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Updated: March 26th, 2013 11:24pm
Mackey: Projecting the Minnesota Twins' 2013 regular season record

Mackey: Projecting the Minnesota Twins' 2013 regular season record

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

The Minnesota Twins open the regular season with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Monday at Target Field.

With the 25-man roster all but set, it's time to start projecting performances.

About the 2013 projections

• These are not my opinions. They are mathematical projections based on three-year (and minor league) track records, weighted heavier for the most recent seasons.

• The individual player projections are derived mostly from batted ball track records (line drives, groundballs, fly balls, home runs, frequency, etc.) as well as strikeout and walk rates.

• The total team run projections (for both offense and pitching) are derived using a modified "runs created" formula that includes total bases, groundball double plays, base stealing rates, walk rates and strikeout rates. If a team hits abnormally well/poorly with runners in scoring position, they could outperform the run projection by 10-20 runs one direction or the other.

• Below, every time you see "ERA" it is really "xFIP," but I labeled it ERA so as to not confuse mainstream baseball fans.

• You, the reader, can decide how realistic each player's projected stat line is.

Revisiting last year's projections

On a positive note, my 2012 offensive projections nailed the Twins' home run total within one (I said 132, they hit 131), doubles within 16, and hits within 60.

But poor performances by Danny Valencia, Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Luke Hughes partially derailed what was projected to be a top-10 offense. Too many strikeouts, not enough walks.

On the pitching side, the run projection (754, and they allowed 832) was dead from the start when Carl Pavano and Matt Capps went down with shoulder injuries, and when the combined ERAs of Jason Marquis and Nick Blackburn touched 8.00. A bad season for both of those guys is 5.00.

2013 Twins hitters

* If each hitter puts up the numbers projected below, the Twins will score approximately 745 runs, which would have ranked 7th in MLB last season (Twins scored 701 in 2012).

Hitter

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

BB

K

SB

Justin Morneau

625

0.278

0.352

0.485

26

63

109

0

Aaron Hicks

625

0.247

0.315

0.388

11

56

156

25

Joe Mauer

620

0.320

0.405

0.445

10

76

73

4

Chris Parmelee

600

0.257

0.335

0.425

17

57

114

1

Josh Willingham

580

0.250

0.346

0.480

28

64

139

4

Trevor Plouffe

550

0.239

0.306

0.444

24

44

110

2

Ryan Doumit

530

0.267

0.326

0.443

17

37

101

1

Brian Dozier

500

0.257

0.306

0.367

9

33

78

13

Pedro Florimon

400

0.238

0.293

0.336

5

28

90

10

Jamey Carroll

300

0.270

0.346

0.315

0

30

38

8

Darin Mastroianni

250

0.243

0.322

0.346

3

25

55

25

Eduardo Escobar

215

0.246

0.295

0.331

1

13

43

8

Other Hitters

410

0.205

0.268

0.294

6

25

94

15

Total

6205

0.258

0.327

0.406

157

550

1200

114

Even with modest contributions from Hicks, Parmelee, Plouffe, Dozier, Florimon and Escobar, the Twins' offense could be one of the higher-scoring units in baseball. If any of those players breaks out, the water level obviously rises, and vice versa.

Willingham almost certainly won't repeat his performance from last year, but he still projects as a solid power hitter.

A rejuvenated Morneau could be the key.

• A .327 on-base percentage would have ranked 8th in MLB last year. A .406 slugging percentage would have ranked 15th.

• 157 home runs would be an increase from last year's total (131), mainly due to a full season of Parmelee and a healthier Morneau.

• There's a fairly decent chance Morneau and/or Willingham get traded at some point this summer, which could obviously decrease the offense's production drastically, depending on who would replace them in the lineup.

2013 Twins pitchers

* If each pitcher puts up the numbers projected below, the Twins will allow approximately 750 runs, which would have ranked 23rd in MLB last season (Twins allowed 832 in 2012).  

Pitcher

Innings

K

BB

Hits

HR

BABIP

ERA

GB rate

Vance Worley

190

154

65

191

19

0.304

4.00

46%

Scott Diamond

175

104

41

191

18

0.300

4.15

50%

Mike Pelfrey

175

93

59

188

15

0.303

4.41

49%

Kevin Correia

165

88

51

175

24

0.282

5.01

49%

Liam Hendriks

115

74

29

125

16

0.297

4.51

44%

Kyle Gibson

85

71

22

87

11

0.294

4.07

50%

Brian Duensing

66

45

17

68

6

0.305

4.17

48%

Alex Burnett

65

41

23

65

6

0.291

4.38

51%

Glen Perkins

65

74

18

58

5

0.306

2.93

48%

Jared Burton

61

55

18

51

5

0.283

3.71

48%

Samuel Deduno

60

44

31

56

6

0.289

4.79

57%

Casey Fien

52

44

15

50

7

0.285

4.18

33%

Cole De Vries

47

31

10

52

8

0.295

4.97

35%

Josh Roenicke

45

32

19

42

4

0.287

4.39

49%

Other pitchers

85

58

43

86

14

0.297

5.66

44%

Total

1450

1005

462

1486

166

0.296

4.35

47%

The Twins project to field a contact-prone, groundball-heavy pitching staff that limits walks and doesn't strike anybody out -- business as usual since the Johan Santana trade. But there are power arms in the upper levels of the minor leagues (Gibson, Alex Meyer and Trevor May), so pitch-to-contact could soon be a thing of the past. Consider 2013 a patchwork job.

For anyone who still clings to the notion that the Twins' pitching staff will somehow be worse than last year's historically bad crew, consider this -- Diamond returns to the rotation in mid-April, Worley owns a 3.50 ERA in two years with the Phillies, and Gibson could be called up as soon as late-April or May.

Plus, Nick Blackburn (23 home runs allowed in 98 innings last year), Carl Pavano (6.00 ERA in 11 starts with a bum shoulder) and Francisco Liriano (5.31 ERA and 55 walks in 100 innings) are all addition by subtraction.

Plus, there was that whole Jason Marquis disaster.

Correia projects to get hit hard, Pelfrey could be in for a rough spell coming off Tommy John surgery, and the front end of the bullpen has more question boxes than a Super Mario Kart track, so this year's pitching staff has plenty of flaws.

But improvement from last year is on the horizon.

• If Twins pitchers tally only 1,005 strikeouts, as projected, that would likely rank last in MLB.

• A 47% groundball rate would have ranked 5th in MLB last season, which helps explain the projected decrease in home runs allowed -- from 198 in 2012 to a projected 166. De Vries and Fien are the only two pitchers listed who project as fly ball-heavy guys.

• Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was calculated using a combination of each pitcher's recent track record and the Twins' projected defensive starters. Notice Correia has traditionally been difficult to square up.

Projecting a win total

Teams that score 745 and allow 750 historically finish 80-82, which would be a significant improvement from last year's 66-96 record.

Realistically, however, if the Twins aren't in contention they will likely trade at least one or two important pieces away for young talent, thus decreasing production.

A win total between 75 and 80 seems realistic, despite Las Vegas and other national projectors forecasting a record similar to last year's.

If multiple players from the Dozier, Plouffe, Hicks, Parmelee group have breakout seasons, all bets are off, although pitching will almost always be a limitation for the 2013 Twins.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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