Is Joe Mauer the sneaky most exciting player for the 2017 Minnesota Twins? That's one of the things Joe Nelson argues in our GoMN Twins preview podcast, in which we go over five big questions for the upcoming season.
Joe Nelson (GoMN's sports director) and I talk about Ervin Santana and the rotation's potential (5:18), whether Berrios could be a Johan-level talent (12:17), the most exciting young players to watch for (14:13), Joe Mauer's sneaky excitement (16:18), and what the team's identity could be (19:38).
You can stream our conversation below, or download the .mp3 directly here. And tweet your takes at Joe Nelson here.
Here's a condensed snippet of Joe Nelson's argument in favor of Mauer:
"You're like OK, this guy's a future Hall of Famer probably and now he's sneaky exciting?
Well that's because he hasn't been very good in the last three, four years. But it looks like he'll be batting clean-up. ... The regular No. 4-hitter against right-handed starting pitchers. I don't know how they're going to use him against lefties yet, haven't seen.
Here's why I like it. I think it's the first sign of the new leadership. Derek Falvey, the Chief Baseball Officer, and Thad Levine, who came over from the Rangers, the GM. They like to blend gut feeling and analytics, which is, to me, a dream leadership group. I love that approach because they're not just going to be numbers-based and go all Billy Beane on the bit.
Here's the reason Mauer at No. 4 could be exciting: He provides some veteran contact protection for Byron Buxton.
If you put Miguel Sano [at clean-up], Buxton's not going to see any good pitches, because [opposing teams] know that they can strike out Miguel Sano. But batting behind Mauer in the 5-hole is going to be Miguel Sano on a lot of nights. And that means Sano is gonna have a guy with a high on-base percentage in front of him, which means more RBI potential for one of the biggest bats and weapons the Twins have.
That's exciting to me, and I think that's a really brainiac move."