Projection: How Many Bombas will the Twins Hit in 2020?
Image courtesy of © Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY SportsBefore we start tabulating home run totals, there are first a few things to know. One, this will be under the assumption that the ball will at least in some capacity will suppress home runs a little more than it did in 2019. Additionally, these projections are under the assumption that the Twins will stay relatively healthy in 2020, so expect this number to be on the higher end of what they should be able to accomplish, as total playing time for each player can be a hard thing to predict. To create these projections, we will look at the Twins roster, position by position, to project how many home runs each position group will hit this season. There was a decent amount of math done to get to these projections, but I will spare you the explanation of everything that went into calculating this number. With that being said, let’s start the break down.
2019 was a breakout season for Mitch Garver, who hit 31 home runs in just 93 games. Of those, 30 came during the 80 games where Garver was at catcher. Even if there is no change to the ball, it is hard to imagine Garver maintaining this pace in 2020. Additionally, Jason Castro added another 13 home runs in his 74 games at catcher, or one home run every 5.7 games. We can expect Alex Avila to replicate Castro’s home run total, as he wasn’t too far off Castro’s pace, averaging one home run every six games in 2019. Everyone’s favorite turtle, Willians Astudillo, added one home run from the catcher position himself. Depending on his playing time behind the plate in 2020, Astudillo probably won’t add too many home runs to the Twins catcher total this upcoming season.
2019 Total: 44
2020 Projection: 34
The Twins will have a whole new look at first base this summer. With the addition on Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano is slated to make the move across the diamond. Despite missing the first month and a half of 2019, Sano was still able to belt 34 home runs in 105 games. While many of his home runs are no doubts that need help of a “juiced” baseball, Sano certainly seemed to benefit from it on many of his lazy flyballs, as his HR/FB% was 36.6%, which far exceeded his previous career high of 27.5% in 2017. The combination of playing more games, and his HR/FB% regressing to his norms should balance each other out, leading to a similar home run output from Sano in 2020, provided he can stay healthy.
2019 Total: 27
2020 Projection: 42
Second Base will be the biggest drop off of any position, in the home run department, in 2020 for the Twins. Last season, Jonathan Schoop provided plenty of pop from second base, belting 22 home runs in 111 games played at second, and added another in one of his three starts at DH. With Luis Arraez scheduled to be the everyday second baseman for the Twins in 2020, home runs will be few and far between from Twins second basemen this season. However, that doesn’t mean there will be a drop in offensive production, as Arraez should still bring an overall offensive upgrade over Schoop given his elite contact ability and high on-base percentage. Ehire Adrianza should also expect to get some playing time at second, so expect him to impact the home run total as well.
2019 Total: 26
2020 Projection: 11
In 2019, at the age of 33, Josh Donaldson showed everyone that he was fully recovered from his injuries that sidelined him for much of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 155 games, Donaldson connected on 37 long balls for the Atlanta Braves. However, don’t be surprised if we see a slight decline in the home run totals for Donaldson this season. Not only is Donaldson getting to the age where most hitters start losing bat speed, but much like Miguel Sano, he too seemed to benefit from the baseballs last season, as his HR/FB% sat at 25.7%, which was a career high and well above his 19.0% career average.
2019 Total: 40
2020 Projection: 36
Jorge Polanco had a breakout season offensively in 2019, earning himself a spot as the starting shortstop for the American League in the All-Star game. Now at the age of 26, Polanco seems to be developing into his power. Polanco’s 87.0 MPH average exit velocity, and 33% Hard Hit rate (via Baseball Savant) were both the highest of his career. Additionally, Polanco’s FB% of 44.4% was also the highest of his career. This combination aided Polanco in hitting a career high 22 home runs (2 came as a DH) in 2019. Look for him to continue to develop his power as he gets further into his prime.
2019 Total: 21
2020 Projection: 18
While his overall offensive numbers took a step back in 2019, Eddie Rosario did set a new career high with 32 home runs. At this point, we kind of know what we can expect from Rosario. Like Polanco, Rosario set career highs in average exit velocity at 89.1 MPH, and Hard Hit rate at 36.0%. Rosario home run total should be in the upper 20s or low 30s again this season. Additionally, Marwin Gonzalez should see some playing time in left this season, but his home runs will be split up among a few different positions.
2019 Total: 32
2020 Projection: 29
This is without a doubt the hardest position to project for the Twins, given the unpredictability of Byron Buxton’s health. With this being the case, we will do a combo of Buxton and Jake Cave at this position. Buxton had a breakout season in the doubles department, but despite his obvious power, Buxton still only hit 10 home runs in 87 games last season, due primarily to his inconsistent contact abilities. If he can stay healthy enough to play 120+ games this season, look for Buxton to hit in the 15-20 range of home runs. Jake Cave has been a pleasant surprise in his first two seasons in the big leagues and look for more of the same from him this year, as he should add roughly 10 to 15 home runs to the team total, which will be spread across all three outfield position.
2019 Total: 31
2020 Projection: 21
The long-awaited breakout of Max Kepler finally arrived in 2019, as he nearly doubled his career high with 36 home runs. However, just 21 of those home runs came while he was playing right-field. Much like many other players around baseball, Kepler did have a career high in HR/FB% at 18.0% in 2019. However, there are some other explanations for this, more than just the baseball. For one, he easily set a new career high, with a 41.7% Hard Hit rate. Kepler also started pulling the ball more, as he pulled 53.4% of balls in play, versus he career norm which hovered around 44%. These two factors go a long way in explaining the power serge Kepler experienced last season.
2019 Total: 32
2020 Projection: 37
Nelson Cruz was pretty standard Nelson Cruz in 2019, belting 41 home runs to pace the Twins in that category, and he did so while only playing in 120 games. Cruz was yet another player that set a career high mark in HR/FB% at 31.3%, which is far ahead of his career average of 21.0%. Barring any complete fall off in his game, which is a slight possibility given his age, Cruz should be able to get close to the 40 home run mark again in 2020, if he can play at least 140 games this season, something he did in each his last five seasons preceding him joining the Twins.
2019 Total: 52
2020 Projection: 44
In total, the Twins combined to hit 305 home runs from each of these position groups, and added two more from Pinch Hitters, bringing their season total to 307. This season, the Twins will almost certainly fall short of that number, but could still pace Major League Baseball, as I have them projected to hit 272 Bombas in 2020. For reference, the 2018 Yankees held the all-time record for home runs in a season entering 2019 at 267, so this offense still has a strong chance to be an historic team from a home run perspective.
Let us know in the comment section below how many Bombas you think the Twins will hit in 2020.
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