A lot of things are clearly working so far this season for the 40-18 Twins, but one thing that has helped them survive a few significant short-term injuries is the versatility of the depth among their position players.
They can afford, for instance, to carry three catchers because Willians Astudillo (11 starts there) can slide over to third base (six starts), first base (four starts) and even the outfield (two starts). When Mitch Garver missed time, the Twins barely missed a beat because Astudillo was already on the roster and shifted to more starts at catcher.
Part of the value of Marwin Gonzalez (two years, $21 million) in free agency was his positional versatility. He’s made starts at five different positions: third base (31), first base (six), right field (five), left field (three) and shortstop (one). With Miguel Sano back and getting a lot of work at third base, Gonzalez’s versatility is even more important as he rotates through all his spots.
Ehire Adrianza, too, has split his time almost evenly between third, second and short — and can play the outfield or first base in a pinch.
Batting order versatility is probably less important because it shouldn’t really matter, but it’s worth noting that the Twins have used one lineup seven times and another six times. All other 1-9 combinations they’ve put out there have been used just once.
Some guys have typical slots. Max Kepler usually bats leadoff; Jorge Polanco is usually second; when healthy, Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron might typically follow. But it’s been very mix-and-match based on rest and matchups.
And incredibly: Astudillo, in his 25 starts this season, has batted in all nine spots in the order. He’s hit leadoff, cleanup, eighth and ninth one time apiece, with multiple appearances in the other five spots.
All of that gives Rocco Baldelli a lot to juggle — but a lot of good options, when managed well, can’t be a bad thing.