Skip to main content
Publish date:

Twins Daily: Do the Twins have a problem with right-handedness?

It's a balanced lineup overall, but what if Minnesota's best hitters are all righties?
Nelson Cruz

The 2019 Minnesota Twins had one of the best offenses of all time. After adding Josh Donaldson to the mix, the Twins are poised to be even better in 2020. With their four best batters being right-handed, though, it’s worth asking the question: Do the Twins have a right-handedness problem?

Where the Twins most excelled at the plate last season was against left-handed pitching. Against lefties in 2019, the Twins led baseball with an OPS of .872. Against righties, the Twins posted an OPS of .817. While still an excellent number, this was significantly worse than their numbers against lefties. In fact, the 55 point OPS difference between pitcher handedness was the second largest in the American League in 2019, trailing only the Chicago White Sox who were 67 points of OPS better against LHP than RHP.

While the Twins are pretty evenly split in handedness throughout their lineup (five righties, three lefties, and one switch), what really makes the difference for them in their worse performance against left-handed hitters is that their best hitters are right-handed.

According to their OPS numbers, the three best hitters on the 2019 Twins were Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sanó. Now after adding in Josh Donaldson, the four best Twins’ hitters will be right-handed. 

Let’s look a little bit further into the impact that their right-handedness could have on the Twins next season.

ccs-12268-0-04063900-1580695385_thumb

From their platoon splits shown above, it’s clear (according to OPS) that each of the Twins’ top four hitters have performed much better against left-handed pitching than they have against right-handed pitching. This is a common thing for a platoon split as batters will typically perform better against pitchers of the opposite handedness. 

Moving to the right side of the chart with 2019 numbers, Cruz, Garver and Sanó followed their career trends by hitting worse against RHP than they did against LHP. While they did still hit really well against RHP, this trio didn’t quite hit the all-world numbers that they did against lefties.

Donaldson was the unique one of this bunch, who actually hit better against RHP than he did against LHP, only the second time in his career that he hit for a higher OPS against righties than he did against southpaws. Will he be a .917 OPS hitter against righties in 2020 like last year, or will 2019 prove to be an outlier?

The other factor that comes into play with the Twins’ right-handedness is the prowess of right-handed pitchers in the American League. In 2019, 11 out of the top 15 starting pitchers in the American League according to fWAR were right-handed, including each of the top seven starters.

This extends further to possible playoff matchups for the Twins. In the event that the Twins face the Yankees in the playoffs they would need to go up against Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka, all right-handers, with James Paxton being their only lefty.

Against the Astros? Justin Verlander, Zack Grienke and Lance McCullers are all right-handers as well. 

While the Twins offense is poised to be great, so is the rest of the upper echelon of the American League. Things like platoon splits could be what makes the difference for the Twins in a playoff matchup, and with all of the Twins’ right-handers, this could potentially pose a problem.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

This story first appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

Next Up

Mike Zimmer

Vikings fans clamor for change after latest bad loss under Mike Zimmer

The "fire Mike Zimmer" tweets are raging on Twitter again.

Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are finally heading to Cooperstown

The Twins legends were elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday night.

Tanner Morgan

Report: Gophers to play in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

The Gophers will reportedly head to Phoenix to take on West Virginia.

Adam Thielen

Winless Lions beat Vikings on final play of game

Adam Thielen also left early with an ankle injury

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 7-0 on Willis' late 3-pointer

The Gophers earned back-to-back road victories for the first time since January 2017.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Woman in critical condition after being shot in the head in St. Paul

Officers responded to the incident at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Alexander Mattison

Vikings-Lions: 5 things you can count on

It's a great time for the Vikings to play the Lions.

covid

Omicron variant confirmed in Wisconsin man who traveled to South Africa

Five other cases have been confirmed and linked to a Wisconsin wedding.

Sharon Mollerus - duluth - snow plow car

Sunday snowstorm walloping MN's North Shore with huge totals

Just ridiculous snow totals expected the rest of Sunday.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.49.03 AM

Saturday snow causes havoc on Twin Cities roads

There were countless spinouts and crashes across Minnesota.

Related

Jorge Polanco

What might be a bigger problem than pitching for the Twins

How much will Josh Donaldson help the rest of the infield defense?

Jorge Polanco

Which Twins are most likely to regress in 2020?

Twins Daily explains why some big hitters could have drops in production next season.

Byron Buxton

The 3 biggest what-ifs from the 2019 Twins season

What if Byron Buxton didn't get hurt? What if the Twins traded for a starting pitcher?

Luis Arraez

5 candidates to hit leadoff for the Twins in 2020?

The Twins have a handful of really good options. Twins Daily has the details.

Royals World Series 2015

Just how much are you willing to give up to win a World Series?

Twins Daily uses the Royals' title in 2015 as an example of what can happen.