Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Twins Chart Topping Early

Through the first month of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the Minnesota Twins have been as some would've expected. Sure, coming off a franchise worst 103 losses, .500 may have seemed incredible to most, but they remained largely the same team that was competitive during 2015. After a winning April, Minnesota has more than a handful of players doing some good things.

While it's worth breaking down individual performances, gleaning too much from under 100 at bats is a pretty tough ask. For the purpose of this post, examining where some of the Twins are leading the way is the goal. There's ample examples, and the names come from all over the lineup. Let's get into it.

Ervin Santana

With a 0.77 ERA, Santana is pacing MLB in the category. He also holds the best WHIP (0.66) and batting average against (.116) in the game. With four wins under his belt, he's well on his way to eclisping the 2016 total of seven. Santana is generating soft contact 23% of the time (21st in MLB) and is really enjoying a strong defense behind him.

Miguel Sano

No one in all of baseball has a higher average exit velocity than Miguel Sano's 99+ mph total. He is absolutely destroying baseballs this season, and it's led to a .450 BABIP. Haven taken 18 walks (2nd in AL), Sano has really honed in his discipline at the plate, and he's punishing pitchers for allowing him to make contact. His 2.1% soft contact rating is the lowest in MLB. Although it doesn't mean much of anything, Sano is also leading the American League with 25 RBIs.

Joe Mauer

If there's a guy that is destined to turn things around to a certain extent for the Twins, it's Mauer. He's batting just .225, but owns the lowest swinging strike rate in MLB (2.1%). Mauer is hitting the ball harder this season than in any since 2013, and his fly ball rate has doubled (41.9%) from a year ago. At some point, he's going to see more balls drop for base hits.

Jorge Polanco

While you may expect Mauer not to fan on too many pitches, Jorge Polanco is right there with him. With just a 3.9% swinging strike rate, Polanco owns the third best tally in the big leagues (behind only Mauer and Rockies D.J. LeMahieu). Also somewhat surprisingly, it's Polanco with 4 DRS at short that is pacing the Twins defensively. As recently as April 30, that was among the top numbers in the big leagues.

Brandon Kintzler

Maybe flying somewhat under the radar, the Minnesota closer owns the second highest save total (7) in the American League. Kintzler is a perfect 7-7 in save opportunities, and owns just a 0.79 ERA across 11.1 IP. Sustainability is worrisome as he's walking more and striking out fewer, but for now, he's making it work.

Right now, the season is still in it's infancy. Given what the Twins are coming off of though, it's nice to see the club playing .500 baseball, and with a realistic path to see that same level of competency continue throughout the summer.