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Looking Into 6 Twins-Related Steamer Projections for 2020

FanGraphs released the Steamer projections for the 2020 season earlier this month and today we will look at some of the more interesting projections for the Twins. As a whole, Minnesota had plenty of breakout seasons in 2019 so naturally some of the projects may seem a bit conservative, but I tried to pick out some projections that are debatable.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson – USA TODAY Sports
Projection 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?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

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24 Comments

I have no way to challenge Steamer, but I am not a Raley fan and I hope Kiriloff and Larnach take any ABs that he would have and that he is part of a trade! 

 

Blankenhorn is only if Sano is injured - I sure hope not.Sano is more of a 40+ HR hitter to me.He is not limited by the juiced ball like Polanco and others are.

 

If Garver is only 96 games he has regressed. If this projection is true Jeffers will have a lot more than 1 AB.

 

I want Buxton to steal 50!I know I am retro.I also believe in Arraez and he will hit the doubles that bring his OPS up. 

 

Finally, my most controversial stance - I am not as big on Kepler as many are - so I will say that Rosario will have more WAR that Max - take your shots!!!

 

    • TopGunn#22, nclahammer and bighat like this

Regression to the mean is always a big thing in these projections, which is probably why Kepler is only projected to rack up 3.5 fWAR; considering Kepler took a big leap forward last season, but had improved his fWAR every year for the past 4, the regression is probably overstated assuming good health. I'm not always the biggest fan of Fangraphs defensive ratings, which seems to be hurting Kepler as well.

 

#2 & #3 are reasonable, but I suspect Buxton clears if he plays 140 games. Man, I hope he plays 140 games.

 

#4 seems reasonable. If Arraez can get within shouting distance of an .800 OPS, I think everyone will smile and call it a solid sophomore season.

 

#5: I think we all want more out of Garver if he keeps hitting like this. Rest is good, but we can find another 15-20 games for him to play, even if it's not catching. Cruz is probably going to need more days off this year with the wrist, so throw him some DH and 1B time to keep his bat in the lineup.

 

#6: all seem reasonable; some of them may not get that AB with the Twins. I think Lewis is the least likely because he needs a good, healthy year in the minors and there's no need to rush him. Larnach is the next least likely just because there are quite a few OFs ahead of him, so unless he really crushes it, he'll probably have to get in line.

 

But rather than debate the number

 

I'll gladly debate any number. :)

 

The slight negative defensive projection they have for Kepler looks odd. Both he and Buxton are projected to play nearly full seasons, which puts Kep in RF most of the time. I'm OK with defensive metrics that ding him when he is in CF - I have no reason to believe based on my eye-test that he's an actual asset there, not compared to all the centerfield talent in the majors. But in right, he can really go get 'em. Mookie Betts is clearly better, perhaps Judge and Bellinger, otherwise I can't think of many who top him.

 

Give him his due in RF and I think FanGraphs' WAR for him would be around 5.

    • bdhenders likes this
The one I have the biggest problem with is #1. While you can predict regression to the mean for the typical individual player, to expect all 4 to regress to below that number and no one else to emerge above it? Odds are someone won’t regress that much.
    • tarheeltwinsfan and Captain Torii like this

I'm wondering what the Steamer projections were going into the 2019 season. I'm guessing they weren't close to what actually happened.

    • Monkeypaws and tarheeltwinsfan like this

I agree with almost everything MikeLink45 had to say.I think Arraez's ability to hit doubles like JLease pointed will help his slugging % as well.I'll take 39 HR's out of Cruz.But while I don't think Kepler will be a superstar, I can't see Rosario having a better OPS.Max just walks so much more than Eddie, and as was pointed out Kepler has improved his fWar each of the last couple seasons.I think he's turned a corner.I'd be really interested to see what they project for Polanco since he's such a glue-guy for their lineup.I think offense will be down slightly but not as much as most people think.

 

 

 

I'll gladly debate any number. :)

 

The slight negative defensive projection they have for Kepler looks odd. Both he and Buxton are projected to play nearly full seasons, which puts Kep in RF most of the time.

I agree with ashbury.  I was looking at the defensive metrics of Buxton and Kepler and they are impressive.  He definitely shouldn’t be negative.

 

 In particular, I like the inside edge fielding given by fan graphs, where Kepler caught 67% of the “even” balls (should be caught 40-60% of time) at both positions.  For crazy numbers, go look at what Buxton has there.  For example, he catches 20% of the Remote (1-10%) balls and 68% of the Unlikely (10-40%) balls.

 

A healthy Buxton goes a long way to improving the pitching staff.

    • Sconnie, tarheeltwinsfan, dbminn and 1 other like this

These seem in the ballpark to me, and I think it adds up to about 90 wins (depending on what the pitching looks like). I will be disappointed, but not surprised if the Twins finish third behind Chicago and Cleveland next year.

As a whole, there is nothing to argue with. They are fair projections overall. With health, I think all are a little low. Nut none of them show any extreme regression or disappointment.

Interesting Gordon wasn't mentioned as getting an appearance. I'd think he's near the top of the list.
Buxton could easily steal 50+ bases. But as long as he continues to hit more doubles than singles, his stolen base numbers will be limited. He should probably get credit for a stolen base every time he turns a single into an extra base hit.
    • Bob Sacamento, tarheeltwinsfan and wabene like this
I will be disappointed with the team if Garver doesn't play more....

Some of the numbers will depend on lineup construction. If Buxton bats 9th and Arraez bats first, then (#2) Buxton could easily get into that 50+ steal category also based on 130 games played. Arraez has the patience and skill at the plate to get Buxton more steal opportunities, whereas Kepler swung at a lot of first pitches.

 

On the other hand anyone batting behind Buxton will probably get more first pitch fastballs, which Kepler could do more damage on but Arraez will probably still get more extra base hits thus impacting (#4).

 

Anyway I look at this potential lineup that(#1) projection looks mighty soft.

    • Captain Torii likes this
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Patrick Wozniak
Nov 30 2019 06:41 PM

 

As a whole, there is nothing to argue with. They are fair projections overall. With health, I think all are a little low. Nut none of them show any extreme regression or disappointment.

Interesting Gordon wasn't mentioned as getting an appearance. I'd think he's near the top of the list.

Gordon is predicted to get 39 at-bats. I was just taking a look at the prospects who were projected exactly one AB.

    • DocBauer likes this
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jorgenswest
Nov 30 2019 06:49 PM

I will be disappointed with the team if Garver doesn't play more....


I am not sure that steamer is projecting playing time at this point beyond calculating from previous seasons. There will always be a bunch of young players with 1 PA or very few PAs where any value comes from the rate stats.

Fangraphs will do custom playing time estimates much closer to opening day.
    • Sconnie likes this

2019 ops predictions for Steamer/Razzball

Polanco .751

Melson Cruz.895

Schoop .769

Kepler .772

Crom .804

Sano .782

Marwin .768

Castro .671

Astudilo .763

Garver .722

 

OK, last winter it would give someone a talking point. Accuracy? IDK how it could be called accurate.

I am not sure that steamer is projecting playing time at this point beyond calculating from previous seasons. There will always be a bunch of young players with 1 PA or very few PAs where any value comes from the rate stats.

Fangraphs will do custom playing time estimates much closer to opening day.


I'm not sure what that has to do with wanting him to play more than he oddly did last year, even after Cron was ineffective.
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jorgenswest
Dec 01 2019 08:33 AM

I'm not sure what that has to do with wanting him to play more than he oddly did last year, even after Cron was ineffective.


Your comment had me wondering about playing time calculations and whether they had meaning or changed. I did some searching and reading on fangraphs and shared.

I apologize for quoting your post. I think too often a quote is taken as meaning a different point of view. I should have written without the quote.

It would be crazy not to want Garver to play more.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

Blankenhorn is only if Sano is injured

 

Blankenhorn is only if Sano is injured - Sorry I forgot to add my comment.Nostradamus says "It doesn't take a genius to predict that Sano will miss at least 25 games.

 

Your comment had me wondering about playing time calculations and whether they had meaning or changed. I did some searching and reading on fangraphs and shared.

I apologize for quoting your post. I think too often a quote is taken as meaning a different point of view. I should have written without the quote.

It would be crazy not to want Garver to play more.


No issues. I still don't understand list year's playing time.... And am, therefore, concerned about next year's. So we agree!
    • JLease likes this

There is little reason the Twins shouldn't be the same or better overall (current player-wise) in 2020. Everyone is still is sorta prime playing years. The ball may not bomb as far, so the Twins need to work on advancing that extra base. The bullpen looks pretty strong. Hopefully money spent will replicate the rotation which started the majority of the season games with just five arms in 2019. Arraz will have a bit less pop than Schoop, but a full season from any numebr of players or positions might help offset that. Do the Twins need speed on the bases? Is fielding still an issue? Can they WIN in Target Field? Those are the questions I see in 2020.

 

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railmarshalljon
Dec 01 2019 04:44 PM

 

I have no way to challenge Steamer, but I am not a Raley fan and I hope Kiriloff and Larnach take any ABs that he would have and that he is part of a trade! 

 

Blankenhorn is only if Sano is injured - I sure hope not.Sano is more of a 40+ HR hitter to me.He is not limited by the juiced ball like Polanco and others are.

 

If Garver is only 96 games he has regressed. If this projection is true Jeffers will have a lot more than 1 AB.

 

I want Buxton to steal 50!I know I am retro.I also believe in Arraez and he will hit the doubles that bring his OPS up. 

 

Finally, my most controversial stance - I am not as big on Kepler as many are - so I will say that Rosario will have more WAR that Max - take your shots!!!

 

Barring injury, I'll gladly take that bet.

 

And I'm cool with Buxton stealing 50 bases provided he has enough of those opportunities that make sense. If it take him 80 attempts to get there I'm less thrilled.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 01 2019 05:32 PM

I don't think Steamer is very accurate. Just saying.

I don't think Steamer is very accurate. Just saying.


What is?
    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this