Building the Best Player in Baseball from Baseball's Best Lineup
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsDespite playing on the West Coast I find myself staying up many late nights to watch the tandem of Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Encompassing both the best and most exciting players in the game, the duo is must-watch television. Seeing Trout barreling towards yet another MVP award this year, I wondered if pulling his numbers out of the Twins lineup is at all possible. His current stats are lofty to say the least, so we may have to stretch some, but I think it’s doable.
.299 Batting Average- Mitch Garver (.301)
Trout’s .299 average comes in a 71-game sample size. Garver has split time with Jason Castro, and missed 16 games, but when he’s been in the lineup he’s produced. It was Ohtani who sent him to the IL with an ankle sprain, and in the 11 games since his return, he’s compiled just a .250 average. Still north of .300 on the season though, Mitch is having as good of an offensive season as any backstop not named Willson Contreras.
.462 On-Base Percentage- Joe Mauer 2009 (.444)
Admittedly this is cheating. The goal here was to construct a cumulative player from the current Minnesota roster. However, the nearly 50% clip that Trout is reaching base is truly absurd. Joe Mauer won and MVP in 2009 leading the league in AVG, OBP, and SLG yet his on-base numbers are still nearly 20 points shy of Trout. The Angels outfielder has struck out plenty throughout his career, and both 2014/15 were high water marks. Right now, though he leads the league in walks and is 10 above his strikeouts in that category. The best lineup in baseball doesn’t have a guy like this.
.651 Slugging Percentage- Mitch Garver (.642)
Back to the land of small sample sizes in looking for a challenger here. Garver has blasted 11 homers in just 123 at bats, and he’s added another eight extra-base hits. His 25.6% HR/FB rate is a career high, and so to is the 46.6% hard hit rate. Since returning from the injury the production has slowed a bit, but Garver’s bat has always played for power and he’s posted the best number there thus far for the Twins. Finishing in the .600’s would be remarkable, but a teammate such as Max Kepler or Nelson Cruz could tag in for him.
59 Runs Scored- Max Kepler (50)
Batting leadoff quite often for the Twins has its benefits this season. Kepler is also able to drive himself in with the longball, but his .359 OBP presents plenty of opportunity for the guys behind him. Leading the league in run differential, and leading the majors in runs scored, it’s been the German who’s crossed the plate most for Rocco Baldelli’s club.
17 Doubles- Jorge Polanco (21)
It was Byron Buxton who ran out to the major league lead early in the 2019 campaign. However, his doubles were largely a reflection of stretched singles or balls that weren’t carrying over the wall. The Twins centerfielder is always going to be able to leg out extra bases, but as the weather has warmed, distances have grown on the gap shots and they’ve left the park. Polanco is a gap to gap hitter, and while there’s plenty of power in his bat as well, the extra-base pop inside the outfield fence seems reflective of Trout’s efforts.
22 Home Runs- Eddie Rosario (19)
Across his nine-year career Trout has swatted more than 40 dingers just once. Already at 22 through 71 games, that changes in 2019. Although Rosario is an incredibly streaky hitter for the Twins, I think there’s an outside chance he reaches that mark for the first time in Minnesota since Brian Dozier did it. Rosario isn’t ever going to be a patient hitter, but he’s certainly a potent one. All the added thump around him helps to give him more hittable offerings and he’s certainly crushing them at a good clip.
56 Runs Batted In- Eddie Rosario (53)
Just ahead of teammate Max Kepler (50), Rosario benefits from hitting more towards the middle of the lineup. You can expect that he’ll hit plenty of long balls, and both Kepler and Polanco should provide plenty of baserunners to drive in the rest of the way. We’ve come to see RBI more as an outcome of opportunity rather than individual performance at this point but expecting Eddie to capitalize on what’s in front of him is a good bet.
Essentially what we’ve come up with here is a torrid start by Mitch Garver, career years for Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, and a high level of performance from Eddie Rosario all combine to equal something close to what Mike Trout is by himself. Given how well the Minnesota Twins have played this season, and what the lineup looks like, it’s truly unfathomable to equate how valuable one single player is. Mike Trout is the type of guy we’ll go decades without seeing again. In watching the level of greatness Twins Territory has this season, it’s mind-boggling to note that one player can account for that same level of production on his own.
The Minnesota Twins are going to continue the crash course towards the postseason. They’ll lay waste to plenty of foes over the course of their next 90+ games. Big numbers should be expected when the dust settles and fall baseball will be plenty of fun. If the Los Angeles Angels don’t join them though, at least Baldelli’s club can attempt a combination effort to put Trout on the big stage.
- Blake, mikelink45, hybridbear and 1 other like this