3. DH Miguel Sano
After Mauer, the big fella steps to the plate, Miguel Sano. While he underwent offseason shin surgery, the Twins still like his chances of being full go at the start of the 2018 campaign.
Even so, one has to wonder if he’ll start the year at third base. Assuming he won’t see much time at the position during spring training, there’s reason to believe he could start the season as the designated hitter. In this prediction, that’s where I have him, although there’s a chance he’ll still end up as the starting third baseman.
While Sano fits as the cleanup hitter, he may fit better in the three hole, especially if the man behind him continues slugging balls over the fence. The reason being is that the All-Star slugger is very strikeout prone finishing with 178 and 173 strikeouts, respectively, over the last two seasons. Furthermore, he wasn’t able to play a full season in each of those years due to stints on the disabled list, so the strikeout numbers were definitely on pace to break 200 in each season.
In the worst case scenario, the Twins would likely rather see him finish the first inning with a strikeout rather than start the second inning with a strikeout to begin a game. Of course, that logic doesn’t hold true if someone gets on base in front of him, but even then, there are opportunities for a two- or three-run homer with Sano at the plate in the three spot.
In reality, this may sound like a dumb reason to place him in this spot, but it takes something minor like that to decide who hits three and who hits four in this case. Additionally, the next batter produces similar power numbers and has plenty of experience leading off an inning.