Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Front Page: 7 Weird Stats About Jose Berrios’ Season

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:41 PM
Coming into the 2019 Major League Baseball season Jose Berrios found himself entrenched in the Minnesota Twins rotation as the staff ace....
Full topic ›

Front Page: Twins Game Recap (8/23): Berríos, Bullpen Can...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:41 PM
Kicking off the Players Weekend, the Twins hosted the first of a three-game series against the team with the worst record and offense in...
Full topic ›

Game Thread "David" Twins vs. Tigers 6:10pm edt 8...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:26 PM
Top 10 rejected game thread intro ideas: 10. Pig latin. 9. Rip Van Winkle 8. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. 7. Thesis abstract. 6. Prop...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Getting Defensive

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:19 PM
Remember when Doug Mientkiewicz was really good at first base for the Twins one year, but Rafael Palmiero won the Gold Glove despite bare...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Twins Minor League Report (8/23): Jhoan Duran...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:04 PM
Jhoan Duran was having a tough first taste of Double-A action, but everything seemed to click tonight. Duran carried a no-hitter into the...
Full topic ›

Constructing a Lineup for the Home Stretch

Since mid-June the Minnesota Twins have been dealing with non-stop injuries to various players in their lineup. Luckily, until the current Byron Buxton injury, none of the injuries held any of the players out for an extended period. That said, the injuries have been so constant that the Twins haven’t been at full strength for much of the most important and arguably most difficult stretch of their 2019 season.
Image courtesy of © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
With 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

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

25 Comments

I like it. Egos aside, fielding the best team for that day is what is needed. I wonder what stats Rocco looks at in making his lineup? P.S. He needs your advice.

Photo
Brandon Warne
Aug 14 2019 09:52 PM

You can't bench Marwin Gonzalez for Ehire Adrianza.

    • LA VIkes Fan, JLease, lukeduke1980 and 2 others like this

I agree with premises just said something similar on different thread about managing of this club and one is line up construction. Also think we need improvement on pitcher use and developing roles for different pitchers. Second on pitching front we need to start lengthening out our starters to where we are getting more than 5 to 6 innings. Other clubs are doing it now in this stretch drive to secure playoff position. Third i think they need to start working on fielding just way to many errors in last 6 weeks. Finally we are in trouble for next year for pitching 3 to 4 starters that can become free agents and have seen nothing from minors that are ready to pitch at the majors. If they do have them they need to bring them up now.

Nice exercise - It challenged me to think about the lineup in different ways.I like yours but what if we just did it by OBP?Here is how it would look (I am too lazy to go lefty/righty for this exercise).Plus I am looking at the time when Buxton and Cruz are back in the lineup.I actually like the way this looks.Castro has a 330 and should be in there but with Cruz back there is no place for him to play

 

  • Arraez 420
  • Cruz384
  • Adrianza 380
  • Polanco 357
  • Garver 346
  • Kepler 339
  • Sano 336
  • Castro 330(Cron Loses out at 321 because Castro would catch Garver at 1B
  • Gonzales 316(sub Buxton 314)

 

Or if we went with OPS

 

  • Cruz 1.035
  • Garver 960
  • Sano 885
  • Kepler 874
  • Arraez 862
  • Polanco 344
  • Rosario 836
  • Buxton 827
  • Castro 824

 

Just putting them in by either of these statistical measurements and not moving them for any other reason they are two good lineups

 

By HR it is a little different

 

  • Cruz 32
  • Kepler 32
  • Rosario 26
  • Garver 23
  • Sano 21
  • Cron 19
  • Polanco 17
  • Schoop 16
  • Gonzalez 14

 

Different look, but the fact is our batters have a lot of talent and you can pick a lineup out of a bag.

It comes down to pitching and defense!

    • Matthew Lenz likes this

I'm really struggling with the stats calling CJ Cron a below average 1B. Is it a range factor thing? because he's done a nice job scooping throws in the dirt (and our left side of the infield can...get a little wild out there). I've watched a lot of twins games this year and based on the eye test I would have thought he'd clock in more above average. (that's what I've been hearing from the baseball coaches I know too?)

 

regardless, much as I like many things about this lineup, benching Marwin for Ehire is not one of them.

    • DocBauer likes this

I'm really struggling with the stats calling CJ Cron a below average 1B. Is it a range factor thing? because he's done a nice job scooping throws in the dirt (and our left side of the infield can...get a little wild out there). I've watched a lot of twins games this year and based on the eye test I would have thought he'd clock in more above average. (that's what I've been hearing from the baseball coaches I know too?)

regardless, much as I like many things about this lineup, benching Marwin for Ehire is not one of them.


We went thru to with Mauer. Every first basemen makes scoops. There guys have been catching balls since they were five.

Cron is nearly replacement level at this point.

Garver needs to play every day, or nearly. I don't understand his usage at all.

You can't bench Marwin Gonzalez for Ehire Adrianza.


Why not?

Adrianza has 60 points higher of OPS, and is the better fielder.
Photo
Brandon Warne
Aug 15 2019 09:12 AM

 

Why not?

Adrianza has 60 points higher of OPS, and is the better fielder.

 

Better fielder based on 15 innings of UZR data? You also have to convince yourself that what Adrianza is doing is completely sustainable to bench Gonzalez entirely. I'm not buying that.

    • jkcarew and Marzen 2018 like this

 

Better fielder based on 15 innings of UZR data? You also have to convince yourself that what Adrianza is doing is completely sustainable to bench Gonzalez entirely. I'm not buying that.

 

It's sustainable until it is not.If Adrianza's numbers start falling off, then it is time to tweak the lineup again.Marwin Gonzalez is not anywhere near a caliber of player that deserves automatic playing time.

 

He doesn't hit for more power than Adrianza and Adrianza has better contact skills and gets on base more.  

 

Photo
Brandon Warne
Aug 15 2019 09:30 AM

Since May 1, Gonzalez is hitting .281/.341/.460. There is no doubt in my mind he's a better hitter and player than Ehire Adrianza.

    • LA VIkes Fan, jkcarew and Marzen 2018 like this

I'm not sure about making Adrianza the everyday RF based on 15 innings of defensive metrics. 

    • Danchat likes this

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.

Lots of good food for thought in this article, I'm going to concentrate on Kepler.

 

One reason to keep Kepler in the leadoff spot is a suspicion that his HR numbers would tumble if he weren't in the leadoff spot. Pitchers have the option to vary their approach to a batter based on circumstances, and I think this is especially true of Max.

 

This year, Max has 23 solo HR, and only 9 HR with bases occupied. Even taking into account a somewhat higher ratio of bases-empty PA, this split is very different from the American League as a whole. It's also very different from the rest of the team.

 

If you give him more bases-occupied opportunity, it's very possible that his HR numbers go down. Not to the degree that he's punch-and-judy, but a lot.

 

They say a lead-off batter's job is to get on base. I don't entirely agree with that - his job is like anyone else's to score runs. If he "gets on base", but then does the job implicitly assigned to a later batter to drive him in, by finishing the trot around the bases because he hit it out of the park, that's a good thing, not a bad one.

 

I believed the same way about Dozier. He was contributing, with those leadoff homers. Do you think he would have gotten as many high-inside fastballs that he liked, if men were on base more often? I don't, no. So, I felt, let him continue to succeed, rather than sap his numbers by dropping him to #3 or wherever.

 

Power hitters like Rosario and Garver have HR splits more normal to the league this season, and so they are less compelling as leadoff choices, for me.

 

As for the side comment that Max Kepler has proved to be above average in center field... no. It's not backed up by the numbers I've looked at, and it's not backed up by the eye test either. Center field is a place where supremely talented fielders roam, and the bar is very high to be considered above average. Most teams have someone as good as Kepler on defense. (Few have anyone worth mentioning in the same breath as Buxton.) To play an average CF, or even a little below, where I see Max, is no insult. Max is an above average CFer because of his offense. He's an above average RFer because of his defense (in which he shines). It's a nice combination. He's the opposite of a tweener - an asset wherever you need him.

    • woolywoolhouse and Matthew Lenz like this
Photo
yarnivek1972
Aug 15 2019 10:42 AM
Batting Garver, Sano and Cron consecutively leads you vulnerable to late inning pitching changes. Same with Rosario, Kepler and Polanco. The later innings are all about matchups. Batting three straight RHB who all hit LHP far better than RHP makes the opposing manager’s job easy.
    • twinsnorth49, DocBauer and jkcarew like this

 

Since May 1, Gonzalez is hitting .281/.341/.460. There is no doubt in my mind he's a better hitter and player than Ehire Adrianza.

And then there's Gonzalez's career 101 OPS+ to Adrianza's 87.

 

I like Adrianza as an occasional utility guy on the infield...and coming off the bench (though I wish he was faster on the bases). He's not a guy where you're going to choose to make him an every-day presence in the lineup, if you have an alternative like Gonzalez.

    • stringer bell, LA VIkes Fan and Marzen 2018 like this

Since May 1, Gonzalez is hitting .281/.341/.460. There is no doubt in my mind he's a better hitter and player than Ehire Adrianza.


Adrianza since May 1st:
.320/.399/.480

We don't get to put 2017 Marwin Gonzalez in our lineup.
Photo
woolywoolhouse
Aug 15 2019 11:15 AM

I've always been a proponent of moving Kepler (and before that, Dozier) out of the lead-off spot, but honestly it takes a certain mentality to bat lead-off. Garver didn't seem to have it when he first started batting lead-off against lefties earlier this season, but it has seemed to finally come to him. The eye test says that Arraez would probably flourish there. But we know for a fact that Kepler is doing just fine there. I wouldn't move him. 

Photo
Brandon Warne
Aug 15 2019 11:23 AM

Adrianza since May 1st:
.320/.399/.480
We don't get to put 2017 Marwin Gonzalez in our lineup.


Maybe not, but based on playing time it’s pretty clear who the Twins think is the better player.
    • Marzen 2018 likes this
Photo
Brandon Warne
Aug 15 2019 11:24 AM

Batting Garver, Sano and Cron consecutively leads you vulnerable to late inning pitching changes. Same with Rosario, Kepler and Polanco. The later innings are all about matchups. Batting three straight RHB who all hit LHP far better than RHP makes the opposing manager’s job easy.


Polanco is a switch hitter
Photo
yarnivek1972
Aug 15 2019 12:22 PM

Polanco is a switch hitter


Who, as the OP mentioned hits RHP FAR better than LHP.
My only issue is that I would never hit Castro anywhere but 7th-9th, matter who is on the mound. But, this is just a personal preference thing. I think lineup construction as a concept is overrated in terms of its importance. I think you should just get your best hitters the most ABs.

My go-to lineups would be:

RHP:
Arraez (2B), Polanco (SS), Kepler (CF), Garver (DH), Rosario (LF), Sano (1B), Gonzalez (RF), Castro ©, Adrianza (3B)

LHP:
Arraez (3B), Garver ©, Sano (DH), Gonzalez (RF), Kepler (CF), Polanco (SS), Rosario (LF), Cron (1B), Schoop (2B).

I would transition Sano to a full time 1B/DH and not bring back Cron next year. Cron has been awful, so just start the transition. Sano should be in a prominent lineup position against LHP. Maybe even every game (he’s arguably been the team’s best hitter for some time now - not counting Cruz).

Arraez should be at the top of lineup.

Adrianza is OPSing .930 vs LHP. He needs to player against every single LHP.

Schoop only gets ABs against LHP because Buxton and Cruz are out. If even one was back Arraez would at 2B full time, Sano back to to 3B/DH/Marwin to 3B. Cruz to DH/Buxton to CF.

Maybe not, but based on playing time it’s pretty clear who the Twins think is the better player.


Okay... but the team is capable of being wrong, so I don't see how that is relevant to the discussion.

The Twins let Nick Anderson get away without giving him a shot. I can play that game too.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
Photo
Matthew Lenz
Aug 15 2019 03:05 PM

 

 

 

Better fielder based on 15 innings of UZR data? You also have to convince yourself that what Adrianza is doing is completely sustainable to bench Gonzalez entirely. I'm not buying that.

Yep, I acknowledged the small sample in my first sentence and I completely agree that I need to see more of Adrianza to believe he can sustain this, but I think this is a good opportunity to give him a chance.I understand that UZR and UZR/150 is not the end all be all of defensive stats but of players who have played at least 240 innings in RF, Marwin has the 12th worst UZR/150 so in his larger sample he's made it clear it's not a position of strength.

 

Maybe not, but based on playing time it’s pretty clear who the Twins think is the better player.

You're absolutely right.If I was writing on article on who I think the Twins think is better than I would just look to see what line up Baldelli has been trotting out versus each pitcher and written about that.That wasn't the point.And the Twins aren't always right.

 

I definitely believe there is a case for either player, but I (obviously) don't think it's as ludicrous of an idea as you make it seem.

Photo
Matthew Lenz
Aug 15 2019 03:13 PM

 

Lots of good food for thought in this article, I'm going to concentrate on Kepler.

 

One reason to keep Kepler in the leadoff spot is a suspicion that his HR numbers would tumble if he weren't in the leadoff spot. Pitchers have the option to vary their approach to a batter based on circumstances, and I think this is especially true of Max.

 

This year, Max has 23 solo HR, and only 9 HR with bases occupied. Even taking into account a somewhat higher ratio of bases-empty PA, this split is very different from the American League as a whole. It's also very different from the rest of the team.

 

If you give him more bases-occupied opportunity, it's very possible that his HR numbers go down. Not to the degree that he's punch-and-judy, but a lot.

 

They say a lead-off batter's job is to get on base. I don't entirely agree with that - his job is like anyone else's to score runs. If he "gets on base", but then does the job implicitly assigned to a later batter to drive him in, by finishing the trot around the bases because he hit it out of the park, that's a good thing, not a bad one.

 

I believed the same way about Dozier. He was contributing, with those leadoff homers. Do you think he would have gotten as many high-inside fastballs that he liked, if men were on base more often? No. So, I felt, let him continue to succeed, rather than sap his numbers by dropping him to #3 or wherever.

 

Power hitters like Rosario and Garver have HR splits more normal to the league this season, and so they are less compelling as leadoff choices, for me.

 

As for the side comment that Max Kepler has proved to be above average in center field... no. It's not backed up by the numbers I've looked at, and it's not backed up by the eye test either. Center field is a place where supremely talented fielders roam, and the bar is very high to be considered above average. Most teams have someone as good as Kepler on defense. (Few have anyone worth mentioning in the same breath as Buxton.) To play an average CF, or even a little below, where I see Max, is no insult. Max is an above average CFer because of his offense. He's an above average RFer because of his defense (in which he shines). It's a nice combination. He's the opposite of a tweener - an asset wherever you need him.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely see the value in Kepler batting lead off.I would classify myself of the "new school" mentality for a vast majority of things pertaining to baseball but one "old school" idea I stick with is having table setters in your 1 and 2 spots followed by some power guys.Now, Kepler has been solid at getting on base by Arraez has been better.

 

There isn't one number that can completely explain anything, but Kepler has a UZR/150 of 6.2 this season in 334 innings in CF.That's good for 14th of players who have 300 or more.Again, not saying that's the only stat to consider but I do think it's one of the better ones.

Photo
Matthew Lenz
Aug 15 2019 03:26 PM

 

And then there's Gonzalez's career 101 OPS+ to Adrianza's 87.

 

I like Adrianza as an occasional utility guy on the infield...and coming off the bench (though I wish he was faster on the bases). He's not a guy where you're going to choose to make him an every-day presence in the lineup, if you have an alternative like Gonzalez.

I mean career numbers are a little hard to compare here when Adrianza is experience his first extended run of success, IMO.I couldn't nail down precisely to Marwin's first 947 career AB's but through his 2015 season (1,121AB's) he had a OPS+ of just 89.

 

It's funny to me you reference their career OPS+ to support your point but ignore the fact that in 2019 Adrianza is at 116 while Marwin is at 91.

Photo
stringer bell
Aug 16 2019 07:54 AM

Marwin Gonzalez is a very good, versatile player. He has been the "10th regular" when everyone is healthy. While Gonzalez' defensive stats in right are not great, it is one position that he hadn't played much prior to this year. With more time out there, I think he will be good to very good. As an example, Gonzalez' metrics at third were the worst of the infield positions going into this year. With some regular reps, Margo showed that he was a quality defender there. Why should right field be different. Add in a very good outfield arm and I am pretty comfortable with Gonzalez playing a lot of right field the rest of the season. 

 

As a hitter, Gonzalez has been noted as a decided second half guy. In the last week he has been very good and did get the biggest hit of the season so far (IMHO). Marwin should be in the lineup almost every day no matter which hand the opposition starter throws with. 


Similar Articles


by Thieres Rabelo , Yesterday, 09:57 PM
Photo


by Patrick Wozniak , Yesterday, 03:44 PM
Photo


by Cody Christie , Yesterday, 10:10 AM
Photo


by Seth Stohs , Yesterday, 09:11 AM
Photo


by Cooper Carlson , 21 Aug 2019
Photo