Twins Week in Review: 6/14-20
Progress? Yes. Sustainable? Also....yes?
Welcome to The Minnesota Twins Week in Review. On Access Twins, we’ll take a deep dive into the week that was for your Twins. We will post on Mondays, and look back from the previous Monday to Sunday since that’s how MLB lines up its schedule.
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And now, let’s talk to it:
Record: 4-2, .667 (t-9th) — 0-0 at home, 4-2 on the road
Current Fangraphs Record Projection: 78-84, .474 (3rd place, +1 win)
Current Fangraphs Division Chances: 1.6 percent (+0.7 percent)
Current Fangraphs Playoff Chances: 2.5 percent (+0.8 percent)
Baseball Prospectus PECOTA Record Projection: 83-79 (3rd place, +2 wins)
Baseball Prospectus Division Chances: 12.9 percent (+5.4 percent)
Baseball Prospectus Playoff Chances: 16.2 percent (+6.6 percent)
Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Playoff Chances: 14.5 percent (+6.1 percent)
FiveThirtyEight Record Projection: 75-87 (3rd place, +1 win)
FiveThirtyEight Division Chances: 2.0 percent (+1.0 percent)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Chances: 2.0 percent (no change)
I find it especially interesting how far out on a limb Baseball Prospectus goes on the Twins. They have Cleveland winning the division with just 88 wins and Chicago right behind them at 87. That leaves the Twins within five games of winning the division, though not remotely close to securing one of the Wild Card berths, which they have going to Tampa Bay (92 wins) and Oakland (91).
As things stand now, that’d be a 53-38 sprint to the finish, meaning the Twins would play .582 ball the rest of the way.
For those wondering at home, that means the Twins would play at a 94-win pace down the stretch. Last year’s team finished 36-24 — a 97.2-win pace.
It’s not impossible.
Hitting (with rankings)
Batting Average: .252 (14th)
On-Base Percentage: .305 (16th)
Slugging Percentage: .405 (18th)
OPS: .710 (17th)
wOBA: .308 (17th)
wRC+: 95 (17th)
K%: 21.7% (12th)
BB%: 7.1% (18th)
Runs Per Game: 4.00 (t-17th)
Batting Average (w/ RISP): .205 (22nd)
I find this encouraging. Wait, what?
Yes, it’s encouraging because I believe this team is going to go as far as its hitting will allow — and while that was down this past week, they still won four games. So, unless it was absolutely insane run sequencing, either the rotation or bullpen, ostensibly, had to have picked up the pace.
So that’s why it’s encouraging. Signs of life from the rotation — like Bailey Ober taking over for Matt Shoemaker and King Kenta Maeda returning — along with the bullpen rounding into form should help boost this. Again, I’m not saying people are going to get on board with the 83-win projection above, but I think it becomes easier to digest that they can play much better moving forward and cut into that win-loss deficit.
Nine Twins hitters — a full lineup! — had wRC+ figures over 100.
Though to be fair, that includes Byron Buxton, Willians Astudillo and Gilberto Celestino, who combined for just 24 plate appearances — or as many as Nelson Cruz (207 wRC+) had by himself.
Still, these guys had appreciable plate appearances and above-average weeks offensively:
Cruz - 207 wRC+ in 24 PA
Ryan Jeffers - 142 wRC+ in 17 PA
Luis Arraez - 140 wRC+ in 22 PA
Trevor Larnach - 127 wRC+ in 23 PA
Jorge Polanco - 112 wRC+ in 23 6 PA
Alex Kirilloff - 100 wRC+ in 21 PA
Everyone else was under 100; or, in the case of Miguel Sano, below 0 (minus-45). He’s going to keep ceding time at first base to Kirilloff until he can get his swing going, if that ever happens.
Starting Pitching (with rankings)
IP: 28.1 (27th)
IP/GS: 4.72 (25th)
Pitches/Start: 80.5 (19th)
ERA: 4.13 (12th)
FIP: 3.91 (11th)
xFIP: 4.32 (19th)
SIERA: 3.92 (10th)
K/9: 9.21 (8th)
K%: 24.0 percent (9th)
BB/9: 2.22 (9th)
BB%: 5.8% percent (9th)
K-BB%: 18.2 percent (6th)
WHIP: 1.24 (13th)
Groundball Rate: 39.8 percent (23rd)
Opponent Batting Average: .252 (15th)
Opponent On-Base Percentage: .306 (13th)
Opponent Slugging Percentage: .414 (12th)
Opponent OPS: .720 (12th)
Again, I’m encouraged by all of this. Why? Because it feels sustainable. The Twins had a good week and the rotation didn’t have to pitch out of their minds. The strikeouts were nice, but Ober and Maeda both can strike people out — or at least in the case of Ober, he has so far anyway.
This also again looks good when the Twins are compared to the sliding scale as it relates to how pitching has trended downward with the crackdown on using substances on baseballs — as we noted last week.
In reality, I think we can reasonably expect Twins starters to do something to this effect, maybe with a slight adjustment down, but also expect the offense to tick up a bit as well.
And while that might not seem like a good enough rotation to do damage in October — make no mistake, right now it isn’t — if they’re even close to the race in July, that’s when they can look in earnest for upgrades.
I’ll write about one specific one this week who people are very familiar with.
Relief Pitching (with rankings)
IP: 24.2 (14th)
Innings Per Game: 4.11 (5th)
Pitches Per Game: 70.3 (5th)
ERA: 3.65 (12th)
FIP: 4.02 (15th)
xFIP: 4.06 (13th)
SIERA: 3.46 (10th)
K/9: 9.49 (15nd)
K%: 25.7 percent (7th)
BB/9: 2.55 (7th)
BB%: 6.9 percent (nice, 7th)
K-BB%: 18.8 percent (8th)
WHIP: 1.18 (12th)
Groundball Rate: 43.9 percent (16th)
Opponent Batting Average: .239 (t-15th)
Opponent On-Base Percentage: .287 (11th)
Opponent Slugging Percentage: .413 (16th)
Opponent OPS: .700 (14th)
Inherited Runners: 0 (t-1st)
Inherited Runners Scored: 0 (t-1st)
Inherited Runners Scored Percentage: 0.0 percent (t-1st)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but this feels: sustainable. Again, the Twins didn’t have to pitch out of their minds to have a 4-2 week. They’re capable of doing all of this week in and week out, and stringing together a bunch of 4-2 weeks gets the Twins back to .500 before the trade deadline. A lot of those games are against AL Central foes as well, so that could/would cut at least some of the divisional deficit down.
I’m not saying it’s happening. I’m not saying it’s likely. But what I am saying is I’m enthused about the direction this team is heading, and I’ve been on this train the whole lonely time.
Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey were unscored upon last week, while Caleb Thielbar struck out everyone in sight (five strikeouts in three innings). Luke Farrell (two earned runs in an inning) and Griffin Jax (four earned runs in four innings) were really the only two players who didn’t have relatively good weeks out of the bullpen.
All research is done via Sportradar’s r360, Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs unless otherwise noted.
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