Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Twinkie Town's cult favorite is getting another shot at the Twins roster.
Brian Dinkelman, 2B/OF
Dinkelman hit .301 in 23 games with the Twins in 2011, and thus began the legend of a cult fan favorite. This is far over what you'd expect him to hit based off his minor league track record, but in that span 30% of his balls in play were line drives. That led to a .373 BABIP, and anytime your batting average on balls in play is astronomically high then you'd expect a solid batting average.
His versatility plays to his advantage. While he's played a lot of corner outfield in recent years in the minors, he's also played a lot of second base. He played 89 of his 151 innings with the Twins at second in 2011, and if he's to make the trip north this spring you'd expect him to be available to play there again.
Minnesota's middle infield is decidedly unsettled. Trevor Plouffe and Justin Morneau will be penciled in at the corners. Based off last year's lineups you'd believe that Pedro Florimon is the favorite for the shortstop position, while soundbites from the Twins have placed Brian Dozier as the favorite for second base. Jamey Carroll is likely to be the primary backup infielder, regardless of who starts, being able to play second, third, and short. Glove man Eduardo Escobar can play all three of those positions as well, doing so in small samples late last year in Minnesota.
All of which puts Dinkelman on the outside looking in. That's not a surprise considering he's an NRI. But what gives him a chance is that, as one player, he gives the Twins what they need in two positions: backup corner outfielders and a backup second baseman. He's a better hitter than Escobar too, even if he doesn't have his defense. When you're trying to give your team as much depth as possible, being able to fold a backup for two positions into one player could allow the team to carry another player. Gardy likes his late-game match ups.
An added bonus: it can be a pain to add an NRI to the 40-man roster, because you would need to pass another player through waivers in order to make room. But the Twins have five catchers on their 40-man. There is room for the front office to move if they feel they need too.
Dinkelman is a favorite around Twinkie Town. I have no doubt he's one of "those guys" for us in spring training this year. If he plays well, it's a possibility he wins out.
Chances of making the team: Possible.