Minnesota Twins: Even with a struggling offense, the lineup needs to prioritize defense first without Joe Mauer

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CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Third baseman Ehire Adrianza #16 of the Minnesota Twins tires to throw out Greg Allen #53 of the Cleveland Indians at first during the seventh inning at Progressive Field on September 28, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 5-2. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Third baseman Ehire Adrianza #16 of the Minnesota Twins tires to throw out Greg Allen #53 of the Cleveland Indians at first during the seventh inning at Progressive Field on September 28, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 5-2. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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As the Minnesota Twins offensive struggles continues, the team should continue to prioritize preventing runs with its defense.

The Minnesota Twins spent all offseason clearly looking to do one thing, upgrade their pitching staff. At this point in the season, it seems that they succeeded. Even with some early struggles from guys like Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, and Lance Lynn the Twins are much better when it comes to the players that are toeing the rubber.

The problem has been that the Twins offense has failed to show up for most of the season. Something that was not expected from a team that boasts the likes of Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier, and added Logan Morrison. The lineup was also supposed to benefit from another full season of Eddie Rosario and hoped for a full season of Byron Buxton‘s 2018 second-half performance.

About the only thing from all those scenarios that has happened is that Rosario has continued to be the Twins most consistent hitter from the plate. Definitely not words that many expected to write about a player that is the most willing to swing at pitches out of the strike zone, but it is true.

Among the Twins regular players, he leads the team in batting average at .298 with only bench players Ryan LaMarre and Gregorio Petit ahead of him. He is also right in the mix for OBP with Joe Mauer holding a clear lead on the team with a .404 OBP. Then Rosario (.320 OBP) is right in the mix with Eduardo Escobar (.321 OBP), Max Kepler (.335 OBP), and Morrison (.310 OBP).

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It would be great to find a way to boost the lineup’s performance by either promoting a player or trading for a player. Outside of catcher, there aren’t any likely places for that to happen. It is yet to be seen if there is even anyone worth acquiring on the catching market that can help the Twins at a decent price. So instead, the Twins will have to wait for the likes of Dozier, Sano, and Buxton to begin hitting so this team can regularly compete in games and series.

The case to continue playing Ehire Adrianza

While Mauer is out, and everyone waits for those improved offensive performances, the Twins will need to continue to prioritize a lineup that emphasises defense. Namely, the Twins need to continue to play Ehire Adrianza at shortstop over a lineup that moves Escobar over to the 6 spot in favor of a more offensive heavy lineup.

Adrianza has currently accounted for a plus 2 defensive runs saved rating in 253.1 innings at shortstop. Considering his limited time in the Twins lineup, that is a pretty good DRS. And with four out of the five Twins starting pitchers boasting pretty high ground ball rates it is important to limit runs as the lineup struggles in ways that honestly one batter isn’t likely to change.

Next: Trying to answer the upcoming Twins rotation questions

The one day of the week where the Twins could potentially sacrifice infield defense in favor of offense is when Jake Odorizzi takes the mound. As a fly ball pitcher (only a 25.2% ground ball rate), that is the day that the Twins can look at going with Escobar at short, Sano at third, and Morrison at first, while putting a better hitter than Adrianza at the DH spot. Every other day, the Twins will need to be patient with their struggling hitters and prioritize preventing runs until they can better produce them.

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