Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports The Cleveland Indians won 5-1.
Baseball Debates: A new series of posts that raise debatable questions about the wide world of baseball. Each post will pose a question, argue both sides of the debate and then let you, the reader, have the final say. You can find the previous installments here: Fences, Saves, Coaches, Kurt Suzuki, MLB Season and Aaron Hicks. Let’s get to it!
Welcome back to another installment of Baseball Debates! Up for debate this week is the player most worthy of the starting shortstop job for the 2014 Minnesota Twins. Pedro Florimon locked down the job in 2013 with pretty stellar defensive prowess since his lackluster hitting abilities doesn’t impress many people. The starting job should be his to lose this Spring Training but this last week he had his appendix removed and will miss two weeks of baseball activities. The Twins have Eduardo Escobar and signed former Twin SS Jason Bartlett to a minor league deal, so perhaps the door might now be opened a crack for them to prove they could be more valuable than Florimon in 2014. So now Puckett’s Pond is asking, Should Pedro Florimon Be the Starting Shortstop?
- According to Baseball Reference, in 2013 Florimon ranked 1st in the league in Range Factor for shortstops. That’s extremely impressive and it helped Florimon finish with a 2.1 defensive WAR. There were certainly times when his defense faltered, like committing 18 errors, but remember that 2013 was his first full season in the big leagues and he should only become more consistent with more experience.
- Florimon’s range, combined with 2B Brian Dozier’s, made them a killer up-the-middle defensive pairing. They both ranked 2nd in the MLB in double plays turned at their position and keeping them together could only build on their chemistry and communication.
- His offense isn’t anything special but his 2013 pre-All Star break numbers weren’t terrible, especially considering his great defense. If he can at least hold steady on that .235/.295/.342 (Avg./OBP/SLG) line, he’ll play a role in the Twins 2014 success. If he can play anything like his 2013 May (.289/.349/.434) with great defense to boot, he’ll garner serious All-Star votes.
- Florimon is super cheap and not arbitration eligible until 2016. Giving him the keys to shortstop for 2014 would help his experience and give him plenty of at bats to find some hopefully better consistency at the plate. If the Twins brought in a free agent like Stephen Drew, they would be on the hook for considerably more money during a rebuilding year.
- Sure Florimon has great range but he doesn’t translate his ability to truly great stats. The wunderkind Atlanta Braves SS Andrelton Simmons had a 4.92 range factor per 9 innings in 2013 and racked up a 5.4 defensive WAR. Florimon used his higher 5.29 range factor per 9 innings to produce only a 2.1 defensive WAR. There are certainly question marks about how you actually calculate dWAR but this shows that Florimon’s defense isn’t as great as it could, or maybe should, be.
- Florimon posted an awful .201/.262/.314 batting line after the All-Star break so he might have been a victim of fatigue during the long season. A shortstop platoon with Escobar might keep him fresh throughout the entire season so he can post respectable offensive numbers to complement his defense. Escobar hasn’t proved his ability to hit in the MLB either but he also hasn’t been given a fair chance at it with consistent playing time. This option could give the Twins a chance to see if they have something more than a utility player in Escobar before his arbitration in 2015.
- Jason Bartlett helped the Twins get to the playoffs in 2006 and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and 2010. He knows what it’s like to win and that’s the kind of experienced leader the team needs in the infield to help the team improve.
- The shortstop position has been extremely inconsistent for the Minnesota Twins, with tons of different players seeing time there since Christian Guzman (who didn’t really pan out either). This is the time for the Twins to go out and spend money on a proven shortstop to shore up an area of need. Stephen Drew is still available on the free agent market and he would definitely be worth giving up the second round draft pick to sign him. Signing him to a multi-year deal would let the Twins develop their own SS from within, without sacrificing talent at the major league level while waiting for their next prospect to be ready.
Now it’s your turn to vote! Leave a comment to support your decision or to let me know if I missed any important supporting or opposing points!