Minnesota Twins: Handing out Midseason Grades for the Infield
By Otto Johnson
The Minnesota Twins made it to the midseason point with an AL best 20-10 record. We grade the infield that helped get them there.
The Minnesota Twins finished off the first half of their season with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, putting them at a record of 20-10. That record tied them with the Oakland A’s for the best record in the American League and the second best record in all of baseball for the first half.
We’ve graded the starters, the bullpen, and the outfield already, and are wrapping up our grades with the infield. The infield was very streaky in the first half of the year, but now they look to be playing some of their best ball yet.
Similar to the outfield, in order to be graded the infielder needs to have played in at least five games, and there are eight players who made the cut, with only Ryan Jeffers missing out. Let’s get to the grades.
Minnesota Twins Infielder Grades
2020 Stats: 17 G, .154 BA/.262 OBP/.212 SLG%, 7 R, 0 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 11 TB
No Twins hitter struggled more out of the gate than Mitch Garver. A year after taking home the Silver Slugger award for the catcher position, Garver has the second worst OPS of any qualified Twin and has the worst batting average.
His defense has been fine, as he hasn’t experienced much of a drop-off, but he’s on the IL with a right intercostal strain, and he isn’t expected to be back until September 5th. If he doesn’t improve soon, this will be a lost season for the Twins’ catcher. Grade: F.
2020 Stats: 26 G, .241/.333/.563, 16 R, 10 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 49 TB
Miguel Sano started off just as slowly as Garver did (if not worse), but he has since been absolutely scorching hot, and is in the middle of a ten-game hit streak. He’s getting really good contact on the ball, helping him lead the team in doubles by hitting twice as many compared to any one else on the team.
On top of his recent hot offense, Sano has been a better-than-expected defender at first, and the Twins look like they made the right move since moving him over. It hasn’t been a perfect season average-wise, but he’s hitting the ball WELL. Grade: B+
2020 Stats: 21 G, .274/.341/.301, 8 R, 2 2B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 22 TB
Luis Arraez is only good at one thing: hitting for average. He isn’t hitting as well as he did last year, but he’s still putting up some of the best batting average numbers on the team outside of Nelson Cruz.
His defense is decent, and though he hasn’t hit any homers, he hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s had an overall okay season, and that’s as simple as it gets. His average just keeps going up, and for that, he earns a straight B. Grade: B.
2020 Stats: 29 G, .283/.319/.372, 13 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 42 TB
Similar to Arraez, Jorge Polanco has taken a step back in 2020. Unlike Arraez, Polanco stepped back from being an All-Star starter and into being a reliable shortstop. His defense, average, homers, and RBI are all above average.
The one thing he’s done really well is clutch hitting, but aside from that, he’s just been above average. Because of that, he’s not going to get a perfect grade, but he’s been better than every other infielder that’s NOT named Miguel Sano. Grade: B+.
2020 Stats: 22 G, .182/.265/.205, 4 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 9 TB
Similar to Mitch Garver, Ehire Adrianza has gotten off to a horrible start in 2020. He has one of the worst batting averages on the team, and his lack of hitting has hurt the team. His defense and utility have been good, but it doesn’t save his grade. Grade: D-.
2020 Stats: 14 G, .176/.391/.294, 6 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 10 TB
Alex Avila has been terrible offensively, outside of his OBP, which is second best on the team behind Nelson Cruz. He’s been a very good defender, but his struggles in hitting are driving his stat line down.
The team needed a veteran leader who could play good defense, and Avila has added more by getting on base, but it’s still not enough to escape a bad grade. Grade: C-.
2020 Stats: 7 G, .182/.296/.318, 4 R, 0 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7 TB
Josh Donaldson was signed to the largest contract in Minnesota Twins history, but he was not good in his seven games before his calf strain. He hit below .200 and only hit 1 homer in his first week, so its clear improvement is needed.
His defense was good, but his bad stats, inability to stay healthy, and fat contract have earned him a grade fitting of all those negatives. Grade: F.
2020 Stats: 7 G, .294/.278/.471, 3 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 8 TB
The newest player on the team, Ildemaro Vargas has done better than could have possibly been expected since he came over from Arizona for cash. That trade has paid big dividends and made the Twins look like geniuses.
Since coming over, Vargas has hit for average, played mostly solid defense, and scored three times, all while playing multiple positions. For only a week’s worth of games, the utility man has been great. Grade: A-.