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Projecting the 2023 Twins

Physics Guy



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Much of this off-season has been frustrating for Twins fans. Once again, the Twins failed to pick up a bona fide ace to front the rotation. They did however pull off a major coup by re-signing Carlos Correa for a contract valued will below what many predicted he would get going into the off-season. They also solidified the depth in the rotation by trading fan-favorite Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez. As we approach Spring Training, where do the Twins stand? 

Let us take a look at predicting the Twins' record based on WAR. Last year, the Twins totaled 36.1 WAR as a team, resulting in a 78-84 record. There is a strong correlation between team WAR and overall wins. 


A team constructed of all 0 WAR players is said to be around a 50 win team. It could be argued that the Twins under-performed based on their season WAR total last year and probably should have been in the low to mid-80's for wins. A team war total of 45 or better should get the team to a win total in the 90's.  So how do the changes made by the front office equate to 45+ WAR for the 2023 Twins? Below is a projection for individual WAR values for the upcoming season. Each player listed below is followed by a projected number of games and their associated WAR (based on b-WAR). 

Starting IF (12.8 Combined WAR) Vazquez (105, 1.2), Kirilloff (120, 1.5), Polanco (140, 3.0), Correa (140, 5.6) Miranda (130, 1.5). The question marks here are Kirlloff and Miranda. Neither is projected to add huge numbers to the team's total and players such as Kyle Farmer and Joey Gallo can mitigate those two. Both Kirlloff and Miranda have the potential to produce higher WAR values than projected.

Starting OF/DH (12.6 Comined WAR) Gallo (120, 1.8), Buxton (60 CF, 60 DH, 5.0), Kepler (120, 1.8), Taylor (120, 2.5), Larnach (110, 1.5). There are several question marks here, starting with Gallo. The Twins obviously feel Gallo still has some of what he showed in Texas.  Kepler, Gallo and Larnach are all projected to be similar and if one slips, Gordon gives some additional protection. Having Michaeal A. Taylor to play 100 games in CF allows the Twins to keep Buxton healthy and potentially play 120 games in 2023. This could be done by a rotation of something like this every eight games:  CF, DH, Bench, CF, DH, CF, Bench, DH. Obviously projecting 120 G from Buxton is a gamble, but he did put up 4.0 WAR in 92 G in 2022.

Bench (1.9 Combined WAR) Jeffers (55, 0.7), Farmer (100, 0.7), Gordon (60, 0.5). While this may not appear a strength, this may be where this year's Twins may be set up to improve on 2022. They appear to have more depth and players not listed (Wallner, Celestino, Garlick, Lewis, Julien and Lee) potentially able to come up and fill in as needed.

Rotation (12.8 Combined WAR) Gray (3.0), P.Lopez (3.0), Ryan (2.4), Mahle/Maeda/Ober (4.4). Projecting games here was a bit of a challenge. Gray and Lopez's WAR values are in the range of their past two season and Ryan's projects a slight increase from last season (2.2). Mahle, Maeda and Ober all have health concerns, but the hope is that they can hold down the fort between the three of them.  Having Varland, Winder and Woods-Richardson in AAA as players ready step in also mitigates a huge drop in WAR production. There is no "horse" raising this group's WAR, just a bunch of solid contributors.

Bullpen (6.8 Combined WAR)  Duran (2.5), J.Lopez (1.5), Jax (1.0), Thielbar (0.7) Moran (0.7), Alcala (0.4), Pagan (0), Megill (0). The biggest concerns here are Lopez producing closer to what he did in Baltimore as well as Pagan and Megill being used in situations that do not produce negative WAR. This is one area the front office could still help the 2023 Twins. A Michael Fullmer signing makes a ton of sense.

Altogether, this projection gives the Twins 46.9 WAR as a group, enough to push them to 90+ wins for 2023. This should put them solidly into playoff consideration with the new playoff format. While some of the projections may seem optimistic, it could be argued that they are all well within historical performances and allowing for some development from younger players. This squad seems better situated to deal injuries than the past couple of years. The Twins have above average  backups for the three toughest defensive positions (Jeffers, Farmer and Taylor). While there may have been moves that the front office could have made this year to make this team better, it seems as though the floor for this squad is as high as we've seen for a few years. 





Recommended Comments

I agree that on paper at least this team looks to be improved over last season. Unfortunately, the game is played on the field, not paper. Too many little rule changes and tweaks that could change the outcome over expectations though.

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59 minutes ago, Karbo said:

I agree that on paper at least this team looks to be improved over last season. Unfortunately, the game is played on the field, not paper. Too many little rule changes and tweaks that could change the outcome over expectations though.

I couldn't agree more. A baseball season can often wreck the best laid plans.  The only two things I think the FO failed to address was adding another quality bullpen arm and adding a RH bat in the corners.  Both of those were sort of addressed with Taylor and the return of Alcala, but they could definitely be addressed during the season. 

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4 hours ago, stringer bell said:

Average health (as measured by man/games lost) would have made the Twins a contender last year and would put them there this year IMHO. 

I would say the Twins have gambled on questionable health quite a bit during the Falvey era and the results have been less than optimum. 

Without a doubt, health dragged them down last year. I have hopes that the moves this year have given them better depth at key positions and in the rotation.  I do wonder if they would have made the Gallo move A) if they knew they were getting Correa and B) if they knew they wouldn't get appealing offers for Kepler.

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Health is important but Buxton is still the Barometer for this team’s success the more health games played by Byron, the better the results. 

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I will be interested to see how CF shakes out!

Many, as you do, state that the FO & organization intend on Michael Taylor to play CF 60-100 games. I don’t see this happening - have a different slant.

Taylor’s offense is not there v. right handed pitching. Similar comment could be made about Nick Gordon v. left handed pitching. It’s my opinion that Buxton will have a goal of 80 starts in CF……50 starts at DH.

I see Taylor playing CF every time a Lefty starts against us……..30 games. His other AB’s come from pinch hit opportunities & maybe 5 starts in CF v. righties. He’s INSURANCE in case of long stretch injury. He’ll be late inning pinch runner - late inning defense as needed.

If we face 130 Righty starters, Buxton starts v. 80 of them in CF……this leaves 45 plus starts for Gordon in CF & his much superior offense v. Taylor. Larnach starts in LF those 45 games. He DH’s another 70 games v. RH pitching.

Gordon starts 80 games in LF v. RH starters.

Kepler starts 110 games in RF.

Gallo plays 50 games in RF - 35 games in LF - 30 games at 1B - 10 games at DH.

Everyone plays 110 -135 games and is fresh in September/October!!

Here’s to good health!!!

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