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Max Kepler 2019 Outlook

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Twins signed OF Max Kepler to a five-year, $35 million contract extension with a club option for 2024.


Coming off of an extension, age 26 season... What are some expectations this year?

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.236 BABIP last year - is this due to a shift or just plain old bad luck?

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2 home runs yesterday. Spring training pitchers, yes--but a nice early sign.

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36 minutes ago, nlm said:

2 home runs yesterday. Spring training pitchers, yes--but a nice early sign.

 

One off a lefty as well. Love Kep this year but hope he doesn't have that great of a spring to keep his price low. He's made major strides in his approach and could be primed for a breakout

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50 minutes ago, Sidearmer said:

.236 BABIP last year - is this due to a shift or just plain old bad luck?

 

I wouldn’t call it only “shift”. But it’s definitely not exclusively luck. He’s not a terrible pick in 5x5 as a 4th/5th OF but im not expecting a BA growth like some are. He earns his dreadful BABIPs with a poor Batted ball Profile. 

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1 hour ago, nlm said:

2 home runs yesterday. Spring training pitchers, yes--but a nice early sign.

He batted leadoff too. Probably nothing to make of it but it will be interesting to see where Baldelli will put Kepler in the lineup. 

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1 hour ago, taobball said:

 

I wouldn’t call it only “shift”. But it’s definitely not exclusively luck. He’s not a terrible pick in 5x5 as a 4th/5th OF but im not expecting a BA growth like some are. He earns his dreadful BABIPs with a poor Batted ball Profile. 

 

That's what I suspected but never took a deep look into it. In that case I will leave on the wire.

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Yeah he's always been a poor BABIP guy, but last year was flukier low than most years. It makes sense that when most have written him off, he will light it up this year...there were a few decent signs from last year--most notably he improved his walk rate and cut his K rate, but his gains against same-handed pitching leaves me most optimistic about him taking his game up a notch. Noticed him leading off some this ST and he's really hitting too (which means little, but better than not hitting)...

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On 3/9/2019 at 8:30 AM, ST. STEVEN said:

Yeah he's always been a poor BABIP guy, but last year was flukier low than most years. It makes sense that when most have written him off, he will light it up this year...there were a few decent signs from last year--most notably he improved his walk rate and cut his K rate, but his gains against same-handed pitching leaves me most optimistic about him taking his game up a notch. Noticed him leading off some this ST and he's really hitting too (which means little, but better than not hitting)...

 

I could be wrong but it seems like every time he’s played, he’s been leading off. Could just be to get more AB’s in. However something tells me he’ll be leading off against righties with Cron hitting 5th. Against lefties my guess is Kepler 5th, Polanco leading off and Cron 2nd. 

I’d buy this kid everywhere. Huge breakout incoming. 

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Posted (edited)

Looks set to begin the year as the Twins lead-off man...

Kepler battled leadoff in Monday's spring training game that may have been a dress rehearsal for Opening Day, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "He's taken to [hitting leadoff] very well, he's had very positive comments and remarks with all of us on the idea, and it's something we're going to see going forward," said manager Rocco Baldelli.

Edited by ST. STEVEN

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He hit his 3rd HR of the Spring yesterday to go along with .284 AVG.

He is entering his 4th full season so I think this will be his breakout season.

He has improved on his K:BB rate each of the last 3 seasons. He has improved his HR total and OBP each year as well.

He has also changed his launch angle and continues to make hard contact. 

 

 

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I am thinking MIN is gonna take the central. Not sure where Max is gonna hit. If he hits 2nd that would be a sweet spot.

Yes I've been sniffing smurf glue but every year there's a surprise team.

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I think the top 2 spots of that lineup are 100% up for grabs.  All depends on who performs the best out of Polanco, Kepler, Buxton and apparently Cron who rotochamp currently has projected as their 2 hitter.  Can't imagine he stays there long.  Best case scenario is Buxton and Kepler come out of the gates hot, Buxton starts to lead off and kepler right behind him.  If kepler can secure a top spot in the lineup he's gonna be 100% owned by the end of the year.

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It is Kepler's time.

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How are owners feeling with his slow start? I know it's only been a week but I'm not sure how much upside is here compared to some other hot hitters right now.

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1 hour ago, Deke said:

How are owners feeling with his slow start? I know it's only been a week but I'm not sure how much upside is here compared to some other hot hitters right now.

It's been 5 games...Relax

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Saw his AB versus a decent looking lefty yesterday and he had a nice approach to drive in 2 runs.

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2 hours ago, Deke said:

How are owners feeling with his slow start? I know it's only been a week but I'm not sure how much upside is here compared to some other hot hitters right now.

 

I love Kepler.  At the same time he has been in the league for three seasons.  At that point most hitters have figured things out or they never will.

I am sure the Twins management feels the same way.  This season is probably his last opportunity with them.  

I am not jumping ship yet.  June 1st is always my cutoff date for hitters to produce.  

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4 minutes ago, B&F said:

 

I am sure the Twins management feels the same way.  This season is probably his last opportunity with them.  

They just extend like 2 months ago.

So, no?

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2 minutes ago, Slatykamora said:

They just extend like 2 months ago.

So, no?

Yup. He's got 4 years or something I believe. Him and Polanco signed similar contracts next to one another. 

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31 minutes ago, ST. STEVEN said:

Saw his AB versus a decent looking lefty yesterday and he had a nice approach to drive in 2 runs.

 

Not many knock his approach. Especially towards balls and strikes. It is his ability to do damage with his swing. 

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I'm not sure he is a leadoff guy. Ideally Buxton should be leadoff and Kepler should be 5th. If things go right for the Twins this year, I would love to see a batting order of 

1.  B. Buxton, CF  2.W. Astudillo, C 3. E. Rosario, LF 4. N. Cruz, DH 5. M. Kepler, RF 6. C. Cron, 1B 7. J. Schoop, 2B 8. M. Gonzalez, 3B 9. J. Polanco, SS

I'm not sure the pressure of leadoff suits Kepler's strengths and he would perform better lower in the order.  The only reason he leads off now is that the twins are trying to get Buxton comfortable in the majors. And if Byron starts to perform like he should, Kepler will be moved out of leadoff and Max will perform better too!

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2 minutes ago, rabaak said:

I'm not sure he is a leadoff guy. Ideally Buxton should be leadoff and Kepler should be 5th. If things go right for the Twins this year, I would love to see a batting order of 

1.  B. Buxton, CF  2.W. Astudillo, C 3. E. Rosario, LF 4. N. Cruz, DH 5. M. Kepler, RF 6. C. Cron, 1B 7. J. Schoop, 2B 8. M. Gonzalez, 3B 9. J. Polanco, SS

I'm not sure the pressure of leadoff suits Kepler's strengths and he would perform better lower in the order.  The only reason he leads off now is that the twins are trying to get Buxton comfortable in the majors. And if Byron starts to perform like he should, Kepler will be moved out of leadoff and Max will perform better too!

 

Why not Kepler at the 2 spot?  Feel like thats where he belongs with a good plate approach/obp, but not too much power.  Tough to put astudillo at the top of a lineup considering his pitches per PA is always gonna be atrocious.  He's at 2.36 per PA this year...was at 3.0 last year and the league average is 3.9

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