Looking Into 6 Twins-Related Steamer Projections for 2020
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson – USA TODAY SportsProjection 1: Max Kepler will lead the team with 3.5 fWAR.
This would obviously be a bit disappointing because four Twins players topped 3.5 fWAR in 2019 (Kepler, Cruz, Polanco, and Garver), but the projections take into account what the players did prior to 2019 so they may be lower than what we’d expect. But rather than debate the number, let’s debate the player. Kepler edged out Nelson Cruz 4.4 – 4.3 in 2019, but with so many quality players, can he do it again? Interestingly, Steamer projects Kepler to be slightly negative defensively, which seems unlikely.
Projection 2: Byron Buxton will steal 23 bases.
If Buxton is healthy, he would seem a clinch to top 23 steals. And Steamer does project Buxton to be fairly healthy, appearing in 139 games (We’ll take it!). However, the Twins don’t run much and Buxton’s career high is just 29 (2017, 140 games). Whatever confidence one might have in Buxton topping 23 steals is obviously directly related to how much time he spends on the field.
Projection 3: Miguel Sano hits 38 bombas.
Like Buxton’s steal total, this prediction will most likely be determined by Miguel Sano’s health. This total would have him finish just behind Nelson Cruz’s 39 projected homers and slightly ahead of his 34 hit in 2019 (105 games). Of course, there could be changes made to make the ball less lively in 2020, but Sano isn’t exactly hitting wall scrapers so he should be okay.
Projection 4: Luis Arraez will finish with a .784 OPS.
Luis Arraez was one of the great surprises of 2019 and finished the season with a .838 OPS. While seemingly everyone is in agreement about Arraez’s great plate discipline and ability to hit for average, he doesn’t profile as someone who will have much power. Unlike Sano, Arraez probably would be affected by a less-jumpy ball and the .784 OPS projection seems pretty spot on.
Projection 5: Mitch Garver will play in 96 games.
This number is interesting. Minnesota seems to favor keeping Garver well rested and it’s hard to argue with his 2019 results (155 wRC+, 93 games). But Garver’s bat was so good that it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup for 69 games. Of course, Garver has also had a history of injuries including some troubling concussions, so that will obviously also play a role in how much action he sees. Finally, the quality of whoever plays second catcher will also be a factor. Free-agent catchers are flying off the board, so if the Twins end up with a lesser-quality second-catching option, manager Rocco Baldelli may have a harder time keeping Garver on the bench.
Projection 6: Ryan Jeffers, Trevor Larnach, Luke Raley, Travis Blankenhorn, and Royce Lewis will have 1 MLB at-bat in 2020.
I’ll go out on the limb and say not all of these prospects will have exactly one big-league at-bat next year. Before you all go out and exclaim me the next Nostradamus, Steamer projected a lot of minor-league prospects to get one at-bat, so it’s basically predicting that most of these guys won’t see much MLB action in 2020. However, some of them likely will. Luke Raley and Travis Blankenhorn have already been added to the 40-man roster so they have fewer hurdles to jump. Royce Lewis and Trevor Larnach have the advantage of being the higher-regarded prospects, so they may have a better chance to be longer-term injury replacements. And Ryan Jeffers is a catcher and highly regarded for his bat and catch-framing so he also has a chance. So, the question here isn’t who will get one at-bat, but who will see the most time with the Twins in 2020?
Now it’s your turn. What do you think about each projection?
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