The Minnesota Twins look to build on a 2017 season that saw them in the top 10 in many offensive categories. What lineups could we see in 2018?
In 2017, the Minnesota Twins were in the top 10 in runs, hits, total bases, RBIs, average, on-base percentage, and OPS. In other words, they have a potent group of offensive weapons heading into the 2018 season. While the Twins may add another position player or two to the roster, they likely will play a role off the bench given the depth of the lineup as is. With this in mind, let’s take a look at five potential lineups in 2018.
Starting lineup (Plan A)
1. CF Byron Buxton
2. 1B Joe Mauer
3. 3B Miguel Sano
4. 2B Brian Dozier
5. LF Eddie Rosario
6. RF Max Kepler
7. SS Jorge Polanco
8. DH Eduardo Escobar
9. C Jason Castro
There are lots of things to like about this lineup and in the end, this should be the starting lineup when the 2018 season begins. Of course, reigning AL Manager of the Year Paul Molitor will have something to say about that.
The only players that I could see flip-flopping in this order are Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier, although I’d slide Buxton up a spot and move Sano down to cleanup in that case. Nevertheless, the reason Dozier has been the Twins’ leadoff hitter over the last few seasons is the fact Minnesota has had no one else ready to do it.
That being said, Buxton finally broke out in the second half of 2017, hitting .300 along with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Sure, he still has to work on his strikeout to walk ratio as he finished with 150 strikeouts and only 38 walks. Even so, Buxton is the fastest player in the league and if he hits .280 or higher with a .340-plus on-base percentage, it’s worth putting him on top regardless of the strikeout rate. I mean, he went 29-for-30 on stolen bases and broke the club record for consecutive stolen bases with 24, so he’s the perfect man for the top spot if he’s getting on base.
As a result, Molitor can move Dozier down to the cleanup spot where his home runs can do more damage. Additionally, he’ll make teams pitch to Miguel Sano considering Dozier is just as scary to face after the big man.
One other thing to note about this lineup is that Eduardo Escobar starts the year in the lineup. After filling in admirably for Sano last season, I can’t see how he returns to the bench unless the team makes a big move for a veteran free agent. In fact, I could also see Escobar start at third base with Sano sliding into the DH role, even if it’s just for the short-term.
Altogether, this lineup has the ability to do lots of damage. With Sano back in the fold, it’ll be even better given the likes of Buxton, Polanco, and Escobar largely broke out after Sano’s injury. On a side note, this lineup will be used as a basis for the other potential lineups.