As we count down to opening day, we’ll be taking a look at each position for the Twins, the presumed starter, and the other options in the organization. Today we’ll be looking at short stop.
The Presumed Starter: Jorge Polanco
With Max Kepler, Polanco is the other young Twin to agree to an extension this spring. Like Kepler, Polanco is already a key cog in the success of the Twins machine, and like Kepler he still has something to prove. While Kepler has to prove he can successfully hit southpaws, Polanco needs to prove that he can stay at short. Polanco has a good bat for a shortstop, which means the Twins could potentially move him to second or third down the line, if he is unable to defend his position, or if Wander Javier or Royce Lewis force the issue. Last season Polanco hit .288/.345/.427 in 77 games, while missing half the season due to a banned-substance suspension. For 2019, the major projections are a bit torn on Polanco, with Steamer taking the more optimistic tack at .272/.333/.420, and ZiPS being more bullish, at .263/.316/.401, with only ten dongs, compared to 13 or 14 dingers on the other projections. As a result, Steamer expects Polanco to be an offensive force, racking up 3.4 oWAR, while ZiPS suggests Polanco will be below replacement level with the bat, at -4.8 oWAR. Both expect plus defense, and in this case ZiPS provides the higher number.
The Bench Guys: Ehire Adrianza, Marwin Gonzalez, Ronald Torreyes, Nick Gordon
Adrianza has been with the Twins for a few years now, and is a very competent utilityman. Last season he appeared in a career-high 114 games, and served as the primary shortstop during Polanco’s suspension. Adrianza hit .251/.301/.379 last season, and is projected to do similarly this season—ZiPS has him at .243/.299/.355, while Steamer has him hitting .254/.313/.373. In 64 2018 games at short he registered a .966 fielding percentage.
Gonzalez is a newcomer to the Twins, but came up in the Cubs and Astros system as a shortstop. He’s been an adequate fill-in there for Houston, when called upon, but was largely blocked by some guy named Jose Altuve. Still, in 2018, Gonzalez did appear at short 39 times, and the Twins may ask him to shoulder a similar workload. He’ll likely start the season as their primary third baseman, however.
Another newcomer to the organization is Ronald Torreyes. With an option remaining, Torreyes is likely to begin the season in Triple-A Rochester. If the injury bug strikes the Twins infield, however, he is likely the next in line for a call up. He’s appeared in parts of four seasons now, for the Dodgers and Yankees, and is primarily a glove-first guy, who has never turned in a season at below-replacement-level.
If the Twins are not in a heated pennant race come September, they very well may get Nick Gordon some playing time at short, if not sooner. Gordon hit the cover off the ball in his second year at double-A Chattanooga, but scuffled a little bit when promoted to triple-A. He could force the Twins hand with a strong first half, and be a key part of the future. If he struggles again, however, he may be passed in the organization.
Next up... Third Base
How do you feel about the Twins situation at shortstop?
This poll is closed
Polanco deserved that extension, and is going to look great this season
The Twins have enough depth to be fine, but it won’t be anything special
Polanco will have to move positions, bring on the Royce Lewis era