There's absolutely an avenue that leads the Twins to an improved offense in 2014.
- Mauer plays more games at the level of performance that he has already established
- Willingham rebounds to pre-2012 form, or just slightly worse (126 OPS+ from 2009-2011, it would be unwise to expect his 2012 form).
- Hicks and Arcia improve. This seems reasonable considering their talent, age and the fact that Hicks couldn't get any worse.
- Dozier improves. For all the praise we gave Dozier last year, he was exactly league-average offensively (100 OPS+). He was better than that from June on though.
- If Hicks falters, the Twins can go to Alex Presley instead of Clete Thomas, Presley is a much better hitter than Thomas.
- While Suzuki certainly cannot match Morneau's production in 2013, Pinto could. If the Twins tire of Suzuki's bat or Pinto forces their hand, he could easily match Morneau's 104 OPS+.
- Eduardo Escobar should get Jamey Carroll's at-bats from last year. Escobar was nothing special last year, but he's young and his OPS+ (74) was significantly better than Carroll's (53).
So far, the two biggest reasons that have been cited for the Twins having a worse offense are the Morneau for Suzuki swap (legit) and the energy level of the veterans during Spring Training (subjective at best, unfair and irrelevant at worst).
The lineup doesn't look great right now, but I think the dial has swung just a little too far toward the cliff, when there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic and realistic at the same time.
Edited by Brad Swanson, 23 March 2014 - 08:29 PM.