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Twins Daily: Who is ready for stardom in 2020?

Three players who were good in 2019 stand out as potential stars.
Miguel Sano

The calendar is ready to flip and it is nearly impossible to look at 2019 as anything other than a booming success for the Twins. Depth was key to their prowess, but who will be their biggest star in 2020? *All WAR numbers are calculated by Baseball Reference*

Jorge Polanco led the Twins with a 5.7 WAR in 2019, playing in 153 games and hitting .295/.356/.485 with 22 home runs and 40 doubles. Polanco represented the American League as the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game and looks like a perennial candidate to hold the honor. The five-year, $25.75 million extension that Polanco signed during spring training confirms his presence in Minnesota through 2025. If you’re looking to buy a Twins jersey that represents a key cog and core center point, Polanco may provide the stitches to sport:

If he can stay healthy, Byron Buxton should find himself in the league MVP conversation for his next three seasons as a Twin. Highly touted as a top prospect, it took Buxton almost six years to break out, but he is here. Despite playing in just 87 games, Buxton posted a 3.1 WAR and hit .262/.314/.513 with 10 home runs and 30 doubles. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games in center field was a pristine 15.7, ranking behind only Aaron Judge, Harrison Bader and teammate Max Kepler. Buxton’s absence from the lineup in the ALDS was a huge blow.

Kepler was crowned the 2019 Twins Daily MVP after posting a 4.0 WAR in 134 games. Kepler hit .252/.336/.519 with 36 home runs and 30 doubles. His barrel percentage jumped to nearly 9% and he hit the ball harder than ever. Kepler’s defense proved extremely valuable when Buxton went down as he posted a 2.8 UZR in 459 innings in center field. He also hit .293/.356/.524 off lefties after looking like a potential platoon player early in his career.

Impact starting pitching has been the buzz phrase this offseason, and rightly so. Everyone knows José Berríos is a king, but can he become an ace? He is getting there. In his four years as a pro, Berríos has posted ERAs of 8.02, 3.89, 3.84 and 3.68. Now coming off back-to-back All-Star Game appearances, Berríos is primed to take the next step. Consistency and endurance are seemingly the only pieces holding him back from stardom. He has a 5.30 ERA in 217 1/3 innings from August through October.

Today is the one year anniversary of the Nelson Cruz signing, a move that has paid dividends in unforeseen ways. His immense impact on the field is marginal compared to his outstanding leadership in the clubhouse. Cruz is entering his age-39 season and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. In his last three seasons, Cruz hit .284/.369/.562 with 117 home runs in 419 games. He ranked second on the Twins with a 4.3 WAR in 2019. Father time is undefeated, but Cruz, with his elite preparation and daily naps, will undoubtedly play a huge role next year.

Whether it is Josh Donaldson or Miguel Sanó, third base will be a position of production for the Twins in 2020 and beyond. Sanó showed us what he is capable of in 2019, hitting .254/.362/.578 with 21 home runs in his last 65 games of the season. He posted a 3.1 WAR in 105 games, which extrapolates to just under five in a full season. Prolonged slumps remain an issue with Sanó, but his .346 on-base percentage was his highest since his rookie season. He drew a career high 55 walks and posted an OPS+ of 138. Now entering his age-27 season, Sanó’s prime is perhaps upon us:

Mitch Garver posted a 4.0 WAR in just 93 games in 2019. With great plate discipline and a violent, compact swing, Garver won the Silver Slugger Award after hitting .273/.365/.630 with 31 homers. He fully broke out and Twins fans should be very excited about the "Garv Sauce" moving forward:

OTHER CANDIDATES:

Jake Odorizzi: 3.6 WAR in 30 starts in 2019, All-Star with 3.51 ERA and 10.1 K/9.
Eddie Rosario: 1.6 WAR in 137 games, hit 32 homers with 109 RBI.
Luis Arraez: 1.8 WAR in 92 games, hit .334/.399/.439 with 25 extra-base hits.
Marwin Gonzalez: 1.6 WAR in 114 games, hit .264/.322/.414 with 15 homers.

Who do you think will be the Twins MVP in 2020?

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This story first appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

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