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Updated: December 22nd, 2011 12:05am
Mackey: Don't laugh, but healthy Mauer, Morneau vault offense near top

Mackey: Don't laugh, but healthy Mauer, Morneau vault offense near top

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

OK, fine.

The headline of this column might be slightly misleading, as it's almost impossible to pinpoint exactly what will happen offensively over the course of 162 games.

But by all indications, the Minnesota Twins have put the finishing touches on their offensive acquisitions this offseason by signing Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit while letting Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel walk.

The pitching staff is still a work in progress. As of Wednesday, the Twins were still looking to add a starting pitcher to the back end of the rotation -- perhaps Jason Marquis.

If the Twins don't score more than 619 runs next year, however -- their total from 2011, which ranked 25th in baseball -- it might not matter who pitches.

To go along with those 619 runs, the Twins batted just .247/.306/.360 with 103 home runs and 92 steals. To put it into perspective, since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002 the Twins have scored at least 718 runs in all but two seasons. Gardenhire's six playoff teams have all scored at least 768 runs.

So rather than blindly guessing how much better or worse the Twins' offense will be next year, let's roll up the sleeves and do some dirty work.

Let's project a run total.

About these projections:

- First of all, the following projections are not meant to be taken as gospel -- only guideline. Please don't email or tweet in October about how wrong they were.

- Player projections were created using three-year, weighted averages of batted ball data (line drives, groundballs, fly balls, bunts) and skill-based rates (walks, strikeouts, HBP), which then translates to batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, home runs, doubles, etc.

- Age, injuries and home ballparks were all taken into consideration when tweaking the projections.

- The team run total projection was derived by using David Smyth's base runs estimator formula -- a formula that is generally accurate within 10-15 runs.

- The Red Sox led all teams with 6,414 team plate appearances last year, with the Mariners anchoring the league at 5,972. So, for the purposes of this projection, the Twins are set to bat 6,150 times in 2012, because their offense still projects to be below average.

Projections:

CF Denard Span (650 plate appearances): .274/.353/.367, 3 HR, 23 2B, 10 3B, 21 SB
SS Jamey Carroll (550): .281/.349/.328, 0 HR, 16 2B, 3 3B, 14 SB
C/1B Joe Mauer (590): .323/.399/.451, 9 HR, 37 2B, 1 SB
RF Josh Willingham (550): .260/.358/.481, 25 HR, 27 2B, 6 SB
1B/DH Justin Morneau (500): .282/.366/.507, 22 HR, 31 2B
C/DH Ryan Doumit (480): .261/.327/.430, 15 HR, 25 2B, 3 SB
3B Danny Valencia (605): .281/.332/.434, 16 HR, 33 2B, 3 SB
2B Alexi Casilla (525): .271/.333/.368, 3 HR, 24 2B, 18 SB
LF Ben Revere (520): .282/.328/.338, 1 HR, 14 2B, 5 3B, 42 SB

INF Trevor Plouffe (525): .253/.320/.416, 16 HR, 26 2B, 4 SB
INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (250): .261/.324/.345, 2 HR, 9 2B, 2 3B, 8 SB
1B/DH Chris Parmelee (250): .254/.334/.402, 7 HR, 11 2B
OF Rene Tosoni (205): .244/.313/.399, 6 HR, 9 2B, 4 SB

Which equates to team totals of...

Batting average: .275
On-base percentage: .342
Slugging percentage: .411
Home runs: 125
Doubles: 283
Triples: 42
Stolen bases: 117
Caught stealing: 43

Runs: 771

Whoa, really?

- The biggest reason for the jump in runs, besides health, would be due to a massive injection of on-base percentage -- specifically with Carroll and Willingham. Mauer and Morneau are on-base machines as well, when healthy.

- If any of these players performs better or worse than the numbers listed, the overall run total of the team will obviously be affected. In other words, if Morneau struggles like he did last season, all bets are off -- and 771 runs could turn into 720 or fewer, and so on.

- Plate appearances for each player were rough estimates, and they may be optimistic in the cases of Span, Mauer and Morneau.

- It's highly likely the Twins will use more than the 13 batters listed. In that case, the additional players will cut into the playing time of those listed above (Drew Butera and Joe Benson, for instance). Those additional players may or may not affect the overall end run total.

Scoring 771 runs would have ranked the Twins fourth in baseball last season behind the Red Sox (875), Yankees (867), Rangers (855) and Tigers (787).

But what are the chances Mauer and Morneau are healthy and productive for six months?

And how much can the pitching staff and defense shave off the 804 runs they allowed last season?

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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