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TwinsCentric: Should the Twins shop for a shortstop this offseason?

Posted by: Parker Hageman Updated: September 7, 2012 - 10:58 AM


 When the Twins front office begins to renovate this mess of a house in the winter, at the top of the list the highest priority has to be fixing the starting rotation. It is the home’s crumbling foundation and that needs the most attention.


Afterwards, item number two could be repairing the all-important middle infield position.

Offensively, over the past two seasons the Twins shortstops have hit a combined .241/.303/.326. It was this kind of hitting that had forced the 2009 team into acquiring Orlando Cabrera and the 2010 team to land JJ Hardy.

In terms of OPS, just three other American League teams have extracted less production out of the position since the end of the 2010 season:  the Mariners, Rays and Athletics. The difference is, while those teams’ shortstops struggled at the dish, they were all good with the glove providing them with some value. What’s more is that two of those three teams either changed direction or will likely change in the near future.

In the past two seasons, outside of a geriatric doctor in Sarasota performing physicals, nobody in this country picked up more balls than Seattle’s Brendan Ryan, so it is easy to exchange offense for his defense. Meanwhile, Elliot Johnson in Tampa has been solid, doing more on defense in 2010 over 2011, but he will likely give way to one of the two defensive stalwarts in Tim Beckham or Hak-Ju Lee in the coming future. Over in Oakland, Chad Pennington has been average in the field however his lack of offense encouraged the A’s to grab the equally struggling Stephen Drew, who has yet to rebound after leaving the hitting-haven of Arizona’s Chase Field.

In theory, the Twins thought they were getting a strong defensive player in Tsuyoshi Nishioka but realized that the bar for a Gold Glove in Japan was apparently set ridiculously low. For their part, recognizing the lack of depth at the upper levels, the Twins have nabbed a few additional shortstops including Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar to go with the in-house Brian Dozier.

Florimon, who has been up with the team for all of 19 games, comes equipped with plenty of range but an error-prone resume. We’ve seen some slick fielding plays thanks to his speed. Consider with a grain of salt based on the sample size yet according to Baseball Info Solution’s data in 158.1 innings he has made 11 out-of-zone plays at short. Compare that to Jamey Carroll - who had 150 more innings than him at short – and made just 18 out-of-zone plays. However, he’s been unable to make the plays within the standard zone.  He’s had 42 balls hit into his zone and made just 27 plays (.643 revised zone rating). While Carroll could not touch Florimon’s speed, Carroll compensated by making the vast majority of plays that were hit near him (85 of 105 for a .810 revised zone rating). And although he has turned a corner and has made just 16 errors so far this year, the fewest E’s the 25-year-old shortstop has commitment was 21 in the low-A Sally League.  If he does not find a way to harness all of his physical talent and smooth out his glove work, his minor league track record suggests he will not contribute much offensively judging by his .249/.321/.354 batting line in just under 3,000 plate appearances.

Escobar has proven to be a much more sure-handed individual over his development but does not necessarily project as a starting shortstop – more likely a second baseman or utility infielder. Even though the White Sox used him at third base, there is nothing in his minor league batting line of .267/.312/.348 that would be indicative of someone capable of hitting like a third baseman.

Before they decided against recalling him in September, the accept belief was that Brian Dozier would be the frontrunner for the position in 2013 among all the internal options. For most of the year Dozier played decisively average defense. Compared to the rest of the league’s starting shortstops according to BIS, he made a less than average amount of plays in a shortstop’s zone. Some of that was blamed on lack of awareness of his competition. Upon his demotion, Ron Gardenhire questioned some of his positioning that allowed speedier guys like Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson to reach on grounders. Improving his defense would require preparation and ability to position in the field to handle those types of situations. Then again, there are plenty of baseball minds who have believed Dozier to be more of a second baseman than a shortstop.  And, offensively, he degraded into a Danny Valencia-like mess at the plate, chasing sliders out of the zone and putting a very high amount of those kinds of pitches in play (74% out of zone contact).

To be sure, the gaggle of shortstops has improved the defense a smidge over the 2011 group. Last year the team had a .268 batting average on ground balls in play, well above the league average of .240.  This year, that number has dropped to .258. Still on the high-side but an increase of grounders converted to outs, nonetheless.

Based on what we know today, it would seem that none of these three players are close to becoming fixtures in the middle infield. They certainly all have skills and plenty of upside, although it is hard to envision a team interested in competing for a division title next year to roll forward with any of these three at the vital position.

The point is, when the Twins brass sits down when the season ends on October 3, they should think critically about their plans for shortstop next year. Any one of these players may be able to get a team through a season and it is possible that one of these existing candidates figures things out either defensively or offensively. On the other hand, based on their prior experience, it is more likely that they do not and will leave the organization, once again, hunting for an answer at shortstop. 


Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 10 2nd Qtr 5:52
Pittsburgh 17
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 90 4th Qtr 9:24
Dallas 87
New York 22 2nd Qtr
Portland 31
Toronto 22 1st Qtr 1:06
Denver 21
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 2nd Prd 3:19
Anaheim 0
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 42 2nd Half 7:22
Washington 53
Buffalo 44 2nd Half 7:13
Wisconsin 58
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 24 2nd Half
Memphis 28


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