Major League Baseball is on its way back! While we wait for Spring Training 2.0 and the season to start up, we will continue to have Jack Kewitsch take over the team as both the manager and general manager through Out of the Park (OOTP) in this simulation-style season. But we will be speeding it up and covering a month at a time as the real Opening Day is only two weeks away.
We have reached the All-Star break with a 73-25 record. An absolutely insane pace that I hope we can maintain. With the Home Run Derby and All-Star game opening to start this week, lets see where our Twins landed.
|First Base||Miguel Sano||3,244,456||Yes|
|Second Base||Luis Arraez||3,303,333||Yes|
|Third Base||Josh Donaldson||4,351,083||Yes (top vote getter)|
|Center Field||Byron Buxton||3,413,803||No (made roster)|
|Right Field||Max Kepler||3,405,488||Yes|
|Designated Hitter||Nelson Cruz||3,897,468||Yes|
|Starting Pitcher||Jake Odorizzi||2,334,771||Yes|
|Starting Pitcher||Kenta Maeda||2,315,549||No (made roster)|
|Reliever||Zach Littell||1,229,113||Yes (first reliever)|
|Reliever||Taylor Rogers||1,045,662||Yes (first closer)|
What an insane amount of guys to make a team and start! It is more impressive than the 2015 Royals fans stuffing the ballot boxes because these guys played better across the board than them. So nine starters and 11 players to make the team, it will be an exciting week in LA!
Before jumping into game action, let’s look at how the team has performed statistically up to now.
Wins Above Replacement Leaders Hitters:
5.0 – Josh Donaldson
4.4 – Byron Buxton
3.5 – Luis Arraez
3.3 – Max Kepler
3.2 – Nelson Cruz
3.1 – Miguel Sano
Six guys all above 3.0 WAR at the break? That is insane.
Wins Above Replacement Leaders Pitchers:
3.0 – Kenta Maeda
3.0 – Jake Odorizzi
2.5 – Taylor Rogers
2.5 – Jose Berrios
One thing to note about WAR on our team is that only two players (Marwin Gonzalez and Trevor Rosenthal) have negative WAR. And both are only at -0.1.
Games 99-101: Bringing the Heat to Texas
We really did bring the heat to the already scorching hot Texas weather. Thankfully their new stadium is domed and it ended in a sweep…again.
Not much in the way of offense to note outside of a Bomba by Garver and Donaldson in the first game and Buxton stealing some in the third game to push his total to 82 on the year.
Pitching-wise though, we were studs on the mound. Berrios struck out eight in his outing, Odorizzi pitched a one-run complete game, and Pineda struck out ten over six on his way to a win too.
Twins 9 – Rangers 5
Twins 4 – Rangers 1
Twins 5 – Rangers 3
Twins Record: 76-25
Games 102-104: Strong Start in Arizona
Before even leaving Dallas, the Rangers contacted us about Michael Pineda’s availability. I said we were open to negotiations and they offered Lance Lynn for him straight up. I couldn’t resist. The Rangers are clearly sellers this year and this could be just the incremental upgrade to continue pushing us forward. That and I am trigger happy.
Definitely a great first half to the series. Maeda started the first game amazingly. Going 8.2 innings and keeping it scoreless until I left him in too long and he gave up a run. But still an excellent outing.
After that, game two was the Josh Donaldson show. He went off in the game. Hitting two Bombas, one for two runs and a grand slam. It got messy near the end with Romo giving up two homers for three runs. The third game wasn’t anything to write home about. Berrios had major issues to begin and we couldn’t get anything going. Still a series win!
Twins 8 – Diamondbacks 1
Twins 6 – Diamondbacks 5
Diamondbacks 8 – Twins 1
Twins Record: 78-26
Games 105-108: Frustrating Weekend on the South Side
Once again, the title says it all. This was the most frustrating series of the year…at least that I can remember. Whether it was Lance Lynn crapping his first start back with the Twins or Odorizzi and Samardzija putting us in deep holes that were impossible to climb out of. It was a mess.
The bright spot of the weekend was Luis Arraez. The All-Star hit two home runs in the lone win of the series after hitting only one all year up to this point. Needless to say, I was thrilled! ARRAEZ POWER!
Other than that, a lot to work on with regard to getting back to early scoring and deeper outings from the pitching staff.
White Sox 11 – Twins 10
White Sox 8 – Twins 4
Twins 13 – White Sox 4
White Sox 10 – Twins 3
Twins Record: 79-29
Games 109-110: A Series Split Against the 2nd Best Team in Baseball
Well, my trigger finger was happy once again! After picking up Jesse Winker mere series ago, his departure was near inevitable when the A’s offered Mark Canha for minor league starter Jordan Balazovic.
So to make room for Canha, I needed to get rid of Winker. After shopping him around, the Dodgers (our next opponent) offered 23-year old starting pitcher Julio Urias and minor league reliever Zach Willeman for him. Absolute steal!
Prior to action, Rich Hill re-aggravated a lingering injury. But this time it was worse. A ruptured disc has him out for four months. At 40 years old it was always questionable how well he would hold up. But this appears to be a blessing in disguise. As it allows me to move Samardzija to the pen and put Urias into the starting rotation.
Would this be an appetizer to the World Series? Who knows? But it sure played out that way.
After cruising to victory in the first game thanks to a complete game shutout by Berrios along with homers from Cruz, Donaldson, and Arraez, the second game was a different story.
Leading 2-0 going into the eighth, Odorizzi was just too tired to continue. Framber Valdez eventually came in and gave up a game-tying two-run shot to recently traded Jess Winker. Oops!
Then Chris Martin proceeded to give up the go-ahead run in the ninth. While Kepler made it interesting, leading off with a triple in the bottom of the inning, the bats couldn’t get it done. So a series split against the team with the second-best record? Not the best. Not the worst. Especially when we are still 50-games over .500.
Twins 7 – Dodgers 0
Dodgers 3 – Twins 2
Month Review and Lookahead:
Needing to power through this season before the real season starts July 23, I swept through July. While we lost three straight at one point, we only lost five games in the month and built our lead in the Central to 18 games. We are also the first team in the league to win 80 games…in only 110 games!
Statistically, we are looking extremely formidable. With the top two home run hitters (Sano and Cruz) and the leader in RBI (Cruz) and average (Arraez), we are rolling.
Pitching-wise, no one has lost 10 games yet and we have four 10-game winners so far. A few ERAs could be lower and I would love to see more strikeouts, but who doesn’t?
August is going to be a slog. We start with a doubleheader in a three-game series against the Astros* and then also get to face Cleveland, Boston, Milwaukee, and Tampa. While we haven’t falter to great teams yet, it is always something to keep an eye on.