The 2017 Baseball Prospectus Annual boasts a decidedly Minnesota flavor: the tome was co-edited by Aaron Gleeman, longtime Twins blogger and co-host of Twins podcast “Gleeman & the Geek,” the foreword was written by none other than Minnesota’s own Glendrick Perkins, and the Twins’ essay was penned by Parker Hageman of Twins Daily.
The annual also even includes statistics and analysis of each Twins player, an awfully charitable inclusion considering that the 103-loss Twins probably should have been relegated to the International League and replaced in the AL Central by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
But enough about “wins” and “losses” and “observed reality.” We’re here to play a game: Guess that Twin!
Here’s how it works: I’ll delete the player’s name and (some too-obvious details) from the BP Annual’s player comments on said player and y’all will guess which Twin they’re writing about!
Here we go!
Player No. 1
[Player No. 1] is so absurdly undisciplined that it’s impossible to focus on any strengths. His power, speed and defense are strong enough that he could become a standout regular despite a poor walk rate, but [Player No. 1’s] strike-zone control would need to win the lottery just to qualify as poor—and the Gopher 5 has been about as friendly to him as major league curveballs thus far.
Well that got grim quickly. OK, for the second entry I’ll try and find a more heartening entry.
Player No. 2
To spend a half-dozen years in big-league rotations as a flyball pitcher with an 87 mph fastball and mediocre control is a remarkable accomplishment for which [Player No. 2] deserves credit. It’s tempting to look at [Player No. 2’s] raw stuff or Triple-A dominance and deem him a Quadruple-A pitcher, which is why multiple teams have quickly lost faith following rough patches. However, he’s been a valuable back-end starter in the majors for 700 innings now, which is why those same teams end up turning back to him before long. [Player No. 2] is both so much better than he ought to be and still not very good, like a so-so dinner out that remains exactly as edible when you pull it out of the fridge three days later. You won’t be leaving a favorable Yelp review, but you know you’ll be back eventually.
“You know you’ll be back eventually.” See? Not depressing at all. We all need mediocre restaurants. Otherwise how would the hippy husband from Serendipity keep getting work?
Player No. 3
For his entire career, any time [Player No. 3] has turned in a strong start it’s been treated locally as if a breakout is taking place. [...] Realistically though, it’s just not happening. [...] [Player No. 3] indues groundballs and, in theory, has the velocity and movement to generate missed bats, too. However, no AL starter threw fewer pitches in the strike zone and he’s never topped 6.7 strikeouts per nine. [Player No. 3] isn’t a bad pitcher, especially if he ever got to pitch in front of an infield defense that was more Jarlsberg than Swiss, and if everything he does wasn’t framed within long-expired expectations, his lack of command and inconsistency wouldn’t be so frustrating. But it is and they are.
OK, I may as well admit it: not many of these are terribly optimistic.
Player No. 4
Minnesota’s player development issues have been plentiful, but the handling of [Player No. 4] has been particularly odd. [...] There’s more pop in his bat than modest minor-league homer totals and a rail-thin frame would suggest. His contact skills are already strong and he’s not impatient, so more walks may be coming, too. There are lots of prospects with higher ceilings, but it’s tough to imagine [Player No. 4] not developing into at least a valuable regular... somewhere.”
Well that sounds downright pie-in-the-sky.
Now a quick-hitting one.
Player No. 5
[Player No. 5] was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster in 2015 and a surprise midseason call-up in 2016, but him getting knocked around was certainly not a surprise after failing to miss bats throughout his tour through the minors.
See what they did there? Set you up for a third surprise and then Whammo! Back to cold reality, Buster.
Let’s try two “Blast from the Past” entries. Here’s a player comment from the 2000 BP Annual:
Player No. 6 (In the year 2000)
The new Scott Stahoviak, brought to you by the same team that brought you the old one. [...] He managed to irk both Tom Kelly and hitting coach Scott Ullger with his long swing, his defensiveness at the plate and his unwillingness to listen. There are enough people in the world who can hit some and play first base, so making a bad impression can kill a career. Like Stahoviak the First, [Player No. 6] is doomed to be an Iowa Cub someday.
Ha! That fella sounds like a proper tool. Is he a proper tool? Probably, yes.
Here’s one last one with a fun callback to the Joe Sheehan/Rany Jazayerli BP Golden Era.
Player No. 7 (1999)
One of the Kelly Boys, that group of benign, amiable white guys who can't play baseball real well but, gosh darn it, they sure do try hard. See Gates, Brent; Meares, Pat; Stahoviak, Scott. [Player No. 7] is better than Brent Gates because he can play shortstop, and would have much more value in the National League, where a player who can play six positions can have tactical value on occasion. Will hit an empty .320 one of these years; call it the Sheehan Corollary to Jazayerli's Law of Backup Catchers.
And now one final fill-in-the-blank. This one comes not from the Baseball Prospectus Annual but from a reply to a Facebook comment I wrote on the Twinkie Town a few days ago. It is about a current Twin.
Player No. 8
I could give a shit what the Pohlads do with their money. The fact remains that [Player No. 8] is an overpaid stiff and hasn't been the same player since he signed that contract. You can throw out excuses but the fact remains that we do not truly know the reason. And the contract will go down as one of the worst in MLB history probably only topped by the ridiculous one Bonilla and the Mets signed. [Player No. 8] had a decent run but that's long over as is his career. Too bad he just doesn't retire and go away. The team would be better off without his presence at this point. It never won a single postseason game with him around.
I had to give you one freebie.
Make your guesses below. We’ll confirm the correct guesses—and don’t cheat!!!