Word to the wise: Stop throwing the Twins fastballs

No team takes advantage of heaters as much as the Twins.
Publish date:
Jonathan Schoop

It’s no secret that Minnesota has been successful on the offensive side of the ball this season. Some of this success can be attributed to Minnesota’s core players taking the next step, while other veteran additions have certainly aided the cause. Teams need to be successful in a variety of situations, but one area that separates the Twins from the rest of baseball is when opposing pitchers try to sneak a fastball by.

Isn’t every team good against fastballs?

Minnesota is head and shoulders above the crowd when it comes to fastballs and looking at pitch type linear weights in relation to that pitch (wFB). According to FanGraphs, this linear weight “attempts to answer the question, ‘How well has a batter/pitcher performed against/using a certain pitch?’” Over the course of a season, this allows us to see which pitch a hitter performed best against.

As a team, the Twins have the highest wFB in all of baseball and it isn’t even close. The Dodgers and the Yankees are in a close battle for second place but Minnesota’s 100.6 wFB is almost 30 points higher. Since Target Field opened in 2010, the Twins wFB is the tenth highest compiled by a club and there are still 30+ games to add to their total.

When looking at the players responsible for Minnesota’s wFB production, there are some of the usual suspects. Nelson Cruz (23.7 wFB), Mitch Garver (16.4), Max Kepler (13.9), and Miguel Sano (13.1) all sit at the top of the team’s leaderboard. Jason Castro and Jorge Polanco are tied for fifth with 9.4 wFB. One surprise might be Luis Arraez and his 7.1 wFB since he has under 250 plate appearances at the big-league level.

Facing big-time heat

Minnesota also isn’t just getting away with hitting mediocre fastballs from subpar teams in the American League, because they have some of the best numbers among clubs when facing 97+ mph this year. The Twins have the best batting average, slugging percentage, and AB per XBH.

Make sure not to pass on the message but opposing pitchers and coaching staffs must not have caught on to Minnesota’s fastball tendencies. Through this weekend’s games, the Twins have seen fastballs in 26.4% of their at-bats while the MLB average is 22.0%. Mitch Garver (34.2 FB%), Miguel Sano (32.6%), Jason Castro (31.1%), Eddie Rosario (30.4%) and Max Kepler (30.1%) are all seeing fastballs at least a third of the time. The Twins also have five other regular players with a FB% above the league average.

In the zone

Since Minnesota continues to see fastballs, it’s important that players don’t go out of the zone to chase pitches. The Twins have the fourth best Z-Swing% in all of baseball which takes the swings a team has inside the zone and divides it by pitches inside the zone. Besides swinging at pitches in the zone, Minnesota is also making a high rate of contact on those same pitches. So far this year, the Twins rank eighth in Z-Contact% with only a couple playoff-caliber teams ranked higher than them.

Statcast also gives a glimpse into how successful Twins batters have been at making consistent contact. Among players with at least 100 batted ball events, Minnesota has four players in the top-8 for barrels per plate appearance percentage (Brls/PA %). Nelson Cruz leads all of baseball with a 13.8 Brls/PA % and Jason Castro also sits in the top-5 (11.2%). Castro entered play on Monday higher on the leaderboard than Mike Trout. Miguel Sano and CJ Cron round out the top-8.

Many of the hitters mentioned above are having their best professional season and credit needs to be given to the coaching staff. Keeping James Rowson as hitting coach has certainly been one of Minnesota’s most important off-season moves. However, a hitting coach can only do so much.

To be successful in October, Minnesota’s offense is going to have to pick up some of the slack from the pitching staff. If opposing pitchers continue to relay on their fastball, Twins’ hitters are going to make them pay.

This story originally appeared on Twins Daily and is being re-shared as part of a collaboration between Twins Daily and Bring Me The News.

Next Up

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Watch: Gopher alums Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyler Johnson make key plays in Bucs' playoff win

The Minnesota greats had a pair of highlights as Tampa Bay advanced to the NFC Championship.


Crews respond to fire at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights

It's reported that a greenhouse on the grounds was on fire.

Marcus Carr

Why the Gophers could be in line for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament

The Gophers are done with a brutal stretch and are poised to make a run.

police tape

Authorities ID man fatally struck by 'errant bullet' in Willmar

The man was working in his garage when he was fatally shot.


1 dead, 1 critically injured in head-on crash on Highway 169

The State Patrol says driving impaired may have been a factor in the crash.

Richard Pitino

Gophers game against Nebraska postponed due to COVID outbreak

The Cornhuskers have had 12 members of its team test positive for COVID-19.

Bob Kroll

What Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll said in Sunday radio interview

Kroll said that once he's retired he'll go "radio silent."

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for Sunday, January 17

The health department provides updates daily at 11 a.m.

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.

Willmar Police Department

'Errant bullet' goes through garage wall, kills Willmar man

The man was working in his garage when he was shot, witnesses said.


Jake Odorizzi

Will the Twins submit a qualifying offer to Jake Odorizzi?

Odorizzi has had an up and down 2019 season.

Devin Smeltzer

Trusting the Twins' internal starting pitching options

Twins Daily breaks down the options the Twins already have available.

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.

Rich Hill

Is Rich Hill the 40-year-old Mr. October the Twins need?

Twins Daily's Cody Christie throws some interesting facts into this story.

Jhoan Duran

Twins Daily prospect rankings: #6 Jhoan Duran

Counting down the top prospects, and Duran has a chance to make waves this season.

Nelson Cruz

How long will the Twins' championship window be open?

Championship windows close very fast, typically, according to Twins Daily.

Nelson Cruz

Twins now entering second-guess season

Twins Daily's Cody Christie looks ahead to what waits this winter.

Eddie Rosario

Is Eddie Rosario facing a make-or-break year with the Twins?

Twins Daily's Cody Christie digs into what lies in waiting for Rosario.