As 2014 has now officially come to a close, the 2015 Major League Baseball season is fast approaching. As the Twins prepare to head to Fort Myers and report for spring training, there is one key theme that could prove to be costly for Minnesota this year. With so many players experiencing breakout campaigns in 2014, should regression be a worry for the club?
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In looking ahead to the season that is, the Twins will need to get strong contributions out of every player on their 25 man roster if they plan to compete in 2015. Knowing that averages regress towards the mean, it is safe to say that they are a handful of players that can expect to go backwards this year for the Twins. With that in mind, the question becomes, how much does it really matter?
To fully understand the situation, let’s take a look at some of the most likely candidates to take steps backwards in 2015:
Sep 26, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) hits a two RBI single in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Quite possibly the most obvious candidate to take steps backwards this season, Suzuki found himself an All-Star in his first season with the Twins. After signing ahead of the 2014 season, Suzuki landed himself an extension as the season drew to a close. With a .257/.314/.376 career slash line, his 2014 numbers (.288/.345/.383) were all vast improvements. Despite being a below average defense catcher, Suzuki has always brought value in being a well-rounded player.
As 2015 kicks off, the expectation for Suzuki to remain an All-Star and hit for the same average he did a season ago is likely far-fetched. He will no longer be backed up by the likes of Eric Fryer, but instead will have a capable power bat in Josmil Pinto behind him. Striking out only 46 times across 131 games and 503 plate appearances set a career low for Suzuki. Even if that number rises some in 2015, his 34 walks a season ago suggest that he has been able to be more disciplined at the plate.
Suzuki remains the most likely candidate for significant regression, but even if that happens, the Twins should still get plenty of value out of pairing him with Pinto.