Despite the offseason feeling incomplete, spring training is officially upon us. Pitchers and catchers are already in Fort Meyers, and the first full squad workout for the Twins will take place Monday. Let’s try to get away from the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado rumors and tackle a question that is starting to feel like an elephant in the room. What will the Twins’ batting order look like? There are a lot of layers to this, and we will likely get a glimpse of Rocco Baldelli‘s thinking based on the lineups he goes with in spring training games. For now, all we can do is speculate, so let’s do just that.
The big question seems quite clear, and all the other dominos should fall into place after its answered. Who in the world is going to hit first and second? Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer have filled those spots in recent years, but now both have moved on. What the Twins do here will tell us a lot about how they view the different members of their young core. We may have already gotten an indication of that based on the Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler extensions. A great case can be made for those two to fill the top spots in the lineup. They are the two most disciplined hitters on the team, so both profile as guys that can get on base a lot. The front office is also fully invested in their success in the wake of the extensions. It makes sense to put the players you trust in positions to succeed.
Byron Buxton will also get consideration at the top of the lineup. He profiles as more of a traditional leadoff hitter with his speed, but I don’t expect him to fill one of these two spots in April. He first needs to prove he can consistently hit major league pitching.
Then we get to Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano. Both seem like classic middle of the order hitters, but Cruz is a sneaky candidate. He has good plate discipline, and you could argue he is the best pure hitter on the team. I see no chance Sano hits at the top. Like Buxton, he has a lot to prove after last season.
Then we get to Eddie Rosario. I would argue that Rosario is the best offensive player on the team. He is the safest bet to spend the most games hitting first, second, or third.
So where does this leave us? There seem to be four legitimate candidates to fill the top two spots. Those would be Polanco, Cruz, Rosario, and Kepler. Buxton could make a push with a monster spring, but I don’t see that as of now. It’s likely that the best hitters will hit at the top, and that will change throughout the season. Hopefully players emerge and take these spots, but you can expect to see a decent amount of fluctuation. Here is my prediction for the Opening Day lineup as February, 17.
1. Jorge Polanco
2. Nelson Cruz
3. Eddie Rosario
4. Miguel Sano
5. Max Kepler
6. C.J. Cron
7. Jonathan Schoop
8. Jason Castro
9. Byron Buxton
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