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Although we don’t yet have baseball in 2022, it’s more than fair to assume an entire season will not be lost. When Major League Baseball decides to lift the lockout, and we get back to action, how do a few Minnesota Twins respond in relation to their 2021 production?

There’s no denying that the 2021 club failed to meet expectations. Coming off two-straight American League Central Division championships, the thought was that the club would contend for a third. Unfortunately, they wound up as cellar-dwellers instead, and 2022 stands as an opportunity to right the ship.
 
All was not lost individually, though, as a handful of solid performances were tallied. Looking at a few key guys, here are some expectations in relation to where they finished a season ago:
 
Byron Buxton OVER 4.2 fWAR
Of the numbers below, this one gets the most tricky when considering lost games. WAR is a compiling stat, and the less runway a player has, the more difficult it becomes to accumulate. That said, Buxton played at an MVP level last season and posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games. I’d be relatively shocked if the regular season isn’t something like 120 games, and he should blow by that number. Buxton’s performance wasn’t a fluke last season, and his injuries have gotten to the point where they may be. Whatever the season length is, give me a full year of health for the newly-extended centerfielder and watch this all-encompassing stat be gaudy.

Miguel Sano OVER .778 OPS
Suggesting the slugging first basemen had an awful start would be putting things lightly. He tallied a .675 OPS through the first two months of the season, and it seemed like his bat couldn’t catch up to a fastball. After June 1, a period of 97 games, Sano turned things around to the tune of an .817 OPS. From July 1 onward, that OPS rose to .824. It’s not as though Sano will all of a sudden stop striking out, but he remains a relatively disciplined hitter within the zone. If he can shed even a month of the slump, we have seen him streak through in recent years, an above-average .800 OPS should be well within his reach.
 
Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff OVER .750 OPS
Two of the best hitting prospects Minnesota has seen in a long time; both flopped in their rookie seasons. Larnach was demoted with a .672 OPS, and Kirilloff wound up needing surgery after owning just a .722 OPS. The former dealt with an ankle problem that no doubt impacted his base in the box, and the latter was sapped of his power after playing through a nagging wrist that had previously been a problem in his career. Both tore up the minors when healthy, and their advanced eye combined with a strong approach at the plate bore plenty of fruit. I’d be far from shocked if we don’t see a substantial turnaround from both given a clean bill of health.
 
Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober UNDER 4.00 ERA
Projection systems seem to like Ryan quite a bit, and if that’s the case, he stands to improve upon the 4.05 ERA from his first five big league starts. Ryan will likely surrender his fair share of longballs without much velocity on his fastball. The ability to miss bats and stinginess of allowing walks can’t be overstated, and that proved to be a recipe for success last season. Ober gave up a hefty amount of dingers on the flip side, but a handful came in droves. Like Ryan, Ober limits free passes while mowing down the competition, and the impact of that combination is significant. Neither should be expected to be aces, but something in the mid-to-high threes from an ERA standpoint seems logical.


If we were dealing with a traditional season and counting stats were easier to evaluate, Jorge Polanco and Jorge Alcala make sense in this space. As much as Polanco has broken out from an offensive standpoint, a repeat of his 33-home run performance seems unlikely. It’s not as though he hasn’t previously displayed that power, but the big number would prove hard to replicate. I like Alcala to pick up plenty of save opportunities in the bullpen. Minnesota has had multiple guys shine in the closer role over the past handful of years, and a double-digit tally for the blossoming Dominican seems pretty fair.
 
What do you think? Are there any rebound candidates I missed?

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If Kirilloff and Kepler rebound with consistency, I  see a real big year from multiple players. Donaldson, Buxton, Garver/Jeffers, Sano, and Polanco can all have strong seasons. A couple of players not currently on the roster could play pivotal roles as well. I see big contributions from Miranda and Martin too. I'm expecting a real powerful batting lineup from the Twins this year. The two left-handed hitters, Kirilloff and Kepler are key. 

The pitching side is unclear. The Twins could get some solid starts from the young pups like Winder, Ober, and Ryan, and I am high on Alcala in the pen. A couple of additions are needed to bolster the pitching staff though and success for the Winders on the roster could be tied to who gets added in the next few weeks.

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I see an uptick on up and down the line up. Polanco has shown what he can do when he's 100%, If kept at 2B we'll see a full year of being 100%, it'll be awsome. Garver has shown that he figured it out, so I expect a much better year at the plate, how great depends how healthy he stays, These 2, I expect biggest jump offensively.

Buxton is a MVP caliber player, I expect the same this season, His #s has improved the last three years, it hard to see improvement on what he did last year but with Buxton it's possible. If we can find a viable backup for him to take off the pressure and help keep pitchers from throwing at him, it would vastly improve the team. I expect him to be on the field more this year.

Sano' and Kepler are the biggest ?, I am very hopeful that they've solved there problems and have amazing seasons. The ban on the shift will help Kepler even if he hasn't figured all out, he'll have a better season because of the rule.  Kiriloff and Larnach very good prospects, IDK if they'll be very acclimated to MLB yet, especially Larnach this season but they should be better.

The dialed back Donaldson will be steady and hopefully be healthy for most of the season. I don't see any improvement with Arraez, maybe some time at DH could help both of them.

Pitching is another ?. With unestablished arms, for me is impossible to set expectations, As the league adjust to them, how are they going to adjust? IDK what to expect from Bundy, Dobnak is the only other  established pitcher we have. Dobnak could be a force but it depends on if he masters his new slider and if he's used right. 

There are so many holes that's necessary to fill that'll give us a satisfactory outcome in pitching. #1 Acquire established veteran arms #2 Defensively acquire top rate gloves at SS and CF backup (I don;t like depending on unproven prospects and put unnecessary pressure on them like we did last year) #3 Have a large long relief corp to take off the burden from the SP and short relief.

 

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If there is a 120 game season, I don't expect Buxton to play more than 60 games and I do believe last year was largely a fluke. I'll comfortably take the under on his 4.2 fWAR.

I do think Sano will post an OPS north of .778. It's a contract year for him and that OPS sholdn't be too far above league average for an all bat guy like Sano to get.

Larnach I'd easily take the under OPS .750. I don't think he has what it takes as there's almost nothing other than a fastball he was able to hit last year, but I'd take the over .750 OPS for Kirilloff in a heartbeat. He's the real deal in my opinion. I expect him to have an excellent bat.

Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober I'd expect both of them to be right around 4.00 ERA. I guess slightly over.

 

If we're sticking with .750 OPS, I'd take the over .750 OPS on Brent Rooker. His expected outcomes and advanced metrics showed him just getting totally fleeced by luck last year. 

I'd take the over 3.5 fWAR for Josh Donaldson if the season is 120+ games.

 

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I'll take this opportunity to challenge the "perceived velocity" attribute of Joe Ryan's fastball. I don't think hitters are being fooled by the speed of the pitch. I don't see them swinging early or late from misjudging the velocity. Instead, I see them swinging a few inches under the pitch, indicating that they are getting fooled by the anticipated height, which they are judging to be a few inches lower. Thus Ryan's funky delivery (lower, extended release point, extra backspin) are doing the fooling, not some deceptive jump or lack of velocity. It's perceived altitude that is making them miss, not perceived velocity. 

That said, I think Ryan's heater will continue to work, because other pitchers don't deliver the ball like that. 

Buxton's relative output will improve the longer the season is delayed. If the season is shortened to a month, he's a shoe-in for MVP. 

Sano will be identical to last year. If Twins make him DH, watch out for weight gain. 

Kepler will improve, as will Larnach and Kirilloff. All finally healthy. 

Gordon will continue his gradual rise to stardom. A very slow blooming rose. 

Arraez makes me sad. Knees don't get better, they get worse. Ask anybody our age, with knees. 

Of all the Twins young pitching prospects, at least one will pan out. Please? Finally? Just one good starter? 

No idea what will happen at 3rd base. Like Buck, Donaldson may benefit from a shortened season, if he's lucky enough to be healthy at that time. Or maybe the FO will trade Donaldson and hand the job to Maranda. I would, but hey, I ride a scooter to save gas.

 

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I agree with most everything that Tony n Rodney says except I am having trouble with Kepler.   He has had 1.5 solid seasons in his entire major/minor league career.   Does his defense offset a .220 batting average........maybe?  23 home runs....maybe?

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I agree with Doc Gast on this for the most part.  I see Buxton playing 100+ games (if indeed there is a season at all) and he will be in the mix for MVP votes even if the team as a whole does poorly).  I see Polanco as the "steady Eddy." He will be money in the bank even if he slips to 25 HR (instead of 33).  Garver will be fine if rotated between C/1B/DH in some fashion.  Donaldson will be solid.  The big question marks are indeed Sano and Kepler.  Their impact on the 2019 Bomba Squad was undeniable.  Since then their performance has dragged the lineup down.  They are the two biggest Wildcards.  I EXPECT Kiriloff to HIT.  That swing is just too pretty.  Larnach has further to go and we may not see anything at all from him this year or at best, not until after the All Star game.  I'm fully on board for trading Arraez in a package for pitching upgrades (and boy do we need them).  Miranda will pick up the slack nicely if Arraez is traded.  If Luis is NOT traded, it will be up to Rocco to FINALLY just put him at the top of the order and play him at LF,2B,3B and DH.  Just have him in there nearly every day and setting the table at the top of the order.  The Twins, by and large, will hit and score runs.  How they pitch is impossible to gauge at this moment because if our FO goes into this season with the pitching staff as presently constituted (or makes similar lousy additions to last year) then they should be charged with "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" and IMPEACHED !!  

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1 hour ago, miracleb said:

I agree with most everything that Tony n Rodney says except I am having trouble with Kepler.   He has had 1.5 solid seasons in his entire major/minor league career.   Does his defense offset a .220 batting average........maybe?  23 home runs....maybe?

Will be interesting to see what the rule on shifts becomes exactly and what that does to Kepler's BA.

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10 hours ago, jimbo92107 said:

I'll take this opportunity to challenge the "perceived velocity" attribute of Joe Ryan's fastball. I don't think hitters are being fooled by the speed of the pitch. I don't see them swinging early or late from misjudging the velocity. Instead, I see them swinging a few inches under the pitch, indicating that they are getting fooled by the anticipated height, which they are judging to be a few inches lower. Thus Ryan's funky delivery (lower, extended release point, extra backspin) are doing the fooling, not some deceptive jump or lack of velocity. It's perceived altitude that is making them miss, not perceived velocity. 

That said, I think Ryan's heater will continue to work, because other pitchers don't deliver the ball like that. 

Buxton's relative output will improve the longer the season is delayed. If the season is shortened to a month, he's a shoe-in for MVP. 

Sano will be identical to last year. If Twins make him DH, watch out for weight gain. 

Kepler will improve, as will Larnach and Kirilloff. All finally healthy. 

Gordon will continue his gradual rise to stardom. A very slow blooming rose. 

Arraez makes me sad. Knees don't get better, they get worse. Ask anybody our age, with knees. 

Of all the Twins young pitching prospects, at least one will pan out. Please? Finally? Just one good starter? 

No idea what will happen at 3rd base. Like Buck, Donaldson may benefit from a shortened season, if he's lucky enough to be healthy at that time. Or maybe the FO will trade Donaldson and hand the job to Maranda. I would, but hey, I ride a scooter to save gas.

 

Interesting take on Nick Gordon. Have you seen his scouting report since 2014? 

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Dandy Robnak (I'd like to submit that in the greatest name spoonerism in MLB tournament) seems like the most obvious rebound candidate in a Twins uniform. Even with that awful 2021 skewing his career numbers, just pitching to his careers numbers would make him a solid #3.

Even if he tops out at a #4, that's a great rebound from 2021...though still a disappointment.

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On 3/9/2022 at 4:50 PM, tony&rodney said:

Buxton under 60 games or half a season? Wow. He has had bad luck - true. I will take the over on 100 games. I do agree that Byron had seemingly lived under a flag of bad luck, but it will turn in 2022.

 

Btw, Buxton has literally played the following percentage of MLB games in his seasons at MLB (not including his rookie year of 2015):

57%
86%
17%
54%
65% (in only a 60 game season)
38%

That's 6 years and just one season over 65% in his career (that was 5 years ago). I really don't understand the "wow" as people refuse to come to grips with 
Back = chronic back spasms (these are not going away)
Migraines = chronic (these are not going away)
Wrist = multiple sprains
Hand/fingers = multiple broken bones and surgical intervention in 2014, serious sprains as well 
Buxton is also susceptible to strained hips and hamstrings

Injuries add up. Every time surgery or serious sprains and strains happen, they weaken structure, build scar tissue and increase the likelihood of re-injury. I'd be shocked if Buxton put together a season of 100 games.

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

I really don't understand the "wow" as people refuse to come to grips with 

Agreed, .... should not have used "wow" because it can easily be inferred in a negative manner. I am fully aware of Buxton's shortcomings and not blinded by his talent. Rather, count me as one person who believes that the past is gone and Byron will use the experience gained from everything to keep himself on the field and very productive this year. I could be wrong, that much is possible.

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