As the rumor mill continues to turn slowly, and the hot stove remains cold, there haven’t been many external reasons to get excited about the Minnesota Twins.
Don’t let the lack of action distract you from the fantastic pieces the team already has in the clubhouse. While the front office absolutely needs to make moves this offseason — specifically adding a frontline starter — dogging the lack of movement shouldn’t be confused as an indictment of the talent the Twins have on the roster already.
One of the reasons the team was able to bounce back from a sluggish summer was the youth movement that saw a handful of rookies step up in big ways. Royce Lewis and Edouard Julien led the charge, with local hero Matt Wallner not far behind.
MLB.com is unveiling its annual list of the best players at each position right now, and Wallner made the cut. He’s ranked as the No. 9 best left fielder in the entire league, one spot above Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber and one spot below for NL MVP Christian Yelich.
It’s extremely high praise for a player who made his debut less than two years ago, but it’s another feather in the cap of Minnesota’s youth movement.
Matt Wallner named No. 9 best left fielder in MLB
Here’s how the whole list breaks down:
- Yordan Alvarez, HOU
- Brandon Nimmo, NYM
- Nolan Jones, COL
- Bryan Reynolds, PIT
- Chas McCormick, HOU
- Randy Arozarena, TB
- Lars Nootbaar, STL
- Christian Yelich, MIL
- Matt Wallner, MIN
- Kyle Schwarber, PHI
Not bad company to keep.
Offensively Wallner stepped right up, slashing .249/.370/.507 and mashing 14 homers and driving in 41 runs. He finished the year with a 2.2 WAR and a .877 OPS while posting a 28 percent strikeout rate at the end of the season.
Keep in mind that a lot of that success was due to Wallner being able to adjust things at the plate. Along with the rest of the Twins offense, he struggled during the height of the summer months but was able to bounce back and finish the year slashing .354/.456/.646 despite his earlier slump.
Adjusting out of a slump isn’t easy, just look at what happened to Joey Gallo after a hot start to his season. The fact that Wallner was able to do that as a rookie is a massively encouraging sign for what he can do as he continues to develop.