Triple Play

The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play: Minnesota Twins!

AN INTRODUCTION

Welcome to The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play! This is a brand-new series where three very cool dynasty baseball nerds- Adam Lawler, Patrick Magnus, and Keaton O. DeRocher- bring to you a succinct analysis of a pitcher, a hitter and a prospect from each organization. We’ll be running this regularly until we cover all 30 teams!

Each team will be covered in alphabetical order. This article we’re covering the Minnesota Twins. And, while we here at The Dynasty Guru are primarily baseball obsessed, we’ll also be touching on some music we’ve enjoyed from each team’s home state. Enjoy, and leave us your question and comments below!

Jose Berrios, 23, RHP

Analysis by Adam Lawler

First and foremost, I want to declare my love for Jose Berrios.  I want to scream it from the mountain tops. He is my stars and moon.

Historical Review

The 23-year-old and former 32nd overall pick arrived in the show in 2016 with a ton of hype. Armed with a tantalizing four-pitch mix and a knack for bringing heat, Berrios was nothing short of… terrible.  He was knocked around in his first three starts, seeming hittable, home run prone, and hazardously careless with the free pass.  After his fourth start, which was capped with a 0.2 IP and 7 ER start against the Tigers on the road, Berrios was unceremoniously demoted.  

However, there was still reason for optimism. Pitcher progression is not linear. Hall of Famers like Koufax, Gossage, Nolan Ryan were abysmal to start their career.  Now, I am not saying Berrios is a future HOF, but I AM saying that pitcher growth is a tumultuous road of reckoning, retooling, and redemption.  Berrios proved that sentiment, returning in August and showing more promise (with the occasional hiccup) than his previous promotion.

Why is that you ask?  Well, here’s one theory that can be explained in four charts:

 

What you are looking at is the contact rate of batters during Berrios’ initial run in the league (above) and his second tour in 2016 (below).  In the left-hand column, we see all of his off-speed offerings a lot of red.  In the right-hand and column, we see all of his fastball offerings and a lot of blue.

During his first run, batters were laying off his fastball, waiting on his offspeed stuff, and jumping all over it. Now, this could be the league forcing the young gun to prove his worth with secondary offerings. It could be that he was just throwing his secondary pitches more than usual in his initial run vs the second go around, and thus batters had more chances to see the pitches. It could be a small sample size that is easy to write off as a young gun learning his way. It could be a bit of everything? Yet, maybe it was something more…sinister?

Although I can summarize, I would strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read Parker Hageman’s work at Twin’s Daily.  In the article, he does an excellent job of explaining that Berrios was very likely tipping his pitches.  This theory was somewhat corroborated by Twins beat writer Mike Berardino when tweeting about Berrios’ arm path. Reckoning, retooling, redemption.  The offseason does wonders for a ballplayer. During the season, big adjustments and fixes are rare, but the offseason is a time for deep reflection as they really focus on improving their craft. This bore out in the 2017 campaign.

What I could say and will say has probably already been written about a dozen times. His DRA became a respectable 3.62, K/9 rate jumped to a well above league average 8.59 K/9, his BB/9 mercifully dropped by 55% in comparison to the 2016 campaign, and he kept the ball in the park by dropping his HR/9 rate by more than half.  This is a kid who has proven that he’s kind of figured it out.  At the very least, he’s a player who’s proven he can adjust, which is the most important and underrated (albeit subjective) currency when considering projection.  The tipping pitches theory is underscored and highlighted when you compare the pitching selection of 2016 Berrios to 2017 Berrios.

Berrios5

Berrios6

Fantasy Outlook 2018 and Beyond:

PrettyGood

If adversaries are estimating worth based on projections, he’s going to be a great value.

Contextually speaking, the White Sox and Royals are going to be the epitome of ‘meh’ baseball for the next two years. The buzzards are flying around the rotting corpse of what was once known as the Detroit Tigers.  The Indians aren’t the force they were a year ago and have regression written all over a number of their batters. More importantly, it’s another year of experience and knowledge under Berrios’ belt; another off-season to improve and grow.

I won’t quibble with the IP (169, nice). Although it could be more around 180 if the Twins are in the hunt, and there’s reason to believe they will be given their young core and aforementioned divisional rivals. I believe you’re going to see an uptick in his K/9 beyond the 8.59 he achieved last year, a continuation of his ERA in the mid 3s, and a higher chance of Ws beyond the 11 listed here.  In other words, 184 IP, 180 Ks, 3.7 ERA, and 15 Ws are all very reasonable to assume.  You have yourself a solid SP2/SP3 in the making in the neighborhood of Chris Archer, Robbie Ray, and Yu Darvish, if you prefer lumping him into tiers with names. You know the type- the above average pitcher with the tendency for a clunker.  The pitcher who confounds from time to time when they mix of stupefying talent with “just not having it” on any given day, but when they have “it” whooo-boy look out.

In the near-to-long term, now is your time to buy.  While I wouldn’t anticipate the smart owner taking Berrios at anything less than value given his strong 2017 campaign, I have a strong feeling the masses are going to start noticing Berrios and his filthy repertoire a heck of a lot more after this year, when the media-inflation rate (think Giancarlo Stanton) takes hold.  Moreover, if you bake in 180 IP into his projection – a threshold Steamer projects a mere 38 starting pitchers will achieve – one can have grounded speculation he will grow into a top 20 pitcher within the next 3 years.  Then, you begin to factor in his age in comparison to the looming fall off of stalwart but aging arms (Lester, Verlander, Price, Scherzer, etc;), as well as his seemingly healthy-ish history, and Berrios is a solid investment for those seeking a pitcher who knows his floor but is still searching for his ceiling.

Adam’s Artist Selection

Come on. There’s one answer. And this performance is one of Prince’s coolest.

Akil Baddoo, Age: 19, OF

Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher

The Baddoo

On a previous podcast, we had a listener question: what are the stats we use to evaluate minor leaguers? Both I and fellow co-host Patrick had the similar answers, those answers being similar questions: what does their walk rate look like, what does their strikeout rate look like, and what was their age relative to the level they were at? Well, Baddoo answers all of those questions in the positive. Drafted 74th overall as a 17-year-old prep outfielder out of Georgia, Baddoo got off to a slow start in rookie ball in 2016, slashing .178/.299/.271 in 38 games. That’s very young, even for rookie ball, and it was a small sample so it’s tough to take much away from that. Even though his slash wasn’t that great, he did post 14.1% walk rate, which shows a glimpse of an above average approach at the plate.

The Gooddoo

Last season is where Baddoo started putting it all together. He slashed a sexy .323/.436/.527, had a 14.2% strikeout rate and a 16.0% walk rate at the ripe young age of 18. Those are some outstanding numbers for his age and level, and not only did he increase his walk rate form the previous year, but he also walked more than he struck out. So the question remains: does Baddoo have the skills to continue these numbers and shoot up the prospect ranks? I think he does.

The Scouting Report

I love that swing! Let’s drop it into slow-mo and break it down.

Baddoo does a great job of keeping his weight back and balanced on his back foot and keeps his hands up and elbow in near perfect form. His step is a perfect timing mechanism for his the rest of his swing and he brings his weight forward towards the ball well to meet the bat. He has quick hands that generate plenty of bat speed through the zone to the point of contact. His stance needs to be taught to little leaguers because it is fundamentally flawless. I want to frame this swing on my wall. 

Having a picture-perfect stance is one thing, having the tools and potential to do anything with it is another thing. Well, I’m glad you [I] asked because he DOES have those tools and potential. From his beautiful swing he generates a bunch of contact, and from that bunch of contact he generates gap power that projects to more over-the-fence power as he fills out his frame. He also adds playable speed on the base paths and probably has enough to remain in center. But his profile is exciting enough that it won’t matter if he moves to a corner. Baddoo is the type of guy you want to jump on now before it too late, and too late is fast approaching.

Keaton’s Artist Selection

Byron Buxton, 24, OF

Analysis by Patrick Magnus

Byron a Long Time Since I Rock and Rolled

If you’ve listened to the TDG Podcast, then you know that Buxton’s profile is essentially the antithesis of the kind of player I would roster in a dynasty league. Speed first, no plate discipline, and plays with reckless abandonment in the outfield. To his credit, he certainly checks the ‘fun box’ of my player analysis. So, I wouldn’t blame anyone for rostering him because they enjoy him as a baseball player, but is he a safe dynasty investment? Let’s find out.

Buxton is Fun

If you play in a dynasty league where jaw-dropping catches are a category, then Byron Buxton is a first-rounder. The dude is an absolute joy to watch. Other than amazing gifs, he’s got some stats to back up that defensive glory in 2017:

  • Ranked 1st in Outs Above Average (Statcast/Baseball Savant)
  • Ranked 1st in Catch Probability (Statcast/Baseball Savant)
  • Ranked 9th in the MLB with an 11.8 Defensive War (Fangraphs)

You know what else makes Buxton fun? He’s really, really, really fast. He tied with Billy Hamilton (also fast) for first in Sprint Speed (Statcast/Baseball Savant) and stole 29 bases. Have you heard that it’s hard to find stolen bases in fantasy baseball? You might be thinking “This sounds like a player I want to own!” If your heart says so, you do you. However, let me pour all the cold water in the world on him first.

Swinging By, By, Mr. Byron Buxton Pie

The Buxter is not good at hitting baseballs. He’s great a swinging at the baseballs, but he’s very bad at hitting them. If you’ve been reading my work, then you know it’s time for a table.

Year | Level K% BB% Exit Velocity Launch Angle
2015 | MLB 31.9% 4.3% 82.2 MPH 10.0°
2016 | MLB 35.6% 6.9% 85.3 MPH 13.5°
2017 | MLB 29.4% 7.4% 85.0 MPH 11.8°

So you see my problem? Way too many strikeouts, and way too few walks. However, he made some positive strides in 2017. Striking out at an almost 30% clip is not good by any means. However, he managed to maintain his increase in walks while bringing his strikeout rate down to his 2015 level. That is a good sign.

When looking at his numbers I was also impressed by his Average Launch Angles. I expected to see lower numbers closer to 9%. So now, I’m a bit curious about his batted ball profile. Another table, coming up!

Year | Level LD GB FB
2015 | MLB 13.9% 43.0% 43.0%
2016 | MLB 21.6% 35.1% 43.3%
2017 | MLB 23.2% 38.7% 38.0%

Those are much better numbers than I expected to find, The line drive rate is particularly impressive to me. My bias goggles have certainly clouded my opinion on Buxton’s improvements.

So Wait, Buxton is Good?

Despite his gains, Buxton was still below league average in most offense categories in 2017. 

So according to the league in 2017, Buxton wasn’t good. When it came to offense, he was a below average baseball player. Many analysts will cherry pick different parts of 2017 and point out how good Buxton was. There’s some validity to that, but I’m basing my opinion on his overall numbers last year, and his two prior years with the Twins. These are how the overall numbers unfolded in 2017.

We obviously do not have much to go off of this season, as Buxton has played in exactly one game at the time of this writing. However the mostly helpful, sometimes trollish, [Ed. Note- reverse that] Keaton O. DeRocher sent me this fine message while I was researching Buxton

It would appear it’s not just me lacking confidence in Buxton: the Twins aren’t quite sold on their superstar’s hit tool either. That’s coming off of a spring where he struck out 12 times and walked once. Not exactly the plate discipline I’m looking for.

He’s a Bird, He’s a Plane, He’s a Center Fielder that Throws his Body Around to Make Dazzling Plays

One last bit of concern for me: while I enjoy all the excitement that comes with the tools Buxton possess. I also worry about his ability to stay healthy. Here’s a small list of Injuries Combined with Buxton’s Batted Ball Info:

Injuries 2015

  • 2015-06-26 placed on 15-day DL with sprained left thumb


Injuries 2016

  • 2016-07-03  Out Two Days with general soreness (DTD)
  • 2016-07-09  Out Six Days with knee injury (DTD)
  • 2016-08-01  Out Three Days with knee injury (DTD)

Injuries 2017

  • 2017-05-05  Out Two Days with head injury (DTD)
  • 2017-07-15  placed on 10-day DL with strained left groin
  • 2017-08-31  Out one game with left hand injury (DTD)

Authors Note: Brooks Baseball did not have the exit velocity data available, and thus I’ve substituted 2017 with my own chart created using soft, medium, and hard contact rates provided by Fantrax.

Surprise! There’s a bit of a correlation with Buxton’s ability to make harder contact and the injuries he has suffered (even the minor ones). In general, he’s seen dips in his ability to make hard contact even after minor injuries. That’s something I worry about when thinking of Buxton as a long-term Fantasy asset.

Put a Button on Buxton

Alright, is Buxton a fun player to watch? Yes.

Does Buxton posses Superstar Tools? Yes.

Is Buxton good at hitting baseballs? Mostly no, and yes only when he connects and is not injured.

Does he have a good approach at the plate? NO

Is he reliant on his speed for offensive value? Yes

Buxton is 24 years old with all the potential in the world. Pedigree, tools, and fun. I want Byron Buxton to be good, but I hate his profile as a cornerstone for a dynasty team. Most likely, I’m undervaluing the counting skills that Buxton will provide teams. There is 60 homer + steals potential here, but the floor is very low. 

Your Team, Your Heart, Your Choice

I have a hard time investing in any player that doesn’t carry at least one strong ratio, whether it be average or on-base percentage. Without reliability in one of those categories, you have the potential for a very streaky player. Particularly one who is a defensive joy and concurrently putting himself at risk. As Matthew Berry used to say, (and maybe still does), “Never hustle!”

The counting stats make him extremely valuable in traditional roto, but his streaky tendencies make him less so in head-to-head. Baseball is fun, and I am rooting for Buxton to succeed, but I’m selling him for a more stable assets in every league I have him in. His value right now is quite high, and you can get a strong return. Fantasy baseball should be played for fun, and when deciding on Buxton…follow your heart. It’s just that my heart says, sell, sell, sell.

Patrick’s Artist Selection

There is only one right answer for the artist selection here. Do not let the other authors of the Triple Play fool you. Below you will find a trailer for the best movie ever made, and one of the best records ever made is it’s soundtrack. Prince’s Purple Rain. I have an incredible drinking game to this movie. Hit me up on Twitter if you’re interested @TheGreenMagnus

[Ed. Note- while the greatness of Prince will not be questioned by the editorial staff, the views of Patrick Magnus on the movie Purple Rain do not necessarily represent those of The Dynasty Guru or his editor]

 


 

AUTHORS’ PLUGS!

Follow us on Twitter for baseball, jokes, Keaton’s trolling, and other very cool opinions!

Adam Lawler: @thestatcastera
Keaton O. DeRocher: @TheSpokenKeats
Patrick Magnus: @TheGreenMagnus



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Previously Covered Teams

NL WEST

NL CENTRAL NL EAST

ARI

CHC ATL

COL

CIN

MIA

LAD MIL

NYM

SDP

PIT

PHI

SFG STL

WAS

 

AL WEST

AL CENTRAL

AL EAST

HOU

CWS BAL

LAA

CLE

BOS

OAK

DET

NYY

SEA

KC

TB

TEX MIN

TOR

The Author

Adam Lawler

Adam Lawler

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