Rand: Which Twins will step up to the plate?

  • Updated: March 14, 2014 - 11:40 AM
hide

Oswaldo Arcia, at bat against Chicago last Aug. 18 at Target Field, showed promise as a rookie and has the potential to lead his team to a semi-decent season. The pressure is on Joe Mauer, too, as he takes his place at first base.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins put out a starting lineup Thursday featuring these players as the first seven in the order: Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Trevor Plouffe and Jason Kubel.

There is reason to believe all seven could be in the Opening Day lineup, in that order. Each of them has question marks and is critical to the Twins’ ­relative potential for success. What I’ve attempted to do is rank those seven in terms of their importance. I’m defining “important” here as: If everyone in this lineup has an average year, the Twins will struggle to score runs. But if Player X performs above expectations, he has the ­ability to transform the lineup into something that might not be historically bad.

1. Oswaldo Arcia: He showed enough promise as a rookie to make the top of this list. If Arcia is given ­regular playing time and blossoms into a 25-homer, .500 slugging percentage outfielder even though he’s only 22, it would take a lot of pressure off the rest of the lineup. If he regresses, the lineup starts to look even thinner.

2. Josh Willingham: His advancing age (35) should lead to legitimate concerns that his injury-plagued 2013, when he had an OPS (. 709) that was 100 points lower than any other full season in the majors, wasn’t a mirage. But if he can trend back up toward his 2006-2012 form, it would give the lineup teeth.

3. Aaron Hicks: It’s not automatic that he wins the starting job in center field, but he certainly has the most upside. The Twins need to find out if he’s the guy, and there’s really no time like the present. If he could even hit .250 with power and speed, the lineup is off to a decent start.

4. Joe Mauer: He’s the Twins’ most accomplished hitter by a wide margin, but he winds up a few spots down on this list because it will be hard for Mauer to exceed what we expect from his first full year at first base: 15 homers and an OPS approaching .900. If he suddenly becomes Mauer circa 2009, it would obviously be huge.

5. Trevor Plouffe: Is there a consistent home run hitter lurking in there? With Miguel Sano out, there’s really no competition. But this is also probably Plouffe’s last chance to prove it.

6. Jason Kubel: Ryan Doumit averaged 16 homers and 65 RBI the past two years. The Twins traded him, and if Kubel exceeds those numbers, it would be a nice surprise but it wouldn’t make or break the lineup.

7. Brian Dozier: He’s this low for similar reasons as Mauer. It’s hard to imagine him taking a huge leap from where he was last year, but a bump from that solid year would be welcome.

Michael Rand

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Phoenix 97
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
UCLA 82
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close