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Kahrl: Twins Could Jump Up

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 07:14 AM

ESPN's and Baseball Prospectus' Christina Kahrl just penned a story about how the Twins could surprise much like the Indians did last year. There's a lot she likes about the Twins, including the free agent signings this offseason....

[COLOR=#333333][FONT=verdana]Coming to Target Field’s tough environment for left-handed hitters should help both right-handers: Nolasco’s career righty/lefty OPS+ split is 90-110, while Hughes’ is 97-103 but was especially rough last year (90-108). Add in some hope that Hughes thrives outside of the media glare in the Big Apple, and you might wind up with a decent one-two punch. [/FONT][/COLOR]


She's also high on Pinto, finds a historical benefit to moving Maur to first, and doesn't want us to forget Aaron Hicks:

http://espn.go.com/b...se-team-of-2014

#2 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 07:55 AM

I never realized Nolasco's lefty/righty split was so dramatic. A good sign going into Target Field, for sure.

#3 Brandon

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 08:19 AM

The Twins rotation will have around a league average ERA...Not necessarily for a rotation but for a pitching staff as a whole. the bullpen will be above average netting the Twins a slightly better than average pitching staff. So the Question of contention rests solely on the offense to be able to put up slightly better than average numbers. For that to happen several things need to go the Twins way. The article also leans heavily on Sano coming up and producing right away. a return to health and form for Wilingham and Kubel, Hicks to rebound and develop, Arcia to continue developing and Pinto to come in hitting solid similar to what he did in AA although probably with a little less results maybe something closer to a .770-.800 OPS. That's 6 questions that need to be answered along with will Dozier at least remain status quo and the likely improvement from Mauer no longer Catching. I can see 3 or 4 of those questions going in the Twins favor but will that be enough to make them competitive. At least at this point we can legitimately belive they could be close to a .500 team with the possibility of contending.

#4 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:06 AM

The author is correct -- there are a lot of question marks on this team.

If many things go well, there could be a significant improvement. If not so many things go well, the improvement will be minimal. At least I don't look for regression.

The season will be interesting .... let's just hope it is still interesting in July and August.

#5 drock2190

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:15 AM

Might be a tad optomistic, but I think the general consensus is that the team is trending upward.

#6 Riverbrian

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:57 AM

The offense has to start playing baseball...

The Pitching is hopefully much improved... But... I do not believe that the Starting rotation can carry this club.

So if the Pitching can just be average and keep us in games... It will be up to the offense to do enough to get the job done.

Based on what I saw last year... It's going to take a huge dose of "I think we can" to change directions from the "I don't think we can" that infected the bats last year.

The Twins will have to "Man UP" in 2014.
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#7 halfchest

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:03 AM

Next year will be a nice way to see what areas can be addressed in house. I think to me the most interesting story will be to follow Hicks/Arcia. Mainly because I think both will have some success this year. I'd love to have Hicks and Arcia manning the corners for the next 5-6 years (this is assuming Buxton comes up and takes over center in the next 2 years). Should also provide great defense as well. I dont' think Arcia is as bad as he looked this year defensively and Hicks is solid in Center and would be great in a corner, especially with that arm.

story number two for me will be watching Dozier/Florimon at the keystone. While I don't think Florimon is a long term answer at all if our other pieces come around we can probably deal with a light hitting defensive minded SS for a couple years. If Dozier can put up around a .700-.750 OPS with stellar defense and 15 homers per year, that will look great.

If these young guys can put together nice years, it will be fun to see what the Twins do next offseason. They'll have a ton of cash, with nowhere to spend it on the position players. A lot of potential stud pitchers coming out and the Twins could be in a position to go all in and grab that missing Ace in the rotation. Even if it means cutting Pelfrey lose or trading him for a bag of balls.

Sorry got a little pie in the sky off topic. I'm excited for this season to see how some things shake out. not expecting playoffs but hoping we at least develop a core of contributors out of this group.

#8 BigTrane

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:06 AM

Yep, saw this and agree it's a best case/all reasonable expectations for all needed rebounds to happen at the same time kind of scenario. Lightning in a bottle, anyone?

Still, given the persistent rumors of Twins pursuing Arroyo, Tanaka, and even Johan begs the question: if we're really not done yet signing SP's, then what's the plan?

If we wind up with either a #1-2 type (Tanaka) or solid innings-eater #3 (Arroyo) or a rebounding Johan (the ultimate lightning in a bottle) then what effect does that have on the rest of the SP candidates we've been assuming for #4 and #5 spots?

Turns 'em into trading chips. Is that the logic?

Also, is anyone working on a GM Psychoanalysis metric here?
Feel free to pile on about Suzuki.

#9 edavis0308

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:06 AM

You would think the law of averages would catch up to this team and they would start catching some breaks in the optimism department..

#10 BigTrane

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:07 AM

Yep, saw this and agree it's a best case/all reasonable expectations for all needed rebounds to happen at the same time kind of scenario. Lightning in a bottle, anyone?

Still, the persistent rumors of Twins pursuing Arroyo, Tanaka, and even Johan begs the question: if we're really not done yet signing SP's, then what's the plan?

If we wind up with either a #1-2 type (Tanaka) or solid innings-eater #3 (Arroyo) or a rebounding Johan (the ultimate lightning in a bottle) then what effect does that have on the rest of the SP candidates we've been assuming for #4 and #5 spots?

Turns 'em into trading chips. Is that the logic?

Also, is anyone working on a GM Psychoanalysis metric here?
Feel free to pile on about Suzuki.

#11 Monkeypaws

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:09 AM

I'm not as optimistic as she is about the offense; no speed, questionable power, few clutch hits, lots of Ks.

#12 TheLeviathan

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:41 AM

Yeah, I'm not nearly as high on the offense. I think it drags the team down this year, but they should still trend up a nice notch from last year.

#13 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:49 AM

The starting rotation was terrible last year. Upgrading that to average will go a long way towards trending up, though I'm not sure it's going to suddenly put them in contention. The offense definitely needs to improve, though I think there's good reason to think it will do that on it's own.

Dozier second half was a completely different guy. If he's that guy in 2014, there will be a nice bump.
Arcia should improve simply b/c of another year.
I would think that Presley will be far better than Hicks, even if he's bad.
Willingham should also have a decent bounce back season.
Mauer is Mauer.
With Pinto, offensive improvement will depend on whether or not he can out produce Morneau/Parmelee.
Plouffe and Parmelee are the big question marks in my opinion. If they put it together, the offense could be good. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that one of them finally clicks and the other falls flat on his face.

#14 TheBigGuy7273

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

Ok, pitching wise, if the starters avg. 6+ per start, and if the offense is any better then the twins should be around .500, also, I wouldn't be surprised if the twins were the only team to challenge Detroit for the division!

#15 twinsfan34

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:33 AM

Aaron Hicks should bounce back. He got into a funk or something. There's nothing in his history that would suggest he'd have any sort of season like he had last season, except last season. I just can't see him being a flame in the pan, one try .192 hitter in MLB. His hit tool and BB/SO patience would suggest he's more than that.

#16 Thrylos

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:45 AM

Still lots of off-season left and I am optimistic that the Twins will add a couple of position players by March. The way this off-season has been going for the Twins, it almost seems that there were "or else..." type meetings behind closed doors early October...
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#17 drock2190

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:00 PM

Aaron Hicks should bounce back. He got into a funk or something. There's nothing in his history that would suggest he'd have any sort of season like he had last season, except last season. I just can't see him being a flame in the pan, one try .192 hitter in MLB. His hit tool and BB/SO patience would suggest he's more than that.


While he does still have potential, his inability to hit righties could really put a damper on his stock.

I wouldn't be opposed to have him start pitching again

#18 Willihammer

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:27 PM

That's not an optimistic take. Want an optimistic take?

Mauer is MVP
Hammer hits 35 dingers again
Kubel hits 30 dingers again
Arcia hits 30 dingers
Dozier hits 25 dingers
Sano hits 25 dingers

Gibson wins Cy Young

#19 twinsfan34

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:32 PM

Also, I don't think the part on Sano is "optimism''...it didn't say he'd start the season at 3B...but rather "he shouldn't need much seasoning."

Here's a look at the game's two most recent 80 power grade prospects (Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper). Both made the jump from a 'mediocre' AA performance the year before into 100+ games at the ML level the following year. Sano actually had better numbers than both of them at AA (see pink highlighted area).

So based on the performances of Harper and Stanton, albeit a very small sample size, we should expect 22+ HR this season. Incidentally, both Harper and Stanton had exactly 22 HR and 59 RBI their rookie season.

Harper Stanton Sano.JPG

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Edited by twinsfan34, 30 December 2013 - 12:55 PM.


#20 twinsfan34

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

And because Thrylos and Willihammer are learking nearby, the advanced metrics.

(though, they could surely provide more)

Sano's BABIP is the lowest of the bunch. And it's quite low.

Harper Stanton Sano Advanced Metrics.JPG

Stats courtesy of Fangraphs.

Edited by twinsfan34, 30 December 2013 - 12:55 PM.


#21 Joe A. Preusser

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:16 PM

Win range for 2014:

Low - 72
High - 93

Best guess? 81

#22 Dave T

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:17 PM

What I like about the Twins offense for next year is, they don't need everything to go right in order to improve. If Hicks doesn't return to form, maybe Rosario wins an outfield job. if Willingham doesn't return to form, maybe Kubel does. If Plouffe shows us nothing, maybe promote Sano early.

#23 B Richard

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:49 PM

And because Thrylos and Willihammer are learking nearby, the advanced metrics.

(though, they could surely provide more)

Sano's BABIP is the lowest of the bunch. And it's quite low.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]6234[/ATTACH]


Very nice post. A few numbers jump out at me. I don't want to derail this thread, but it seems fair to comment on this interesting data regarding one of our biggest sources of hope for the future. First thing that jumps out at me is age. Harper and Stanton were both younger than Sano at AA. Sano is still quite young for AA, but the observation stands.

The best stat on that sheet, for me at least, is wRC+, which measures hitting and adjusts for league (and park, but only at the MLB level). In terms of pure hitting, Sano had a monster performance at AA, even relative to Harper and Stanton. 45% above league average at 20 years old is damn good. I really see a bright future for him, especially considering his BB%. With improved fielding allowing him to stay at third, Sano will be a huge part of the Twins future.
[SIZE=2]Bring a song and a smile for the banjo,
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#24 jokin

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:57 PM

Aaron Hicks should bounce back. He got into a funk or something. There's nothing in his history that would suggest he'd have any sort of season like he had last season, except last season. I just can't see him being a flame in the pan, one try .192 hitter in MLB. His hit tool and BB/SO patience would suggest he's more than that.


Actually, his minor league history showed he took some time to adjust at mastering each successive level of promotion. The Twins FO ignored that history, inexplicably jumped poor Aaron Hicks not one, but 2 Levels, and then rather unfairly expected a major league level performance- at the lead-off spot no less- from a guy who, other than a meaningless Spring Training, hadn't demonstrated he was ready for the move.

This time around should go better, but I would bet that he starts in Roc., and following his past history, will begin to demonstrate mastery of AAA and heat up as springtime temperatures move into the summer month weather.

I think the biggest decision on Hicks will be whether or not he remains a switch hitter.

#25 BigTrane

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:10 PM

Don't get me wrong on Sano.... optimism with him is totally justified. Problem is, what if Plouffe looks semi-OK at the plate to start, and so Twins then decide to sit on Sano 'till August? We're dealing with a very conservative club here. The question is all about when he comes up, and how the club makes that decision. I question MGMT.
Feel free to pile on about Suzuki.

#26 Thrylos

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:13 PM

And because Thrylos and Willihammer are learking nearby, the advanced metrics.

(though, they could surely provide more)

Sano's BABIP is the lowest of the bunch. And it's quite low.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]6234[/ATTACH]

Stats courtesy of Fangraphs.


Nah. Cannot really provide more, other that a reference to the Oliver's projection (that was done in a similar way, with comparables, but with many comparables and longer equations :) )

He projects this line for Sano if he were to play in the majors in 2014:

.238/.315/.517 143 G, 600 PA, 37 HR, 80 R, 101 RBI, 55 BB, 210 K (and .309 BABIP and 4.5 WAR)

I'd take that line with the Twins for 2014.

Over at fangraphs Oliver has a 5 year projection that has him hit 51 HR with 128 RBI and 7.6 WAR in 2018 with a .269/.354/.634 slash line. That's before he reaches his prime too. Bonds' territory. And scary, most people do not think he is the best Twins' prospect...

But projections are just fancy (and fun) math exercises :)

His BABIP is comparable to Stanton's who is a slow power hitter as well (HRs are not Balls in Play btw) and a speedier guy like Harper will have a higher BABIP.
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#27 jokin

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:22 PM

Very nice post. A few numbers jump out at me. I don't want to derail this thread, but it seems fair to comment on this interesting data regarding one of our biggest sources of hope for the future. First thing that jumps out at me is age. Harper and Stanton were both younger than Sano at AA. Sano is still quite young for AA, but the observation stands.

The best stat on that sheet, for me at least, is wRC+, which measures hitting and adjusts for league (and park, but only at the MLB level). In terms of pure hitting, Sano had a monster performance at AA, even relative to Harper and Stanton. 45% above league average at 20 years old is damn good. I really see a bright future for him, especially considering his BB%. With improved fielding allowing him to stay at third, Sano will be a huge part of the Twins future.


To be fair, Sano was only 6 months older than Stanton while playing at the similar levels. And as you noted, Sano's performance was absolutely monster relative to both Harper and Stanton. Sano actually improved his BB% after moving to AA, and was playing with an injury for much of the last half of 2013.

Besides the wRC+ number for Sano, which dwarfed the others (Harper was only league average @ 100), Sano's ISO was ridiculous relative to the other two- and unlike the other 2 who took a significant drop in ISO upon promotion- he actually INCREASED his ISO on the move up to AA.

Sano ISO for A+ and AA: .325/.335
Harper ISO for A+ & AA: .236/.140
Stanton ISO for A+ & AA: .283/.224


Bright future indeed. Hopefully, the future starts soon after the service time issues are resolved.

#28 jokin

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:26 PM

Don't get me wrong on Sano.... optimism with him is totally justified. Problem is, what if Plouffe looks semi-OK at the plate to start, and so Twins then decide to sit on Sano 'till August? We're dealing with a very conservative club here. The question is all about when he comes up, and how the club makes that decision. I question MGMT.


Simple. Plouffe becomes the Super-UTIL that we all have been clamoring for and Sano beats down the door and into the starting lineup. I am hoping that the Twins aren't thinking too seriously about the Futures game as the moment and venue for their prized prospects debut at a major league park. If Sano is mashing from the outset at AAA, he should be promoted way before August.

#29 BigTrane

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:41 PM

We're all hoping that Sano mashes out of the gate (getting over his current elbow problems). That makes a decision easy.

My worry is that with the traditional mindset of this org., you wind up with a stupidly sticky situation where (realistically) Sano has some adjustments to make , while Plouffe (briefly) focuses and produces, blocking Sano (in retrospect, but conservatively) for far too long.
Feel free to pile on about Suzuki.

#30 Thrylos

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:46 PM

We're all hoping that Sano mashes out of the gate (getting over his current elbow problems). That makes a decision easy.

My worry is that with the traditional mindset of this org., you wind up with a stupidly sticky situation where (realistically) Sano has some adjustments to make , while Plouffe (briefly) focuses and produces, blocking Sano (in retrospect, but conservatively) for far too long.


Plouffe will never block Sano. If Plouffe hits, he can move in a corner OF position in 2014.
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