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Article: MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:30 AM
Back in 2006, Ozzie Guillen compared the Twins’ lineup to piranhas due to its ability to relentlessly small ball a team to death. This 20...
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Is it too early to talk about Twins 2019 All Stars?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:16 AM
The game is almost two months away and obviously a lot can happen in that time. As of now, I would say Polanco and Garver (depending on...
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So when do we believe?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:13 AM
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/18): Sands, Kernels...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:16 AM
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Article: Could the Twins Be the New 2015 Royals?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:55 AM
Even though I'm not a Minnesotan, nor do I live in this beautiful state, I've been observing you guys for years. I see a lot of pessimism...
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Twins Blogosphere


Projections, Opportunity, and Where it Stands in Minnesota

This week Fangraphs writer Dan Szymborski unveiled the 2019 ZiPS projections for the Minnesota Twins. While they aren’t kind, the projection system isn’t harsh either. In summarizing the reality of what can be expected for 2019, Dan puts it best in saying, “the Minnesota Twins represent an increasingly rare breed: the excruciatingly, unbearably, average team.”
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Projection 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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16 Comments

Good stuff. It makes the floor high, but the ceiling low.......and hard to upgrade some spots easily. 

    • birdwatcher, Twins33 and MN_ExPat like this

I know what St Peter said about payroll and how Levine and Falvey have spoken about payroll, but I still can't shake the feeling that Levine and Falvey are basically falling on the sword for the Pohlads regarding fans and the media.

 

I bet they would love to just blurt out, "Listen, the Pohlads capped us. We are not being allowed to make the upgrades you are begging for." But that's career suicide.

 

Those two seems wise enough to know that there were three and now two guys on the FA market that would be a definitive upgrade for this team both short and long term. As pointed out in the ZIPS projections, that's a tough feat on a team that is composed of average players up and down the roster.

 

With the way the Keuchel market is being portrayed in MLBTR reports, getting him for 3/$60 may be feasible. His peripherals all trended up in 2018 from 16-17. While I'm not a Keuchel guy and argued against signing him early on when the discussion was 5/$100, 3/$60 is fine.

 

Is that possible? If the contract he signs is around that number and it's not with the Twins, I will absolutely pin this on the Pohlads and not our personnel decision makers. 

 

As was conversed about on the Effectively Wild podcast this morning, every GM wants more money to spend on payroll and it's very rare for a GM not to spend up to what ownership approves.

    • howieramone2 likes this
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IndianaTwin
Feb 21 2019 03:29 PM

Out of curiousity, what was Oakland's projection a year ago? After winning 75 in 2017, their roster looks like the type that would have entered last season with "average" written all over it and they won 97. 

    • howieramone2 likes this

 

Out of curiousity, what was Oakland's projection a year ago? After winning 75 in 2017, their roster looks like the type that would have entered last season with "average" written all over it and they won 97. 

 

It was for the low 80s, IIRC. Projections are most likely outcomes, not the only outcomes that a model spits out (or that might happen). But teams and companies should be built on what you think will happen, not hope...

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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 21 2019 04:58 PM
These projections are nice to pass the time during a brutal February winter. However, there is a reason they still play the games so let's get playing some baseball already.
    • DocBauer, gbg and RaymondLuxuryYacht like this
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LylesCrocodiles
Feb 21 2019 08:43 PM
The zips projections for Buxton are a bit of an improvement over his career averages. It seems hard to have his numbers get worse.

Sanos projections are better than the numbers he put up last year. But not as good as his career averages (244/336/477).

Zips is only projecting 403 and 411 ABs for them. So about 110 games? The front office has to be counting on more than this because those projections aren’t anywhere close to “players you build around” numbers.
    • birdwatcher likes this
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yarnivek1972
Feb 21 2019 08:51 PM

The zips projections for Buxton are a bit of an improvement over his career averages. It seems hard to have his numbers get worse.

Sanos projections are better than the numbers he put up last year. But not as good as his career averages (244/336/477).

Zips is only projecting 403 and 411 ABs for them. So about 110 games? The front office has to be counting on more than this because those projections aren’t anywhere close to “players you build around” numbers.


Given their history, there is no reason to expect them to play more than that. Miguel Sano has yet to start even 80 games at the MLB level in a season at third base Buxton has started more than 90 just once at the MLB level.
    • caninatl04 likes this
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LylesCrocodiles
Feb 21 2019 09:19 PM
There is no disputing the injury history. But if they are ever going to be viable major leaguers they will eventually have to play 120-140+ games. And when that happens it will be interesting to see what kinds of numbers they put up. Twins fans have been waiting to see this for a few years now. Hopefully they are both worth the wait.
    • birdwatcher, DocBauer and caninatl04 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 22 2019 08:41 AM

 

The zips projections for Buxton are a bit of an improvement over his career averages. It seems hard to have his numbers get worse.

Sanos projections are better than the numbers he put up last year. But not as good as his career averages (244/336/477).

Zips is only projecting 403 and 411 ABs for them. So about 110 games? The front office has to be counting on more than this because those projections aren’t anywhere close to “players you build around” numbers.

 

Projection systems rarely project big steps forward, which for younger players like Sano, Buxton, and Kepler are more likely than say established players.  

 

Only real problem is that guys like Sano and Buxton are getting to an age where you don't expect a bit step forward. 2019 is a pretty big year for our guys. 

    • birdwatcher and DocBauer like this
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EddieMatthews
Feb 22 2019 09:30 AM

 

There is no disputing the injury history. But if they are ever going to be viable major leaguers they will eventually have to play 120-140+ games. And when that happens it will be interesting to see what kinds of numbers they put up. Twins fans have been waiting to see this for a few years now. Hopefully they are both worth the wait.

If past history of Twins player management is any prediction of future performance, we can only look at Joe Mauer who rarely played 120-140+ at position.  Now that we have a full time DH, Sano doesn't have that option for extra at-bats.  Buxton needs to stop running into walls.  

 

Let's see if 2019 provides a better history as a basis of future predictions.  Given the Twins past history of not building a pitching staff, I remain skeptical for the upcoming season.  it looks a lot like the 1990's to me.

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birdwatcher
Feb 22 2019 09:40 AM

 

It was for the low 80s, IIRC. Projections are most likely outcomes, not the only outcomes that a model spits out (or that might happen). But teams and companies should be built on what you think will happen, not hope...

 

 

Although we DO have to keep in mind that thinking and hoping are not mutually exclusive. I'm positive that the Twins THINK Sano will rebound. A lot of the harshest criticism on TD comes from people who chastise them for this as being nothing more than hope. They have a disdain for hope because of their own preference for non-existent certainty.

    • DocBauer and howieramone2 like this
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birdwatcher
Feb 22 2019 09:50 AM

 

Given their history, there is no reason to expect them to play more than that. Miguel Sano has yet to start even 80 games at the MLB level in a season at third base Buxton has started more than 90 just once at the MLB level.

 

 

There is no way the Twins aren't planning on each of these guys getting past their injuries and starting in 140 games or so. 

 

If they thought the past is a prelude, they wouldn't be taking the bet they are taking.

    • DocBauer likes this

Although we DO have to keep in mind that thinking and hoping are not mutually exclusive. I'm positive that the Twins THINK Sano will rebound. A lot of the harshest criticism on TD comes from people who chastise them for this as being nothing more than hope. They have a disdain for hope because of their own preference for non-existent certainty.


I too think they think Sano and Buxton will bounce back. I'm sure that is part of their internal projections. Every company on the planet does projections, it's called planning. The disdain on this site for planning is astounding. Not that you have that, but others do.
    • DocBauer likes this
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birdwatcher
Feb 22 2019 10:30 AM

 

I too think they think Sano and Buxton will bounce back. I'm sure that is part of their internal projections. Every company on the planet does projections, it's called planning. The disdain on this site for planning is astounding. Not that you have that, but others do.

 

I would bet the Twins use a similar projection system as a baseline exercise. But their projections regarding the players incorporates intuitive thinking. Every great company on the planet relies on the solid intuition of its people to take the planning beyond the projection models.

 

The Twins are probably THINKING that Kepler, for example, will deliver results a half WAR better than the model based on some of the subtler things they saw last year (confirmed by some of the data).

 

Wouldn't it be fascinating to hear a rundown, player by player, of how their own projections deviate from ZIPS, and from their own baseline model as well?

 

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they don't have or aren't developing an analytic process to identify roster players they think are about to underperform the model and as a result represent a "sell high" possibility.

 

As for planning, the hardest part of it is assigning a probability to the outcome, assessing the risks associated with failure, and finding the resources in a finite world to incorporate contingencies. The industry trend toward avoidance of some of these long-term FA contracts is probably an indication that organizations are paying closer attention to these things now that the financial stakes are so astronomical.

 

 

With the way the Keuchel market is being portrayed in MLBTR reports, getting him for 3/$60 may be feasible. His peripherals all trended up in 2018 from 16-17. While I'm not a Keuchel guy and argued against signing him early on when the discussion was 5/$100, 3/$60 is fine.

 

Is that possible? If the contract he signs is around that number and it's not with the Twins, I will absolutely pin this on the Pohlads and not our personnel decision makers. 

 

As was conversed about on the Effectively Wild podcast this morning, every GM wants more money to spend on payroll and it's very rare for a GM not to spend up to what ownership approves.

 

The initial numbers on Keuchel weren't 5/100M, Boras was pushing 7/210M. there's still no indicator that he's willing to do 3/60M, otherwise he'd already be signed. Right now the hot rumor is that he might bet on himself with a 1 year deal if he can't get the 6+ year deal he wants at the AAV he's (Boras, really) is looking for.

 

I''d like to add Keuchel to this team, reliable starting pitching is worth paying a premium for, but 6-7 year deals tend to get ugly. And there's no evidence he's willing to come down to $20M per season. We probably don't make much sense for him to come here on a 1 year deal because of the uncertainty of how competitive we're going to be, at least from his perspective. I'd love to have him on ayear deal, but I don't see him going for that

 

Back to ZIPS: projection systems frequently seem to choose to regress players to the mean, unless they;re older, and then they tend to presume degradation. They're not great at spotting breakouts or even projecting steady improvement. They're also not good at spotting who's going to fall off a cliff or get hurt, either. They're educated guesses and fun to play with, but are probably best used as a baseline for assessing risk.

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ScooterDance
Feb 24 2019 10:07 AM
Buxton 2-2 1HR 5RBIs last night.

800 RBIs and 160HR should get him mvp votes.

Figure he’ll need two days off throughout the year from general soreness due to carrying the entire team on his back.
    • ashbury likes this

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