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Who plays in the OF?


mikelink45

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blog-0182559001536936592.jpgI am back from guiding a hiking trip in Michigan where I got to watch the Detroit Tigers play a few games against the Cardinals - fun to see Gardenhire. As I watched their struggles to find the right Outfielders for the future I was interested in the various players that they put in and how each had different potentials and strengths. But it got me thinking about the Twins. For the last two years we have been led to think of the outfield as Rosario/Buxton/Kepler. But is it those three for the future?

 

I know we have had LaMarre and Field out there during the year and they do not excite me. We have used Adrianza in the OF as well as Astudillo, and Taylor Motter. Logan Morrison was even in the OF for two games. And of course we have had Jake Cave and Robbie Grossman playing extensively in the OF.

 

No minor leaguers were brought up this fall to get any MLB time in the OF but Wade seems like a candidate and eventually we will have more minor leaguers move up to challenge I hope. But what is the immediate future - the next two years? Who will be have out there when we turn the corner?

 

Start with the Big Three

  • Byron Buxton has had a lost year. He is 24 and has been with the team for parts of 4 years. His defense is out of this world, his slash line for the four years is 230/285/387 and we all know the drama that was 2018. 6.8 WAR
  • Eddie Rosario seems to be the one who stepped up this year, leading the team in all the batting categories and playing a steady, if unspectacular OF. In his four years he has a slash line of 280/312/471. 8.6 WAR
  • Max Kepler has not regressed, he has not progressed, he is not a star, is he a starter? His slash for the same four years is 235/314/421 and he has an accumulated WAR of 6.7.

Before looking at other options - if I take the lazy route and just add and average these three players we would have an OF with a 248/303/408 slash and 1.8 WAR. Not good enough for a team that wants to be a champion.

 

The two players on the team that look like our next OF candidates - Sorry Adrianza and Astudillo - are Grossman and Cave. Two players who elicit very different responses from TD fans.

  • Robbie Grossman has been our number 4 OF for three years and has played in 331 games (DH and 1B included). His slash line for MN 262/365/397 which is actually a good line for a number 4 if we do not consider his OF range and defense.
  • Jake Cave is our find of the year, after Motter and LaMarre and numerous other dumpster dives we were able to get Cave out of the Yankees and he has produced. 265/311/487 slash and 1.7 WAR for 76 games. He hustles and looks good but his fielding is not as good as some might claim. In the long run, when it comes to defense, Buxton has no worries.

That is five players for starting and bench. Are they the right five and in the right order? The 40 man roster still has Zack Granite who had a lost year and Johnny Field.

  • Granite earned 0.3 WAR in 93 ABs in 2017 and played better CF than all but Buxton. In 2018 he played in 68 games before ending his year with injury. He batted 211/282/245, He is 25 years old.
  • Johnny Field has been in 13 games so far with a slash line of 071/100/171. If we look at his entire 2018 year he has 75 games and 193/231/330. I hope to not see him on the 40 next year.

The next question is who is in the minors who might be up soon? MLB.com has a top 30 for each team - http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2018?list=min Our number two is Alex Kiriloff - how long before he comes up - will it be in the next two years? If he does Kepler better watch out because RF is his best position. Trever Larnach is in his first year, but already prospect #6. Too early to project him as a Twin. Akil Baddoo is #12 and so far has been a CF player. LaMonte Wade is #13 and seems the most ready for 2019.

  • LaMonte Wade Age 24 has a minor league slash of 257/360/380 reminiscent of Grossman, but better in the field. He does not have power, but controls the plate.
  • Alex Kiriloff is moving so fast he cannot be left out of the discussion for 2019 and definitely should be looked at for 2020. 348/392/578 is a slash line that cannot be ignored. Yes he is young, but you might notice that Atlanta and the Nationals both had players as young as him starting in their OFs this year.
  • Akil Baddoo is 20, but could move fast and be a factor in 2020. 243/351/419.
  • Trevor Larnach is 21, but is in his first year - 303/390/500 is an impressive start - 2020 is an outside possibility if the Twins are aggressive.
  • Gilberto Celestino - just 19. He is our #14 prospect but should not be in this two year window.
  • Gabriel Maciel is also just 19 and ranked #17. At least three years away.
  • Luke Raley can play 1B or OF and is ranked #19. 275/350/471 He has the advantage of being someone the FO traded for - he is one of theirs and is considered a Grinder - Molitor will like that.
  • Jacob Pearson is the last OF ranked in the top 30 Twins Prospects - He is age 20 with the Kernels this year and should be three years away.

So that is the assortment we can work with in our system. Not counting more dumpster diving the following are Free Agent OFs for 2018.

  • Bryce Harper - forget it
  • Adam Jones - Not worth it
  • Brett Gardner - he is already 35
  • Nick Markakis - he too is 35
  • Carlos Gonsalves - 33 coming from the light air of CO
  • Michael Brantley - 32 - it would be nice to take him from Cleveland
  • Steven Pearce - 36 - no thanks
  • Lonnie Chisenhall - 30 - another Indian on the market
  • Matt Joyce - 35. NO NO NO
  • Curtis Granderson - 38, another old man, no thanks
  • Carlos Gomez - 33, no we have already had him once
  • Marwin Gonsalves - 30 - from Houston, interesting player.
  • Cameron Maybin - 30 - nope
  • Jon Jay - 34 - no interest
  • Chris Young - 35, Angels, no
  • Rajai Davis - 38 - another Cleveland OF - we could fill up with these guys, but no thanks
  • Leonys Martin - 31, Guess which team - you Cleveland
  • Gregor Blanco - 35 from SF. I say no to any over 32.
  • Shane Robinson - 34 - Yankees
  • Eric Young - 34 - Angels
  • Brandon Barnes - 33- ANOTHER INDIAN!
  • Jose Bautista - 38 - yes 38, no
  • Austin Jackson 32 from the Mets
  • Ben Revere - 31 - No retreads
  • Some more with no resume, no interest on the list!

Now comes the hard part - arrange them as you would like - this is the order I expect:

2019

  • Rosario
  • Cave
  • Kepler
  • Buxton
  • Grossman
  • Raley

2020

  • Rosario
  • Kiriloff
  • Cave
  • Buxton
  • Raley
  • Baddoo

Where is Kepler, Wade...I expect trades. I would rather have Wade that Grossman in 2019, but I do not see the Twins making that move, I see him traded before being rostered. I am trying to guess at the Twins as much as looking at what I would like to see.

 

Have at it.

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2019 will be interesting. Do you need both CAVE and GROSSMAN as 4th outfielders? It will be Buxton's call. The Twins will play Kepler, hoping he improves his stock value.

 

The Twins will keep AUSTIN for 2019...who can play 1B, too. He's out of options. And Astudillo might be a better overall bench bat, too....than two extra outfielders.

 

If Rosario signs an extension, he will probably be here in 2021. But that would be the only certainity.

 

 

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I'm not convinced Grossman is back, or makes the club. But you need depth and options so he's probably back. Everyone healthy and performing at least at an acceptable level, I'd say he's the 5th OF and a bat off the bench. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

 

2019 OF IMO:

 

LF: Rosario

CF: Buxton

RF: Kepler

4th: Cave

 

Rosario is a given and not much more needs to be said.

 

Buxton is the answer in CF, no doubt. Yes, a horrible and lost season. But he's still uber talented and will only be 25. Even if he can hit .250 with any reasonable contact, he has the natural speed and power to push for 60 XB and steal 20-30 bases. His potential, of course, is for better than that. But any kind of decent approach and just making reasonable contact, these numbers are more than obtainable.

 

Kepler is excellent defensively, still young, and not done developing. His first 2 seasons he hit RHP well but couldn't hit LHP well at all. He completely reversed that this year. I have confidence he will level out in 2019 and have his best season to date.

 

Cave is the 4th OF and one would expect him to show at least some growth and improvement in his second season.

 

I notice you didn't mention Rooker in your list. I'm assuming it was simply an oversight.

 

Barring trades, I expect my OF to remain intact for the next 2-3 years at least. (Wade could challenge Cave for 4th OF duties in the near future. Where a shuffle may take place is adding Rooker and Khirilloff...both by 2020 at the latest...with a combination of those 2 and Kepler manning RF/1B/DH in some arrangement.

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I'm not convinced Grossman is back, or makes the club. But you need depth and options so he's probably back. Everyone healthy and performing at least at an acceptable level, I'd say he's the 5th OF and a bat off the bench. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

2019 OF IMO:

LF: Rosario
CF: Buxton
RF: Kepler
4th: Cave

Rosario is a given and not much more needs to be said.

Buxton is the answer in CF, no doubt. Yes, a horrible and lost season. But he's still uber talented and will only be 25. Even if he can hit .250 with any reasonable contact, he has the natural speed and power to push for 60 XB and steal 20-30 bases. His potential, of course, is for better than that. But any kind of decent approach and just making reasonable contact, these numbers are more than obtainable.

Kepler is excellent defensively, still young, and not done developing. His first 2 seasons he hit RHP well but couldn't hit LHP well at all. He completely reversed that this year. I have confidence he will level out in 2019 and have his best season to date.

Cave is the 4th OF and one would expect him to show at least some growth and improvement in his second season.

I notice you didn't mention Rooker in your list. I'm assuming it was simply an oversight.

Barring trades, I expect my OF to remain intact for the next 2-3 years at least. (Wade could challenge Cave for 4th OF duties in the near future. Where a shuffle may take place is adding Rooker and Khirilloff...both by 2020 at the latest...with a combination of those 2 and Kepler manning RF/1B/DH in some arrangement.

I expect Rooker to be 1B so he was in that discussion.  I think we have enough natural outfielders to move him from that consideration.

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I had hoped to see more progress in batting average this year with Max Kepler (.235 lifetime avg.), although I do like his increase tick in walks.   Unless he makes strides, I can see him as the odd man out, especially if Buxton bounces back in 2019.

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I really hope they can find somebody or body's that will improve this group. Guessing the trade option is the best route, not sure if the Marlins have anymore outfielders to give away.

Cutch might be a FA option, he still hits ok likely better than Kepler, Cave and Grossman. He for sure is a better fielder than Grossman and probably Cave as well, plus a RH bat.

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Great article, though not necessarily an up-lifting one when you look at our "strength" at start of season which is now a major question mark. Once again we have to hope, pray, beg, etc. Buxton to get his second-half-of-a-season act to become a full season. He is without doubt the answer to whether Twins are contenders next season or once again a dismal "wait till next year" team. If Buxton is once again a buxt (pun intended on bust) it won't matter who else is in the OF unless we sign Bryce Harper, which we know ain't happening.

 

I totally agree with Mikelink45 that we found a player in Jake Cave, and I expect him to pass Kepler for playing time in RF next year. I love Max's swing but I'm afraid .230s is all we're going to get from him. Please no more Grossman or Field or any other waiver claim for players who never were or never will be good enough to help a team like the Twins not only get back to respectability, but  to contend which has to be the goal.

 

Twins have a ton of money under the cap for free agent signings and lots of young prospects who could bring in some established players in off season trades. I'm not smart enough to tell you who should be in our OF next year, but keeping the status quo mediocrity can not be Falvine's plan of attack.

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There is nothing wrong with Kepler's line vs LHP's this year:

.254/.331/442/.777

Kepler needs to work on his launch angle IMO.

 

For all of you that liked to complain about Dozier's pre-All Star splits, Rosario's post-All Star line is .233/.255/.341/.596. Dozier's pre-All Star splits were  .242/.328/.417/.745 in 2017 and .246/.335/.450/.785 in 2016.

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There is nothing wrong with Kepler's line vs LHP's this year:

.254/.331/442/.777

Kepler needs to work on his launch angle IMO.

 

For all of you that liked to complain about Dozier's pre-All Star splits, Rosario's post-All Star line is .233/.255/.341/.596. Dozier's pre-All Star splits were  .242/.328/.417/.745 in 2017 and .246/.335/.450/.785 in 2016.

Dozier has now been benched by the Dodgers.  He is not going to be in demand in FA.

 

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Dozier has now been benched by the Dodgers.  He is not going to be in demand in FA.

I think he is saying for as bad as Dozier has been in the first half, Rosario has been just as bad in the second half this year. Not to get Dozier.

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My question is who moves to 1B next year if Joe Mauer retires? Austin, Rooker, Garver, Kirilloff, Weil? Where will Kirilloff play? Is he a good enough OF to force Kepler or Rosario to another position...or does Kirilloff need to buy a first baseman's glove?

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My question is who moves to 1B next year if Joe Mauer retires? Austin, Rooker, Garver, Kirilloff, Weil? Where will Kirilloff play? Is he a good enough OF to force Kepler or Rosario to another position...or does Kirilloff need to buy a first baseman's glove?

I suspect that Kiriloff will be kept in the minors for another year.  I wrote a who's on first blog http://twinsdaily.com/blog/1028/entry-11216-who-will-be-on-first/ and I have Austin as second choice behind Mauer. 

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