Minnesota Twins: Grading Each Batter in the Starting Lineup

Apr 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano (22) and center fielder Byron Buxton (25) celebrate their win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano (22) and center fielder Byron Buxton (25) celebrate their win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Twins are off to a great start at 5-1. Let’s give each of the starting lineup players a grade for their performance thus far.

The life of a Minnesota Twins fan can be hard; I mean really hard. After a 100-plus loss season a year ago, though, Twins fans saw a glimmer of hope coming into 2017. New young faces, experienced leaders and consistent pitchers is what we envisioned heading into the new season, and so far, that’s exactly what we’ve gotten.

At 5-1, the Twins have a great run differential early in the season: +17 – tied for the best in the MLB, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This shows that we’re getting runs on the board, which is obviously a huge step up from last season. Also, we have only allowed 13 runs in 6 games thus far, showing that pitching has taken a great leap as well.

I know, it’s very early in the season, but as Twins’ fans, we might as well celebrate the victories when they come! Today, we’ll just look at the batting positions on the starting lineup, and grade their performance through the first 6 games of the 2017 regular season.

C – Jason Castro

It may just be me, but I think Castro has been a huge acquisition for the Twins. After 9 seasons with the Astros, Jason Castro has had a great start to the 2017 campaign. Batting .308 with one homerun and 5 RBI’s combined with 7 walks and only one strikeout, Castro has been about as dependable as anyone at the plate. He’s been just as dependable behind the plate as he is yet to make an error this season. Castro starts the report card off with a bang.

Grade: A-

1B – Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer is a Twins legend. This generation of Twins’ fans won’t forget what Mauer has done for the city and for the organization, but it’s no secret that Father Time isn’t a kind soul. It was obvious this time was coming, but it’s kind of bittersweet, huh?

Batting only .167 with no homeruns and 2 RBI’s isn’t the start that the 33 year old veteran planned on, but it’s his experience and leadership that could really help this team excel. Stats aside, Mauer is still an important piece to this team, even if it’s in an almost managerial type of position.

Grade: C

2B – Brian Dozier

There was a question looming around the Twins organization throughout the offseason: Dozier, to keep or to not keep? I, for one, am very glad we did not let him go. After a career high 42 homeruns a year ago, Dozier (29 years old) seems to be hitting his peak as a baseball player.

A young team like the Twins can definitely use this type of leadership in the dugout. Dozier, though, is off to a fairly slow start, himself. He is batting .240 with no homeruns and only one RBI. Alas, don’t expect Dozier to stay this course. He is not lacking in confidence or patience at the plate so expect the homeruns and batting average to only go up.

Grade: C+

3B – Miguel Sano

More from Minnesota Twins News

Another young and bright star stands in the hot corner for the Minnesota Twins. Miguel Sano is only 23 years old and already giving Twins’ fans reason to smile.

He’s had a fantastic start to the 2017 season, and isn’t showing signs of slowing down. After starting the season with a batting average of .350, 2 homeruns and 8 RBI’s, this kid is drenched in confidence.

Not only is he one of the Twins’ young and bright stars, he is one of the MLB’s top young players going forward. Expect a big season following a scorching start by #22.

Grade: A

SS – Jorge Polanco/Eduardo Escobar

Out of the 3-million questions facing the Twins heading into 2017, one of the biggest had to be – who is going to play shortstop? Having two young shortstop’s on the roster isn’t always a bad thing, though, and so far this season, that’s been the case for the Twins.

Jorge Polanco and Eduardo Escobar have both been nice surprises for Minnesota. Polanco is batting .389 with one homerun and 4 RBI’s while Escobar is batting .400 with one homerun and 4 RBI’s. A decision on who will start at shortstop may be looming for the Twins, but as of right now, I like the rotation of these two.

Grade: B+

LF – Eddie Rosario

Adding another young player to the already huge list of young Twins players, Eddie Rosario is one with a bright future. If only he could shine a little bit of that bright future into right now. At the plate, Rosario has really struggled, batting only .150 with no homeruns and 2 RBI’s.

Of course, it’s early in the season, and we’re all hoping he can get back to his career batting average of .265, if not a little better than that. His fielding has never been an issue, as with most of the Twins roster. He is another player on the lineup without a fielding error.

Grade: C-

CF – Byron Buxton

If you were to sit down with any Minnesota Twins fan before this season began, I guarantee the name Byron Buxton came up in conversation.

A highly scouted player out of Baxley, GA, Buxton came into this year as one of the league’s top prospects. In center field, he has already began making a name for himself. Two amazing catches on opening day had Twins’ fans wide-eyed, yet Buxton with a bat in his hands had Twins’ fans looking the other way.

Maybe it’s a lack of confidence or just a rookie slump, but either way, a .077 batting average and 14 strikeouts in 26 at-bats is not what Minnesota fans were hoping for. With experience will come patience; with patience will come good pitches to hit; with good pitches to hit will come solid contact and more base hits. Or at least we hope.

Grade: D+

RF – Max Kepler

Kepler is another young player that the Minnesota Twins are hoping has a bright future with the organization. Flying under the radar a bit, Kepler has had a decent start to the season. Batting .217 with no homeruns and one RBI, Max Kepler hasn’t stood out as a hitter thus far.

His career batting average of .232 shows Twins fans not to expect great production from the young German-born right fielder. In the outfield, though, Kepler has very high potential. With only 7 errors in 108 games played in 2016, Kep is a sure handed outfielder with a strong arm.

Grade: B-

DH – Robbie Grossman

Getting the nod as the designated hitter, Grossman has had a fairly productive start to 2017. With several options at DH for the Minnesota Twins, consistency is key. Grossman has given them that, at least.

Batting .267 with one RBI and three walks, Robbie Grossman shows great patience at the plate and gives the Twins more power in their lineup. Look for Grossman to improve his average a bit, while adding some homeruns and RBI’s hitting late in the lineup as the season progresses.

Grade: C+

In conclusion, the Twins have had a fantastic start to 2017; obviously better than their 0-9 start to 2016. A lot of the success the Minnesota Twins have seen can be attributed to solid pitching and a great bullpen, but hitting has been a nice surprise thus far. Lead by Miguel Sano, the Twins have averaged 5 runs per game through 6 games this season.

Next: Afterthoughts: Opening Day Edition

There is no doubt Minnesota would like to see more production from players like Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier, but sitting at 5-1 is definitely exceeding expectations for a young Twins team. With a big divisional match-up coming up against the Detroit Tigers, the Twins will look to win their third straight series against a division opponent.