While the pitching staff may leave a lot to be desired, the Minnesota Twins’ lineup does provide its fair share of optimism. Last year’s lineup remained relatively healthy as the team saw strong bounce back seasons from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and a breakout season from Josh Wilingham. For 2013, the Twins are fielding another potent lineup that should carry the team for most of the season.
The projected lineup to open the season for the Twins looks like this:
1. Aaron Hicks CF
2. Brian Dozier 2B
3. Mauer C
4. Willingham LF
5. Morneau 1B
6. Chris Parmelee RF
7. Ryan Doumit DH
8. Trevor Plouffe 3B
9. Pedro Florimon SS
Key reserves for the Twins off their bench will be Eduardo Escobar, Wilkin Ramirez, Darin Mastroianni and Jamey Carroll.
While the bench is very underwhelming, the Twins do field a solid overall lineup heading into the season. While Mauer has always been a prototypical number two hitter who hits number three in the lineup, he has been a steady producer in the middle of the Twins’ lineup for almost a decade. Based on how Mauer performed in spring training, he is prepared to have another great season with an average near .350.
Behind Mauer, you have Willingham and Morneau, both of whom have a future that is in question within the organization. Morneau is entering the final year of his contract and Wilingham is entering year two of a very affordable contract which makes both of them very attractive trade candidates. Morneau and Willingham both had solid springs and are ready to have great seasons with Morneau poised to return to his MVP form of 2006.
When you look at players like Plouffe, Parmelee and Doumit, you begin to enter an area of uncertainty in the Twins’ lineup. All three displayed varying amounts of talent last year and each showed they have the potential to hit 20 plus HR and drive in 80 or more RBI. The problem with these three is that they are unpredictable. Plouffe went on a tear for a one month stretch last season and then vanished the rest of the season following an injury to his wrist.
Parmelee spent a good portion of last season at Triple-A, but put up solid all-around numbers that earned him an everyday spot in the Twins’ lineup. Doumit also showed the versatility and pop in his bat that the Twins had hoped for when they signed him as a free agent last season. If all three can show moderate signs of consistency, the Twins’ lineup could be very productive.
Outside of those six players, the remaining three are huge question marks. Hicks showed in spring training that he could be a rookie of the year candidate that could hit near.300 with 15 HR and 70 RBI. Hicks’ possesses the speed, arm and plate discipline to be a great all-around player at the big league level. At the same time, Hicks is still a rookie who hasn’t played above the Double-A level, so there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding him.
Florimon and Dozier both struggled to hit at a respectable level and each has flaws in their game that put into question their long-term value and position within the organization. Florimon can’t seem to hit, but is very talented defensively. Dozier can hit better than Florimon, but struggles to make even the most basic plays defensively. This creates a great balancing act that the Twins may be forced to part with if either becomes detrimental to their overall success in the future.
The Twins are loaded with talented prospects that could make their debut this season such as Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana or Eddie Rosario. Mega prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are still a few years away from being everyday players at the majors for the Twins, but their arrival will spark huge things for this organization.
In terms of 2013, the Twins have the speed, offense and power to score a lot of runs and be an above average offensive unit. However, the team will have to solve some of the problems and areas of uncertainty that currently surround the team. With a pitching staff that is poised to surrender a lot of runs, the Twins are going to lean on their lineup heavily until their pitchers begin to figure things out. While 2013 may be a transitional year for the pitching staff, the lineup should remain competitive and among the league’s best.