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Grading the 2020 Twins: Mitch Garver


Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

We’re back at it! Last fall and winter, Twinkie Town writers graded every Minnesota Twins player that touched the field during a game in a Twins uni in 2019. (If you’re interested in those, click here.) The series this offseason will grade the individual performances of each player from 2020, who will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. I’m going to start my portion of the festivities with one of my personal favorite players.

“But TJ,” you say, “Mitch Garver barely even played this year.” And I know. That’s why we’re getting this one out of the way. We’ll put it in the rearview, and talk about something positive next time.

Garver was bad this year, when he wasn’t hurt. It wasn’t all bad necessarily. He just never seemed to find his timing on his swing. In a normal season, we would have called it a slump. This year, its a lost season for the 2019 breakout star.

He appeared in 23 games — a solid month’s worth really, give-or-take, so in most years, we’d have another six-or-so months to offset the bad. This year we don’t. A long IL stint took the middle of the season away from him, so 81 plate appearances are all we have to judge. He had only 12 hits, and three went for extra bases. Two bombas was no one’s expectation. A total line of .167/.247/.264 wasn’t either. Forget hitting his weight, Garver barely got on base at his weight (listed at 220.) It looked as bad as it sounded, too, in an eye test. It seemed like a constant trend was to watch the first pitch—the best pitch of the at-bat—and then swing at garbage once the pitcher got ahead. The splits seem to back that up. With two strikes, he hit .094/.196/.151 and when the pitcher was ahead he hit .000/.000/.000 (not a typo.) It won’t be a repeat year as a silver slugger, to say the least.

Garver has never been considered a top defender, and he struggled a bit there as well. He was given three passed balls in only 22 games, and his pitchers picked up six more wild pitches. While he did catch 36% of would be base-stealers (versus a league average of 26%,) its such a small sample its basically irrelevant.

Even worse, by the end of the season, Ryan Jeffers had pretty well stepped into the role we expected Garver to occupy. What is Garver now? Is he half of a bat-first tandem with the younger Jeffers, or is he trade bait? And if its the latter, would the Twins be trading low, or would other teams value his 2019 results over his 2020 season? Maybe you give Jeffers some time at triple-A in 2021 and hope for a rebound from Garver? Perhaps the most frustrating part of Garver’s season is the question marks it leaves behind.

I’ll be charitable, and grade him slightly higher due to the injury and what-might-have-been that comes along with it.

Grade: D-


How would you grade Mitch Garver’s season?

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