clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Marwin González and his place in the Twins’ batting order

New, comments

Will his presence lead to MarWins for the home team at Target Field?

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Marwin Gonzalez carved out a career in Houston as a starting-caliber player who could hop around the diamond whenever necessary. In his first three seasons, González appeared in more games at shortstop than any other position. But in the next two, his leading position was first base, and in the two subsequent years that top spot was left field. As a Twin, González is expected to continue to play various positions.

However, unlike most utility players, González has been a regular Astros starter, and he should continue to see frequent playing time. Before his signing with Minnesota, fans had an idea of what the regular starting lineup might look like, as there was a clear number-one option at each position, with a possible exception at first base and catcher. Now that González will be taking up one of the nine slots, how might the lineup look with him at his most common positions?

Without González

The lineup may not be known for another month, but we have some clues to how the order may shake out. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco appear to be the favorites to bat leadoff, and both have begun their spring with solid hitting. Eddie Rosario was the Twins’ best hitter last year, while newcomers Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron will join Miguel Sano as the power bats. (Interestingly, all bat right-handed.) The muscular Mercury known as Byron Buxton will hope his bat can catch up to his feet and glove, likely starting near the bottom of the order. This leaves Jonathan Schoop and either Jason Castro or Mitch Garver (for the purpose of this exercise I’m using Castro, mostly to get another left-handed bat) to slot in the lineup.

Putting all this together, a lineup without González might look as follows:

  1. Polanco, SS
  2. Kepler, RF
  3. Rosario, LF
  4. Cruz, DH
  5. Sanó, 3B
  6. Cron, 1B
  7. Schoop, 2B
  8. Castro, C
  9. Buxton, CF

Of course, all this could change as spring play continues and perceptions change, but this is a possibility. But with González in the fold, someone will have to sit out:

González at first base

Placing González (a switch-hitter) at first base moves Cron either to the DH spot, which would displace a stronger hitter in Cruz, or the bench. It seems most likely that Rocco Baldelli would opt for a one-for-one swap and sit Cron. While not in the mold of a slugger, González possesses capable power, averaging 15 home runs per 162 games. He wouldn’t be out of place in the sixth spot, so a one-for-one swap on the lineup card is also possible, but let’s shake things up a little. Buxton has been hitting a touch higher in spring, so:

  1. Polanco, SS
  2. Kepler, RF
  3. Rosario, LF
  4. Cruz, DH
  5. Sanó, 3B
  6. Buxton, CF
  7. González, 1B
  8. Schoop, 2B
  9. Castro, C

A similar lineup could appear if González were to fill in at third base, where he has played sparingly (and least successfully), with Sanó shifting to first.

González at shortstop

Jorge Polanco’s five-year extension means the Twins see him as a long-term building block. Whether that’s at shortstop or second base can still be questioned, but if González is penciled in at shortstop and it’s not a day of rest for Polanco, it will probably displace Schoop, moving Polanco to second base. (González has played second base, but never more than 32 games in a season.) This could produce the following lineup:

  1. Polanco, 2B
  2. Kepler, RF
  3. Rosario, LF
  4. Cruz, DH
  5. Sanó, 3B
  6. Cron, 1B
  7. González, SS
  8. Castro, C
  9. Buxton, CF

González in left field

While González played mostly in left field during his final two seasons in Houston, the Twins already have a promising young player there in Rosario, and the other corner is occupied by Kepler, who also received a five-year extension. That leaves Buxton as a possible odd man out. None of these seem like fantastic options (except for rest days), so let’s do one apiece. With Rosario sitting:

  1. Polanco, SS
  2. Kepler, RF
  3. Cruz, DH
  4. Sanó, 3B
  5. Cron, 1B
  6. Buxton, CF
  7. González, LF
  8. Schoop, 2B
  9. Castro, C

Minus Kepler:

  1. Polanco, SS
  2. Schoop, 2B
  3. Rosario, RF
  4. Cruz, DH
  5. Sanó, 3B
  6. Cron, 1B
  7. González, LF
  8. Castro, C
  9. Buxton, CF

Lastly, less Buxton:

  1. Polanco, SS
  2. Kepler, CF
  3. Rosario, RF
  4. Cruz, DH
  5. Sanó, 3B
  6. Cron, 1B
  7. González, LF
  8. Schoop, 2B
  9. Castro, C

Conclusion

Looking over these lineups, it seems unlikely that González will be used regularly in the outfield, unless a player has a rest day or Buxton’s struggles continue. Since Cron and Schoop are the two veteran signings whose projected production could most fluctuate, I would not be surprised if their time is impacted most by the González signing. And while González may have a primary position, expect him to move around the diamond as always, just as he has done for seven seasons. (I wonder what his Strat-o-Matic card looks like...)