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  • Ranking the AL Central Hitters

    There are a million ways to try to prepare for an upcoming season. In just four days, the Minnesota Twins will be at Target Field taking on the division-favorite Detroit Tigers.

    Everyone knows that the Twins starting pitchers will not be able to compete on paper with the other pitchers in the division, but what about the hitters?



    Let's check out the projected starters for the AL Central teams and compare them by position. Below, I'll go position-by-position with my ranking of the players. In the comments, be sure to post your rankings, and let's see how we did at the end of the year.

    Catchers


    1. Joe Mauer - Minnesota Twins
    2. Carlos Santana - Cleveland Indians
    3. Salvador Perez - Kansas City Royals
    4. Alex Avila - Detroit Tigers
    5. Tyler Flowers - Chicago White Sox


    First Basemen


    1. Prince Fielder - Detroit Tigers
    2. Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins
    3. Nick Swisher - Cleveland Indians
    4. Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox
    5. Eric Hosmer - Kansas City Royals


    Second Basemen


    1. Jason Kipnis - Cleveland Indians
    2. Gordon Beckham - Chicago White Sox
    3. Omar Infante - Detroit Tigers
    4. Brian Dozier - Minnesota Twins
    5. Chris Getz - Kansas City Royals


    Third Basemen


    1. Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
    2. Mike Moustakus - Kansas City Royals
    3. Trevor Plouffe - Minnesota Twins
    4. Lonnie Chisenhall - Cleveland Indians
    5. Jeff Keppinger - Chicago White Sox


    Shortstop


    1. Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland Indians
    2. Alexi Ramirez - Chicago White Sox
    3. Jhonny Peralta - Detroit Tigers
    4. Alcides Escobar - Kansas City
    5. Pedro Florimon - Minnesota Twins


    Left Field


    1. Alex Gordon - Kansas City
    2. Josh Willingham - Minnesota Twins
    3. Dayan Viciedo - Chicago White Sox
    4. Michael Brantley - Cleveland Indians
    5. Andy Dirks - Detroit Tigers


    Center Field


    1. Austin Jackson - Detroit Tigers
    2. Michael Bourn - Cleveland Indians
    3. Aaron Hicks - Minnesota Twins
    4. Alejandro de Aza - Chicago White Sox
    5. Lorenzo Cain - Kansas City Royals


    Right Field


    1. Torii Hunter - Detroit Tigers
    2. Alex Rios - Chicago White Sox
    3. Jeff Francoer - Kansas City Royals
    4. Drew Stubbs - Cleveland Indians
    5. Chris Parmelee - Minnesota Twins


    Designated Hitter


    1. Billy Butler - Kansas City Royals
    2. Victor Martinez - Detroit Tigers
    3. Adam Dunn - Chicago White Sox
    4. Ryan Doumit - Minnesota Twins
    5. Mark Reynolds - Cleveland Indians


    So, there you have the postional rankings for the AL Century. Based on my rankings, if I were to add up the total numbers (of their placement within each position), there is a clear-cut paper projection winner. That is the Detriot Tigers.

    So, the Tigers have a starting staff of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, yet their offense will also be strong. Miguel Cabrera is coming off of a Triple Crown season. Prince Fielder was terrific in his debut season in Detroit. The also are adding Torii Hunter and they'll return the potent bat of Victor offense.

    On offense, the Twins are right with the rest of the division and with any pitching will help lead to some more wins in 2013.

    Here are my rankings:


    1. Detroit Tigers - 21
    2. Cleveland Indians - 26
    3. Kansas City Royals - 29
    4. Minnesota Twins - 29
    5. Chicago White Sox - 30


    So again, how would you rank all of the positions, and how does your team, or your favorite?
    This article was originally published in blog: Ranking th AL Central Hitters started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 61 Comments
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Pretty spot on, although ranking Hicks that high coming out of the gate seems a touch optimistic. (which is probably a good thing, since this team is gonna suck )
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Interesting when the whole is better than the sum of its parts (and this is true about the 2012 Twins...) Here are the 2012 AL Central team rankings based on position player aggregate WAR. I have it broken down by offensive WAR (hitters) and defensive WAR (fielders). Clearly the Twins were the cream of the crop (by far) as far as position players went last season in the division. If you discount fielding, their bats were second best to the Indians and they do rank much higher than you have them here, and since there were not many changes from 2012, I still see them being on the top of the division as far as position players go...

      Twins oWAR 19.7 dWAR 2.6 WAR 22.1
      White Sox oWAR 16.6 dWAR -0.7 WAR 16.0
      Royals oWAR 15.5 dWAR 0.3 WAR 15.1
      Indians oWAR 20.4 dWAR -5.2 WAR 15.0
      Tigers oWAR 19.2 dWAR -4.8 WAR 14.6

      (B-R not fangraphs or BP data)
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      I agree with most of the rankings, but I don't know how you come up with Morneau ahead of Konerko?
      Konerko has doubled up on Morneau in WAR over the last 3 years, and Bill James is projecting Konerko to OPS about 55 points higher than Morneau this year.
      Konerko is also a model of consistency and durability.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      I agree with most of the rankings, but I don't know how you come up with Morneau ahead of Konerko?
      Konerko has doubled up on Morneau in WAR over the last 3 years, and Bill James is projecting Konerko to OPS about 55 points higher than Morneau this year.
      Konerko is also a model of consistency and durability.
      It's not an unreasonable prediction. Morneau is 32. Konerko is 37. Morneau showed significant improvement in the second half of 2012 after a lengthy injury. Konerko was playing at full strength.

      I could make an argument for either player and not think I was wrong.

      Really, you could add Swisher in there as well. All three have the chance to post nearly identical numbers in 2013.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      It's not an unreasonable prediction. Morneau is 32. Konerko is 37. Morneau showed significant improvement in the second half of 2012 after a lengthy injury. Konerko was playing at full strength.

      I could make an argument for either player and not think I was wrong.
      Sure, but I'm just asking how he's coming up with these rankings, as in, what is his formula?
      Because if you are ranking Justin ahead of Konerko, it can only be based on gut instinct, or faith, or something like that. You wont find any statistical projection or algorithm that puts Justin ahead of Konerko.
      And if that is the case, that is fine too, but then that changes these rankings should be viewed, IMO.

      And also, I'm not so sure I'm convinced that Justin showed as much "improvement" in the 2nd half, as people think he did.
      He OPS'd 40 points higher in the 2nd half sure, but his SLG actually was the same (actually went down a point), and in fact his isolated power went DOWN an alarming 44 points. Its his AVG that went up, which was buoyed by a 51 point spike in babip. His 2nd half babip was 21 points higher than his career norm.
      So, if I had to look at it objectively, I'd say he improved a little in the second half, but not nearly as much as a brief glance at his overall line would suggest.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Sure, but I'm just asking how he's coming up with these rankings, as in, what is his formula?
      Because if you are ranking Justin ahead of Konerko, it can only be based on gut instinct, or faith, or something like that. You wont find any statistical projection or algorithm that puts Justin ahead of Konerko.
      And if that is the case, that is fine too, but then that changes these rankings should be viewed, IMO.
      A certain amount of "gut" needs to go into any good ranking system.

      Numbers won't tell you that Justin was dealing with a brain injury for the past 2 1/2 seasons. They won't tell you that he had his first healthy offseason since 2009/2010 this winter. They won't tell you that he feels completely healthy for the first time in years. Numbers are great but they don't tell you much about the larger, sweeping issues a player may (or may not) be dealing with that go outside the box scores.

      None of those things mean that Morneau is going to be better than Konerko or Swisher in 2013. But once you factor those things into the equation, it certainly makes the argument a reasonable one.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      A certain amount of "gut" needs to go into any good ranking system.

      Numbers won't tell you that Justin was dealing with a brain injury for the past 2 1/2 seasons. They won't tell you that he had his first healthy offseason since 2009/2010 this winter. They won't tell you that he feels completely healthy for the first time in years. Numbers are great but they don't tell you much about the larger, sweeping issues a player may (or may not) be dealing with that go outside the box scores.

      None of those things mean that Morneau is going to be better than Konerko or Swisher in 2013. But once you factor those things into the equation, it certainly makes the argument a reasonable one.
      See my added 2nd paragraph.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      See my added 2nd paragraph.
      His second half was dragged down badly by September. In July and August, he OPSed at .850, followed by a .660 OPS in September. Not terribly surprising for a guy who hasn't played a full baseball season in three years.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      His second half was dragged down badly by September. In July and August, he OPSed at .850, followed by a .660 OPS in September. Not terribly surprising for a guy who hasn't played a full baseball season in three years.
      His babip was also 43 points above his career norm in July, and 35 points above his career norm in August.
      His line drive% actually went down, and his GB% went up (which is not good for a slugger) so he hit more ground balls, but an unusually high amount of them found their way through.
      I'm not saying he wasnt better in July and August, but I think a closer look at the numbers shows they probably werent the monster months that an initial glance may suggest they were.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      His babip was also 43 points above his career norm in July, and 35 points above his career norm in August.
      His line drive% actually went down, and his GB% went up (which is not good for a slugger) so he hit more ground balls, but an unusually high amount of them found their way through.
      I'm not saying he wasnt better in July and August, but I think a closer look at the numbers shows they probably werent the monster months that an initial glance may suggest they were.
      Oh, I'm not saying they were monster months. In fact, I've said many times that people are overblowing his second half numbers.

      But they were better, which lends weight to an expected improvement. And maybe even more importantly, he looked better. Not very sabr-ly of me to say but his second half ABs looked a lot better, particularly against lefties.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Oh, I'm not saying they were monster months. In fact, I've said many times that people are overblowing his second half numbers.

      But they were better, which lends weight to an expected improvement. And maybe even more importantly, he looked better. Not very sabr-ly of me to say but his second half ABs looked a lot better, particularly against lefties.
      Fair enough.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Sure, but I'm just asking how he's coming up with these rankings, as in, what is his formula?
      Formula = Didn't look at anything, just picked an order based on any information in my head at the time the prediction was made. It's just a fun list, why would I want to bring math into it. It's just predictions. You can use some math, and I'll take my educated guesses, and at the end of the year, we'll both have some right and both have some wrong. Just a list for discussion.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Fair enough.
      I think it's unfair for people to expect a .900 OPS season from Justin. It's not out of the realm of possibility but it is extremely unlikely. For me, the make or break number is .800. If he can get to that point, I'll be satisfied... Anything over that would be fantastic.

      And given his performance after the wrist injury last season, I think that number is pretty reasonable to expect from him (and is only .030 higher than 2012).

      Of course, he could also go completely bonkers and post a .950 season. Or he could hurt his wrist in the middle of April and post a .700 season. Anything is possible with the guy.
    1. Beemo's Avatar
      Beemo -
      The only one that really stands out to me is right field. You must be expecting bad things from Parmelee if you have him being worse than Francoeur.
    1. messed up's Avatar
      messed up -
      I'd rate Getz over Dozier and Konerko at #2
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      The most likely thing to me, a Twins fan stuck in Chicago, is that Konerko falls apart physically. He's really been a horse and gutted a lot of things out, but I think his decline will be steep and quick. Ignoring age I'd probably put him second on the list as well, but that's an awfully big thing to ignore at 37. I think Torii's window is closing pretty quickly as well, but he may be able to hang in there a while. I hope Parmalee ends up being the class of the bunch, at least offensively, and it seems at least plausible. It will depend in part on which version of Rios shows up this year.
    1. powrwrap's Avatar
      powrwrap -
      Konerko should be #2 at 1B. Morneau #3.
      Keppinger (.325/.367/.439) is better than Chisenhall (.268/.311/.430).
      Willingham (OPS .890, 35 HR) is better than Gordon (OPS .822, 14 HR).
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I might rank Plouffe above Moustakas and Parmelee 3rd above both Stubbs and Francoer. Other than those 2 I think you're right on. With those two, that would put the Twins 2nd in offense in the division, which is what I think they will be.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      So, take the gloves off. Who are the top five, regardless of position? One guess:


      1. Mauer
      2. Miguel Cabrera
      3. Fielder
      4. Konerko
      5. Butler
      6. Willinghammer (Remember, no gloves. His Silver Slugger puts him ahead of Alex Gordon on my list of top left fielders with a bat in their hands.)
      7. Hunter
      8. V. Martinez
      9. Swisher
      10. Gordon/Morneau tie
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      So, take the gloves off. Who are the top ten, regardless of position? One guess:


      1. Mauer
      2. Miguel Cabrera
      3. Fielder
      4. Konerko
      5. Butler
      6. Willinghammer (Remember, no gloves. His Silver Slugger puts him ahead of Alex Gordon on my list of top left fielders with a bat in their hands.)
      7. Hunter
      8. V. Martinez
      9. Swisher
      10. Gordon/Morneau tie
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