With Spring Training now done and the regular season upon us, many Major League players and fans are looking forward to the start of the regular season. For the Minnesota Twins, there are still some factors of concern, particularly when it comes to batting.
Chris Colabello, Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia are among the players who have played a majority of Spring Training games and have shown the best results at the plate. Some of the more experienced players, most notably Josh Willingham and Jason Kubel, have not been producing as much as they should.
With 43 at-bats in 23 games, Colabello has totaled eight RBI and 15 hits, including four doubles and one home run. With a .349 average, .462 on-base percentage and a .512 slugging percentage, Colabello is on track to possibly being a reliable hitter for the regular season.
In 48 batting opportunities in just 18 games, Arcia has knocked in six RBI with 12 hits, which includes two doubles, one triple, and two home runs. The only other Twins player to hit more than one home run in Spring Training was Brandon Waring, who has hit two in 11 games played. With just a .250 average and .309 on-base percentage, Arcia has made up in slugging, posting a percentage of .458. If Arcia can continue his slugging success into the regular season and stay healthy along the way, he would be in position to be another reliable batter for the Twins lineup.
Hicks has been producing well at the plate throughout Spring Training, as well. In 52 At Bats in 18 games, Hicks has brought in four RBI in 17 hits, including four doubles and one home run. A .327 average, .364 on-base percentage and .462 slugging percentage have shown that Hicks is ready to go for the regular season.
On the other hand, other Twins players have been struggling at the plate. Kubel, who recently rejoined the Twins lineup, has been producing lower numbers. In 46 at-bats in 17 games, Kubel has only brought in three RBI in nine hits, including one double and one home run. With just a .196 average, .288 on-base percentage and .283 slugging percentage, it is understandable if the Twins are trying to rest him as much as they can before the regular season, and keep him healthy longer, especially after an injury-plagued season last year. However, Kubel will have to step up considerably if his left-handed power-hitting is to be of any beneficial use to the Twins lineup.
Willingham, who is another seasoned veteran on the team, should be of greater concern for the upcoming regular season. In 44 at-bats in 17 games, Willingham has brought in just two RBI in three hits, including one double and one home run, which came in the last game of spring training against the Boston Red Sox. Willingham also tallied the second most strikeouts for the Twins in preseason play at 14. A .068 average, .192 on-base percentage and .159 slugging percentage shows that Willingham is quite a bit below where he needs to be if he wants to prove a consistent asset to the lineup.
In the projected lineup for Monday’s game against their Central Division rival Chicago White Sox, Hicks is the only player who has preseason numbers above .300. If the Twins want to be a tough competitor for the Central Division title, their batting needs to greatly improve. One or two players cannot carry the team throughout the season, and batting concerns are not the best thing to carry into the regular season. If others do not step up the plate, the Twins may well see themselves back at or near the bottom of the division standings once again.