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If Nelson Cruz is injured, Mitch Garver should get all of his at-bats

Garver needs to be in the lineup on a daily basis.

It sounds like the Twins could be without the services of Nelson Cruz who's dealing with a wrist injury.

If he's indeed sidelined, Mitch Garver should be getting the bulk of the at-bats in the meantime, specifically at designated hitter.

Garver is slashing an absurd .352/.439/.775 for an OPS of 1.214, with eight home runs, 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBI this season. Those are, dare I say, Barry Bonds-like numbers. 

Now, he's only played in 23 of 38 games because he's been battling time with Jason Castro – who also is hitting the cover off the ball – and Willians Astudillo, who's now off the injured list.

Keeping Garver off the field but keeping a bat in his hands will limit his injury risk, although he can mix in at first base when need be on nights he's not the catcher or DH. 

Let's assume he'll play 90 more games – that's only 113 games by season's end, slightly above his current 60 percent playing rate. At his current pace of production, playing 113 games would result in Garver slugging 35 home runs with 85 RBI, 50 walks, 20 doubles and 95 strikeouts. 

Barry Bonds-like?

Not a full Bonds season, but in 1999 when Bonds played 112 games he hit .262/.389/.617 with 34 HR, 83 RBI, 20 doubles, 73 walks and 62 strikeouts. 

Coincidence? Probably, but fascinating nonetheless.

He certainly isn't walking as much as Bonds did, but if he continues to rake at the plate, pitchers will could begin to fear him.

Manager Rocco Baldelli has primarily used Garver at two different spots in the lineup. He's made six starts as the leadoff hitter and seven starts batting seventh. His other five starts saw him batting fifth twice, and once each in the fourth, sixth and eighth spots. 

Cruz is out Monday night when the Twins open a series against the Angels, and Garver is batting leadoff as the DH. 

Leadoff hitters aren't what they used to be. Nowadays, more and more teams are putting their best hitter at the top of the lineup. Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts won Most Valuable Player last season as a leadoff hitter.

Max Kepler has done the bulk of the leading off for the Twins this season, and although he's racking up extra-base hits (15) and has a solid slugging percentage (.460), he's probably better suited for the middle of the order.

Kepler is hitting just .237 and has an OBP of .307, which isn't exactly leadoff hitter material. So a top of the lineup of Garver-Polanco-Rosario, if Cruz is out with a wrist injury, could do a ton of damage.

There's also a legitimate case for Garver to be included in the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities this summer.

Heck, you might make a case that there could be multiple Twins in this year's derby field. Eddie Rosario has 13 home runs, which is only two off the lead in the AL, and Kepler and Cron are creeping towards double-digit dingers and it's not even June.

Garver might come down to earth eventually, but with the way he's hitting, he should be featured more in the lineup – and specifically at the top of the lineup – as the Twins get into the dog days of summer.

Miguel Sano is soon to return to the Twins, and will command at-bats as soon as he's up with the team. But Garver should not be out of the lineup so long as he's hitting as well as he is. 

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