ZiPS is a computer projection system that was created by senior writer at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski in the early 2000s. ZiPS uses a mixture of past performance, similar player comparisons as well as aging curve to project out how a player will perform that next season. Important to note, ZiPS does not project playing time for each individual player, but rather gives numbers for what a player's statistics would be if they were named the starter on the team.
1. Miranda Mania Coming?
2022 ZiPS Projection: .272/.316/.432
No. 1 Player Comp: Mike Lowell
Jose Miranda had one of the best Minor League seasons in Minnesota Twins history in 2021 and the hype for his 2022 season is starting to pick up. While it’s no sure thing that Jose Miranda will start the season with the Twins, these ZiPS projections seem to think that he could hold his own in the Big Leagues. Szymborski’s projections have Miranda projected with an OPS+ of 103, which would have been the 6th best OPS+ on the 2021 Twins. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even a top-10 prospect heading into last season.
Miranda’s number one player comp will definitely draw some looks as well, Mike Lowell. Lowell was a four-time all-star and also won a gold glove during his time with the Marlins and Red Sox.
2. Keep an Eye on Kerrigan
2022 ZiPS Projection: .221/.272/.373, 14 DRS
A prospect name that hasn’t been included in many Twins conversations over the past year has been outfielder prospect, Jimmy Kerrigan. In Szymborski’s 2022 projections, Kerrigan was pegged with a defensive projection of 14 defensive runs saved. In the 2021 season just four players in all of baseball accumulated at least 14 defensive runs saved.
Kerrigan’s glove is real, but the X-Factor in Kerrigan’s development as a prospect will be his bat. ZiPS only pegs Kerrigan as a .645 OPS batter, however that is a number higher than Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave and Andrelton Simmons produced in 2021. In 398 plate appearances with the St. Paul Saints in 2021, Kerrigan posted a .814 OPS with 19 home runs.
3. Projections Don’t Love Royce Lewis
2022 ZiPS Projection: .227/.270/.342
No. 1 Player Comp: Jhonny Perez
While the ZiPS projections are excited about the potential of Jose Miranda and Jimmy Kerrigan, they are equally down on the potential of Royce Lewis in 2022. Szymborski’s system has Lewis pegged for a lowly .612 OPS and a negative defensive contribution. Royce Lewis is in for a pivotal season in 2022, as he has not truly played baseball since 2019 and hasn’t played well since 2018.
4. The Computers Are Just As Pessimistic about the Twins’ Starting Rotation as You Are
Much has been said and written about the Minnesota Twins lack of action on the free agent starting pitching market this offseason. The front office’s lack of activity has left the Twins with a starting rotation featuring Randy Dobnak, Dylan Bundy, and a host of rookies. As a result, the projections for the Twins’s starting rotation are quite poor. While ZiPS is fairly optimistic on both Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober (4.11 and 4.22 ERAs, respectively), not a single pitcher in the Twins’ rotation is projected to eclipse 2.1 WAR in 2022. By comparison, the 2019 Twins had four different pitchers produce an fWAR above 2.1.
5. Fangraphs Doesn’t Think Jorge Polanco’s 2021 Season Was a Fluke
The MVP of the 2021 Minnesota Twins unquestionably was Jorge Polanco. In a season where almost nothing went right, Polanco completely dominated the season and put up the best numbers in his career. While it’s natural to think that Polanco might regress in 2022, the ZiPS projections think that Polanco will actually improve at the plate next season. These projections peg Polanco for pacing the Twins in fWAR and posting the second best OPS on the team after Byron Buxton.
What stands out to you from these ZiPS projections. What player projections are the most promising and worrying? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!