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Front Page: 2020 Twins Lineup: Five Things Josh Donaldson Does Better Than Any of His New Teammates

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#1 Matthew Taylor

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:30 PM

The Minnesota Twins lineup in 2019 was lethal, hitting more home runs than any other team in major league baseball history. Bringing in a guy like Josh Donaldson only makes this offense more terrifying. How should the lineup look in 2020 and what will Donaldson add to this offense?When building the 2020 Minnesota Twins lineups there are a few different things that you want to keep in mind:
  • Rocco Baldelli has demonstrated how much he wants to split up his lefties and righties throughout his lineups.
  • Generally you want on-base guys at the top, with power in the middle (an easy thing to do when every batter on this team gets on base and has power).
  • With such a deep roster, there’s no wrong way to build this lineup.
With that being said, this is how I believe the Minnesota Twins should set up their lineups:

Lineup vs RHP
  • Luis Arráez ( L ) - 2B
  • Josh Donaldson ( R ) - 3B
  • Max Kepler ( L ) - RF
  • Nelson Cruz ( R ) - DH
  • Miguel Sano ( R ) - 1B
  • Jorge Polanco ( S ) - SS
  • Mitch Garver ( R ) - C
  • Eddie Rosario ( L ) - LF
  • Byron Buxton ( R ) - CF
This lineup sets up so that no more than two right-handers will hit back-to-back. Arráez makes a lot of sense to hit leadoff against right-handers, off whom he got on base 40% of the time with an OPS of .887. Donaldson has spent 45% of his career plate appearances in the #2 spot of the lineup so keeping him there and moving Polanco’s flexible handedness bat down the lineup makes a lot of sense.

Lineup vs LHP
  • Mitch Garver ( R ) - C
  • Jorge Polanco ( S ) - SS
  • Nelson Cruz ( R ) - DH
  • Josh Donaldson ( R ) - 3B
  • Max Kepler ( L ) - RF
  • Miguel Sano ( R ) - 1B
  • Eddie Rosario ( L ) - LF
  • Byron Buxton ( R ) - CF
  • Luis Arraez ( L ) - 2B
The #1 spot was actually Garver’s most common spot in the lineup in 2019, where Baldelli often placed him against left-handed pitchers. Against left-handers in 2019, Garver got on base 43% of the time with a 1.170 (!!) OPS. Against lefties I think it’s best to have Arráez in the #9 spot. He only slugged .298 against lefties in 2019, but still got on base at a 40% clip which lends itself well in moving back to the top of the order with runners on base. Here we have Donaldson hitting cleanup to cap off a potential of four straight right handers who mash lefties, with Polanco having the versatility to break up the run of righties should we get later in ball games and left- handed pitchers come in.

While these batting order exercises are fun, the reality is that these are going to change on a game-to-game basis. In 2019, the Minnesota Twins used 145 different batting orders with their most common batting order only being used in seven games. What this exercise does show us, though, is just how talented and deep Josh Donaldson makes the Minnesota Twins lineup. To further demonstrate how impactful the Donaldson signing is, I thought it would be fun to end this article by highlighting 5 things that Josh Donaldson did better in 2019 than any of his new teammates:
  • Had a better BB% (15.2%)
  • Had a higher K looking % (as opposed to going down swinging)
  • Had a higher exit velocity on breaking balls (90.6)
  • Got to a 3-1 count in a higher percentage of PAs (14%)
  • He was unlucky — had a greater difference between BA and xBA (-.010)
Bottom line ⁠— this is going to be fun.

What do you think about the suggested batting lineups above? How would you lay out your batting order in 2020 if you were Baldelli? What areas do you think Donaldson will most improve the Twins in 2020? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

MORE JOSH DONALDSON CONTENT
FEINSAND: Twins to Sign Josh Donaldson
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#2 Otwins

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:15 PM

I think you are right in that Rocco will mix the left handed hitters between the right handed. Especially with the three batter rule for the relief pitchers. I expect to see Kepler batting leadoff versus the right handers. I think they like starting 1-0

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#3 MN_ExPat

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:21 PM

¡¡Bombas de Fuego!!

#4 joemama

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:48 AM

There are also two solid switch-hitting, multi-positional players outside of the starting 9 who will get slotted in frequently. With so much offensive talent and flexibility, we may see 100+ combinations yet again!

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#5 RaoulDuke

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:44 AM

Ive been through a million lineups in my head since the signing.

 

Polanco/ Donaldson 1/2 is ridiculous.

 

There is no easy ab in the lineup, Six 30 hr guys, one that is the fastest in the league, one that hit .340 as a rookie, and Polanco.

 

Polanco/ Donaldson/ Kepler/ Cruz/ Sano/ Rosario/ Garver/ Arraez/ Buxton

 

You can arrange it for 2 middle of the lineups

 

Arraez/ Polanco/ Donaldson/ Cruz/ Kepler/ Garver/ Sano/ Rosario/ Buxton

 

You can obliterate lefties

 

Garver/ Donaldson/ Kepler/ Cruz/ Polanco/ Sano/ Rosario/ Buxton/ Arraez

 

Buxton breakout unicorn mode

 

Buxton/ Donaldson/ Kepler/ Cruz/ Sano/ Polanco/ Garver/ Arraez/ Rosario 

 

Marwin Gonzalez backs up 4 positions with a starter quality bat.Adrianza is adequate with glove and stick.Cave has a mlb bat.Avila is a fine backup catcher.

 

Nuke mode

 

Donaldson/ Kepler/ Cruz/ Sano/ Polanco/ Garver/ Rosario/ Arraez/ Buxton

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#6 Strato Guy

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 08:51 AM

I like the lineup against righties! For lefties, I would choose to keep Arraez batting first. Either having Garver or Donaldson batting 2nd, I believe, would be better than Polanco, whom is not as good against lefties. Why not keep Donaldson 2nd with Garver hitting 4th. Keep in mind the new rule change that a relief pitcher needs to pitch to 3 batters.


#7 bobs

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:28 AM

Assuming good health.....good heavens.This is gonna be so much fun!

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#8 bobs

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:31 AM

...and having Marwin to give one of those guys a day off almost every day is almost an embarrassment of riches

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#9 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:34 AM

Last season Donaldson got most of his at bats at cleanup, why not continue that trend?? I mean, why move Polanco from #2 spot where he had a .378 OBP against righties which was actually 3 points higher than Donaldson (against righties) in a batting spot that relies more on getting on base and being able to steal a base once in a while.

Simply put, Donaldson is a run producer who’s belongs at either #3 or #4, although after the season Cruz had at #3, I’d prefer to keep him at cleanup.

#10 Bomba2026

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:15 AM

So do you think any of Josh's teammates read this column? Already saying 5 things he "does better" probably won't win him any friends, just like at any job. All of the players are gifted in their own ways and Mr Josh needs to prove he lives up to his contract.....
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#11 Possumlad

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:16 AM

 

Last season Donaldson got most of his at bats at cleanup, why not continue that trend?? I mean, why move Polanco from #2 spot where he had a .378 OBP against righties which was actually 3 points higher than Donaldson (against righties) in a batting spot that relies more on getting on base and being able to steal a base once in a while.

Simply put, Donaldson is a run producer who’s belongs at either #3 or #4, although after the season Cruz had at #3, I’d prefer to keep him at cleanup.

The point of the original post is that the Twins may produce more runs w/ Donaldson batting somewhere other than #3 or #4 against righties. Slotting someone 3/4 because he's a run-producer and "that's where those guys belong" likely isn't a good strategy given all the options.

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#12 Possumlad

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:19 AM

 

 

So do you think any of Josh's teammates read this column? Already saying 5 things he "does better" probably won't win him any friends, just like at any job. All of the players are gifted in their own ways and Mr Josh needs to prove he lives up to his contract.....

Seeing as Josh didn't write the column, I'm not sure what any teammates would have to be offended about.

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#13 Harrison Greeley III

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:01 PM

I want Arraez to hit 5th against RHP. If there are runners on with 2 outs, he's the guy I want up to get the run(s) in. He had 63 plate appearances with RISP. He hit .327 and he struck out only 6 times. Also, the pitcher is likely working under duress in that situation and he takes great at-bats to make a pitcher work. 

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#14 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:27 PM

Good article . Thanks.


#15 darin617

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:47 PM

So why do i get ripped for saying Arraez should be a lead off hitter but now it's a good idea.

 

Don't give me this new metrics garbage. Your hitter with the best OBP should be 1st. Would you rather have a solo HR or a 2 run HR if you feel this team is going to keep hitting bombas.

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#16 Possumlad

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:56 PM

 

So why do i get ripped for saying Arraez should be a lead off hitter but now it's a good idea.

 

Don't give me this new metrics garbage. Your hitter with the best OBP should be 1st. Would you rather have a solo HR or a 2 run HR if you feel this team is going to keep hitting bombas.

Your best overall hitters should be at the top of the line-up - on base percentage is one component of "best," but not the only one.

 

Being at the top of the line-up means you get substantially more at-bats over the course of the season than someone further down. And the goal should be to get the most possible at bats for your best overall hitters over the course of the season.

 

Blindly plugging the player w/ the highest OBP in to the #1 slot--regardless of other factors--makes no sense at all, and would almost certainly produce fewer total runs over the course of the season than a more optimal line-up.

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#17 rv78

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 02:16 PM

The only sure thing I'd say is Cruz bats 3rd again. I'd like to see Donaldson bat behind him to protect him even more than what Sano could do. The rest of the guys to bat anywhere that helps keep the lefty/righty switch going. Yes, Rosario will be Rosario, Kepler will be good again, Hopefully Garver can continue like he hit last year. Arraez must prove he is what we think he is. Polanco might be the best hitter in the lineup.

However I think the biggest intriguing thing that will affect the lineup besides Donaldson is if Buxton finally puts it together and becomes the hitter we have all been waiting for. If that happens, look out, holy moly, and cowabunga all rolled into one.

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#18 the_brute_squad

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:05 PM

Color me old fashioned but having Buxton at the top of the order (if he hits like last year) makes a lot of sense. That definitely gives the #2 hitter an advantage if the pitcher is constantly worried about the guy on first. It also eliminates a lot of off-speed breaking pitches so that #2 hitter can sit on dead red. Using an asset like Buxton at the bottom of the order doesn't make sense if he's one of the best players on the team.

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#19 Wax off

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:41 PM

Jorge Polanco has made it mashing righties. This article has him batting 6th against RHP (his strength) and moves him up in the order against LHP. Opposite day!

#20 jkcarew

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 07:54 PM

I like Buxton right where he is...9th...especially against right-handed starters.

 

But, you need to make a lineup for a third 'main' scenario...with Avila starting at catcher against a right-handed starter. Garver will start practically every game against a left-handed starter...and he and Avila will split starts against right-handed starters. It's not inconceivable that Avila will make more starts against right-handed starters than will Garver (not by a lot, of course). And we know on Garver's off days, Rocco is unlikely to play Garver at first-base or even DH.

 

Against Right-Handed Starters, Avila playing catcher...

 

1. Luis Arráez ( L ) - 2B
2. Jorge Polanco (S) - SS

3. Max Kepler (L) - RF

4. Nelson Cruz ( R) DH

5. Josh Donaldson ( R ) - 3B

6. Eddie Rosario (L) - LF

7. Miguel Sano ( R ) - 1B

8. Alex Avila (L) - C

9. Byron Buxton ( R) - CF

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