Twins Pushed Disastrous Swing Change on Alex Kirilloff, Causing Massive Slump, Demotion

Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins are 37-32 in 2024, a season that has been a true roller coaster ride, as we sit about a dozen games from the halfway point. So far, it’s been one of the strangest, streakiest seasons in MN Twins history.

Much of that inconsistency reflects that of the batting lineup, which has been shuffling guys in and out all season, for one reason or another. Some have gone in and out due to injury. Royce Lewis sits at the top of that list. Others, like Edouard Julien and Alex Kirilloff just haven’t produced.

Normally, when Kirilloff struggles, it’s due to injury. Over the last few years, his injuries have been wrist related, an issue that was supposed to be fixed with surgery this past offseason. Earlier this week, Alex was demoted to Triple A, after hitting .201 with .653 OPS through 57 games in the big leagues this season.

Minnesota Twins pushed disastrous swing change on Alex Kirilloff

Initial reports said nothing about an injury, and spoke only of performance issues for Alex Kirilloff. Local insider Darren “Doogie” Wolfson (SKOR North, KSTP) confirmed that notion, reporting that the 26-year-old lefty is fully healthy.

So… if health isn’t the problem, what has caused one of the best hitting prospects in recent Minnesota Twins history to suddenly forget how to hit? Well, sources inside Kirilloff’s camp told Doogie that the Twins pushed a swing change on Alex — one that was supposed to ease stress on his wrists — and it has been an absolute disaster.

“[Alex] Kirilloff, healthy. My understanding is [his demotion] is not health-related. The numbers were decent in April, maybe even better than decent. Since then, nothing. He underwent a swing change. Now, this was recommended by Twins coaches mid-July last year.”

“It was more about using his hips, less about his wrists. You think about Alex’s wrist history, right, so the Twins were trying to tweak his swing. Well, outside of a mini run in April, and maybe a little bit of a run at different points last year. Really, his numbers since mid-July of last year, until now, are very pedestrian.”

Darren Wolfson – Mackey & Judd (SKOR North)

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And now that this swing experiment seems to have failed, there are “people close to Alex” telling Doogie that it’s time to go back to the old swing, which was one of the more beautiful left-handed strokes to come through the organization since Joe Mauer.

“So, there are some people close to Alex just wondering, ‘okay, we understand from the Twins standpoint, but it’s time for Alex to go back to his old swing’… I do sense there’s some frustration from some people close to Alex going back to last July”

Darren Wolfson – Mackey & Judd (SKOR North)

I guess it doesn’t really matter whether or not tweaking Kirilloff’s swing was the right thing to do. Do the MN Twins still not fully trust his wrists? Either way, this change isn’t working.

If I’m Alex Kirilloff, it’s probably time to risk my health to go back to the old swing too because hitting .201 with a .653 OPS isn’t going to do him any good, no matter if he stays on the field or not. This isn’t the first time Twins hitting coaches have pushed a swing change that has failed miserably on an individual player.

They tried to tweak Austin Martin’s cut a couple years ago, in order to add more power. He dropped from a top-50 MLB prospect to someone nobody cared about. Finally, he gave up on their dreams and went back to what he knew, leading to a quick rise through the organization. On Thursday, he was called up to replace Kirilloff. Ironic, huh?

MN Twins’ inconsistency follows that of their lineup

This is a team that went 6-12 to start the season, before winning twelve straight games and surging back into playoff contention. They followed up that stretch, one of the longest winning streaks in franchise history.

At one point, the Twins stretched their record all the way to 24-16. The AL Central crown suddenly felt achievable again. Then, they lost seven straight and dropped back to one game above .500 (24-23). Then, another hot stretch pushed them back to 32-25, before another losing streak chopped them down to 33-31.

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Most recently, the Twins have heated back up and won four of their last five games, including the opener of a four-game series vs the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, which has them sitting at 37-32 entering Friday night’s game at Target Field.

The Minnesota Twins need guys like Alex Kirilloff, not just to figure things out, but to stay healthy too. If healthy and on his game, Kirilloff would be one of the best hitters in this lineup. Throw him in with a smoking hot Carlos Correa and a healthy Royce Lewis, who knows how many runs they could score and games they would win. But… that’s yet to happen.

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