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Game Thread: Twins @ Tigers 9-23 5:10 PM CT

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Minnesota's Revolving Door Continues At Shortstop

Shortstop has been a revolving door for the Twins organization for more than the last decade. Since the Christian Guzman era ended in 2004, there has only been one time the Twins have used the same shortstop on Opening Day in back-to-back seasons. That player was Pedro Florimon and he wasn't really a long-term solution to the Twins' problems.

Is there finally an end in sight to the Twins long-term shortstop woes?
Image courtesy of Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons (Nick Gordon)
Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana, Pedro Florimon, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, JJ Hardy, Nick Punto, Adam Everett, Jason Bartlett, and Juan Castro have all taken their turn as Minnesota's Opening Day starter. New Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey will try to end this disastrous trend in the years to come.
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Falvey has watched his current team's shortstop, Francisco Lindor, enjoy a coming out party during the 2016 MLB postseason. Lindor has put the Indians in position to make their first World Series since 1997. Lindor was a top-10 pick back in 2011 and the Twins hope their own top-10 pick will be able to develop in a similar fashion.

Nick Gordon was the fifth overall pick in 2014. This fall the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League and the 20-year old shortstop wasted little time making his mark. Baseball American named Gordon as the number one prospect on their AFL Hot Sheet. In the first week of play, he went 6-for-9 with two RBI, a walk, and two steals. BA called him "a smooth-swinging shortstop" and went on to say he "has surprising strength with gap power."

If Gordon is going to end the revolving door, he is still multiple years away from being an everyday play at the MLB level. He spend all of this past season in the Florida State League which means he will likely start 2017 in Chattanooga. Some of the Twins' top prospects have made the jump from Double-A to the big leagues but Gordon still has some flaws.

There have been questions about his defensive ability in the past. He posted a career worst .952 fielding percentage this season while committing 24 errors. Gordon has shown some good signs in the AFL including impressing ESPN's Keith Law by saving an error and completing a double play. The mixed reports on his defensive ability will continue to follow him.

Offensively, he has hit 23 doubles in each of the last two seasons but he's never hit more than three home runs. He has shown the ability to get on base as his OBP has been over .333 in every professional season. He did all of this while being considerably young for each league. This past season, he only had two at-bats against a pitcher who was younger than himself.

While the Twins continue to wait for Gordon to develop, there will be other players given the opportunity to show they can handle shortstop. Jorge Polanco started 45 games at shortstop in 2016 and he could be in line to be the team's Opening Day starter. Eduardo Escobar is still arbitration eligible and he's played over 70 games at shortstop in each of the last three seasons.

Major League Baseball is in the midst of a young shortstop revolution. Players like Lindor, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts are showing unbelievable talent at one of baseball's toughest positions. Gordon might not be in the same class as these players but he could still develop into a solid MLB contributor for years to come.

Will Gordon finally stop the dizzying trend of revolving shortstops? I guess we will all have to wait to find out together.

Who plays the most games at shortstop in 2017? When will Gordon take over the shortstop position in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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38 Comments

He's 20. Of course he's going to make a lot of errors at the most difficult defensive position.By all accounts he's got the makeup to clean up the errors as he matures and gets thousands of more reps. What matters now is what scouts see in terms of tools. The quickness, the hands, the range and the arm. Admittedly, some watchers still think there is a decent chance he doesn't have the tools while others think he clearly does, but I really don't think the number of errors is that instructive either way.

It's been said time and time again that due to our poor draft position over the years, our prospects have been less than good (let's disregard we did things like pass on Pedroia six times in one draft, and Boston took him in the 2nd round with their first pick of that draft).

 

What should one expect from a #5 draft pick (like Gordon)?  Would it be okay if/ whenever he gets here, that one is disappointed in a guy if he only ends up a solid player as opposed to a star player? I ask because some keep saying we have to lower expectations for Buxton and be okay if he ends up being quite a bit lesser of a player than he was. 

 

And if these guys, and some others we've gotten higher up in the draft the last few years, underwhelm when/if they get to the majors (based on what people were projecting them to be and their draft position ), can we still blame it on draft position?  

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 17 2016 09:10 PM
Gordon will be the guy 2018 ongoing. I can't wait! 2017 will be interesting for who will cover the position, but Gordon will definitely help.
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ShouldaCouldaWoulda
Oct 17 2016 09:21 PM

 

Gordon will be the guy 2018 ongoing. I can't wait! 2017 will be interesting for who will cover the position, but Gordon will definitely help.

Defense is often better while younger and more athletic, hence why so many young/athletic glove-first SS's make to the pro's early. They usually don't make it for their bats, but athleticism. Look around the league at SS in the MLB and farm systems. How many teams best 24 and under SS MLB or MiLB would you take Gordon over? 

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Willihammer
Oct 17 2016 09:41 PM
I think you have to give at least a passing look at range in conjunction with FP when it comes to infield defense in the minors.
Gordon's RF/9 was 4.88 last year. That is from a sample of 503 chances. By comparison Frank Lindor had a .952 FP and 4.59 RF/9 at the same level. Bogaerts, .958 and 4.28.
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Willihammer
Oct 17 2016 09:43 PM
As for 2017-2018, I think Cosart would be a fine get. Someone with 1-2 years of control remaining to help bridge the gap. Preferably an above average glove.
    • Cory Engelhardt likes this
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Dave The Dastardly
Oct 17 2016 09:48 PM

 

I think you have to give at least a passing look at range in conjunction with FP when it comes to infield defense in the minors.
Gordon's RF/9 was 4.88 last year. That is from a sample of 503 chances. By comparison Frank Lindor had a .952 FP and 4.59 RF/9 at the same level. Bogaerts, .958 and 4.28.

What's that mean in American?

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 06:16 AM

 

As for 2017-2018, I think Cosart would be a fine get. Someone with 1-2 years of control remaining to help bridge the gap. Preferably an above average glove.

 Still LOVE this idea. Cozart for 2017 (or most of it) to bridge the gap. He is an amazing defender, and the pitching staff will love having him playing behind them.

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 06:19 AM

 

What's that mean in American?

 It means that Gordon's range is just as good if not better at the same levels as Lindor and Boegarts were (4.88 is a higher number than either 4.59 or 4.28) so Gordon, statistically, got to more baseballs in the FSL than either Lindor or Boegarts did at the same age.

Fielding percentage also, Gordon's was .952, Lindor .952 and Boegarts' .958. All fairly similar.

This is not saying he will be the same as either of those two. But for age, and at the same level, he producted similar or better results than either of those two did. That is a VERY good sign.

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I expect Polonco to be the shortstop unless we trade Dozier. By 2018 - 2019 it should be Gordon.  For those who want Cozert, Vielma may not hit as much, but would be as good or better defensibly. also would not cost us assets.

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 07:04 AM

We assume Vielma will be as good of a defender, we don't know how he will be at the MLB level. It is up to the front office to decide what is best.

And no, I want Cozart personally both because I don't believe that Vielma is ready, AND that I don't think he will cost a ton to acquire in assets. If the Reds are needing two top 10 prospects, I probably look elsewhere. If they are ok with Palka and a GCL arm, I am on board 100%. That said, it would probably land somewhere in the middle.

The Twins' shortstop of the future will be the opening day shortstop, Jorge Polanco.

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 07:47 AM

 

The Twins' shortstop of the future will be the opening day shortstop, Jorge Polanco.

 Want to bet a dollar?

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Dave The Dastardly
Oct 18 2016 08:11 AM

 

 It means that Gordon's range is just as good if not better at the same levels as Lindor and Boegarts were (4.88 is a higher number than either 4.59 or 4.28) so Gordon, statistically, got to more baseballs in the FSL than either Lindor or Boegarts did at the same age.

Fielding percentage also, Gordon's was .952, Lindor .952 and Boegarts' .958. All fairly similar.

This is not saying he will be the same as either of those two. But for age, and at the same level, he producted similar or better results than either of those two did. That is a VERY good sign.

Thank You for the interpretation.

KLAW said yesterday that any talk of Gordon moving off SS was ridiculous. Like his opinion or not, he's seen him play, and he's scouted thousands of players.

    • Cory Engelhardt and SF Twins Fan like this

Polancho will be the shortstop in 2017. But the Twins have to move on Dozier before he enters his walk season, or sign him longterm, and not sure if that is a geat idea. Or is it? And do you move Dozier, plant Polanco at second then, and have Gordon at shortstop. Of course, the future of Sano is also the question. Is he a third baseman longterm (doubtful). Do you want him at first, or do you make him a designated hitter.

 

But the shortstop answer comes from the longrange vision of where Brian Dozier is with the organization...the lifelong second baseman, a fixture at first base or the outfield, or a dynamite tradechip today when his value is high, as we have no idea how far down -to-earth he may come in 2017 and no longer be the bargain other teams could grab!

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 09:07 AM

 

Polancho will be the shortstop in 2017. But the Twins have to move on Dozier before he enters his walk season, or sign him longterm, and not sure if that is a geat idea. Or is it? And do you move Dozier, plant Polanco at second then, and have Gordon at shortstop. Of course, the future of Sano is also the question. Is he a third baseman longterm (doubtful). Do you want him at first, or do you make him a designated hitter.

 

But the shortstop answer comes from the longrange vision of where Brian Dozier is with the organization...the lifelong second baseman, a fixture at first base or the outfield, or a dynamite tradechip today when his value is high, as we have no idea how far down -to-earth he may come in 2017 and no longer be the bargain other teams could grab!

 

I don't know for certain that any players have been decided on which position they are going to play next year. Falvey is in charge now for roster configuration. What in the world would he put a guy back at SS that was such a trainwreck last year? I mean, maybe Polanco does get a LOT better this offseason to get anywhere close to league average (and that would take a LOT of progress) but with the (hopeful/probable) trade of Dozier to strengthen an area of weakness elsewhere (pitching/catching) wouldn't just sliding Polanco over to his more natural position make sense?

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Willihammer
Oct 18 2016 09:16 AM

 

 It means that Gordon's range is just as good if not better at the same levels as Lindor and Boegarts were (4.88 is a higher number than either 4.59 or 4.28) so Gordon, statistically, got to more baseballs in the FSL than either Lindor or Boegarts did at the same age.

Fielding percentage also, Gordon's was .952, Lindor .952 and Boegarts' .958. All fairly similar.

This is not saying he will be the same as either of those two. But for age, and at the same level, he producted similar or better results than either of those two did. That is a VERY good sign.

Yes, and with more range than these other guys, Gordon was likely fielding a higher difficulty of batted ball, on average. If we are trying to get a bead on Gordon's defense, that half of the equation needs to be factored in too.

 

The classic counterexample is Derek Jeter, who never made an error because he only got to the balls hit right at him.

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ashburyjohn
Oct 18 2016 10:44 AM

What should one expect from a #5 draft pick (like Gordon)? 

Let's not turn this big-picture tangent into the focus of this thread about shortstops, but have a look at b-r.com which offers tools to answer questions like this, and then start a fresh thread if you feel the need.

 

http://www.baseball-...ft_type=junreg
 

My quick estimate is that about one-third of #5 picks turn into something, but those that do are often substantial players.

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Range factor doesnt actually measure range
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Willihammer
Oct 18 2016 11:12 AM

 

Range factor doesnt actually measure range

It is what it is. It's a crude measure but over a large enough sample seems to line up with zone-based stats. Which we don't have for minor leaguers. not that I'm aware of anyway. Do you know any zone-based range stats forNick Gordon?

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"Some of the Twins' top prospects have made the jump from Double-A to the big leagues but Gordon still has some flaws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge issue with this team.Guys work thru the lower minors in an orderly fashion, one level a year and when the get to the upper minors we promote within a half season or less and then wonder whythey struggle at the big level.See:Buxton, Byron.

 

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 12:23 PM

 

Range factor doesnt actually measure range

 I am not very up on what it measures then, I assumed it did it's best to measure range, or what balls a player is able to get to. What does it measure?

 

 I am not very up on what it measures then, I assumed it did it's best to measure range, or what balls a player is able to get to. What does it measure?

 

Putouts and assists per inning played

 

analogous to WHIP, should probably be called PAIP to reduce the confusion

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 18 2016 01:51 PM

 

Putouts and assists per inning played

 

analogous to WHIP, should probably be called PAIP to reduce the confusion

 

But with whip, the higher number is worse. Isn't a higher number for range factor generally a good thing?


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