The Minnesota Twins lost their 90th game of the season last night. Unfortunately for Twins Territory, that is a mark many have become all too familiar with. However, 90 losses also represents the end of the season being near, and as we wrap up 2014, we must look forward to 2015 with some level of optimism.
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For the Twins, 2014 has been filled with some strong performances, but very few consistent ones. Looking at positional groupings, there are some guys that have made an impact, and will definitely be a factor when 2015 rolls around.
Following up the grading out of the Twins catchers yesterday, another grouping goes into the spotlight. Today, we take a look at the players who have stepped foot on the infield this season.
Since there are a handful of players who factor into this portion of the field, let’s first identify them all:
- Jorge Polanco
- Doug Bernier
- Kennys Vargas
- Joe Mauer
- Eduardo Escobar
- Eduardo Nunez
- Trevor Plouffe
- Brian Dozier
- Chris Colabello
So starting with the youngest of the bunch, Jorge Polanco saw very limited action in Minneapolis this year. Called up from Single-A Fort Myers, the young prospect has some definite promise. He likely was not big league ready when called upon, and was more the by-product of a roster situation. That being said, with uncertainty at shortstop next season and a .288/.353/.395 minor league slash line in 2014, he could play himself into Twins Territory in short order. C+
Despite playing earlier in the season in 2013, Doug Bernier was nothing more than a September call up for the Twins this year. He posted good numbers at the Triple-A level in 2014, but he just doesn’t have the ability to factor in for a major league team. D+
The rookie influx of talent is supposed to take off next season, but Kennys Vargas made sure to kick off the party early in 2014. After a blistering start in the minors, one that led him to the Future’s Game at Target Field, Vargas was promoted to the big league club. Through 48 games, Vargas has slashed .284/.302/.473, hit nine home runs, and driven in 38 RBIs. Despite playing almost solely from the designated hitter slot, it is almost a certainty that Vargas has played his last minor league contest. A-
Forget that he’s the most controversial man on the ball club, in his first season at first base, Joe Mauer experienced some ups and downs. He’s still significantly better than some Twins fans would like to believe, but 2014 wasn’t a shining moment by any means. Playing only 115 games, Mauer hit .276/.361/.370. He has gone through period where his bat looked to be coming around, but the power stroke just has not been there. Power aside, Mauer is one of the biggest candidates for a huge comeback year in 2015. B-
The man the Twins acquired in exchange for Francisco Liriano played some meaningful time this season. Eduardo Escobar stayed right around a .300 average for much of the early portion of the year. Manning the shortstop position for most of the season, he figures to be a quality utility player on a good team, for the Twins next year however, he may open as the starting shortstop. C+
When the Yankees designated Eduardo Nunez for assignment, he filled an infield need for the Twins. Despite being relatively mediocre, Nunez gave the Twins some positional flexibility playing in the outfield as well. His bat was never going to carry him, and with the expected promotion of some key minor leaguers, he could be looking at a trip to Rochester in 2015. C
Miguel Sano went down before the season started, but Trevor Plouffe played as if the talented prospect was breathing down his neck the entire time. Plouffe looked much better defensively in 2014, and he was able to be somewhat more consistent at the plate. With 14 home runs and 79 RBIs, Plouffe has forced himself back into the Twins fans, and we couldn’t be happier for the former first round pick. B+
No one had a more up and down 2014 than Brian Dozier. After seeing Jason Kipnis and Jedd Gyorko sign big contracts this year, I was all in on Dozier getting one as well. The first half, Dozier had a legitimate claim as one of the top five second basemen in baseball. He was swinging with incredible power and has always fielded the ball very well. He slugged 18 home runs prior to his Home Run Derby appearance, and looked poised for a huge year. However, following the first half, he has only hit three home runs, and the power has all but gone. Dozier won’t ever hit for average, but the power needs to come back to launch him back up to the top of the position talks. B
Rounding out the infield is feel good story Chris Colabello. Despite his independent baseball roots now falling by the wayside, Colabello was the talk of the early season, setting a new Twins record with RBIs in the early going. As the season wore on though, the consistent moniker played true, Colabello is a big bat that is little more than minor league depth. Finishing with a line of .229/.282/.380 across 59 games, he likely isn’t going to see much time if the Twins want to compete going forward. C
Stay tuned in the coming days as we continue to break down the Twins positional categories and what to expect in 2015 based on how things shook out in 2014.