In a year in which it seemed like all the Minnesota Twins regressed, Jorge Polanco had a career year. He set personal bests in slugging (.503) and home runs (33). Thankfully, Platinum Glove winner Carlos Correa will take over the burden of playing shortstop for Polanco, who will stay at his true position of second base.
Polanco played poorly in the shortened 2020 season, but his track record since 2019 gives plenty of confidence he’ll continue to rake. There’s no reason Polanco can’t have an OPS north of .800 and more than 20 home runs.
It helps that he’s been healthy. Polanco hasn’t missed more than 10 games per season since 2018. Projections on Baseball Reference and FanGraphs predict a regression, but he’s still in his prime entering his age-28 season, and a low BABIP (.282) suggests he can improve his numbers.
The other piece in the Donaldson trade, Gio Urshela, is ready to make a new home in Minnesota. Make no mistake; Urshela is not as good as Donaldson. But he is younger and cheaper, and he’ll be able to hold his own towards the bottom of the lineup.
It isn’t unreasonable to think that Urshela can be one of the most productive hitters on the Twins. From 2019-2020, Urshela raked, slashing 310/.359/.523 for an .881 OPS. His numbers slipped drastically in 2021, hitting slightly below league average with a .720 OPS.
I don’t think Urshela is as as good as his 2019-2020 numbers, but he’s certainly capable of improving on 2021. Urshela’s best quality is his contact ability, so expect a high average with lots of doubles.
Finishing fifth in MVP voting last season, Correa has been a stud ever since being drafted first overall by the Houston Astros. 2021 was his most complete season to date. He racked up 7.2 bWAR by playing platinum glove defense and smashing 26 homers with a 131 OPS+.
The thing with Correa (like another superstar on this list) is health. Only twice has he played for an entire season, but he always performs well when he’s on the field. It’s a guarantee he’ll play great defense and likely he’ll post an OPS north of .800.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Correa had another great year, opted out, and left for even more money. It would be worth it, seeing what Correa can do in Minnesota.
Right now, FanGraphs lists Luis Arraez as the DH. In 2021, he was more of a super utility player, and he’ll likely take on that role again this year. Arraez proved that his Rod Carew-like high contact approach was sustainable over 121 games last season.
Arraez might as well be Sano’s polar opposite. He lacks any sort of power, but makes up for it with high batting averages and never striking out. He’s a perfect player to mix in with the high power bats that make up most of the Minnesota Twins lineup.
Expect Arraez to consistently coax singles into gaps and just be a general pest to opposing pitchers. It’s doubtful that he’ll be winning a batting title, but a third .300 season seems possible.