Monday, January 20, 2014

25-Man Roster Dissection: Josh Willingham

Injuries can impact a team's 25-man roster in a multitude of ways. If one of a team's key offensive contributors finds their way to the disabled list, someone is going to have to replace that offensive production. When this doesn't happen, a team can struggle offensively like the Twins did one year ago.

Hopes were high for Willingham entering his second full season in Minnesota. He was coming of a year where he earned a Silver Slugger as one of the best offensive outfielders in the American League. The Twins signed Willingham to a relatively cheap free agent deal and he earned his keep in 2012.

2013 Recap: .208/.342/.368, 14 HR, 20 2B, 48 RBI (111 Games)
Injuries were the story behind Willingham's poor performance last year. His 34-year old body didn't hold up in his second year in Minnesota. He posted career low in batting average, home runs, and OPS. The offense struggled without Willingham in the line-up. The team scored the third fewest runs in the American League and they ranked second in strikeout percentage. There weren't a lot of highlights for Willingham in 2013 but there were two games were he hit two home runs. His defense continues to be rough and he was limited to 72 games in the outfield, a career low for Mr. Willingham. When he was on the field, he cost the Twins a total of four defensive runs (Rtot), which was a five run difference from 2012.

Forecasting 2014: .232/.336/.404, 23 HR, 26 2B, 76 RBI (146 games)
Willingham will be in the final year of his contract so he will be playing 2014 with something to prove. If the Twins can get some life out of him in the first half of the year, he would be a good trade target for contending teams at the deadline. That being said, Willingham is a good candidate to have a bounce back year. The Twins will do their best to keep Willingham on the field. This could include more time as a designated hitter especially with all of the other corner outfielders that are likely to be on the 25-man roster. It won't be the same magical Willingham from his first campaign with Minnesota but he should improve enough for the Twins to deal him for something as his contract expires.

25-Man Roster Safety: Locked-In

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