The season is still very young. I don't want to get too wrapped up in early optimism, but something has to be said about the lineup and production thus far, especially considering the generally pessimistic nature I think most of us felt at the close of spring training.
There was a lot of gnashing of teeth, despite the "they can't be any worse, therefore they must be at least somewhat better" mantra. There are flaws and concerns still to be sure. (I'm not here to necessarily rehash the shortstop argument at length.) But let's take a moment to offer up props where due.
What impresses me most is that a year after setting records for strikeouts, our Twins are suddenly among the leaders in on-base percentage, something I never dared dream.
Jason Kubel has gone from a small investment/good flyer to washed up to performing well not only at the plate, but also reminding us that despite somewhat limited range, he is and always has been an OK defensive outfielder.
The jury is still very much out on Josh Willingham. But even he looked pretty good the first few games after looking like overdone toast in ST.
What more can be said about Chris Colabello? He's not just a good story any longer, he's become a great story. I've been converted from a hopeful fan of his to an actual believer. At his age, he's just not going to be a long-tenured major leaguer. But he's gone from a small independent league signing news blurb to someone who raked at AA. And still he was doubted. He raked upon his promotion to AAA and was again doubted when he finished in the majors last season. (Again, not the first or last ball player to be ill-fit initially). The Twins tried to do him a favor and ship him overseas; he refused, intent on fulfilling his dream. He's made adjustments, had a great ST, and has become, at least, an early season stalwart in the lineup. I'm just not going to bet against him any longer.
Despite a couple errors, Plouffe looks much more comfortable at 3B. And while I very much doubt he will continue to hit .300 with a .400 OB, he really looks like a completely different hitter. Has the light finally come on?
Dozier is proving he is for real. An on-base percentage over a 100 points higher than his early season batting average? Wait until a few more balls find holes. Same with Hicks. Nothing spectacular yet, but he just looks so much more relaxed and competent than last season. Like Dozier, an OBP over a 100 points higher than his BA.
So far, Suzuki looks like the hitter he used to be. Pinto is showing really good signs. Mauer is Mauer and is just beginning to hit like Mauer. I can't wait to get Arcia back, and probably Hammer as well, though he should be primarily a DH.
A couple questions and concerns. I still believe Mauer is best in the #3 hole. When do we consider Hicks for the #2 hole between Dozier and Mauer, with his patience and Mauer behind him? And long term, who is our #4 hitter? Even if Hammer comes back strong, he's not a long term answer by any means.
Despite the angst involved with hoping for a long term solution at shorstop, I think that a batter to hit 4th
is a primary concern to be addressed soon. But a tip of my cap to hitting coach Tom "Bruno" Brunansky, the staff, and especially the players thus far.