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WARming Up to 2019 Twins

Posted by Physics Guy , 16 December 2018 · 762 views

To say that the Twins have been inactive this offseason would not be accurate. In fact, Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently gave the Twins a B- for their offseason moves thus far. No other team in the AL Central received higher than a C. While their moves have filled some of the gaps they have, I have been frustrated by the lack of a big move. Falvey and Levine clearly did not read my 2019 Blueprint.

After much thought, I am starting to warm up to the Twins offseason decisions. They have added players with the potential to improve the Twins run-producing ability in CJ Cron and Jonathon Schoop. Each player fills a need on the team, both have 30 HR potential and neither limits future moves from a financial perspective. Schoop clearly had a down season last year, but I would happily take an average of his previous three. The reason for my shift in opinion is tied to WAR.

In looking at last year's results, it appears that a team needs to be in the 40+ range for team WAR to be a contender for the playoffs. The moves made by the Twins front office thus far are inching the needle closer all the time. Looking at previous seasons and using predicted WAR for 2019 on Fangraphs, I made what I believe to be reasonable estimates for the Twins in 2019. This comes with the assumption that the Twins will add two more arms to the bullpen. For this exercise I have chosen Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera, which seems about right for the Twins.

Hitters:
Castro/Garver - combined they should be able to produce 2.0
Cron 1.5
Austin 1.0
Schoop 2.5
Polanco 2.6
Adrianza 0.5
Sano 2.5
Rosario 3.2
Buxton 2.4
Kepler 2.5
Cave 1.5
Hitters' Total: 22.2

Pitchers:
Berrios 3.2
Gibson 2.7
Odorizzi 2.3
Pineda 1.5
Romero 1.0
Soria 1.2
Herera 0.6
Rogers 1.3
May 0.8
Reed 0.5
Mejia 0.5
Hildenberger 0.4
13th man 0
Pitchers' Total: 16.0
Overall WAR: 38.2

While this doesn't get them above 40, they are within striking range. A few surprises could give them the nudge above 40. The biggest question marks in my estimates belong to Buxton and Sano. This is a big season for both players and the Twins are counting on them being productive players in their lineup. Those two, along with perhaps Berrios, provide the Twins with the most potential star power on the team. I believe that the front office is hedging their bets to see what Buxton and Sano can deliver. If they fail to deliver, I suspect Falvey and Levine sell off pieces (Gibson, Odorizzi, Schoop, relievers) in order to retool for 2020/2021 when Kirilloff, Lewis and Graterol are expected to arrive. If Buxton and Sano are up to the task, the Twins will have the ability to take on salary and add a piece or two to push them towards the playoffs. It may not be the path I would have chosen, but I can at least see some reason in the choices they have made.

  • Oldgoat_MN, markos and mikelink45 like this



It has been up to Sano and Buxton for four years.What is the next plan.The WAR and projections are in my blogs.I am looking for neutral observers and what I see is not good enough.I am excited by Graterol, Kiriloff, and Lewis, but do we want to just wait?The players we have are on one year contracts and we will be clearing a lot of roster for 2020, but it means another year of mediocre play.I can buy that one of the players has a big year, but Sano, Buxton, Schoop, Cron is asking for a lot. 

 

    • markos likes this

This kind of analysis really helps illuminate my thoughts about this current team. They are in a position that they will likely miss the playoffs EVEN IF Buxton and Sano both break out next year. The top playoff teams in the AL in 2018 all had 50+ WAR. Even if Buxton and Sano combine for 10+ WAR next season, they are still going to be 7-10 WAR short of the competition.

I actually find this post and those numbers encouraging. And not because simple math puts them close to the stated magic number of 40. It's because I could see some of the listed numbers easily climb from projections.

Are there questions? You bet. And there is always injury and the such. And maybe it's just the little boy baseball optimist in me, but I just have this "feel good gut instinct" about Sano and Buxton, Kepler and Polanco, and a few of the pitchers taking a step forward.

Every time I reflect on how frustrating, disappointing, completely weird last season was, I remember something like 26 1 run losses. Just a few key hits, a couple less bad plays, a better bullpen, could we have split that number in half?
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Physics Guy
Dec 17 2018 11:10 PM

 

 

It has been up to Sano and Buxton for four years.What is the next plan.The WAR and projections are in my blogs.I am looking for neutral observers and what I see is not good enough.I am excited by Graterol, Kiriloff, and Lewis, but do we want to just wait?The players we have are on one year contracts and we will be clearing a lot of roster for 2020, but it means another year of mediocre play.I can buy that one of the players has a big year, but Sano, Buxton, Schoop, Cron is asking for a lot. 

 

Why has it been up to Sano and Buxton for four years?Four years ago at this time they hadn't even debuted in the major leagues. 

 

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by neutral observers. I used Fangraphs projected WAR for 2019 (with some minor adjustments on my part). The four players you mention are projected at 8.3 WAR on Fangraphs, I estimated a little higher at 8.9. I don't have any of them having "big" years. Most of my estimates are within a decimal point or two of Fangraphs, usually I am higher if they have a track record of better or are still young enough to expect improvement. I read your post and using last year's numbers aren't realistic in my opinion. For example, it's easy to project Polanco at 2.5 when he earned 1.3 last year in half a season. 

 

I guess the purpose of my original post was to bring some positivity to what the Twins have done, even if it isn't what I had hoped they would. If you chose not to see it that way, that is your choice. I think there are reasons to think with a little bit of positive luck this year, as opposed to what happened last year, the Twins could be in the hunt for the playoffs. If that is the case, then I would hope next year's offseason could look significantly different. I would even argue that it might lead to a deadline deal for a Verlander type deal that the Astros pulled off two seasons ago. I don't blame the FO for not "going for it" when they have significant questions that need to be answered.