I feel like every post I’ve written this season has pointed out that the Twins are terrible. It’s true! They’re currently the worst team in the majors by two games. They’re the worst team in the American League by 7 1⁄2 games. There’s no getting around it, they’re bad.
You’ve already read my title. You’ve probably already formed an opinion on whether you agree with me. Regardless, I’m going to preface my argument that I’m not upset about this. I do not disagree with the decision-making of keeping Adam Brett Walker down in the minor leagues. Everything I say from here is based on wishful thinking rather than actual belief that this would make the Twins better. Nevertheless, I still feel that now was the perfect time to give him his first cup of coffee in the major leagues.
I’m well aware that offense has not been the problem for the Twins and Walker would not solve any issues they currently have. I also know that Walker has a severe case of the strikeouts (hell, I wrote that it was getting worse) so there’s a good chance he’d actually create a problem. But, when you’re already the worst team in the league, it’s pretty difficult to fall even further into the abyss. We’ve seen the Twins stick with the trio of Alex Wimmers, Pat Light, and J.T. Chargois even though their stat lines have not been very promising. They could have called up Edward Mujica from Triple-A as well - a known commodity, mind you - but instead chose to stick with three rookies. Likewise, they easily could have done this with Walker in the outfield.
Since Danny Santana hit the disabled list, the Twins not only brought up veteran Logan Schafer but also have given him just as much playing time as Santana, which is to say that he’s been making about four starts per week. Logan Schafer, the guy that accumulated a career-high 0.4 fWAR over just 25 plate appearances in 2012 (he had an .842 OPS and was godlike in catching the baseball in just under 40 innings) and has a career .612 OPS. In other words, a guy that is not the future and should be your late-inning defensive replacement (he’s rated well according to UZR and DRS in his career) and nothing else.
If this is the case, then it seems to me that it would have been no problem to toss some of those starts to Walker. I believe I recall hearing that he had arm problems so he can’t really throw, but if you’ve seen Robbie Grossman you know he can’t throw, either. We’re aware of Walker’s power potential and this would have been a great time to scratch off this lottery ticket to see if Walker’s power could outweigh his massive contact issue.
But at the same time, I completely understand why the Twins have let Schafer get a call-up over Walker. For one, Schafer’s actually been hitting. Somehow the Twins have become quite good at evaluating fourth outfielders, as Schafer is now following in Grossman’s footsteps by being a much better hitter than we expected (currently at .296/.406/.444 after Tuesday’s game, albeit in just 32 plate appearances).
Secondly, even though Schafer will most likely revert back to his light-hitting ways, he has a much higher floor than Walker. What is the worst that we’d see out of him? I imagine basically a repeat of what the Twins got from Byron Buxton for most of this year: an overmatched young hitter that whiffed so often that we could almost predict it. Meanwhile, what is Schafer’s floor? Well, he already has above-average plate discipline (career walk and strikeout rates both better than league average) so he won’t look overmatched. His career has been marred by a poor BABIP (.264), so he’s making contact but keeps hitting the ball at fielders. Schafer is the quintessential “professional hitter,” the compliment that often justifies why a light-hitting position player is in the major leagues. He won’t embarrass himself at the plate, even if he’s carrying just a .215 career batting average. Walker has the potential to strike out 40% of the time or more and nobody wants to see that.
Overall, as I said at the beginning, I agree with the Twins’ decision to decline a promotion for Adam Brett Walker this September. At the same time, I do think that they had nothing to lose in a season that’s been full of losing and now Walker’s first taste of the majors - if it does ever happen - will come when the Twins are in a much better position as a team. That could mean returning to competitive baseball, hunting for a .500 record, or maybe even being in the playoff hunt. Still, now was the time to let Walker get his cup of coffee and see if his power would play in the major leagues.
tl;dr, I just like seeing new players.