Minnesota Twins need Adrianza to step up in Polanco’s absence
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are left having to replace Jorge Polanco as starting shortstop after his suspension. Here is why Ehire Adrianza should be first in line.
The Minnesota Twins 2018 plans were dished a gut punch Sunday morning as they learned of Jorge Polanco‘s testing positive for Stanozolol. Stanozolol is by MLB terms considered a performance-enhancing substance or PED. That has resulted in an 80 game suspension for Polanco who was slated to be the team’s starting shortstop. In his absence, other Twins player will need to step up and one in particular needs to shine to give the Twins their best chance to catch the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.
If Monday’s comments are any indication, it appears that Eduardo Escobar is slated to take over as the Twins starting shortstop.
That comment in Mike Berardino’s tweet doesn’t exactly give Escobar the starting job but hints pretty strongly in that direction. The thing is the player that gives that Twins the best chance to compete with the top teams in the American League is a good season out of Ehire Adrianza.
The part of Adrianza’s game that clearly puts him above Escobar or Erick Aybar when it comes to replacing Polanco, is Adrianza his glove. Last season Adrianza had a 1 DRS and two seasons ago over 151.2 innings a 3 DRS. Over the past two seasons, Escobar has a -9 DRS. Going back to 2015, Escobar did have a 2 DRS over 627.1. With almost 700 innings logged since 2015 something has clearly changed in Escobar’s ability to field the shortstop position.
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Escobar is widely regarded as the better hitter, but looking at last years slash lines the two aren’t drastically different. Escobar slashed .254/.309/.449 while Adrianza slashed .265/.324/.383. The big difference is Escobar has more power potential and performed as a starting player down the stretch of the season logging more at-bats. The question then becomes, can Adrianza carry that offensive production as a regular starter.
In a small sample size spring, Adrianza has been hitting .294/.333/.529 with one home run, one triple, and three doubles. Last year’s season stats and this spring’s performance make it seem like Adrianza is plenty capable of providing similar offense to Polanco’s .266/.322/.417 career slash line. It will take some improvement from Adrianza, but he seems to be moving in that direction already.
There is this too, the Twins lineup is already set to produce a lot of runs regardless of who lines up at shortstop. The team may very well be better off getting better defense out of their regular shortstop and then letting Escobar continue playing his normal utility role where he gives each of the regular infielders a rest.
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The opposite may also be true, where it is better to keep the better bat in a regular position, Escobar. Then have the better glove rotate as a utility player, Adrianza. Thankfully, if you stay tuned to Puckett’s Pond you will see the case for another player taking the majority of reps in Polanco’s place. In this writer’s opinion, the consisten plus glove and potential offensive “upside” makes Adrianza the best choice to replace Polanco.