No weak spot in Twins’ lineup of mashers
One through nine, there isn’t a weak spot in the Minnesota Twins’ lineup.
The Bomba Squad is lethal.
Not only do the Twins rank first in the big leagues in home runs (264) and slugging percentage (.501), but they also rank fourth in team batting average with a .270 clip.
But, again, there isn’t a weakness.
Minnesota’s bottom third of the lineup (players hitting seventh, eighth and ninth) have compiled a .269 batting average, which ranks second in baseball.
The league average is .231, almost 40 points below the Twins’ mark.
Let’s dissect this.
The most frequent hitter in the bottom third of the lineup is outfielder Byron Buxton, who is currently on the injured list but has notched a career-best .262 average with a .314 on-base percentage this season.
Jonathan Schoop has certainly had his struggles this season and has been replaced by rookie sensation Luis Arraez as the team’s primary second baseman. Schoop is batting .253 overall, but he’s hitting .263 in the seventh spot and .282 as the eighth man. He’s hit in the bottom third of the lineup 72 times.
Other than Schoop and Buxton, it’s been a cast of thousands. And most are having career years.
Jason Castro hasn’t tallied a batting average over .250 since his All-Star season in 2013, but the 32-year-old is batting .254 this season while slugging in the bottom third of the lineup 50 times. Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been slotted in the bottom third in 43 of 63 games he’s played in while registering a .265/.360/.397 slash line.
Even sluggers like Miguel Sano (33 times), Marwin Gonzalez (9) and Max Kepler (7) — the latter which has served as the Twins’ leadoff hitter in 82 games — have hit in the bottom third of the lineup. Sano is batting .280 in the seventh spot (26 games) and .353 in eighth (5 games).
To exemplify further how ridiculous the lineup is, C.J. Cron, who has hammered 19 homers this season, batted ninth against Atlanta on Tuesday night.
In conclusion, Baldelli’s lineup can hit, no matter where they’re slotted in the lineup.
In Thursday night’s series-opening game against Cleveland, Gonzalez will start in right field and bat seventh, Castro will hit eighth, and Adrianza will man first base and bat ninth.
— Over the opening nine games of the season series, the Twins have averaged 4.44 runs per game against Cleveland, well below their season average of 5.8.
— Nelson Cruz has logged a 1.357 OPS and 16 home runs in the 24 games since the All-Star break. He’s the first MLB player to have at least 16 homers in a 24-game span since J.D. Martinez did it for Arizona in 2017.
— Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez has also enjoyed a breakout second half of the season. He’s batting .330 since the All-Star break, increasing his season mark from .218 to .245.
— When Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis tallies at least one RBI, the Indians are 26-3.
— Opponents are hitting just .140 against Kyle Gibson’s slider. Against right-handed hitters, Gibson owns a strikeout rate of 44% on breaking pitches, the best mark among starting pitchers in baseball.
— Kepler has nine home runs in 69 at-bats when facing a starting pitcher for the third time in a game. Unfortunately for Kepler, Celveland traded starting pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati at the deadline. Kepler homered in five consecutive at-bats against Bauer earlier this season.
Statistics courtesy Sportradar, baseball-reference.com