I guess I don't see how using Mauer as a #2 hitter is something new. Gardy has done it before, it just didn't really work all that well, in an admittedly small sample. The truth is it probably doesn't matter much if Mauer bats 2nd or 3rd. I prefer him in the 3rd spot myself. The same 3 guys are going to bat in front of Mauer no matter if he is batting 2nd or 3rd. Just in slightly different order. The big difference is the first inning. Batting Mauer 3rd increases the chance there is a runner on base when Mauer bats in the first inning. I like that because he hits extremely well with runners on base.
To me, the interesting thing from the article is that Gardy implied that the stat guy thinks Mauer should hit second, and Gardy is considering it on that basis.
The logic is simple: Get the guys who get on base at the top. Don't put a .330 OBP guy in the 2 hole just because a percentage of his at bats will be wasted (when he will be needed to sacrifice and otherwise get Hicks over). In the best case as a 2 hitter, Mauer comes up with no one on base like 50 percent of the time. And there's no better guy on this team as a table setter. On the other hand, as a 3 hitter, he'll come up with guys on base about 50 percent of the time. And there's no one on this team who's better in those situations.
As the stat guy said, "In a perfect world, Mauer should hit first, second and third." The question is, with the other hitters in this line-up where will he be best placed? Assuming Hicks and Morneau are the guys we saw in spring training, I think second is the best spot. That's a big assumption, though. Both Hicks and Morneau hit way better this spring than they project to hit in the regular season.