Take a casual look at the Twins' projected Opening Day lineup. Your order may differ from mine, but here's what I see right now:
- Byron Buxton, CF
- Brian Dozier, 2B
- Joe Mauer, 1B
- Miguel Sano, RF
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B
- Byung Ho Park, DH
- Eddie Rosario, LF
- Kurt Suzuki, C
- Eduardo Escobar, SS
Or, if you want to order it in terms of handedness, it's: R, R, L, R, R, R, L, R, S. Considering the majority of pitchers throw righthanded, it may seem more beneficial to load up on lefthanded batters. After all, this is what the Twins started to do towards the end of the Metrodome era when Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Ben Revere, Denard Span, etc. were in the daily lineup.
However, they quickly learned of a problem with Target Field when it opened. All those lefties that populated their lineup were neutralized by the massive fence that stretched from the right field foul pole to center field. Morneau and Kubel publicly commented on how the fence robbed them of home runs, though Jim Thome came along and showed everyone that the ballpark wasn't that big.
Over the past few years, the Twins have gradually moved away from those lefty mashers and have started importing righties into the lineup. Perhaps it was from their research (insert Twins and analytics joke here) or perhaps it was the anecdotal evidence of all the home runs from Josh Willingham and the emergence of Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe. Last year they brought in Torii Hunter and this year it's Park.
Taking a look at all the home runs at Target Field last season, it's easy to see how more righties in the lineup will be beneficial.
Very little hit to center field, quite a few out to right field, but the bleachers in left are absolutely peppered by dingers. If it's easiest to hit the ball out to left field, you might as well take advantage of your home ballpark and fill your lineup with players that can hit it there. It's sort of like the Royals and Giants who have built their teams to be defensive machines thanks to the massive outfields their teams have to cover at home.
Granted, if Park has one issue with his power, it's that he hits a ton of his home runs to center field which the above graphic demonstrated is tough at Target Field. Still, he should still pull some of them and as long as he can make a fair amount of contact, he should be okay as a hitter.
We all love home runs and with good health the Twins should definitely deliver that this season. With a conscious approach towards adding righthanded power to the lineup, the left field Home Run Porch should be receiving plenty of souvenirs this season.