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  1. He made his debut in 2020 and seemed to be off to a great start to his big-league career and then this spring he was given a chance to make the team. Now, he might be the team’s biggest forgotten prospect. The 2020 season was unique in more ways than one. For rookies making their big-league debut, this certainly had to be true as they stepped into a strange environment with no fans and a multitude of COVID protocols. In spite of these barriers, Brent Rooker was able to make his debut and find success at the plate, but have other prospects passed him by in 2021? Last year, Rooker was
  2. The 2020 season was unique in more ways than one. For rookies making their big-league debut, this certainly had to be true as they stepped into a strange environment with no fans and a multitude of COVID protocols. In spite of these barriers, Brent Rooker was able to make his debut and find success at the plate, but have other prospects passed him by in 2021? Last year, Rooker was called up after Max Kepler was sent to the IL. He played in seven games and hit .316/.381/.579 with a home run and two doubles. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and fractured his forearm which ended his seas
  3. Luck is part of baseball, even if it is hard to define. A player can smash a line drive that just hooks foul. Another player might get a pitch right down the middle and miss it. So, have the Twins been unlucky in 2021? Pythagorean Winning Percentage One aspect that shows how the Twins have been unlucky is their Pythagorean winning percentage. For those unfamiliar, Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team’s winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. For example, the Twins scored 269 runs in 2020 and allowed 215 runs, which results in a Pythagorean W-L
  4. Pythagorean Winning Percentage One aspect that shows how the Twins have been unlucky is their Pythagorean winning percentage. For those unfamiliar, Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team’s winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. For example, the Twins scored 269 runs in 2020 and allowed 215 runs, which results in a Pythagorean W-L record of 36-24. That also turned out to be the club’s overall record for the year. There are flaws with Pythagorean W-L record, especially if teams score a lot of runs in their wins and lose a lot of close games. Enter
  5. Coming into the 2021 Major League Baseball season this Minnesota Twins club was expected to battle with the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central Division title. Someone apparently forgot to tell them that. We’re now over 30 games into the season and Rocco Baldelli’s club is nearly double-digit games out of first place in the division. The story this offseason was one of winning a playoff game, but at this point getting there looks like a herculean feat. A week ago, I wrote about where blame should fall for this debacle. Taking that a step further, which players have regressed the most, a
  6. We’re now over 30 games into the season and Rocco Baldelli’s club is nearly double-digit games out of first place in the division. The story this offseason was one of winning a playoff game, but at this point getting there looks like a herculean feat. A week ago, I wrote about where blame should fall for this debacle. Taking that a step further, which players have regressed the most, and should we have seen it coming? Max Kepler Back in 2019 the Twins inked Kepler to a five-year contract extension. They had a corner outfielder that had done just enough but was looking to breakthrough
  7. Over the course of 2021 the Minnesota Twins have found more ways to lose in 32 games than most teams can accomplish over the course of a full season. If going into the year it was assumed this club would be good, a complete 180 this early doesn’t seem fair. The problem? Are these players actually good? Here’s the deal, Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen has been bad. It’s among the worst in baseball across more than a handful of categories. He’s dealing with a group that the front office banked more on development than production, and regression has hit everyone not named Taylor Rogers. Desp
  8. The Minnesota Twins have now played nine games in the 2021 Major League Baseball season thus far and are scheduled for their tenth today. They haven’t had a fully healthy roster for a full game yet, but batting order positions are starting to take shape. Where and when should we consider questioning them? For most of his tenure as the skipper for Minnesota, Rocco Baldelli has opted to bat lefty Max Kepler in the leadoff hole. He’s a non-traditional fit there as speed isn’t his game, and he is more of a power player than high batting average guy. Through nine games this year Kepler hasn’t bat
  9. Byron Buxton Finishes in the Top-3 for AL MVP Buxton only has two years remaining until free agency, so there is an incentive for him to stay on the field and produce at a high level. There have been glimpses of his potential at the big-league level, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together over the course of 162-games. Even if he plays 140-150 games, he should accumulate enough WAR to be in the MVP discussion. Last season, he finished eighth highest WAR among AL position players, and he played fewer than 40 games. His defense is always going to provide value, so he will need to put up
  10. Catcher Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are penciled in to get the majority of the innings behind the plate. However, Willians Astudillo is making the Opening Day roster and he can be used occasionally at catcher. Garver and Astudillo’s bats are strong enough that they may be used at other defensive positions as well. Jeffers is the best defensive catcher as his pitch framing skills are among baseball’s best. First Base Miguel Sano is set to be the primary first baseman, but his long-term role might end up being DH. Reports praise Alex Kirilloff and his athleticism at first, but he is starting
  11. Max Kepler is a fantastic defensive right fielder who, by and large, has hit more like a center fielder. As long as Byron Buxton roams center, Kepler's value to the Twins is largely predicated on his ability to produce at the plate. The 28-year-old unlocked something in 2019 – can he find it again?Projected Starter: Max Kepler Likely Backup: Jake Cave Depth: Brent Rooker, Kyle Garlick Prospects: Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner THE GOOD Max Kepler is a pristine athlete who does basically everything well, from a skills standpoint. He's very fast, routinely ranking around the league's 75th
  12. Projected Starter: Max Kepler Likely Backup: Jake Cave Depth: Brent Rooker, Kyle Garlick Prospects: Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner THE GOOD Max Kepler is a pristine athlete who does basically everything well, from a skills standpoint. He's very fast, routinely ranking around the league's 75th percentile in sprint speed. Combine that with his strong outfield instincts and technique, and you've got one of the game's top-rated defenders in right. https://twitter.com/BarstoolHubbs/status/1295942989341229056 Since 2019, FanGraphs pegs Kepler as the fourth-most valuable defensive right fie
  13. The Incumbent: Max Kepler Last season, Kepler batted leadoff in 34 of the team’s 60 games and he was used there for over 100 games back in 2019. There’s a good chance he is the leader in the clubhouse to be the team’s primary leadoff hitter unless his performance struggles significantly. He hit .281/.324/.625 last year in his at-bats as the first batter in the game. That’s quite the punch for opposing pitchers to have to endure out of the gate. The Contenders: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver Buxton’s raw speed makes him a natural contender to be at the top of the line-
  14. The pivot point in the Twins' lineup comes early, very early. It’s the leadoff hitter. Go one direction, and the lineup looks one way. Go the other, and it looks very different. For the last two years, that leadoff hitter has mostly been Max Kepler, but coming into the season, there were two significant challenges to that status quo: Luis Arraez Is Healthy Arraez is expected to get a lot of at-bats as a multi-positional player. Arraez isn’t exactly a prototypical leadoff hitter because he doesn’t walk a ton, and doesn’t bring a lot of speed to the bases. But he battles and he gets on base: a
  15. FORT MYERS - There aren’t a lot of meaningful spring training battle in Twins' camp on the field, but there may be one in the lineup.The pivot point in the Twins' lineup comes early, very early. It’s the leadoff hitter. Go one direction, and the lineup looks one way. Go the other, and it looks very different. For the last two years, that leadoff hitter has mostly been Max Kepler, but coming into the season, there were two significant challenges to that status quo: Luis Arraez Is Healthy Arraez is expected to get a lot of at-bats as a multi-positional player. Arraez isn’t exactly a prototypic
  16. Max Kepler, Right Field MLB Network Rank: NR Right field includes some of baseball’s most notable names like Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, and Bryce Harper along with young studs like Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. Since the beginning of 2018, Kepler ranks as one of the best right fielders in all of baseball. According to FanGraphs, Kepler has the eighth highest WAR among right fielders over the last three seasons. This puts him ahead of players on MLB’s list including Mike Yastrzemski, Jorge Soler, Joey Gallo, and Charlie Blackmon. Kepler’s defense helps to separate him from the other players
  17. Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Willians Astudillo Garver and Jeffers might be the best catching duo in all of baseball, especially if Garver can rebound after a rough 2020 campaign. Jeffers was tremendous last season and he has the potential to take home AL Rookie of the Year honors if he continue to produce at the same level. Astudillo is coming off a tremendous winter season in the Venezuelan Winter League where he finished as the MVP runner-up. His defensive versatility gives Rocco Baldelli some flexibility on Opening Day. Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez
  18. First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 1st-through-5th most valuable player assets currently under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. Read Part 1 (16-20) Read Part 2 (11-15) Read Part 3 (6-10) 5: Royce Lewis, SS 2020 Ranking: 5 After landing atop our 2019 rankings, Lewis followed with an uneven campaign that caused him to slide to No. 5 last year. Since then, not much has changed. He spent his 2020 season at the alternate site, giv
  19. The Twins are aiming to build a World Series champion. Among all players currently in the organization, which ones are most critical to achieving this goal? We've been counting down our picks all week, and here we wrap it up with a look at the top five.First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 1st-through-5th most valuable player assets currently under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. Read Part 1 (16-20)Read Part 2 (11-15)Read Part 3 (6-10
  20. As we turn the calendar page over on a new year (or actually replace the calendar I guess), it’s fair to say that we’re all a little bit anxious. We may be anxious about any number of things, but, specifically regarding the Twins, we see holes in the roster, unsigned free agents capable of filling those holes, and a whole lot of nothing in terms of new signings. Everybody has their favorite potential signing and their own opinion on whether Nelson Cruz should come back, but, save for the Minnesota contingent of the Hansel Robles fan club, nobody’s ideal plan has even started to take shape. We’
  21. Catcher: Ryan Jeffers Mitch Garver can be a free agent following the 2023 season, so it seems most likely for the Twins to turn over catching duties to Ryan Jeffers. The 2021 campaign will see Garver and Jeffers splitting time behind the plate. Jeffers is six years younger than Garver and he is a defensive upgrade behind the plate. Another name to consider is Ben Rortvedt who was added to the 40-man roster this winter. He has a chance to join Jeffers on the 2024 squad to be the team’s new catching duo. First Base: Alex Kirilloff Miguel Sano transitioned to first base in 2020, but he might be
  22. Current Corner Outfielders: Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota locked up Max Kepler at the right time as the 27-year-old is under team control for four more seasons with a team-friendly deal. Over the last two seasons, he has hit .246/.332/.499 with 45 home runs and 41 doubles in 182 games. Not to mention, he represented MLB in Germany last winter by “promoting baseball and inspiring the next generation of players.” Kirilloff’s 2020 debut was well documented because he became the first player in league history to make his debut by starting a playoff game. He went 1-for-4 in the game as the
  23. Byron Buxton is coming off a strong season where he led the Twins in WAR even though he only appeared in 39 of the team’s 60 games. He combined to hit .254/.267/.577 (.844) with 13 home runs and three doubles. Granted it was a small sample size, but his OPS and his slugging percentage were both career highs. It might seem silly to trade away a player of his caliber, but this is going to be an offseason unlike any other. Buxton’s name has come up in trade talks before. At the 2019 trade deadline, the Twins were looking to upgrade their rotation for a potential playoff run. One of the teams Mi
  24. Since the main TD articles keep talking about Eddie Rosario being traded, cut, cursed or whatever you want to call it I thought it might be instructive to do a comparison of all the six year players on the roster. In a move that we all thought would make the future of the Twins we had Eddie, Byron, Miguel, and Max arrive the same year and it did not take long before they were part of a home run hitting behemoth and twice got to the playoffs where they, like their predecessors failed. (I chose not to include pitchers since there is no way to have equivalent values between pitchers and position
  25. 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." First Base: Miguel Sano SDI Total: -1.5 SDI (12th in the AL) Sano’s first year as
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