Projections, Opportunity, and Where it Stands in Minnesota
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsProjection systems are built on input parameters; there’s no emotion or belief in what could be possible. Although the Twins front office has carried the water that 2019 almost solely relies on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, the computer isn’t playing with that same fire. Sano and Buxton both project to be right around 2.0 fWAR players, but an All-Star emergence like that dreamed up at 1 Twins Way, would equate to something more along the lines of a 4.0 fWAR.
Acquired over the offseason, Nelson Cruz and his bat are projected to pace the Twins. A 2.6 fWAR leads the team and a 127 OPS+ is really the only mark of offensive substance. Tabbed for 30 dingers, he’d be doing more than enough as a 38-year-old designated hitter. It’s the help that he’ll need which causes reason for pause.
There’s no denying that C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop are upgrades over their predecessors, ZiPS agrees with this notion. What that duo doesn’t do is push the envelope forward in any drastic way. Adding just enough offensive firepower to be a bit better leaves Rocco Baldelli’s pitching staff to be exposed as well. Jose Berrios is staring at the lone 3+ fWAR projection (3.2), and there’s quite the drop off behind him.
At this point Kyle Gibson appears to have rounded in to the starter many hoped he would be, but he’ll deal with some uncertainty entering spring training fresh off a bout with E Coli. Average is what can best describe ZiPS feelings on both Michael Pineda and Martin Perez, while bullpen addition Blake Parker ends up being just a guy. Further development for Taylor Rogers looks exciting (3.22 ERA) but questions on how the pen will be pieced together remain aplenty.
After the San Diego Padres signed Manny Machado on Tuesday, Szymborski tweeted praise towards the decision. Jump-starting what should be a competitive window has always made sense, and San Diego accomplished that with one of the best assets they’ll ever have a chance to acquire. I found myself suggesting that Minnesota found themselves in the exact same boat, but instead turned away from spending and acquiring talent this winter. Jiving with commentary on the Twins ZiPS projections, Szymborski noted, “the Twins are one of the teams I'm most disappointed in this offseason. *This* was the prime offseason to make a huge play.”
Swimming in the middle ground leaves room for a wide range of outcomes for the Twins in 2019. The downside is that there’s plenty of chances for things to go negatively. With opportunity to step above average staring them in the face, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine balked, and the computers suggest that it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.
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