Minnesota Twins: Can Polanco’s return jumpstart the Twin’s offense?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 9: Jorge Polanco
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 9: Jorge Polanco /
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Minnesota Twins
PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 18: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers strikes out in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 18, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Others of note

These players all returned the year after their suspensions and started their comebacks after spring training.

Everth Cabrera, SS,  Padres (Age 26, 50 games, 8/5/13)  An All-Star, with a .284 average and .716 OPS, and leading the NL in steals when suspended. Those numbers dropped to a .232 average and .517 OPS in 2014. That led to Cabrera being non-tendered by the Padres, when he then signed with Baltimore and appeared in his final 29 major league games at age 28.

Ryan Braun, OF,  Brewers (Age 29, 65 games, 7/22/13)  Braun had led the NL in HRs and OPS (41, .987) in 2012 and held a .298 average and .869 OPS  with 9 HR in 61 games when suspended. He dropped to a .266 average and .777 OPS, 19 home runs in 135 games in 2014, but picked it up again in 2015 and 2016.

Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies  (Age 33, 25 games, November 2012)  Coming off an All-Star 2012 season with a batting average of .325 and OPS of .925, 16 HRs, Ruiz came back down to earth in 2013. He hit for an average of .268 and a .688 OPS, with his HR output tanking from then on. Ruiz finished with career averages of a .264 batting average and .742 OPS

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Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres (Age 23, 50 games, November 2012)  A top prospect playing in the Futures Game prior to being called up in 2012, Grandal´s first three major league hits were HRs. He finished the year at .297/.394/.469 and a .863 OPS. Returning in July of 2013, he went 2 for 24 in his first 6 games. Grandal would go on to hit for a .216 average and .693 that season. For his career, he currently has a batting average of .239 paired with a .771.

Melky Cabrera, OF, Giants (Age 28, 50 games, 8/15/12)   An All-Star in 2012 hitting for a batting average of .346 with a .906 OPS. His suspension ended during the course of the Giants World Series run, but the team didn’t add him to the playoff roster. Cabrera would go on to sign with Toronto in 2013 and slash .279/.322/.360 with a .682 OPS.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Cubs/Red Sox (Age 34, 50 games, 6/25/12)  Having a poor season while hitting .210 with a .488 OPS, Byrd had been released by Boston a month prior to his suspension. He signed with the Mets in 2013 and was later traded to the Pirates where he finished the season at batting .291 with a .847 OPS.

In short, the immediate performance of players returning from PED suspensions appears to be a mixed bag. Collabello and Palmeiro went a combined 4 for 51, while Peralta, Cervelli, and Sanchez picked up 28 hits in 63 at-bats. Overall, I didn’t see a notable unexpected difference in hitting or power from these players in the charted 6-game span nor in their later stats.

Next: Twins could find value in trading for Keon Broxton

While history suggests that the early performance of returning players is probably as predictably unpredictable as you’d find in a random mid-season 6 game record of a dozen similarly skilled players, Polanco could well be an outlier on the positive side. He has hit for both average and power in his rehab, and the Twins have gone 5-1 in his two previous season debuts as a starter.  Jorge may provide the last best chance for the Twins offense to start and maintain the winning streak needed to get back into contention.