The Twins' offense this spring has been frustrating and disappointing to this point in the season. Any team with the worst team batting average in MLB wouldn't be satisfied with their hitting, add in an inordinate number of strikeouts and puzzling underperformance from high-priced talent and it figures that players could be booed at home. As compared to when the 2022 season ended, this club is healthy, especially on the position player side. Max Kepler will be out for ten days, Royce Lewis will finish his rehab assignment at the end of May and everyone else that figured to contribute this year is available.
The most recently available player is perhaps the most significant. Alex Kirilloff returned from the Injured List and rehab just over a week ago. The Twins and your's truly see a potential All-Star--someone who can both get on base and hit for power, who can lengthen the lineup and put runs on the board. Much of the reason for optimism is from his dominance in the minor leagues and brief flashes of a healthy AK mashing major league pitching.
It's all dependent on a wrist. Kirilloff has had his last two seasons ended early because of wrist pain and subsequent surgery. The second surgery was major, some have called it experimental, The Twins have brought AK on slowly, with no real setbacks. So far, so good. The results on the field have been excellent (only 22 plate appearances), Seven hits in sixteen at-bats, with six walks and three strikeouts. Two homers and a double. When the wrist began to impact Kirilloff in the last two years, he quit driving the ball and hit lots of weak grounders. So far, he's hit a high percentage of balls on the ground, but he's hitting the ball hard and the two homers yesterday show that he can drive the ball.
What's reasonable for this year? AK should get something north of 400 plate appearances and if he can become a full-time fixture, he could get to 500. In 500 plate appearances, perhaps he could hit as many as 20 homers and I think the batting average could be above .300, which would make him a unicorn. I think if he walks at a 2:3 ratio to strike outs, it would show newfound selectivity. He has not chased out of the zone and has taken his walks so far. A .300 BA combined with a > 10% walk rate would be outstanding for a player in his first full year.
I'm pulling the projected numbers out of the air. I am also showing my optimism for Kirilloff's ability. I think he can be an elite offensive player and a fine defender. Someone who can really get the offense rolling. I hope in a few months, that people will say this blog has aged well.