Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mauer links and lineup chatter

Monday's print column explores Joe Mauer's surprising home run surge. I mentioned an Aaron Gleeman piece on the same topic, posted Friday on NBC Sports' Circling the Bases blog. Here it is.  

The Pioneer Press has a piece on Mauer and Justin Morneau — personality driven, not analytical — that's entertaining. 

On to the lineup question: Ron Gardenhire on Thursday moved Mauer and Morneau up a slot each in the batting order. The Twins scored 20 runs. They stayed in the 2 and 3 holes on Friday; the Twins scored 11 runs. Status quo remained on Saturday; they scored six runs.

It's hard to argue with 37 runs in three games, and I assume the lineup for tonight's ESPN game will have Mauer hitting second and Morneau third again. But Gardy still prefers Mauer three and Morneau four. He just doesn't have anybody who gets on base to put between Denard Span and Mauer.

Here's the thing — to the limited extent that lineup positioning matters, Gardenhire's better off with Mauer two and Morneau three. Why? Because they'll get more at-bats over the course of the season hitting second and third than third and fourth.

The three guys in front of Mauer in Gardenhire's preferred lineup will generally be Span and two middle infielders (Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris or Alexi Casilla, who I still expect will eventually wind up with the second base job). The three guys in front of Mauer in the current lineup are ... Span and two middle infielders. It's going to be the same people in front of the M&M Boys no matter what.

So give the good hitters more at-bats and take them away from Matt Tolbert. Please.

1 comment:

  1. Good point on having the two infielders before Mauer and Morneau regardless if they bat 2-3 or 3-4. It reminds me of spring training when the Twins announced their rotation, which was going to be Baker, Liriano, Slowey, Perkins, Blackburn. When asked about the order, Rick Anderson said that it caused the rotation to be R-L-R-L-R. But, I felt that Blackburn was the better pitcher and deserved to be swapped with Perkins, which at first glance would cause the rotation to be R-L-R-R-L, but once you got to Blackburn's turn in the order, then the rotation became Blackburn, Perkins, Baker, Liriano, Slowey....or R-L-R-L-R like Anderson wanted.