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In Hindsight: Should the Twins have signed Manny Machado?

Could the Twins be even hotter than they are?

Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

This off-season, there was lots of discussion about whether or not the Twins should sign Manny Machado. They didn’t, obviously, which elicited many “Cheap Pohlads!!!” comments. The Twins opted instead to sign some players with less star power and rely on Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Let’s see how that plan is panning out for them.

The Twins, obviously, have been very successful as a team this year. Top of the division, hitting lots of a home runs, and generally cruising. But let’s compare Machado’s stats to the stats of the players who would lose playing time were he on the team. For reference, the season is about 30% over at this point. All stats are current as of 5/22/19 (So add two home runs to Schoop’s total and one to Polanco’s).

Machado vs. Twins Infielders

Stats per Fangraphs Jorge Polanco Manny Machado Jonathan Schoop Marwin Gonzalez
Stats per Fangraphs Jorge Polanco Manny Machado Jonathan Schoop Marwin Gonzalez
Plate Appearance 205 205 168 161
Home Runs 8 9 8 5
Walk Percentage 9.80% 9.80% 3.00% 9.30%
Strikeout Perentage 15.10% 21.00% 20.80% 23.60%
Isolated Power (SLG-AVG) 0.257 0.183 0.228 0.138
Batting Avg on Balls in Play 0.372 0.3 0.296 0.314
Batting Avg 0.339 0.267 0.266 0.255
On-Base Percentage 0.405 0.346 0.31 0.329
Slugging Percentage 0.596 0.45 0.494 0.393
Wins Above Replacement 2.4 1.3 0.9 0.7
Medium/Hard Contact % 83.70% 79.90% 75.60% 83.20%
Out of Strike Zone Swing % 28.90% 31.40% 42.50% 29.00%
In Strike Zone Swing % 64.10% 70.10% 78.20% 66.30%
Out of Strike Zone Contact % 75.00% 55.60% 54.50% 60.20%
In Strike Zone Contact % 91.00% 85.30% 80.50% 88.80%
Swinging Strike % 6.60% 12.40% 17.60% 9.90%
Ultimate Zone Rating -1.4 -0.6 1 1.8
Fielding Percentage 0.958 0.969 0.975 0.989
Salary (per Spotrac) 3.58m 12m (jumps to 32m next year) 7.5m 12m

Looking at the numbers, Polanco has clearly been the superior player to Machado so far this season. Some of this may be due to some luck, as his batting average on balls in play is pretty high. However, his other peripheral stats show a hitter who is patient, has good bat control, and is hitting the ball hard. These things are a good recipe for sustained success. His defense does leave a little to be desired, but Machado’s (at shortstop) has been nothing to write home about either. I’ll concede that Machado would be an upgrade over Schoop or Gonzalez, but not by nearly as much as you’d expect. Schoop has been very consistent this year, and his stats almost match up with Machado’s, although in fewer plate appearances. His defense has also been quite good at second base. Gonzalez has really picked it up after a slow start, and his peripheral stats show that he may be able to expect better batting average luck in the future. He also has been very solid in the field. Throw in a Miguel Sano who has started off hot, and the Twins infield is looking pretty dangerous as is.

To quote our own Tawny Jarvi, “The Twins just grabbed some table scraps this off-season and somehow turned them all into a gourmet meal.” Many of us were probably hoping for a big splash this off-season, but the Twins quietly turned in a stellar free agency period by making quality veteran acquisitions and improving their coaching staff. Taking into account that Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff may arrive sooner rather than later, picking up some slugging placeholders rather than an expensive young stud is looking like a pretty good strategy right about now.

All in all, Machado would definitely be a useful player for this team. However, I really cannot imagine a world in which the Twins could start the season better than they already have. I think the Twins absolutely nailed the off-season, and hopefully they’ll continue to show us that.


In hindsight, should the Twins have signed Manny Machado?

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  • 4%
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    (745 votes)
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    Willians Astudillo
    (498 votes)
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