Previous Story Derek Falvey helps Twins scout Indians, Molitor jokes he doesn’t need the signs Next Story Report: Byron Buxton is really fast; his speedy teammate might surprise you

Molitor’s wisdom must have worked: Eddie Rosario follows advice for 2 hits

MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins offense ought to be all right this season, even if Byron Buxton never fully figures out things at the plate.

Through a dozen games this season, though, three Twins hitters were scuffling in the worst way. In fact, you could argue that the Twins had three of the 10 worst hitters in baseball after two weeks.

Buxton’s struggles were the most well-documented, of course, because of his considerable hype and breakout September at the end of last season. But the Twins had two other hitters stuck in extended slumps to start the season. Eddie Rosario entered the game hitting .154/.214/.179 and Joe Mauer was hitting just .190/.244/.190. It’s incredibly early, and both hitters have had good offensive seasons in the past, so take the slow start for what it’s worth.

Rosario’s slow start prompted the manager to have a little chat with Rosario, in which he encouraged the young outfielder.

“I think he’s been competitive,” Molitor said. “As the hits have been hard to come by, I think he’s been forcing the issue a little bit more than he was early. You know, you get a little frustrated when you think you’re doing some good things but not getting the hits to show for it.”

Molitor told Rosario that yes he’s aggressive, but not to let that kick into overdrive. “He told me I had a good start,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “I know I haven’t been hitting but [he said to] not try to do too much and let the game come to me.”

And Monday delivered some good news on that front. Rosario and Mauer both recorded a pair of hits Monday to kick the skids. Mauer failed to deliver with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th, but two hits at least is a step in the right direction for the first baseman.

Before Monday, it had been mostly bad news for both hitters.

Through roughly two weeks of baseball, the Twins had three of the worst regular hitters in the league, according to the catch-all hitting stat Weighted Runs Created-Plus. That stat attempts to neutralize ballpark advantages and take into account the current run-scoring environment league-wide. It also assigns value to each hitting outcome, and spits out a single number that does a pretty good job of capturing a hitter’s value.

Buxton rated as the second worst regular hitter in the big leagues entering Monday, when he got another day to sit on the bench and watch Max Kepler play center field. Rosario was the seventh-worst hitter, per wRC+, and Mauer was 10th-worst. I knew they’d been struggling, but it was surprising to me to see all three in the bottom 10, on a team that I didn’t think had a glaring offensive problem. But the stats are the stats.

We’ll see if Monday’s 2-hit game helps either hitter jumpstart his offense. Maybe the day of rest can help Buxton do the same.

There’ve been some good signs for Rosario, and some causes for concern, but generally speaking it’s far too early to draw any definitive conclusions on him at the plate.

Mauer started hot to begin last season and then fell off considerably. He heated up against in the middle of the summer but then an injury threw his season off the tracks. This season, he’s started out ice-cold.

  • Mike Link

    This to too early as you stated, but all three present some concern. By May we have a pattern that must be addressed if they continue to struggle, but on the other hand the quick start masked the facts that are now becoming apparent after going through the rotation 3 times – Gibson and Hughes are not very good and will not lift the team. Their trends are bad because they are a continuation of last years debacle and that is not acceptable.

    Baseball is a weird sport in many ways which is why we love it, but the games in April do matter and when the fall playoffs come those games factor in as much as the September wins and losses so we struggle with small samples but we also have to recognize that these games count.

    • Jeff Villwock

      Neither Hughes or Gibson seem to be able to get through the line-up a third time, and struggle to stay in the game long enough to get that far. Gibson seemed like he has completely regressed his last start after showing signs of progress the first start.

      Hughes may need a screen to preserve his health soon.

      As for the three worst hitters, Buxton needs more ABs to find his swing, and so we know if he can. Rosario has more experience, and if he can’t right the ship he’ll be a platoon player at best. Mauer can be replaced if somebody earns a promotion from Rochester, when his month of good hitting starts, if it starts, he can play. Time for Grossman to find a 1b glove until Vargas gets here.


Previous Story Derek Falvey helps Twins scout Indians, Molitor jokes he doesn’t need the signs Next Story Report: Byron Buxton is really fast; his speedy teammate might surprise you