ALDS Takeaways, Part 4: Sluggers Go Close Together
Image courtesy of © David Banks-USA TODAY SportsThree games should hardly form the basis of a team’s offseason mentality, but this five-part series will explore five takeaways from the ALDS series that seem both clearer and more important now than they did a week ago. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
That was certainly on display during this series. The Twins may have hit more homers than the Yankees did during the regular season, but by the time the curtain came up for the ALDS, New York had a more powerful lineup, and they got lucky a few times, too, knocking homers on balls hit no better than ones that went for doubles or outs off the bats of the Twins.
No one can fix bad luck, or reverse whatever wind patterns make the ball carry so much better to left field than to right at Target Field, but consider the Twins’ failed rally in the bottom of the second inning in Game 3. Eddie Rosario slammed a leadoff double, and Mitch Garver walked, and Luis Arraez singled. Rosario couldn’t score on that hit, though, and the bottom third of the Minnesota order then squandered the scoring chance. Luis Severino made just a couple of small mistakes in that sequence, and while the Twins took full advantage of them, they weren’t enough to facilitate even one tally.
For most of the season, Baldelli and the Twins steadfastly lined up their batting order to resist platoon manipulation. After switch-hitting second hitter Jorge Polanco, the team would alternate lefties and righties almost perfectly down the rest of the lineup card. As a result, however, the team’s three dominant right-handed sluggers (and probably the three best hitters on the team, overall: Nelson Cruz, Garver, and Sanó) nearly always were separated from one another by two lefty bats, including low-OBP Rosario and low-SLG Arraez.
For 2020, that’s probably a fine formulation to repeat, although some of the particulars will undoubtedly change. If and when the team gets back to October, however, maybe they need to do away with that mentality, and stack their power at the top of the order, the better to get the guys who can exploit mistakes extra chances to hit. Given the diminished forms of Garver and Kepler who played this entire series, it might not have mattered, but next year, they should at least consider batting Sanó, Cruz, and Garver (or the equivalent best trio of power hitters on the roster) second, third, and fourth.
Here are links to Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 of this series. Or comment below after you register.
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