Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Which Young Player Will Provide the Most Value in '15?

Near the end of last season, the Twins featured a trio of players on the Twins magazine cover and dubbed them "The First Wave." Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, and Oswaldo Arcia all made big impacts on the big league level. Even though Arcia played in almost 100 games in 2013, he's actually the youngest of the three who were all in their age 23 season last year.

Each of these three players will have a role in the Twins getting back to playing winning baseball. This makes it interesting to consider which player could end up providing the most value in 2015.

According to Baseball Reference, these three players combined for a 5.1 WAR last season. Santana ranked third on the entire team with a 3.9 WAR behind Brian Dozier (5.2 WAR) and Trevor Plouffe (4.0). Vargas (0.7 WAR) finished slightly ahead of Arcia (0.5 WAR).

According to FanGraphs, this trio combined for a 4.5 WAR last season. Santana's 3.2 WAR again ranked third on the team behind Dozier and Plouffe. Arcia ranked slightly higher with a 0.9 WAR and Vargas was a little lower with a 0.4 WAR.

There will be some changes for the 2015 campaign. Santana is expected to start the season as the team's everyday shortstop. Many also expect his offensive numbers to decline to get closer to his minor league track record. In the minors he was a career .273/.317/.391 hitter. Those numbers exploded at the big league level and he ended the year batting .319/.353/.472.

Arcia dealt with some back issues over the final two months of the regular season and now he is suffering from back problems in the Venezuelan Winter League. He is always going to be a liability on the defensive side of the ball so his value comes from his offensive skills. However fans have to be concerned with his ability to stay healthy.

Like Arcia, Vargas isn't expected to provide a lot of value with his defense. He will occasionally fill-in at first base but the majority of his at-bats are projected to be as a designated hitter. Other players like Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Josmil Pinto will also need some time at DH so this could mean fewer chances for Vargas.

On FanGraphs site, they have already posted the 2015 Steamer projections for each player:
Arcia (130 Games): .258/.320/.469, 24 HR, 16 2B, 3 3B, 65 R (1.9 WAR)
Santana (113 Games): .261/.299/.371, 7 HR, 23 2B, 5 3B, 59 R, 18 SB (1.6 WAR)
Vargas (122 Games): .250/.311/.427, 20 HR, 22 2B, 1 3B, 60 R (0.9 WAR)

There are a few things I question about the above totals. I don't think Arcia will play in 130 games because he has never done that in his professional career. It also seems like his back is going to be a continuous problem. Santana's games played seems a little low. He's played over 120 games in each of the last three seasons. For Vargas, the numbers seem close to right but I wouldn't be surprised if he played in fewer than 122 games.

By season's end, I believe Santana will end up with the higher WAR. His offensive numbers might dip but he will be playing a premium defensive position and this will add to his overall value. There are questions about Arcia's ability to stay healthy and Vargas doesn't provide any defensive value.

Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Which player do you think will provide more value to the Twins in 2015?

No comments: