Constructing a Lineup for the Home Stretch
Image courtesy of © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsWith the emergence of super utility players like Luis Arraez and Ehire Adrianza as well as the help of veteran super utility Marwin Gonzalez the Twins have been able to maintain their historically potent offense. These players have been invaluable as the team has been dealing with key injuries to Buxton and C.J. Cron and slumping hitters like Jonathan Schoop and Jorge Polanco.
Twins versus right-handed pitcher without Buxton and Cruz
1. Luis Arraez, 2B
Since the start of August, Luis Arraez has been the regular second basemen with Jonathan Schoop starting every fourth game or so. As previously mentioned, the emergence of Arraez has been a huge development for the Twins and with a .415 OBP versus right-handed pitching I’d like to see him in the leadoff spot as a table setter.
2. Jorge Polanco, SS
Polanco has been mashing from the left side of the plate all season with a .917 OPS. You could easily switch him and Kepler, but Polanco gets on base a little more and shows a little less power.
3. Max Kepler, CF
Buxton being out for the foreseeable future makes Max our everyday center fielder where he has been an above average fielder. As you can probably tell from my lineup construction so far, I’ve never understood having a guy known for hitting home runs (i.e. Dozier and Kepler) batting lead off. As referenced above, him and Polanco could be switched as their numbers are very similar against right handed pitching but Kepler provides a little more pop which I want from a three hitter.
4. Mitch Garver, DH/C
It’s time for Mitch to get as many as bats as he can and with Nelson Cruz out this may be the perfect opportunity for him. Get this, Garver has the fifth best OPS (1.146) of hitters with at least 100 at-bats when men are on base. This guy needs to be in the middle of the order on a daily basis even with Cruz healthy.
5. Jason Castro, C/DH
Castro is in the midst of one of the best years of career but is being overshadowed by the guy he is sharing time with behind the plate. Nonetheless, with a .903 OPS versus righties he’s my pick to bat fifth. Once Cruz is healthy, there is still room for him in the line up and see you’ll see me mention later.
6. Miguel Sano, 3B
Since lowering his hands and getting used to the adjustment in late June/early July, Sano has been on fire. As a right-handed hitter he has more success against lefties, but since July 1st he has a .854 OPS against righties.
7. Eddie Rosario, LF
As has been noted many times as of late, Rosario has been struggling mightily at the plate since the All-Star Break specifically by chasing pitches out of the strike zone. It’s time for him to be reeled in a little bit and put lower in the line up.
8. Ehire Adrianza, RF
Although a small sample (15.0 innings), Adrianza is the Twins second best right fielder based on his UZR while Marwin has been the worst by a long shot. He’s also a slightly better hitter versus right-handed pitching than Marwin.
9. C.J. Cron, 1B
C.J. Cron has been a nice addition to the club but hasn’t been great against right-handed pitching. I don’t mean to be a broken record, but I’d love to see Garver to get some reps at first to get his bat in the line up. Surprisingly, C.J. has been a below average first basemen defensively so it could be a net positive to get a better hitter some time.
The Twins have one of the best lineups in baseball against right-handed pitching and oddly enough that lineup gets stronger with the return of two right-handed hitters in Cruz and Buxton. When Buxton returns Adrianza will undoubtedly lose some playing time. When Cruz returns I’d love to see Garver get some time at first so we can keep his bat in the line up. Cruz DH’s in the three-hole followed by Kepler (CF/RF), Garver (1B), Castro ©, etc.
Twins versus left-handed pitcher without Buxton and Cruz
1. Luis Arraez, DH
See what I said above except replace his .411 OBP with a .441 OBP versus lefties. He’s not quite as good as a second basemen as Schoop so I slid in him into the DH spot. Once Cruz is healthy, then Arraez should be your second basemen.
2. Mitch Garver, C
Can you tell him I huge fan of “Garv Sauce”? Polanco and Kepler really struggle against lefties so you’ll see them further down in the line up. As good as Garver has been against righties he’s even better against southpaws. He’s the far better hitter in this scenario than Castro.
3. Miguel Sano, 3B
As has always been the case, Sano’s has the traditional split where he has more success as right-handed batter facing a left-handed pitcher. You’ve seen the reflect in Baldelli’s lineup construction of late as well.
4. C.J. Cron, 1B
Despite his defense, Cron is one of the better Twins hitters versus left-handed pitching so he should be in the lineup.
5. Ehire Adrianza, RF
He’s been one of the better hitters against southpaws this year and although doesn’t have the typical power of a five hitter he could restart the line up as he as an OBP of .400 and OPS of .926 against lefties.
6. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
With the absence of Cruz and Buxton, the Twins lineup thins out pretty quickly against left-handed pitching. Schoop has actually been pretty solid against lefties this year and still should get semi-regular at-bats as a power threat in this lineup. He’s rated as a slightly better defender than Arraez which is why I have him getting the start in the field. Once Cruz is healthy, then you might get Schoop some playing time against lefties to keep him engaged and fresh.
7. Max Kepler, CF
As a lefty facing left-handed pitching, Kepler has the 18th-best hitter in baseball of players who have over 100 at-bats. So although he’s much better against righties, comparatively, he’s actually pretty good.
8. Eddie Rosario, LF
Creating a line up isn’t always about just stats. Statistically speaking, Marwin Gonazlez should be the play here as he is the better player both offensively and defensively. Whether we like it or not, Players have egos and feelings and I don’t think Rosario would take it too well if he started being platooned with Gonzalez against lefties.
9. Jorge Polanco, SS
Statistically, Jorge is our worst hitter against left-handed pitching even when you take his hot start into consideration. In fact, once Buxton is healthy you could argue starting Adrianza or Gonzalez in place of Polanco against left-handed pitching. Adrianza would be a major downgrade defensively and Gonzalez, in a very small 9.0 inning sample, would be an upgrade. That said, like Rosario, he might not take too kindly to sitting out against lefties.
Things look vastly different without Buxton and Cruz in the line up. If and when they are healthy again in 2019, that will make our v. LHP line up significantly stronger but will also force Baldelli to make some tough decisions specifically in regards to Polanco and Rosario. In all reality, I think Adrianza and Schoop are the two guys that lose playing time once Buxton and Cruz are healthy.
What do your lineups look like? Is worrying about the egos and feelings of your players something you consider when constructing a line up? Debate it out in the comments!
- woolywoolhouse, mikelink45, nclahammer and 1 other like this