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Zack Granite shouldn’t be called up yet

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Zack Granite is tearing up Triple-A but the Twins shouldn’t be making room for him on their roster yet.

MLB: Minnesota Twins-Media Day Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’m usually not a fan of hot takes. I feel that their purpose is meant for trolling more than actual analysis or discussion, and thus should be easily discarded. However, there are plenty of shows on ESPN and FS1 that engage in that very form of debate, where each co-host is out to say the most outrageous thing possible.

You’ve read the headline so you already know where I’m going here, and I’d say this might be the hottest take I’ll ever say: The Twins should not call up the (as of me typing this) .365-hitting Zack Granite.

Normally I use statistics to back up my argument and while it would be easy to point at Granite’s .401 BABIP that that it’ll eventually drop back down to earth, my argument lays more in the fact that there isn’t room for him.

Let’s focus on the outfield first. Eddie Rosario’s offense has been trending upwards and as of now, this has been his best offensive season as he has a 103 wRC+ (he has been 3% better than the average hitter). Plus, his walk rate is above 5%, which is like moving from “sell” to “don’t buy.” Max Kepler’s bat hasn’t been as good (91 wRC+) and he’s virtually unusable against lefties (career 45 wRC+), but he’s been incredible defensively thus far as he’s ranked 3rd among qualified right fielders in UZR/150 and he’s tied for 3rd in defensive runs saved. Besides, when a lefthander is on the mound, Kepler often sits in favor of Robbie Grossman. whose batting average isn’t the greatest but he gets on base more often than Miguel Sano.

Of course, this ignores the obvious choice to lose playing time: Byron Buxton. His 50 wRC+ is atrocious and he’s started slumping again after finally getting his batting average back above the Mendoza Line. However, defense is his calling card and this year he’s been 7th among qualified center fielders in UZR/150 and 1st in defensive runs saved. Of course, offense is what we notice the most and Granite is almost the full antithesis of Buxton in that he makes contact and hits for a good batting average. However, that might be the only way that Granite is the superior player. Buxton hits for more power (even though his swing has been changed so he’ll hit more grounders). Granite is fast, but Buxton is almost certainly faster and is very likely the better defender. Even if you think Granite can hold his own catching the ball, his throwing arm is significantly worse (FanGraphs rates it as a 40 on the 20-80 scale) whereas Buxton’s is above average (rated a 60 if I recall correctly, though we can tell it’s plenty strong just by watching him).

Additionally, Buxton has already been yanked around the past two years due to his struggles and I think it would be detrimental to do it a third consecutive season. We also know that Paul Molitor would rather have Granite play every day. One solution for Granite would be to have him rotate around the outfield and give each starter a day off every couple days, but how can we justify that Granite is deserving of regular playing time whereas the outfielders with theoretically more upside are to be rested 2-3 times a week?

Ultimately, I don’t think the Twins have the ability to make room for Granite on the roster. Even if you were to suggest a non-outfielder like Kennys Vargas should be sent out, then you’re trying to fill four spots (DH included) with five players. Toss in that Eduardo Escobar has been hitting well, and it becomes six players for four spots. While it would be nice and I do think Granite is certainly deserving to be in the major leagues, it’ll probably take an injury to clear room for him as La Velle E. Neal’s tweet suggested. It’s too bad, but I do think it’s the right call. Besides, I’m sure Granite will get his chance eventually. Everyone on the Rochester roster has had their chance. Well, all the pitchers, at least.