and he arguably has been the team's first-half MVP. 1. Carlos Correa Since May 1: 161 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR This is why the Twins agreed to give Correa a record average annual salary for an infielder. His slow start is long forgotten as he powers the Twins' offense through some of the most challenging parts of the schedule. Even in his struggles, there were signs of his swing breaking out, and he has shown what he can mean to the middle of a line-up. There is no arguing that Correa is one of baseball's best hitters at a premium defensive position. Fans are aware of his option to opt-out at the season's end, but people should still be able to enjoy what he is bringing to the 2022 Twins. How would you rank the team's hitters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  24. Last week, I named the team's most reliable relievers, which can be an exercise in futility. Relief pitchers deal in small sample sizes, and the Twins' relief core has been subpar for most of the season. Luckily, the offense continues to help the team stay in first place. Here are the hitters with the highest level of trust as the season approaches the All-Star Game. 5. Max Kepler Since May 1: 97 wRC+, 065 fWAR Kepler is having a resurgent offensive season after struggling to repeat his output from the 2019 campaign. His OPS+ is over 110 for the second time in his career as he has been an above-average hitter against right and left-handed pitchers this season. Other younger hitters like Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda are in the conversation for the final spot on this list. Still, Kepler has compiled solid numbers over the whole season that earned him a higher level of trust. 4. Jorge Polanco Since May 1: 125 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR Polanco recently returned from his first career stint on the IL, and he hasn't missed a beat. There are clearly better hitters on the Twins roster, but he continues to be a solid contributor. In previous seasons, Polanco has been the team's best offensive player, but his movement down this list points to the team's offensive strength. To stay in first, the Twins need contributions up-and-down the line-up, and Polanco has proven to be a tough out no matter where the Twins use him. 3. Byron Buxton Since May 1: 129 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR The Twins are better with Buxton in the line-up, and that's one of the main reasons the team continues to monitor his playing time. Minnesota needs Buxton healthy and performing at the end of the season when the games are even more critical. He's already set a career-high in home runs as he is on pace to hit over 40 homers. Buxton has been a streaky hitter throughout the season, and that's one of the only reasons he ranks third on this list. 2. Luis Arraez Since May 1: 161 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR Arraez has been a joy to watch at the plate for the entirety of the season. He leads the American League in batting average and on-base percentage, and national outlets have taken notice of his performance. Injuries forced the team to shift him to a new defensive position, and he continued to hit at a high level. MLB's offensive environment has been down this season, but Arraez continues to be a throwback to a bygone era. He has a chance to make his first All-Star team, and he arguably has been the team's first-half MVP. 1. Carlos Correa Since May 1: 161 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR This is why the Twins agreed to give Correa a record average annual salary for an infielder. His slow start is long forgotten as he powers the Twins' offense through some of the most challenging parts of the schedule. Even in his struggles, there were signs of his swing breaking out, and he has shown what he can mean to the middle of a line-up. There is no arguing that Correa is one of baseball's best hitters at a premium defensive position. Fans are aware of his option to opt-out at the season's end, but people should still be able to enjoy what he is bringing to the 2022 Twins. How would you rank the team's hitters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. Wait, they didn't come back? Box Score Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.138), Carlos Correa (.132), Jose Miranda (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Devin Smeltzer, already established as the rotation’s savior, faced off against an ex-Twins farmhand, Tyler Wells. Smeltzer had just set a season-high in strikeouts (10) in his previous start; Wells looked to continue his effectiveness in the Orioles’ starting rotation. The game began sleepily and lazily; neither team scored until the 5th inning, and both the Twins and the Orioles committed a careless error in the 1st frame. Gilberto Celestino was the culprit for Minnesota; Rougned Odor was the one for Baltimore. The mistakes did not lead to runs. The Orioles struck in the 4th inning; Anthony Santander hit a Texas Leaguer over Alex Kirilloff’s head and reached 2nd base after Smeltzer uncharacteristically spiked a wild pitch into the dirt. Tyler Nevin—the son of former Twin and current red-ass Phil Nevin—smoked a single up the middle, forcing Santander to try his luck with Celestino’s arm from center field. In a close battle, Celestino’s throw beat Santander to the plate, and Gary Sánchez slapped the runner to secure the out and energize the crowd. But the Twins offense remained in a coma; Wells, typically not a strike-out pitcher, overwhelmed Minnesota’s bats with his rising fastball and darting slider. Hitters of all variety failed to fight back; the team’s array of lefties netted just one extra-base hit (a Nick Gordon double in the 6th inning), while many walked away with an extra strikeout or two on their ledger. Even Luis Arraez punched out. Something was not right. Fortune turned quickly in the middle innings. Odor smoked a solo homer to right field to net the first run of the ball game; Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle blasted off consecutively in the next frame. Suddenly, after Smeltzer appeared well in command of the game, the score ballooned to 3-0. After innings of nothingness, the Twins revved up their engines in the 6th, trampolining off a Celestino lead-off walk to plate a run. There was a slight feeling of disappointment amid the success; Carlos Correa grounded into a double-play following an Arraez single, eliminating a base-runner before Jorge Polanco singled home Celestino. Juan Minaya did his best to keep the Twins in the game; the often yo-yo-ed righty posted two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one hit allowed. On a team looking for relief help, such outings will help Minaya make a case for acquiring crucial innings down the stretch. The Twins could not find success even after Wells exited the game. A series of Baltimore relievers—Keegan Akin, Joey Krehbiel, and Dillon Tate—continued Wells’ dominance and shutout Minnesota’s offense in the final three frames. What’s Next? The Twins will travel to Chicago and take on the White Sox for the first a few series in July; Dylan Bundy will take the mound for Minnesota, while Johnny Cueto (yes, he’s still around) will toe the rubber for Chicago. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
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