Minnesota Twins: Handing out Midseason Grades for OF and DH

Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins have made it to the midseason point and are riding high with an AL best 20-10 record. We grade the outfield that helped get them there.

The Minnesota Twins finished off the first half of their season with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, putting them at a record of 20-10. That record ties them with the Oakland A’s for the best record in the American League and the second best record in all of baseball.

We’ve graded the starters, the bullpen, and now we are moving on into the outfield. The outfield and designated hitter group (we threw the DH in here too), are a very important group to the Twins and one that helps carry a banged up offense.

There will only be six hitters on this list, and it’s split in half for easier reading. In order to earn a grade, the Twins outfielder needs to have played in more than 5 games, so unfortunately just four players will qualify. We added Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez to help even it out. Let’s get into it.

Minnesota Twins
Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins fields against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Outfield

Eddie Rosario

2020 Stats: 29 G, .250 BA/.319 OBP/.481 SLG%, 20 R, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB, 52 TB

Though he’s not hitting for average as well as he usually does, Eddie Rosario has looked like one of the best Twins hitters for most of the season. He’s second on the team in homers, RBI, runs, steals, and total bases, while greatly improving his defense.

He’s made several highlight-reel throws with his arm and has looked at least competent in right (a major upgrade for him), and few hitters have been better with runners in scoring position. The only issue has been his hitting for average, but that’s not enough to grade him poorly. He’s had a very good year. Grade: B+.

Byron Buxton

2020 Stats: 21 G, .221/.225/.456, 10 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 31 TB

The Franchise Player for the Minnesota Twins has looked the part for some of the season while just looking lost at other parts. Byron Buxton had one very good stretch where he did most of his damage, but he’s been mostly quiet outside of that.

He’s played his usual stellar defense, and the Twins are so much better when he’s on the field. He just was placed on the IL for the second time this season, but he’s still played most of the games this season. If he could hit for average he’d get a higher grade, but the power and defense still gets him an acceptable one. Grade: B.

Max Kepler

2020 Stats: 28 G, .228/.342/.455, 15 R, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 3 SB, 46 TB

Almost nobody could have guessed that Byron Buxton would have had a higher slugging percentage than Max Kepler, but no one else could have guessed Kepler would lead the team in stolen bases either.

Though he’s struggled to hit for average, his defense has been stellar, the power has been strong, and he’s been the top base-stealer on the team. He’s not an average hitter, and no one expects him to be, but he’s done everything else right. For that, he earns a very good outfield grade. Grade: B.

Jake Cave

2020 Stats: 16 G, .189/.259/.264, 4 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 14 TB

When will the Twins officially call in a better fourth outfielder (Alex Kirilloff) and move on from Jake Cave? Hopefully soon. Cave has struggled to a .189 batting average, and four of his RBI came off of one grand slam in the opening series for the Twins.

His defense has been solid, but it’s easy to play defense when you have Max Kepler and/or Byron Buxton next to you. He’s not a bad player, but he is one of the few weaknesses in a team that doesn’t have many. He’s had a bad year. Grade: D.

Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter and Utility Man

Nelson Cruz

2020 Stats: 29 G, .340/.429/.699, 23 R, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 72 TB

The clear team MVP and possible league MVP, Nelson Cruz has been a monster for the Twins this season. He leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, homers, RBI, and total bases.

There is nothing more you can want out of a hitter, and his leadership has been on-point in a turbulent COVID-19 year. He doesn’t play defense, so he can’t lose points there. This is as easy as grading Tyler Duffey was. Grade: A+.

Marwin Gonzalez

2020 Stats: 26 G, .239/.314/.359, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 33 TB

Marwin Gonzalez works best as a back-up for spot starts and clutch at-bats, but he has been forced into a full-time role as the Twins work without Josh Donaldson. The results, as expected, haven’t been great.

His defense has improved along with the rest of the team, but he’s still not hitting very consistently. He’s not in the right role for him, so it’s tough to grade harshly, but we still hope for better. Grade: C.

Next. Minnesota Twins: Handing out Midseason Grades for the Bullpen. dark