After a seemingly never-ending lockout, many fans feared the Minnesota Twins were heading for a full rebuild. But the acquisitions of Sonny Gray, Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela, along with the massive free agent signing superstar Carlos Correa, means the Twins are ready to fight their way to the top of the American League Central again.
The lineup looks as strong as ever, so I wanted to pause for a second to predict the production of every Minnesota Twins Opening Day Starter projected by FanGraphs. In this article, we’ll be looking at past performances and projections to determine the triple slash of all starters expected for Opening Day, starting with catcher and fist base.
Gary Sanchez will be splitting time with the defensive-centered Ryan Jeffers, but Sanchez is currently slotted in on Fangraphs as the Opening Day starter. He arrived in Minnesota along with Gio Urshela (more on him later) in exchange for newly-acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa and dumping Josh Donaldson’s contract.
With Mitch Garver gone, Sanchez takes the role as the masher behind the dish. The last two seasons have not been kind to Gary Sanchez. After smashing 34 home runs in only 106 games in 2019, the former Yankee’s numbers slipped, slashing a lowly .187/.291/.406 over the past two seasons.
But there’s a lot to like about Sanchez. Despite the rough 2021, he still hit around league average (99 OPS+). He continues to hammer the ball (89th percentile in max exit velocity and 86th percentile in barrel percentage) while finding his way on base plenty (85th percentile in walk rate), according to Baseball Savant.
As for his offensive output in 2022, Twins fans can expect numbers similar to Miguel Sano: lots of home runs, walks, and strikeouts. Focusing on hitting by being the DH frequently and being removed from the hostile crowds of Yankee Stadium should result in an uptick in numbers.
Speaking of Miguel Sano, the hulking power hitter looks to improve on his up-and-down 2021 season. Looking at Sano’s Baseball Savant page reveals a rollercoaster of a hitter. He’s elite in exit velocity and barrel percentage, while dismal in all contact categories.
The Twins are hoping Sano can recreate his 2019 campaign of 34 home runs and a .923 OPS. The last two years, his power numbers have slipped while his strikeout numbers remain gaudy. He struck out almost half the time in 2020 while leading MLB with 90 K’s in only 53 games.
A repeat of 2021 seems more likely than the juiced-ball highs of 2019. The Twins will deal with his strikeouts and defense in exchange for another 30 homer season and plenty of walks.