Throughout this offseason, I will be reviewing the current situation of the 30 clubs in the MLB, in reverse order of their ranking at the end of my year 2021. ranking of real talents by team. Today we continue with the # 18 Minnesota Twins.
18. Minnesota Twins
Actual record = 73-89, Projected record = 77-85
O Rtg. = 106.7 (9th), P Rtg. = 110.1 (25th), D Rtg. = 100.8 (20th); 21 ASB = 18th, 2020 = 11th
The Minnesota Twins were one of the most disappointing clubs in baseball of 2021. After back-to-back AL Central * titles with winning percentages of 0.600 or better in 2019-20, they have sunk all the way to the bottom. a mediocre division, thanks in large part to a complete pitch collapse.
(* Editorial comment: They’ve been swept in their first rounds both times. They have now been swept away in six straight playoffs since 2006, and are 3-25 in the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1991 . Unreal.)
Now this incarnation of the Twins has been all about the offensive thunder of the jump, but at the start of last season they looked set to be pretty much in the league average when it comes to pitching. After all, Kenta Maeda was one of AL’s top starters in the shortened COVID-19 2020 season, and at 27, Jose Berrios, as usual, was expected to be on the cusp of a campaign. revolutionary.
It didn’t quite work that way. Maeda was better than his traditional numbers, but was limited to 106 mid-range 1/3 league numbers before undergoing Tommy John surgery that will cost him much of 2022. Berrios was … well, Berrios. Clearly better than the league average, but still makes you want more. The Twins took a look at the lay of the land, rightly realized they weren’t contenders, and ceded their final year of control of Berrios to the Blue Jays (who then signed him for seven years and 131 million. dollars) for two top prospects: CF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson. More information on them and an even bigger business acquisition later.
Behind those two (and their 228 cumulative innings pitched), things were a little different. Current free agent Michael Pineda was far worse than his traditional numbers. He’s been a poor contact manager for most of his career, and 2021 was no exception. And now that his once high K-rate has returned to the peloton, that strong contact has become more of an issue. His 22.2 percent line rate and 96.5 mph line average and 90.2 mph overall average exit speed allowed were all significantly below the league average. His adjusted contact score of 113 corresponds to a “Tru” ERA of 109 (100 is the league average, the lower the better).
Leading up to the season, the Twins completed their rotation with provisional free agents JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker. These movements, shall we say, have not worked so well. They posted ERAs of 6.77 and 8.06 in Minnesota, and while I suggest none of them were as bad as these numbers, I would also suggest that it is nearly impossible to be so Wrong. They weren’t good signings.
Then there are the kids who were thrown into the fray by those injuries, trades, and poor performance. Bailey Ober is the good news. Ober walks no one, runs a league average K rate, and handles contact authority quite well. This is the good news. The bad news? An extremely high flyball rate (41.2%) which is accompanied by an average pop up rate (4.6%). Even with his strong management of authority, his adjusted contact score of 124 is poor early on for Robbie Ray and makes him the overall league average (103 “Tru” ERA-) despite his garish K / BB profile. Ober has potential, but has work to do.
Then there’s Griffin Jax. His 2021 ERA was better than Happ and Shoemaker at 6.37, but Jax was much worse. Do you think Ober gave up a lot of flying balls? Jax’s flying ball rate of 48.4% was the highest of any regularly used starting pitchers last season. His 3.9% pop-up rate was only in the league’s mid range. He gave up the very strong contact with the flying ball and the liner, and his adjusted contact score of 135 was the AL’s 2nd worst behind Tarik Skubal of the Tigers, who had at least an exceptional K / BB profile. Jax didn’t. Oh, and his allowed line rate was well BELOW average at 15.8% and is expected to decline higher in the future. Now, raw things are OK, but there’s a lot of reason to be pessimistic about Jax’s future.
So where is the rotation of the Twins as we speak? There is Ober. There’s free agent signer Dylan Bundy, who still has an off-pitch slider and should perform better than Happ / Shoemaker. There’s Eternal Hope Lewis Thorpe, who is now 26 with 59 1/3 MLB innings to his name. There is everyone Randy Dobnak, who has a chance to be at least an efficient utility. Woods-Richardson could be half a season away.
Then there is Joe Ryan. The Twins struck another notable deal with the White Flag last summer, moving slugger Nelson Cruz to the Rays in a four-man deal, with Ryan as the centerpiece of the comeback. As someone with extensive front office experience, I would have liked to be in the room at the end of these negotiations.
The 6’2 “, 205, right-hander is everything the Rays love about pitching prospects. They’ve built their big league club around guys like that. Tons of hitting, deceptive, can dominate with his fastball. . I bet my life the Rays refused to include it, the Twins insisted, and as a contender for the deal, the Rays finally signed in. This guy is going to be good, and soon. Maybe not one. good perennial starter # 1, but Cy Young votes well.
So there’s a chance 2022 will be pretty risky in Minnesota as Maeda heals and the kids get ready for the big show. But there’s at least a chance Bundy will have an impact and the kids will speed up the timeline.
THE 2021 CLUB
These cats can still strike. The Twins notably haven’t left 3B Josh Donaldson, who is under contract until 2023 at $ 23 million a year. He’s 36 now, but still crushes baseball. He was arguably the unluckiest hitter in baseball last season. His average flying ball exit speed of 97.6 mph remains in the superstar’s range. Donaldson hit .365 AVG-1.188 SLG (unadjusted Fly Ball contact score 142), but taking into account the exit speed of those flies, he “should have” hit .483 AVG-1.600 SLG, or a Adjusted contact score with the Fly Ball of 254. He’s still an elite ball forward and, with good health, can still be a playoff club’s top hitter.
Speaking of staying healthy, what about Byron Buxton? On the one hand, he reached 0.306-0.358-0.647 last season. On the other hand, he was limited to 254 plaque appearances by a plethora of injuries. If the Twins didn’t see themselves as contenders, they wouldn’t have locked themselves into a seven-year, $ 100 million contract with a player who didn’t rack up enough home plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. only once in his career. It’s a creative deal that generously rewards Buxton for staying healthy for the duration of the contract. From my perspective it’s a solid bet that mid to low market clubs need to make every now and then on the right player.
1B Miguel Sano is what it is – an absolute purifier that does an absurdly small amount of contact. If the thunder of the struck bullets fades, he is finished. If his K rate drops, he’s a god. Most likely, he remains the same guy. 2B Jorge Polanco could be forced the wrong way on the defensive spectrum to return to SS in 2022. This is an interesting anomaly – a 33 HR hitter who really doesn’t hit the ball with much authority, in all. His power comes from the volume of the flying ball, and when his authority decreases even more, or his ability to selectively shoot baseball for distance in the air is compromised, that power could suddenly vanish.
Looking for a sleeper to win a batting title? You could do a lot worse than UT Luis Arraez, who currently looks like the club’s 2B in 2022. He never strikes or never spawns, and regularly executes high line-up rates. He’s a .300 hitter, but with little power, in a bad year. I am becoming more and more skeptical that RF Max Kepler will one day reach its considerable potential. It’s a ground-hitting machine that’s regularly shifted into the infield, and its overall batting-ball authority profile is unremarkable. This places strict limits on both his average and his potency.
Young outfielder Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were just OK in their first extended MLB auditions, but both clearly have power potential. I am still optimistic on the first, with mixed signals on the second.
We’ve talked a lot about the Twins’ starting pitcher, but little about their pen. There is a reason for this. They may have had the worst short-term relief situation in the game in 2021, with free agent Alex Colome taking on the bulk of the save opportunities, and with an entire pen devoid of sheer power.
BELOW IN THE FARM
The situation is ultimately not very pretty, with the Twins system below average in terms of quality, and especially in terms of the number of prospects.
Ryan and Woods-Richardson are pretty much the extent of their best pitching prospects. The former will be in the major league rotation, and the latter will open at Triple-A at 21.
Jose Miranda is their most interesting prospect for MLB. He brings power potential and defensive versatility to the table, having played all over the infield in addition to the shortstop. Austin Martin was the 5th overall pick in the 2020 Draft and played in both SS and CF after being acquired from the Jays. He’s a type of trainer the Twins really want to keep in the infield given Buxton’s commitment. Another interesting CF prospect is Gilberto Celestino, but he was completely passed in 2021 as an injury substitute.
Obviously it’s pitching, pitching, pitching, but they stayed outside the upper level of the market. They only landed Bundy on a $ 4 million one-year contract with an $ 11 million option for 2023, which looks really good from a risk / reward perspective compared to some of the much bigger contracts. concluded. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were active on the trade front once off-season activity resumes.