The Minnesota Twins' Batting Order for Opening Day Is...
It's spring training.
It hasn't been decided who's going to make the final roster.
Spitballing, though, is a year-round sport.
With that in mind, here's a take on what the Minnesota Twins' ideal batting order should look like in 2009.
One warning before you continue. This article is based on the assumption that Joe Mauer is going to miss the season opener and perhaps a few additional games.
Denard Span hit .294 in his first season for Minnesota. His on-base percentage was .387. He also was an efficient base stealer, swiping 15 sacks in 20 attempts. These are qualities that you're looking for in a prototypical lead-off man.
He worked out 50 walks in 2008, but he also struck out 60 times in 347 plate appearances. Expect improvement in both categories as the season wears on.
Alexi Casilla is the choice here.
Casilla hit for a .284 average with some decent pop in his bat (15 doubles and seven home runs). He also led the Twins with 13 sacrifice bunts and struck out only 45 times in 385 at-bats. These fit the bill for the No. 2 guy in the batting order.
Ideally, this spot should go to the best hitter on the team. And the Twins have the ideal guy in Justin Morneau.
In 2008, Morneau put up offensive stats (.300 batting average, 23 home runs, and 129 runs batted in) that nearly garnered him his second MVP award.
If the other batters before him do their jobs, the Twins' cleanup hitter should have plenty of opportunities for runs batted in.
Joe Crede, when healthy, has shown the ability to do just that. He's driven in 189 runs in his only two seasons with 500 or more at-bats. And for a power hitter, Crede doesn't strike out all that much.
With Delmon Young in this slot, opposing teams won't dare pitch around Crede.
Young is an aggressive hitter who should see his runs batted in and home run totals climb after two solid but unspectacular seasons. With a .290 batting average last season, as well as 10 home runs and 69 runs batted in, Young proved he is a dangerous hitter. Only 22 years old, Young has a huge upside.
Jason Kubel should offer the Twins just what he showed them last year: a guy who hits for a decent average, with some power and the ability to drive in runs.
The same goes for Michael Cuddyer, whether he's the designated hitter or a starting outfielder. Although he had one sensational season in 2006 in which he hit .284 with 21 home runs and 109 runs batted in, he fell to earth the following season with a .276 batting average with 16 home runs and 81 runs batted in. These are totals that are strikingly similar to Kubel's 2008 season.
Jose Morales, in his only Major League appearance, went 3-for-3 against the White Sox in September 2007.
How long can you keep a career 1.000 hitter out of the lineup?
A converted infielder, Morales is the most logical choice at catcher if Mauer can't answer the opening bell. Morales is still learning the ropes behind the plate. But his minor league resume shows that he has an able bat.
Nick Punto, in four seasons with Twins, has yet to show discipline at the plate. He resurrected his career in 2008, hitting .284. However, his career .252 batting average and on-base percentage of .319 makes him the ideal candidate for this slot where he will get as few at-bats as possible.
Carlos Gomez is a speed merchant who believes he is a slugger.
Acquired in the Johan Santana trade, Gomez hit just seven home runs and struck out 142 times in 577 at-bats. Meanwhile, he stole a team-high 33 bases. If he wants to continue his Major League career, he should realize that his value to the Twins lies in making contact with the ball as often as possible.
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