Ranking Minnesota Twins position groups heading into 2023 based on projected WAR
7. Right Field - Projected WAR: 2.9
Best Player: Max Kepler (2.4 WAR)
We're starting to get to the bottom of the barrel, and it make sense pretty quickly as to why. Max Kepler's offense has left a lot to be desired since he showed so much promise in 2019, but there's hope that the shift ban fixes that. He slashed .227/.318/.348 last season, which he’s going to need to vastly improve upon if he wants to make a case for the Twins to keep him beyond this year.
Of course, teams are already finding loopholes in the new rule which could be trouble for Kepler.
Defensively he's great, and part of the reason why he's been playable despite his offensive struggles. The downside is that there’s not a ton of depth behind him if he needs to be taken out of the lineup. Joey Gallo can play right field but he’ll be manning the other corner of the outfield when Kepler is in the lineup and might not always be available when Kepler needs time off. Gallo has more depth behind him, though, which could create a duo of Kepler and Gallo in right field this season.
It’s a weak position, for sure but there could be some workarounds if needed.
8. Bullpen - Projected WAR: 2.8
Best Players: Jhoan Duran (1.4 WAR), Caleb Thielbar (0.5 WAR)
This is a little unfair, as WAR is a tough stat to base a bullpen’s success on. But ranking the unit low is cathartic in that Twins fans found themselves more often than not cursing the relievers who came into late inning situations last season.
Actually, it’s a bit inaccurate to call when relievers were being called upon “late-innings”. Rocco Baldelli routinely refused to let starters go deep into their starts, which put an unnecessary strain on the bullpen and set the unit up for failure.
Despite this, Jhoan Duran was an absolute stud and his 1.4 WAR is proof of how critical he is to the bullpen’s success. He’s a superstar in the making, there’s no other way to put it and that’s absolutely fantastic against the backdrop of all the uncertainty.
Jorge Lopez needs to have a bounce back year after struggling late in the year, and prayer candles need to be lit for Emilio Pagan given how he’s been performing in Spring Training and might not even make the roster. Caleb Thielbar is another bright spot to distract ourselves with in the bullpen and if Jorge Alcalá can tap into the potential he showed in his few apperances the Twins bullpen could completely turn things around this year.
9. Left Field - Projected WAR: 2.2
Best Player: Joey Gallo (1.5 WAR)
There’re more depth in left field for the Twins but somehow things are worse there than over in right field. Joey Gallo was signed in the winter to take over right field and there’s incredible upside to the gamble Minnesota is taking on him.
Sure, he flamed out hard with the Yankees but who loves former Yankees with potential upside more than the Twins? Gallo is a classic case of this, and while his WAR doesn’t suggest he alone will help win games there’s hope that he can return to the slugger he was back in this Texas days.
Nick Gordon will be able to add some depth in right, and Trevor Larnach is someone who can fill in as well but he’s unlikely to make the Opening Day roster as it stands now.