2017 Twins Player Predictions: Max Kepler
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyAs 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.
.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.
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. 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.