Ron Gardenhire made a point about his offense by pointing out that Chris Parmelee was going to be batting 8th. Parmelee forced his way onto the roster with this bat last fall and this spring. In Gardenhire's view, that he is batting at the bottom of the order is an indication of how strong his lineup is. I thought it would be interesting to compare today's opening day lineup to last years.
Here is the 2011 lineup:
The opening day lineup in 2010 looked like this:
Carroll vs Nishioka
I am not sure I have higher hopes for Carroll than I did for Nishioka last year. But he will almost certainly, absent injury, produce better results. This will be a definite improvement.
Young vs Willingham
Again, the expectations for Young were much higher than his actual performance. Willingham will likely be an improvement.
Doumit vs. Cuddyer
Doumit has the advantage of being a switch hitter. He doesn't have Cuddyer's power, but he will hit for a slightly better average. Overall, last year's lineup with Cuddyer was stronger. The Twins will be very pleased if they get that kind of production here.
Valencia vs Kubel
Kubel was a much better hitter than Valencia. Its unlikely Valencia will match even Kubel's injury limited season.
Parmelee vs Valencia
This is hard to judge, given Parmelee has limited major league experience. If his bat really warrants his promotion to the big leagues, he should be more productive than Valencia last year. But that isn't guaranteed.
The folks that are coming back in the same spot are Span, Mauer, Morneau and Casilla. If any of them stay healthy, they will be more productive than last year.
In addition to improvements from those four, the Twins can expect better output from Carroll, Willingham and perhaps Parmelee. They will likely get worse production from Valencia and Doumit. Overall, its clear the key to offensive improvement from last year's isn't the off-season acquisitions or the development of young players. Its staying healthy. Big surprise.