Astudillo leading charge of Twins’ aggressive approach at plate

The Minnesota Twins are taking a different approach at the plate this season.

Gone are the days of patiently waiting for a perfect fastball or routinely letting the first pitch fly by. Under new manager Rocco Baldelli in 2019, the Twins have morphed into baseball’s most aggressive team in the batter’s box.

Minnesota sees just 3.71 pitches per plate appearance, the lowest mark in all of baseball. And it’s worked out in the Twins’ favor, as they have the American League’s second-best slugging percentage at .466.

The league average for pitches per plate appearance is 3.95.

TEAM PITCHES PER PA
Minnesota Twins 3.71
San Francisco Giants 3.74
Houston Astros 3.82
Kansas City Royals 3.84
Colorado Rockies 3.84

A big contribution to this number is the Twins’ newfound preference to swing at the first pitch. As a team, Minnesota hitters have swung at the first pitch 35.1% of the time in 2019, the second-highest clip in baseball behind Cincinnati (36.5%). Last season, the Twins ranked 28th at swinging at the first pitch (25.3%).

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Utility man Willians Astudillo has put more balls in play off the first pitch than any other count he’s faced this season. When connecting with a first pitch — which he’s done in nine of his 38 plate appearances, Astudillo has tallied three hits (two doubles), one RBI and a .375/.444/.625 slash line.

“La Tortuga” has not struck out in his last 104 plate appearances against a right-handed pitcher dating back to June 30 last season — the longest active streak in baseball.

If he keeps swinging at the first pitch, that streak will continue for a long, long time.

NOTABLE

— The Twins have won 11 of 14 matchups against Baltimore since 2017, their highest winning percentage against any opponent in that span. Minnesota pitchers have compiled a 3.47 ERA, compared to Baltimore’s 5.31.

— Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios throws a higher percentage of curveballs than any other American League pitcher (38.9%). As a team, the Orioles are hitting .314 against curveballs, the second-highest batting average in the AL.

— Jorge Polanco leads all shortstops with a .314 batting average since the 2018 All-Star break. His .400 average ranks fourth in the big leagues this season.

— Expect a big series from Nelson Cruz. Over his 15-year career, “Boomstick” has been more productive against Baltimore than any other franchise, mashing a 1.032 on-base plus slugging career mark.

Statistics courtesy Sportradar, baseball-reference.com