The Minnesota Twins started off the season slowly, stumbling to a 3-4 start. The team’s pitching, the supposed downfall of this team, has been fine, with the six man rotation and bullpen currently ranked sixteenth in the MLB in runs allowed. It’s been the offense that’s struggled.
The offense is 22nd in runs scored and OPS and 29th in batting average, and with Byron Buxton out, the team is now missing its best player and needs some help. The April weather in Minnesota isn’t helpful, but the offense could still be performing better.
Outside of Buxton and Jorge Polanco, the only Twins’ player with an OPS over .741 is Luis Arraez. Arraez has been red-hot offensively to start the year. Through six games, Arraez is slashing .350/.381/.550, which is good for a .931 OPS. Obviously, he’ll cool down a bit, but he’s been arguably the Twins best and most clutch hitter so far. Why isn’t he in the lineup every day then?
Let’s start off with the issues against left-handed pitchers. Arraez is simply not good against lefties, and the team went with Gio Urshela in games when they were on the mound. That’s still the right call. Here’s their slash lines against lefties and righties through their careers:
- Arraez: 137 G, .256/.356/.298, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 35-32 BB-K
- Urshela: 234 G, .281/.320/.445, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 24-95 BB-K
Their 2022 splits are even more exaggerated:
- Arraez: 6 AB, .167/.167/.167, 0-2 BB-K
- Urshela: 11 AB, .300/.364/.600, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1-0 BB-K
Obviously, it’s a very small sample size, but the 2022 numbers suggest Arraez isn’t going to turn things around against lefties. That’s fine, the Twins can just use him as the primary third baseman against right-handed pitchers, right? There’s an issue there too.
Arraez has always been a subpar defender, but this year he’s been awful at third base, posting two errors and three defensive runs below average. If he can’t markedly improve his defense, you can’t start him at any defensive position outside of second base, and with Jorge Polanco producing at the keystone, you can’t even put him there.
What do you do with him? His bat is very good against righties, so you push to keep him in the lineup. The Twins have talked about using him at first, but it seems unlikely he can stay there, even with Sanó struggling.
There’s really only one solution: nearly full-time designated hitter. Rotating him, Gary Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers at designated hitter with one of the other two playing catcher may be the only option, which is a major bummer.