3 Players to Watch
- SP Phil Hughes
We’ve identified thus far that Minnesota was awful in 2014 in large measure due to their horrific pitching. The ace of the staff Phil Hughes, however, was actually pretty solid. A close look at his numbers reveals a solid 3.52 ERA. A closer look says he was often betrayed by the eight players behind him. His 2.65 FIP suggests that he was masterful at eliminating hard hit balls and keeping runners off base. But the defense playing behind him struggled to make plays.
He had a wonderful 8.0 K/9 innings rate and walked just 16 batters all season. If Hughes can package that formula, his defense has to make up at least some of the difference.
And if it does, the Twinkies will be improved ever so slightly.
- CL Glen Perkins
There’s a trend formulating around the Twins’ pitching last year. It wasn’t so terrible as the common metrics suggest. Like Hughes, Perkins was often the victim of incompetence surrounding him. Though he had a 3.65 ERA—not very good for any reliever, especially a closer—he actually was not that bad.
He had a 3.10 FIP, again suggesting he did a solid job of avoiding bats. His 1.18 WHIP was the best on the team among relievers. And he struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings, which is very good even for relievers.
He still had 34 saves. That number could potentially increase in 2015, based on many factors, but certainly not limited to improved defense from his teammates.
- CF Danny Santana
Is Danny Santana a name you are familiar with? If not, get familiar with it. He’s a young star in the making out in centerfield. In 101 games the 23-year-old hit .319 with impressive .353 on-base percentage and managed to slug .472—quite unusual for a youthful speedy outfielder.
He did strike out 98 times, an obvious flaw in an otherwise flawless resume. If he can up his walk rate—just 19 in 430 plate appearances—he could get on base at a clip nearing .400. That would do wonders for an already solid offense.
Where the now 24-year-old Dominican Republic native must improve is in the field. They tried him at shortstop for 34 games (31 starts), but his long-term position is almost certainly centerfield. He made four errors in the outfield in 176 chances but also showed numerous times why he can become an Gold Glove-caliber outfielder as he had five assists.
Next: Twins' 2015 Keys for success