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Grading the 2019 Twins: Jake Cave

Cave was an underrated part of the Twins’ success in 2019

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to another book club meeting. Our topic this month includes grading the individual performances of the key members of the 2019 Minnesota Twins. The players will receive a grade on the scale of A through F, based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. If you haven’t finished reading the other previous books (I’m looking at you, Marcia), finish them in the related section below. Today, I’ll be reviewing Jake Cave’s season.

In 2018, Byron Buxton played in only 28 of the team’s games due to injury. Jake Cave, a little-known prospect that had only been in the team’s system for 2 months, stepped up in a big way and started the bulk of the team’s remaining games. His stats in that season were better than anyone could have expected, and he was a living highlight reel in center field. Fast forward to 2019.

In 2019, he started the season on the bench. In the fourth-outfielder role in early 2019, his triple slash was .220/.347/.268 (.615) with no bombas and only 3 RBIs. With those stats, it’s a no-brainer why Jake was demoted to the minors in mid-May.

About a month later, Cave was recalled to the majors because of an injury to Buxton’s shoulder, caused by yet another collision with the wall. After that short minor league stint, Cave put up a stat line that was actually pretty good: .268/.352/.503 (.855) with 8 entire big flies and 22 RBIs.

Overall, his stat line looked like this: .258/.351/.455 (.805) with 8 bombas and 25 RBIs in 72 games, which is pretty good. One of his stats that really troubles me is that the Twins were 40-32 when Cave played. Of course, filling Byron Buxton‘s shoes isn’t easy, but still, that record should be a bit better. His ranks among his teammates are as follows (among players with 150+ plate appearances):

  • 14th in at-bats
  • 12th in home runs
  • 13th in RBIs
  • 10th in BA
  • 9th in OPS

These stats are pretty good considering the fact that he was 14th in at-bats. Also, even if he’s average (maybe even a bit above average) at hitting, the team can put up with that fact because he is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. He makes too many great defensive plays to count.

This might be random, but one of the things I admire about him is that every single time he hits a ground ball, he sprints to the base, no matter what. You don’t see that often anymore in the MLB.

Since there have been a lot of rumors and trade talk surrounding the Twins’ outfielders, specifically Eddie Rosario, Cave’s 2020 could go a number of ways. He could be a starter (probably not), he could be the 4th or 5th outfielder, or he could be out of the organization altogether. Here’s hoping that he’s on the team in 2020.

His offense gets a B- , his defense gets an A- , but his extremely subpar first half and being a relatively streaky hitter will downgrade him a bit.

Overall Grade: B-


What grade would you give Jake Cave’s 2019 season?

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