The Twins are pretty set around the infield and behind the plate. Sure, there are questions about health and durability, but the Twins have a pretty clear idea who they are going to trot out on Opening Day. Positions 7, 8, 9, around the outfield, the Twins are faced with some pretty big questions. Ben Revere‘s defensive range is a given, but his arm is weak and his offensive performance is suspect. Will Ben Revere reveal himself to be the consistent hitter he was during the final month of the 2011 season, or will he remain on-base anemic, like he was shortly after being called up? Trevor Plouffe will likely usurp Revere in left field if Revere is not able to reach base consistently. If Denard Span is not 100% healthy, the Twins will likely shift Revere to center, leaving a hole in right field to be filled by either the afore mentioned Plouffe, or Ryan Doumit (who is dropping weight in order to regain some of the defensive prowess he displayed earlier in his career). Can Josh Willingham adjust to playing right field, or will the Twins put him back in left field, thus allowing opponents to run more frequently against Revere’s weak arm, or would Revere end up as the 4th outfielder, with Plouffe and Doumit /splitting reps in right?
I’ve been pretty optimistic projecting the infield, and in a similar vein I am going to assume that the Twins will head to opening day 100% healthy, with Ben Revere in left field, Denard Span in center, and Josh Willingham occupying Michael Cuddyer‘s previous home in right field. Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe will be left to pick up the scraps, filling in when any of the outfielders need a day off, and potentially taking reps at first base to rest Morneau and Mauer.
Bill James predicts Ben Revere to play 152 games in 2012, which is very generous, considering Revere’s past (Revere’s most games in a single season was 2009 when he played 121 games at High-A Fort Myers), and the multiple options in the Twins outfield. Revere has consistently posted an OBP above .330 in his minor league career, and James projects that his 2012 line will rebound towards his career numbers with a .325 OBP. Throw in a batter average of .280 and Revere looks like a fairly competent hitter. Revere has never hit for much power, and despite his excellent speed, he hasn’t managed to end many at bats sitting anywhere other than 1B. James’ projection takes that into account and projects Revere to slug just a single point higher than his OBP at .326. Still, if Revere can walk more, and strike out less than he did in 2011, he’ll find himself on base more frequently, and he will be able to swipe a few extra bases. James goes so far as to project 45 stolen bases for Revere in 2012. RotoChamp projects a slightly rosier triple slash for Revere of .297/.341/.354, increasing James’ projections on all accounts.
I don’t expect Revere to hit that well, and I don’t expect him to play the 152 games that James predicts either. I think Ben Revere will play about 115 games, split between left field and center field, about a 70/30 split, with Doumit and Plouffe earning plenty of reps as well. I don’t expect Revere to hit any more than 1 HR (Drew Butera did as much in 2011), nor do I expect him to increase his walk numbers much from a year ago. His strike out numbers will probably decrease slightly, as Revere adjusts to hitting Major League pitching. His speed will help him keep his batting average on balls in play around .315 despite his lack of power, and I expect he may steal as many as 38 bases, which will be a lot with restricted playing time. With numbers like that, Revere could be worth nearly 2 WAR, helped out by his stellar defense and above average base running, giving the Twins a $9 million dollar value for just the league minimum.
If Revere can exceed those numbers, great, but if not, Plouffe and Doumit will provide additional power as corner outfielders, which will help offset their mediocre defensive skills.