Watch Out If Max Kepler Clicks

Max Kepler Clicks
Max Kepler Clicks

Max Kepler consistently has great underlying stats season after season in the bigs. His piece de resistance of a season was 2019, he hasn’t regained that level of play, yet. If Max Kepler clicks more often and gets with the right team, one of the most underrated players in the MLB might have a ridiculous breakout.

Twins outfielder Max Kepler clicks and almost always has some good-looking red circles on his savant page. Sitting at a .350 on-base percentage and an above .400 slugging percentage he’s having a very productive season.

At right field this season he’s been one of the best at defense in the corner, ranking in the 98th percentile in outs above average. His underlying hitting numbers suggest underperformance for Kepler; stats like xWOBA have him ranked in the top 10% of hitters.

It’s not that his slash line this year is anything to sneeze at, you would just expect a few more bounces to go his way. The 29-year-old is under contract for two more seasons after this one, with a $10 million team option in 2024.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Twins keep Kepler in ‘24, but what happens if they cannot? What teams could potentially seek his services if the Twins can’t re-up his term moving forward?

For the most enjoyable scenarios, let’s peek at his expected home runs by ballpark. Obviously, there are financial implications and player willingness to consider, but who doesn’t love an uptick in home run productivity?

Staying In The Central

If we want to look at the most potential for fun and long-ball mashing the expected home runs page on baseball savant is always a great place to start. If the Twins can’t keep Max they better hope he doesn’t want to stay in division.

The Guardians and White Sox would be a great spot for him to knock a couple of extra tallies. When put on Cleveland or Chicago (AL) he outperforms the Twins at target field by 3-4 more home runs.

If we want to stay in the Central but switch leagues, teams like the Brewers, Pirates, and Reds would be fun for him. With those three squads, he would most likely outperform his totals right now with Target Field as his stadium.

AmFam, PNC, and Great American would improve his numbers. If Kepler was a Cincinnati Red in 2019 his best season would have been a 43 expected HR season, instead of the 36 HR with 32 expected HR season he had in Minnesota.

A team I want to highlight specifically in the NL Central is the Brewers. Their offensive struggles are well documented, constantly having issues getting guys on base and knocking them in. They do have Hunter Renfroe in right field this season, having himself a fine year right now.

If he isn’t there in a few years though and Max Kepler clicks on the market, they should make a play for him. At his best (36 xHR) he would sit at 40 xHR in Milwaukee and with Renfroe being an average defender, Kepler would also add to the defense in the outfield.

West and East

I don’t mean to do the old cliche about Coors Field, but if the Rockies want to sign Kepler in the future and he just wants to mash it makes a ton of sense. He could’ve potentially added 5 more home runs to his season last year and it could be 4 in the first half of this year. He also would add to their outfield defense pretty well, although he would be a positive anywhere.

Switching coasts I don’t even want to think about the damage Kepler could’ve done in the Bronx in 2019, sitting at 41 xHR at Yankee Stadium. (I know Kepler on the Yankees would be a sore spot for Twins fans). There would be almost no reason for this if Aaron Judge is still a Yankee for years to come, but that ship is a little shaky nowadays.

This article isn’t getting into the financial logistics of these moves, or if Kepler even wants to leave the Twins. But if he has a contract year soon and the Twins can’t find a way to say yes to a hefty extension, there will certainly be some fun destinations to dream about watching where Max Kepler clicks next.

Any and all stats in this article and more can be found on Baseball Savant.

 


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