Twins fans who haven’t busied themselves with concerns over a relatively quiet offseason (outside of the Byung Ho Park signing and trade for catcher John Ryan Murphy) have taken to fretting about the idea that Miguel Sano can be an outfielder.
That’s the Twins plan right now. I’m not saying it will work. I’m not saying it won’t. What I am saying is this: it’s not a thing worth worrying about right now.
Sure, Sano didn’t exactly make it all the way down to his goal weight (shedding 5 pounds instead of 20). But he’s a good athlete for a big man and playing the outfield isn’t rocket science. More importantly: switching positions isn’t rocket science.
We know this because a lot of guys in the Twins’ projected starting lineup have done it. Consider what might be a best-case scenario starting nine:
1) Byron Buxton, CF: OK, Buxton has been an outfielder throughout his professional career and there’s no reason to think he’ll change.
2) Brian Dozier, 2B: Came up to the Twins in 2012 and scuffled at shortstop. Came back in 2013 as a second baseman and has solidified his career.
3) Joe Mauer, 1B: Longtime catcher moved to first base in an attempt to maintain his health.
4) Miguel Sano, RF: Drafted as a shortstop. Moved to third base. Primarily a DH as a 2015 rookie. Now moving to outfield. As long as he hits, it won’t matter where he plays.
5) Trevor Plouffe, 3B: Failed as a shortstop. Thriving as a third baseman.
6) Byung Ho Park, DH: Primarily played first base in Korea.
7) Eddie Rosario, LF: Was originally an outfielder but shifted to second base for a good chunk of his minor league career before shuffling back to the outfield.
8) John Ryan Murphy, C: Has been a catcher for the vast majority of his pro career, though the Yankees tried him at third base for a stretch during his early days in the minors.
9) Eduardo Escobar, SS: Primarily a shortstop, but he has more than 100 career MLB at bats as a second baseman, third baseman and left fielder as well.
Dozier, Mauer and Plouffe have all made position switches while in the majors. Rosario made 204 career starts in the minors at second base, so it was clear the Twins had eyes on him staying there. Escobar was a utility guy who settled in at shortstop.
If you want to dig back a little into Twins history, you’ll find another good example: Michael Cuddyer, who never settled into the lineup while playing the infield (primarily third base), became a consistent presence once he moved to the outfield.
So while it’s legitimate to wonder if Sano can handle the outfield, let’s also remember that a position switch really isn’t that strange.