Who can hit leadoff for Twins?

The Twins have not had a decent leadoff hitter since Denard Span was traded after the 2012 season and he was a good leadoff man, not a great one. This past season the hitters that Ron Gardenhire sent up to the plate to hit lead off for the Twins were just plain dismal.

Rk Player G OBP PA AB R H HR RBI SB BB SO BA
1 Darin Mastroianni 3 .357 14 12 2 3 0 0 1 2 2 .250
2 Alex Presley 27 .339 121 112 9 32 1 11 1 8 21 .286
3 Clete Thomas 17 .312 77 69 12 16 2 5 0 8 21 .232
4 Brian Dozier 74 .310 344 312 40 79 12 44 7 23 63 .253
5 Jamey Carroll 26 .252 120 110 13 21 0 3 1 9 19 .191
6 Eduardo Escobar 9 .182 33 30 4 3 0 1 0 3 4 .100
7 Aaron Hicks 10 .109 46 43 3 2 0 3 0 3 20 .047
8 Chris Parmelee 2 .000 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
9 Wilkin Ramirez 1 .000 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
10 Ryan Doumit 1 .000 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
11 Chris Herrmann 2 .000 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/22/2013.

 

Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier

The Twins could use Brian Dozier to hit lead off again but that is not his ideal spot in the batting order but yet Gardy might not have a choice. All things being equal, if you look a the projected Twins line-up the leadoff hitter should come from center field. But who will play center field for Minnesota in 2014? Unless something dramatic happens it looks like Darin Mastroianni, Alex Presley, and Aaron Hicks will battle it out this spring in Ft. Myers to see will open the season as the Twins center fielder.

Darin Mastroianni

Darin Mastroianni

Mastroianni spent most of 2013 on the DL and if you look at his major league OBP, it stands at .298 which is not very good but it is a small sample size of just 230 at bats. In the minor leagues Mastroianni had a .370 OBP but that is in the minors. Darin is 28 years old so he is not the Twins center fielder of the future by any means and is best suited in a back-up role but that doesn’t mean he might not start the season in center field.

Alex Presley

Alex Presley

Alex Presley who the Twins acquired from Pittsburgh last season in the Justin Morneau trade is also 28 and he was OK in that role at the tail end of last season but nothing in his past major league stats indicates that he could put up the same kind of numbers over a 162 game schedule. In the minors Presley had a .352 OBP but again, that is in the minors. He too has a shot at being the Twins center fielder on Opening Day but he too might just be a placeholder.

Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks

The ideal man for the job is 24 year-old Aaron Hicks but when the Twins gave him the job in 2013 he hit for a .047 average and his OBP was a microscopic .109 in the 46 plate appearances that Gardy gave him in that role. Hicks would like to get the 2013 season in his rear view mirror and start his major league anew in 2014 but who knows if the Twins brain trust will let him start the season with the Twins in Chicago. The Twins sent Hicks down to  prove he belongs in the big leagues after hitting .192 in 81 games and Hicks responded by hitting all of .222 in the 22 games he played in Rochester. The Twins sent Hicks a message by not recalling him in September and Hicks had better come to Florida with a chip on his shoulder and play like a man possessed if he want to be the Twins opening day center fielder because he has something to prove to Gardy and Terry Ryan. Then again, Hicks had a fantastic spring training in 2013 and yet when the season started Hicks flopped big time. Hicks could very well start the season in Rochester and have to beat the Twins door down to prove he belongs in the big leagues with Minnesota. Dozier did it in 2013 and Hicks can do it this year. This team needs Hicks as their center fielder.

Looking back in Twins history to see who the best Twins leadoff hitters have been from a OBP perspective you have to admit that Chuck Knoblauch was the best the Twins have ever had. I know that Knoblauch was a jerk at times and a stuck up snob much of the time but the man played some good baseball for the Twins and it is a joke that he is not in the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.  Hopefully he will get voted in this year, remember that you are voting for him for what he did in a Twins uniform on the ball field, not how he choses to live his life. While you are voting, put a “X” down next to Cesar Tovar too, he also deserves to be in the Twins HOF.

 Best OBP hitting lead off with 100 games or more

Chuck Knoblauch

Rk Player Year G OBP PA AB R H HR RBI SB BB SO BA
1 Chuck Knoblauch 1996 151 .448 699 577 140 197 13 72 45 97 74 .341
2 Chuck Knoblauch 1995 134 .423 620 530 105 175 11 63 45 77 94 .330
3 Denard Span 2009 145 .392 676 578 97 180 8 68 23 70 89 .311
4 Chuck Knoblauch 1997 155 .390 712 608 116 178 9 58 62 84 84 .293
5 Kirby Puckett 1986 128 .375 592 558 103 189 25 77 15 26 74 .339
6 Lenny Green 1962 149 .367 713 609 96 165 14 62 8 87 36 .271
7 Cesar Tovar 1971 142 .364 653 598 90 191 1 41 18 41 34 .319
8 Otis Nixon 1998 107 .360 498 446 71 132 1 20 37 44 55 .296
9 Cesar Tovar 1970 156 .356 721 646 119 194 10 54 30 51 46 .300
10 Jacque Jones 2002 133 .346 606 558 92 169 25 81 6 37 123 .303
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/22/2013.
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5 Responses to Who can hit leadoff for Twins?

  1. al johnson says:

    Why dont the Twins work on being a better team for us, every year its something different we need. Dig in the minors where the future ls dont waste our hard earned money on a HAS BEEN AGAIN .

  2. Joe Hamilton says:

    Photo of Zoilo Versalles

    Zoilo Versalles
    One-time MVP, Zoilo is the forgotten Twin who deserves more recognition. In his prime, he was the best of the Twins lead-off hitters.

  3. Dwight Kessler says:

    The only player on the current roster who should hit leadoff is Mauer. For those of you obsessed with hitting the likes of Presley and Dozier in front of Mauer I have a solution. Hit them 8th and 9th. Why in the world would we send Mauer up in the 1st inning with a very strong likelyhood that there will be 2 outs when he hits. In fact, I would follow Mauer with whoever would normally be the 4th, 5th & 6th hitters, etc. Think about it. When is a starting pitcher most vulnerable? Other than late in a game it’s the 1st inning. Why give him a chance to work through finding his command and control against weak hitters. Also, late in a game with the Twins needing a run who do you like to see coming to bat. I believe it’s Mauer followed by the power hitters. Why not do that in the 1st inning. If the Twins followed this lineup advice they would be near the top of the league in 1st inning runs. What a benefit this would be for our starting pitcher and what a confidence boost for the whole team. They would actually be winning many game in the 1st inning. I would really like to see Gardy try this. I think he would be pleasantly surprised with the results. This probably wouldn’t work as well in the National League but with the DH in the American League it would. My suggested batting order: Mauer 1st base, Willingham left field, Arcia right field, Pinto catcher, Kubel DH, Dozier 2nd base, Plouffe 3rd base, Florimon short stop, Hicks/Presley center field.

    • jjswol says:

      Dwight, you make a very good point. The only hitter in Twins history with 1,000 or more plate appearances that has a OBP of over .400 is Joe Mauer at .405 and second on that list is a pretty good HOF hitter that goes by the name of Rod Carew and he had a Twins career mark of .393.

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