When you get to the end of the season and you reflect on the year, you instantly jump to the players that contributed the most and least to the team. However, some players contributed in unique ways that you may not first expect. Instead of looking at players that had career years or how awesome Miguel Sano was (because we already know that), I'm going to take a look at some numbers you may not have expected to see at the beginning of the year.
Eddie Rosario's Triple-Double
18 doubles, 15 triples, 13 home runs
This post may end up being a list of Eddie Rosario facts, because he was insane this year and he didn't even start the season in the majors. He showed a very good all-around game this year, though he sure could have worked on his plate discipline a bit. Speaking of that...
Eddie Rosario's "Why Take 1st Base When You Can Just Take 3rd?" ("Or Hell, Gun Down A Runner Instead?")
15 triples, 16 outfield assists, 15 walks
I... I can't explain this. Told you this would be crazy.
Eduardo Escobar's Power
.183 isolated power, 5th on team (min. 300 PA)
Just a reminder, isolated power is slugging percentage minus batting average, which gives a solid presentation of a player's power (league average this season was .150). Oh, and that minimum plate appearance threshold wasn't so Escobar could make the list, but rather so Miguel Sano could lead the pack.
Escobar wasn't all that great for about 2/3 of the season, and then he suddenly caught fire in the last two months. I had to do a double-take when I saw that he ended the year with 31 doubles and 12 homers. Last year he showed that he could be a doubles machine (35), and his performance in the second half this year suggests that perhaps that wasn't a mirage. He may have shown the extent of his power, but next season, I can't see any reason why he won't be the starting shortstop.
Danny Santana's Fall From Grace
Last year Santana came out of nowhere to seize the starting center field job despite being a shortstop in the minor leagues. Hitting over .300 with slightly above-average power, he put up 3.3 fWAR even though he didn't contribute positive value with the glove. This year was a different story as his hacktastic approach at the plate finally caught up with him. His BABIP dropped from .405 to .290 and suddenly he became a weak-hitting middle infielder. Committing error after error at shortstop didn't help his case either, and next season he likely only makes the roster as a backup to Eduardo Escobar.
Starting Lineup's Distribution of Dingers
8 of 9 regulars with 10+ home runs
Growing up, it felt that the Twins were so bad that they couldn't even muster a 30 HR or 100 RBI season out of anyone. Then 2004 came and although the trend continued, they did manage to have 9 players hit at least 10 home runs, led by Corey Koskie's 25 with Jacque Jones (24) and Torii Hunter (23) close behind. They actually were close to having 11, but Matthew LeCroy fell one short and Cristian Guzman needed two more.
This season, everyone in the normal starting lineup with the exception of Kurt Suzuki hit at least 10 home runs. Even Joe Mauer tied his 4th-highest home run output in a season (though he still is a mess at the plate compared to his peak).
Ricky Nolasco's Disparate Season
0.7 fWAR, -0.8 bWAR
By one measure, Nolasco contributed positive value to the Twins this season, the exact same as Kevin Jepsen and more than Joe Mauer. By the other, he was Oswaldo Arcia or Kennys Vargas. What we have here is a great example of how FanGraphs and Baseball Reference calculate their WAR. FanGraphs cares more about the process and uses FIP, whereas BR sticks with results and uses ERA. Well, Nolasco had a 6.75 ERA but a 3.51 FIP, with the main culprits being the inability to keep runners off base (.392 BABIP) while striking out plenty of hitters (8.44 K/9). Perhaps even more frustrating is that this continued a trend of him underachieving as he has a career 4.54 ERA but a much better 3.81 FIP. Just so you know, over enough innings, these two numbers are supposed to be similar. Well, Nolasco has over 1500 of them... apparently that's not enough.
The Unexpected Strikeout Leader
Kyle Gibson, 145 (35 ahead of second place Trevor May)
Not that anyone really thinks about this, but I'm sure we would have expected Phil Hughes to top this list. Perhaps May if he had a full season of starting under his belt. Instead, Gibson was the one guy that got a fair number of whiffs while pitching the most innings, which cemented himself atop the leaderboard even though he only struck out 6.7 hitters per 9 innings.
How about you, what numbers from this year's squad did you find interesting that others may not have known?