Grading the 2013 Twins' walk-up songs

JAY BOLLER , Vita.mn | Updated 4/17/2013

Mauer, Willingham and Doumit are top of the class.

The rapper T.I. and athlete Joe Mauer
Photos by David Goldman and Jerry Holt | Associated Press

In baseball, players choose the song that the PA blasts as they walk up to the plate. In rock criticism, we critique stuff. Here’s how this year’s Twins players fared at DJ’ing their at-bats.

Aaron Hicks, CF

“California Love” by 2Pac

Grade: B

Guess where Hicks is from! The buzzed-about first-year starter is off to an icy start in the majors (13 strikeouts in his first 30 at-bats), but he hails from temperate Long Beach, Calif. While not exactly digging deep, it’s hard to go wrong with this Dr. Dre-guesting West Coast rap classic.

Joe Mauer, C

“What You Know” by T.I.

Grade: A-minus

Even as a pitchman for skim milk and vanilla ice cream, Mauer is a little tame. The one stat loftier than his career on-base percentage (.404) might be his lifetime whiteness. That said, the hometown hero stays loyal to current rapper/former inmate T.I.’s bangin’ 2006 single, “What You Know.” What we know about the song’s impact on Mauer’s hitting? We know his .322 batting average ranks 41st all time. Ain’t broke, don’t fix.

Josh Willingham, LF

“Your Love” by the Outfield

Grade: A-plus

Last year, Willingham treated Twins fans to career numbers at the plate (35 HR, 110 RBI) in his debut season with the club. Target Field received the added pleasure of hearing the Outfield’s 1985 power-pop staple “Your Love” during each of his at-bats. Willingham’s pick — on top of kicking all sorts of ass — is especially apropos, given his position. Let’s hope he keeps sending balls on vacations far away; we don’t care that he’s a little bit older — we don’t wanna lose him.

Justin Morneau, 1B

“Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” by AC/DC

Grade: B-

The first baseman/ox keeps going back to this weight room soundtrack, and that’s not a bad thing. When healthy, blasting dingers is what Morneau is all about. Try doing that to Brian Eno. Egalitarian hard rock serves a noble purpose: getting ya all jacked up.

Ryan Doumit, DH

“Mother” by Danzig

Grade: A

Try not launching a dinger after hearing Danzig’s brooding, hard-charging 1988 metal standout. “But if you wanna find hell with me / I can show you what it’s like / Til you’re bleeding” — yeah, opposing pitcher, YEAH. Dark, appropriate, killer.

Trevor Plouffe, 3B

“When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin

Grade: C-plus

Yeah, sure. A 10-second clip of a 7-minute song doesn’t give you much Page riffage, but it works.

Chris Parmelee, RF

“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Grade: D-plus

Chris, seriously? A major hella don’t. On top of working for an organization that very much encourages new clothing purchases — Twins Majestic Clubhouse Store, Gate 29 — “Thrift Shop” has attained agonizing ubiquity. The ballpark should be the one refuge from a track that’s been on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 26 (!) weeks. Never mind the fact Macklemore isn’t fit to carry the jocks of Hicks’ and Mauer’s rappers.

Brian Dozier, 2B

“Small Town USA” by Justin Moore

Grade: C-

There’s nothing wrong with championing small-town livin’. Dozier, a native of teensy Fulton, Miss., seems to agree. Problem is, he picked a hacky way to show it. Radio-country star Justin Moore espouses stock rural imagery (God, light beer, dirt roads) on this drawl-by-numbers anthem. Moore also name-checks noted racists in Hank Williams Jr. and David Allan Coe, so there’s that. Here’s hoping the once-hyped prospect performs better on the field than on the jukebox.

Pedro Florimon, SS

“Feo De Dia & Lindo de Noche” by El Batallon

Grade: C

“Ugly by day / Cute by night” raps the Dominican Republic’s answer to Pitbull. A clubby, energetic throwaway pick by our Dominican infielder.