TwinsCentric Logo

Blog

TwinsCentric

Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes

TwinsCentric: Examining the options at shortstop

We are ten days from the July trade deadline. Yesterday, Nick wrote about the Twins biggest need, behind the plate. But if catching is the team’s #1 need, would shortstop be #1b?

Should the Twins continue to stand by young Danny Santana or turn things back to Eduardo Escobar? Should they look outside the organization for an option, or should they take a shot and hand over the job to Jorge Polanco?

Let’s start by considering the internal options.

DANNY SANTANA

A year ago, Santana was a surprise call-up to the Twins. He stuck and shocked most who had paid any attention to his minor league statistics. He hit .319 and showed good power to go with his speed. Of course, he played primarily centerfield instead of shortstop and finished seventh in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

To call his sophomore season a slump would be kind. For the most part, 2015 has been a disaster for Santana. As I went to look at where his statistics compare to other MLB second baseman, I hit a wrong button and ended up with a report that showed me 248 players with 200 or more plate appearances. It was ranked by WAR and guess who came in at the bottom of the list? That’s right. Danny Santana’s -1.7 WAR is worst in baseball. 247th on that list was Jimmy Rollins at -0.9 WAR.

Put another way, if the Twins had gone with a replacement level player such as Doug Bernier or Argenis Diaz instead of Santana this season, they likely would have had significantly better production from the shortstop position.

Among 29 shortstops with over 200 plate appearances in 2015 Santana ranks last with a .241 On-Base Percentage and his .547 OPS. His .306 Slugging Percentage ranks 27th of 29, while his .221 Batting Average comes in at 26th.
Santana came into the season with the full support and backing of Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor. They wanted to give the 24-year-old every opportunity to improve. As late July approaches and the Twins remain a legitimate playoff hopefully, it’s hard to imagine he has too much more rope.

One other consideration is that Santana is out of options in 2016.


EDUARDO ESCOBAR

Last year, as a 25-year-old, Eduardo Escobar earned the Twins starting shortstop job. In fact, many would argue that he did enough to have been handed the gig in 2015. Of 32 shortstops that accumulated 300 plate appearances in 2014, Escobar ranked 21st with a 1.1 WAR.

All spring, Escobar said the right things, but he had to be disappointed to return to a utility role. He has played in just 18 games at shortstop this year, less than Eduardo Nunez. Meanwhile, he has inexplicably played in 32 games in left field, including 27 starts. He has been average, or slightly below average at both positions.

After hitting .275/.315/.406 (.721) with 35 doubles and six home runs a year ago, his bat hasn’t taken off this year either. He is hitting .254/.284/.400 (.684) with 19 extra base hits. Although not great, it would be around average for an MLB shortstop.


JORGE POLANCO

Polanco’s Major League stat line looks pretty impressive. He has hit .333/.500/.667 (1.167). Of course, that’s just 12 plate appearances though.

Signed for his glove work as a 16-year-old in 2009, Polanco’s offense has been what has carried him to AAA and those short stints with the Twins. He played in 67 games with Chattanooga this season and hit .301/.347/.409 (.755) with 14 doubles, two triples and four home runs. Upon his promotion to AAA Rochester, he has hit .298/.317/.351 (.668) in 14 games.

The issue with Polanco at this point looks like his ability to play shortstop. He had 16 errors and a .939 fielding percentage in AA. He has seven errors and an .865 fielding percentage in 14 games with the Red Wings. However, it is important to note that he had six errors in his first six games for Rochester.


EXTERNAL OPTIONS

Do the Twins need to look outside for a shortstop option? Head over to Twins Daily to read about four possible shortstops who could be on the Twins radar

While at Twins Daily, check out what happened in the Twins Minor Leagues on Monday. 

At Vikings Journal, discuss whether the 1969 Vikings or the 1998 Vikings was the best team in Vikings history. 

Also, tickets are available for the Vikings Journal 2015 Kickoff Party in Mankato on Saturday. Join us! Check out the details here

At Wild Xtra, Giles considers some Jersey Alterations

At Northern Pitch, Wes says that St. Paul is becoming the favorite for the new stadium. 

TwinsCentric: Five ways the Twins have improved in 2015

Midway through the 2015 season the Minnesota Twins remain a surprising contender. For anyone that has watched this team for the previous four seasons, it is difficult to wrap your head around how this has happened. While some may point to Paul Molitor’s leadership or Torii Hunter’s veteran presence as positive influences over what is largely the same roster, it is hard to say how much impact they have actually had. Here are five measurable differences between this season and last season which has resulted in a winning record so far in 2015.
 

The Twins Have Been A Really Good 2-Strike Hitting Team


With two strikes, the outcome significantly favors the pitcher as hitters have posted a collective .177 batting average and strikeout a whopping 40% of the time when the count hits 2-strikes in 2015. The Twins, however, have refused to go quietly without a fight.

They have hit 32 home runs with two-strikes (5th most in MLB) and own a .295 slugging percentage (3rd highest). Brian Dozier and Torii Hunter each have five two-strike home runs while Trevor Plouffe added 14 two-strike doubles (most in MLB). In fact, Plouffe’s 18 total extra base hits in 2-strike counts is tied the Washington Nationals’ baseball destroyer Bryce Harper while only Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier (20) and Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (19) have had more.
 

Succeeding In RISP Situations


The Twins batted .250 with runners in scoring position in 2014 but are now hitting a robust .283 this season. Hence, the additional scoring. While there are obvious contributors like Joe Mauer, many might not notice the value that Kurt Suzuki has provided in those situations as well. The much maligned Twins catcher has hit just .235/.291/.313 overall but in 79 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Suzuki has hit .288/.346/.394 (that said, his -1.54 wins probability added is the worst on the roster). In addition to the improved batting average, Minnesota also leads baseball with 11 triples with RISP. Mauer, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana have two each while Shane Robinson, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Herrmann and Aaron Hicks each have one.

Attached Image: RISP BA.png

Shifting More Frequently


Up to the All-Star Break last year, the Twins had shifted in a total of 806 at-bats, which was 23rd out of 30 teams. This year they have shifted in 1,089 at-bats which is 11th out of the 30 teams. As you may have noticed, the Twins have used the shift more liberally in 2015, often moving players in the middle of specific counts to gain an advantage. Has the increased use of the shift worked? Opponents are hitting .200 versus the Twins in shift formation -- 26th out of 30 teams -- but that is well-below the overall .269 average the Twins pitchers have allowed.
 

Turning More Fly Balls And Line Drives Into Outs


As a unit, the Twins’ outfield has been surprisingly improved in 2015. It was anticipated that Torii Hunter’s addition to the outfield in a group with Oswaldo Arcia would create heartache for the pitching staff who watch as would-be outs fell untouched to the Earth. Arcia hasn’t seen much time in the outfield (or on the Major League roster for that matter), replaced instead by the superior defender in Eddie Rosario. Rosario has been a significant upgrade in left field. Meanwhile, Aaron Hicks’ third tour of center field has gone swimmingly in the field as well while Hunter has not been the liability that some Twins Daily blogger made him out to be. The results have been more outs and a happier pitching staff.


Attached Image: Fly Outs.png

Scoring Early


The Twins offense has been brilliant shortly after batting practice but as the game wears on, the lineup has grown stagnant. In the first three innings, the Twins have scored 153 runs -- second only to the potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup (168). So that’s not significantly better than the output from the first-half of the season last year (145) but it is improved nonetheless. The quick leads have allowed the starting pitchers to take the mound comfortably and have given the bullpen plenty of opportunities to preserve the game in the later innings (this is where area ball-thrower Glen Perkins has come in handy). The downside is that the bats grow cold in the later innings and the runs have come few and far between. In innings seven through nine, the Twins have scored just 90 runs -- the third fewest among all teams. Last year, the Twins were one of the better late-inning run producing teams with 133 runs scored (4th).

Top 9th R H E
Pittsburgh 57-41 8 11 2
Minnesota 52-46 7 12 1

Today's Scoreboard

  • Atlanta

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    3

    7

  • Philadelphia

    Toronto

     

    - F

    3

    2

  • Chicago White Sox

    Boston

     

    - F

    9

    4

  • Kansas City

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Washington

    Miami

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • San Diego

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    0

    4

  • Detroit

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    2

    10

  • Colorado

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    7

    2

  • NY Yankees

    Texas

     

    - F

    21

    5

  • LA Angels

    Houston

     

    - F

    5

    10

  • Pittsburgh

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    8

    7

  • Cincinnati

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    4

    0

  • Oakland

    LA Dodgers

     

    - Bot 8th

    2

    0

  • Arizona

    Seattle

     

    - Top 7th

    6

    3

  • Milwaukee

    San Francisco

     

    - Bot 7th

    5

    2

Connect With Star Tribune Sports