Mientkiewicz struggling at the plate

Updated: May 16, 2003, 9:31 AM ET
By Jim Baker
Does a slugging, "traditional" first baseman give a team an advantage, or is it preferable to rely on a more defense-oriented person to handle the job? This is a dilemma that will soon be facing the Minnesota Twins as their man at first, Doug Mientkiewicz, continues to razzle dazzle in the field but fail at the plate while more prolific hitters work their way to the major leagues. The defensive-plus/offensive-minus tradeoff that is so easy to make at shortstop or catcher has always been harder to justify at first base.

In today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jim Souhan discusses the options open to the Twins as Mientkiewicz -- who is eligible to ask for arbitration this off-season -- continues to struggle at the plate and Justin Morneau keeps hitting up a storm in the minor leagues. Two years ago, Mientkiewicz was no slugger but was holding his own with a decent batting average and a bit of pop. While he has continued to walk at a good rate, the batting average keeps falling and the pop is disappearing. His offensive numbers are the antithesis of those one would expect from the first baseman prototype. (Except in regard to stealing bases where he is five for 15 in career attempts.)

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.