Reason #3: The Analytics Back Kepler Up
A lot of baseball purists don’t trust analytics, but time and again, analytics prove to be correct. Batting Average on balls in play, or BABIP, helps determine how much luck a player has when hitting. If a batter has a higher batting average than his BABIP, he’s getting lucky with some help from bad defense. If a batter has a lower BA than his BABIP, then they are a little unlucky. Kepler’s BABIP has been within ten points of his batting average throughout his entire career. His numbers are always extremely close to the projected by the Sabermetric stats. In 2019, that was especially the case.
Kepler greatly improved his wOBA (weighted on-base average) and xwOBA (expected wOBA), with numbers similar to Matt Chapman and Gleyber Torres. The Minnesota Twins as a team improved significantly in these categories, showing the improvement made as a team and how the improvement is maintainable. Finally, Kepler’s rate of 10.1% walk rate and 16.6% strikeout rate stayed at a similar rate as they were in 2018, proving he worked at maintaining improvements from the previous years in addition to making new improvements going forward.
Max Kepler made hug steps forward as a key member of the Minnesota Twins last season. He improved the launch angle of his swing, worked smarter on defense, and improved his game when his team needed him most. All signs point to this success rolling over into 2020.