So far this spring, Byron Buxton has served as the leadoff hitter in every game he has been in the line-up. This positioning may point to the team considering him for the leadoff spot, or it may be a way to get him more in-game action this spring. Buxton has started 33 games as the leadoff hitter throughout his career and posted a .315 OBP and a .514 OPS. His speed would be a clear weapon out of the leadoff spot, making him an intriguing player to feature in the leadoff role.
Minnesota also has other options to fill the leadoff role. Luis Arraez has the contact and on-base skills to fit the mold of a leadoff hitter. In his career, he has batted leadoff more than any other line-up spot while hitting .320/.371/.398 (.769). However, Arraez doesn't have a regular line-up spot, and his knees issues have made his running painful to watch. Last season, his sprint speed ranked in the 45th percentile, but the team may still want his bat-to-ball skills in the leadoff spot.
Coming off a season where he was team MVP, Jorge Polanco will likely continue to be used in the second spot in the line-up. He has batted second in nearly 40% of his big-league appearances, where he has hit .288/.345/.478 (.823). Last season, he accumulated double-digit steals for the second time in his career, and that may point to his ankles being healthy for the first time in multiple seasons. A healthy Buxton batting in front of Polanco can be an exciting one-two punch at the top of the line-up.
Polanco played over 150 games for the second time in his career last season, but there are other options for the line-up's second spot when he is given a day off. As mentioned above, Buxton and Arraez have the skills necessary to bat at the top of the line-up when Polanco sits out a game. Depending on the handiness of the pitcher, Max Kepler, a left-handed hitter,
Carlos Correa is the highest-paid infielder in MLB history, and he needs to bat in the middle of the Twins line-up. He has made over 230 starts in the number three and four spots throughout his career. From both of these spots, his OPS is north of .820, and he hit 83 career home runs. The higher Correa bats in the order, the more at-bats he will accumulate throughout the season. Batting him lower than third in the line-up takes away from the offensive value he can be providing to the team.
In the past, Correa has dealt with injuries, including missing time in multiple seasons because of back issues. He has averaged more than 115 games per season, but there will be times when he isn't on the field. When that occurs, moving Buxton to the third spot allows him more opportunities to drive in the leadoff runners. Alex Kirilloff is returning from injury, but he projects to be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Twins over the next decade.
Minnesota's line-up has undoubtedly taken on a different look since the lockout ended with Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver out of the equation. However, Correa adds another experienced bat that has been accustomed to connecting for big hits in the playoffs.
How do you think the Twins will shape the top of their line-up this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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