A WAR-Mongering Twins Prediction

Denard Span may not be worth five wins as he suggests in this picture, but a rebound from him will go a long way in determining this year's success. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

Last week I machinated a bit on my notion that the Twins would win 85 games and basically return to form. This week, I want to take a look at the Opening Day 25-man roster -- as well as Scott Baker and Jason Marquis -- in the scope of projections made by Fangraphs readers (AKA the Fans tab on each player page, the only one that lists WAR). I will also make my own predictions on each player’s stats, though I won’t predict WAR due to the levity of the statistic, especially when predicted by a single person.

In the event of no prediction given by fans -- as is the case with Mr. Parmelee -- I will revert to MARCEL projections. Those are Tom Tango’s brainchild, which you can read more about here. In lieu of no WAR projections for players of that ilk, I will try find a rough estimate of what that player’s WAR might have been the season before with the same numbers at that position. It’s not perfect, but neither is a Fan prediction, if we’re completely honest.

In that vein, we should be able to add up the WAR accumulated and add it to the typical replacement level team to get an idea what those fans think of this year’s club.


Player - Fan Projection - Warne Projection:

C Joe Mauer .315/.391/.446 (5.4 WAR) | .320/.400/.435
1B Chris Parmelee .292/.366/.472 (2.0 WAR) | .275/.350/.440
2B Alexi Casilla .269/.322/.341 (1.4 WAR) | .265/.325/.335
3B Danny Valencia .273/.323/.414 (2.8 WAR) | .270/.325/.425
SS Jamey Carroll .279/.351/.325 (2.1 WAR) | .280/.350/.330
LF Josh Willingham .259/.352/.450 (2.5 WAR) | .250/.350/.465
CF Denard Span .279/.350/.373 (3.6 WAR) | .285/.375/.405
RF Ryan Doumit .272/.331/.410 (1.6 WAR) | .265/.330/.430
DH Justin Morneau .273/.352/.451 (2.3 WAR) | .270/.345/.450


Summary:

This is a lineup that might be a bit better than most are giving it credit. Keep in mind that this is a rudimentary equation, but this offense has a combined WAR of 23.7, and that’s not even considering Revere, Plouffe, or any possible mid-season call-ups like Brian Dozier. I don’t have comps for other teams, but I’d wager that it is worlds better than last year’s offense. I think Span and Mauer have huge bounce back years, and simply patching over the 1300ish at bats that the club largely gave away last season should be an incredible boon for this offense.

IF Sean Burroughs .262/.309/.380 (0.5 WAR) | .270/.315/.355
IF Luke Hughes .241/.305/.377 (0.5 WAR) | .245/.300/.400
OF Ben Revere .272/.321/.327 (1.9 WAR) | .280/.320/.330
OF Trevor Plouffe .251/.309/.429 (1.2 WAR) | .260/.320/.430

Summary:

This isn’t your older brother’s Twins bench, but it’s not your old man’s either. Plouffe and Hughes should provide a little punch, while Revere and Burroughs will provide some contact. Revere will be the designated fielder of the bunch, though he may end up being the shuttle player as well. That’s actually an interesting notion that I brought up to Nick Nelson recently on Twitter, because if there’s an injury at catcher, Revere is really the only position player who the Twins could demote to bring up a catcher, assuming the injury doesn’t force the Twins into using the 15-day DL. Keep an eye on that. The notion here is that this bench isn’t particularly strong or weak, and is probably better than any bench the Twins have had in recent memory, sans Jim Thome.

Again, I don’t have comps, but I think getting 4ish wins out of your bench is a pretty decent start. As we move onto the pitchers, I’ll use the following format: ERA - FIP - WAR from the Fans, and I’ll just note my prediction in terms of ERA.

SP Carl Pavano 4.33 - 4.08 (2.6 WAR) | 4.40 ERA
SP Francisco Liriano 3.99 - 3.62 (3.0 WAR) | 3.65 ERA
SP Nick Blackburn 4.45 - 4.68 (1.0 WAR) | 4.50 ERA
SP Liam Hendriks 4.25 - 3.92 (1.0 WAR) | 4.20 ERA
SP Scott Baker 3.70 - 3.76 (2.8 WAR) | 3.50 ERA

SP Jason Marquis 4.50 - 4.14 (0.5 WAR) | 5.00 ERA

Summary:

The rotation should be better by virtue of having much better shortstop play -- I’ve basically beaten this point to death -- and while the outfield defense still isn’t great, it’s by no means worse than it was last year. This is nearly an 11-win bunch (10.9 WAR total).

MR Anthony Swarzak 4.35 - 4.14 (0.5 WAR) | 4.75 ERA
MR Matt Maloney 4.68 - 4.35 (-- WAR) | 4.00 ERA
MR Jeff Gray 4.32 - 4.21 (-- WAR) | 4.50 ERA
MR Jared Burton 4.18 - 4.03 (-- WAR) | 3.80 ERA
MR Alex Burnett 4.42 - 4.28 (-- WAR) | 5.00 ERA

MR Brian Duensing 4.27 - 4.06 (-- WAR) | 4.50 ERA
MR Glen Perkins 3.00 - 3.28 (1.0 WAR) | 2.80 ERA
CL Matt Capps 3.92 - 4.08 (0.2 WAR) | 3.60 ERA


Summary:

With the bullpen, it’s awfully difficult to predict WAR. For the five guys I didn’t project WAR, chances are they’ll all average out to about zero anyway. Swarzak will rack up a few innings as a swingman and should be worth about a half-win, and I think Burton could do some good things. All-told, this is an 1.7-win bullpen.

Total Summary:

If my math is good -- read: not likely -- this projects out to an 40.4-win above-replacement team by virtue of Fan projections at FanGraphs.com. When added to the 45ish wins -- I got a few different answers on this one when I asked industry experts -- that a usual ‘replacement-level’ team can be expected to garner, this team should win 85ish ballgames. What do you think?

Comps used:

Padres Jesus Guzman for Parmelee, as MARCEL has the Twins first sacker only pulling in about 250 at bats. I adjusted down for defense, as Parmelee is generally regarded as a bit low in that area.

Burroughs was tough to comp, so I used a couple different guys, with Scott Rolen being a big one (though I had to slash the defensive value considerably).

With Hughes, I used last season’s WAR for him as well as a peek at Mike Moustakas’ -- similar plate appearances -- while also figuring that Hughes’ true talent fielding-wise is probably lower than it was last season.

For Hendriks I used Mike Minor, who threw 82.2 innings last season while MARCEL projects Hendriks at about 72. I factored in Hendriks likely lower K rate, but similar marks across the board to get 1.0 from Minor’s 1.4.

For Marquis 132 innings of 4.50 ERA I comp’d Tyler Chatwood, who had few strikeouts in 142 innings and was worth about half a win.

Swarzak comp’d most closely to someone like Jordan Lyles, who was only worth 0.3 WAR last season. I give Swarzak a little bump because I think the relief innings will be a little easier on him, but he’s the only non-essential reliever I’ll project WAR for since for relievers it’s really hard to project.

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