Top Notes From the Minnesota Twins ZiPS Projections for 2024

The 2024 ZiPS projections are up on FanGraphs. Here is what they say about the Minnesota Twins chances repeat on top of the AL Central.

Joe Ryan of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning at Progressive Field.
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 08: Joe Ryan #74 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning at Progressive Field on September 08, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

This offseason has been fairly unremarkable for the Minnesota Twins. It has left many questioning whether or not the Twins should still be the favorites to win the AL Central.

They are still heavy-betting favorites at the moment, only the Braves and Dodgers have better odds to win their respective divisions. FanGraphs ZiPS projections can provide some insight as to why the Twins are still favored, or if they are being over valued.

FanGraphs’ Dan Syzmborski has been putting his ZiPS projections out for some time now. The projections have been a great way to look forward to what the future holds for a team and individual players.

“At its core,” Szymborski writes, “[ZiPS is] still doing two primary tasks: estimating what the baseline expectation for a player is at the moment I hit the button, and then estimating where that player may be going using large cohorts of relatively similar players.”

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If you want to read Szymborski’s full article introducing the 2024 ZiPS projections, you can find that here. You can also find his accuracy update for 2023 at this link.

While a projection system like ZiPS may feel like a very complicated concept, the glossary at does a great job of simplifying it. Just keep in mind that for the majority of players, ZiPS uses data from their four previous seasons.

Using those numbers, each player is compared to similar players to best predict that player’s performance moving forward. All in all, ZiPS is widely regarded as one of the most accurate projection systems on the internet.

Now let us take a look at some of the notable projections for the Twins in 2024.

2024 Twins ZiPS Projections

ZiPS does not like the Twins as much as the sports books do. The Twins are projected to finish 85-77, tied with the Guardians for the division title. ZiPS gives the Guardians a slightly higher chance of winning the division than the Twins.

That record is two games worse than last season when the Twins won the division comfortably. ZiPS clearly believes that there were areas to be improved on this Twins team. Due to self-imposed payroll restraints, those areas have not been improved.

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There are still free agents available, and the Twins could still make moves via trades. However, right now the Twins roster is still leaving a little to be desired. ZiPS can show us why that is.

Position Players

Key takeaways:

  • Carlos Correa is set to rebound. Like I said earlier, ZiPS uses a players last four seasons when making projections. With a player who has been as good as Correa it is going to take more than one bad season to affect his projections. ZiPS has him returning to form with a projected 3.7-fWAR. The Twins need production from Correa in the worst way this season.
  • The projections for Royce Lewis feel light. Keep in mind that Lewis has only played 70 MLB games and has dealt with injuries much of the last three seasons. However, his 3.2-fWAR with a 117 wRC+ while hitting .263/.328/.462 just seems low. In his 70 MLB games Lewis has 2.9-fWAR with a 153 wRC+ while hitting .307/.364/.549. When he has been on the field, he looks like one of the best players in the game. I would take the over on his projections.
  • Byron Buxton is projected as the Twins best hitter. Buxton is a really hard player to project. The injury history is impossible to ignore but we all know what he is capable of. Over the last four seasons, Buxton has two four-win seasons. He played 61 and 92 games in those seasons and posted a 171 and 136 wRC+ respectfully. This year his .804 OPS is the highest projected on the Twins. This would be huge for the Twins, especially if he stays healthy.
  • Willi Castro could leave the Twins thin in center field. Castro is coming off the best season of his career, posting 2.5-fWAR last season. With Buxton’s injury concerns, Castro is slated to play a lot of center field this year. ZiPS does not like him to repeat his 2023. All of his major numbers are expected to fall. A 92 wRC+ from a player who is an average defender in center field does not bode well if he gets significant playing time.

Starting Pitching

Key takeaways:

  • Pablo Lopez projects as an ace. ZiPS really likes the chances of Pablo Lopez repeating his success from last season. A 3.68 projected ERA compared to a 3.66 ERA last season shows minimal regression. His 3.3-fWAR is over a whole win lower than last season despite the counting stats looking very similar. That doesn’t worry me as Lopez has been very consistent over the last four seasons.
  • Lack of quality depth is concerning. Adding Anthony DeSclafani in a trade with Seattle helped but there is still something to be desired. The Twins had one of the best rotations in baseball last year thanks to good health and depth. Losing Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda has this rotation looking very different. ZiPS does not like a lot of the depth options. Players like Simeon Woods-Richardson, Randy Dobnak, Jordan Balazovic, and others do not have good projections. One injury to the rotation could send the Twins rotation into a spiral.
  • Joe Ryan appears keen for a bounce back. The Twins desperately need Ryan to look like a real number two in the rotation this season. ZiPS likes his chances of doing so. ZiPS has Ryan set to mark a career-high in fWAR at 2.6. The long ball was a real issue for Ryan last year but ZiPS likes him to revert back to his 2022 numbers rather than the trend set in 2023 continuing. His peripheral numbers from last season indicate Ryan experienced a lot of bad luck last season, ZiPS agrees. Ryan could be the most important player on this team as far as determining the outcome of the season.

Relief Pitching

Key takeaways:

  • This could be the best bullpen in baseball. Only the Rays (4.9) and Braves (5.0) have bullpens projected with more fWAR as a unit than the Twins (they are tied with Milwaukee at 4.7). Note that this was at the time the projections were released and moves have been made since then. Regardless, the top of the Twins bullpen has remained the same. Johan Duran, Griffin Jax, Brock Steward, and Caleb Thielbar are projected to combine for 3.4 fWAR. ZiPS really likes Brock Steward in particular who is projected as one of the best set up men in 2024.
  • Griffin Jax appears to be pretty volatile. Despite two solid seasons in a row, ZiPS is not very high on Jax. The formula is projecting his worst season since his rookie year in 2021 when he was a starter. In his two previous seasons working strictly as a reliever, Jax has thrown 137.2 innings with a 3.60 ERA and 3.19 FIP. For this season, ZiPS is projecting a 4.21 ERA and a 3.98 FIP. This feels like a significant amount of regression for someone who has put together back-to-back good seasons. ZiPS even has his 80th percentile ERA at 3.65 which is higher than his ERA over the last two seasons as a reliever. I think Jax will exceed these projections and once again be a solid arm in the back of the bullpen.

Closing Thoughts

It is clear why ZiPS does not like the Twins this year. The rotation has taken a significant hit, and there have been no real upgrades on offense. The one unit that does appear to be stronger is the bullpen. That is not the best formula for success.

It is still hard for me to see the Twins losing the division but it is certainly possible. Hopefully they can hedge some of the starting pitching concerns with a stronger bullpen.

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On the flip side, the projections do like a lot of Twins hitters who struggled last season to bounce back. If Correa and Buxton turn things around with Julien and Lewis continuing to impress, this offense could be appointment television.