Monday, October 31, 2016

World Series Highlights Relief Perfection

Remember when the Baltimore Orioles were eliminated in the American League Wild Card game by the Toronto Blue Jays? Not only was it heartbreak, but manager Buck Showalter never used closer Zach Britton. The best reliever in the major leagues this season went unused in a game that was never guaranteed to be followed by another. It looked dumb then, and has been the highlighted scenario in the World Series.

You'll often hear of managers failing to go to their closer before the 9th inning, or saving them when on the road. Both the Chicago Cubs Joe Maddon and Cleveland Indians Terry Francona have made a mockery of traditional (and dated) bullpen usage over the course of the World Series.

Throughout the course of the five games, Andrew Miller has been Francona's go to. While not technically the Indians closer, he's easily their best relief pitcher. He's thrown 5.1 IP through the first five games and has struck out eight batters walking just two and giving up just one run. Regardless of it being early or late, Francona has given Miller the ball in the highest leverage situations. Over the course of the playoffs, he's entered as early as the 5th inning, and as late as the 8th.

On the other side of the field, Maddon got on board during game five. Needing to survive to last another game, the Cubs manager went with his rocket throwing closer Aroldis Chapman in the 7th inning. He asked the Cuban Missile to get 8 outs, and even had him bat for himself in the 8th inning. Chapman pitched arguably the most important 2.2 innings of the Cubs season, struck out four, and gave up just one hit. When Chicago needed outs the most, they went to the guy that generally racks them up in bunches.

Now, to be fair, both bullpens have had some suspect usage over the course of the Fall Classic. Francona has generally operated with the belief that both Miller and closer Cody Allen are the only relief arms capable of getting Cleveland outs. With a 6 run lead in game four, and with Corey Kluber rolling, he went to Miller for two innings of work. Despite a six to nothing tally in favor of the Indians at home in game one, Francona went to both Miller and Allen for a combined three innings as well. He's given the Cubs extended and unnecessary looks at both pitchers at times, as well as not having his two best options available in arguably more pressing situations.

For Maddon, it hasn't been so much that there's been bullpen over-reliance as it has been a realization that the Cubs pen is really what it is. Instead of having a Miller and Allen type, the Cubs are pretty much whatever they can get until Chapman can enter a game. Their first relievers most nights have been C.J. Edwards, Mike Montgomery, and Justin Grimm. That group is capable, but far from unhittable.

Aside from the minor disagreements with usage, there's nothing else to surmise from the way both teams have used their relievers in the World Series other than it's something that more teams need to get on board with. Sure, a baseball game ends after the 9th inning, but suggesting that a game is always won or lost at that period of time is quite the goofy suggestion. If you are looking to lock down a big situation earlier in the game, you should absolutely do so.

With statistics being what they are, a closer is always going to look at saves and opportunities as a bargaining chip when it comes time to be paid. While that's absolutely fair, it shouldn't be the only thing that's considered. The Indians had to give up quite the haul for Andrew Miller, and he's been compensated quite well across his career. Yeah, it's nice to increase a save tally for your personal records, but Andrew Miller has just one this entire Postseason, and he's easily been the most important reliever to step foot on the mound.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Kid Gets The Show

Today, PlayStation and Sony San Diego announced that Ken Griffey Jr. would grace the cover of the upcoming MLB The Show 17. The game will release on March 28, 2017.

Griffey has been a part of some of the most iconic baseball video games ever created. Games created using his namesake back on the Nintendo 64 still remain classics to this day. After being enshrined in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year, he'll be brought into the current generation.
Sony San Diego has said that Griffey will be a playable legend in The Show 17, and hopefully there's a mode that will allow for his career highlights to be replayed. Check out the details below to find out what you can expect from the MVP, Digital Delxue, and Hall of Fame Editions of the game.

MLB The Show 17 MVP Edition

The gamer favorite MVP Edition is back for another year! With over $130 USD in content – this 69.99 USD/89.99 CAD (MSRP) edition not only includes a ton of digital goods but also the limited edition MVP Steel Book (physical version only). It’s available for pre-order starting today at retailers and at PlayStation Store.
  • Limited Edition MVP Steel Book
  • Gold Season Starter Pack (Includes Mission Starter for Gold item)
  • 5,000 Stubs
  • 1 Sponsor Pack
  • 10 Standard Packs
  • 31 MLB PS4 Themes

MLB The Show 17 Digital Deluxe Edition

For our top tier Diamond Dynasty and Road To The Show fans, we are bringing back The Digital Deluxe Edition for ’17 exclusive to PlayStation Store. The Digital Deluxe Edition has over $200 USD value in digital goods for only $99.99 USD/$119.99 CAD (MSRP). For those of you that need packs on packs on packs, you know which edition is for you.
  • Gold Season Starter Pack (Includes Mission Starter for Gold item)
  • Diamond Season Starter Pack (Includes Mission Starter for Diamond item)
  • Digital Deluxe Pack
  • 11,000 Stubs
  • 1 Sponsor Pack
  • 20 Standard Packs
  • 31 PS4 MLB Themed Avatars

MLB The Show 17 Hall of Fame Edition

Let’s start with something shiny and new shall we? With Ken Griffey Jr. gracing the cover this year we wanted to create a collector’s edition worthy of The Kid. To do so, we partnered with New Era to create a limited Hall of Fame Edition 9FIFTY snap back to commemorate Jr.’s return to gaming in The Show 17. Pre-order today because quantities are extremely limited! The Hall of Fame Edition is $99.99 USD/$119.99 CAD (MSRP) and it includes over $205 USD in value, making it a must-have for the most dedicated fans of the Show and The Kid. The Full Contents:
  • New Era Hall of Fame Edition 9FIFTY Hat
  • Limited Edition MVP Steel Book
  • Digital Diamond Dynasty New Era Hall of Fame Edition 9FIFTY Hat for use in game
  • Diamond Season Starter Pack (Includes Mission Starter for Diamond item)
  • Gold Season Starter Pack (Includes Mission Starter for Gold item)
  • 11,000 Stubs
  • 1 Sponsor Pack
  • 10 Standard Packs
  • 31 MLB PS4 Themes

You can preorder the Standard and MVP Editions of the game from Amazon here. Prime members get a 20% pre-order discount.

Cubs Hold The Keys To Future Riches

Having not played in a major league baseball game since early April, Kyle Schwarber stepped in against Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber. He'd rehabbed, used the cage, and even gotten in time during the Arizona Fall League, but this was the World Series.

In his first game in roughly six months, he ripped a double as he settled in for the Chicago Cubs. It was game two however, that the magic really took center stage. Over the course of what equated to just hit fourth through seventh at bats at the big league level in quite some time, the Indiana product collected two singles while driving in two runs and scoring another. Through the first two games of the 2016 Major League Baseball World Series, it was Kyle Schwarber that had stolen the show.

Now as the series shifts back to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field however, Schwarber will be asked to contribute in a different way. Thus far, he's operated as the Chicago Cubs designated hitter, a position that the National League (unfortunately, in my opinion) doesn't embrace. Back at home, he'll either have to play the field, and test out his surgically repaired knee, or be asked to continue his heroics off of the bench as a pinch hitter.

In Cleveland though, the Cubs displayed the height of what Kyle Schwarber is in the game of baseball.

A year ago, Schwarber debuted with the Cubs and played 21 games behind the plate, 41 in left field, and another four in right field. Total across all of that action, he was worth -5 defensive runs saved. Extrapolated to a 162 game sample size, that's a -12 DRS mark. While there's markedly worse players in the field across the big leagues, it's also a representation of Schwarber's defensive ability, or lack thereof.

So, what happens in the World Series the rest of the way will add to the storyline that's already in place, but the long term future remains clear; Kyle Schwarber is an American League designated hitter. His bat got him to the big leagues, and it'll continue to be the driving force behind who he is.

In 69 games during the 2015 season, Schwarber hit the ball hard nearly 40% of the time. Roughly a quarter of the balls he put in the air went over the fence, His 16 homers equate to a 162 game average of 38, a number that would put him right in the thick of teammates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. No matter how you look at it, Schwarber's power is real, and his bat will play.

For the Cubs, Schwarber rounds out as one of the most important pieces to their present, as well as their future. He could be, and has been, a key cog on their quest to the first World Series victory since 1908, and in due time, could reward them with a restocked pipeline.

This season, it was Kyle that the Yankees sought in return for Andrew Miller, the Cubs said no, and it looks like that move will pay off. As prospects such as Ian Happ and Eloy Jimenez make their way to the big leagues, Chicago could find themselves needing a big time arm, or another final piece to go for more rings. By parting with Schwarber, they could unlock whatever return they need to make that happen.

There's reason for pause in suggesting that a 23 year old transition to a full time designated hitter role. The Minnesota Twins couldn't bring themselves to do it with Miguel Sano, and it's quite the decision to take the glove off of such a young big leaguer. In certain scenarios though, it works out, and you may end up finding the next David Ortiz.

I have no idea when the Cubs will, or if they will ever, trade Kyle Schwarber. I do know that he was an incredible hitter well before his World Series heroics though, and the performance has only cemented that. His value continues to skyrocket through the roof, and one day, if they so choose, the Cubs will have their pick of virtually anyone they want in return for the guy who made it back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Get To Know Twins General Manager Thad Levine

Last night, LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune reported that the Minnesota Twins next General Manager will be none other than Thad Levine. Levin is currently working with the Texas Rangers under Jon Daniels, and he'll assume the role with the Twins under new Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey.

As the news broke last night, stories started to filter in about who Thad Levine was. Twins Daily's Cody Christie had Levine tabbed as a potential candidate way back in July, before we even knew of Falvey and the reorganization of the front office. Also hailing from Twins Daily, Parker Hageman found this amazing Reddit "Ask Me Anything" that Levine participated in a couple of years ago.

There's a lot of good information, and you can read the entire thread here, but I pulled some of my favorites.

On what types of things are asked for in big league contracts aside from money:

You would be surprised what some players ask for in negotiations. Or put better, what some agents ask for on their player's behalf. Common things like no trade protection, bonuses for awards or reaching certain performance thresholds. What has become more prevalent is that clubs will ask players to agree to make annual charitable contributions. This is one of the things that inspired us to launch, because we found so many players were passionate about giving back and rabid fantasy football players. 
For the players from the Pacific Rim, you will oftentimes see requests for interpreters and massage therapists. Some of the most uncommon things that you will find in contracts - flights for family members to join the player on the road, and by far the most curious thing that I ever have seen was one player asked for an annual $250,000 allowance for his wife to spend on her equestrian expenses.
 On using sites like Baseball Reference and Fangraphs:
Those sites, and others, have done such a phenomenal job. I believe that is why you see so many clubs hiring their employees. Really the only thing that we have access to that they do not is an extensive database from our scouts. We use those sites extensively in our analysis. 
We scour the entire sites, and several others. We are not too proud. If there is cutting edge information out there, we want to know about it.
 On social media, Twitter, and the difficulty it presents with breaking news:
You identified one of our biggest challenges. This has impacted us unfortunately quite negatively. Used to be that we could tell all the players involved in trades before it became public. Now, that is extremely difficult to do. Last year, Ian Kinsler found out through the media that he had been traded. We felt awful, but someone called the media literally before we were able to complete a call to Ian. 
That being said, at the trade deadline, we are all on twitter, because you may be surprised how many trade discussions are inspired or refined by tweets
 On what the discussion points of the next CBA may be:
I believe that the next CBA will be centered around discussions about a World Wide Draft and further means to keep payrolls in check on the high end and competitive on the low end.
 On analytics and sabermetrics:
When the book Money Ball came out, front offices were labeled as either analytical or scouting based in their decision making. As a "younger" front office, we used to be younger than we are now, we were considered an analytical group, when in practice, we were much more scouting focused in our decision making. In the past five years, we have made significant investments in analytics both in people and systems.
 On long term contracts and big deals like Albert Pujols:
I am not a fan of contracts of that length and total investment, but i certainly understand why teams sign them. Generally speaking when you pitch those types of deals to your owners, you acknowledge that the value is in the first few years, and that you knowingly will have a player who will not live up to his salary in the last few years of the deal.
On replay:
I think that the goal is to get the calls correct. No on likes the stoppages. Perhaps, we could put a 2 minute time limit on reviews. If the umpires dont see anything conclusive in 2 minutes, then the play on the field stands.
 On having a Twitter:
I am on twitter, under an alias...
There's no shortage of good information across the entire thread, but Levine was really candid and that's awesome. Having a front office that includes a 33 and 41 year old is quite a bit different from the duo that was Terry Ryan and Rob Antony. If the Twins were to be graded off of the perception gleaned from the two hires they've made at the top this offseason, it'd be hard not to give them an A.

The Why's Of World Series Game One

As the World Series kicked off, we've gotten plenty of storylines to monitor. With both the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs coming in as darling teams, it was pretty safe to assume this one would be a lot of fun. The matchup pits arguably the two best managers in baseball, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon, against each other as well. I did find a few decisions confusing from the both of them last night however.

Starting on the losing side, the Cubs decisions came in key offensive situations. Corey Kluber was rolling all night long, and it looked as though he was going to be virtually untouchable. If the Cubs were going to take game one, they needed to get to him for a big run.

The first head scratcher for me was in the top of the 5th inning. The Cubs were already down by three runs, and Kluber had stayed sharp. Leading off the inning for Chicago was Chris Coghlan. Coghlan drew the start in right field over Jason Heyward, the Cubs $184 million dollar man. Sure, Coghlan was better after coming off the DL this summer, and he had a .779 OPS for Chicago in 48 games, but he also owned a .487 OPS for the Athletics this season, and hasn't slugged above .452 since his rookie year in 2009. With bats like Jorge Soler, Willson Contreras, and even Heyward on the bench, I would have used one in that spot.

A big blast changes the momentum (even being a solo shot), and a base hit starts the inning right. Unfortunately, Maddon stuck with Coghlan only to watch him strike out looking for the second time on the night.

Fast forward to the top of the 7th inning, and the Cubs had mounted a threat. Facing the Indians best relief pitcher in Andrew Miller, they loaded the bases and seemingly had him on the ropes. Down three and needing something with two outs, the Cubs allowed David Ross to bat. In 67 games this season, Ross owned a .784 OPS. That was his highest mark since 2010, and with the Cubs needing a hit or walk, his .203 average and .304 OBP over the past two seasons seemed daunting.

Maddon again decided to bypass giving a player like Miguel Montero, Soler, or Heyward the bat. Ross worked a full count but swung and missed through strike three. The Cubs didn't score, and their best chance to get to Miller fell by the wayside.

On the Indians side of things, there wasn't much to question with the offense. They scored six runs and gave up none. Francona's group got things done with their bats against Jon Lester and the Cubs bullpen. It's in the pitching decisions that I found myself scratching my head however.

Despite rolling through the Cubs lineup, Corey Kluber was removed after throwing 88 pitches through six innings. At the time he left, the Indians were up 3-0, and Francona went to Miller. This is where things get dicey for me. Yes, Kluber is going to pitch game four, and likely game seven if Cleveland needs him. He represents their only starting option better than what the Cubs have to offer, limiting his pitch count makes sense. What doesn't is bringing in Miller in that spot.

A three-run lead in the 7th doesn't strike me as something you need your guranteed reliever to hold onto. Francona had Miller throw two innings, and 46 pitches, in a game that should have been well in hand. Bryan Shaw, Ryan Merritt, Dan Otero, or some other arm could've came in and likely completed the same task. Had they found trouble, Miller could've bailed them out.

Now, with Trevor Bauer pitching a rain-threatened game two with a bad pinky, Francona will be without Miller and the Cubs have a significant pitching advantage. Yeah, lock down the game one win when you can, but the World Series requires you win three more, and using Miller there might have punted on game two.

The second pitching decision that was confusing followed the same vein as the Miller option. Francona called on Cody Allen, his closer, to pitch the 9th inning while the Indians were up 6-0. Sure, they've had a layoff and getting Allen used early in the series could help to have him settle in. In game one though, it allowed the Cubs hitters to see the Cleveland closer before they should've been given the opportunity to check out his stuff.

Just one game into this thing, it'll be interesting to see how these decisions trickle down into game two and beyond. If I'm a Cubs fan, game one was an absolute must win for the Indians. Kluber represents the lone starter they can hang their hat on. It's game two that Chicago should be focused in on, and a loss there would be surprising. If the Cubs head back to Wrigley Field with things even at 1-1, they should feel well positioned for a Series victory in five or six games. Should they fall and go down 2-0, that's where pressing begins to happen at the friendly confines.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Falvey Has To Fix A Massive Minnesota Flaw

Maybe it's because here in the upper Midwest, we operate from the standpoint of Minnesota nice. It could be that wherever Terry Ryan and his colleagues come from, they believe in operating for the benefit of their competitor. Heck, maybe the definition of a trade is a really large gray area for the Twins front office. As Derek Falvey steps in though, fixing a broken avenue for player acquisition is a must.

As the Cubs reached the World Series this season, I've thought back to this piece I wrote in June about where the Twins got off the path Chicago has been on. Both teams found themselves in similar situations, and while the Cubs operate with bigger budgets, it's the Twins that have not done much to stack the deck in their favor.

Prior to their World Series appearance, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball looked at seven moves that made the Cubs winners. What's of note, is that not a single one of these seven moves includes a free agent acquisition. Of the Cubs most important and best decisions, you'll find a path littered with key deals and well scouted draft picks.

Sure, the Twins have plenty to fix when it comes to their draft. Tyler Jay could turn around to be a reliever, Kohl Stewart has regressed, and Nick Gordon may not stick at shortstop. All that said though, it's on the trade front that the Twins have done absolutely nothing. Looking back, there's very few highlights when it comes to swaps made by the Twins in recent memory.

Starting in 2010, there's one of the worst trades the Twins have made in franchise history. Wilson Ramos was a 22 year old top 100 prospect for Minnesota. He was behind Joe Mauer, but sending him to the Washington Nationals for Matt Capps seemed foolish. Relievers are fickle, and even an elite closer (which Capps was not), should cause some pause on the trade market. Capps saved just 45 games over parts of three seasons with the Twins. Ramos has gone on to be (when healthy) one of the best two way catchers in the big leagues.

Fast forward to 2012, and we watched as Ryan decided centerfield was ready for Aaron Hicks. First, Denard Span was sent to the Nationals for top pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Then a week later, Ben Revere was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May. I'll touch more on Meyer later on, but the Phillies deal was always about May. Worley pitched only 48.2 innings with the Twins, and has become a bullpen piece that bounces around since. Trevor May remains with Minnesota, and it's time he contribute in a more drastic way. Getting him back into the rotation could help to unlock that.

2013 wasn't a big year for the Twins and moving pieces. They sent Ryan Doumit to the Atlanta Braves for Sean Gilmartin, but neither player contributed a whole lot. Gilmartin went to the Mets eventually in the Rule 5 Draft, and Doumit's career came to an end due to his concussion issues.

If 2013 was quiet, then 2014 was a fire sale for Minnesota. After making an odd decision to sign him, the Twins dealt Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for Stephen Pryor. Pryor never pitched for the Twins failing to impress at Triple-A while remaining injured. Morales was terrible with Seattle, but won a World Series and a Silver Slugger in 2015 with the Royals.

Staying in 2014, Minnesota made one of the deals in recent memory the organization can hang their hat on. Sam Fuld was signed after the Athletics DFA'd him, and Terry Ryan flipped him back to Oakland for major league starting pitcher, Tommy Milone. Neither player had a ton of upside, but getting big league pitching for a castoff was a nice win., Kevin Correia was given away to the Dodgers in August of 2014, and Josh Willingham was sent to the Royals for Jason Adam. Minnesota had hung onto Willingham too long, and he was nothing like the player that he was a year prior.

Over the winter prior to the 2016 season, Minnesota swapped depth catcher Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka of the Diamondbacks. Herrmann had a nice 2016, but Palka's power potential alone makes him more intriguing than Chris would have ever been for Minnesota.

At the deadline, Minnesota made moves to acquire Pat Light for Fernando Abad, and somehow got a top 100 prospect in Adalberto Mejia for the mirage that was Eduardo Nunez's season. The big one to cap it off was the swap of Ricky Nolasco's ugly contract and Alex Meyer, for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz. Mejia looks like a clear win for Minnesota, but even the ridding of Nolasco's deal could come back to bite the organization if Meyer's early returns in LA are to be trusted.

While there's some up and down, the reality is that the Twins have been on the bad side of trades far too often in recent memory. When they make moves, it generally doesn't work out in their favor. There's also the reality that they just simply haven't made enough quality deals. While teams like the Cubs give from positions of strength to get better, Minnesota has combined drafting poorly, and scouting other organizations less than ideally when it comes to acquiring talent.

Fortunately for Minnesota, it appears new Baseball Operations President, Derek Falvey should have some expertise here. He's helped to land Cleveland some really nice pieces, and doing so for the Twins would be putting the organization's best foot forward.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Are We Safe With Replay?

Over the course of the Major League Baseball Postseason, the newly implemented replay system has been on full display. Umpires have gone to the headsets often, and New York has weighed in on some pretty substantial calls. That all being said, it's worth wondering what place replay has in baseball, and if it has a place at all.

Now here's the deal, technology being what it is, we have the capacity to slow live action down and get a closer look at controversial happenings throughout a sporting contest. The problem is that, no matter how many experts weigh in, we still seemingly can't agree. When it comes down to it, replay it sports is being used as a confirmation or denial of an already accepted ruling. The on field umpire or referee has ruled on an outcome, and we go to a slow motion version of that instance to try and deduce the correct outcome.

During game four of the National League Championship Series, a poor Jason Heyward throw to catcher Wilson Contreras made a play at the plate incredibly close with Dodgers runner Adrian Gonzalez. On the field, the home plate umpire called Gonzalez out. He wasn't wrong, but reply indicated he also may not have been right. In seeing Gonzalez slide in seemingly at the same instant as the tag, whether the call had been safe or out, overturning the decision on the field would have been a tough ask.
That brings us to what purpose replay should play, and whether or not the current format makes sense. Given the implications of that slide, it's immediately fair to wonder whether or not Gonzalez got in before the tag. We saw throughout the multiple slow motion angles that it was virtually impossible to tell. What we did find out was that there was nothing wrong with taking a moment to look. My stance is that moment must be kept to a minimum.

As things stand currently, one of the longest parts of the replay process is managers standing at the top steps of their respective dugouts deciding whether or not to ask New York for help. At some point, wasting time to zoom in to the molecular level of a play in an already long game is senseless. Home runs, bang-bang calls, and controversial, game-altering plays should be looked at, but why not do so out of habit?

If there's something that takes place on the field of play in which a question arises in regards to the correct outcome, look at it. Forget about waiting on the manager, or the umpire. Have a source in New York take a look, then confirm or overturn the call almost instantaneously. Human error is going to happen, it's part of the game, and you're really only looking to circumvent the egregious mistakes.
When Denard Span overslid the base against the Mets, he was deemed out due to his foot popping off of the base. Sure, that's a technical application of the rules, but it's also one that baseball is not better for. Having the ability to garner an out by zooming in, slowing down, and deciphering the game that closely isn't better for anyone. That's the type of replay where the system has begun to fail us.

Major League Baseball has taken significant strides to make things right more often than not on the field, and that's good enough for me. I don't need an electronic strike zone to alleviate the reality that an umpire is an individual and is going to interpret his imaginary box differently than another. I don't want to see play stopped in a tightly contested game for multiple minutes to find out if a sheet of paper could have fit in the separation between player and base. When something is up in the air, look at it, and if there's definitive evidence for it to be overturned, do so.

Replay is instituted better in sports with boundaries. Was the catch made in bounds? Did the player release the ball before the shot clock went off? Baseball has a significant amount of gray area, and slowing down the game to a minute level is never going to change that. Adrian Gonzalez might have been safe, but he was called out, and it's hard to have a problem with that either.

Give me a version of baseball the replay is instituted quickly and sensibly. It's reach has already gone a bit too far, let's scale it back a bit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Black Hole Behind The Plate

Coming into the 2017 Major League Baseball season, one of the Minnesota Twins most glaring weaknesses comes in the form of their big league catcher. Kurt Suzuki is a free agent, and has mentioned wanting to play for a winner. That leaves Derek Falvey and the Twins with some really serious question marks.

The only other catcher that got significant big league time with the Twins in 2016 was Juan Centeno. A 26 year old non-prospect, Centeno was a 32nd round pick by the New York Mets in 2007. He played just 14 games for New York at the big league level, before spending just 10 games with the Brewers in 2015. With the Twins, he played 55 games in 2016 and turned in a .704 OPS. It was his only season of any realistic significance, and while the production at the plate wasn't terrible, the results behind it were.

Centeno often looked incapable of reigning in big league pitches, and his 14% caught stealing rate was less than half of the big league average. While behind the dish, he was involved in 33 wild pitches and five passed balls. In general, his blocking and plate coverage ability left a significant amount to be desired. He's not known as a strong pitch framer, and unfortunately, Centeno amounts to a warm body in front of the umpire for Minnesota.

That leaves just three other realistic options in the Twins system. John Ryan Murphy was acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for Aaron Hicks. The hope was that he'd come in, spell Suzuki, and eventually take over. Instead, he put up a .413 OPS in 26 games and spent the bulk of the season struggling at Triple-A Rochester.

Mitch Garver and Stuart Turner both represent options drafted by the Twins. Garver was deserving of a September promotion, and not being on the 40 man was likely the only reason he was passed over. He owns a .764 OPS across Double and Triple-A this season, and actually improved in his 22 games at the higher level. He threw out a ridiculous 48% of would be base stealers, and a case could be made to put him ahead of Murphy at this point.

The guy the Twins probably hoped would be ready at this point is Turner. Known as a glove first player, Turner has just a .677 OPS across his four professional seasons. He's yet to play about Double-A, and he didn't do anything to suggest he's more than ready for a promotion yet. If Minnesota is able to commit to Turner being a defensive backup, then he could be an option sooner rather than later. At any rate, they'll need to make a decision on him to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this offseason.

Looking at the landscape behind the plate, it's pretty apparent the Twins need an external option. I was a big fan of the idea that the club could bring back Wilson Ramos. Unfortunately, he got hurt again, and isn't going to be ready until at least half way through the year. Giving out a big money deal to a guy that might not be able to catch much longer is also not a good idea. There will be other options on the market, maybe a Jason Castro type, but Minnesota will need to get creative.

Right now, the hope has to be that one of Murphy, Turner, or Garver blossoms, but the club can't punt on the position until that point happens. The Twins aren't going to be significantly better in 2017, but shoring up the position with more than a band-aid is something that seems advisable. If Minnesota has had a revolving door at shortstop since Cristian Guzman, they've had a black hole behind the plate since Joe Mauer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Twins Outright Missed Opportunities

In my 2017 Minnesota Twins wish list I touched on the fact that I am looking forward to new President of Baseball Operations, Derek Falvey, coming in and cleaning up the 40 man roster. There is no shortage of players that can be moved on from, and the Twins must do so in order to turn the page on what was an abysmal 2016. Before he has even gotten into the building though, Minnesota began making moves.

Admittedly, I have no idea if the Twins were in touch with Falvey prior to outrighting five players this week. Tommy Milone, Andrew Albers, Pat Dean, James Beresford, and Jordan Schafer were all sent packing off of the 40 man. Whether Falvey was involved or not, it was all but certain none of them belonged. Milone wasn't going to be given arbitration, Albers and Schafer are veteran retreads, and both Beresford and Dean are nothing more than minor league depth pieces. You really shouldn't need anyone to sign off on moves like that.

As Falvey comes in though, the hope should be that those types of players don't continue to find their way to Minnesota. Now, to be fair, Tommy Milone really doesn't belong grouped in with that lot. He's a capable big league starter, and while he struggled at times for the Twins, there's little doubt that he can go fill out a big league rotation elsewhere. Terry Ryan acquiring him in returning Sam Fuld to the Oakland Athletics a couple of years ago was about as shrewd a move as it gets. Right now though, it was just time for both parties to go their separate ways.

If there's a problem with the five outrighted players though, it's that the represent opportunity. I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you aren't going to be good now, you should either be creative or have a plan for being good again in the immediate future. What players like Schafer, Albers, Dean and Beresford don't represent is creativity or future success.

It's hard to be too harsh on the Twins for giving a hat tip promotion to James Beresford. He was signed by the organization out of Australia and has toiled away in the minors for over 1,000 games and 10 seasons. He paid his dues, and on a 103 loss team, he found his time in the sun.

When quantifying what the four players not named Tommy Milone represent though, we come up with this:
  • 2 hitters (Beresford/Schafer) 36 G 98 plate appearances .233 AVG .597 OPS 5 XBH
  • 2 pitchers (Albers/Dean) 25 G 84.1 IP 11 starts 6.05 ERA
No matter how you cut it, that's a significant chunk of exposure. Now Dean throws off the numbers a little bit as he was called up as early as May, and made appearances in both June and August as well. Regardless, giving nearly 100 plate appearances, 11 starts, and 80+ innings pitched to four players that have no future benefit to the organization seems like a silly allocation of playing time.

If you remember correctly, it was Jose Berrios (the Twins top pitching prospect) who was repeatedly threatened (and was) sent down to the minors after poor outings. There was talk of him going to the bullpen following some late season starts, and he had to scratch and claw his way to finish the year with 14 starts. It wasn't an isolated incident however.

J.T. Chargois was passed over multiple times for a promotion in the middle of the year, and players like D.J. Baxendale, Jake Reed, Mitch Garver, and Adam Brett Walker (on the 40 man) were never given a shot at all. Each of the above names fits both the criteria of being creative, or contributing in future winning seasons, yet the Twins went with the lowest possible options across the board.

At some point, a bad team has to stop giving away time to players who've shown they aren't big leagues. Schafer is a 29 year old with a career .611 OPS in 318 games, Albers flopped in Korea and has been passed on by everyone not named Minnesota in the major leagues. It's moves like these that do little to help a franchise now or in the future.

Throughout the rest of the offseason, you can bet there will be more changes to the Twins 40 man roster. As players fall off, go unclaimed, and become free agents, Falvey must steer the Twins in the direction of meaningful talent at every corner. For a team that will rely upon its internal processes, they have to start practicing them at a much higher level.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2017 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects

With the 2016 regular season in the books, the Arizona Fall League underway, and the Major League Baseball season barreling towards the World Series, it's time to take a look at what's to come for the Minnesota Twins. The last prospect update here at Off The Baggy was the 2016 Midseason Top 15 (you can find that here).

As 2017 gets underway for the Twins, Derek Falvey will be tasked with getting the organization back on track. A large group of youth has already graduated from prospect status, but it's the young talent that the Twins will have to build their turnaround on. Despite no longer being a top five farm system, there's plenty of talent on the way. With that out of the way, let's get into it.

15. Ben Rortvedt C

After being taken in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Rortvedt immediately became the Twins most important catching prospect. He'll take time to develop coming out of high school, but his bat and power are the real deal. He should stick behind the plate, and the expectation is that he'll hit for plenty of power. He got in 33 games between the GCL and Appy League a season ago, and while he's still searching for his first professional homer, the experience was vital. Watching him make strides forward in 2017 should be a lot of fun.

14. Lewis Thorpe SP

The Aussie starter remains one of the most intriguing arms in the Twins system. He has the stuff to be a capable middle of the rotation arm, but injuries have derailed his development. Still just 20 years old, Thorpe hasn't seen live actions since 2014 with Low-A Cedar Rapids. He was supposed to be back on the mound post Tommy John this year, but never could get healthy. 2016 remains a pivotal campaign for him. When right, he's a top 10 prospect for Minnesota.

13. Jake Reed RP

I really thought Reed would debut with Minnesota in 2016. Unfortunately a slow start derailed that opportunity, but he did finish strong with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester. He's one of Minnesota's hard throwing relief options, and there's real reason to believe he could push for an early big league opportunity in 2017. Reed has strikeout stuff, and his movement is the real deal.

12. Travis Blankenhorn 3B

A third round pick in 2015, Blankenhorn is already at Low-A Cedar Rapids. Just 20 years old and taken out of high school, he really started coming into his own last season. After tearing it up for Elizabethton, Blankenhorn had a solid .774 OPS in 25 games for the Kernels. He's got pop in his bat, and should continue to swing his way up the Twins system.

11. Nick Burdi RP

Like Thorpe, Burdi lost some really significant development time in 2016. He was injured down in Fort Myers during spring training in a fluke accident, and then couldn't get himself healthy enough to pitch with other injuries throughout the year. When he's right, his stuff reaches triple-digits, and penciling him in as a future closer makes a ton of sense. If Burdi can prove he's healthy, and hone in his command a bit, he should join the Twins quickly in 2017.

10. Wander Javier SS

Speculation and projection remains the key to Javier and his ranking. The Twins spent a boatload on the international free agent out of the Dominican. He's just 17 and played only nine games in the Dominican Summer League during 2016 due to injury. His ceiling is as high as anyone on this list, and if everything breaks right, he could be a star. Javier should be stateside for 2017 and seeing how he does in the lower rookie levels is something to monitor in the year ahead.

9. Daniel Palka OF

Voted by many publications as the Twins minor league hitter of the year, Palka came to the organization in the Chris Herrmann trade. He hits for ridiculous power and was one of the top home run producers in both the Southern and International Leagues this season. He's going to swing and miss plenty, but from a bat perspective, you might not find a better power tool in other organizations.

8. Kohl Stewart SP

If there's a prospect I'm more down on than anyone else for the Twins, it's Stewart. After being selected 4th overall in 2013, he's consistently taken steps backwards. A consensus top 40 prospect in all of baseball prior to 2015, he's fallen off of nearly every top 100 list. Stewart is still young at just 22 and already pitching at Double-A. Unfortunately, he has shown very little ability to strike anyone out, his command has progressively gotten worse, and he's now strung together multiple seasons of injury concerns. The upside remains apparent, but Stewart's stock has plummeted. He's got time to turn the tables, and that taking place would be huge.

7. Felix Jorge SP

Creating prospect lists requires players to be evaluated on their own accord. Jorge's ceiling isn't as high as some of the other names on this list, but his floor should also be much more projectable. He looks the part of a mid-to-back-end starter, and he's up to Double-A at 22 years old. Jorge's stuff is never going to overpower hitters, but he doesn't walk anyone, and he limits damage. If he continues his current path, he could be up at Triple-A Rochester by the end of the 2017 season.

6. Adalberto Mejia SP

Acquired from the Giants in trading Eduardo Nunez, Mejia is about as good of a return as the Twins could have gotten. He's a top 100 prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, and he absolutely should be capable of being a big league starter. His strikeout numbers aren't going to blow anyone away, but he limits damage by not allowing free passes. Coming into the year, Mejia will be one of the first guys called upon to slide into the Twins starting rotation.

5. Fernando Romero SP

21 years old and already mastering High-A Fort Myers, 2016 was an exciting year for Romero. Coming off a missed 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, Romero looked as good as ever. Making 16 starts across Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, his 1.89 ERA dazzled. He has strikeout stuff, and this season, took a big step forward in limiting walks as well. If Romero flashed what we should expect from him going forward, he's going to be a top of the rotation arm, and could be one of Minnesota's best kept secrets.

4. Tyler Jay SP

Ranking Tyler Jay is somewhat difficult, because the jury is still out on what he becomes. Operating solely as a reliever in college, he transitioned to a starter full time for Minnesota. His numbers were solid at High-A Fort Myers, but he got lit up pitching for Double-A Chattanooga. He has strikeout stuff, but has to scale it back some when starting. 2017 will be big for the former Illinois pitcher as it will likely go a long ways in determining the Twins future plans for him. If Jay ends up being a reliever, he could be a very, very good one. That said, even the most elite reliever isn't something you're hoping for with the 6th overall draft pick.

3. Nick Gordon SS

If there's someone you should be watching in the Arizona Fall League, it's Gordon. He was drafted as a shortstop and expected to stick because of his glove. Thus far, the leather has gotten worse, and it was especially bad in 2016. He made 26 errors for Fort Myers this season, and there's some real doubts now that he sticks at the premium position. The bat has begun to come around, and his .721 OPS was a career best, but the 20 year old will need to continue to grow as a whole if he's going to be an asset up the middle for Minnesota.

2. Alex Kirilloff OF

This time in 2017, Kirilloff has a chance to be the Twins top prospect, and he could go a long ways to being one of the best in baseball with another strong year. Playing for Elizabethton after getting drafted, Kirilloff's bat just destroyed the lague. He ended with a .794 OPS, but hovered around a .340 average for most of the year. He launched seven homers, and the power, both gap and home run, was as real as it was suggested. He's a bat first prospect, and continuing to hit will be his ticket to advancing. After the initial showing though, betting against him would seem foolish.

1. Stephen Gonsalves SP

After Jose Berrios, Gonsalves has quickly emerged as the Twins most important pitching prospect. Pairing him in the big league rotation with other young arms is a must. He dominated the Florida State League across 11 starts, and then was even better for Double-A Chattanooga. Gonsalves is a lefty with strikeout stuff, and is he can continue to hone is his command, he has a very high ceiling. Just 22 years old, he could get to the big leagues in 2017, and making himself a fixture for plenty of years to come seems like a good bet.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Generating A 2017 Twins Wish List

The Major League Baseball Postseason is in full swing and we're quickly approaching what could be a very entertaining World Series. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Twins season has long been over, and any hopes of the Postseason were dashed nearly from the get go. That all being said, Derek Falvey coming in as President of Baseball Operations provides the organization with plenty of opportunity for change.

When you've lost as much as the Twins have of late, there's plenty of areas that require taking a look at how you can improve. If I'm prioritizing what areas may be needing the most attention, this is my laundry list:

Establish the youth

Last season, the Twins went into the year asking a young Miguel Sano to go play right field. He's a 250 plus pound man that destroys baseballs and attempts to play third base in between. Asking him to go roam the outfield was always going to be an uphill battle, but it was also put preference on established veterans over the youth movement that this organization is currently undergoing.

Players like Sano, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios, and a handful of others need to become the backbone of this organization. Getting them ready mentally over the winter is a must. Coming into Spring Training, Minnesota needs to be in a place where the future of the organization is capable of producing, and knowing they will be relied upon to do so.

Leave pitchers on the market

After 2016, it's pretty obvious that the Twins biggest problem remains pitching. They were dead last in virtually every starting pitching category, and they weren't far behind when it came to relievers as well. That's an area they absolutely need to improve, but doing so by signing more pitching is not at all a good plan.

Entering Spring Training, Minnesota has something like eight or nine realistic options for their rotation. While all of them don't have the same ceiling, there's no reason to go spend on a poor free agent class to try and minimally upgrade the group as a whole. Falvey and Co. need to find out what Trevor May looks like back in the rotation, a full year of Berrios is, and even consider Adalberto Mejia. Pushing guys like that further down the pecking order for some retread veterans is silly at best.

Make a smart Dozier decision

Since maybe Johan Santana, the Minnesota Twins have not been presented with such a monumental trade decision. Brian Dozier is coming off the best season in his career, and the best season ever by a Twins second basemen. He was one of the lone bright spots on the club this year, and he may very well be the best player they have for 2017 as well.

If you're going to trade Dozier, you absolutely need to get something substantial in return. I have a hard time believing that the Twins find a partner willing to give them a number one pitcher back. A top prospect is nice, but I think they ask should be even higher than that. The Twins didn't buy into Dozier's free agency years, and he's under contract until his age 31 season (2018). At this point, he may be a late bloomer and that's something the Twins should make sure they're aware of. I don't know that Minnesota is a contender while Dozier is in his prime, but giving him up and not getting something substantial in return isn't a good idea either.

Rework the 40 man roster

At the end of the 2016 season, the Twins were wrapping up what was nothing short of a terrible year. This collection hadn't done anything of substance all season, and then when presented an opportunity to get youth involved, the front office went with Andrew Albers and Logan Schafer. Adding warm bodies to the 40 man roster absolutely needs to stop.

Coming into 2017, the Twins should have no less than 10 open spots on their 40 man. This team and organization can't turn a corner while continuing to bring questionable big leaguers to Target Field. There's major league ready talent on the farm, and there's more astute non-roster decisions that can be made as well. Stop wasting 40 man spots, it's something that has gone on far too long.

Falvey establish his presence

Whether it be new Baseball Ops man Falvey, or whoever he hires as his General Manager, the Twins new front office needs to assert themselves this winter. Make some real decisions on players like Trevor Plouffe, Kennys Vargas, and Michael Tonkin. Minnesota has a handful of players that are out of options or non-tender candidates. If you can get anything for them before simply DFA'ing them, try and do so.

A year ago, Oswaldo Arcia was simply cut by the Twins. He has gone on to be nothing of consequence thus far, but if Minnesota could have gotten any sort of return, and used the roster spot out of the gate elsewhere, they should have. I'm not convinced Vargas is a big leaguer, and it appears Trevor Plouffe is without a spot on this club. Do what you can to move them before cutting bait, and if you do the latter, get it done without turning it into a drug out process.

At this point, expectations for the Minnesota Twins in 2017 should be pretty low. This club is coming off a franchise worst record, and there's going to be more growing pains ahead. The offense should be fine going forward, but reworking the entire organization is going to take some time. Positioning things well over the winter is a good start though, and will only help to get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Is Paul Molitor Defensible For The Twins?

After 103 losses, a franchise worst for the Minnesota Twins, the organization has cleaned house. Well, they have almost cleaned house. Derek Falvey has been brought in as the new Head of Baseball Operations, a new General Manager will be appointed, and Minnesota will look to turn the page on the debacle that was 2016. Owner Jim Pohlad has stated that his manager, Paul Molitor will return in 2017. At this point, is that comment, or the manager himself defensible?

The short answer is no, and the longer answer, well that's heck no. Here's the deal, Paul Molitor was a really great baseball player. He's a Hall of Famer with more than 3,000 hits. When at the plate, there was next to no one that could do it better than Molitor could. Unfortunately as a manager, the same level of success hasn't been achieved.

2015 saw the Twins beat all statistical projections to just narrowly miss the playoffs. They were playing well above their heads, and every number suggested regression. Because they didn't prepare much for it, that regression came and popped the Twins, as well as Molitor, right in the mouth this past season. While the deck was already stacked against them, Molitor made a habit of poor lineup decisions, a "not my problem" approach with struggling young prospects, and very little to hang his hat on.

At this point, the greatest defense to keep Molitor around is that he's a hometown guy, and is as much a part of the Twins organization as anyone. In a professional league that should be about winning and advancing, those things shouldn't be enough to save someone's job.

Now, to be fair, the impact that a manager has in the big leagues is marginal at best. The difference between the best and worst managers is significant, but between two good, or two bad managers is splitting hairs. Joe Maddon gets significantly more out of his players than Paul Molitor does, but he;s not that significantly more impressive than say Terry Francona or Dusty Baker.

With that in mind, the Twins have actionable areas in which they should be focusing on when it comes to the man that will lead their 25 man roster. Considering the youth that needs to be the backbone of the Twins future, utilizing, relating too, and developing that talent is an absolute must.

When a young guy struggles, the first course of action cannot be to simply send them back to the farm and make them someone else's problem. Far too often in 2016, Molitor seemed too far removed from his youngsters to squeeze anything extra out of them. More often than not, they were poorly positioned in the lineup, and then the developmental time in between falling by the wayside only compounded matters.

So, if the Twins are going to move on from Molitor, the focus should be in finding a personality that can handle the key areas differently. It's fair to wonder if owner Jim Pohlad will back off of his comments suggesting Molitor be guaranteed 2017. A 32 year old Falvey could suggest the change be made, but that might be punching above his weight class coming out of the gate. At the end of the day though, a non-baseball man like Pohald should focus on the business, and swallow his baseball comments that come from a place without much real knowledge.

Assuming that the Twins do actually clean house, and go with a new manager, there's a pair of possibilities I like a lot. Both Alex Cora and Gabe Kapler seem like they have the potential to be the next big thing among managerial ranks. Rather than simply recycling names that have held the position around the big leagues, Minnesota could go to a fresh perspective as they have done in the front office.

Both Cora and Kapler are former players. Cora has the background to relate to Latin players, while Kapler is widely regarded as one of the smartest people in the game. Kepler was considered for the Dodgers managerial role until Dave Roberts was handed the position, and there's more than a few teams that would do well to be in on Cora. Given each of their backgrounds, and the way in which they are positioned in relation to the Twins needs, either could be a fit.

Outside of that group, Sandy Alomar Jr. may make sense, and really even Doug Mientkiewicz could fit the bill. With Dougie Baseball, the biggest detractor is his familiarity with Minnesota. The Twins have often hired from within, and it's been to a fault at times. In this situation, that probably works against the Double-A manager. If Molitor sticks around, and is then let go mid-season, I'd love to see Mientkiewicz get an interim opportunity the rest of the way, if they are going to make a change prior to 2017 though, I'd prefer they look elsewhere.

At the end of the day, your list of reasons why the Twins should keep Paul Molitor includes him being from the same state, and false hope that 2015 masked. If that isn't damning enough for Jim Pohlad, it's something Derek Falvey would be well off to highlight for him. Regardless, Molitor has become indefensible for the Twins, and really, there's better candidates out there when it comes to fulfilling the Twins immediate needs.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Predicting The Postseason

With the calendar flipping to October, the season has come to an end for the Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, the hometown nine haven't played Postseason baseball since 2010 when they first opened Target Field. That reality aside, Postseason baseball presents us with moments we generally remember for quite some time. As a spectator of the field again this season, I'm offering up my thoughts and prediction as to how things shake out.

Shown above is my selections as to who claims the World Series trophy at season end. Entering play, the Cubs are nearly 2/1 favorites to win it all, and ending the drought with this collection of players would be nothing short of expected. They've got easily the best roster in baseball, the best manager, and are trending in the right direction.

If there's a team I think can threaten the Cubs from the American League, it's the Boston Red Sox. Yes, I'm aware I don't have the Red Sox in the World Series. I don't believe in their pitching enough to suggest that they get by the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. What Boston does have going for them is an offense that has zero holes in it. From Betts to Pedroia, and from Hanley to Papi, that group is going to put runs on the board.

I like the Rangers a lot, and picked them as the World Series runner up heading into the season. Adrian Beltre continues to be underrated and produce, I loved the mid-season acquisition of Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Gomez seems to have settled in at the top of the lineup. The Rangers pitching isn't without questions either, but I think they've been the quiet and steady entrant among this season's playoff teams.

Had things worked out differently, the Indians could've gotten more love here. Having uncertainty around Corey Kluber isn't good. Combine that with Carlos Carrsco being done for the year, and two-fifths of that rotation isn't nearly as good. The Indians can absolutely make waves, but I don't think their pitching will be able to carry them as it was planned.

Over in the National League, it's hard not to get behind the even year run that the San Francisco Giants typically go on. That said, their bullpen is a mess, and even with Madison Bumgarner on the bump, they'll be opposed by the New York Mets and Noah Syndergaad. I fully expect Thor to come out of the pitcher's duel in the NL Wild Card, and the Mets should once again meet up with the Cubs.

Chicago will get their revenge this year however, and they'll be rewarded with a matchup against the Dodgers. I am not sure I like Los Angeles enough to win the series, but the Nationals without Strasburg, and injury concerns surrounding Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper aren't good. Throw in the fact that they just lost Wilson Ramos and you have a series of unfortunate events.

Dave Roberts reaching the National League Championship series this season with the Dodgers would be quite the story, and it;s one I think he's got his club well positioned to accomplish. For everything Los Angeles has gone through this year, it'd be hard not to view advancing at least one round as a success.

It's probably cliche to pick the Cubs given the massive odds in their favor. More than any other year though, I think it's fair to suggest they are just that much better than everyone else. Sure, baseball happens and Joe Maddon's team may not win it all, but betting against them at this point just seems like a fools errand. Give me the best team in baseball all season long, to remain the best team in baseball when the dust settles at the end of October.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Season In Review: 2016 By The Numbers

With the dust now settled, the 2016 Major League Baseball season has come to a close. The Minnesota Twins mercifully can close the chapter on what was a franchise worst record, but focus on making improvements in the year ahead. Before the Postseason kicks off, I want to take a look back at the good, bad, and ugly that is the numerical values for Minnesota in 2016.

  • Brian Dozier launched 42 homers for the Twins in 2016. That total was the highest mark for a Twins hitter since Harmon Killebrew hit 49 in 1969. He finished with 99 RBI, which allows Josh Willingham to remain the last Minnesota batter with 100 or more in a season.
  • Ervin Santana finished with a 3.38 ERA across his 30 starts this season. That's the best mark for a Twins pitcher since Scott Baker owned a 3.14 ERA in 2011.
  • Over the course of the season, only 12 times did the Twins not turn a loss into a streak of at least two consecutive losses.
  • Through 162 games, the Twins trailed in 139 of them. In 86% of the games they played this season, Minnesota was losing at some point.
  • Against the AL Central, Minnesota went 24-52 and owned a -110 run differential.
  • Byron Buxton had just a .714 OPS on the year, but since his recall in September, he pushed that mark to 1.011 (over 29 G 101 at bats)
  • With 178, Miguel Sano set the Twins single season strikeout record. He overtook Brian Dozier's mark of 148 from 2015.
  • After striking out 100 plus times for the first time in his career last season, Joe Mauer totaled 93 strikeouts this season. That was his lowest total since the 2013 season.
  • In 2014, Phil Hughes set an all time MLB record for K/BB ratio in a single season (11.63). This year, Clayton Kershaw tallied a 15.6 K/BB but didn't pitch enough innings to qualify, so Hughes' mark still stands.
At the end of the season, there was significantly more bad than good for the Twins. That's probably to be expected when you lose 103 games. If the Twins can take the few things that are worth building upon, and carry them into 2017, a clean slate for the year ahead remains the biggest positive for the future.