Grading the Twins: The Guys Behind the Plate
The Minnesota Twins are on the verge of another disappointing season. The 90 loss mark is going to be eclipsed, and most of Twins Territory lost interest shortly after the All-Star break. Here at Puckett’s Pond, we want to take a look at how each position performed in 2014, and look toward what the Twins have going into next season.
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First, we are going to start behind the plate. The Minnesota Twins played three true players behind the plate this season. Kurt Suzuki was the offseason free agent acquisition, along with Eric Fryer, and Josmil Pinto. Heading into the season, Pinto was viewed as the future of the position, with Suzuki providing the stopgap option.
Starting with Suzuki, the Minnesota Twins got some of the most valuable out of the least expected offseason pick-up. Suzuki played to an All-Star caliber level in 2014, and was invited to the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field. At the plate, he slashed .291/.347/.388, while driving in 58 RBIs and launching three home runs.
Suzuki was leaned on to control the pitching staff, and excelled in doing so. His veteran leadership was heavily relied upon and his .253 caught stealing percentage ranked 12th in baseball. All told, the Twins extended Suzuki prior to the trade deadline, and he seems entrenched as the opening day catcher for 2015. B+
Josmil Pinto entered the year as an exciting minor league prospect. Known more for his bat than his fielding ability, Pinto was expected to provide pop in the Twins lineup. On the season he hit .217/.312/.398 across 52 games. He also added seven home runs and 16 RBIs.
Splitting time as a catcher and designated hitter, Ron Gardenhire was forced to leave him out of the lineup, and eventually demote Pinto, as his defensive ability was just not major league ready. While the bat lagged due to lack of consistency, Pinto failed to show he can compete as a major league level catcher with the gear on. He’s young and the time to develop is there, but it just didn’t happen this season. C
Rounding out the catching stable for the Twins was minor league fodder, Eric Fryer. A guy that likely doesn’t figure into the long-term plans of the Twins, Fryer ended up catching 27 games for the Twins in 2014. Forced into action as Suzuki’s backup, Fryer filled in as he was expected, someone who could field the position, and not do much else.
At the plate, Fryer hit a measly .214/.276/.314 and drove in only three runs while hitting one home run. Fryer is maybe less than Drew Butera at the plate, and significantly less than Butera was behind it. Going forward, the Twins will likely hope to have more consistency from their top two options. D+
While the Twins have options at catcher, it’s probably not yet considered a position of strength. Josmil Pinto is the guy Minnesota brass would like to see behind the plate, but a significant leap in defensive ability is going to be needed. Suzuki, a career .258 hitter, is a candidate for regression next year, and leaning on him only from a defensive standpoint will hurt the Twins.
Look for both Suzuki and Pinto to start on the 25 man roster for the Twins in 2015, leaving the position all but settled. It isn’t yet considered a strength for the ball club, but depending on Pinto’s growth this offseason, it may not be far off.