Robbie Grossman came off the disabled list on Tuesday morning and is in the lineup against the Rays, batting ninth and DH’ing against righty Jake Odorizzi. With that move, the Twins offense is almost completely healthy.

That’s not to say that Miguel Sano is not a significant loss — he is — but rather from a health standpoint, the Twins only have one player on the shelf offensively — as opposed to, say, a handful of pitchers.

Assuming Sano gets healthy in the semi-near future, daily lineups will have the potential to be a beautiful thing as manager Paul Molitor will have plenty of capable players at his disposal for the stretch run.

We all like to play armchair quarterback, or in this case…couch manager? I don’t know the proper terminology, but there’s a good bet you’ll see a lot of comments every time the Minnesota Twins official account tweets or posts the lineup on Facebook, as though Paul W. Simonson of Circle Pines (names have been falsified to protect the stupid) knows better than Molitor whether Joe Mauer has a better shot to get a hit against Chris Sale than Kennys Vargas does.

But it’s still fun to think we know better.

So let’s assume Sano was healthy; what would the perfect Twins lineup look like facing a left- or right-handed starter?

Let’s first take a look at the right side:

  1. Mauer 1B
  2. Buxton CF
  3. Dozier 2B
  4. Sano 3B
  5. Rosario LF
  6. Kepler RF
  7. Polanco SS
  8. Castro C
  9. Grossman DH

The honest-to-goodness truth here is that no matter what kind of streak he’s on, Mauer gets on base. That’s an extremely valuable skill to have at the top of the lineup, and mixes well with the OBP skills of the Nos. 8-9 hitters in front of him.

Batting Buxton second gives him more plate appearances, more chances to steal bases and frankly above all that, just the ability to pollute the bases in front of the guys who drive runners in. Moving Dozier down gives him a better shot to drive runs in — especially with his long ball potential — and while he’s a good fit at leadoff, he’s an ever better fit here.

Sano and Dozier are pretty interchangeable between Nos. 3-4, and it wouldn’t be bad to flip-flop those so the latter could, in theory, lead off some innings as well. Rosario has been absolutely killing it lately, and even with the so-so season line, Kepler has hit righties rather well this year (.282/.351/.511).

The bottom-third of the lineup is Polanco — who is scorching at the plate and could run a bit more lower in the order — along with a couple of guys who’ll take their walks. There isn’t a weak spot in the lineup, and again, I like OBP guys to turn it over.

Now the left side:

  1. Grossman LF
  2. Mauer 1B
  3. Dozier 2B
  4. Sano DH
  5. Buxton CF
  6. Escobar 3B
  7. Rosario RF
  8. Garver C
  9. Polanco SS

Grossman is one of the team’s best OBP guys, and that has been evident against lefties. We mentioned it on Midwest Swing on Tuesday, but Mauer’s line against lefties has come a long way as the season has gone on as well, as his OBP v. LHP is up over .370 as well. Dozier and Sano both maul lefties, and Buxton has also hit lefties very, very well this season (.306/.398/.469).

I went back and forth on whether to start Escobar at 3B, SS or DH, but ultimately I want Polanco getting more at-bats even though it’s at the bottom of the order against lefties — against whom he’s struggled this year. It was either that, or finding a way to get Kepler in there against lefties. I like that strategy in the long-term, since he has to hit them to be an every day player, but for now I’ll roll with Polanco over Kepler because his splits are just that much better.

Rosario has held his own against lefties this season — at least relative to some of his colleagues — while Garver is intriguing, to say the least, against southpaws. He throttled them to the tune of a .298/.421/.553 line at Rochester this season.

So what do you think? Can you make a better lineup for the Twins from both sides of the plate?


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