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Replacing Luis Arraez at Second Base

With Dan Hayes of MLB.com breaking the news that Twins second baseman Luis Arráez would be heading to the Injured List, we look at who could fill his shoes best. Is the best option currently on the Twins active roster or should the Twins consider promoting someone from St. Paul? Read on to find out.
Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports


Although Arráez isn’t performing to the standard he set in his rookie season, he’s been having a very solid sophomore year for the Twins slashing .288/.336/.337 and showing improvement on the defensive side of the ball. That said, after a rough August and having multiple occasions where he was noticeably in pain while running the bases he finds himself on the IL for the first time in his career.

The Twins will give him a couple weeks to get the knee healthy before entering the playoffs but we are looking at the possibility of needing someone to fill in through the rest of the regular and postseason. This article will look at who that could be and a quick summary of what that might look like.

Marwin Gonzalez
Given his experience, both at second and on a playoff team, he will likely benefit the most from Arráez’s absence. As valuable as his versatility is, Gonzalez has been dreadful at the plate this season slashing .204/.285/.288 this season. With a career BABIP of .306 some might see it as unlucky that his 2020 BABIP is at .238, and his statcast numbers would support that idea. Many of his advanced metrics are right around his career norms so Marwin could really benefit with more consistent playing time and some positive regression.

Ehire Adrianza
As bad as Gonzalez has been, Adrianza has been worse. I don’t think anyone expected Adrianza to match what he did in 2019, but I don’t think anyone expected him to slash .174/.250/.232 either. For Adrianza it’s likely his pitch selection that is at least part to blame as he’s making contact on pitches out of the zone much more than he did last season and over his career, other than that his batted ball metrics are actually similar to 2019. That said, throughout Adrianza’s eight year career, 2019 was though he can’t get much worse I trust Marwin to turn it around before him.

Travis Blankenhorn
Blankenhorn is staying fresh, or as fresh as he can, over in St. Paul with Lewis and would provide the same versatility that Marwin currently does. In a normal season I would not be a fan of giving a prospect a shot at a part-time role on a playoff team but, of course, this isn’t a normal season. Coming in as the Twins 18th ranked and third oldest prospect according to MLB.com, Blankenhorn isn’t going to wow you with his bat or his defense. That said, Marwin and Adrianza aren’t wow-ing anyone right now either so what’s the harm in giving Blankenhorn a shot?

Royce Lewis
Obviously, he is naturally a shortstop but sliding over to second isn’t what's keeping him across the river. What is keeping him from the Twins active roster is that he’s not on the 40-man roster. The Twins top prospect will likely need to wait until 2021 to make his MLB debut.

Nick Gordon
Gordon just recently fully recovered from COVID-19 and reported to the Fort Myers complex to begin baseball activities. If not for the long recovery, this just might have been the opening he needed to make his MLB debut.

What are your thoughts? Stick with Marwin and Adrianza or give Blankenhorn a shot? I’d be surprised if the Twins put a rookie in this position so I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a heavy dose of Marwin and Adrianza over the next two weeks, if not longer.

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21 Comments

I'd give Blankenhorn a shot, he can't be worse that Gonzalez/Adrianze have been this season. It would also help evaluate whether Blankenhorn should keep his 40 man roster spot this off-season.

 

Gordon has had no luck the past few years, this is probably the third or fourth time he could have been called up but he's missed all the opportunities due to his health.

    • Danchat, mikelink45, DocBauer and 4 others like this
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yeahyabetcha
Sep 12 2020 09:26 AM
Marwin and Ehire will continue to serve as the first choice replacement infielders, as they should.
    • dbminn, rdehring and TwinsFan268 like this
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Matthew Lenz
Sep 12 2020 10:04 AM

Marwin and Ehire will continue to serve as the first choice replacement infielders, as they should.


Curious why you’re tied to these two? They haven’t been good this year.
    • mikelink45 likes this
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MMMordabito
Sep 12 2020 10:07 AM

... and the answer is Devin Smeltzer :)

    • terrydactyls1947 and Matthew Lenz like this

The Twins have depth to the point where a short-term injury doesn't hurt them much. I love how well they've built this team, because all of those names are fine (assuming this isn't a serious injury).

 

As Twins_89 said, it's too bad Gordon isn't healthy because this would finally be his chance. But I'm not going to blame a guy for catching a contagious virus.

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Matthew Lenz
Sep 12 2020 10:34 AM
[quote name="Shaitan" timestamp="1599927482"]The Twins have depth to the point where a short-term injury doesn't hurt them much. I love how well they've built this team, because all of those names are fine (assuming this isn't a serious injury). /quote]

Being that he’s seemed to be dealing with this for most the season I doubt he’ll come back from the IL 100%. Hopefully he can play through it but that also increases risk for re-injury. All that to say, I’m concerned this may not be serious but may limit him in the postseason.
Based on this:

“ With a career BABIP of .306 some might see it as unlucky that his 2020 BABIP is at .238, and his statcast numbers would support that idea. Many of his advanced metrics are right around his career norms so Marwin could really benefit with more consistent playing time and some positive regression.”

I’d probably just roll with Marwin. It’s a 10 day stint, back dated. Arraez will be back soon.
    • DocBauer and yeahyabetcha like this
I'd go with Blankenhorn. Look at Rooker and Jeffers. They both look good and this is great for their development. Those right-handed bats were just what was needed. The production we've gotten has been bad and this could be another spark. If he struggles it won't be any worse.
    • mikelink45, DocBauer, twins_89 and 1 other like this
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Matthew Lenz
Sep 12 2020 01:36 PM

 

I'd go with Blankenhorn. Look at Rooker and Jeffers. They both look good and this is great for their development. Those right-handed bats were just what was needed. The production we've gotten has been bad and this could be another spark. If he struggles it won't be any worse.

I agree, Rooker and Jeffers look great so far. That said, that has no implication on how Blankenhorn will look. I'm not against giving him a shot but Blankenhorn isn't the prospect Rooker and Jeffers are.

    • DocBauer likes this

I agree, Rooker and Jeffers look great so far. That said, that has no implication on how Blankenhorn will look. I'm not against giving him a shot but Blankenhorn isn't the prospect Rooker and Jeffers are.

I'm with you Travis has been rated a step below the other two and some see him as a utility guy going forward. He's on the 40 man and the time is now to see what you have.
    • mikelink45 likes this
I would definitely call up Blankenhorn. Of course, there's no guarantee that he will be a good hitter straight away but then look at Marwin's and Ehire's stats. He doesn't even need to be very good, he just has to hit over .200 to be no worse than either of them.

In short, the Twins can only win if they call him up. Worst case would be that he is no improvement, and with a little bit of luck he will be better. And if he really doesn't manage to top Marwin's .204 AVG you can still send him down again.
    • mikelink45, DocBauer and wabene like this
I'm also going to echo twins-89. This is the PERFECT time for Gordon to get his feet wet. The problem is I doubt he is physically at full strength right now after such a prolonged bout of illness, and has something like 2 weeks over at St Paul.

I really, really want to say just roll with Marwin and Adrianza who are experienced and we know they can do the job. I know they are struggling mightily with their bats right now, but like other hitters in the team, what if either or both gets in to a groove? We've seen what they can do previously. With this crazy season, I'd take a month and a half struggle from both with a strong finish. And that may be the smartest route to take.

BUT, Blankenhorn is already on the 40 man. I think he has a future as an offensive super-utility guy who can be OK defensively at potentially 5 spots. The Twins think enough of him to protect him and played him a lot during both Set's.

Give Blankenhorn a shot. Let him get his feet wet. Coming off 2 off days, another 2 off days in a week, the pen rested and the staring staff rounding in to form, there is nothing to lose.

*I hate losing Adrianza at this or any juncture. And be won't come back 100%. But doing this now may keep him stronger for the finish to the season.
    • mikelink45 likes this

I'd try to work Blankenhorn in similar to Rooker. Rooker hasn't take ALL the extra OF innings from Kepler. Instead, he has been playing about 50% of the time, with Wade & Cave working in too.

I don't see why Gonzalez & Blankenhorn can't platoon until Arraez comes back.

    • mikelink45 and twins_89 like this

If Gordon wasn't recovering from COVID, I'm pretty sure he would be the pick. But his bad luck continues, and we saw how with Sano & Astudillo there's a difference between being cleared to play again and being ready to play again after COVID.

 

I'd give Blankenhorn a look. He's not going to impress defensively, but he can manage at several positions, including 2b, 3b, and corner OF. I think we'll be seeing him get a real chance next year. He's got some pop in his bat and with both Marwin and Adrianza struggling so badly at the plate, it's worth taking a peek at someone else.

I am a broken record on this page - bring in the young guy.Gonzales and Ehire are close to leaving and can still spell Blankenhorn if needed, but if there was ever a year to go to the young guys - this is it.Travis can't bat worse that thetwo of them.  

Blankenhorn is in a tough spot right now. Almost nothing he could do in the next 10 days would be enough to convince you he belongs in the postseason, or that he's not worth keeping on the 40-man this winter.

 

Probably better just to keep playing Gonzalez and Adrianza, get their steady play as veterans in the field, and hope that consistent ABs help them get sharper for the postseason.

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Channing1964
Sep 12 2020 07:20 PM
With Rooker and Jeffers already getting significant playing time i sincerely hope nobody except Adrianza and Gonzalez are used to fill in at 2b. This IS a pennant race folks!

How about the turtle?He's crushing the ball.He could do an adequate job at 2nd base.

 

How about the turtle?He's crushing the ball.He could do an adequate job at 2nd base.

Love the turtle, but I think that's debatable, and perhaps more importantly, playing Astudillo at 2B right now is kind of a waste unless you actually want him there during the postseason.

 

Also, didn't Marwin "crush the ball" even more than Astudillo yesterday?

Marwin has been heating up of late. Give him 3-4 games per week and let Blankenhorn get his feet wet in the big leagues. Maybe he proves enough to replace Marwin next year in a super sub roll.
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drivlikejehu
Sep 14 2020 01:53 PM

Blankenhorn may have potential as a super utility guy, but he had a .312 OBP last year in AA despite a good BABIP. Marwin had a rough stretch, to be sure, but his peripherals aren't bad . . . the main culprit seems to be his BABIP of .236 (compared to .306 for his career). His statcast numbers are basically in line with his previous track record as well.

 

Gonzalez does look slower and less athletic, not overly surprising for a 31 year-old, but I suspect his 'true talent' level for hitting is still better than any of the realistic alternatives.