Minnesota’s offense has been one of the best in the American League. It’s been looking more like the club has few weaknesses from top to bottom in their line-up. They have also been able to produce at a high level with players like Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano spending time on the injured list.
So how has Minnesota’s offense emerged this season? It’s all about barreling up the ball.
Barrel of Fun
Entering play on Tuesday, Minnesota ranks as the top team when it comes to barreling up the ball. Minnesota has barreled up the ball on 2.0 % of pitches. Atlanta is Minnesota’s closest competition in the barrel department with a 1.7% total. The big-league average is 1.35%. No other AL Central teams rank in the top 15 and Cleveland has the fifth worst total in all of baseball.
It’s no secret that Minnesota’s catchers have been producing at quite the rate to start the year. Neither Jason Castro or Mitch Garver qualify for the league leader in Barrel % but they are both near the top on the Twins leaderboard. When it comes to Barrel %, Castro’s 26.7% mark is nearly 10% higher than the second place Twins player, Nelson Cruz. Garver is tied with C.J. Cron for third on the team with a 16.9% Barrel %.
Barreling up the ball also shows up in some of the catcher’s other StatCast data. Castro and Garver only trail Cruz when it comes to average exit velocity. Castro’s 92.9 exit velocity ranks as the 18th best in all of baseball. Garver is 0.9 mph behind Castro which is good for 41st overall. Also, Castro only trails the recently activated Miguel Sano in Hard Hit %.
Minnesota’s catchers have been strong, but other players have also helped the team’s early offensive output. Cruz has been a prolific power hitter for most of the last decade and that trend has continued in a Twins uniform. He has the seventh best exit velocity in all of baseball and he has the AL’s fifth best average. Cruz’s 17.2 Barrel % is in the top 5% of the league and he ranks in the top 2% when it comes to xwOBAcon.
CJ Cron has also been a pleasant surprise in the Twins line-up. Cron ranks in the top 15 in barrels per plate appearance, which places him in the top 7% of the league in Barrel %. Since both catchers don’t qualify currently, Cron only trails Cruz on the team’s Barrel % leaderboard.
Byron Buxton is another player getting a lot of attention and Parker did a great job of analyzing his swing yesterday. From 2016-2018, Buxton’s exit velocity averaged near 85 mph. This season he has increased to 91.5 mph. Last year, his hard hit % was 27.0 and this year he has jumped to 42.5. One of Buxton’s biggest jumps is in Barrel %. He was at a very low 1.6% and he has improved to 9.4% this season.
Overall, Minnesota ranks in the top 1% in the league in relation to Barrel %, XSLG, XWOBA. They rank in the top 3% in xWOBAcon and WOBA. Also, the team ranks in the top 7% in WOBAcon.
Can the Twins keep up this pace? How will more Miguel Sano impact the numbers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.