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Our foundational players - the big six


mikelink45

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We were excited when our prospects came up and the future looked bright - in 2019 that future arrived and it was great, but we expected a longer run.  The foundation was going to be Berrios - I know all the arguments that he is not a true Ace, but he has been our best pitcher and is a solid middle of the rotation arm that we did not build around.  53 - 40 with a 4.11 era for his six years 8.1 WAR. 

The expected stars on offense were Sano and Buxton

Miguel Sano - who is in his 7th year (7.8 WAR).  He has played in 100+ games three times.  236/329/489 is his seven year slash line, but look at the trends - BA - 269, 236, 264, 199, 247, 204, 158.  His last three OPS - 923, 757, 656.  BR offensive War (defense is negative so I won't bother.  He is here for his bat.) 2.4, 1.7, 3.1 0.1, 3.7, 0.5, 0.1.  Miguel seems like he plateaued and is lost. 

Byron Buxton - 7 years and 14.5 WAR - if only he could stay healthy.  No doubt his hitting is on the rise - here is his yearly OPS 576, 714, 728, 383, 827, 844, 1.180.   Buxton has found his bat, but he has played in 456 games out of a possible 922.  He has missed half his possible games.  This does not diminish his quality when he is on the field, but makes it hard to cover CF when your other option is moving Kepler or using Cave. 

The next three foundation pieces did not have the same star power potential, but they were expected to be solid pieces to round out the team 

Jorge Polanco - no longer a SS his value has diminished in the field.   He has contributed 8.8 WAR.  His career slash is 274/333/430/762 and he has been fairly steady, but in 2019 his OPS was 841 after a career streak of 700s+, but then 2020 and 2021 that OPS mark dropped below 700 and with his fielding not being an asset any longer he career seems to have flattened out and his value may have peaked.

Max Kepler shocks me with a 13.2 WAR.  A slash line of 236/318/443/761 does not seem to warrant such a good WAR grade. When I look at his OWar 9.7 and his DWar 2.1 they add up to 11.8 so someone will have to explain BR math to me.  He peaked in 2019 like so many did and had his only year with more than 20 HRs,  It was the only year he hit more than 250.  And it was the only year he slugged more than 500.  Surrounding 2019 his BA was 224 in 2018, 228, and 212 the last two years.  

Eddie Rosario is the last of the big six and they have already given up on him and let him shuffle off to Cleveland, so he was the first of the six to disappoint enough to be moved on.  His seven year slash line is 274/308/469/777.  His peak was 2017/2018.


Buxton 14.5According to BR WAR Rosario had a total of 12 which means it we rank the six by WAR it would be 

Kepler 13.2

Rosario 12

Polanco 8.8

Berrios 8.1 (he is the only one with six seasons instead of seven)

Sano 7.8

 

 

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My question's are these - Who are the next 6 foundational players? All 6 of these were products of the Terry Ryan era. Does Falvey even have the next 6 in the system? Are any of the current 6 going to be a part of the next 6? I can't believe our window is already closed and we're talking about this. Dammit. I do still think Berrios and Buxton can and should be a part of the next 6. Can we sign them? Do we want to sign them? I have lots of questions. 

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My best guess on the next "Core 6": Byron Buxton, who I think we re-sign next offseason for 5 years, $100 million, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis, Jhoan Duran, and Jordan Balazovic. I also thought long and hard about putting Luis Arraez in here because of how much I love his bat at the top of the lineup. 

While re-signing Buxton presents a huge risk because of his injury history, his potential is too high for us to give up on; we play so much better when he is manning CF. Kirilloff looks like he'll be the Twins 1B for the next decade or so, with Larnach taking over RF. I am curious to see where Lewis ends up long term, is he an infielder or an outfielder? I'm extremely excited about this next phase of arms coming up through the system, Duran and Balazovic are the top two, but there is genuine depth within our organization's pitching depth with Canterino, Winder, Sands, Enlow, etc. 

I am sure that there will be a few surprises/breakouts, maybe someone like Sabato or Wallner will breakout in a big way. I still believe that this current version has enough talent to contend. Even after having watched these first two months of the season, if we could start the season over right now, I would still bet on the Twins making the playoffs. 

I'm curious to hear thoughts from the rest of you! Comments, critiques?

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"When I look at his OWar 9.7 and his DWar 2.1 they add up to 11.8 so someone will have to explain BR math to me."

I can try to explain it, but not defend it. :)

B-r.com includes a positional adjustment to both OWar and DWar. Right field isn't a prime skill position, so the adjustment is negative, a fraction of a win each year. But Kepler is a good right fielder*, so his defensive contribution is still positive. Adding OWar and DWar means the adjustment is there twice. War is accumulative, not a rate stat, so the positional adjustment grows as playing time does. Over the course of his career, that adjustment seems to be -1.4

While I think the idea of positional adjustment is sound, I wish they didn't do it this way.

 

* Yes Max plays CF some, and this is included in all the WAR numbers, but it's a small percentage of his playing time so the RF part of his contribution predominates..

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I find it interesting that Polanco/ Kepler/ Sano were the 3 to sign extensions early while Berrios and Buxton declined extension to get to free agency.  The 3 guys that signed after big years have struggled since, and the 2 guys to not sign have only helped their chances at a large contract.  

I wonder if those early contracts are really worth it unless you are locking up a top prospect really early. 

Next core is just starting to get its feet wet, Kiriloff and Larnach look like they will be big middle of the order bats.  Lewis will get here at some point, Duran looks legit, Donaldson/ Cruz money has to go somewhere which will be Buxton/ Berrios/ or free agency.

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1 hour ago, RaoulDuke said:

I find it interesting that Polanco/ Kepler/ Sano were the 3 to sign extensions early while Berrios and Buxton declined extension to get to free agency.  The 3 guys that signed after big years have struggled since, and the 2 guys to not sign have only helped their chances at a large contract.  

I wonder if those early contracts are really worth it unless you are locking up a top prospect really early. 

Next core is just starting to get its feet wet, Kiriloff and Larnach look like they will be big middle of the order bats.  Lewis will get here at some point, Duran looks legit, Donaldson/ Cruz money has to go somewhere which will be Buxton/ Berrios/ or free agency.

I would take Buxton and Berrios over the version of Cruz and Donaldson we have this year. 

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On 6/2/2021 at 10:49 AM, In My La Z boy said:

My question's are these - Who are the next 6 foundational players? All 6 of these were products of the Terry Ryan era. Does Falvey even have the next 6 in the system? Are any of the current 6 going to be a part of the next 6? I can't believe our window is already closed and we're talking about this. Dammit. I do still think Berrios and Buxton can and should be a part of the next 6. Can we sign them? Do we want to sign them? I have lots of questions. 

I strongly doubt the Twins extend either Berrios or Buxton. Berrios wants to see what he's worth in FA and if the Twins were going to extend him, that would've already happened. Buxton is expecting Betts/Lindor type money, and no way the Twins will pay that. I wouldn't touch extending him with a 20 foot pole with his injury history. Players with injury history in their 20's don't suddenly become healthy in their 30's. Aging is unavoidable, and since Buck relies so much on his speed as an asset, he will decline. I love Buck as much as anybody but you have to face the facts that he will not be a reliable CF. If he plays a corner spot he will be way overpaid especially when we have Larnach, Kiriloff, Wallner to fill those spots at a cheap price. 

 

Next 6: Arraez, Balazovic, Kiriloff, Larnach, Lewis, Duran.   

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On 6/3/2021 at 1:59 PM, RaoulDuke said:

I find it interesting that Polanco/ Kepler/ Sano were the 3 to sign extensions early while Berrios and Buxton declined extension to get to free agency.  The 3 guys that signed after big years have struggled since, and the 2 guys to not sign have only helped their chances at a large contract.  

I wonder if those early contracts are really worth it unless you are locking up a top prospect really early. 

Next core is just starting to get its feet wet, Kiriloff and Larnach look like they will be big middle of the order bats.  Lewis will get here at some point, Duran looks legit, Donaldson/ Cruz money has to go somewhere which will be Buxton/ Berrios/ or free agency.

At the end of the day Polanco and Kepler didn’t sign outlandish contracts if they ended up as utility and 4th OF roles. Sano’s contract is turning out to be an issue. Especially if his career keeps trending to Chris Carter territory. 
 

Buxton and Berrios both signed significant signing bonuses as draft picks and both are confident in gambling on themselves. Berrios due to his durability so far won’t have an issue getting a long term contract in FA. Buxton will end up being the most complex FA negotiation, potentially ever. There hasn’t been a player entering FA with undeniable talent that’s missed 50+% of available games in their career. 

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IMHO you cannot count minor leaguers who have not played in the majors as part of the "big 6". Remember Gonsalves? He was our next 20 game winner (top pitching prospect for 2 years running) yet has never had success. And don't count Simmons out. You have to have a keystone to your defense.

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