On the day that would have been the Twins season opener, manager Rocco Baldelli declined to reveal the lineup he would have submitted.
“I’m going to drag that one out until the very end,” Baldelli said on a conference call with reporters. “And hopefully everyone will enjoy it when it finally arrives.”
That’s no fun, Rocco.
Baldelli’s lineup construction has been a popular topic for fans and media ever since Josh Donaldson arrived in January. A team that set an MLB record for home runs last season looks even more powerful on paper with Donaldson’s name in it. Rocco has plenty of options in putting it all together.
The Twins home opener against Oakland was scheduled for today. But while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the world to pause and stay home, I put on my Rocco hat and wrote down the lineup I would unveil.
It’s highly unlikely Baldelli will stick with one preferred lineup throughout the season. He used 145 different batting orders last season based on pitching matchups, injuries, rest days and other variables. So this is a moving target.
But here is my lineup with explanation beneath once games do resume:
- Luis Arraez 2B
- Josh Donaldson 3B
- Nelson Cruz DH
- Max Kepler RF
- Miguel Sano 1B
- Jorge Polanco SS
- Eddie Rosario LF
- Mitch Garver C
- Byron Buxton CF
The biggest question, of course, comes at the leadoff spot. Do you go with Arraez or stick with Kepler?
It’s a tough call because Kepler obviously thrived as the leadoff hitter last season, hitting 32 of his home runs in the No. 1 spot. A 1-0 lead after one batter is a nice way to start a game.
But I’m a traditionalist so I’m going with Arraez. I like the idea of having a hitter with his discipline and talent at the top. Arraez’s .399 on-base percentage as a rookie ranked among MLB’s best. He batted .334 in 92 games.
Arraez just looks a natural hitter so there’s no reason to think he will suffer a significant regression. So I put him in the leadoff spot to set the table for the Bomba Squad.
Donaldson has spent a big part of his career in the No. 2 hole, and another no-brainer is to keep Cruz in his usual spot.
I’ll move Kepler to cleanup, between righties Cruz and Sano. Polanco batted second 125 games last season so this is an adjustment for him.
Then, not a bad bottom third of the lineup, eh? A guy who posted 32 HRs and 109 RBIs batting seventh, followed by a guy who smashed 31 home runs as a part-time catcher and one of the fastest players in baseball who puts pressure on defenses when he’s healthy and in the lineup.
OK, your turn. Give your lineup and, if you want, your reasons for constructing it that way.