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  1. The Twins are closing in on 1,000 team home runs at Target Field. Here are the top-five home runs hitters at the park since it opened in 2010 and some of their most memorable dingers. 5. Trevor Plouffe: 55 HR Plouffe hit the first Target Field home run during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also hit a milestone home run during Target Field's third season as he collected the 300th home run hit at the park. 4. Max Kepler: 64 HR Kepler has a chance to move up this list during the 2022 campaign. At the end of April, he clocked two home runs in one game against Detroit. His first career home run was one he likely will never forget as he walked off the Red Sox. 3. Eddie Rosario: 67 HR Rosario had a flair for the dramatic, and he was part of the team's Bomba Squad dramatics in 2019. He helped the Twins set a record for most players with 30 home runs in a season. One of his most significant home runs from that 2019 season was a pinch-hit homer that gave the Twins a late-inning lead. 2. Miguel Sanó: 76 HR Sanó can be a free agent at season's end, but that still gives him a chance to take over the top spot on this list. However, his cold start and recent injury may leave him searching for at-bats when he returns. There's no question that he has been one of the best power hitters for Minnesota in the Target Field era. 1. Brian Dozier: 80 HR Dozier has the most Twins home runs in Target Field history. He was also responsible for one of the Target Field's best moments. In July 2015, he smacked a walk-off home run that capped a seven-run ninth inning to give the Twins the win. Do any of these names surprise you? Which of the top-5 players has the most memorable home run? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 -Home Run Hitters: 6-10 View full article
  2. 5. Trevor Plouffe: 55 HR Plouffe hit the first Target Field home run during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also hit a milestone home run during Target Field's third season as he collected the 300th home run hit at the park. 4. Max Kepler: 64 HR Kepler has a chance to move up this list during the 2022 campaign. At the end of April, he clocked two home runs in one game against Detroit. His first career home run was one he likely will never forget as he walked off the Red Sox. 3. Eddie Rosario: 67 HR Rosario had a flair for the dramatic, and he was part of the team's Bomba Squad dramatics in 2019. He helped the Twins set a record for most players with 30 home runs in a season. One of his most significant home runs from that 2019 season was a pinch-hit homer that gave the Twins a late-inning lead. 2. Miguel Sanó: 76 HR Sanó can be a free agent at season's end, but that still gives him a chance to take over the top spot on this list. However, his cold start and recent injury may leave him searching for at-bats when he returns. There's no question that he has been one of the best power hitters for Minnesota in the Target Field era. 1. Brian Dozier: 80 HR Dozier has the most Twins home runs in Target Field history. He was also responsible for one of the Target Field's best moments. In July 2015, he smacked a walk-off home run that capped a seven-run ninth inning to give the Twins the win. Do any of these names surprise you? Which of the top-5 players has the most memorable home run? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 -Home Run Hitters: 6-10
  3. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should rightfully get credit for the team's current success, but eleven players on the current 40-man roster were acquired under the previous regime. So, which players are tied to Bill Smith and Terry Ryan's front offices? Bill Smith Contributions (2007-2011) Smith faced a challenging time in Twins history as he took over the GM role. Torii Hunter was on his way out the door, and the team needed to trade Johan Santana. The Twins lost a Game 163 (2008) and won the division twice (2009-10) during his tenure. Despite these positive results, Smith couldn’t survive the 2011 campaign as the Twins lost 99 games. It was one of the most disappointing seasons in Twins history, but he helped sign three core pieces to the current roster. Smith’s lasting legacy with the Twins connects to the 2009 international signing class, which was tremendous in retrospect. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler signed as part of this class. These players have combined for 37.3 total WAR and two All-Star appearances in their big-league careers. Sano’s Twins tenure may conclude in 2022, but Kepler and Polanco are under team control for multiple more seasons. Terry Ryan Contributions (2012-2016) Ryan served as GM for two different stints, so it makes sense for his fingerprints to be all over the Twins organization over the last decade. When taking over from Smith, Ryan got the opportunity to pick the second overall pick, and the organization decided on Byron Buxton. Multiple pitchers were in the conversation for Minnesota, but Buxton has accumulated the fourth-most WAR among players from the 2012 first round. He is now the face of the franchise, and he will be in a Twins uniform for over a decade after Ryan was fired. Minnesota signed Luis Arraez as an international free agent during the 2013 signing class. He has been worth 5.9 WAR in his career while hitting .312/.374/.400 (.748) with a 130 OPS+. Nick Gordon was a top-5 draft pick under the Ryan regime. His professional career hasn’t progressed perfectly, but he has shown the club the value he can provide over the last two seasons. These players look like they will be part of the team’s roster for multiple seasons moving forward. Minnesota’s bullpen picture is also covered with players acquired by Ryan. Tyler Duffey was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and he has been one of the team’s best relievers since 2019. Cody Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, has been terrific to start the 2022 season, and he has yet to become arbitration-eligible. The Twins took Griffin Jax in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Ryan’s last with the organization. This season, he is transitioning to the bullpen, and signs point to him fitting well into his new role. Other prospects on the 40-man roster were also acquired under the Ryan regime. Jovani Moran was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever. His change-up is a dominant pitch, and it has helped him post a 13.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Jordan Balazovic was a fifth-round pick in 2016, and he currently ranks as Twins Daily’s fifth overall prospect. Entering the season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each had him in the back-half of their top-100 prospects. He recently made his Triple-A debut, so there is a good chance his big-league debut will be in 2022. Smith and Ryan might not be regarded highly because of how each left the organization. However, their impact will be felt years after their departure. Besides Buxton, which of these players will provide the most long-term value to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. Bill Smith Contributions (2007-2011) Smith faced a challenging time in Twins history as he took over the GM role. Torii Hunter was on his way out the door, and the team needed to trade Johan Santana. The Twins lost a Game 163 (2008) and won the division twice (2009-10) during his tenure. Despite these positive results, Smith couldn’t survive the 2011 campaign as the Twins lost 99 games. It was one of the most disappointing seasons in Twins history, but he helped sign three core pieces to the current roster. Smith’s lasting legacy with the Twins connects to the 2009 international signing class, which was tremendous in retrospect. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler signed as part of this class. These players have combined for 37.3 total WAR and two All-Star appearances in their big-league careers. Sano’s Twins tenure may conclude in 2022, but Kepler and Polanco are under team control for multiple more seasons. Terry Ryan Contributions (2012-2016) Ryan served as GM for two different stints, so it makes sense for his fingerprints to be all over the Twins organization over the last decade. When taking over from Smith, Ryan got the opportunity to pick the second overall pick, and the organization decided on Byron Buxton. Multiple pitchers were in the conversation for Minnesota, but Buxton has accumulated the fourth-most WAR among players from the 2012 first round. He is now the face of the franchise, and he will be in a Twins uniform for over a decade after Ryan was fired. Minnesota signed Luis Arraez as an international free agent during the 2013 signing class. He has been worth 5.9 WAR in his career while hitting .312/.374/.400 (.748) with a 130 OPS+. Nick Gordon was a top-5 draft pick under the Ryan regime. His professional career hasn’t progressed perfectly, but he has shown the club the value he can provide over the last two seasons. These players look like they will be part of the team’s roster for multiple seasons moving forward. Minnesota’s bullpen picture is also covered with players acquired by Ryan. Tyler Duffey was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and he has been one of the team’s best relievers since 2019. Cody Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, has been terrific to start the 2022 season, and he has yet to become arbitration-eligible. The Twins took Griffin Jax in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Ryan’s last with the organization. This season, he is transitioning to the bullpen, and signs point to him fitting well into his new role. Other prospects on the 40-man roster were also acquired under the Ryan regime. Jovani Moran was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever. His change-up is a dominant pitch, and it has helped him post a 13.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Jordan Balazovic was a fifth-round pick in 2016, and he currently ranks as Twins Daily’s fifth overall prospect. Entering the season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each had him in the back-half of their top-100 prospects. He recently made his Triple-A debut, so there is a good chance his big-league debut will be in 2022. Smith and Ryan might not be regarded highly because of how each left the organization. However, their impact will be felt years after their departure. Besides Buxton, which of these players will provide the most long-term value to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Last week Minnesota Twins first basemen Miguel Sano underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Expected to be out a handful of weeks, we’re looking at what’s likely the end of the line for the former top prospect. As he hits free agency this offseason, what is to be made of his Twins career? Miguel Sano is under contract through the 2022 season and has a $14 million team option for 2023. Carrying just a $2.75 million buyout, it’s all but certain the front office will move on from Sano. Once ranked as high as the 4th best prospect across all of baseball by MLB.com, Sano now is a big leaguer with nearly 700 games under his belt. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Sano’s initial contract was one of the most contentious topics in the sport at the time. From questions about his true age to decisions regarding which team he’d agree with, a full feature-length film was made about the process. Coming stateside in 2010, Sano has been a part of the Twins organization for over a decade. His minor league numbers were always gaudy. Tabbed a shortstop only through initial athleticism, but with the understanding future size would move him to a corner, Sano put up a .932 OPS in 491 minor league games. Debuting with the Twins on July 2, 2015, Sano became a fixture at the hot corner. He was asked to play right field in an odd move just a few seasons later and has since settled in holding down first base. Across 691 Major League games, Sano has launched 162 career home runs and posted an .809 OPS. His 117 OPS+ is above league average, and while he’s tallied over 1,000 strikeouts, there’s no denying his bat is one of the most explosive in the game. Sano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2015, being beaten out only by Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He made the All-Star Game in 2017 and also competed in the Home Run Derby. Never a strong defender, Sano has been passable at best in the field. Aside from the abomination that was his right field experiment, he’s been far from a butcher but hardly sniffed any sort of accolades. He’s taken to the new role at first base well and has shown a level of athleticism that originally highlighted the opportunity to succeed at the hot corner. He’s fluctuated on the scale and that has also led to both criticism and improved opportunities for success. It’s foolish to believe Sano has played his last game for Minnesota, there will be opportunities when he returns. What capacity the opportunities come from remain entirely linked to those currently holding things down. Jose Miranda is a top prospect with a good bat. Luis Arraez is a dependable utility player. Alex Kirilloff was supposed to be the next mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup. Any combination of those three could take at-bats away from Sano, but at least two of the three have plenty of earning yet to be done. When the dust settles the expectation should be that Sano tacks on a few more home runs. While his production leaves plenty to be desired right now, having just a .379 OPS, there was good reason to believe a patented outburst was coming. A streaky type of player that can break out in a big way, Sano was still looking for the other shoe to drop early on in 2022. There shouldn’t be a career-altering amount of change coming the rest of the way for Sano, however, and that opens the door to evaluation. What has Sano been for the Minnesota Twins? A former top 10 prospect across all of baseball puts up nearly 200 homers and an .800 OPS by the time he turns 28 and that gets evaluated how? His work ethic, character, and play style will likely always drag him further down for some, but have the positives been enough to find yourself happy with the overall trajectory? This is where you chime in. Was Miguel Sano a bust for the Twins, or did he do enough to justify the hype? View full article
  6. Miguel Sano is under contract through the 2022 season and has a $14 million team option for 2023. Carrying just a $2.75 million buyout, it’s all but certain the front office will move on from Sano. Once ranked as high as the 4th best prospect across all of baseball by MLB.com, Sano now is a big leaguer with nearly 700 games under his belt. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Sano’s initial contract was one of the most contentious topics in the sport at the time. From questions about his true age to decisions regarding which team he’d agree with, a full feature-length film was made about the process. Coming stateside in 2010, Sano has been a part of the Twins organization for over a decade. His minor league numbers were always gaudy. Tabbed a shortstop only through initial athleticism, but with the understanding future size would move him to a corner, Sano put up a .932 OPS in 491 minor league games. Debuting with the Twins on July 2, 2015, Sano became a fixture at the hot corner. He was asked to play right field in an odd move just a few seasons later and has since settled in holding down first base. Across 691 Major League games, Sano has launched 162 career home runs and posted an .809 OPS. His 117 OPS+ is above league average, and while he’s tallied over 1,000 strikeouts, there’s no denying his bat is one of the most explosive in the game. Sano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2015, being beaten out only by Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He made the All-Star Game in 2017 and also competed in the Home Run Derby. Never a strong defender, Sano has been passable at best in the field. Aside from the abomination that was his right field experiment, he’s been far from a butcher but hardly sniffed any sort of accolades. He’s taken to the new role at first base well and has shown a level of athleticism that originally highlighted the opportunity to succeed at the hot corner. He’s fluctuated on the scale and that has also led to both criticism and improved opportunities for success. It’s foolish to believe Sano has played his last game for Minnesota, there will be opportunities when he returns. What capacity the opportunities come from remain entirely linked to those currently holding things down. Jose Miranda is a top prospect with a good bat. Luis Arraez is a dependable utility player. Alex Kirilloff was supposed to be the next mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup. Any combination of those three could take at-bats away from Sano, but at least two of the three have plenty of earning yet to be done. When the dust settles the expectation should be that Sano tacks on a few more home runs. While his production leaves plenty to be desired right now, having just a .379 OPS, there was good reason to believe a patented outburst was coming. A streaky type of player that can break out in a big way, Sano was still looking for the other shoe to drop early on in 2022. There shouldn’t be a career-altering amount of change coming the rest of the way for Sano, however, and that opens the door to evaluation. What has Sano been for the Minnesota Twins? A former top 10 prospect across all of baseball puts up nearly 200 homers and an .800 OPS by the time he turns 28 and that gets evaluated how? His work ethic, character, and play style will likely always drag him further down for some, but have the positives been enough to find yourself happy with the overall trajectory? This is where you chime in. Was Miguel Sano a bust for the Twins, or did he do enough to justify the hype?
  7. Our bodies betray us. Let’s say you’re a professional baseball player. You’ve been given tremendous physical gifts that allow you to play the game. Your muscles, tendons, nerves, eye sight . . . All of it coming together to create a ballplayer. A team puts a uniform on you, and suddenly you’re a sight to see. Like an ancient Greek, you represent the highest achievement in human athleticism. (Note: I realize not every baseball player represents a Platonic ideal of human anatomy. Babe Ruth was not chiseled from marble. Just work with me, okay?) Then, something breaks down. The machinery of flesh stops performing at an elite level. Often times, catastrophic results occur after fairly routine behaviors. Or, worse yet, for no reason at all. The ballplayer comes down to earth with the mortals. Byron Buxton has been held back by the limitations of his body for years. For a variety of random reasons, his body has betrayed him. He’s already scared us once this year, but so far our hopes for a strong, healthy hero seem to be holding up. This is good, because the sky is falling over Twins Territory. Ober’s on the IL and Gray might be coming off of it. Garlick and Sano dropped in to spend some time there. Correa’s got a bad finger, but we may be okay there. On top of that, the COVID virus has descended onto the team, taking away our coach and two players. For now, at least. We’re uncomfortable being reminded of the flesh and its random, cruel power. Just look at the ways we discuss Buxton and Sano. Before his contract, people said Buxton was “owwie-prone” or caught the “injury bug.” They were trying to make bad luck quantifiable. We love our ballplayers so much that we’d rather believe in the supernatural elements of personified luck than let that cold, sinking feeling of despair at the randomness of chance into our hearts. For Sano, the conversation always comes down to his size. It’s hard to read anything about him without the word “big” finding its way in. I think I’ve even seen “hulking” a few times. This is more than just an act of description; this is evidence of mythologizing. How can someone so huge fail to crush the ball? This feeds the despair fans feel when he’s not hitting. Maybe it’s part of the reason he gets more grief than other Twins players. In short, everything in baseball rides on a very fallible collection of bones and flesh performing tasks routinely, over and over, without falling into a state of disrepair. Try as we might, we can’t will them into being superhuman. At the same time, I doubt we can will ourselves to stop romanticizing them, either. We’re stuck in between the reality of frailty and the promise of superhumanity.
  8. Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff’s injuries have forced the Twins to be creative when it comes to first base. Should fans be concerned with Minnesota’s first base depth? Depth is critical when building a big-league roster, especially if a team is in contention. Minnesota planned on two players getting the bulk of the time at first base, but that plan has already needed to shift. Let’s examine what the Twins can do at first base if injuries continue to impact the roster. Injuries: Miguel Sanó, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s plan entering the season was to rotate through Sanó and Kirilloff at first base. Sanó was one of the AL’s worst defenders at first base last season, but his height helps him pull in errant throws. Sanó isn’t in the line-up for his defensive ability, as he has posted an OPS+ of 105 or higher in six of his seven big-league seasons. His recent knee injury pushed him to the IL, and this might be a good time for him to reset as he has a .379 OPS in 2022. If surgery is required, he may miss a significant chunk of the season. Kirilloff is currently rehabbing a wrist injury in St. Paul, but there is no timeline on when he will return to the team. It was clear that he wasn’t 100% healthy at the season’s start, as he went 1-for-17 before being put on the IL. Even with his rehab starts, Kirilloff has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season. Last season, he ranked very well on the defensive side of the ball at first base, but he needs to prove he is healthy before taking over a starting role. Plan B: Luis Arraez Minnesota shifted to Plan B, with Sano and Kirilloff out of the picture. Luis Arraez has taken over the everyday starting first base role even though he doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman mold. Entering the 2022 season, Arraez had minimal professional experience at first base, but injuries have allowed him to shift from a utility role to a starter. He is below average at other defensive positions, so moving to first may help hide some of his defensive flaws. Plus, the Twins want his bat in the line-up as much as possible because he has posted his highest OPS+ since his rookie season. Arraez has dealt with knee issues in the past, so where would the team turn if he gets hurt? Other Options: Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Jose Miranda Twins manager Rocco Baldelli mentioned that other first base options include Urshela and Sanchez. Both players have combined for 10.0 defensive innings at first base during their big-league careers. It seems unlikely for Sanchez to make regular appearances at first since rosters dropped to 26-men, and the team is only carrying two catchers. Miranda might be the most likely player to see time at first as he has played 270 innings at first base throughout his minor league career. He’s one of the team’s best prospects, and this might be a way for him to play every day at the big-league level. Another name to watch at St. Paul is Curtis Terry, who the team signed to a minor league deal this winter. Terry made his big-league debut last season with the Rangers and went 4-for-45 with two doubles and 15 strikeouts. So far this season, he is hitting .261/.378/.464 (.842) with five doubles and three home runs. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would likely take a long-term injury for him to get an opportunity. Do you feel the Twins need to worry about their first base depth? Can Arraez handle the position? Should Miranda take over at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  9. About a week ago, I started a thread entitled "A Few Random Thoughts". Since then, the Twins have continued to win games and (mostly) look promising doing it. I have assembled another helping of tidbits for discussion. I hope they generate discussion and debate. 1) Injuries have happened, most notably upcoming surgery for Miguel Sano. Those injured are Sano (1st base), Garlick (corner OF), and Kirilloff (corner OF/1st base). As usual, when injuries occur, they seem to cluster. First base options now are Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda. 2) Two starting pitchers remain on on the Injured List. Both look like they will be back shortly. If/when all return, Winder probably goes back to a long relief role. I would predict that someone will be injured or ineffective and that Winder doesn't spend much time in the long relief role in May, unless he is the one who is ineffective. 3) Dylan Bundy impressed me with his six innings of work in the game the Twins lost to Tampa Bay. He gave up four runs before he got an out, but still managed to limit the bullpen to two innings. That he gave up six runs shows how little margin for error he has without overpowering stuff. That he pitched six innings showed that he can make adjustments on the fly and be effective. 4) By trading both Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt, the Twins bet big on Ryan Jeffers, who hit below the Mendoza Line in 2021. Right now, it looks like an excellent bet. The batting average is subpar, but the OPS+ is over 100 and he is a good receiver. Gary Sanchez is not a perfect complement to Jeffers, but he has been okay behind the plate and not an automatic out. 5) The promotion of Jose Miranda highlights the importance of positional flexibility. I would expect that Miranda will get a lot of starts at first base, due to the injuries of Sano and Kirilloff, and that he is comfortable playing first probably led to his promotion over someone else. 6) I fear this might be a lost season for Alex Kirilloff. From the reports I've read, he is not pain-free and early results from St. Paul do not show a hitter who is able to mash at that level, much less the next level. My expectation for this season for Kirilloff was that he would establish himself as a major league regular on the way to a fine career. Now I am wondering if that ever will happen. 7) Last night, Caleb Thielbar and Tyler Duffey had good outings. Up to that point, both had had disappointing starts to their season. Both veterans seemed to have more zip on their fastball and Thielbar featured much better command of all his pitches. The bullpen pitcher who concerns me most is Emilio Pagan. Far too many walks and deep counts, combined with a propensity to give up home run balls worries me. He is being used in high-leverage situations and really hasn't hurt the team yet, but it's nervous time when he's on the mound. My list is a bit shorter than last week, probably because the team has played so well. Please discuss and comment. Thanks!
  10. Depth is critical when building a big-league roster, especially if a team is in contention. Minnesota planned on two players getting the bulk of the time at first base, but that plan has already needed to shift. Let’s examine what the Twins can do at first base if injuries continue to impact the roster. Injuries: Miguel Sanó, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s plan entering the season was to rotate through Sanó and Kirilloff at first base. Sanó was one of the AL’s worst defenders at first base last season, but his height helps him pull in errant throws. Sanó isn’t in the line-up for his defensive ability, as he has posted an OPS+ of 105 or higher in six of his seven big-league seasons. His recent knee injury pushed him to the IL, and this might be a good time for him to reset as he has a .379 OPS in 2022. If surgery is required, he may miss a significant chunk of the season. Kirilloff is currently rehabbing a wrist injury in St. Paul, but there is no timeline on when he will return to the team. It was clear that he wasn’t 100% healthy at the season’s start, as he went 1-for-17 before being put on the IL. Even with his rehab starts, Kirilloff has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season. Last season, he ranked very well on the defensive side of the ball at first base, but he needs to prove he is healthy before taking over a starting role. Plan B: Luis Arraez Minnesota shifted to Plan B, with Sano and Kirilloff out of the picture. Luis Arraez has taken over the everyday starting first base role even though he doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman mold. Entering the 2022 season, Arraez had minimal professional experience at first base, but injuries have allowed him to shift from a utility role to a starter. He is below average at other defensive positions, so moving to first may help hide some of his defensive flaws. Plus, the Twins want his bat in the line-up as much as possible because he has posted his highest OPS+ since his rookie season. Arraez has dealt with knee issues in the past, so where would the team turn if he gets hurt? Other Options: Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Jose Miranda Twins manager Rocco Baldelli mentioned that other first base options include Urshela and Sanchez. Both players have combined for 10.0 defensive innings at first base during their big-league careers. It seems unlikely for Sanchez to make regular appearances at first since rosters dropped to 26-men, and the team is only carrying two catchers. Miranda might be the most likely player to see time at first as he has played 270 innings at first base throughout his minor league career. He’s one of the team’s best prospects, and this might be a way for him to play every day at the big-league level. Another name to watch at St. Paul is Curtis Terry, who the team signed to a minor league deal this winter. Terry made his big-league debut last season with the Rangers and went 4-for-45 with two doubles and 15 strikeouts. So far this season, he is hitting .261/.378/.464 (.842) with five doubles and three home runs. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would likely take a long-term injury for him to get an opportunity. Do you feel the Twins need to worry about their first base depth? Can Arraez handle the position? Should Miranda take over at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. As injuries mount and roster churn happens for the Minnesota Twins, 2021 minor league hitter of the year, Jose Miranda, sees himself eyeing a major league debut. After one of the most offensively dominant seasons in minor league history, what is there to expect at the next level. Miguel Sano is headed to the injured list with a knee issue following his walk-off hit the other night, and Kyle Garlick may land there with a calf strain. Having Sano out has meant that Luis Arraez needed to learn first base on the fly, and no backup exists on Minnesota’s roster. This year, Alex Kirilloff was expected to rotate with the hulking slugger, but he’s currently dealing with a wrist ailment. Enter Jose Miranda. Having primarily played third base throughout his professional career, it’s evident that Minnesota sees Miranda’s versatility as a bonus and can get him into the lineup in multiple different ways. He has played second base, some corner outfield, and a significant amount at first base. You’d be hard-pressed to suggest he’s a Gold Glove candidate anywhere, but he’s a starting option at any of the positions he plays on the dirt. Needing to spell Arraez, considering his lack of significant defensive value, it may be prudent to find Miranda a spot as Rocco Baldelli juggles his players dealing with differing maladies. What can you expect when he’s ultimately called up to the big leagues from a guy who laid waste to the competition a season ago? Miranda was a second-round pick for Minnesota back in 2016. He posted an .824 OPS with Elizabethton as a 17-year-old but then never again topped a .736 OPS until 2021. As a 23-year-old last season, he needed less than 50 games at Double-A to prove he was too advanced for the level. Making it to Triple-A St. Paul last season, he became the main act for a Saints team in their debut year as a Twins affiliate. Across 80 games, he slashed .343/.397/.563 and ripped a whopping 30 total homers. Striking out just 74 times while drawing 42 walks, he’s hardly a slugger that sells out for power. Fast forward to 2022, and Miranda was given plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills this spring. Josh Donaldson was originally going to block him at the hot corner, and then the trade for Gio Urshela accomplished the same thing. Sano is entrenched in the big leagues, so first base was taken, and Jorge Polanco isn’t going anywhere at second. It would take injury to provide an opportunity, and that door has now opened. Through 21 games with St. Paul this season, Miranda has overcome a slow start. A .737 OPS is hardly indicative of the talent that emerged last season, but what he’s done lately will draw attention. Miranda has hits in 10 of his last 11 games, and his last 57 plate appearances have resulted in a .300/.351/.520 slash line. Last week, he blasted his second homer of the season, and it was crushed to deep left-center at CHS Field. While the weather has yet to do so, Miranda is heating up. Starting last season in Kansas, the change to an odd Minnesota spring hasn’t been helpful at all. It doesn’t appear the process has altered, though, as a 14/5 K/BB is still indicative of a guy picking his spots. Should the recent surge provide any substantial evidence, it’s time to call mastery at the highest minor league level a thing. When graduating to Minnesota, there should be plenty of promise. He can play all over the diamond but is a more natural fit at first base than Arraez. He’s a better hitter than Sano but lacks the same level of power. He will put baseballs in the seats, but will do so without the prototypical slugger plan of attack. He’s an adequate defender, and that gives him a leg up on his internal competition for both spots on the right side of the infield. I don’t know that Miranda is an immediate .800 OPS player at the next level given his slow burn on the farm, but if 2021 and beyond are any indication, he should be here to stay when called upon. This is a regular that could have a quicker path to contribution than that of Urshela, but a player in that vein would be a great addition for a team needing depth. We are on the precipice of a long-term run from another prospect out of Puerto Rico, and following in the footsteps of Jose Berrios or Eddie Rosario would be a welcomed reality. View full article
  12. Miguel Sano is headed to the injured list with a knee issue following his walk-off hit the other night, and Kyle Garlick may land there with a calf strain. Having Sano out has meant that Luis Arraez needed to learn first base on the fly, and no backup exists on Minnesota’s roster. This year, Alex Kirilloff was expected to rotate with the hulking slugger, but he’s currently dealing with a wrist ailment. Enter Jose Miranda. Having primarily played third base throughout his professional career, it’s evident that Minnesota sees Miranda’s versatility as a bonus and can get him into the lineup in multiple different ways. He has played second base, some corner outfield, and a significant amount at first base. You’d be hard-pressed to suggest he’s a Gold Glove candidate anywhere, but he’s a starting option at any of the positions he plays on the dirt. Needing to spell Arraez, considering his lack of significant defensive value, it may be prudent to find Miranda a spot as Rocco Baldelli juggles his players dealing with differing maladies. What can you expect when he’s ultimately called up to the big leagues from a guy who laid waste to the competition a season ago? Miranda was a second-round pick for Minnesota back in 2016. He posted an .824 OPS with Elizabethton as a 17-year-old but then never again topped a .736 OPS until 2021. As a 23-year-old last season, he needed less than 50 games at Double-A to prove he was too advanced for the level. Making it to Triple-A St. Paul last season, he became the main act for a Saints team in their debut year as a Twins affiliate. Across 80 games, he slashed .343/.397/.563 and ripped a whopping 30 total homers. Striking out just 74 times while drawing 42 walks, he’s hardly a slugger that sells out for power. Fast forward to 2022, and Miranda was given plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills this spring. Josh Donaldson was originally going to block him at the hot corner, and then the trade for Gio Urshela accomplished the same thing. Sano is entrenched in the big leagues, so first base was taken, and Jorge Polanco isn’t going anywhere at second. It would take injury to provide an opportunity, and that door has now opened. Through 21 games with St. Paul this season, Miranda has overcome a slow start. A .737 OPS is hardly indicative of the talent that emerged last season, but what he’s done lately will draw attention. Miranda has hits in 10 of his last 11 games, and his last 57 plate appearances have resulted in a .300/.351/.520 slash line. Last week, he blasted his second homer of the season, and it was crushed to deep left-center at CHS Field. While the weather has yet to do so, Miranda is heating up. Starting last season in Kansas, the change to an odd Minnesota spring hasn’t been helpful at all. It doesn’t appear the process has altered, though, as a 14/5 K/BB is still indicative of a guy picking his spots. Should the recent surge provide any substantial evidence, it’s time to call mastery at the highest minor league level a thing. When graduating to Minnesota, there should be plenty of promise. He can play all over the diamond but is a more natural fit at first base than Arraez. He’s a better hitter than Sano but lacks the same level of power. He will put baseballs in the seats, but will do so without the prototypical slugger plan of attack. He’s an adequate defender, and that gives him a leg up on his internal competition for both spots on the right side of the infield. I don’t know that Miranda is an immediate .800 OPS player at the next level given his slow burn on the farm, but if 2021 and beyond are any indication, he should be here to stay when called upon. This is a regular that could have a quicker path to contribution than that of Urshela, but a player in that vein would be a great addition for a team needing depth. We are on the precipice of a long-term run from another prospect out of Puerto Rico, and following in the footsteps of Jose Berrios or Eddie Rosario would be a welcomed reality.
  13. While he is notoriously a slow starter, Miguel Sanó is off to his slowest start yet in 2022. While it’s tempting to write him off completely, might there be reason to cut Sanó some slack? Miguel Sanó has had an April to forget in 2022 for the Minnesota Twins. Through 15 games, Sanó has just five hits and an abysmal OPS of .380. Sanó has just one extra-base hit and has statistically been the least valuable player in baseball in this early season with an fWAR of -.07. Miguel Sanó having yet another poor start has left Minnesota Twins fans extremely frustrated with the first baseman and questioning whether it is time to cut bait. Sanó is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, and with Alex Kirilloff nearing his way back from injury and Jose Miranda on the doorstep of the Majors, it might make sense to move on from him in favor of youth. I certainly have voiced my own frustrations with Miguel Sanó. Miguel Sanó’s advanced numbers, though, paint a different picture and portend that Sanó’s early struggles are largely fluky and that better days are ahead. Let’s dig deeper into the numbers. First, let’s look at his contact numbers. Through the first handful of weeks, Miguel Sanó ranks 11th in all of baseball with an average exit velocity of 93.2 MPH, right on par with his career average exit velocity of 93.1 MPH. Further, Sanó’s hard-hit percentage is at 50%, tied for 24th in baseball. Finally, his barrel numbers are at his typically high rate, with a barrel percentage of 15.6%, just a tick below his career average. So, if his contact numbers are at their typically high level, then it must be his poor plate discipline that explains his terrible numbers, right? Wrong. Sanó is actually showing better discipline at the plate in 2022 than he ever has in his career. Thus far in 2022, Sanó owns a career-low K% of 29.3 with a BB% of 13.8, the second-highest mark of his career. Additionally, Sanó has a career-low chase rate and whiff rate of just 16.9% and 33.3%, respectively. Just look at Sanó’s statcast percentile numbers. Does this look like someone who should be hitting .083 and worthy of being cut? If Sanó’s contact rates are at his typically-elite levels, and his plate discipline numbers are at career-best levels, why is Miguel Sanó having such a terrible start to the season? Simply put, it’s been bad luck for the Dominican. A simple, yet admittedly not perfect, way to gauge luck in baseball is by looking at batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Over a large enough sample size, the BABIP for most MLB players will settle at around .300. Heading into the 2022 season, Miguel Sanó had a career BABIP of .329. This season, though, Miguel Sanó is sitting at a BABIP of .097, the second-lowest mark in baseball behind Kansas City’s Carlos Santana. Another way to look at bad luck is to compare a player’s actual numbers to his expected numbers and look at the difference. The best numbers to look for this is weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). wOBA is a catch-all offensive statistic that best encapsulates offensive performance. xwOBA then looks at a player's process statistics such as exit velocity to determine what a player’s numbers should be, as we all know that luck is a big part of the game of baseball. Miguel Sanó currently has a wOBA of .192, compared to a xwOBA of .334. The -0.142 difference between those two numbers is the sixth-largest discrepancy in all of baseball, showing that Sanó has been one of the most snake-bitten players in 2022. On Tuesday night, Miguel Sanó teased what could be the start of some converted luck as he smoked a 108 MPH single over right fielder, Robbie Grossman's, head which (in the wildest way possible) wound up being a walk-off hit for the Twins. It has been extremely frustrating to watch Miguel Sanó bat in 2022, but all of the advanced numbers show that better days are ahead for the right-hander. It can be tempting to want to give up on Sanó and want to move onto other options, but the upside that Sanó brings is sky-high. Let’s cut Sanó some slack as a big summer is coming for the powerful first baseman. View full article
  14. For those among us that have seen the earth orbit the sun more than 50 times, the St. Paul paper had a writer named Don Riley who weekly had an item "scattergunning from the catbird's seat". In a similar fashion,I have several thoughts and have thrown them together for comment: 1) Has anyone seen two wackier late inning victories than the Twins 2-1 win on Friday and the 5-4 walk-off on Tuesday? 2) Raise your hand if you thought at the start of the season that the best lineup against a right hander would include Nick Gordon in left field and Luis Arraez at first base. 3) Is it time to move Carlos Correa down in the lineup temporarily? He seems to be fighting himself at the plate. 4) With three of the next four opponent starters left handed and a roster reduction coming, I think Garlick will be getting his chance, but if he doesn't hit soon he could be the roster casualty. 5) Dylan Bundy's stuff doesn't make anyone go "wow", but his command has been beyond excellent and he knows how to pitch. 6) Things are going well for the Twins now, but the bullpen doesn't have enough impact arms. They either need to go outside the box and convert a minor league starter or outside the organization (my preference). 7) Sano, Correa and Polanco are off to miserable starts, but there are dozens of established major leaguers who aren't hitting. I’ll believe that Alex Kirilloff is healed when he starts driving the ball regularly. I'm not convinced he will contribute to this year's team. 9) The schedule in May for the Twins is Charmin soft. They need to take advantage and run of a 20-win month. 10) Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have been terrific so far. This shouldn't have been taken for granted. Maybe the Twins' staff knows something about developing pitchers after all. Please comment on any of these items or any random thoughts you might have about the 2022 Twins.
  15. The Twins extended their win streak to five games on a chilly Tuesday night, beating the Tigers 5-4 in bizarre fashion in the series opener on a final play you have to see to believe. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews View full article
  16. The melancholy Minnesota sports fans reeling from Timberwolves and Wild losses earlier in the evening who decided to flip their TVs over to catch the ending of the Twins game were treated to one of the most exciting albeit baffling endings of a game seen in a long time. Hey, a win is a win, right? Here are 3 of my Takeaways from yesterday's wild ending. 1. Twins are in control of the division and this is the time to pull away With two walk-off wins in a row, the bats heating up for players like Max Kepler and (hopefully) Miguel Sanó, Byron Buxton back in the lineup and performing as clutch as ever, and a Twins starting rotation that has an AL-best ERA of 2.60, the Twins appear to be firmly in control of the division and stand to continue to gain ground, especially considering what a mess top rival Chicago White Sox are in. The White Sox are on an 8-game losing streak, including the last 7 losses against 3 division opponents, are plagued by a host of injuries to impact players like Liam Hendriks, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez, and have continued to commit a circus of errors in the field. The Sox lead all the MLB in errors with 20. The Twins, by comparison, have 8. If the Twins can sweep the Detroit Tigers, march into the AL East and play competitively vs the middle-of-the-division Tampa Bay Rays and the bottom-of-the-division Baltimore Orioles, they should hopefully continue to gain some ground. The Twins will go head-to-head with the current second place Cleveland Guardians on May 13-15 when the Twins host them for a 3-game series. I have no doubt that the White Sox will end up being fine in the end and will start wracking up some wins once they get some key players back and can calm things down in the field, but until then, it is important that the Twins put as much ground between the teams as possible. The takeaway here is that the Twins are on a 5-game winning streak, the momentum is with them, and the team is having fun again. That's worth a lot. 2. Miguel Sanó is starting to arrive Despite Sanó having what some seasoned Twins fans will regard as his perennial start-of-season slump, it appears that he might be starting to break out of it. This season, it has been apparent that the Twins have decided to stick with him and “play him into the ground,” so to speak, in hopes that he will work through his slow start at the plate. So far this season, Sanó has played in 16/17 games and has not been pinch hit for, even in situations like Sunday April 24's series finale vs the White Sox in which some fans were screaming for Carlos Correa to pinch-hit for him in a bottom of the 10th inning, down by 1, do-or-die situation. For those who have been in the "just stick with him" camp rather than the "send him down to St. Paul to figure things out" boat, it is gratifying to see him being to experience some degree of success at the plate, even though it has mostly continued to be in the form of singles here and there. His at-bats are becoming better quality, his strikeouts are becoming more infrequent (though, as a hitter he is always a high strikeout hitter, even in good times), and his statistics and specifically plate discipline (chase rate and walk percentage) mirror the profile of a consistent hitter who so far has just had some bad luck. Twins Daily's own Nick Nelson had a great tweet illustrating this fact. As we know, Sanó did not get his first hit until the 7th game of the season at Boston, and his batting average is up to a modest .096, but he has quite the hole to climb out of, and it will take some time before his batting average reflects improvement. Baby steps. But just by watching him (everyone's favorite highly scientific "eye test") he is clearly not as lost at the plate or as frustrated as he was to start the season. When he gets ahold of the ball, he is mashing it. Take a look at that exit velocity- the 9th highest exit velocity in the whole MLB. Of note, Sanó has been nothing but an asset at first base as well. Yes, Tuesday's 9th inning hit could have almost been an error, and his baserunning on the play could have been disastrous. No, the Sanó of a few weeks ago wouldn't have had that hit. The takeaway: Sanó was the hero of yesterday's game and big plays like this will hopefully inspire the confidence he needs to continue to return to form. Stick with him a little longer and he's going to be one of the best power hitters in MLB. 3. We probably need to work on our baserunning a bit It is no question that yesterday's 9th inning walk-off was quite fortunate and arguably even lucky for the Twins. When Sanó singled on a line drive to right field, Trevor Larnach held at third, Gio Urshela kept running when Sanó continued to second, and we all collectively screamed at our TVs. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left field (airmailed it, we would have called that in softball) allowing two runners to score and the Twins received a happy reprieve. That play could have easily turned into a double play, and if Kepler had not struck out before Sanó/Haase did not overthrow it, that play feasibly could have feasibly been a triple play. Rewatching that play with the camera focused on Sanó, it appears his eyes are solely fixed on the ball and he isn't paying attention to what the other baserunners are doing. Somewhat relatedly, the Twins also have had three runners thrown out at home so far, including a memorable and unfortunate play vs the Mariners when Sanó was sent home and was ultimately thrown out by approximately a mile despite the base paths being only 90 feet. The Twins have been caught stealing three times this year, which appears to be about league average. Yesterday worked out in the team's favor, other times might not. As the Metrodome light-up board once said, "Walks Will Haunt," and bad baserunning undoubtably will too. Do you have any other takeaways from this memorable game? Leave a COMMENT below. View full article
  17. 1. Twins are in control of the division and this is the time to pull away With two walk-off wins in a row, the bats heating up for players like Max Kepler and (hopefully) Miguel Sanó, Byron Buxton back in the lineup and performing as clutch as ever, and a Twins starting rotation that has an AL-best ERA of 2.60, the Twins appear to be firmly in control of the division and stand to continue to gain ground, especially considering what a mess top rival Chicago White Sox are in. The White Sox are on an 8-game losing streak, including the last 7 losses against 3 division opponents, are plagued by a host of injuries to impact players like Liam Hendriks, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez, and have continued to commit a circus of errors in the field. The Sox lead all the MLB in errors with 20. The Twins, by comparison, have 8. If the Twins can sweep the Detroit Tigers, march into the AL East and play competitively vs the middle-of-the-division Tampa Bay Rays and the bottom-of-the-division Baltimore Orioles, they should hopefully continue to gain some ground. The Twins will go head-to-head with the current second place Cleveland Guardians on May 13-15 when the Twins host them for a 3-game series. I have no doubt that the White Sox will end up being fine in the end and will start wracking up some wins once they get some key players back and can calm things down in the field, but until then, it is important that the Twins put as much ground between the teams as possible. The takeaway here is that the Twins are on a 5-game winning streak, the momentum is with them, and the team is having fun again. That's worth a lot. 2. Miguel Sanó is starting to arrive Despite Sanó having what some seasoned Twins fans will regard as his perennial start-of-season slump, it appears that he might be starting to break out of it. This season, it has been apparent that the Twins have decided to stick with him and “play him into the ground,” so to speak, in hopes that he will work through his slow start at the plate. So far this season, Sanó has played in 16/17 games and has not been pinch hit for, even in situations like Sunday April 24's series finale vs the White Sox in which some fans were screaming for Carlos Correa to pinch-hit for him in a bottom of the 10th inning, down by 1, do-or-die situation. For those who have been in the "just stick with him" camp rather than the "send him down to St. Paul to figure things out" boat, it is gratifying to see him being to experience some degree of success at the plate, even though it has mostly continued to be in the form of singles here and there. His at-bats are becoming better quality, his strikeouts are becoming more infrequent (though, as a hitter he is always a high strikeout hitter, even in good times), and his statistics and specifically plate discipline (chase rate and walk percentage) mirror the profile of a consistent hitter who so far has just had some bad luck. Twins Daily's own Nick Nelson had a great tweet illustrating this fact. As we know, Sanó did not get his first hit until the 7th game of the season at Boston, and his batting average is up to a modest .096, but he has quite the hole to climb out of, and it will take some time before his batting average reflects improvement. Baby steps. But just by watching him (everyone's favorite highly scientific "eye test") he is clearly not as lost at the plate or as frustrated as he was to start the season. When he gets ahold of the ball, he is mashing it. Take a look at that exit velocity- the 9th highest exit velocity in the whole MLB. Of note, Sanó has been nothing but an asset at first base as well. Yes, Tuesday's 9th inning hit could have almost been an error, and his baserunning on the play could have been disastrous. No, the Sanó of a few weeks ago wouldn't have had that hit. The takeaway: Sanó was the hero of yesterday's game and big plays like this will hopefully inspire the confidence he needs to continue to return to form. Stick with him a little longer and he's going to be one of the best power hitters in MLB. 3. We probably need to work on our baserunning a bit It is no question that yesterday's 9th inning walk-off was quite fortunate and arguably even lucky for the Twins. When Sanó singled on a line drive to right field, Trevor Larnach held at third, Gio Urshela kept running when Sanó continued to second, and we all collectively screamed at our TVs. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left field (airmailed it, we would have called that in softball) allowing two runners to score and the Twins received a happy reprieve. That play could have easily turned into a double play, and if Kepler had not struck out before Sanó/Haase did not overthrow it, that play feasibly could have feasibly been a triple play. Rewatching that play with the camera focused on Sanó, it appears his eyes are solely fixed on the ball and he isn't paying attention to what the other baserunners are doing. Somewhat relatedly, the Twins also have had three runners thrown out at home so far, including a memorable and unfortunate play vs the Mariners when Sanó was sent home and was ultimately thrown out by approximately a mile despite the base paths being only 90 feet. The Twins have been caught stealing three times this year, which appears to be about league average. Yesterday worked out in the team's favor, other times might not. As the Metrodome light-up board once said, "Walks Will Haunt," and bad baserunning undoubtably will too. Do you have any other takeaways from this memorable game? Leave a COMMENT below.
  18. Miguel Sanó has had an April to forget in 2022 for the Minnesota Twins. Through 15 games, Sanó has just five hits and an abysmal OPS of .380. Sanó has just one extra-base hit and has statistically been the least valuable player in baseball in this early season with an fWAR of -.07. Miguel Sanó having yet another poor start has left Minnesota Twins fans extremely frustrated with the first baseman and questioning whether it is time to cut bait. Sanó is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, and with Alex Kirilloff nearing his way back from injury and Jose Miranda on the doorstep of the Majors, it might make sense to move on from him in favor of youth. I certainly have voiced my own frustrations with Miguel Sanó. Miguel Sanó’s advanced numbers, though, paint a different picture and portend that Sanó’s early struggles are largely fluky and that better days are ahead. Let’s dig deeper into the numbers. First, let’s look at his contact numbers. Through the first handful of weeks, Miguel Sanó ranks 11th in all of baseball with an average exit velocity of 93.2 MPH, right on par with his career average exit velocity of 93.1 MPH. Further, Sanó’s hard-hit percentage is at 50%, tied for 24th in baseball. Finally, his barrel numbers are at his typically high rate, with a barrel percentage of 15.6%, just a tick below his career average. So, if his contact numbers are at their typically high level, then it must be his poor plate discipline that explains his terrible numbers, right? Wrong. Sanó is actually showing better discipline at the plate in 2022 than he ever has in his career. Thus far in 2022, Sanó owns a career-low K% of 29.3 with a BB% of 13.8, the second-highest mark of his career. Additionally, Sanó has a career-low chase rate and whiff rate of just 16.9% and 33.3%, respectively. Just look at Sanó’s statcast percentile numbers. Does this look like someone who should be hitting .083 and worthy of being cut? If Sanó’s contact rates are at his typically-elite levels, and his plate discipline numbers are at career-best levels, why is Miguel Sanó having such a terrible start to the season? Simply put, it’s been bad luck for the Dominican. A simple, yet admittedly not perfect, way to gauge luck in baseball is by looking at batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Over a large enough sample size, the BABIP for most MLB players will settle at around .300. Heading into the 2022 season, Miguel Sanó had a career BABIP of .329. This season, though, Miguel Sanó is sitting at a BABIP of .097, the second-lowest mark in baseball behind Kansas City’s Carlos Santana. Another way to look at bad luck is to compare a player’s actual numbers to his expected numbers and look at the difference. The best numbers to look for this is weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). wOBA is a catch-all offensive statistic that best encapsulates offensive performance. xwOBA then looks at a player's process statistics such as exit velocity to determine what a player’s numbers should be, as we all know that luck is a big part of the game of baseball. Miguel Sanó currently has a wOBA of .192, compared to a xwOBA of .334. The -0.142 difference between those two numbers is the sixth-largest discrepancy in all of baseball, showing that Sanó has been one of the most snake-bitten players in 2022. On Tuesday night, Miguel Sanó teased what could be the start of some converted luck as he smoked a 108 MPH single over right fielder, Robbie Grossman's, head which (in the wildest way possible) wound up being a walk-off hit for the Twins. It has been extremely frustrating to watch Miguel Sanó bat in 2022, but all of the advanced numbers show that better days are ahead for the right-hander. It can be tempting to want to give up on Sanó and want to move onto other options, but the upside that Sanó brings is sky-high. Let’s cut Sanó some slack as a big summer is coming for the powerful first baseman.
  19. Baseball is hilarious sometimes. The Minnesota Twins walked off the Tigers ... maybe it's more appropriate to say the Tigers walked themselves off. It was quite the finish. Featured in tonight's video are Chris Paddack, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Dereck Rodriguez, Jharel Cotton, Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Matt Wallner, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, Aaron Sabato and more.
  20. Baseball is hilarious sometimes. The Minnesota Twins walked off the Tigers ... maybe it's more appropriate to say the Tigers walked themselves off. It was quite the finish. Featured in tonight's video are Chris Paddack, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Dereck Rodriguez, Jharel Cotton, Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Matt Wallner, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, Aaron Sabato and more. View full video
  21. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Paddack 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO Homeruns: Kepler (1) Top 3 WPA: Sano .624, Larnach .243, Paddack .192 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up to open their three-game series against the Tigers. Today, Twins' Twitter was already astir, with reports that Carlos Correa would be open to finding a long-term deal in Minnesota, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the field, Chris Paddack looked to continue his upward trend in his third start since joining the Twins. In his first start against the Dodgers, Paddack struggled to find the strike zone and got clobbered by a lineup that frequently saw him in the NL West. Paddack struggled to find the zone in chilly game-time temperatures in the first inning. He made it through a scoreless inning despite issuing an uncharacteristic walk to Javy Baez. From there, Paddack didn’t look back. The Tigers managed just two hits in Paddack’s first five frames, in which he struck out six Tigers hitters. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid start for Detroit. In the second inning, the Twins got on the board after a Max Kepler double scored Kyle Garlick. The Twins added to their lead in the fourth via a two-run home run from Kepler. Kepler’s performance against a left-handed pitcher is of note. Perhaps even more significant is a Twins' hitter not named Byron Buxton or Luis Arraez stepping up and having a strong offensive performance. More of this, please... Paddack finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A bunt hit from Derek Hill was followed by a bloop single from Robbie Grossman. Austin Meadows grounded into a huge double play before Javy Baez got the Tigers on the board with a loud double to right field. Tyler Duffey replaced Paddack and induced a ground out from Miguel Cabrera to end the threat, the Twins taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning. Paddack’s development and performance in his first three starts have to be viewed as an incredibly encouraging sign for the Twins. His velocity was up, he pounded the zone, and he looks like a confident starting pitcher. Long may it continue. Duffey and Caleb Thielbar combined for a relatively comfortable seventh inning, a welcome turn given their early struggles this season. Thielbar returned in the eighth and immediately struggled, giving up a single to Derek Hill before walking Robbie Grossman. Thielbar managed to get Austin Meadows to fly out but left the game with runners at first and second and one out. Emilio Pagan relieved Thielbar and immediately surrendered the lead as Baez hit a three-run home run. Miguel Cabrera lined out before Spencer Torkelson walked. Pagan eventually struck out Schoop, but looked all over the place, throwing just 10 strikes in 23 pitches. Griffin Jax looked brilliant in the top of the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side on just 10 pitches. One nagging question for the Twins, in addition to the inconsistent offense, is the bullpen. Whether the complaint is relevant or grounded in recency bias, it feels like the Twins are struggling in some early season games trying to figure out who can do what in their bullpen. Surely an investment of $5-7 million more could have stabilized the back end of the bullpen before the start of the season? The bottom of the ninth was bizarre. Gregory Soto walked Trevor Larnach and Gio Urshela. Miguel Sano singled on a line drive to right field, Larnach held at third, Urshela kept running when Sano continued to second. Tigers catcher Eric Haase threw the ball over third base into left-field, allowing two runners to score and the Twins walked off in bizarre, and extremely fortunate fashion. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 61 0 0 61 Pagán 34 0 0 0 23 57 Thielbar 0 22 0 0 27 49 Jax 29 0 0 0 10 39 Duffey 13 0 0 0 19 32 Coulombe 0 28 0 0 0 28 Stashak 0 22 0 0 0 22 Duran 0 0 18 0 0 18 Smith 0 0 13 0 0 13 Romero 0 IL IL IL IL 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Tigers. Joe Ryan starts for Minnesota against old friend Michael Pineda. First pitch is at 6:40 CT. Postgame Interviews
  22. Byron Buxton returned with a bang after last week's injury scare, jolting a slumbering offense and leading the charge in a big weekend sweep over the rival White Sox that left the Twins in first place. Let us break it down. Last Week's Game Results: Game 10 | MIN 8, BOS 3: Garlick, Polanco Homer as Twins Split in Boston Game 11 | KC 4, MIN 3: Duffey Implodes as Twins Waste Winnable Game Game 12 | KC 2, MIN 0: Another Solid Pitching Performance Gets Wasted Game 13 | MIN 1, KC 0: Joe Cool Dazzles, Slough of Singles Game 14 | MIN 2, CWS 1: Twins Catch Break, Win Thriller Game 15 | MIN 9, CWS 2: Buxton, Bundy Lead in Comfortable Win Game 16 | MIN 6, CWS 4: Twins End White Sox Sweep with a Bang Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/18 through Sun, 4/24 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 8-8) Run Differential Last Week: +13 (Overall: +2) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Thankfully it was a week filled with more good news than bad news on the injury front. First, the bad news: Jorge Alcalá was moved to the 60-day injured list with his elbow inflammation showing no signs of improvement. He'll be out until at least June, dealing a serious blow to the Twins' bullpen outlook. Replacing him on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, who joined the team as a third catcher. The additional depth was needed with Minnesota's top two backstops experiencing some (hopefully minor) issues. Gary Sánchez was scratched on Saturday due to abdominal tightness and Ryan Jeffers was scratched on Sunday due to a knee contusion. Neither player was placed on IL, although seemingly neither was available on Sunday. With a cortisone injection improving the condition of his ailing right wrist, Alex Kirilloff is set to start a brief rehab stint in St. Paul on Tuesday. He may rejoin the Twins next weekend. Meanwhile, Byron Buxton is already back and making a HUGE impact. We'll get to that shortly. HIGHLIGHTS The refreshingly impressive Twins rotation kept on rolling in Boston, Kansas City, and back home into Minneapolis. Check out the yeoman’s work in each successive game Monday through Saturday: Dylan Bundy @ BOS: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Chris Archer @ KC: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Chris Paddack @ KC: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Joe Ryan @ KC: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Bailey Ober vs. CWS: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Dylan Bundy vs. CWS: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Add in Chris Archer's so-so effort on Sunday (3 IP, 2 ER) and the rotation posted a 2.21 ERA in seven games last week. Starting pitching is carrying this team in April. Joe Ryan's outing was perhaps the most critical of the bunch last week – he was masterful Thursday in a 1-0 victory where the Twins needed every bit of his greatness. With a marked increase in his slider usage (up to 31.2% in his first three starts, from 16.0% in 2021) Ryan continued to relentlessly attack the zone while inducing whiffs and weak contact. Dylan Bundy lowered his ERA for the season to 0.59 (third-lowest in baseball) with a pair of excellent starts. His early success owes to a few factors, but a big one is that he's pounding the strike zone at one of the highest rates in the league. His fastball has been extremely effective, despite ranking in the 9th percentile for velocity (averaging just 89.0 MPH). Hitters are batting .133 against it with zero extra-base hits through three starts. The offense's breakout on Saturday, which saw them score more runs (9) than they had in the previous four games (6) was keyed in part by Luis Arraez, who went 4-for-5 in the contest and is now slashing .354/.426/.458 after a 9-for-21 run. But the true star of the week – and stop me if you've heard this before – was Buxton. He only started three games, taking a few games off to make sure all was well with his sore knee, but the team's best player wasted no time making his presence felt. After a 1-for-4 game as DH against Kansas City on Thursday, Buxton started in center at Target Field on Saturday night and went 4-for-4 with a home run, HBP, and three runs scored. On Sunday, he came through with a clutch game-tying two-run homer in the seventh and then walked it off with an epic three-run blast in the 10th. It was a really special moment. There really aren't words to describe what Buxton is doing right now. He's single-handedly winning ballgames. He has hilariously accumulated 1.4 fWAR in a span of 10 games. His WPA in Sunday's game alone (0.761) was higher than all but seven MLB players had accumulated ALL season. This is amazingly fun to watch. I continue to believe Buxton's contract extension will go down as the most important move this franchise has ever made. LOWLIGHTS Up and down the lineup, hitters continue to generally struggle. Carlos Correa finally notched some hits, going 6-for-22, but they were all singles and he also mixed in three GIDPs. Trevor Larnach, who went 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts, looks like he belongs in Triple-A (and will likely soon head back). Max Kepler failed to register an extra-base hit or RBI; his slugging percentage sits at .300 yet he's still batting fourth or fifth every time he's in the lineup. But make no mistake: Miguel Sanó continues to be the biggest laggard on offense for the Twins. Following a 2-for-22 week, his slash line sits at an embarrassing .083/.224/.146, and the supposed slugger has produced just one home run and three RBIs in 15 games. It's a weird deal with Sanó. The process isn't bad. He's taking good at-bats and making hard contact, with barrel and chase rates that rank among the best in the league. But there's constantly no payoff and it's hard to view it all as just bad luck. On Sunday, in a key spot with the tying run on second in the 10th, he got the green light on a 3-0 count and popped out to the catcher. I mean come on dude. On the bullpen front, Tyler Duffey coughed up another close lead and saw it turn into a loss on his ledger. While his meltdown Tuesday in Kansas City was less damaging than the blown save against Seattle – this time the offense had three chances to tie or take a lead, although of course they failed – it was substantively much uglier. Rather than getting dinked and dunked on a string of hits like in his first blown save, Duffey gave up a pair of long home runs in KC on absolute meatballs left out over the plate. He left that outing with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) of any pitcher or hitter in the big leagues. With his season starting to feel like an Alex Colomé redux, Duffey bounced back on Friday night. Rocco Baldelli gave a strong vote of confidence to his embattled veteran, handing Duffey the ball with a one-run deficit in the eighth against the top of the Chicago order, and Duff delivered: a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Hopefully it's a sign of stabilization to come, because the Twins really need Duffey to be a Dude in that bullpen – especially in light of the unfortunate Alcalá news. TRENDING STORYLINE What is the plan with Gilberto Celestino? That is the big looming question in my mind right now. He's 23 years old, and still very much a developing prospect – he's played a total of 75 games above Single-A in the minors – yet for some reason Celestino is relegated to stagnation on the big-league bench. He's been with the Twins since Opening Day, accruing just 10 at-bats (with one hit) in three weeks. I get that the 40-man roster situation is a bit challenging, but this is getting ridiculous. Not only does Celestino offer very little as a bench player for the Twins, but more importantly, this is terrible for his development. He needs regular at-bats. I understood carrying him as a short-term patch while the Twins pursued Justin Upton, but if that's not happening ... what are we doing here exactly? LOOKING AHEAD Having passed their first test against an AL Central contender in flying colors, the Twins will now welcome another one to Target Field as Detroit visits for a three-game series. We're slated to see old friend Michael Pineda on Wednesday night. Then it's off to a Tampa for three games against the always-tough Rays. It feels like the Twins have faced an inordinate number of left-handed starters early on this year, and that trend continues with (at least) four southpaws on the upcoming docket. The health situations of Sánchez and Jeffers will be worth closely monitoring. TUESDAY, 4/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Paddack WEDNESDAY, 4/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Joe Ryan THURSDAY, 4/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Bailey Ober FRIDAY, 4/29: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. TBD SATURDAY, 4/30: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Shane McClanahan SUNDAY, 5/1: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Paddack v. LHP Josh Fleming View full article
  23. While the Twins offense struggles, there's a 19-year-old Dominican tearing up the Florida State League. Who is Emmanuel Rodriguez? How did he end up with the Twins? What is his ceiling? 'Musica, bailar', Emmanuel Rodriguez answers, through interpreter (and Mighty Mussels hitting coach) Rayden Sierra, when asked by Twins Daily's @Seth Stohs how he likes to spend his time outside of baseball. 'Music, and dancing'. Rodriguez is 19, after all. Easy to forget after his impressive start in 2022. On Thursday, Seth chatted with the Mighty Mussels' prodigious outfielder on "Three Questions With..." Emmanuel Rodriguez made Baseball America’s weekly Hot Sheet after hitting .360/.568/.880 through his first 25 plate appearances of the season. Rodriguez has also managed ten runs, four home runs, 12 walks, and two steals to open 2022. One of Rodriguez’s four home runs traveled 439 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph. Not bad for a 19-year-old. So who is this teenage phenom? How did he end up with the Twins? What is his ceiling? It’s often not talked about how reliant the current Twins lineup is on international signings. Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez were all signed as professionals via international free agency (although not all with the Twins). While the more famous free agent signings like Sano and Sanchez come with plenty of prestige and attention, others, such as Arraez, are virtually unheralded, making a monumental impact when considering their signing bonuses. Emmanuel Rodriguez falls between those two extremes. The Twins signed him for a $2.5 million bonus in 2019. The Dominican was their top target in a class that was led by Yankees Jasson Dominguez. According to most international prospect lists, his overall placement in free-agent rankings that season lay between 10th and 20th. "They were always there. They were always following up with him. The scouting department made him feel wanted and that meant a lot to him', translates Sierra, on how Rodriguez ended up with the Twins. The 5’10, 200-pound left-handed hitter managed a 124 wRC+ and 10 HR in his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. While his .390 wOBA was impressive, Rodriguez's 36.6 K% was a clear area of focus ahead of 2022. The early returns are promising. At the time of writing, Rodriguez has increased his BB% from 15% in 2021 to 29% in 2022, cutting his K% to a more manageable 22%. In addition, Rodriguez has posted a scorching 252 wRC+. "I am working mostly on evening out my strikeout to walk ratio', says Rodriguez (through Sierra), after asking what his primary focus is in 2022, "that, and staying healthy." Entering the season, Rodriguez boasted 60-grade power, a 60-grade arm to go with 50-grade running and fielding. The question was his hit tool. Prior to 2022, Baseball America graded is at 45, citing his weakness in controlling the strike zone and an overly steep swing that resulted in too many strikeouts. Even with these concerns, they ranked him as the Twins' #10 overall prospect ahead of 2022, also giving him the superlative of best outfield arm in the system. What’s so exciting in Rodriguez’s start is his age and the rapidity of his improvement. At 19, he has a ton of projectability as he fills out, grows, and continues to develop. Even now, he has some of the best bat speed in the Twins system, top to bottom. While his 2022 start could simply be a hot two-week stretch, it should be a huge reason for optimism. The sky is the limit for Rodriguez if he can continue to improve and make adjustments at the rate and with the competence he has thus far in his young career. When asked what making the big leagues would mean to him, his answer is clear "It would be a dream come true," Rodriguez explains through Sierra. "I know for a fact it's something that would make my family incredibly proud." There’s a long road ahead, but don't count Emmanuel Rodriguez out, it looks like he has star potential. View full article
  24. Last Week's Game Results: Game 10 | MIN 8, BOS 3: Garlick, Polanco Homer as Twins Split in Boston Game 11 | KC 4, MIN 3: Duffey Implodes as Twins Waste Winnable Game Game 12 | KC 2, MIN 0: Another Solid Pitching Performance Gets Wasted Game 13 | MIN 1, KC 0: Joe Cool Dazzles, Slough of Singles Game 14 | MIN 2, CWS 1: Twins Catch Break, Win Thriller Game 15 | MIN 9, CWS 2: Buxton, Bundy Lead in Comfortable Win Game 16 | MIN 6, CWS 4: Twins End White Sox Sweep with a Bang Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/18 through Sun, 4/24 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 8-8) Run Differential Last Week: +13 (Overall: +2) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Thankfully it was a week filled with more good news than bad news on the injury front. First, the bad news: Jorge Alcalá was moved to the 60-day injured list with his elbow inflammation showing no signs of improvement. He'll be out until at least June, dealing a serious blow to the Twins' bullpen outlook. Replacing him on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, who joined the team as a third catcher. The additional depth was needed with Minnesota's top two backstops experiencing some (hopefully minor) issues. Gary Sánchez was scratched on Saturday due to abdominal tightness and Ryan Jeffers was scratched on Sunday due to a knee contusion. Neither player was placed on IL, although seemingly neither was available on Sunday. With a cortisone injection improving the condition of his ailing right wrist, Alex Kirilloff is set to start a brief rehab stint in St. Paul on Tuesday. He may rejoin the Twins next weekend. Meanwhile, Byron Buxton is already back and making a HUGE impact. We'll get to that shortly. HIGHLIGHTS The refreshingly impressive Twins rotation kept on rolling in Boston, Kansas City, and back home into Minneapolis. Check out the yeoman’s work in each successive game Monday through Saturday: Dylan Bundy @ BOS: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Chris Archer @ KC: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Chris Paddack @ KC: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Joe Ryan @ KC: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Bailey Ober vs. CWS: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Dylan Bundy vs. CWS: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Add in Chris Archer's so-so effort on Sunday (3 IP, 2 ER) and the rotation posted a 2.21 ERA in seven games last week. Starting pitching is carrying this team in April. Joe Ryan's outing was perhaps the most critical of the bunch last week – he was masterful Thursday in a 1-0 victory where the Twins needed every bit of his greatness. With a marked increase in his slider usage (up to 31.2% in his first three starts, from 16.0% in 2021) Ryan continued to relentlessly attack the zone while inducing whiffs and weak contact. Dylan Bundy lowered his ERA for the season to 0.59 (third-lowest in baseball) with a pair of excellent starts. His early success owes to a few factors, but a big one is that he's pounding the strike zone at one of the highest rates in the league. His fastball has been extremely effective, despite ranking in the 9th percentile for velocity (averaging just 89.0 MPH). Hitters are batting .133 against it with zero extra-base hits through three starts. The offense's breakout on Saturday, which saw them score more runs (9) than they had in the previous four games (6) was keyed in part by Luis Arraez, who went 4-for-5 in the contest and is now slashing .354/.426/.458 after a 9-for-21 run. But the true star of the week – and stop me if you've heard this before – was Buxton. He only started three games, taking a few games off to make sure all was well with his sore knee, but the team's best player wasted no time making his presence felt. After a 1-for-4 game as DH against Kansas City on Thursday, Buxton started in center at Target Field on Saturday night and went 4-for-4 with a home run, HBP, and three runs scored. On Sunday, he came through with a clutch game-tying two-run homer in the seventh and then walked it off with an epic three-run blast in the 10th. It was a really special moment. There really aren't words to describe what Buxton is doing right now. He's single-handedly winning ballgames. He has hilariously accumulated 1.4 fWAR in a span of 10 games. His WPA in Sunday's game alone (0.761) was higher than all but seven MLB players had accumulated ALL season. This is amazingly fun to watch. I continue to believe Buxton's contract extension will go down as the most important move this franchise has ever made. LOWLIGHTS Up and down the lineup, hitters continue to generally struggle. Carlos Correa finally notched some hits, going 6-for-22, but they were all singles and he also mixed in three GIDPs. Trevor Larnach, who went 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts, looks like he belongs in Triple-A (and will likely soon head back). Max Kepler failed to register an extra-base hit or RBI; his slugging percentage sits at .300 yet he's still batting fourth or fifth every time he's in the lineup. But make no mistake: Miguel Sanó continues to be the biggest laggard on offense for the Twins. Following a 2-for-22 week, his slash line sits at an embarrassing .083/.224/.146, and the supposed slugger has produced just one home run and three RBIs in 15 games. It's a weird deal with Sanó. The process isn't bad. He's taking good at-bats and making hard contact, with barrel and chase rates that rank among the best in the league. But there's constantly no payoff and it's hard to view it all as just bad luck. On Sunday, in a key spot with the tying run on second in the 10th, he got the green light on a 3-0 count and popped out to the catcher. I mean come on dude. On the bullpen front, Tyler Duffey coughed up another close lead and saw it turn into a loss on his ledger. While his meltdown Tuesday in Kansas City was less damaging than the blown save against Seattle – this time the offense had three chances to tie or take a lead, although of course they failed – it was substantively much uglier. Rather than getting dinked and dunked on a string of hits like in his first blown save, Duffey gave up a pair of long home runs in KC on absolute meatballs left out over the plate. He left that outing with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) of any pitcher or hitter in the big leagues. With his season starting to feel like an Alex Colomé redux, Duffey bounced back on Friday night. Rocco Baldelli gave a strong vote of confidence to his embattled veteran, handing Duffey the ball with a one-run deficit in the eighth against the top of the Chicago order, and Duff delivered: a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Hopefully it's a sign of stabilization to come, because the Twins really need Duffey to be a Dude in that bullpen – especially in light of the unfortunate Alcalá news. TRENDING STORYLINE What is the plan with Gilberto Celestino? That is the big looming question in my mind right now. He's 23 years old, and still very much a developing prospect – he's played a total of 75 games above Single-A in the minors – yet for some reason Celestino is relegated to stagnation on the big-league bench. He's been with the Twins since Opening Day, accruing just 10 at-bats (with one hit) in three weeks. I get that the 40-man roster situation is a bit challenging, but this is getting ridiculous. Not only does Celestino offer very little as a bench player for the Twins, but more importantly, this is terrible for his development. He needs regular at-bats. I understood carrying him as a short-term patch while the Twins pursued Justin Upton, but if that's not happening ... what are we doing here exactly? LOOKING AHEAD Having passed their first test against an AL Central contender in flying colors, the Twins will now welcome another one to Target Field as Detroit visits for a three-game series. We're slated to see old friend Michael Pineda on Wednesday night. Then it's off to a Tampa for three games against the always-tough Rays. It feels like the Twins have faced an inordinate number of left-handed starters early on this year, and that trend continues with (at least) four southpaws on the upcoming docket. The health situations of Sánchez and Jeffers will be worth closely monitoring. TUESDAY, 4/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Paddack WEDNESDAY, 4/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Joe Ryan THURSDAY, 4/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Bailey Ober FRIDAY, 4/29: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. TBD SATURDAY, 4/30: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Shane McClanahan SUNDAY, 5/1: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Paddack v. LHP Josh Fleming
  25. 'Musica, bailar', Emmanuel Rodriguez answers, through interpreter (and Mighty Mussels hitting coach) Rayden Sierra, when asked by Twins Daily's @Seth Stohs how he likes to spend his time outside of baseball. 'Music, and dancing'. Rodriguez is 19, after all. Easy to forget after his impressive start in 2022. On Thursday, Seth chatted with the Mighty Mussels' prodigious outfielder on "Three Questions With..." Emmanuel Rodriguez made Baseball America’s weekly Hot Sheet after hitting .360/.568/.880 through his first 25 plate appearances of the season. Rodriguez has also managed ten runs, four home runs, 12 walks, and two steals to open 2022. One of Rodriguez’s four home runs traveled 439 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph. Not bad for a 19-year-old. So who is this teenage phenom? How did he end up with the Twins? What is his ceiling? It’s often not talked about how reliant the current Twins lineup is on international signings. Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez were all signed as professionals via international free agency (although not all with the Twins). While the more famous free agent signings like Sano and Sanchez come with plenty of prestige and attention, others, such as Arraez, are virtually unheralded, making a monumental impact when considering their signing bonuses. Emmanuel Rodriguez falls between those two extremes. The Twins signed him for a $2.5 million bonus in 2019. The Dominican was their top target in a class that was led by Yankees Jasson Dominguez. According to most international prospect lists, his overall placement in free-agent rankings that season lay between 10th and 20th. "They were always there. They were always following up with him. The scouting department made him feel wanted and that meant a lot to him', translates Sierra, on how Rodriguez ended up with the Twins. The 5’10, 200-pound left-handed hitter managed a 124 wRC+ and 10 HR in his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. While his .390 wOBA was impressive, Rodriguez's 36.6 K% was a clear area of focus ahead of 2022. The early returns are promising. At the time of writing, Rodriguez has increased his BB% from 15% in 2021 to 29% in 2022, cutting his K% to a more manageable 22%. In addition, Rodriguez has posted a scorching 252 wRC+. "I am working mostly on evening out my strikeout to walk ratio', says Rodriguez (through Sierra), after asking what his primary focus is in 2022, "that, and staying healthy." Entering the season, Rodriguez boasted 60-grade power, a 60-grade arm to go with 50-grade running and fielding. The question was his hit tool. Prior to 2022, Baseball America graded is at 45, citing his weakness in controlling the strike zone and an overly steep swing that resulted in too many strikeouts. Even with these concerns, they ranked him as the Twins' #10 overall prospect ahead of 2022, also giving him the superlative of best outfield arm in the system. What’s so exciting in Rodriguez’s start is his age and the rapidity of his improvement. At 19, he has a ton of projectability as he fills out, grows, and continues to develop. Even now, he has some of the best bat speed in the Twins system, top to bottom. While his 2022 start could simply be a hot two-week stretch, it should be a huge reason for optimism. The sky is the limit for Rodriguez if he can continue to improve and make adjustments at the rate and with the competence he has thus far in his young career. When asked what making the big leagues would mean to him, his answer is clear "It would be a dream come true," Rodriguez explains through Sierra. "I know for a fact it's something that would make my family incredibly proud." There’s a long road ahead, but don't count Emmanuel Rodriguez out, it looks like he has star potential.
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