In an industry, ‘pert 12-team mock draft that I recently participated in, I grabbed Max Kepler with the 194th overall pick, and, quite honestly, I could’ve likely took him in the final round, or just grabbed him off waivers if there were waivers in a mock draft, which there’s not. No one cares about the Twins. I’d say Twins lives matter, but I’m not trying to incite riots. One quick point on that, when someone says “Save the whales” they’re not saying, “I hope a dolphin gets caught in a tuna net and is fed to a group of Japanese tourists as they watch The Cove.” It’s save the whales, not save the whales and eff all other fish. Here’s my 2017 mock draft team, if anyone’s interested. I’d put little to no weight on my draft. I had zero prep and was asked about an hour prior to participate. Last year in 113 games and 396 ABs, Kepler went 52/17/63/.235/6. Obviously, the average is puke-green trying to play itself as Fern Green, Army Green or Avocado. You’re puke-green, and you’re caught. The rest is not bad at all. Mr. Prorater, the assessor of missed time, would put his line at 67/21/79/.240/8. Though, we must remember, when one assesses, they make an ass out of esses, and that’ll get you killed in some hoods. So, what can we expect from Max Kepler for 2017 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Ideally, Kepler will play from Opening Day on, and hit fifth. Last year, he hit a wall in the 2nd half of the year as his average and power dipped. Or as they say in Kepler’s hometown of Berlin, “Walls are for balls to be hit over, not ideals.” With a full season under his belt, I expect Kepler to hold up better over the course of a season and have a better feel for opposing pitchers. Or as they say in Berlin, “I will guten tag that ball.” Likely, the biggest surprise from his minor league time and major league games is his lack of walks. He had seasons above .400 OBP in the minors, and, last year, he barely cracked .300 with .309. Outside of OBP or Points Leagues, I’m not sure we care, as long as he continues to hit for power and steal bases, which I think he will do. One year he stole 18 bases, and I think he can approach that in the majors too, as soon as this year, because the Twins have nothing to lose. With modest gains on Kepler’s strikeouts and walks, he’ll be on base more. Then, throw in a bit more BABIP (was .261 last year which is low for him), and he could approach .280/.350 for batting average/OBP. That takes him from his six steals to 14 SBs without even trying. The power is there too. He ropes bombs. He averaged about the same distance on his homers as McCutchen, Cano and A-Gon. 22 HRs over the course of the season feels a bit conservative, but I don’t want to gas people up too high, so I’ll give Kepler the 2017 projections of 74/23/85/.266/14, which is a solid third to fourth outfielder with room for upside. Or as they say in Berlin, “Auf wieder-schwing!”