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Statcast shows that the Twins offense is legit

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The Twins are first in the MLB in xwOBA, and yes, that’s good.

Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros
The home run handshakes have been coming fast and furious this season
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Twins have been straight up mashing. At the time of this writing, the hometown nine ranks first in the MLB in wOBA (.359), first in slugging percentage (.513), and third in wRC+ (120). While many thought this lineup had a lot of potential prior to the season, the Twins have shown that to be true on a fairly consistent basis to this point in the year.

Is this offensive production sustainable over a full season? While that is hard say definitively after only 25 games being played, we can tell if this lineup has been just lucky or legitimately good through their first chunk of games.

First, I looked at the team BAbip, which sits at .285. That mark is actually a little bit below the usual league average of around .300, though the 2019 MLB average BAbip is down at .293 at this point in the season. This number indicates that the Twins probably haven’t been very lucky or unlucky this year, which bodes well for the continuation of the improved offensive production.

Diving a little deeper, I took a look at the Twins wOBA numbers as well as the xwOBA differential for Minnesota’s batters. For those who haven’t frequented Baseball Savant, xwOBA is the what the batter’s expected wOBA based on the exit velocity and launch angle of each batted ball (quality of contact). In case you aren’t sure, MLB.com defines wOBA as “wOBA is a version of on-base percentage that accounts for how a player reached base -- instead of simply considering whether a player reached base.” This gives appropriate value to extra base hits, making them worth more than singles. The differential between wOBA and xwOBA often signifies how lucky or unlucky a better has been.

As a team, the Twins lead the MLB in xwOBA at .356. That mark is just .003 below their actual wOBA, also indicating that they haven’t been extremely lucky or unlucky. That differential also ranks 13th in the MLB, meaning that they haven’t been one of the luckiest or unluckiest team so far. For example, the Mariners xwOBA is .324, 25 points lower than their actual wOBA of .349. This means that they have been quite lucky this season on balls in play and should expect some regression. You can see the complete list of teams here.

The Twins xBA (expected batting average) and xSLG (expected slugging percentage) numbers are similar in that they don’t deviate significantly from the team’s actual batting average or actual slugging percentage, indicating that the squad can likely keep up their current offensive production.

Looking at individual player totals we can anticipate some regression candidates or hitters who may have gotten a bit unlucky through the first 25 games. The Twins actually have one of the luckiest players in the league right now in Mitch Garver, whose expected wOBA (.320) is nearly 200 points lower than his actual wOBA (.512). That differential ranks as the second in baseball at the time of this writing. Overall, most of the Twins batters have actually been a bit on the unlucky side so far, indicating some improvement from those lower on the list below.

Twins wOBA vs xwOBA

Player wOBA xwOBA Diff
Player wOBA xwOBA Diff
Garver, Mitch 0.512 0.32 0.192
Buxton, Byron 0.346 0.302 0.044
Polanco, Jorge 0.427 0.396 0.031
Schoop, Jonathan 0.346 0.32 0.026
Rosario, Eddie 0.394 0.384 0.010
Kepler, Max 0.383 0.375 0.008
Cruz, Nelson 0.411 0.428 -0.017
Cron, C.J. 0.33 0.352 -0.022
Astudillo, Willians 0.363 0.39 -0.027
Cave, Jake 0.273 0.307 -0.034
Castro, Jason 0.374 0.421 -0.047
Gonzalez, Marwin 0.236 0.294 -0.058
Adrianza, Ehire 0.201 0.327 -0.126

A couple of quick notes: I would expect Byron Buxton to maintain a positive differential because of his speed, as well as Eddie Rosario with his aggressive baserunning. It is also crazy to think that Nelson Cruz has actually been unlucky to this point in the season with how he has been mashing the baseball and putting up top-notch numbers.

So what does all this mumbo jumbo mean about the Twins lineup and their offensive performance going forward? If the Twins continue to hit the ball with the same quality of contact that they displayed in the opening 25 games of the season, they will continue to put up huge numbers. To this point in the year, the local ballclub hasn’t been overly lucky or played in a large majority of hitter’s parks.

While the Twins competition hasn’t been great to begin the season, they have faced top pitching staffs in Houston, Cleveland, and the New York Mets, and the team as a whole has been heating up at the plate. As a lifelong Minnesota sports fan I usually don’t like to get too excited only to see my hopes dashed later in the season, but I do believe this early season success for the Twins offense is legitimate and that they will most likely be a top-five offense in baseball barring a rash of injuries (come back soon Willians!).

Poll

What are your thoughts on the Twins early season offensive success?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    The best is yet to come. They are still heating up!
    (149 votes)
  • 49%
    I think they can sustain a top offensive pace the whole season.
    (460 votes)
  • 32%
    Two series against the Orioles? They’ll be good, but not nearly this good.
    (305 votes)
  • 1%
    Completely unsustainable. A middle of the pack offense at best.
    (16 votes)
930 votes total Vote Now