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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. There’s no denying that 2021 has been a year of failed expectations for the Twins. Between ineffective performance and injuries, the team has fallen flat consistently. Looking at 2022, they have some big questions to answer. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. The upcoming off-season is going to have one of the best free-agent shortstop classes in history. Minnesota has a need at the position, but would the club be willing to make a trade to fill their shortstop need? Across baseball, teams will be vying for free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Minnesota can try to outbid other teams for their services, but the current front office doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to free-agent signings. Instead, the team can look to a buy-low candidate at shortstop. The Yankees are a team that spends money on the free-agent front as they currently have a payroll of over $200 million. New York may also be looking for a shortstop replacement. Gleyber Torres has been the team’s starting shortstop, but he has struggled over the last two seasons. Since 2020, he has hit .248/.330/.353 with 36 extra-base hits in 151 games. Torres, a two-time All-Star, turns 25-years-old this winter. He broke into the big leagues as a 21-year-old and posted a 125 OPS+ while averaging 31 homers through his first two seasons. Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill, and it is especially tough in the Bronx with players following Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Still, Torres was considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and he showed it early in his career. Why Would the Yankees Trade Him? Torres has struggled to make hard contact for multiple seasons as his Baseball Savant page has much more blue than red. He ranks in the 40th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and whiff %. His worst category is outs above average, where he ranks in the first percentile. Besides his offensive decline, his defense has also been stretched at shortstop. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Torres has been the AL’s third-worst defensive shortstop in 2021. Back in 2019, the last full season, he was one of only seven AL shortstops with a positive SDI. There’s a chance an undisclosed injury is impacting his performance, but the Yankees might be ready to move on. For any team looking to acquire Torres, it doesn't seem likely for him to be this bad of a player. He was highly regarded as a prospect, and he had multiple years of big-league success. Minnesota can hope that a change in coaching staffs allows him to return to his previous form. Even his current manager believes he will be an impact player for a long time. What Would the Twins Have to Trade? After a disappointing season, the Twins may have multiple players that would be considered buy-low candidates. One name to consider is Max Kepler. Like Torres, Kepler had a monster 2018 season at the plate, but both players have struggled since that point. They are each under team control through the 2024 season, and there’s a chance each player can improve with a change to a new organization. New York’s outfield dimensions are certainly a benefit for left-handed hitters like Kepler. Torres might be helped by being out of New York’s bright lights. Baseball Trade Values claims a straight trade of Kepler for Torres is a fair trade for each team and would likely be accepted from a future value standpoint. New York may also want prospect capital in return for Torres, and the Twins certainly have options down on the farm. The Twins should be prepared to make the call if the Yankees are ready to move on from Torres. Is Torres a player the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Across baseball, teams will be vying for free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Minnesota can try to outbid other teams for their services, but the current front office doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to free-agent signings. Instead, the team can look to a buy-low candidate at shortstop. The Yankees are a team that spends money on the free-agent front as they currently have a payroll of over $200 million. New York may also be looking for a shortstop replacement. Gleyber Torres has been the team’s starting shortstop, but he has struggled over the last two seasons. Since 2020, he has hit .248/.330/.353 with 36 extra-base hits in 151 games. Torres, a two-time All-Star, turns 25-years-old this winter. He broke into the big leagues as a 21-year-old and posted a 125 OPS+ while averaging 31 homers through his first two seasons. Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill, and it is especially tough in the Bronx with players following Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Still, Torres was considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and he showed it early in his career. Why Would the Yankees Trade Him? Torres has struggled to make hard contact for multiple seasons as his Baseball Savant page has much more blue than red. He ranks in the 40th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and whiff %. His worst category is outs above average, where he ranks in the first percentile. Besides his offensive decline, his defense has also been stretched at shortstop. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Torres has been the AL’s third-worst defensive shortstop in 2021. Back in 2019, the last full season, he was one of only seven AL shortstops with a positive SDI. There’s a chance an undisclosed injury is impacting his performance, but the Yankees might be ready to move on. For any team looking to acquire Torres, it doesn't seem likely for him to be this bad of a player. He was highly regarded as a prospect, and he had multiple years of big-league success. Minnesota can hope that a change in coaching staffs allows him to return to his previous form. Even his current manager believes he will be an impact player for a long time. What Would the Twins Have to Trade? After a disappointing season, the Twins may have multiple players that would be considered buy-low candidates. One name to consider is Max Kepler. Like Torres, Kepler had a monster 2018 season at the plate, but both players have struggled since that point. They are each under team control through the 2024 season, and there’s a chance each player can improve with a change to a new organization. New York’s outfield dimensions are certainly a benefit for left-handed hitters like Kepler. Torres might be helped by being out of New York’s bright lights. Baseball Trade Values claims a straight trade of Kepler for Torres is a fair trade for each team and would likely be accepted from a future value standpoint. New York may also want prospect capital in return for Torres, and the Twins certainly have options down on the farm. The Twins should be prepared to make the call if the Yankees are ready to move on from Torres. Is Torres a player the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Following the 2020 Major League Baseball season, we would get a year in which normalcy returned to ballparks. The Minnesota Twins had won two straight AL Central titles, and their offseason set up a three-peat opportunity. Then the games started. If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022. Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone. After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain. In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts. In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022. Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone. After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain. In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts. In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Defensive improvement was a focus for the Twins this season, but that plan hasn’t gone perfectly. So, has the Twins’ defense improved or declined in the second half? Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SABR has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Here is how the Twins rank through games played on August 22, 2021: Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 3.7 SDI (3rd) Berrios was traded before the deadline, but he accumulated the bulk of his SDI total while still in a Twins uniform. Earlier this season, he ranked sixth overall in the AL, so he has made a significant jump in the second half. However, his defense isn’t helping the Twins anymore, and there are no other Twins players on the current leaderboard. Dallas Keuchel is the favorite among AL pitchers as he has nearly double the SDI total of the second-ranked pitcher. Catcher (AL Ranking): No Twins’ Players Qualify At the All-Star Break, both Twins catchers ranked in the top-12 when it came to SDI. Garver’s extended time on the IL pushed him out of the rankings, while Jeffers spent some time in St. Paul trying to find his swing. Over the last few weeks, Jeffers has been catching regularly, so it will be interesting to see if he winds up on the final leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Miguel Sano -2.5 SDI (10th) Only two qualified first basemen, Nathaniel Lowe and Bobby Delbec, have a lower SDI total than Miguel Sano. His months of July and August continued to bring down his total as he was at -0.9 SDI. It also doesn’t help that Minnesota’s best defensive first baseman, Alex Kirilloff, is injured and won’t be back in 2021. At the All-Star break, he ranked third among all AL first basemen. For 2022, Minnesota should pencil Kirilloff in at first base every day. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco, 3.3 SDI (3rd) Polanco has been on an offensive tear in the second half, and his defense has also significantly improved. In less than two months, he moved from 8th to 3rd in SDI among AL second basemen. At that time, I mentioned that he was only 0.5 SDI out of the top-3, and he now ranks 1.2 SDI ahead of fourth place. Polanco looks to be in line to be a Gold Glove finalist, but Whit Merrified and Marcus Semiem have accumulated over twice as much SDI as Polanco. Third Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez, 0.4 SDI (7th) Arraez isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess, so this ranking might come as a surprise to some Twins fans. Every third baseman ranked below Arraez has a -4.0 SDI or lower. Josh Donaldson was known for being a strong defender when the Twins signed him, but he has fallen off the leaderboard since the All-Star break. At that time, he looked to be in the middle of his worst defensive season. Does the future at this position belong to Arraez or Jose Miranda? Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons, 6.4 SDI (3rd) Simmons is having another solid defensive season, but he has taken a step back in the second half. In July, he ranked as one of the AL’s best defenders, and he was the number one ranked shortstop. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Correa have stormed past him over the last two months. Simmons looks like he will be a Gold Glove finalist, but he won’t be coming away with the hardware. Left Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Trevor Larnach was on these rankings at the All-Star break, but he was near the bottom with a -2.2 SDI. He no longer qualifies as the team demoted him to Triple-A after some offensive struggles. Overall, this race looks to be one of the AL's tightest when it comes to the Gold Glove winner. There is no clear-cut favorite, with Austin Hays (2.1 SDI) and Michael Brantley (1.8 SDI) leading the rankings. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Byron Buxton is still one of baseball's best defenders, but a hip injury and a broken hand have kept him sidelined for a good chunk of the second half. Former Twins prospect Akil Baddoo has the third-lowest SDI total among qualified AL center fielders. Michael Taylor (9.5 SDI) and Myles Straw (7.1 SDI) are at the top of the leaderboard with a month to go in the season. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler, 0.8 SDI Kepler has a positive SDI, but only one qualified right fielder sits below him in the rankings. His second-half defense has improved because he had accumulated a -0.1 SDI in right field at the All-Star break. He dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the season, which might have brought down his SDI total. Do any of these rankings surprise you? Do you think the team's defense has been worse in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SABR has used SDI as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Here is how the Twins rank through games played on August 22, 2021: Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 3.7 SDI (3rd) Berrios was traded before the deadline, but he accumulated the bulk of his SDI total while still in a Twins uniform. Earlier this season, he ranked sixth overall in the AL, so he has made a significant jump in the second half. However, his defense isn’t helping the Twins anymore, and there are no other Twins players on the current leaderboard. Dallas Keuchel is the favorite among AL pitchers as he has nearly double the SDI total of the second-ranked pitcher. Catcher (AL Ranking): No Twins’ Players Qualify At the All-Star Break, both Twins catchers ranked in the top-12 when it came to SDI. Garver’s extended time on the IL pushed him out of the rankings, while Jeffers spent some time in St. Paul trying to find his swing. Over the last few weeks, Jeffers has been catching regularly, so it will be interesting to see if he winds up on the final leaderboard. First Base (AL Ranking): Miguel Sano -2.5 SDI (10th) Only two qualified first basemen, Nathaniel Lowe and Bobby Delbec, have a lower SDI total than Miguel Sano. His months of July and August continued to bring down his total as he was at -0.9 SDI. It also doesn’t help that Minnesota’s best defensive first baseman, Alex Kirilloff, is injured and won’t be back in 2021. At the All-Star break, he ranked third among all AL first basemen. For 2022, Minnesota should pencil Kirilloff in at first base every day. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco, 3.3 SDI (3rd) Polanco has been on an offensive tear in the second half, and his defense has also significantly improved. In less than two months, he moved from 8th to 3rd in SDI among AL second basemen. At that time, I mentioned that he was only 0.5 SDI out of the top-3, and he now ranks 1.2 SDI ahead of fourth place. Polanco looks to be in line to be a Gold Glove finalist, but Whit Merrified and Marcus Semiem have accumulated over twice as much SDI as Polanco. Third Base (AL Ranking): Luis Arraez, 0.4 SDI (7th) Arraez isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess, so this ranking might come as a surprise to some Twins fans. Every third baseman ranked below Arraez has a -4.0 SDI or lower. Josh Donaldson was known for being a strong defender when the Twins signed him, but he has fallen off the leaderboard since the All-Star break. At that time, he looked to be in the middle of his worst defensive season. Does the future at this position belong to Arraez or Jose Miranda? Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons, 6.4 SDI (3rd) Simmons is having another solid defensive season, but he has taken a step back in the second half. In July, he ranked as one of the AL’s best defenders, and he was the number one ranked shortstop. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Correa have stormed past him over the last two months. Simmons looks like he will be a Gold Glove finalist, but he won’t be coming away with the hardware. Left Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Trevor Larnach was on these rankings at the All-Star break, but he was near the bottom with a -2.2 SDI. He no longer qualifies as the team demoted him to Triple-A after some offensive struggles. Overall, this race looks to be one of the AL's tightest when it comes to the Gold Glove winner. There is no clear-cut favorite, with Austin Hays (2.1 SDI) and Michael Brantley (1.8 SDI) leading the rankings. Center Field (AL Ranking): No Twins' Players Qualified Byron Buxton is still one of baseball's best defenders, but a hip injury and a broken hand have kept him sidelined for a good chunk of the second half. Former Twins prospect Akil Baddoo has the third-lowest SDI total among qualified AL center fielders. Michael Taylor (9.5 SDI) and Myles Straw (7.1 SDI) are at the top of the leaderboard with a month to go in the season. Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler, 0.8 SDI Kepler has a positive SDI, but only one qualified right fielder sits below him in the rankings. His second-half defense has improved because he had accumulated a -0.1 SDI in right field at the All-Star break. He dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the season, which might have brought down his SDI total. Do any of these rankings surprise you? Do you think the team's defense has been worse in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Charlie Barnes's third start was the best of his career. Caleb Thielbar came in and got some huge outs after the middle relief coughed up the lead, but as they had all day, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco came up clutch in the bottom of the ninth. Box Score (add link) SP: Charlie Barnes: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 44 strikes (60.3%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.327), Caleb Thielbar (.232), Charlie Barnes (.200) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Patience is a Virtue Luis Patino was the key piece the Rays received in return for former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Padres in the offseason. A top pitching prospect, he has certainly shown well for the Rays in 2020. Fortunately for the Twins, he was a bit wild on Sunday and the team took advantage. Patino walked Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco in the first inning, and Josh Donaldon singled in Kepler for the game’s first run. After a walk to Luis Arraez, Polanco scored on a Trevor Larnach fielder’s choice. The Twins went scoreless in the second innings, although Kepler had a double and Polanco walked again. There was one more walk in the third inning. Ryan Sherriff came on in the fourth inning. After getting the first two batters out, Kepler and Polanco walked. All Star Andrew Kittredge came on and Donaldson came through again with a big, two-run double to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. Barnes at his Best Lefty Charlie Barnes made his third MLB start on Sunday afternoon, and it’s fair to say that it was his best start to date. The southpaw was generally in control of the game for five innings. He gave up just three hits and only allowed one run, on a solo homer off the bat of Mike Zunino. Overall, his strike percentage was not real good, but instead of just missing over the middle of the plate, he was missing just outside the strike zone. This is definitely a start to build on. Middle Relief Struggles Edgar Garcia came on for the sixth inning. He quickly got the first two outs of the inning, but then issued a walk and a home run off to star rookie Wander Franco. That cut the Twins lead to 4-3. Tyler Duffey got the 7th inning. He started the inning with a walk. Then after a pop-out, he coaxed a potential ground ball double play. However, due to an error, no outs were recorded. Duffey walked another batter to load the bases. Randy Arozarena hit a little infield single to tie the game at four. Duffey did come up big by striking out Nelson Cruz, but bases were still loaded with one out yet to get. Clutch Caleb (Thielbar) Caleb Thielbar came in and, after falling behind 3-0, got All Star Austin Meadows to pop out to end the inning. He has now stranded his last seven inherited runners, a streak that began on June 21. With the game still tied in the top of the eight, Thielbar gave up a leadoff double to Franco. However, after a sacrifice bunt moved Franco to third, Thielbar got an infield pop out and a ground out to first base to keep the game tied. When you take a look below at the names available to Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson in the chart below, is Thielbar the team’s best, most-reliable bullpen arm right now? Well, another option for that title right now might be Alexander Colome who pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. It was his eighth straight scoreless appearance. In that stretch (7 1/3 innings), he is 1-0 with five saves. Klutch Kepler (and Polanco) Max Kepler reached base four times on Sunday. As mentioned above, he walked twice. He also had two doubles including an opposite-field double down the left field line to lead off the ninth inning. Bobbled by Austin Meadows, Kepler scampered to third base. Two pitches later, Jorge Polanco hit a fly ball deep enough to easily score Kepler from third and give the Twins the 5-4 win, and a third-straight series win. It was his fifth career walk-off plate appearance and third this season. The Twins are clearly playing their best baseball of the season as they have reached arguably the toughest part of their season. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Barnes 0 0 0 0 73 73 García 0 0 27 0 21 48 Gant 0 0 41 0 0 41 Vincent 0 0 37 0 0 37 Colomé 14 0 0 0 13 27 Thielbar 20 0 0 0 15 35 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 16 0 16 Duffey 0 0 0 0 27 27 Minaya 15 0 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 10 0 10 View full article
  10. Box Score (add link) SP: Charlie Barnes: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 44 strikes (60.3%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.327), Caleb Thielbar (.232), Charlie Barnes (.200) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Patience is a Virtue Luis Patino was the key piece the Rays received in return for former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Padres in the offseason. A top pitching prospect, he has certainly shown well for the Rays in 2020. Fortunately for the Twins, he was a bit wild on Sunday and the team took advantage. Patino walked Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco in the first inning, and Josh Donaldon singled in Kepler for the game’s first run. After a walk to Luis Arraez, Polanco scored on a Trevor Larnach fielder’s choice. The Twins went scoreless in the second innings, although Kepler had a double and Polanco walked again. There was one more walk in the third inning. Ryan Sherriff came on in the fourth inning. After getting the first two batters out, Kepler and Polanco walked. All Star Andrew Kittredge came on and Donaldson came through again with a big, two-run double to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. Barnes at his Best Lefty Charlie Barnes made his third MLB start on Sunday afternoon, and it’s fair to say that it was his best start to date. The southpaw was generally in control of the game for five innings. He gave up just three hits and only allowed one run, on a solo homer off the bat of Mike Zunino. Overall, his strike percentage was not real good, but instead of just missing over the middle of the plate, he was missing just outside the strike zone. This is definitely a start to build on. Middle Relief Struggles Edgar Garcia came on for the sixth inning. He quickly got the first two outs of the inning, but then issued a walk and a home run off to star rookie Wander Franco. That cut the Twins lead to 4-3. Tyler Duffey got the 7th inning. He started the inning with a walk. Then after a pop-out, he coaxed a potential ground ball double play. However, due to an error, no outs were recorded. Duffey walked another batter to load the bases. Randy Arozarena hit a little infield single to tie the game at four. Duffey did come up big by striking out Nelson Cruz, but bases were still loaded with one out yet to get. Clutch Caleb (Thielbar) Caleb Thielbar came in and, after falling behind 3-0, got All Star Austin Meadows to pop out to end the inning. He has now stranded his last seven inherited runners, a streak that began on June 21. With the game still tied in the top of the eight, Thielbar gave up a leadoff double to Franco. However, after a sacrifice bunt moved Franco to third, Thielbar got an infield pop out and a ground out to first base to keep the game tied. When you take a look below at the names available to Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson in the chart below, is Thielbar the team’s best, most-reliable bullpen arm right now? Well, another option for that title right now might be Alexander Colome who pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. It was his eighth straight scoreless appearance. In that stretch (7 1/3 innings), he is 1-0 with five saves. Klutch Kepler (and Polanco) Max Kepler reached base four times on Sunday. As mentioned above, he walked twice. He also had two doubles including an opposite-field double down the left field line to lead off the ninth inning. Bobbled by Austin Meadows, Kepler scampered to third base. Two pitches later, Jorge Polanco hit a fly ball deep enough to easily score Kepler from third and give the Twins the 5-4 win, and a third-straight series win. It was his fifth career walk-off plate appearance and third this season. The Twins are clearly playing their best baseball of the season as they have reached arguably the toughest part of their season. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Barnes 0 0 0 0 73 73 García 0 0 27 0 21 48 Gant 0 0 41 0 0 41 Vincent 0 0 37 0 0 37 Colomé 14 0 0 0 13 27 Thielbar 20 0 0 0 15 35 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 16 0 16 Duffey 0 0 0 0 27 27 Minaya 15 0 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 10 0 10
  11. Taylor Rogers It seemed like a certainty for a Taylor Rogers trade to occur before the deadline, but his recent finger injury made it tougher to swing a deal. He is still under team control for 2021, and there isn’t a guarantee the Twins will be in the race next season. On the most recent episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman mentioned that multiple teams were interested in adding Rogers even with his injury. Relievers, especially late-inning options, are a valuable commodity, and Rogers seems like one of the most likely candidates to be dealt in the off-season. Byron Buxton Like Rogers, Byron Buxton trade rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the deadline. There are some similarities between the two players because they were both on the IL, and have one more year of team control. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the deadline, but Buxton’s rejection of those offers means his name will be out there this winter. Nothing stops the Twins from revisiting a contract extension before other teams are offered him in a trade. That being said, a player with Buxton’s ceiling has the potential to draw trade interest even on an expiring contract. Josh Donaldson Donaldson is a little trickier proposition when looking at potential trades because the Twins would need to pay down part of his contract to find a partner. By multiple metrics, Donaldson is having a solid season for the Twins as he has posted a 133 OPS+ for the second consecutive year. Health questions are part of the Donaldson equation, but he is on pace to play over 120 games for only the second time since 2016. It will take the right kind of team to get a Donaldson trade done, but more teams might be interested in him if he finishes the season healthy. Max Kepler While the names above might be obvious, Kepler has the potential to be one of the organization’s most valuable trade assets. He is under team control through 2024, and the maximum he can earn is $25.3 million. As Twins fans know, it’s a very team-friendly deal, which might make other teams interested in adding him. He has value because he produces consistent numbers while also providing some defensive flexibility. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s emergence in the outfield make Kepler more expendable. Trading teams looking for a left-handed bat with multiple years of team control may be willing to part with the right package. Which player do you think is most likely to be dealt? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Minnesota’s trade deadline was certainly memorable, but multiple veteran players stayed with the organization. Here are four players the Twins could look to trade this winter. Should they? Taylor Rogers It seemed like a certainty for a Taylor Rogers trade to occur before the deadline, but his recent finger injury made it tougher to swing a deal. He is still under team control for 2021, and there isn’t a guarantee the Twins will be in the race next season. On the most recent episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman mentioned that multiple teams were interested in adding Rogers even with his injury. Relievers, especially late-inning options, are a valuable commodity, and Rogers seems like one of the most likely candidates to be dealt in the off-season. Byron Buxton Like Rogers, Byron Buxton trade rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the deadline. There are some similarities between the two players because they were both on the IL, and have one more year of team control. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the deadline, but Buxton’s rejection of those offers means his name will be out there this winter. Nothing stops the Twins from revisiting a contract extension before other teams are offered him in a trade. That being said, a player with Buxton’s ceiling has the potential to draw trade interest even on an expiring contract. Josh Donaldson Donaldson is a little trickier proposition when looking at potential trades because the Twins would need to pay down part of his contract to find a partner. By multiple metrics, Donaldson is having a solid season for the Twins as he has posted a 133 OPS+ for the second consecutive year. Health questions are part of the Donaldson equation, but he is on pace to play over 120 games for only the second time since 2016. It will take the right kind of team to get a Donaldson trade done, but more teams might be interested in him if he finishes the season healthy. Max Kepler While the names above might be obvious, Kepler has the potential to be one of the organization’s most valuable trade assets. He is under team control through 2024, and the maximum he can earn is $25.3 million. As Twins fans know, it’s a very team-friendly deal, which might make other teams interested in adding him. He has value because he produces consistent numbers while also providing some defensive flexibility. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s emergence in the outfield make Kepler more expendable. Trading teams looking for a left-handed bat with multiple years of team control may be willing to part with the right package. Which player do you think is most likely to be dealt? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month. Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones. Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras. Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins.
  14. As a team the Minnesota Twins hitters ranked 22nd in all of baseball accruing 2.8 fWAR in the month of July. Individually, the Twins had some solid month long performances including one familiar name who is vying for Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Hitter of the Year. After Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz took home the prestigious title in May and June, respectively, we will have a new award winner for the month of July. Before we announce the winner, let’s look at a group of honorable mentions for the month. Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez Arraez missed some time in July, otherwise he’d be higher on this list, but he was still one of the most productive Twins of the month. In the month of July, he had the highest batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.415) of his career in months where he had at least 40 at-bats. Due to the time he’s missed this year, he’s currently about 50 plate appearances short of being a qualified hitter but he would rank 13th in the league in batting average if he had the minimum number of plate appearances. He gets bonus points for the crafty slide he showed on July 19th against the Chicago White Sox Honorable Mention #2: Josh Donaldson At 35-years-old, it’s safe to assume that Donaldson’s MVP days are behind him but that was probably an unfair bar to hold him to in the first place. Over the last two months, Donaldson has been one of the Twins best hitters smashing 11 homeruns with a .929 OPS. Although Donaldson slowed a bit in July and missed some time, he still accrued 0.5 fWAR with three homeruns and a .854 OPS. Included in his three home runs from the month was this 446 foot moon shot against off of José Cisnero where he broke through some career milestones. Honorable Mention #1: Max Kepler Kepler has struggled since his impressive 2019 season, but he hit well in July hitting one double, one triple, and a team-leading eight homeruns. He ended the month slashing .228/.290/.522 with a wRC+ of 118. Most notably, he became the all-time leader in walk off hits with this bloop against the Tigers that scored utility pinch runner Kenta Maeda in extras. Many thought that Kepler might get traded at the deadline and it even sounds like they had some preliminary talks with the Yankees. Alas, he’ll keep manning Centerfield and Right Field for the foreseeable future as the Twins begin a (hopefully) mini rebuild. Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco This was quite easy. In the month of July, Polanco slashed .327/.366/.548 with a wRC+ of 149 and this is now two plus months of solid play from the Twins second baseman. It seems that part of Polanco’s rebound can be thanks to a healthy ankle, and I wonder if shifting to second is a little easier on the joint. Regardless, this is an important development for a player who is under contract until 2024-2025 and could theoretically be a contributor to the next competitive window for the Twins. View full article
  15. This week, there has been mounting speculation that Max Kepler could be a popular target at the trade deadline. While Twins fans may have become a little jaded on Kepler after the promise of his incredible 2019 season, there’s an awful lot to like. Kepler slugged his 13th home run of the season in a losing effort against the Angels on Sunday and is slugging .538 in his last 15 games. While he had a slow start to the season, Kepler’s wRC+ is up to 108, ahead of his 2020 numbers. Kepler also boasts strong defensive play, positional versatility, and excellent baserunning skills. Does this look like the Baseball Savant profile of an underrated player? Kepler is also signed to an extremely affordable contract which has him under team control for an additional two seasons beyond 2021, with a club option for 2024. Kepler will be paid a little over $15 million in his age 30 and age 31 seasons. He’s on track to be worth about $20 million in 2021 alone. While this is only one rough metric, Kepler’s performance has been very steady year over year, with the exception of his outstanding 2019 season. Who is Interested? Plenty of teams should be interested in a solid, affordable outfielder, but there are two more obvious fits. The Atlanta Braves could use an outfield upgrade, specifically in left field. While they are a logical candidate, Atlanta already added Joc Pederson to their outfield and may not be buyers with another bad week. The real Kepler steam has come from the possibility of the New York Yankees as a trade partner. The Yankees are known to seek a left-handed bat at the deadline. Despite being nine games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, the Yankees are only 3.5 games back in a competitive wild card race. What Could the Twins Get Back? Cody Christie wrote up a more detailed overview of the Yankees as a prospective Twins trade partner. The Yankees do not have the same depth to their farm system that the Padres or Dodgers do. In spite of this, they have plenty of intriguing names which fit the Twins’ needs. Top prospect Jasson Dominguez is an unrealistic expectation, but there are several names Kepler could fetch in a return. Oswald Peraza The Yankees signed Peraza in the international free agent class of 2016. Peraza is an outstanding prospect, ranked #98 overall by MLB. He has excellent bat-to-ball skills, controls the strike zone well, and should be good for 15-20 home runs as he gets stronger and fills out. Peraza is fast and a capable base stealer. Additionally, he offers a 60-grade arm and is 60 grade in the field, offering everything but outstanding power. He is slugging .498 with 25 stolen bases in 2021 and is currently at AA. Luis Gil A name who haunts the dreams of Twins fans who are in the weeds with prospects. The Twins signed Gil for just $90,000 before trading him for Jake Cave in 2018. Gil has a 75-grade fastball which sits 95-98 which he uses up in the zone. Gil also offers a slider and a hard changeup which sits around 90 mph. Gil has to refine his control and command but has made his way to AAA, where he has struck out a whopping 86 batter in 59 2021 innings. Luis Medina Medina is another high-octane right-handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. Originally signed as a 16-year old, Medina was already throwing 100mph. Medina can now top out at 102 mph with cut and offers a plus curveball. There’s a massive variance in outcomes for Medina, which runs the gamete from front-line ace to late-inning reliever (if he doesn’t develop the consistency to throw enough strikes). Still, the potential is staggering. Potential Trade: Yankees acquire: OF Max Kepler Twins acquire: SS Oswald Peraza, RHP Luis Medina What do you think the chances are Max Kepler gets traded? What do you think is a fair return? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Jon Morosi reported the Twins and Yankees have had trade discussions about Max Kepler. Who else might be interested? What might the Twins be able to get in return? This week, there has been mounting speculation that Max Kepler could be a popular target at the trade deadline. While Twins fans may have become a little jaded on Kepler after the promise of his incredible 2019 season, there’s an awful lot to like. Kepler slugged his 13th home run of the season in a losing effort against the Angels on Sunday and is slugging .538 in his last 15 games. While he had a slow start to the season, Kepler’s wRC+ is up to 108, ahead of his 2020 numbers. Kepler also boasts strong defensive play, positional versatility, and excellent baserunning skills. Does this look like the Baseball Savant profile of an underrated player? Kepler is also signed to an extremely affordable contract which has him under team control for an additional two seasons beyond 2021, with a club option for 2024. Kepler will be paid a little over $15 million in his age 30 and age 31 seasons. He’s on track to be worth about $20 million in 2021 alone. While this is only one rough metric, Kepler’s performance has been very steady year over year, with the exception of his outstanding 2019 season. Who is Interested? Plenty of teams should be interested in a solid, affordable outfielder, but there are two more obvious fits. The Atlanta Braves could use an outfield upgrade, specifically in left field. While they are a logical candidate, Atlanta already added Joc Pederson to their outfield and may not be buyers with another bad week. The real Kepler steam has come from the possibility of the New York Yankees as a trade partner. The Yankees are known to seek a left-handed bat at the deadline. Despite being nine games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, the Yankees are only 3.5 games back in a competitive wild card race. What Could the Twins Get Back? Cody Christie wrote up a more detailed overview of the Yankees as a prospective Twins trade partner. The Yankees do not have the same depth to their farm system that the Padres or Dodgers do. In spite of this, they have plenty of intriguing names which fit the Twins’ needs. Top prospect Jasson Dominguez is an unrealistic expectation, but there are several names Kepler could fetch in a return. Oswald Peraza The Yankees signed Peraza in the international free agent class of 2016. Peraza is an outstanding prospect, ranked #98 overall by MLB. He has excellent bat-to-ball skills, controls the strike zone well, and should be good for 15-20 home runs as he gets stronger and fills out. Peraza is fast and a capable base stealer. Additionally, he offers a 60-grade arm and is 60 grade in the field, offering everything but outstanding power. He is slugging .498 with 25 stolen bases in 2021 and is currently at AA. Luis Gil A name who haunts the dreams of Twins fans who are in the weeds with prospects. The Twins signed Gil for just $90,000 before trading him for Jake Cave in 2018. Gil has a 75-grade fastball which sits 95-98 which he uses up in the zone. Gil also offers a slider and a hard changeup which sits around 90 mph. Gil has to refine his control and command but has made his way to AAA, where he has struck out a whopping 86 batter in 59 2021 innings. Luis Medina Medina is another high-octane right-handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. Originally signed as a 16-year old, Medina was already throwing 100mph. Medina can now top out at 102 mph with cut and offers a plus curveball. There’s a massive variance in outcomes for Medina, which runs the gamete from front-line ace to late-inning reliever (if he doesn’t develop the consistency to throw enough strikes). Still, the potential is staggering. Potential Trade: Yankees acquire: OF Max Kepler Twins acquire: SS Oswald Peraza, RHP Luis Medina What do you think the chances are Max Kepler gets traded? What do you think is a fair return? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  17. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Rooker (3), Donaldson (16) Top 3 WPA: Thielbar .485, Kepler .265, Rooker .198 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With a bevy of scouts in attendance on Monday, Michael Pineda delivered. He proved he can be a solid stretch contributor for a contending team. Pineda’s recent spate of injuries has obscured the inalienable truth, that, behind Nelson Cruz, he has been the best free-agent signing of Falvey era in Minnesota, and one of the Twins better free-agent starting pitching acquisitions ever. Pineda struck out the first four batters he faced, working his fastball up to 92 mph, throwing strikes with consistency, and mastering his slider and changeup to great effect. Pineda’s outing was reminiscent of Pineda at his best for Minnesota; quick, efficient, and pounding the strike zone. Through the fifth inning, Pineda gave up three hits, just two singles after a leadoff double by Akil Baddoo. Taking the rubber for Detroit was one of their top prospects Matt Manning, who worked consistently with his mid 90s fastball and showed flashes of his tremendous hammer of a curveball. Offense was hard to come by in the first half of the game. The Twins took the lead in the second inning. Mitch Garver barely missed a home run to right field, doubling home Josh Donaldson from first. Garver’s return to something like his 2019 form has been one of the least talked about positive stories for the Twins in a miserable 2021. Garver came home to score the Twins’ second run in the bottom of the fourth, after getting on base by punching a double to left field. Miguel Sano ripped a single down the third-base line to score Garver, whose lack of sleep after the birth of his first child clearly isn’t impacting his approach at the plate. Pineda’s lone egregious mistake came in the sixth inning, leaving a 91 mph fastball over the heart of the plate to Miguel Cabrera, who clubbed it into the flower beds in right field. Still, Pineda showed enough to convince watching scouts and teams he can contribute meaningfully down the stretch to contending teams in need of solid innings. He’ll likely be gone by Friday afternoon. Brent Rooker restored the Twins lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, obliterating a hanging Matt Manning curveball 460 feet into the third deck in left field. Rooker has earned 200 MLB at-bats with his consistency in St. Paul, and the early returns are promising. Manning was pulled after he walked Jorge Polanco, being replaced by Jose Cisnero. Josh Donaldson greeted Cisnero with a two-run blast to left-center field increasing the Twins lead to 5-2 Eric Haase pulled a run back for Detroit in the seventh inning, with a solo shot off Tyler Duffey, but The Doof quickly recovered to retire the side. Hansel Robles relieved Duffey in the eighth inning. He retired the side despite a walk to preserve the Twins lead at 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. After an uneventful bottom of the eighth in which the Twins threatened but failed to score, Taylor Rogers entered to close the game for the Twins in the ninth. Rogers outing began harmlessly, before he lost control of what appeared to be a breaking pitch to Jeimer Candelario which spun and looped puzzlingly away from the Detroit hitter, ending up nowhere near the strike zone. Rogers appeared to be in discomfort after the pitch, clutching and examining a finger on his pitching hand. Twins fans will hope Rogers merely cracked a nail or was suffering from a blister, anything more serious is a major cloud over one of the most appealing relief pitching options for Friday’s trade deadline. The Twins broadcast booth later reported that Rogers left the game with a left middle finger sprain. Next steps for Rogers and a timetable are to be determined. Alexander Colomé relieved Rogers and did what he does, surrendering a single to Candelario before Robbie Grossman clubbed a two-ruin home run to right field to tie the game at 5-5. Gregory Soto walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Willians Astudillo struck out swinging to send the game to extra innings. Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for the Twins. He made short work of the Tigers, retiring the side in order to give the Twins a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Kenta Maeda started on second base in the bottom of the tenth (the fourth pinch running appearance of his career). Soto managed a much cleaner tenth until Max Kepler dumped a single into right center field to score Maeda from second base and make the Twins 6-5 winners. Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Colomé 22 0 11 0 10 16 59 Coulombe 0 32 0 0 18 0 50 Duffey 38 0 0 0 0 11 49 Thielbar 16 0 0 16 0 13 45 Alcala 0 0 0 10 24 0 34 Rogers 0 0 18 0 0 5 23 Minaya 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Robles 0 0 0 0 0 13 13 Postgame Interviews Next Up The Twins send Kenta Maeda to the mound on Tuesday to face Tyler Alexander. First pitch is at 7:10 CT.
  18. In what was perhaps his last start for the Twins, Michael Pineda pitched one of his best games of the season on Monday, leading the Twins to a 6-5 win against the Tigers. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Rooker (3), Donaldson (16) Top 3 WPA: Thielbar .485, Kepler .265, Rooker .198 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With a bevy of scouts in attendance on Monday, Michael Pineda delivered. He proved he can be a solid stretch contributor for a contending team. Pineda’s recent spate of injuries has obscured the inalienable truth, that, behind Nelson Cruz, he has been the best free-agent signing of Falvey era in Minnesota, and one of the Twins better free-agent starting pitching acquisitions ever. Pineda struck out the first four batters he faced, working his fastball up to 92 mph, throwing strikes with consistency, and mastering his slider and changeup to great effect. Pineda’s outing was reminiscent of Pineda at his best for Minnesota; quick, efficient, and pounding the strike zone. Through the fifth inning, Pineda gave up three hits, just two singles after a leadoff double by Akil Baddoo. Taking the rubber for Detroit was one of their top prospects Matt Manning, who worked consistently with his mid 90s fastball and showed flashes of his tremendous hammer of a curveball. Offense was hard to come by in the first half of the game. The Twins took the lead in the second inning. Mitch Garver barely missed a home run to right field, doubling home Josh Donaldson from first. Garver’s return to something like his 2019 form has been one of the least talked about positive stories for the Twins in a miserable 2021. Garver came home to score the Twins’ second run in the bottom of the fourth, after getting on base by punching a double to left field. Miguel Sano ripped a single down the third-base line to score Garver, whose lack of sleep after the birth of his first child clearly isn’t impacting his approach at the plate. Pineda’s lone egregious mistake came in the sixth inning, leaving a 91 mph fastball over the heart of the plate to Miguel Cabrera, who clubbed it into the flower beds in right field. Still, Pineda showed enough to convince watching scouts and teams he can contribute meaningfully down the stretch to contending teams in need of solid innings. He’ll likely be gone by Friday afternoon. Brent Rooker restored the Twins lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, obliterating a hanging Matt Manning curveball 460 feet into the third deck in left field. Rooker has earned 200 MLB at-bats with his consistency in St. Paul, and the early returns are promising. Manning was pulled after he walked Jorge Polanco, being replaced by Jose Cisnero. Josh Donaldson greeted Cisnero with a two-run blast to left-center field increasing the Twins lead to 5-2 Eric Haase pulled a run back for Detroit in the seventh inning, with a solo shot off Tyler Duffey, but The Doof quickly recovered to retire the side. Hansel Robles relieved Duffey in the eighth inning. He retired the side despite a walk to preserve the Twins lead at 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. After an uneventful bottom of the eighth in which the Twins threatened but failed to score, Taylor Rogers entered to close the game for the Twins in the ninth. Rogers outing began harmlessly, before he lost control of what appeared to be a breaking pitch to Jeimer Candelario which spun and looped puzzlingly away from the Detroit hitter, ending up nowhere near the strike zone. Rogers appeared to be in discomfort after the pitch, clutching and examining a finger on his pitching hand. Twins fans will hope Rogers merely cracked a nail or was suffering from a blister, anything more serious is a major cloud over one of the most appealing relief pitching options for Friday’s trade deadline. The Twins broadcast booth later reported that Rogers left the game with a left middle finger sprain. Next steps for Rogers and a timetable are to be determined. Alexander Colomé relieved Rogers and did what he does, surrendering a single to Candelario before Robbie Grossman clubbed a two-ruin home run to right field to tie the game at 5-5. Gregory Soto walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Willians Astudillo struck out swinging to send the game to extra innings. Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for the Twins. He made short work of the Tigers, retiring the side in order to give the Twins a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Kenta Maeda started on second base in the bottom of the tenth (the fourth pinch running appearance of his career). Soto managed a much cleaner tenth until Max Kepler dumped a single into right center field to score Maeda from second base and make the Twins 6-5 winners. Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Colomé 22 0 11 0 10 16 59 Coulombe 0 32 0 0 18 0 50 Duffey 38 0 0 0 0 11 49 Thielbar 16 0 0 16 0 13 45 Alcala 0 0 0 10 24 0 34 Rogers 0 0 18 0 0 5 23 Minaya 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Robles 0 0 0 0 0 13 13 Postgame Interviews Next Up The Twins send Kenta Maeda to the mound on Tuesday to face Tyler Alexander. First pitch is at 7:10 CT. View full article
  19. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. The Twins followed up losing a close game on Saturday by… losing a less close game on Sunday. This one played out in a different way, but the result stayed the same. Read about what happened on Sunday here. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  21. Every year leading into the trade deadline, FanGraphs ranks the top 50 players in baseball according to their trade value. Some of items taken into consideration are performance, age, and years remaining of team control. According to their explanation, “the central question we considered boils down to this: how much value could a team expect to get in a trade for each player on the list?” One Twins player’s ranking may come as a surprise. Max Kepler ranks as baseball’s 45th most valuable trade asset and this comes a year after being ranked 39th overall. He is under team control through 2024 when he will be in his age-31 season. Over the next three seasons, he is projected to be worth 8.8 WAR while earning a max (no pun intended) of $25.3 million. Kepler’s name hasn’t been out there in trade discussions as much as players like Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Andrelton Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Kepler deal is out of the question. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach emerging as valuable corner outfield options makes it easier to part with Kepler. Minnesota is also talking to Byron Buxton about a potential contract extension and that might leave the Twins even more willing to part with Kepler. So, how does Kepler enter the discussion as one of the most valuable trade assets? He is a good, but not great player that has multiple years of control on a team friendly deal. For his career, he has hit .234/.317/.442 (.760) and been worth 11.7 WAR, which FanGraphs values at $93.9 million. He has also shown the ability be a strong defensive corner outfielder while being capable of being an average defensive center fielder. During the 2021 season, Kepler is posting career highs in average exit velocity and hard hit %. For instance, his average exit velocity in 2019, when he hit 36 homers, was in the 61st percentile. Fast-forward to 2021 and he’s in the 76th percentile for average exit velocity. Minnesota has also seen some of Kepler’s flaws since his breakout 2019 campaign. According to some defensive metrics, he’s in the midst of his worst defensive season of his career. His hamstring issues have certainly slowed him down. That being said, he still ranks in the 78th percentile for outs above average and he’s outfield jump is one of baseball’s best (97th percentile). Offensively, it has been hard to live up to 2019. He consistently posts BABIP totals under .250 because he pops the ball up so frequently. This season, he is also striking out at a higher rate than any other season as his chase rate is in the 89th percentile. He’s hitting the ball harder, but the results haven’t been there. Teams know what they are getting with Kepler and organizations find value in having a known cost. How much value that brings as a trade asset is yet to be seen. Do you think Kepler is one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Baseball’s approaching trade deadline leaves all teams searching for the best value. Max Kepler is under team control through 2024, so does that make him one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Every year leading into the trade deadline, FanGraphs ranks the top 50 players in baseball according to their trade value. Some of items taken into consideration are performance, age, and years remaining of team control. According to their explanation, “the central question we considered boils down to this: how much value could a team expect to get in a trade for each player on the list?” One Twins player’s ranking may come as a surprise. Max Kepler ranks as baseball’s 45th most valuable trade asset and this comes a year after being ranked 39th overall. He is under team control through 2024 when he will be in his age-31 season. Over the next three seasons, he is projected to be worth 8.8 WAR while earning a max (no pun intended) of $25.3 million. Kepler’s name hasn’t been out there in trade discussions as much as players like Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, and Andrelton Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Kepler deal is out of the question. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach emerging as valuable corner outfield options makes it easier to part with Kepler. Minnesota is also talking to Byron Buxton about a potential contract extension and that might leave the Twins even more willing to part with Kepler. So, how does Kepler enter the discussion as one of the most valuable trade assets? He is a good, but not great player that has multiple years of control on a team friendly deal. For his career, he has hit .234/.317/.442 (.760) and been worth 11.7 WAR, which FanGraphs values at $93.9 million. He has also shown the ability be a strong defensive corner outfielder while being capable of being an average defensive center fielder. During the 2021 season, Kepler is posting career highs in average exit velocity and hard hit %. For instance, his average exit velocity in 2019, when he hit 36 homers, was in the 61st percentile. Fast-forward to 2021 and he’s in the 76th percentile for average exit velocity. Minnesota has also seen some of Kepler’s flaws since his breakout 2019 campaign. According to some defensive metrics, he’s in the midst of his worst defensive season of his career. His hamstring issues have certainly slowed him down. That being said, he still ranks in the 78th percentile for outs above average and he’s outfield jump is one of baseball’s best (97th percentile). Offensively, it has been hard to live up to 2019. He consistently posts BABIP totals under .250 because he pops the ball up so frequently. This season, he is also striking out at a higher rate than any other season as his chase rate is in the 89th percentile. He’s hitting the ball harder, but the results haven’t been there. Teams know what they are getting with Kepler and organizations find value in having a known cost. How much value that brings as a trade asset is yet to be seen. Do you think Kepler is one of baseball’s most valuable trade assets? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  23. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SDI has been used as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 2.2 SDI (6th); Michael Pineda, 0.6 SDI (19th); Kenta Maeda, 0.1 SDI (23rd) Berrios has always been a strong defensive pitcher and his defensive metrics point to him being near the top of the AL. Last season, Berrios finished 10th in SDI after finishing 16th in 2019. For his career, his highest 162-game season finish was in 2018 when he ranked 13th in the AL. Maeda was a Gold Glove finalist last season, but he hasn’t accumulated enough SDI to be in the discussion so far this year. Catcher (AL Ranking): Mitch Garver 1.3 SDI (10th); Ryan Jeffers 1.2 SDI (11th) Jeffers has been touted as the better defensive catcher, but he is slightly behind Garver in the first half SDI rankings. Garver has been on the shelf since his gruesome injury, and this means Jeffers has accumulated more innings behind the plate. Ben Rortvedt doesn’t have enough big-league time to show up on the SDI rankings, but he might by season’s end if the team is careful with Garver’s catching innings as he returns from injury. First Base (AL Ranking): Alex Kirilloff 1.7 SDI (3rd); Miguel Sano -0.9 SDI (11th) Outside of Simmons (See Below), Kirilloff ranks as the highest defender on the team at his position. Jake Bauers (2.6 SDI) and Ty France (2.3 SDI) have logged more than double the defensive innings compared to Kirilloff’s total. Kirilloff is much better than Sano at first and he has a chance to be a finalist for a Gold Glove in his rookie season. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco 1.1 SDI (8th); Luis Arraez -0.8 SDI (15th) Polanco had flaws as a defensive shortstop and his move to second base was seen as a way to increase his defensive value. Even with his current ranking, he is only 0.5 SDI out of ranking in the AL’s top three. Marcus Semien, another converted shortstop, leads the AL by one of the biggest margins at any position. Third Base (AL Ranking): Josh Donaldson -1.1 SDI (11th) Donaldson has long been considered a strong defender, but he might be in the middle of his worst defensive season. According to SDI, he ranked as high as second back in 2019 when he only finished behind Nolan Arenado in the NL. He’s been playing through hamstring issues that have significantly slowed him down and this might be one of the reasons for the decline in his defensive numbers. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons 4.4 SDI (1st) Simmons might be one of the all-time best defensive players, so it makes sense to see him at the top of the SDI rankings among shortstops. Only seven AL defenders have accumulated a higher SDI than Simmons including Semien, another player the Twins targeted for middle infield depth this winter. Simmons might have the inside track for another Gold Glove, but will he be with the Twins after the trade deadline? Left Field (AL Ranking): Trevor Larnach -2.2 SDI (14th) Larnach isn’t in the big leagues because of his defense, and this shows up in his SDI total. Only four qualified players rank lower than Larnach among AL left fielders. Former Twin Eddie Rosario currently ranks second with a 2.5 SDI and he is only 0.6 SDI behind first place. This might surprise Twins fans because he was never known for his defense when he was in Minnesota. Center Field (AL Ranking) Minnesota doesn’t currently have any players that qualify for the SDI rankings. <Insert sad trombone sound for Byron Buxton> Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler -0.1 SDI (10th) Kepler’s total might be the most surprising on the midseason rankings. Throughout his career, he has been considered a strong defensive player with the Twins even using him in center field. Kepler is a year older, and he might have lost a step, or his hamstring injuries have slowed him down. Which of these rankings surprises you the most? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. Minnesota’s front office focused on defense this winter and the results have certainly been mixed throughout the first half. Here is how the Twins rank so far according to SABR’s Defensive Index. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last decade. With Statcast tracking every batted ball, the amount of information available to fans is at an all-time high. One newer defensive metric was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and it is called the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR's website, the SDI "draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts." Since 2013, SDI has been used as part of the process for selecting Gold Glove winners. Pitcher (AL Ranking): Jose Berrios, 2.2 SDI (6th); Michael Pineda, 0.6 SDI (19th); Kenta Maeda, 0.1 SDI (23rd) Berrios has always been a strong defensive pitcher and his defensive metrics point to him being near the top of the AL. Last season, Berrios finished 10th in SDI after finishing 16th in 2019. For his career, his highest 162-game season finish was in 2018 when he ranked 13th in the AL. Maeda was a Gold Glove finalist last season, but he hasn’t accumulated enough SDI to be in the discussion so far this year. Catcher (AL Ranking): Mitch Garver 1.3 SDI (10th); Ryan Jeffers 1.2 SDI (11th) Jeffers has been touted as the better defensive catcher, but he is slightly behind Garver in the first half SDI rankings. Garver has been on the shelf since his gruesome injury, and this means Jeffers has accumulated more innings behind the plate. Ben Rortvedt doesn’t have enough big-league time to show up on the SDI rankings, but he might by season’s end if the team is careful with Garver’s catching innings as he returns from injury. First Base (AL Ranking): Alex Kirilloff 1.7 SDI (3rd); Miguel Sano -0.9 SDI (11th) Outside of Simmons (See Below), Kirilloff ranks as the highest defender on the team at his position. Jake Bauers (2.6 SDI) and Ty France (2.3 SDI) have logged more than double the defensive innings compared to Kirilloff’s total. Kirilloff is much better than Sano at first and he has a chance to be a finalist for a Gold Glove in his rookie season. Second Base (AL Ranking): Jorge Polanco 1.1 SDI (8th); Luis Arraez -0.8 SDI (15th) Polanco had flaws as a defensive shortstop and his move to second base was seen as a way to increase his defensive value. Even with his current ranking, he is only 0.5 SDI out of ranking in the AL’s top three. Marcus Semien, another converted shortstop, leads the AL by one of the biggest margins at any position. Third Base (AL Ranking): Josh Donaldson -1.1 SDI (11th) Donaldson has long been considered a strong defender, but he might be in the middle of his worst defensive season. According to SDI, he ranked as high as second back in 2019 when he only finished behind Nolan Arenado in the NL. He’s been playing through hamstring issues that have significantly slowed him down and this might be one of the reasons for the decline in his defensive numbers. Shortstop (AL Ranking): Andrelton Simmons 4.4 SDI (1st) Simmons might be one of the all-time best defensive players, so it makes sense to see him at the top of the SDI rankings among shortstops. Only seven AL defenders have accumulated a higher SDI than Simmons including Semien, another player the Twins targeted for middle infield depth this winter. Simmons might have the inside track for another Gold Glove, but will he be with the Twins after the trade deadline? Left Field (AL Ranking): Trevor Larnach -2.2 SDI (14th) Larnach isn’t in the big leagues because of his defense, and this shows up in his SDI total. Only four qualified players rank lower than Larnach among AL left fielders. Former Twin Eddie Rosario currently ranks second with a 2.5 SDI and he is only 0.6 SDI behind first place. This might surprise Twins fans because he was never known for his defense when he was in Minnesota. Center Field (AL Ranking) Minnesota doesn’t currently have any players that qualify for the SDI rankings. <Insert sad trombone sound for Byron Buxton> Right Field (AL Ranking): Max Kepler -0.1 SDI (10th) Kepler’s total might be the most surprising on the midseason rankings. Throughout his career, he has been considered a strong defensive player with the Twins even using him in center field. Kepler is a year older, and he might have lost a step, or his hamstring injuries have slowed him down. Which of these rankings surprises you the most? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  25. What’s Their Situation? Atlanta is the three-time defending division champs and came one game short of the World Series last year. They currently find themselves behind the Mets and neck-and-neck with the Phillies. Their odds to win the division, though, trail only New York, according to Vegas Insider. What Do They Need? Down all three outfield starters from Opening Day, the Braves would need to start there. Acuna is out for the season (at least), Marcell Ozuna’s status in society needs to be resolved before a Major League team even considers playing him again and Christian Pache, recovered from injury, is back in the minor leagues after struggling. The Braves started out their second half by acquiring Joc Pederson from the Cubs. Pederson fills a spot for this season, but has a hefty mutual option for next year that will likely lead to the Braves choosing to let Pederson head to free agency Looking ahead, you can’t confidently place a single player in their 2022 Opening Day outfield. The pitching staff is in pretty good shape. While it’s possible they add some reinforcements, the priority for the Braves - if they choose to add - is the outfield. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Max Kepler, under contract for around $20 million and three more seasons after this one, is the most obvious fit. He’s both versatile and affordable and could be viewed as expendable with the emergence of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach. In 2019, Austin Riley, currently manning third base for the Braves, primarily played left field. The reason: Josh Donaldson. Donaldson had a great year (124 OPS+) and used it to sucker a team into committing at least $90 million to him. The Braves didn’t want to commit the years and cash to Donaldson in free agency, so it would require the Twins to kick in a large amount of money. Hansel Robles could be a cheap bullpen option for any team looking to make a bullpen upgrade. Especially if that team isn’t sure where it’s going to stand in August. Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers could help out any team who plans to compete in 2022, though if the Twins were motivated to move them, that market would probably grow in the off-season. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Kyle Muller, RHP, 23yo - Muller is MLB-ready and has spent time both with the Braves and at AAA. He may not project as more than a mid- to late-rotation contributor if he can’t bring his walk rate down. But at 23, Muller still has upside. Freddy Tarnok, RHP, 22yo - Tarnok is a prospect who comes with both a high-ceiling and a low-floor. The fastball that nearly reaches triple-digits is something to like. His slider and changeup are still works in progress. If both improve, you have a starter with a lot of potential. If neither become a usable pitch, you likely end up with someone who never cracks the big-league roster. Ambioris Tavarez, SS, 17yo - The Twins have added a number of shortstops to their system over the last ten years, yet there is no obvious answer to the question, “Who is the Twins shortstop of the future?” Tavarez has yet to make his professional debut. But if the Twins are building for the future, adding another shortstop would make sense.
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