One exercise that is fun, and in the interest of full disclosure gets a lot of people reading and talking, is ranking things in order as a “power ranking.” No seriously, if you call something a “power ranking” you’re guaranteed to see traffic go through the roof. I’m thinking of calling my podcast “power ranking.”
OK, I’m kidding.
But it’s a fun exercise to apply to a team’s 25-man roster. My general theory — and this can be altered if viewers think there is a better way — is to base a player’s ranking on how they’ve played to date, with a bit more weight placed on recent performance. We’ll also consider myriad reasons why players might be doing better than others, such as role the player was used in and so on, but at the very least, this is to get people talking.
In parenthesis, you’ll find the previous ranking for each player. We last did rankings on May 25, and will most likely do them one more time before the end of the season. Or perhaps more often, if people suggest they really like them. Send hate mail to Tom Schreier.
1. Eddie Rosario (Previous ranking: 18)
It’s not just that he’s been hot lately, but his season numbers are really starting to look great. Rosario is hitting a stellar .296/.337/.503 for the season. That’s good for a wRC+ of 119 — 11th among qualified left fielders. That’s ahead of some pretty good players, too, like Nomar Mazara, Andrew Benintendi, Matt Kemp, Brett Gardner and Michael Brantley. Since July 1 — Rosario’s five-hit game — he’s hitting an insane .333/.376/.581. Wonder if anyone has written about him lately?
2. Ervin Santana (no change)
Santana’s had a fine year, even with all the ebbs and flows. Through 24 starts, Santana has five complete games and a 3.28 ERA. However, that comes with a 4.71 FIP, thanks in large part to 25 homers allowed and not particularly strong strikeout and walk rates. He’s a sturdy No. 2 on a team that has no ace — so everyone moves up a notch. It’ll be interesting to see how holding onto him plays out. He’s managed to avoid serious injury for almost all of his career, but father time is undefeated.
3. Brian Dozier (4)
Just another ho-hum 20-homer season for Dozier — his fourth in a row. He’s hitting a solid .258/.334/.473, playing fairly steady defense and has hit a robust .298/.350/.605 over the last 30 days. Only Rosario (160) has a higher wRC+ over the last 30 days than Dozier’s 148. It’d be nice to see what he could do hitting third or fourth, no?
4. Miguel Sano (1)
Miggy gets big props for hitting .269/.354/.511 on the season, but he’s been pretty cold of late. Over the last 30 days, he’s hitting just .255/.295/.439, and he hasn’t been particularly good at staying within the strike zone after starting the season off really strong in that respect. It’s been a fine season, but it would be nice to see it ascend to a great season for the young monster.
5. Jose Berrios (6)
A rough couple starts have sullied his overall season numbers (4.27 ERA), but he’s still improved by leaps and bounds from last year, isn’t walking anyone and is keeping the ball in the yard. Chalk it up to the ebbs and flows of being a young starter.
6. Trevor Hildenberger (NR)
Hildy gets the nod over the elder Belisle solely because of the beginning of the latter’s season. Both have been absolutely terrific of late, as Hildenberger hasn’t walked a batter in the last 30 days with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a groundball rate of 55.6 percent. He could just as easily pitch the ninth inning moving forward if manager Paul Molitor so chooses. He has some interesting options out there.
7. Matt Belisle (22)
Forget the start of his season or even the home run he allowed to Justin Upton; Belisle has been terrific now for about two months and deserves some love. Sure, he’s not an ideal option to close games. Nobody on the team is, really. But since his blow-up in San Francisco back in mid-June, look at these numbers: 22 games/24 innings, 23-5 K/BB ratio, 1.13 ERA, .209/.261/.326 line against. That’s legit.
8. Tyler Duffey (7)
Duffey hit a bit of a speed bump not too long ago that pushed his ERA over 4.00, but he’s on the cusp of bringing it back under (4.04) as he’s been brilliant for the last month. Over the last 30 days, Duffey has a 1.42 ERA (2.35 FIP), more than a strikeout per inning and 0.7 BB/9. He could also be in the mix to close out games.
9. Bartolo Colon (NR)
The BART has gotten better with each passing start. He’s got a 4.02 ERA with the Twins, and despite virtually no strikeouts (4.6 K/9) has walked 0.9 batters per nine and has managed to keep the ball in the park for the most part (1.2 HR/9). There’s virtually no risk here, as he can be immediately DFA’d if he falls apart. But the value he’s already provided has been a really, really nice find for the Falvey-Levine duo.
10. Byron Buxton (12)
He just pushed the OBP up above .300, and he’s been terrific over the last 30 days: .313/.370/.415. If he ever does that over a full season, he’s a full-fledged superstar.
11. Ryan Pressly (no change)
I can see the incredulity in your eyes, but Pressly has been awesome lately. Over the last 30, he’s got a 1.88 ERA, 8.8 strikeouts per nine and just a 0.6 BB/9. He’s also inducing grounders at a rate of 55.9 percent over that stretch. This might be the next longish-term closer.
12. Joe Mauer (13)
It’s pretty much neither a good nor bad season for Mauer so far. Ideally he’d be hitting more than his .279/.370/.388 line, but he’s getting on base and isn’t blocking any viable alternative at first. He also has a .400 OBP over the last month. That’ll work. He should be hitting leadoff.
13. Max Kepler (3)
Kepler’s season has been merely fine (98 wRC+), and is basically him roping righties (125 wRC+) and being victimized by lefties (1 wRC+). There’s reason to believe he could eventually hit lefties — see his 2015 stats at Chattanooga — but for now should probably be shielded a bit against them. Even still, he’s got all sorts of future potential at just 24.
14. Jason Castro (no change)
The overall line doesn’t look terribly impressive — .233/.333/.375 — but that’s a 91 wRC+ at a position where the AL average is 86. That’s also a .333 OBP where the league average is .306. That’ll work. He’s been really good over the last month (.283/.405/.417).
15. Taylor Rogers (10)
Rogers numbers have been more shiny than truly substantive, though he has done a better job of getting righties out this year. Still, he’s hit a rough patch over the last month (8.44 ERA), and the gap between righties (.722 OPS against) and lefties (.648) against Rogers has widened of late. He’s a fine reliever, but eighth-inning work long-term probably isn’t in the cards.
16. Jorge Polanco (8)
An extended dry spell has his season line at .240/.289/.340, though he’s been red-hot over the last month or so. Over the last 30 days, he’s hitting .323/.373/.436. The approach and swing were too good to stay down forever, and he’s played a competent, if unspectacular shortstop all season long. His odds of holding off Nick Gordon at the position seem fair, but not overwhelming.
17. Dillon Gee (NR)
Gee has been a shot in the arm for the Twins bullpen, but how much weight should be given to 10 innings of really, truly great pitching (2.70 ERA, 10 strikeouts, one walk)? Even this feels a bit generous.
18. Ehire Adrianza (20)
He barely plays, but he’s good in the field, takes good at-bats and doesn’t provide much of a drop-off wherever he is out there. He’s what the Twins hoped Danny Santana could be — but never would.
19. Eduardo Escobar (17)
Undoubtedly the team leader in character, Escobar has seen infrequent run coupled with play that sort of typifies that. He’s been really cold of late (55 wRC+), and on a truly great team would probably be a lefty masher off the bench. He doesn’t actively hurt the team when he’s out there and can play multiple positions. That’s valuable, too.
20. Robbie Grossman (5)
He’s a good guy to have if you got him cheap and have no one to displace him, but an OBP-first DH isn’t terribly valuable, either. He’s still not particularly good defensively — albeit not as egregious as last season — and he’s been cold over the last month (81 wRC+). If Mauer isn’t going to hit leadoff, Grossman should.
21. Kyle Gibson (25)
Gibson has been so-so over the last month — 5.01 ERA (3.87 FIP), 8.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 58 percent GB rate — and on the whole still has an ERA above 6.00 for the season. He needs a strong finish to have any chance of being in the rotation next year — or perhaps even on the roster.
22. Buddy Boshers (NR)
Gives up too many homers but won’t kill the Twins working in lower-leverage spots and against lefties (.608 OPS against). Could be displaced by an August addition.
23. Chris Gimenez (21)
Part of the struggles may come from infrequent run, but has hit just .154/.214/.154 over the last month and is coming off a really tough defensive day. The shouts for Mitch Garver from the fans aren’t getting any quieter.
24. Alan Busenitz (NR)
Hasn’t worked much, so there isn’t much to evaluate. Not many strikeouts despite good stuff and too many homers. Probably headed back down when Hector Santiago comes back.
25. Dietrich Enns (NR)
All we have to judge here is his MLB debut, which isn’t really fair. But there’s no way to justify any other spot here.