Twins takeaway 3: Top players on The Streak, missing on Manuel Margot, Ryan Jeffers vs. Mitch Garver

MINNEAPOLIS — After a dozen straight wins, the second-longest winning streak in Minnesota Twins history ended Sunday with a lopsided loss to the Boston Red Sox at Target Field.

Losing for the first time since April 21, but the Twins still took two out of three games from the Red Sox for their fourth straight win and now sit at 19-14 after an ugly 7-13 start to the season.

In the space of two weeks, the Twins cut the Cleveland Guardians’ lead in the American League Central from eight games to two and a half games, and increased their lead in the American League Central from eight games to two and a half games. Postseason odds From 34 percent to 71 percent and improved from having the third-worst record in the league to being in line for the playoffs.

They will look to start a new series against old friends Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver, with the first-place Seattle Mariners coming to town for a four-game series starting Monday.

But first, here are three takeaways from the Twins after three games against the Red Sox.

The best players in The Streak

Now that the series is over — three games shy of the club team record set in 1991 — which players have done their best to help the Twins go on a 12-game winning streak?

The probability of winning has been added Attempts to measure this by calculating how each play in a game changed a team’s expected winning percentage, with the caveat that it includes hitting and pitching but not fielding.

Here are the top 12 individual WPA totals over a 12-game streak:

(Keep in mind that “average” is a much higher baseline than the “replacement level” used in WAR, since a team full of average players will go 81-81 in a season.)

Max Kepler was perhaps the best player on the Twins’ line, adding more than one complete win compared to the average player according to the WPA. Kepler came off the injured list the day the streak began and played 11 of 12 games, hitting .400/.463/.629 with two homers and 11 RBIs, all of which seemed to put the Twins ahead. He went 7-for-15 (.467) with runners in scoring position.

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“All the difference,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of Keibler. “He came back and started making shots all over the field, making runs inside the field. He’s been a big part of what’s going on offensively for us, and we’re still getting good defense from him. You see it coming together like it did in the second half of last year. And now we’re seeing the second half of Cape in April and May.

Byron Buxton missed the final two and a half games of the series with knee issues, but was able to make a big impact before going to the IL. In fact, without Buxton’s game-tying homer off Chicago White Sox reliever Steven Wilson in the ninth inning on April 23, the streak might not have been a streak at all. That led to the second of 12 straight wins, and Buxton hit .348 during the streak.

Willie Castro (.440/.451/.720) and Ryan Jeffers (.366/.449/.659) led the Twins regulars in OPS during the streak, as they combined for 18 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 12 games and were accomplished with clutch hits Multiple for each. Overall, the Twins lineup hit .308/.377/.514 during the streak, scoring 7.0 runs per game. Before the streak, the Twins were hitting .195 and scoring 3.4 runs per game.

Griffin Jax was out of the bullpen during the streak, going six scoreless games in a high-leverage role to record a win, a save and three shutouts. Opponents went 1-for-16 (.057) with seven strikeouts versus Jacks, who also stranded four of the five runners he inherited, preserving the ERAs of Stephen Ockert and Cole Sands in the process.

Chris Paddack was the best player on the line. He shut out the White Sox for seven innings to start it all off on April 22 and shut out the Red Sox for six innings to pick up the 11th win on May 3, with a mediocre outing against the Los Angeles Angels in between. Collectively, the Twins had a 3.49 ERA from the rotation and a 2.41 ERA from the bullpen during the streak.

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Not measured by WPA: sausage power. The magic of cured meat cannot be quantified.

Missing in Manuel Margot

When the Twins traded for Manuel Margot in late February, expectations were that he would replace Michael A. Margot. Taylor as a backup midfielder, a key role given Buxton’s injury history. Sure, someone other than Buxton started 13 of the first 33 games at center field, and that total will grow in the coming weeks, but none of those games went to Margot.

Instead, the Twins turned to Austin Martin, a converted starter, and Castro, a superlative utility man, as infielders. Margot has logged a total of four outings at center field all season and it has been over a month since he played the position. On the day the Buxton twins were shelved, Baldelli didn’t even mention Margot as a replacement option.

Margot is 29 years old, with over 500 games and 4,000 innings under his belt as a big-league centerfielder, but within weeks of acquiring him it was clear the Twins viewed him as no higher than fourth on the depth chart there behind Buxton, Castro and Martin. . It’s also possible they could turn to Triple-A speedster DaShawn Keirsey Jr. On Margot if more help is needed in midfield.

Margot has made his career on good speed and defense, but his fielding stats tanked even when limited to cornerbacks and his sprint speed dropped to the 44th percentile after being in the 75th percentile last season. If the Twins had any idea that Margot would lose a step (or steps) so quickly and be deployed strictly as a cornerback, they probably never targeted him.

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Without the ability to play in a strong central position, Margot loses the majority of his value. He’s a .258/.308/.382 hitter, which is nowhere near good enough for a corner outfielder. It also appears that he may have lost an offensive move. After going 0-for-3 and hitting a doubleheader on Sunday, he’s batting .172 with a career-high 23 percent batting average in 28 plate appearances.

Ryan Jeffers vs. Mitch Garver

Ryan Jeffers rounds the bases after his return on Sunday. (Matt Crone/USA Today)

Before the 2022 season, the Twins made the difficult decision by trading Garver and committing to Jeffers at catcher. Garver hit .256/.358/.517 in 2021, but he was 31 years old and having an increasingly difficult time staying healthy behind the plate. Jeffers was 25 years old, and despite hitting just .199 in 2021, the Twins believed he had the potential to be one of the best players in the league.

Three years later, there is no doubt that they made the right decision. Garver played well for the Texas Rangers last season and won a World Series ring, but he got off to a rough start with the Mariners, hitting .156 in 28 games. He also hasn’t played a single inning at catcher since last Sept. 3, moving to designated hitter full-time in the first season of a two-year, $24 million contract.

Jeffers has also seen semi-regular DH action, but that’s because the Twins can’t take his hot bat out of the lineup. He hit .291/.375/.563 after ripping his sixth homer Sunday and hitting an extra base hit in all three Red Sox games. Badak too The praise is heaped On Jeffers’ work behind the plate on Friday. He leads the Twins in WAR and WPA, and leads MLB catchers in OPS since Opening Day 2023.

(Top photo of Max Kepler and Willie Castro in 2023: Cole Burston/Getty Images)

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