Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CAMPAIGN: Elect Mauer for number two hitter


Earlier last week, I looked into some of the Twins possible candidates for the leadoff hitter role in 2013. With Denard Span and Ben Revere traded to the National League, there is some question about who will step up and earn the leadoff spot out of spring training. Aaron Hicks looks like the leadoff hitter of the future but that doesn't mean that he will star the year in Minnesota. This could leave a big hole in the first spot in the batting order. 

One of the names that I discussed as a possibility for the leadoff spot was catcher Joe Mauer. He consistently gets on base and this is a huge part of being the first batter in the order. In the end, I knew that the Twins most likely won't move their $23 million man to the leadoff role but he could still find success in that position.

With Ron Gardenhire as manager, it seems most likely that Mauer will be penciled into the number three spot in the order for most of next season. That is where Mauer got the majority of his at-bats in 2012 and there is no reason to think that would be different in the coming year. For the Twins to find more success in 2013, I am offering up another option.

Mauer should be moved to the number two spot in the order.

This seems like a plan that plenty of fans could get behind and support. For too long, fans have become accustom to seeing the number two spot in the order being filled by a light hitting middle infielder or an outfielder that slaps the ball. It is time to take back the number two spot in the order!

It could be tough enough to find a body for the first spot in the order on Opening Day. This could make it twice as hard to find someone for the number two spot. If Hicks is sent to Rochester for a little more experience, that would leave Darin Mastroianni or Jamey Carroll for the first couple spots in the order. These player might be able to find success there but having Mauer at number two would be much more beneficial.

The Twins tried Carroll near the top of the order at the beginning of last season and it didn't work out so great. Over the course of the season, those numbers would even out a little but they still weren't the best. As a number two hitter, he batted .260/.330/.296 over 42 games. He was much more effective as bottom of the order hitter.

Other options for the Twins for the number two spot are even scarier. Depending on who wins the starting middle infield jobs out of spring training, there could be a host of very light hitting players fighting for the number two spot. Besides Carroll, the other candidates are Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, and Eduardo Escobar. None of these three men have a career OBP of over .300 and it is hard to imagine them getting the opportunity to hit that early in the line-up.

That leaves Mauer as the obvious choice to move up one spot in the batting order. As Twins fans know, Mauer isn't going to hit for a ton of power so it isn’t essential to have him in the middle of the order. He gets on base at an incredible rate and that skill should be utilized higher as the number two hitter.

The number two hitter role isn't completely foreign to Mauer as he has started 73 games in this position during the course of his career. Besides the number three spot in the order, he has accumulated more at-bats in the number two spot than all of the other spots combined. It's a small sample size when compared to the rest of his career but he has a higher slugging percentage when he bats in this spot.

As far as the rest of the batting order, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau would be able to slide up one spot to keep the middle of the line-up as a threat. Willingham is coming off the best season of his career and he could thrive as the number three hitter. Morneau will be entering next season after his first fully healthy offseason in multiple years.

Overall, the Twins are going to need a lot of things to break right for them to find success next season. The rotation could be a mess and it doesn't look like there will be much help coming in 2013. Mauer moving to the number two spot in the line-up could be a small step to making the turn for the future. He seems to fit the mold of a number two hitter and this spot looks to be open on the current roster.

It only seems natural to "Elect Mauer for the number two hitter!"

No comments: