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The year of the hitter

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It can’t be any worse than all pitchers

Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

A few days ago, I did a dumb exercise that involved watching a team made entirely of pitchers go utterly win-less over a 162 game season. What if we flip that exercise on its head, and banish pitchers entirely? It literally cannot go any worse, right?

Yup, that’s my new-and-improved plan. We’re going to get rid of all the pitchers, send ‘em to Rochester or DFA them or whatever it takes—We’re just gonna load up our roster with the top 26 hitters in the organization. This means you’ll get to see prospects like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff sooner. As before, I’m going to assign some of your favorites to be our “pitchers” but the the game will probably use everyone more-or-less everywhere.

The Roster

In the interest of being interesting, I’m going to leave some of the boring filler guys at Rochester in order to bring up some of our more interesting and/or better known prospects. So here is the whole roster:

Ehire Adrianza
Luis Arraez
Willians Astudillo
Alex Avila
Travis Blankenhorn
Byron Buxton
Jake Cave
Nelson Cruz
Josh Donaldson
Mitch Garver
Marwin Gonzalez
Nick Gordon
Ryan Jeffers
Max Kepler
Alex Kirilloff
Trevor Larnach
Royce Lewis
Gabriel Maciel
Levi Michael
Jorge Polanco
Brent Rooker
Eddie Rosario
Miguel Sano
Tomas Telis
LaMonte Wade Jr
Zander Wiel

The Rotation, Bullpen, and Everyday lineup

The Rotation: Eddie Rosario, Josh Donaldson, Jake Cave, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo.

The Bullpen:

Closer: Nelson Cruz
Setup: Marwin Gonzalez, Brent Rooker
Middle Relief: Travis Blankenhorn, Tomas Telis, Levi Michael
Long Relief: Zander Wiel, Gabriel Maciel.

The rotation was based on who I thought would be most interesting, while the pen was mostly built on having enough enough guys in each position group left to field a half-decent defense and offense behind this pitching staff.

RF Max Kepler
SS Jorge Polanco
2B Luis Arraez
1B Miguel Sano
C Mitch Garver
DH Trevor Larnach
3B Royce Lewis
LF Alex Kirilloff
CF Byron Buxton.

Below is the depth chart. This may change as the season progresses.

The Season

March/April

Opening Day: The Twins got the crap beat of them, 11-3. Eddie Rosario pitched one inning as the starter, and gave up five runs on five hits and three walks. The Twins used eight total pitchers.

March 31: The Twins are 0-6. Infielder—not pitcher—Ehire Adrianza leads the team in innings pitched. The team ERA is 21.75, and the starter’s ERA is 37.38. The team is last in the AL in all pitching stats, but is actually doing alright at the plate, hitting .302/.348/.484, led largely by Max Kepler.

April 6: Luis Arraez is out for about a week with shoulder tendinitis.

April 7: Marwin Gonzalez is suffering from a sore elbow, and will be out for about a week. Also, Cleveland’s Carlos Santana had seven hits in a 91-13 win against the Twins. The Twins used 15 total pitchers in this game, including three of their other starters. Josh Donaldson was left in for the final 1.1 innings, since we had no other options, and threw 206 pitches while giving up 41 runs.

April 9: Travis Blankenhorn has shoulder inflammation that is shutting him down for the next 4-5 months. He is being placed on the 60-day IL. Jose Miranda has been promoted to join the Twins bullpen in his place. My entire pitching staff is exhausted.

April 15: The Twins are 0-17, and 12 12 games back already. This is entirely due to our terrible pitching, as the offense is hitting a quite respectable .294/.341/.482 with 105 runs scored. The pitchers have a 32.51 ERA, have allowed 527 runs, and opponents are hitting .517 against them. I think I broke baseball, because opponent’s have lower BABIP (.478) than batting average. That like, doesn’t happen. Levi Michael has an ERA of 105.55 and has pitched 3.2 innings, despite appearing in 15 games. Nelson Cruz has the best ERA on the team, at 20.25.

April 25: Gabriel Maciel will miss a couple weeks with a shoulder strain. He’s going to the 15 day IL, and Ben Rortvedt will come up to replace him.

April 30: Now at 0-30, the Twins are 20 12 games back. Our pythagorean record suggests we should have won a game already. The batters must be tired or frustrated, as those numbers have fallen into the lower half ot the league for the most part. Pitching continues to be a problem though—the team ERA has ballooned to 29.50. The good news—Levi Michael has brought his down to 74.77. Nelson Cruz continues to anchor our staff, with a 13.89 team-leading ERA. Despite being classified an infielder, not a pitcher for this exercise, Ehire Adrianza leads the team in innings pitched, having thrown 30 in mop-up duty—in fact, it isn’t until fourth on the innings pitched leaderboard that you find an designated “pitcher.”

May

May 6: Mitch Garver now has a 4-game homer streak, and the Twins still can’t find a damn win.

May 13: Gabriel Maciel is back from the IL. In order to make room for him, Levi Michael was optioned to Triple-A.

May 15: The Twins are now 0-43. Our pythagorean record is 2-41. We’ve scored 225 runs, good for 11th in the AL, but given up 1177 runs already. Willians Astudillo is already on the hook for an astounding ten losses, and has only pitched 15.2 innings. No one has a quality start yet.

May 23: Marwin Gonzalez will be making a trip to the 15-day IL. He’s suffering from forearm inflammation that will keep him sidelined for a couple weeks. Jimmy Kerrigan is coming up to replace him as a member of the bullpen.

May 27: Jorge Polanco will be out for about a month with a concussion. He’ll go on the ten-day concussion IL. Since basically every shortstop above him in the pecking order is already up, Wander Javier gets the call to the pros. LaMonte Wade Jr is also injured, but is day-to-day.

May 31: Still winless, the Twins now sit at 0-59. Byron Buxton leads the team in WAR. Miguel Sano leads in Bombas, and the pitching continues to stink. Tomas Telis has walked 83 men in 20.0 innings pitched. Eddie Rosario has given up 19 homers.

June

June 1: Ugh, Ehire Adrianza is hurt now. He’ll miss a couple weeks with an oblique strain, as the injury bug just keeps hitting up. Levi Michael will come in his place, this time as a second baseman, not as a pitcher.

June 4: Marwin Gonzalez is back from the injured list. We’ll send Jimmy Kerrigan down, he was pitching poorly anyway, even relative our much lowered standards.

June 6: and we lost Gonzalez again. He’s out a couple weeks with a sore elbow. I’m promoting Drew Maggi to take his place.

June 15: We are now 0-73. Our offensive numbers keep slipping, and as a team we are below replacement level by a little bit. Pitching is worse, we are worth a combined -36.8 WAR. Drew Maggi leads the team’s pitchers at 2.45 K/9 and 0.09 K/BB. In 40 appearances, Willians Astudillo has recorded a single strikeout. That is very Astudillo-ish. Jake Cave leads the team in innings pitched, by a long-shot, at 63. I’m changing my manager settings to the slowest possible hook for all pitchers. I doubt it will fix anything, but something has to change. Maybe at the all-star break I’ll change who my pitchers are.

June 18: Gabriel Maciel is hurt again. This time its back tightness, which will cost him about two weeks. Welcome back, Jimmy Kerrigan.

June 19: Jorge Polanco is back! Levi Michael goes back to the minors.

June 24: The Twins have officially lost half their games this season (0-81)

June 25: Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza both come back from the IL. Drew Maggi and Wander Javier are demoted.

June 30: The Twins are now 0-85. We’re hitting .268/.325/.428 as a team. We’ve scored 421 runs, but given up 2979. The team ERA is 36.35. We’ve given up 388 homers and walked 1930 men, compared to only 247 strikeouts. Willians Astudillo has somehow started 33 games and is 0-25. I think Alex Avila and Jake Cave keep getting their starts skipped, because they’re being used in relief after the bullpen is burnt up.

July

July 3: Byron Buxton will be out at least five weeks due to biceps tendinitis. In order to replace him, I’m going to make Brent Rooker back into an outfielder, and bring Drew Maggi back in the bullpen.

July 11: I’m running out of outfielders! Alex Kirilloff has suffered a fractured thumb, and will miss 3-4 weeks. Fortunately, Gabriel Maciel is currently on a rehab assignment. I’ll be promoting him and moving him back to being an outfielder.

July 12: No Twins were selected to participate in the All-Star game.

July 13: This is getting ridiculous. My third starting outfielder, Max Kepler, is now going to be out for three to four months, due to a torn meniscus. I’m going to have to make someone back into an outfielder, I think Marwin Gonzalez will be it. Levi Michael comes back up as a reliever.

July 15: Our Pythagorean record is 3-95, but we are actually 0-98. Our offense is essentially replacement level. Out pitching is, as you can imagine, very bad still. Our opponents hit safely in more than half of their at-bats, currently hitting .537. Jake Cave leads the team with 76.2 innings pitched, and his ERA is 51.30. He’s also given up 50 homer runs, which is 20 more than any other Twin.

July 17: 100 losses!

July 23: We’re officially eliminated from the playoffs.

July 31: The Twins are still winless. The team ERA is 33.31, and we’ve allowed 482 home runs compared to 304 strikeouts. My most valuable pitcher, reliever Travis Blankehorn, is worth -0.9 WAR. Jake Cave, at the other extreme, is worth -10.0 WAR. 31 different players have taken the mound for the Twins.

August

August 4: Alex Kirilloff is back. Jimmy Kerrigan was sent down.

August 10: Travis Blankenhorn is healthy, and Levi Michael was demoted to make room for him.

August 15: Bravo for reading this far. The Twins are still winless, although Pythagorean record suggests they should have four wins. The offense is still roughly replacement level. The pitching has actually improved slightly—ERA is down to 31.88 and BAA is down to .521. Ehire Adrianza, who I still have classified as an infielder, leads the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. Enough games have been close enough for Drew Maggi to pick up three holds, and four other players to have one each.

August 18: Alex Avila has a torn knee meniscus, and will miss the rest of the season. Nelson Cruz will make a John Smoltz-esque move from closer to starter. Levi Michael comes back up, again, in the bullpen.

August 19: Josh Donaldson was suspended for six games, for fighting with Chicago’s Nomar Mazara.

August 27: Hello 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the Twins have now lost a record-setting 135 games.

August 29: LaMonte Wade Jr is going to miss six weeks with a triceps strain. Fortunately, Byron Buxton is eligible to come back tomorrow.

August 31: Willians Astudillo has the best ERA of my “pitchers” at 26.85. He is also 0-34 with 55 appearance, 43 of those as the starter. The team has given up 4165 runs, and 557 homers.

September

September 1: Trevor Larnach was named AL Rookie of the Month for August. He hit .412 with 3 homers, but the Twins still are winless.

September 10: Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez are both on hot streaks, with the former notching a 21 game hitting-streak, and the latter a 7-game RBI streak. The bats still cannot overcome the pitching.

September 13: Ehire Adrianza will be out for three weeks with a “Dead Arm” (has he been watching Kirk Cousins too much?) Wander Javier, Andrew Bechtold, and Jimmy Kerrigan were all promoted to Minnesota (Rosters expanded but I hadn’t added any players.)

September 15: The Twins are now 0-150. The hitters continue to function at roughly replacement level. The pitchers are currently worth -69.0 WAR.

September 17: Byron Buxton went 5-5 with six RBIs and three homers in a 23-12 loss to the Texas Rangers.

September 27: The Twins end their season at 0-162. The season stats are below if you’re interested, otherwise skip past them.

The Verdict

Well, the final result was just-as-bad as the all-pitcher team. At least in the win-loss column. Most other stats weren’t so awful. The team at least hit like they were professional baseball players—just maybe not their full potential. The pitching was really bad though. The bottom line is that a MLB needs both real, actual hitters, and real pitchers to succeed. Ultimately, specialization is the only winner here.

Poll

What sort of team would you expect to actually do better?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    One with 26 pitchers
    (10 votes)
  • 58%
    One with 26 position players
    (14 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now