Minnesota Twins 2018 positional recap, part 4- Shortstops
By Matt Smith
Despite an early season suspension to their projected starter, the Minnesota Twins had a relatively stable situation at shortstop in 2019.
Today we continue recapping the Minnesota Twins’ 2018 season by looking at each position individually. If you’ve missed any of our previous recaps, here are some links to get you caught up:
The majority of the innings at shortstop this year were handled by Jorge Polanco and Ehire Adrianza. Eduardo Escobar covered a few weeks worth of games at short, and Gregorio Petit and Taylor Motter handed the position for a few innings each as well, which rounds out the Twins’ 2018 shortstops. Here, we’ll focus mostly on Polanco and Adrianza, as they were the two starters at shortstop for most of the season. Escobar, Petit, and Motter filled in when needed, but the large majority of the work was handled by Polanco and Adrianza.
There was bad news at shortstop very early on in the season for the Minnesota Twins, when Jorge Polanco was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. News of the suspension broke around 2 weeks before the first game of the season, leaving the team scrambling to figure out how they would address the now-vacant starting shortstop role.
The Twins had actually signed veteran infielder Erick Aybar to a minor league contract about a month before Polanco was suspended. However, Aybar opted out upon learning several days after Polanco was suspended that he would not make the major league roster.
Eduardo Escobar handled the majority of the shortstop responsibilities to start the season, with Ehire Adrianza filling in as needed. However, once Miguel Sano injured his hamstring in late April and ended up missing a full month of games, Escobar shifted over to third base, Adrianza became the starting SS, and Gregorio Petit became a backup infielder. That alignment would end up being the typical arrangement for the rest of the first half as the season, as Sano struggled upon returning and was not able to force Escobar back to short.
Escobar had performed great as the starting shortstop, hitting .301 through the first 24 games of the season with 11 doubles and 4 home runs. Adrianza didn’t play quite as well as the starter, but still put together some solid performances. From the start of May to the end of June, he slashed .273/.321/.440 with 11 doubles and 4 home runs across 48 games.
Then, on July 2nd, Jorge Polanco returned to the lineup and caused things to shift yet again. He slotted back in as the everyday shortstop, pushing Adrianza back to a backup role. Escobar remained the everyday third baseman. Through the rest of the season, Polanco put up more good numbers. In 77 games, he slashed .288/.345/.427 with 18 doubles, 6 home runs, and 42 RBI. Adrianza, meanwhile, saw his numbers drop for the rest of the season after being bumped from the starting shortstop. From July 1st through the end of the season, he slashed .236/.283/.338 with 9 doubles and 2 home runs in 51 games. Gregorio Petit and Taylor Motter each saw a few innings at shortstop before the end of the year as well, but neither did enough in terms of quantity nor quality to warrant elaborating further on them.