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  • CAMPAIGN: Elect Joe Mauer for #2 Hitter

    Earlier last week, I looked at the Minnesota 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 start the year in Minnesota. This could leave a big hole in the first spot in the batting order.

    One candidate I discussed 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 know the Twins won't move their $23 million man to the leadoff role but he could still find success in that spot. But with Ron Gardenhire as manager, it seems most likely that Mauer will be penciled into the number three spot. 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. However, 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 been accustomed to seeing a light hitting middle infielder or an outfielder that slaps the ball take the second most plate appearances. It is time to take back the number two spot in the order!

    While it could be tough enough to find a body for the first spot in the order on Opening Day, it 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 players 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. 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. 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 open on the current roster.

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


    This article was originally published in blog: CAMPAIGN: Elect Mauer for number two hitter started by Cody Christie
    Comments 54 Comments
    1. Expression451's Avatar
      Expression451 -
      I agree with you. Mauer should be the number two hitter or the leadoff hitter, but you brought up one of the biggest problems in all of Twindom... Gardenhire is the manager.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      The old adage is that the best hitter on your team should hit third. I would be very interested in data to support or argue this point.
      Regardless of what the age old wisdom is, we have no one on our team with a high enough OBP to keep Mauer batting third. I vote Mauer for number two hitter.
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      The old adage is that the best hitter on your team should hit third. I would be very interested in data to support or argue this point.
      Regardless of what the age old wisdom is, we have no one on our team with a high enough OBP to keep Mauer batting third. I vote Mauer for number two hitter.
      yeah, old adage also doesn't account for a manager that insists on following the play second bat second philosophy. Especially when we can't find a second baseman that can OBP over.. what...275?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Obviously a hell yes from me.

      The old adage is wrong. The best OBP and overall hitters should be batting 1,2, and 4, with a speedier type batting first and a power guy 4th. The guy batting 3rd should be a slugger because he often comes up with no one on base and two out in the first inning (Willingham). Batting fifth should be another slugger, but one who shouldn't live and die with it and simply be a HR or K guy.

      Disclaimer: lineup construction is somewhat overrated and does really only take shape in the first inning (though it can still be the case in 1-4 innings in tight games).

      That said:

      X
      Mauer
      Willingham
      Morneau (here's to hoping that he returns to form in 2013.
      Doumit
      Plouffe
      Parmelee
      X
      X

      would seem to make the most sense.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Hells yeah.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      For me, Mauer hits too well with RISP to be batting 2nd.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Obviously a hell yes from me..
      But that would mean moving him to second base or short stop, no? Isn't it illegal to not have a middle infielder in the second spot?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      For me, Mauer hits too well with RISP to be batting 2nd.
      Here's the problem I have with this, he's going to be hitting behind the same couple of guys regardless of if he hits 2nd, or 3rd.

      You can either move him, along with the rest of the good hitters up in the order, giving them all additional plate appearances, or you can leave him where he is and have two weak players at the top of the lineup instead of just one.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      This is exactly why we need Hicks here at the beginning of the season. We don't have an effective leadoff hitter. *There's news the Twins are seeking Scott Podsednik . He would be a good addition to the team, but the question is where? As the CF? As a fourth or fifth outfielder? If the Twins got him, and kept all of their present players, he could be an effective #2 hitter. But I don't think he's an effective defensive CF; he would be a 4th or 5th outfielder.
    1. jctwins's Avatar
      jctwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      But that would mean moving him to second base or short stop, no? Isn't it illegal to not have a middle infielder in the second spot?
      Great question, and I believe the answer is yes.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I like Mauer at 2, Eric and I discussed just this idea a couple episodes ago on Talk To Contact, Mauer looks good at 2, especially with the big bats behind him to bring him around the bases.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I would vote for this as well. More ABs for Mauer would be a good thing, unless Mauer starts showing more power.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      I would vote for this as well. More ABs for Mauer would be a good thing, unless Mauer starts showing more power.
      So if Mauer starts showing more power you want to give him fewer plate appearances?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lee_the_twins_fan View Post
      This is exactly why we need Hicks here at the beginning of the season. We don't have an effective leadoff hitter. *There's news the Twins are seeking Scott Podsednik . He would be a good addition to the team, but the question is where? As the CF? As a fourth or fifth outfielder? If the Twins got him, and kept all of their present players, he could be an effective #2 hitter. But I don't think he's an effective defensive CF; he would be a 4th or 5th outfielder.
      I would not count on Hicks to be an effective leadoff hitter this year nor would I would put him there.

      If Podsednik is brought in then the Twins are clearly planning on keeping Hicks in AAA. Podsednik fits as a platoon partner with Mastro. His defense in CF will be another reason that our pitchers are crying though. And there isn't any room for 5 OF'ers on the team with 12 pitchers, 3 catchers (1 at DH) and a mess in the IF. The team needs 2 backup IF's although I wish one of them was a better hitting 3Bman.

      As for Mauer? He gets my vote as a #2 hitter. The team has 4-5 power hitters to put behind him (Morneau, Willy, Doumit, Plouffe and Parmelee) and a few wimpy contact hitters in front of him. The OBP's of these hitters aren't awful but I prefer not to give them extra AB's.
    1. Miraclemat's Avatar
      Miraclemat -
      I don't like it. Mauer is a double play machine if the leadoff hitter happens to get on base. We need a guy who can lay down a bunt, hit the opposite way, etc to give Mauer a guy standing on 2nd base when he comes to the plate.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      i think my head exploded reading the last post.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Mauer should bat leadoff. Just think of how many double plays he wouldn't be able to hit into. Plus a 400+on base percentage would be a great way to start off the game. Podsedinek would be a CF/4th OF placeholder till Hicks comes up and to provide competetiton to make sure Hicks is ready. He would be a solid 1 or 2 hitter. Carroll would work as a 2 hitter as well just not as top choice.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      i think my head exploded reading the last post.
      I'm not sure there's a more worthless stat to judge a batter by than GDP.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      You've got my vote. I like:
      1. Mastro
      2. Mauer
      3. Morneau
      4. Willingham
      5. Parmelee
      6. Doumit
      7. Plouffe
      8. Carroll
      9. Dozier

      I think Morneau will be the best overall hitter on the team next year, and I don't think you hurt yourself by having 2 lefties in a row. When healthy, both Mauer and Morneau have had great splits. I expect Morneau is returning to that type of production. If he doesn't, batting order is moot as the offense won't be effective.
    1. DelawareTwinsFan's Avatar
      DelawareTwinsFan -
      Always felt Mauer was a prototypical #2 hitter. Great bat control, hits to all fields but maybe a bit too often to left. I would be concerned about his propensity to hitting into double plays. Am I wrong but does it seem that Mauer doesn't like hitting when runners steal?
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