Minnesota Twins 26-Man Power Rankings (4.10.21)
Ranking the current active roster from 26 down to No. 1
Power ranking things can be a fun exercise.
It can also be exhausting.
But few things get people talking as much as seeing their favorite things — be it baseball teams, foods or pop culture phenomena — ranked in an orderly list.
We’ve done this in this a different space before, but here’s how we’d power rank the current 26-man roster of the Minnesota Twins. Like most power rankings, a special formula is used with room for the human — in this case, me! — to make slight changes to the order that it spits out, including adjustments for recent performance.
Let’s talk to it:
Jorge Polanco - IF (-0.2 fWAR/-0.3 bWAR/-0.3 WAR AVG)
After a tough stretch to start the season, the bat has woken up a little bit of late. Still, his swing looks a bit too much like last year’s — when he was reportedly dealing with a bum ankle — so it’s possible it’ll take some time to iron that out. Two errors in seven games at second base is not a positive development, either.
Miguel Sano - 1B (-0.2 fWAR/-0.1 bWAR/-0.2 WAR AVG)
Sano has walked five times and has worked some deep counts, but in general, he’s been kind of a mess outside of his home run to the opposite field in the series finale against the Brewers. I don’t think it would be a shock to see him lose time at first base to perhaps Mitch Garver in the short term or Alex Kirilloff/Brent Rooker in the longer term.
Randy Dobnak - P (-0.3 fWAR/-0.4 bWAR/-0.4 WAR AVG)
Dobnak is in a tough spot where he’s not really working high-leverage innings nor is he working consistently. Such is the life of a long reliever. It won’t stay this bad for long.
Cody Stashak - RP (0.0 fWAR/-0.2 bWAR/-0.1 WAR AVG)
It’s hard to make many proclamations regarding a bumpy start when it’s just three appearances/innings. It’ll be worth watching his velocity as things warm up. If he can keep the ball in the ballpark, he should be fine.
Brandon Waddell - RP (0.0 fWAR/0.0 bWAR/0.0 WAR AVG)
He has one appearance and it was to close out a blowout. He didn’t pitch very well, but didn’t allow any runs. Pretty hard to judge one way or the other.
Jake Cave - OF (-0.1 fWAR/0.0 bWAR/-0.1 WAR AVG)
It’s sort of unfortunate that Cave’s chance to grab a share of the playing time has come with the team facing lefties more frequently than usual. Cave has the perfect setup to share time with Kyle Garlick, but in the brief time he’s taken the field this season, he hasn’t really shown much to say he should be out there more often. It’s worth noting, however, that his xBA is .306 and his xSLG is .448 against real-life numbers of .174 and .217. Perhaps some positive regression is on the way.
Ryan Jeffers - C (0.0 fWAR/0.0 bWAR/0.0 WAR AVG)
It’s been a pretty quiet start for Jeffers at the plate, but as long as he handles things behind it defensively — and it seems as though he has — he should still see plenty of time back there, especially if the Twins let Garver move around a bit to help clean up the struggles of some other hitters.
Jorge Alcala - RP (0.0 fWAR/0.1 bWAR/0.1 WAR AVG)
He hasn’t been bad by any means but just hasn’t overwhelmed the senses with anything out of the ordinary. The swinging-strike rate is down — 9.1 percent from 13.2 percent last season — and that’s most likely why he only has one strikeout so far this season.
Tyler Duffey - RP (0.0 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.1 WAR AVG)
He’s allowed a little more traffic than one might like on the bases so far this season, but no harm, no foul. He’s also seeing a much lower rate of swinging strikes this season (9.8 percent) than last (16.3 percent), but again, it’s very early.
J.A. Happ - SP (0.1 fWAR/0.1 bWAR/0.1 WAR AVG)
Happ wasn’t especially economical with his pitches against the Tigers, and as a result, threw 89 in just four innings of work. His command was a little scattershot — three walks — but that should rein in with a little more time. He’s going to be a bit of a work in progress after starting the spring slow due to a positive COVID test.
Alex Colome - RP (0.1 fWAR/-0.2 bWAR/-0.1 WAR AVG)
Colome hasn’t been overwhelmingly good, but the main issue he had was hitting Kolten Wong on an 0-2 pitch and throwing wildly to second to jump-start Milwaukee’s game-tying rally on Opening Day. The strikeouts should be there, as he’s again posting a healthy swinging-strike rate (13.1 percent) this season (15.3 percent in 2020, 12.4 percent career).
Kyle Garlick - OF (0.2 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
He’s probably more Mr. Right Now than Mr. Right, but he’s doing what he was brought in to do — fit in a platoon in left field and mash against lefties. He’s never really gotten extended run anywhere in the big leagues, and it’s hard to know for sure if that’ll happen with the Twins, but for now, he’s doing a nice job.
Willians Astudillo - Unicorn (0.2 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
The sample size is awfully short (13 PA) but he’s been terrific while filling in all over on a team that’s already been dealt some difficult injuries. He’s continued the cruise that saw him hit a blistering .375/.405/.800 this spring, though it’s unclear if he’s in the team’s long-term plans as a utility guy. Ride the wave, friends.
Caleb Thielbar - RP (0.1 fWAR/0.1 bWAR/0.1 WAR AVG)
Thielbar might get lost in the shuffle a bit with how good the bullpen looks so far, but he’s now down to a 1.93 ERA in 19 appearances since re-joining the Twins for a second go-round last season. Perhaps most impressively, he’s touched 94.4 mph with his fastball — more than a full tick above his best mark last season (93.1 mph).
Matt Shoemaker - SP (0.1 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
Shoemaker did what he does when he’s healthy in his debut for the Twins — pitch reasonably well but give up a homer every now and then. He didn’t walk anyone and fanned five batters in six innings, and allowed just three baserunners total in what could only be termed as a wildly successful team debut. If he can stay healthy, this will be a massive find for the Twins in free agency. If not, they have Dobnak waiting in the wings. It really is a no-lose situation.
Michael Pineda - SP (0.1 fWAR/0.1 bWAR/0.1 WAR AVG)
It’s basically a neck-and-neck competition for Shoemaker and Pineda, and it’s really a pick ‘em/coin toss. Perhaps the most impressive thing for Pineda is that he hasn’t given up a home run in any of his last six starts dating back to the beginning of his 2020 season. It’s only 31.2 innings, but for a guy who allowed 1.35-plus homers per nine in each of the three seasons prior to this stretch, that’s fairly impressive
Mitch Garver - C (0.2 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
It felt a little like 2020 Garver bled into the start of 2021, but he’s since looked markedly better with a couple of homers and four hits in his last 13 at-bats (including three going for extra bases). It kind of feels like the Twins are hoping to set him up to get maybe a 60-40 timeshare with Jeffers behind the plate, with Garver starting most games against southpaws and a 50-50ish split against righties.
Max Kepler - RF (0.2 fWAR/0.3 bWAR/0.3 WAR AVG)
Kepler has just four hits since stroking three on Opening Day, but it’s still a far cry from the 3-for-43 (.070) stretch he had this spring. He should continue to be a mainstay in the top half of the lineup.
Hansel Robles - RP (0.2 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
It’s possible two of the team’s best moves this offseason will have cost them $2 million apiece because Robles — like Shoemaker — has looked impressive so far this season. He’s struck out six of the 13 batters he’s faced and his only walk was intentional, and he’s experienced an uptick in velocity while relying extremely heavily on his changeup (52.6 percent via Fangraphs). It has a real chance to be a weapon for him, as it carries a career swinging-strike rate of 15.6 percent and a laughable 35.5 percent mark so far this season (31 changeups thrown).
Taylor Rogers - RP (0.2 fWAR/0.2 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
It sure feels like Rogers has broken the chain this season with half of the batters he’s faced going down via the strikeout. It’s certainly, again, early but he’s looked terrific in a very small sample size. The velo has also spiked for Rogers at a career-high 95.9 mph — up from an average of 94.6 mph last season.
Kenta Maeda - SP (0.2 fWAR/0.1 bWAR/0.2 WAR AVG)
As with Duffey, there’s been a bit more traffic on the bases than one might like with Maeda (1.55 WHIP), but he’s seamlessly wriggled out of any jams he’s created and appears primed to form a powerful 1-2 punch with Jose Berrios, who has been absolutely electric.
Luis Arraez - IF (0.4 fWAR/0.4 bWAR/0.4 WAR AVG)
It seems to me that Arraez is what everyone wants Astudillo to be — a lovable contact merchant who is an absolute pest to opposing pitchers. But while both make a ton of contact, Arraez appears to have a much more discerning eye at the plate. In fact, he’s compiled 48 walks against just 45 strikeouts to date in his big-league career. He’s passing the eye test at third base, and is doing exactly what the Twins hoped he would when they coined him their super-utility player who has played exactly 0.2 innings in left field after drawing the Opening Day assignment in Milwaukee.
Nelson Cruz - DH (0.5 fWAR/0.5 bWAR/0.5 WAR AVG)
Father Time is still undefeated, but this one is going into extra innings with no Mickey Mouse “runner on second” rule. Three games of merely pinch-hitting in Milwaukee hasn’t slowed Cruz down, as he’s slashing a blistering .429/.435/.905 while continuing to terrorize every pitcher in his way.
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0.5 fWAR/0.6 bWAR/0.6 WAR AVG)
The defense has been as advertised — save for a dropped throw from Sano at second base — and the offense has been a pleasant surprise. Basically, Simmons has shown how a good team can improve in a meaningful way without really displacing any of its other great talent. Depth matters. In seven games, Simmons has already matched his Fangraphs WAR total from the 30 games he played in 2020.
Jose Berrios - SP (0.5 fWAR/0.4 bWAR/0.5 WAR AVG)
The easiest way to track how incredible Berrios has been — outside of not allowing a hit until his second start of the season — is that he’s allowing an opponents’ slash line of .132/.214/.211 to this point. Of pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings this season, only one — Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes — is striking out batters at a rate higher than Berrios’ 47.6 percent. Berrios will still have to prove he can weather the storms that have made him a high-3.00s ERA pitcher in recent seasons as opposed to low-3.00s, but the early signs are very, very good.
Byron Buxton - CF (0.7 fWAR/0.8 bWAR/0.8 WAR AVG)
Buxton hit .135/.195/.297 in 15 spring games. He’s hit .421/.476/1.211 in six regular-season games.
It’s impossible to overstate just how good Buxton has been. He’s giving off “possible MVP” vibes and is teasing fans with the thought that he might finally be putting it all together. And for a guy who between 2019-20 was worth 5.1 WAR via Baseball-Reference in just 126 games, it’s pretty scary for opponents that there’s potentially another gear in there. Over those two seasons, he performed at a 7.8 bWAR per 650 PA pace.
Through 21 plate appearances this season, he’s performed at a 24.8 bWAR pace. Stay hot, Buck.