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Gardy being considered to manage the Red Sox

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Didn't see that coming.
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Article: Supplementing the Twins: Lance Lynn

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2017 Twins Player Predictions: Max Kepler

Max Kepler was signed way back in 2009, July 2nd, the same day as Jorge Polanco. As you would expect, the young German was a very raw baseball talent, so the Twins were very patient. He spent three years in the rookie leagues before joining Cedar Rapids in the second half of the 2013 season.

In 2015, he was the Twins Minor League {layer of the year (and Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year). He was the Southern League MVP, led the Lookouts to the league’s championship and then was called up to the Twins for the final two weeks of the season. On the season’s final day, he hit a single off of Johnny Cueto for his first Major League hit.

He came up to the Twins in April and sat, but when he returned in early June, he was in the lineup nearly every day the rest of the season. He had some impressive moments, and he struggled a lot. You would expect that from a 23-year-old with very little time at AAA.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
As we embark on the 2017 season, Kepler was handed the right field job. He will hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup. He’ll continue to face growing pains, but he’s a fast learner, and he will make adjustments.

So what do you hope or expect to see from Max Kepler in 2017? After 17 homers as a rookie, can he hit more in 2017? Will he hit for a better average? Will we see some of his minor league tendencies, at least the good ones, surface in the big leagues? Be sure to post your thoughts and your predictions into the comments below. It will be fun to take a look at the end of the season and see how our predictions look.


KEY NUMBERS

.595 - Against left-handers last year in the big leagues, Kepler struggled. He hit just .203/.273/.322 (.595) against southpaws. Meanwhile, against right-handers, he hit .248/.325/.468 (.792) and hit 15 of his 17 home runs. In the minor leagues, Kepler hit almost as well against lefties as he did against righties, so this is something we will want to watch in 2017.

.322/.416/.531 (.947) - Those are Kepler’s slash line numbers from 2015 in AA Chattanooga when he was named the Southern League MVP. It’s not one number, but it’s a good reminder of the type of player many believe that Kepler can become. He filled the stat sheet. He hit for average. He showed an ability to get on base with walks. He hit for power. He had 32 doubles, 13 triples and nine home runs. He added three more homers in the playoffs. To go with the triples, he stole 18 bases as well. He hit lefties as well as right-handers. He also walked 67 times and struck out 63 times. So while Kepler has some improvements and adjustments to make, it’s important to remember why so many people believe in him.


PREDICTIONS

Max Kepler: 577 at-bats, .273/.336/.458 (.794), 29 doubles, 5 triples, 18 home runs.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have Kepler playing in 150 games, a few in centerfield and a couple likely at DH. He may even play some first base. I think we’ll start seeing some of what he can become. I don’t think his plate discipline will peak yet in his Age-24 season, but it will improve. He had 17 homers last year and he’s still primarily a line drive hitter. However, he makes very hard contact and he’s going to continue to add more and more home run power. I think we’ll see some of that in 2017, but as we move forward, I think he can be a 30 homer hitter. In fact, a month ago on Twitter I posted a “BOLD PREDICTION” saying that Kepler would hit 30 home runs this year. While I doubt it, I would not be terribly surprised if he did.

The league will continue to make adjustments to Kepler, so Kepler will need to adjust back. His minor league track record of strong plate discipline and contact should really help him with that.

YOUR TURN

Your turn. Share your thoughts on and predictions on Max Kepler in 2017. We can take a look back at the end of the season and see how we did.


PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS

Jason Castro
Joe Mauer
Brian Dozier
Miguel Sano
Jorge Polanco
Eddie Rosario
Byron Buxton
Max Kepler


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32 Comments

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Bill Brown69
Apr 01 2017 03:04 AM

My rose colored glasses work a little extra when I look at Kepler but here goes.

 

590AB .283/.333/.495  31 2B/ 20 HR/ 20 steals and in the surprise  stat of the year because he is hitting 2nd he scores 109 runs to lead the team.

There was a write up last year in fan graphs about Kepler's elite pitch recognition skills.
https://www.google.c...max-kepler/amp/
As far as I can tell, non of the analytic sites are predicting a sophomore regression. He has the tools. Kepler will be a star. Watching him and Buxton develop together will remind us of the Puckett and Hrbeck development. Now we just need to identify someone assume the roles of Viola and Gaetti.

(Note I have left Eddie Rosario off this list because I think his lack of discipline will prevent the Twins from having a truely elite outfield).
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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HitInAPinch
Apr 01 2017 05:44 AM

I'm not worried about Kepler's hitting against lefties.There's not a whole lot of them around and stats are skewed by small sample size.I looked at a couple of his MiLB seasons, and the R v. L splits were pretty comparable.Worse comes to worse:Twins run a righty hitter out there.Same should probably go for Rosario.

 

He got 396 MLB AB's last year.Nice start, more to come.

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WiesbadenDAN
Apr 01 2017 06:07 AM

Herr Kepler's development into at least a borderline all-star is one of my 3 keys to the Twins having success sooner rather than later.  The others being Rosario and Berrios.  So I am obviously bullish on the guy because I am fan of his and the Twins.  SO....570 AB  286/343/492  28 2B/19 HR/3 3B.  Solid defense and a great attitude.

 

Bringe den Donner junger Mann!!!

 

I will wear his jersey in Germany this summer and see if I can drum up some new fans.  20 years from now  maybe Twins daily will have to spin off Twins Taglich.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Craig Arko, Halsey Hall and 2 others like this
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twinssporto
Apr 01 2017 06:57 AM

This kid is going to be a real All-Star right fielder.  His confidence at the plate this year has got to be much higher than it was last year.  The pitchers will adjust on him but I think he can compensate.  

 

582 at-bats: .288/.345/.497  30 2B/ 21 HR/4 3B 

 

Possible Gold Glove contender as he doesn't have to travel as far to his right with Buxton next to him.  He'll be a vacuum in RF.  A great arm as well.

I have to disagree with a lot of the commenters here - I don't share the optimism on Kepler.  I'm questioning why a guy who hit .235 last year in 400 ABs belongs in the conversation among the team's best players.  He hit .151 this spring in 53 ABs.  I think he belongs at the bottom of the lineup right now.  Sorry to be a downer, but I can't put all my eggs in one 3 HR-game basket.  

    • Willihammer, Vanimal46, d-mac and 2 others like this

Yeah, I'm with bighat on this one. I'm much more excited about Rosario. I think Kepler got moved up too quickly and I see his struggles from last year continuing this spring. He's just raw for the level and I think he'll be back and forth between AAA and the majors this year. He's still got an insanely bright future and I think he'll be okay but he's really really raw.

    • Taildragger8791 and Dakota Diver like this
A near .800 OPS is too aggressive for my taste. He's still young and learning. Maybe in the next year or 2 he reaches that level.

This year I'm predicting 450 PA, .700-.725 OPS with 15 HR.
    • Bark's Lounge, Taildragger8791 and Respy like this
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mickeymental
Apr 01 2017 10:02 AM

eich ein der schläger.

I think bighat is right. I love Kep's potential, but, I think he struggles this year. Something like 245/315/400. He's gonna be good, but, not this year.
    • bighat likes this

I think his learning curve is steep and he will have a lot of struggles this year, but still hit 240 with 25 home runs and the second half will outshine the first if they are patient with him.

 

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Bark's Lounge
Apr 01 2017 01:18 PM

 

A near .800 OPS is too aggressive for my taste. He's still young and learning. Maybe in the next year or 2 he reaches that level.

This year I'm predicting 450 PA, .700-.725 OPS with 15 HR.

I hope Seth's prediction happens Van, but your prediction is pretty much the same thing I would predict, maybe a slightly higher OPS.

    • Vanimal46 likes this
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ashburyjohn
Apr 01 2017 02:50 PM

I've been high on Kepler's potential for several seasons, but I'm with the group expecting the pitchers will continue to adjust to him, moreso than he can counter-adjust, for the time being at least. Perhaps a stronger second-half than the first.

    • Bark's Lounge likes this

I think he regresses back to his normal "power" numbers, which means much less in the HR department. I think he puts up the same OPS as last year, but by making better contact and having slightly better OBP numbers. .270 9 HR .335 OBP .395 SLG. 

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LA VIkes Fan
Apr 01 2017 03:44 PM

I am optimistic about Kepler long term , but I think at .750 plus OPS this year is more than just optimistic. He didn't hit last September and he didn't hit at all in ST. I would still play him through the first slump or two but he may need more time in AAA at some point this year. I think he really arrives in 2018, not 2017. Prediction:

 

.253/.315/.420 (.735)  15 doubles, 2 triples, 10 Hrs, good OF defense.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

Yeah, I'm with bighat on this one. I'm much more excited about Rosario. I think Kepler got moved up too quickly and I see his struggles from last year continuing this spring. He's just raw for the level and I think he'll be back and forth between AAA and the majors this year. He's still got an insanely bright future and I think he'll be okay but he's really really raw.

Except for the fact that he's out of options. So barring injuries he won't spend time in Rochester as there's no way he'd pass through waivers to get sent down.

 

 

 

I am optimistic about Kepler long term , but I think at .750 plus OPS this year is more than just optimistic. He didn't hit last September and he didn't hit at all in ST. I would still play him through the first slump or two but he may need more time in AAA at some point this year. I think he really arrives in 2018, not 2017. Prediction:

 

.253/.315/.420 (.735)  15 doubles, 2 triples, 10 Hrs, good OF defense.

Out of options, can't be sent down without threat of losing him.

    • bighat likes this
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Dakota Diver
Apr 01 2017 08:23 PM

Except for the fact that he's out of options. So barring injuries he won't spend time in Rochester as there's no way he'd pass through waivers to get sent down.

He should have 2 option years remaining and I think the Twins will be using 1 this year, he needs time at AAA to get some things worked out. He didn't have a great spring, trouble with MLB pitchers breaking ball!

 

PREDICTIONS

Max Kepler: 577 at-bats, .273/.336/.458 (.794), 29 doubles, 5 triples, 18 home runs.
 

 

.250 - .265 / .320 - .335 / .425 - .445

17 HR, 27 2B, 7 3B

 

If you have read my other predictions, you will see a lot of these players profile the same way. It could be argued that the Twins have a weakness in that most of the players are not only at the same point in their careers but also profile as being the same types of hitters.

He should have 2 option years remaining and I think the Twins will be using 1 this year, he needs time at AAA to get some things worked out. He didn't have a great spring, trouble with MLB pitchers breaking ball!

hes been on the 40 man since 2014 season. He's out of options

He didn't make much hard contact last year. that will have to change for him to improve. I am a believer, just not sure it happens THIS YEAR like I'd like.

 

I think Van is about right.

    • d-mac likes this

 

Except for the fact that he's out of options. So barring injuries he won't spend time in Rochester as there's no way he'd pass through waivers to get sent down.

 

 

hes been on the 40 man since 2014 season. He's out of options

 

Kepler has an option remaining for 2017. He has been on the 40-man since November 2013, so he has been optioned 3 times.  But since he hasn't yet played 5 "full" pro seasons (90+ days active, generally means seasons above rookie league ball), he qualified for a 4th option year.

 

Same for Vargas -- 4th option this year.

 

Almost the same for Polanco, but he spent 92 days active between two rookie leagues in 2010, thus counting as a "full season" and making him ineligible for a 4th option this year.

 

Note that if Kepler and Vargas don't get optioned this year (i.e. spend the whole 2017 season on the MLB roster or disabled list), this option would not carry over to 2018 because both would then have 5 "full" pro seasons.  Unlike the first 3 standard options, which are still available if unused (hence how the Twins were still able to option veteran Kyle Lohse in May 2006).

    • ashburyjohn and caninatl04 like this

 

Kepler has an option remaining for 2017. He has been on the 40-man since November 2013, so he has been optioned 3 times.  But since he hasn't yet played 5 "full" pro seasons (90+ days active, generally means seasons above rookie league ball), he qualified for a 4th option year.

 

Same for Vargas -- 4th option this year.

 

Almost the same for Polanco, but he spent 92 days active between two rookie leagues in 2010, thus counting as a "full season" and making him ineligible for a 4th option this year.

 

Note that if Kepler and Vargas don't get optioned this year (i.e. spend the whole 2017 season on the MLB roster or disabled list), this option would not carry over to 2018 because both would then have 5 "full" pro seasons.  Unlike the first 3 standard options, which are still available if unused (hence how the Twins were still able to option veteran Kyle Lohse in May 2006).

If the New Triangle of Authority decides to use that extra year, I'm done.

 

I can't watch Buxton try to cover for DanSan and Robert on a regular basis. How they ended up with two players I dislike as much as I disliked LNP is a mystery to me.

I'm curious why none have mentioned the huge hole in his swing.Sure, pitch him low or low and in, and he's an All Star.Pitch him mid away and, well, not so much.

 

I concur he will be a very good (but not All Star) 28 year old and will be a staple of the 6th or 7th line up spot for years.

 

But this year?He won't crack .260

 

As for fielding, he is doing a good job learning the dimensions of Target's right field, but I don't see a Gold Glove.

 

 

Kepler has an option remaining for 2017. He has been on the 40-man since November 2013, so he has been optioned 3 times. But since he hasn't yet played 5 "full" pro seasons (90+ days active, generally means seasons above rookie league ball), he qualified for a 4th option year.

Same for Vargas -- 4th option this year.

Almost the same for Polanco, but he spent 92 days active between two rookie leagues in 2010, thus counting as a "full season" and making him ineligible for a 4th option this year.

Note that if Kepler and Vargas don't get optioned this year (i.e. spend the whole 2017 season on the MLB roster or disabled list), this option would not carry over to 2018 because both would then have 5 "full" pro seasons. Unlike the first 3 standard options, which are still available if unused (hence how the Twins were still able to option veteran Kyle Lohse in May 2006).

The Twins petitioned for and were granted a 4th option year for Vargas. I did not see the same for Kepler. Eligibility does not necessarily mean that it was granted by the players association. Maybe it was and I missed it.

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