Sunday’s exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox gives Minnesota Twins some idea of how manager Ron Gardenhire sees his lineup being put together.
Now, that’s not to say things couldn’t change. Somebody could get hurt or get hot.
However, right now, it looks like the right-handed hitting Michael Cuddyer will find himself batting between lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
Cuddyer batted third on Sunday, with Morneau fourth and newly acquired third baseman Joe Crede fifth. Mauer is out while recovering from offseason kidney surgery. It’s reasonable to think when Mauer returns, he will hit third and everyone else will slide down.
Cuddyer enjoyed his best season at the big league level batting cleanup between Mauer and Morneau in 2006, hitting .284 with 24 homers and 109 RBIs. But Cuddy saw his numbers drop significantly in 2007 and again while playing in just 71 games in an injury-plagued 2008. In fact, Cuddyer didn’t hit cleanup once all of last season.
The logic behind putting a right-handed hitter between the two left-handed MVP candidates is so pitchers don’t bring lefties in to face them in late-game situations. Lefty hitters typically hit better against right-handed pitching and vice versa.
I decided to crunch some numbers to see whether or not it really pays off to split the two lefties up and force a right-handed hitter – like Cuddyer or Crede – to hit fourth.
I looked at the numbers against left-handed pitching of Cuddyer, Crede and Delmon Young – along with Morneau for argument’s sake – dating back to 2006. That year was the breakout year for Cuddyer, Crede and Morneau, while it was Young’s first big league season.
So here’s what I got for those four against LHP in the last three years:
- Morneau: 651 ABs, .793 OPS (.276 BA/.318 OBP/.475 SLG)
- Cuddyer: 422 ABs, .849 OPS (.294/.377/.472)
- Crede: 299 ABs, .669 OPS (.224/.294/.375)
- Young: 363 ABs, .790 OPS (.306/.341/.449)
I really thought with how Morneau’s developed and considering what’s around him that he would come out on top, but I’m beginning to think it makes sense to put Cuddyer between him and Mauer. Despite his numbers getting worse the last two years, Cuddyer still put up pretty good clips against LHP over those two seasons.
What does everyone else say? Do you agree with assessment of the assessment of this blog, which I like to call the GSB? OK, I don’t really call it that, but whaddya think?