While the wait for the Twins to add a reliable pitcher to the starting rotation continues, we might as well focus on what should once again be a strength of the team: the offense.
Twins bats were among the toughest outs in the majors last season, especially after the All-Star break. And that's exactly why Twins skipper Paul Molitor shouldn't mess too much with the lineup he used late last season.
If you're not convinced the lineup posted below will be productive this season, consider that the Twins averaged a whopping 5.57 runs per game after the All-Star break last summer, up from a pre-All-Star break average of 4.58 runs per game, according to ESPN.
Possible lineup based on late last season
- Brian Dozier, 2B
- Joe Mauer, 1B
- Jorge Polanco, SS
- Miguel Sano, 3B
- Eddie Rosario, LF
- Byron Buxton, CF
- Max Kepler, RF
- Eduardo Escobar, DH
- Jason Castro, C
Dozier and Mauer appear locked into the first two holes barring Molitor going with Buxton, but considering Dozier loves hitting leadoff and Buxton has struggled there, it would be a surprise to see anyone other than Dozier bat first on opening day.
Yes, Polanco can hit third
Why bat Polanco in the lineup's most valuable position? Because he slugged a beastly .512 with 8 homers and 22 RBI in just 116 at-bats as the three-hitter last season.
Who's to say Polanco can't repeat the swing that helped him hit a combined .320 with 10 homers, 15 doubles, 2 triples and 42 RBI in August and September?
Sano 4th, Rosario 5th
Sano is the easy choice to bat cleanup, so long as he's eligible to play.
MLB officials have been investigating Sano ever since a Twin Cities photographer accused him on Twitter of sexually harassing her at an autograph session in 2015. According to the Pioneer Press, the investigation should be concluded by the end of February.
Then comes Rosario, whose post-All-Star break numbers last season were nearly identical to three-time MVP Mike Trout's.
- Trout: .285/.429/.552, 17 HR, 11 2B, 36 RBI, 48 BB
- Rosario: .292/.331/.558, 17 HR, 20 2B, 52 RBI, 19 BB
A dangerous bottom four
Buxton hit .344 after the break when he batted sixth, so keep the franchise player there until he hits his way into the top half of the order.
Kepler was one of the few Twins hitters to struggle in the second half, but his ceiling is immense, making him a potentially deadly back-of-order the bat.
Escobar and Castro round out the order. And remember, Escobar didn't hit for a high average but he did blast 9 home runs in September to make Sano's absence all but forgotten.
At the end of this all, there's no guarantee that all of these guys will start 2018 as hot as they finished 2017, but why mess with something so good?
Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Tuesday.