The Twins Are the Surprise of Baseball – How?

A 9 game losing streak to start the season. 103 losses overall, the most losses in team history. 2016 was as ugly as Twins fans have ever seen. It cost general manager Terry Ryan his job. With a win yesterday in Baltimore, the Twins moved to 25-18 on the year and remained at the top of the American League Central. A season ago, the Twins didn’t win their 25th game until June 28th to move to 25-51. Without making wholesale changes, this has the look of a real Major League Baseball team. How have they got here? 2 big reasons:

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Improved Defense

Last year the Twins made the disastrous decision to try and play Miguel Sano, their promising young third basemen, in right field. Sano was a disaster out there. No surprise. Robbie Grossman was brought in after being waived from Cleveland and proved to not measure up as a fielder as he does as a batsman. Trevor Plouffe and Danny Santana added to the defensive issues. Many questions remained coming into the year on the defense for the Twins, especially on the left side of the infield with Sano at 3rd and Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Polanco has been much better than expected and Sano hasn’t been quite as bad as many thought. But the biggest step forward for been in the outfield. With uber-prospect Byron Buxton patrolling center field and plus defenders Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario in Right and Left field respectively, this defense has been able to track down balls that were doubles a season ago.

Pitch Framing

Jason Castro was targeted early in free agency from the new front office of the Twins with Derek Falvey and Tadd Levine. They signed him to a 3 year deal for $24.5 million. Many scratched their head about  the signing of a guy that looked like he would hit .220 with 10-12 home runs. Castro’s real impact comes in his handling of the pitching staff and most importantly, pitch framing. Castro has excelled for years at “stealing” strikes. Why does that matter? Let’s look at the difference between a hitter in a 1-2 count as opposed to a 2-1 count. Batters hit .167 in a 1-2 count, .327 in a 2-1 count according to a 2014 Grantland article from Joe Lemire.

So the question now becomes, can the Twins keep up at this pace and be a contender come September? The young players still have room for growth, Jose Berrios is showing immense promise, Byron Buxton is starting to come around with the bat to go along with his outstanding defense and the bullpen has been incredibly solid on the back end. The good news is this isn’t just a team where everybody is hot over a certain stretch. It has been a team effort. We’ve seen plenty of hot starts fade out in baseball. Many believe that this team will be similar. Something tells me they’ll be hanging around longer than many in baseball think.

 

Trent Condon provides updates and commentary for the Marty and Miller TV program. You can watch “Marty & Miller” Weekdays from 3:00-6:00 on Mediacom 22 and stream at martyandmiller.com or by downloading the “Marty & Miller” app. Trent also hosts “Jimmy B & TC” weekdays from 12:00-3:00 on 1700 KBGG.

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Marty & Miller Announce Increased Digital Platform

martyandmillerMarty & Miller are excited to announce an expanded digital platform for the “Marty & Miller” program. Marty and Miller will continue their partnership with Mediacom with their live show Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 on Mediacom Channel 22/HD 822 and will be providing daily podcasts of the show across Stitcher and iTunes.

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“Our research has shown that AM radio was not reaching the desirable 25-54 age demographic in the way that we wanted. We are looking to increase our presence to that demo while providing the great sports talk format that has been a part of the Des Moines market for 21 years with Marty & Miller,” Marty Tirrell said.

The show will continue with it’s hard hitting sports commentaries along with story lines that matter across the state of Iowa and the Midwest. Trent Condon will expand his role in the 5-6 pm hour with a dedicated look at the Iowa high school sports scene along with Iowa colleges. “Trent has grown a great following and knows the high school scene as well as anybody. We are excited to bring him aboard in an increased role to expand our coverage of the high school sports and the local colleges with an emphasis on the Big Ten, Big 12 and Missouri Valley conferences,” said Tirrell. “We’re very excited about this new realm in broadcasting and we’re looking to hit it out of the park with our high school and Iowa college sports coverage.”

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The show will continue to stream on martyandmiller.com and you can watch the show live at martyandmiller.com/tv for those that don’t have Mediacom. The show will also continue to be on Sirius/XM 93/203 on “Sports Overnight American” with the Sports Byline Radio Network. You can upload the daily podcasts each hour through the Stitcher app and on I-Tunes. You can download the show through the Stitcher app here: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/marty-and-miller

“Ken & I were late to the digital party, but we are excited about this new venture. We may be late, but we’ll be the last to turn out the lights,” said Tirrell.

 

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