In this week's article, we look at a subject that has resonated throughout Twins Territory for the past few seasons and that is who will be the next Minnesota Twins power threat in the lineup. This week we look at a player that I think has a serious chance to be that power hitter that Twins fans have looked to for a very long time. It has been a while since the Twins have had a serious power threat that made pitchers think twice. Justin Morneau had those prospects before the injury but it goes back to guys like Kent Hrbek and Tom Brunansky, to name a couple.
Now I'm not yet saying that there is a comparison between Hrbek and Vargas yet because that would be jumping the gun, but with what we have seen so far with Vargas, he stirs comparisons with some those previously mentioned Twins sluggers. We look this week at whether or not Vargas can make the rise to be the next Twins serious power threat in the lineup.
Looking at Kennys Vargas for the 2015 season, there is plenty of promise for Twins fans to be excited about. In 2014, Vargas showed strong signs of being that middle of the lineup enforcer with the numbers that he put up in limited playing time. In 2014, Vargas delivered nine home runs in just 215 at-bats. If he just continued that performance in 2015 with 600 at-bats in a full season as the Twins DH, that would put Vargas in the 25+ HR category. There are other numbers from his 2014 season that also show reason for optimism with Vargas. Specifically I look at the .274 batting average and the ten doubles that he also hit in the limited playing time.
When I look at this situation, I also factor in the coaches that he will have at the major league level to continue his improvement. Vargas has worked a lot in the spring with Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky, who was a fine power hitter himself during his MLB career. It doesn't hurt that the new Twins manager, Paul Molitor, was also one of the best pure hitters of his era and I think these two can bring better teaching to a young talent like Vargas then the Gardenhire regime could. Looking at Vargas from a physical standpoint, you can't help but like the raw power, quick hands and the aspect of him also being a switch hitter. Yes he still has things to work on like shortening his swing path, not getting under the ball too often, and working on his defensive game at 1B but these are items that a young player can improve with the proper coaching and time put in, and so far Vargas has shown the willingness to listen to points of improvement as well as put in the extra time on the field and in the cages.
My prediction in terms of numbers for Kennys Vargas in 2015 looks like this, a .270-.280 batting average as I see him to top out at that point in terms of average. I obviously see increased production in the home run, doubles and slugging percentage in 2015. I am predicting that Vargas will hit 27-30 home runs in 2015 and with Target Field's spacious outfield will bring those doubles numbers in the 35-40 area. I don't think that either of those numbers are ceilings for Vargas either as they still leave room for him to grow in 2016 and beyond, which looks to be favorable with the home park that he gets to hit in and the continued improvement and teaching from Paul Molitor's staff. In summary, I will say that Kennys Vargas will become the best middle of the lineup power threat that the Minnesota Twins have had in the last five to ten years and will mature into one of the most consistent power hitters that the Twins have had maybe going as far back as Hrbek.