Max Kepler
Max Kepler
26-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Minnesota Twins
2019 Fantasy Outlook
While Kepler hit a career-high 20 home runs and played in 156 games, he hit just .224 and his SLG declined slightly from his underwhelming sophomore season. He may have been a bit unlucky with a .236 BABIP, though he's had a BABIP below .277 the past three seasons. The underlying numbers show some signs of skill growth. He improved both his walk rate (11.6%) and strikeout rate (15.7%) to career bests. He also appeared to finally solve left-handed pitchers with a .745 OPS that was better than his mark against righties. His increased contact (82%) would seem destined to produce more hits this season. His glove will keep him in the lineup even if he doesn't improve -- Kepler is seen as a plus defender in right field, ranking fifth in DRS, and can play center field in a pinch. At age 26 and with an everyday job for the Twins, a significant improvement still seems possible. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a five-year, $35 million contract extension with the Twins in February of 2019. Contract includes an option for 2024.
Looks set to bat leadoff
OFMinnesota Twins
March 18, 2019
Kepler batted leadoff in Monday's spring training game that may have been a dress rehearsal for Opening Day, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "He's taken to [hitting leadoff] very well, he's had very positive comments and remarks with all of us on the idea, and it's something we're going to see going forward," said manager Rocco Baldelli.
It looks like Kepler will hit leadoff most days, but Baldelli will likely alter his lineup frequently based on matchups. Kepler had an 11.6 percent walk rate last season, so he could improve on his .314 OBP last year if he has better luck on balls in play (.236 BABIP). Hitting leadoff should boost his fantasy value slightly with more at-bats and could lead to a few more stolen-base attempts as well.
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2017
No Stats
Since 2017vs Left .612 304 25 7 30 0 .202 .274 .338
Since 2017vs Right .774 875 122 32 97 10 .244 .330 .444
2019vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018vs Left .745 167 18 5 18 0 .245 .323 .422
2018vs Right .720 444 62 15 40 4 .216 .318 .403
2017vs Left .453 137 7 2 12 0 .152 .213 .240
2017vs Right .828 431 60 17 57 6 .272 .343 .484
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2017
OPS at Home
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OPS at Home
OPS at Home
Since 2017Home .823 586 80 21 70 4 .265 .350 .473
Since 2017Away .643 593 67 18 57 6 .202 .282 .361
2019Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2018Home .864 297 47 12 36 1 .265 .370 .494
2018Away .600 314 33 8 22 3 .186 .271 .330
2017Home .782 289 33 9 34 3 .264 .330 .452
2017Away .690 279 34 10 35 3 .220 .294 .396
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Stat Review
How does Max Kepler compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Kepler enters 2018 as Minnesota's starting right fielder and will try to improve on a somewhat disappointing second year in the majors. He showed promise in his rookie season with a surprising surge in power that included three homers in one game. His numbers were very similar in his second season, failing to show much improvement while taking a step back in some areas. Kepler's struggles against lefties grew significantly worse (just a .453 OPS) and he was benched frequently against southpaws. Still, Kepler draws walks at a decent clip, has good power and makes strong contact for a player of his ilk. He also has enough speed to play center field in a pinch and is 12-for-15 as a base stealer in the majors. Entering his age-25 season, he could still take a leap, as there is room for growth in the power department. The danger is that his struggles against lefties eventually relegate him to a strict platoon.
Kepler was called up in June and took over the everyday right field role, displaying a surge in power (17 home runs, including a three-homer game) that he hadn't shown in the minors. His growth in power shouldn't be unexpected since he was just 23 years old and may have a delayed development cycle since he started playing baseball late in his native Germany. Kepler draws walks at a good clip, made strong contact in the minors and has some speed on the basepaths. He has some areas to improve as he struggled against left-handed pitching (.595 OPS), had more strikeouts initially in the majors than his minor league track record would suggest and wore down in the final month (.538 OPS in September). He also struggled at times in right field despite good reviews of his defense in the minors. However, he should be set as an everyday outfielder for the Twins and could improve rapidly in his first full season in the majors.
Kepler had a breakout season last year at Double-A and could be in position to win a starting outfield role with the Twins as early as this spring. After failing to make an impression the previous two seasons, he finally put it all together at age 22 by hitting .322/.416/.531 with 18 stolen bases at Double-A. Kepler may have a later development cycle since he started playing baseball late in his native Germany. His growth was on display across the board as he draws walks at a good clip, makes strong contact, and developed increasing power (13 triples). Kepler is seen as a solid defensive outfielder at all three positions and has even played first base. The Twins could opt to send him down to Triple-A to begin the season, but he should see a significant amount of time in Minnesota in 2016.
Kepler had another lackluster season in the minors and even though he may develop later than other players after being signed out of Germany, he'll need to show something in 2015 to remain a top prospect in the Minnesota system. There were some signs of hope as he hit much better the final two months at High-A (.303 batting average) and had a strong Arizona Fall League campaign by hitting .307/.366/.440. He's shown a good eye at the plate as he draws walks, makes contact and scouts believe he'll add power, but he'll need to finally put it all together at Double-A to be in Minnesota's long-term plans.
A strained left elbow cost Kepler the first two and a half months of the 2013 season, and he went on to hit just .237/.312/.424 in 61 games at Low-A Cedar Rapids. He then wasn't impressive in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .234/.306/.313. Still, it's too early to write him off as he has shown good place discipline (drawing walks in 9.1 percent of place appearances last season) and since he may develop later than other players after being signed out of Germany. He'll need to improve in 2014 and show he can stay healthy to maintain his top prospect status.
Kepler was an extremely athletic but very raw player when signed out of Germany in 2009. He started to add baseball skills to his athleticism last year as he hit .297/.387/.539 in rookie ball. He drew walks at a good rate (10 percent of plate appearances) and made great contact (33:27 BB:K). A strong year in his first full season league in 2013 could push him near the top of Minnesota's hitting prospects.
More Fantasy News
Hits two home runs
OFMinnesota Twins
February 24, 2019
Kepler went 2-for-2 with a walk and two home runs in Sunday's spring training loss to Boston. He batted leadoff and could be used in the leadoff role against right-handed pitchers this season, manager Rocco Baldelli told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
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Lands extension with Minnesota
OFMinnesota Twins
February 14, 2019
Kepler signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the Twins on Thursday that includes an option, Jon Heyman of reports.
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Inks deal with Minnesota
OFMinnesota Twins
January 11, 2019
Kepler signed a one-year, $3.125 million contract with the Twins on Friday to avoid arbitration, Robert Murray of The Athletic reports.
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Out of Saturday's lineup
OFMinnesota Twins
September 29, 2018
Kepler is not in the lineup for Saturday's game against the White Sox, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
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On bench Wednesday
OFMinnesota Twins
September 26, 2018
Kepler is not starting Wednesday against the Tigers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
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