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Twins Lineup Could Be Formidable This Year

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With the addition of Byung-ho Park, the Twins should be scoring plenty of runs next year.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, I'll admit that I'm probably counting my chickens before they hatch here. However, with no reason to believe that the Twins won't sign Byung-ho Park (thanks to reports from La Velle E. Neal III), I don't feel like I'm getting too far ahead of myself.

Though the pursuit of Park was a surprise at first, the more I think about how he fits into the lineup and how powerful it will be going into 2016. Of course, there is one big question: Where does he fit? After all, the Twins were already overflowing with DH-types and Park's main position of first base is already occupied by the $23 million man, Joe Mauer. Although some lineup shuffling could occur, there will still be a way to fit Park in.

The first method assumes that no other roster changes will happen (I'm looking at you, Trevor Plouffe). There have been talks to move Miguel Sano into the corner outfield to get his bat into the lineup, much like the Cubs did with Kyle Schwarber or the Rangers with Joey Gallo. Assuming that this were the case, the Twins could be walking into the 2016 season with this projected lineup:

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B
  2. Joe Mauer, 1B
  3. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
  4. Miguel Sano, LF
  5. Byung-ho Park, DH
  6. Eddie Rosario, RF
  7. Eduardo Escobar, SS
  8. John Ryan Murphy, C
  9. Byron Buxton, CF

Looking at this lineup, there are at least four players that could hit 20 home runs, Dozier and Mauer are good on-base types at the top, and the bottom of the lineup doesn't look punchless, either. Plus, there's a good chance that Buxton will move to the top sometime during the season, shifting everyone down a spot.

Just for fun, I went to Baseball Musings lineup optimizer tool and input the above lineup with their Steamer projections for 2016 from FanGraphs. Although I didn't have any projections for Park, I took a conservative estimate of making his similar to Trevor Plouffe's (.314 OBP and .420 SLG). Coincidentally, those two numbers are also very close to fellow countryman Jung Ho Kang's 2016 Steamer projections, though one could certainly argue if it's valid to compare two hitters simply because they hail from the same part of the world.

After running the projections through the lineup optimizer, it spit out that the above iteration would be expected to score about 4.487 runs per game. Last year, MLB teams averaged 4.247 runs per game, so already it appears as though the Twins could expect an above-average offense next year. Scoring 4.487 runs per game equates to 727 runs per game, which would have fallen right between the Astros and Royals for 7th place last year. Not bad, especially when we remember that I took a conservative estimate on Byung-ho Park's numbers for next season.

But, there's no guarantee that the above lineup is what we will see on Opening Day. After all, the Twins may decide that they're not comfortable having Miguel Sano roam the outfield and will instead look for him to stick at third base. This would necessitate a trade of Trevor Plouffe, most likely for some bullpen help as there aren't many other holes for the team to fill. That could mean that Oswaldo Arcia is given another chance in the outfield, which depending on your point of view may be a good or a bad thing. Regardless, it does add another lefty bat to the lineup, something the above lineup was lacking. Below is a Plouffe-less version of the lineup.

  1. Byron Buxton, CF
  2. Brian Dozier, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B
  4. Miguel Sano, 3B
  5. Byung-ho Park, DH
  6. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
  7. Eddie Rosario, LF
  8. John Ryan Murphy, C
  9. Eduardo Escobar, SS

You'll notice immediately that in this lineup, I moved Buxton up to the leadoff spot instead of having him at the bottom. My main reason was that this lineup is missing a #3 hitter if I stuck with Dozier and Mauer at 1 and 2, unless you want to argue that Sano could hit 3rd with Park slotting in at the cleanup spot. Hey, we did see Dozier hit cleanup last year so stranger things have certainly happened.

This lineup is actually a slightly stronger one that my first guess as it should average 4.496 runs per game. However, it's only a difference of .009 points, so it's not like it makes a huge difference. Nevertheless, it still will be a top-10 offense in 2016 and pairing that with just an average pitching staff (especially one that should be bolstered with Jose Berrios midseason) should lead to a very good Twins team next year.