Minnesota Twins Breakouts, Busts & Values: Byron Buxton & Jose Berrios On Cusp of Stardom

Although lacking a true superstar fantasy player, the Minnesota Twins' roster is packed with overachieving and dependable options. But that doesn't mean there aren't any guys on the cusp of something special.
Author:
Publish date:

Breakout: SP Jose Berrios

Over the previous three seasons, Berrios went 40-27 with a 3.80 ERA and 536 strikeouts over 538.1 innings.

In 2019, he broke the 200-inning barrier (200.1) for the first time in his career while showing improvement in his walk rate (2.3). Even with better command, his strikeout rate (8.8) regressed from 2018 (9.5) while still giving up too many home runs (26 – 1.2 per nine).

Berrios had success but didn’t dominate right-handed (.254) or left-handed (.247) batters.

Over his first 22 starts, he posted a 2.80 ERA and 133 strikeouts over 141.2 innings before disaster struck on August 6th (nine runs and 13 baserunners over 5.2 innings). He allowed two runs or fewer in just three of his final ten starts, which led to a 5.83 ERA, 1.517 WHIP, and ten home runs over 58.2 innings.

His AFB (93.5) is trending backward while having about the same success with his four-seamer (.246 BAA), curveball (.241 BAA), and changeup (.244 BAA).

With an ADP of 82, fantasy owners will look to roster him as a backend SP2 or early SP3 depending on league size. His minor league resume (2.77 ERA and 628 Ks over 591.2 innings) points to upside while developing into a workhorse arm.

On the verge of being a fantasy ace if he regains in 2018 strikeout ability and repeats his start to last season. Almost a cheat SP1 for a fantasy owner that wants to build his offense early.

Breakout: OF Byron Buxton

Over five seasons with the Twins, Buxton only hit .237 with 38 home runs, 145 RBI, and 60 steals over 1,250 at-bats. Last year he missed another 75 games, which came after seeing the field for only 28 contests in 2018.

In 2019, he did improve with runners on base (RBI rate – 19) while setting a career-high in his average hit rate (1.958).

For the first time in his career, Buxton made a strong move to the league average (21.5) in his strikeout rate (23.1 – 31.7 over his first 1,074 plate appearances in the majors).

His stats last year projected over 550 at-bats would come to 97 runs, 20 home runs, 93 RBI, and 28 stolen bases while seeing over 90 percent of his plate appearances hitting ninth in the batting order.

Buxton showed growth vs. lefties (.317 with three HRs and 11 RBI over 63 at-bats). His jump in power in 2019 came from a change in swing path (48.5 percent fly-ball rate – 41.9 in his career), but Buxton posted a lower HR/FB rate (10.1 – 11.2 in his career).

His missed playing time came from a left shoulder injury that required surgery in September. It’s been a long time since the Twins drafted him with the second overall pick in 2012. With an ADP of 156, fantasy owners expect growth in 2020. The key to his success and value is staying on the field for a full season. Getting close to a 20/20 player with higher upside if he improves in his approach. Buxton has the makings of a breakout player.

Value: SP Rich Hill

Hill started 2019 on the injured list with a left issue. Once he returned to the starting rotation in late April, he went 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 59 Ks over 52 innings despite allowing ten home runs.

A left forearm issue cost him about the final three and half of the season, which ultimately led to elbow surgery in late October. The Twins didn’t expect him to pitch over the first half of 2020, which led to him being only a flier in early drafts. The late start of 2020 season points to Hill being ready for the beginning of the year with the lights come on in July.

His ADP from March 1st until mid-May came in at 447 with one owner pricing drafting at pick 189.

Over the last five seasons, Hill went 39-19 with a 3.00 ERA and 517 strikeouts over 437.1 innings. His AFB (90.7) had a slight rebound in velocity with batter struggling to hit his four-seamer (.218 BAA) and his curveball (.225 BAA).

A change to the AL will hurt his stats for sure, but his arm does make sense based on where he should be drafted in 2020. Hill pitched over 135.2 innings only once in his career (2017 – 195.0), which isn’t a factor this year.

Regression: C Mitch Garver

After the 2019 draft season, Garver was found in the free-agent pool in many leagues.

He started the year with a respectable first week (3-for-10 with two runs and two RBI over four of the seven games) before an attention-grabbing next six contests (.478 with eight runs, five HRs, and eight RBI over 23 at-bats).

Garver landed on the injured list in mid-May with an ankle injury, which came after a 10-for-33 stretch to start the month with four home runs and nine RBI over 33 at-bats.

The Twins gave him 56 starts over the final four months of the year, and he responded with follow-through in power (.254 with 22 HRs and 48 RBI over 232 at-bats). Garver creamed lefties (.321 with 12 HRs and 23 RBI over 106 at-bats). On the year, he never had over 65 at-bats or 15 games played in any month.

His walk rate (11.4) was a career-best, but he did have a high strikeout rate (24.2) compared to his minor league career (17.6).

Garver had the 12th-ranked hard-hit rate (50.0) in the majors while an explosive HR/FB rate (29.0). His success in power is well above his minor league resume (.270 with 51 HRs, 286 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1,828 at-bats), but he did flash more home runs in 2017 at AAA (.291 with 17 HRs and 45 RBI over 320 at-bats).

Garver has an ADP of 115 as the fourth catcher off the board. The Twins have three options behind the plate again in 2020.

Garver should earn more playing time, but his defense wasn’t an edge (8 passed balls, 30 wild pitches, and 84 percent success rate in steals) over 82 games at catcher.

His ceiling was expected to be only 400 at-bats unless he works his way to playing time at another position. I don’t expect a full-time starting job with regression in runs and power, which makes him overpriced for me.

Deep Sleeper: OF Alex Kirilloff

Kirilloff appeared to be in the fast track to the majors after playing well in 2018 between A and High A (.348 with 75 runs, 20 HRs, 101 RBI, and four SBs over 512 at-bats). Last year his bat stalled at AA (.283 with nine HRs, 43 RBI, and seven SBs over 375 at-bats) while missing some time due to a wrist injury.

His K rate (16.1) was an edge with some work to do in his walk rate (6.5). The Twins selected him in the first round (15th overall) in the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft. This season he'll start the year at AAA with a chance to make the majors this summer.

Kirilloff missed all of 2017 with TJ surgery in his left elbow.

READ MORE: 2020 Minnesota Twins Fantasy Team Preview