Category Archives: MLB

2021–2022 Offseason Wishlist

The World Series is over. Teams have extended qualifying offers to their upcoming free agents, who must determine whether to accept a one-year, $18.4 million contract and remain with their most recent club, or to decline and seek other opportunities on the open market. The deadline for those decisions is Wednesday, 17 November.

The Twins have a lot of work to do to turn around a disastrous year in which they plummeted down the elevator shaft from roof to basement, traded away key players, and Let (Some of) the Kids Play (Until Some of the Kids Got Hurt). Rather than celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1991 World Series Champions with a deep run into the postseason, the Twins are in the position to ponder the success of the Twins’ front office over the 1990–1991 offseason. Will the current front office attempt a similar worst-to-first turnaround, or do they see a return to sustainable contention taking a season (or more) to develop? The futures of several key Twins regulars are up in the air until their approach becomes clear.

We’ll know their answer in due time. For now, we can posit our own.

A few handy, non-paywalled reference materials:

2021 CBA Wishlist

The Collective Bargaining Agreement that governs the relationship between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association expires at 11:59 p.m. on 01 December 2021. If a new agreement is not in place, the thirty owners can break a labor peace that has existed since 1995 and lock out the players. MLB owners locking out the people most responsible for creating public demand for the league’s entertainment product would match recent trends in other North American pro sports leagues’ negotiations with player unions, including the 2012–13 NHL lockout, 2011 NBA lockout, 2011 NFL lockout, 2004-05 NHL lockout, and 1998-99 NBA lockout.

The consensus assessment of the 2016 CBA seems to be one that turned out heavily skewed in favor of the interests of owners, one in which the MLBPA was out-negotiated, due in part to untimely death of executive director Michael Weiner. Consequently, MLBPA has hired a new lead attorney, Bruce Meyer (formerly of the NHL Players’ Association), to assist Weiner’s successor Tony Clark and sweat the fine details. The owners are represented by a labor issues committee chaired by Dick Montfort, the Rockies’ owner who makes fans of his team yearn for competence rivaling the late Brezhnev/Andropov/Chernenko era Soviet leadership. Meanwhile, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred has been at turns viewed by players (and fans) as adversarial, avaricious, dismissive, meddlesome, & neglectful. Manfred has been involved on MLB’s side of labor issues since the 1980s; his legal team is headed by MLB COO Dan Halem, lead negotiator of the 2016 CBA.

Let’s say you were the Baseball Ombuds — some hypothetical job with the distinct charge to do what you view is in the best interest of baseball. The CBA governs the sport’s economics, labor issues, and rules, including when and under what conditions new rules can be imposed. Of course, negotiations involve parties making concessions to reach an agreement that can be durable for a number of years, but let’s give ourselves the freedom to dream of a CBA that governs the 2022–2026 seasons.

What changes or additions would you like to see to the next CBA that balance the needs and interests of fans, players, and owners, and which create the conditions for an appealing on-field product with a sustainable business model? What needs fixing, and how do you propose fixing it?

Top 300 Minnesota Twins of all time: Updated through 2021

The Minnesota Twins have now completed 61 years of baseball and it is year 10 of putting my pet project on the WGOM site.

2021 was a very disappointing team as the two time defending division champs fell to 73-89 and in last place in the AL Central. Despite the team failures, there was quite a bit of movement within the top 300 list as well as 3 newcomers adding to the list. This year's newcomers are Josh Donaldson, Willians Astudillo, and Ryan Jeffers

In the top 100, the highest rising star was Jorge Polanco, leaping 22 spots into the top 40 with an all star caliber year. Right behind him is former teammate Nelson Cruz who moved up 27 spots to land just outside the top40 after an all star first half of the season. Byron Buxton's spectacular 60 game season pushed him up 27 spots as well and he lands just outside the top50. Jose Berrios also jumped into the 50s, moving up 24 spots, with his partial season (another top performer moved at the deadline). #60 Miguel Sano and #64 Max Kepler have the exact same rankings as last year, but they actually passed several former Twins only to be passed by the teammates listed above. Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers move up 37 and 20 spots respectively to just tip their toes into the top 100 at #93 and #95 respectively.

Luis Arraez moves up 61 spots to find himself just outside the top 100 at #110. Michael Pineda moved up 44 spots to join Arraez in the 100s. Newcomer Josh Donaldson moved all the way up to #173 from an un-ranked position. Kenta Maeda also jumped into the 100s, moving up 38 spots from last year. Jake Cave moved back 3 spots with his poor 2021 season.

In the 200s, Tyler Duffey jumped 52 spots to land at #204 and Caleb Thielbar moved up 71 spots to #225. Newcomers Willans Astudillo (296) and Ryan Jeffers (298) just found their way into the top 300. Sliding back 7 spots is Randy Dobnak to land at the last spot on the list, #300.

Falling out of the top300 this year are Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Millone, and David West.

I stole the idea from when Aaron Gleeman started his top40 list over a decade ago, but just decided to expand to a nice big round 300. The below quote is his, and the rest is an excerpt from a book I put together at the 50 year mark. I’ve updated the list and stats through 2021.

“The rankings only include time spent playing for the Minnesota Twins. In other words, David Ortiz doesn’t get credit for turning into one of the best players in baseball after joining the Red Sox and Paul Molitor doesn’t get credit for being one of the best players in baseball for the Brewers and Blue Jays. The Twins began playing on April 11, 1961, and that’s when these rankings start as well.”

I used a variety of factors, including longevity and peak value. Longevity included how many years the player was a Twin as well as how many plate appearances or innings pitched that player had in those years. For peak value, I looked at their stats, honors, and awards in their best seasons, as well as how they compared to their teammates. Did they lead their team in OPS or home runs or ERA for starters or WPA? If so, that got some bonus points. I factored in postseason heroics, awards (gold gloves, silver sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs), statistical achievements (batting titles, home run leaders, ERA champs, etc), and honors (all star appearances), and I looked at team success as well. If you were the #1 starter on a division winning champ, that gave you more points than the #1 starter on a cellar dweller. I looked at some of the advanced stats like WPA, WAR (as calculated by fan graphs and baseball-reference.com), WARP (as calculated by Baseball Prospectus), and Win Shares (as calculated by Bill James). For hitters, I also looked at OPS and the old school triple crown statistics like batting average, home runs, stolen bases, and RBI (and not only where you finished within the AL in any given year, but where you appear on the top25 lists amongst all Twins in the last 60 years). For pitchers I looked at strikeouts, innings pitched, win/loss percentage, ERA as well as ERA+). If there was a metric that was used for all 61 years of Twins history, I tried to incorporate it. I tended to give more credit to guys who were starters instead of part time/platoon players, more credit to position players over pitchers (just slightly, but probably unfairly) and starters over relievers (and closers over middle relievers). There’s no formula to my magic, just looking at a lot of factors and in the end going with the gut in all tie-breakers. Up in the top10 I’m looking at All star appearances, Cy Young and MVP votes, batting average or ERA titles or top10 finishes, etc, and placement in the top25 hitting and pitching lists in Twins history as well. In the middle 100s, it’s more about who started a few more years or had 2 good seasons rather than 1 with possibly an occasional all-star berth or top10 finish in SB or strikeouts. Once you’re in the latter half of the 200s there are none of those on anyone’s resume, so its basically just looking at peak season in OPS+ or ERA+, WAR, Win Shares, and who started the most years, had the most at bats, or pitched the most innings. What the player did as a coach, manager, or broadcaster is not taken into consideration for this list, so Billy Martin, Tom Kelly or Billy Gardner weren’t able to make the top 300 since they were poor players and Frank Quilici and Paul Molitor didn’t improve his status due to his managing career.

Feel free to pick it apart and decide in your opinion, who was slighted, and who's overrated. Columns are sort-able if you want to see how each player ranks by any of the metrics or "years as a starter" or their last year with the team to see the more recent players.

Continue reading Top 300 Minnesota Twins of all time: Updated through 2021

2021 Division Series Day 2: AL Games 2 and NL Games 1

I hope you like all-day baseball because it's all-day (if the day starts no earlier than 2 p.m. EDT) baseball.

Now on MLBN:
Lucas Giolito
vs
Framber Valdez

3:37 p.m. on TBS
Charlie Morton
vs
Corbin Burnes

6:02 p.m. on FS1
Chris Sale
vs
Shane Baz

8:37 p.m. on TBS
Walker Buehler
vs
Logan Webb