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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:49 PM
Free agency is likely going to be a really slow burn this year, but I still think it's worth having a thread to discuss signings. ...
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Caesar Hernandez a Marwin replacement option

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:08 PM
A contact hitter with speed who has played mostly 2b the past 3seasons but has some experience at 3B and SS. Probably is just a 3B and 2...
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Is Cruz a MUST signing? And what if he doesn't fit?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:08 PM
Let me state I love Cruz and want him back if possible. I not only believe he brings class, experience, knowledge and leadership to the t...
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Blake Snell a trade target or not

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:15 AM
I would personally be happy to offer up Kirilloff and a few other prospects for him!!! What do you guys think he would cost and would you...
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2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook Available NOW!

Twins Minor League Talk 28 Nov 2020
The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook will be now available.By clicking here, you can order the paperback version of the PDF/E-Book...
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Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Second Base

Just like first base, the Twins are committing to a new long-term fixture at second in 2020, after a brief transition period in 2019 followed the departure of a franchise mainstay.

With a spectacular MLB debut, Luis Arraez firmly embedded himself in the team's plans.
Image courtesy of David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
Projected Starter: Luis Arraez
Likely Backup: Ehire Adrianza

Depth: Marwin Gonzalez, Willians Astudillo
Prospects: Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon

THE GOOD

Arraez's rookie season was a smorgasbord of remarkable moments and accomplishments. He arrived in Minnesota as a 22-year-old with little experience above Double-A, and proceeded to lead the American League in batting average (.334) after the date of his call-up (May 18th). He showed amazing plate discipline and contact skills, striking out at the lowest rate in the majors while walking at a solid clip to buoy an outstanding on-base percentage. He held his own defensively at second base in spite of a limited physical toolset, and he even went out and played a capable left field now and then for good measure.

Despite his greenness and lack of prestige, Arraez performed brilliantly, both when it counted and when the count was against him:
  • In "Late & Close" situations, he slashed .346/.404/.442. (MLB average: .237/.320/.404.)
  • In "High Leverage" situations, he slashed .429/.481/.531. (MLB average: .253/.327/.432.)
  • In ABs where he fell behind 0-2 against opposing pitchers, he slashed .286/.314/.327. (League average: .165/.197/.267.)
Because of all this, Arraez – a relative unknown at the start of the year – was able to wrest away the starting job from Jonathan Schoop, a veteran making $7 million and enjoying an altogether productive season. Late in the season, Arraez suffered a scary-looking ankle injury while fielding a fly ball, and the crushingly dismayed reactions that poured out from fans, players, and coaches alike at the time says all you need to know about how indispensable the second baseman made himself in a mere 92 games.

Needless to say, second base belongs to him going forward, and that's something to feel good about. He probably won't hit .334 perpetually, but his approach at the plate is conducive to steadily remaining in the three hundreds. Sure enough, all five projection systems on FanGraphs having him batting between .309 and .312 this season, with an OBP in the .370 range. That'll play anywhere in the order, but it'd be surprising if Arraez doesn't hit near the top.



He doesn't run that well, nor does he produce a ton of pop, but he's a very functional piece in this Twins lineup, which offers plentiful power and speed elsewhere. Defensively he will probably never be a true standout but he's adequate, with the chance to grow some more.

Still 22 on Opening Day and under team control through 2025, Arraez has suddenly turned into a heck of an asset for the Twins.

THE BAD

It was only 92 games. Arraez's first season in the majors was about as convincing as it gets, but the fact remains: it's a small sample and he hardly has the bona fides to back it up.

It's true that Arraez's .334/.399/.439 slash as a rookie is almost eerily consistent with his .331/.385/.414 line in the minors, but there was always a valid skepticism around his ability to translate that production to the highest level, thus explaining his absence from the national prospect radar (and even our own Top 20 list) ahead of his debut.

Arraez is not unathletic. No one in the big leagues is. But he doesn't possess the physical gifts of a Schoop or Jorge Polanco. The stubby 5-foot-10 second baseman isn't a burner, doesn't have a big arm, and isn't a musclebound specimen like those surrounding him in the infield.

So he has to make up for it in other ways. He excels in the mental aspects of the game, with a sophisticated understanding of the strike zone and stunning level of confidence for his age. His technique enables him to get the bat on the ball almost anywhere in the zone, producing a 2.8% swinging strike rate that was the league's lowest.

This isn't to say he was making especially hard contact, however. As the Statcast data reflects, Arraez ranked near the bottom of all MLB hitters when it comes to exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and expected slugging percentage.

Attached Image: arraezstatcast.png


Maintaining his level of production will require Arraez to keep making the absolute most of his skill set, while fending off counter-adjustments from the best pitchers and scouting departments in the world. One thing we can probably expect in his first full season is a heavier dose of pitches on the inside part of the plate, where he was clearly less effective.

Attached Image: arraezzone.png


As long as he keeps laying off non-strikes, while connecting on everything in the zone, Arraez has a fairly high floor. But we might've very well seen his ceiling as a rookie. It's awfully difficult to routinely prop an MLB batting average well above .300, especially when you're more reliant on batted-ball placement than propulsion. Arraez's game is essentially dependent on this.

Then again, he's 22. At the same age, Brian Dozier was a light hitter in A-ball, mustering a .349 slugging percentage. If Arraez muscles up and adds a bit more power while aging into his mid-20s, all bets are off.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Arraez is locked in. Seeing how well he can back up his sensational rookie season will of course be the most interesting and important story to track this year, but I'm also curious to see how things shake out with Nick Gordon. The combination of Polanco and Arraez, both controllable through 2025, presents a seemingly impenetrable middle-infield barrier for the former fifth overall draft pick, who is 24 and made a case for his readiness with an .800 OPS in Triple-A last year.

A prolonged absence, or total unraveling, from Arraez is essentially Gordon's only path to a major-league opportunity with this organization. That's nice insurance to have in place, I suppose, but the Twins do already have Gonzalez and Adrianza available and are without starting positions in the majors. I feel a little bad for Gordon, whose diminished stock doesn't erase an outstanding pedigree and solid record of minor-league production through Triple-A.

Which is all a long way of saying that the meteoric rise of Arraez has fundamentally reshaped Minnesota's outlook at second base, creating an abundance of depth that is actually a tiny bit problematic. (Gordon's 40-man roster spot could soon come under scrutiny.)

A good problem to have, as they say.

~~~


Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Catcher
Twins 2020 Position Analysis: First Base

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26 Comments

I love Arraez but if I had my wish.

 

He'd remain Super Utility. 

 

He can still get the bulk of the playing time at 2B but giving him some time at other positions will keep him prepared for replacing Marwin next year. 

 

Someone will have to replace what Marwin does next year. 

 

Astudillo. I love flexibility but I'd rather not see the Turtle at 2B. That's taking it a little bit too far. 

    • Tomj14 likes this

I'm not predicting this, but neither I would be surprised to see Gordon as the starting second baseman by the end of the year and RB getting his wish.

 


 
    • gunnarthor and jud6312 like this

If you loss Arraez for any amount of time you have good depth and prospects like Gordon and Blankenhorn close.

Perhaps Gordon is better suited to that super-utility role. He’s more of a SS than Arraez and I have to imagine would also fair average or better at 3B and corner outfield spots. Heck, may even be worthwhile seeing what he looks like as a back up CF for the (hopefully not) inevitable Buxton injury.
    • 70charger, Dman, DocBauer and 4 others like this
I will be interested to see where Gordon gets playing time once the minor league season starts. My thoughts since Arraez came up have been that Gordon could replace González coming up.
    • Dman likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 03 2020 08:24 AM

If Polanco and Arraez are controlable through 2025, where does that leave Lewis?

    • Mike Frasier Law and BodieInSD like this

 

If you loss Arraez for any amount of time you have good depth and prospects like Gordon and Blankenhorn close.

Love the optimism, but expecting Gordon or Blankenhorn to contribute next year anything close to major league average is expecting quite a bit out of them.

I wish the other parts of his game were evaluated, i.e. defense and baserunning.It would give a more balanced look at his true value.People see the B.A.and get all excited, but he's a below average defender and doesn't have good speed.

    • jud6312 likes this

 

Love the optimism, but expecting Gordon or Blankenhorn to contribute next year anything close to major league average is expecting quite a bit out of them.

I don't have particularly high hopes for either but Gordon should at least be close to ready (if he ever will be, which was maybe your point). 160+ games at AAA and he actually had a better year last year than I would've thought. That said I would imagine Adrianza is next up if Arraez were injured.

    • SQUIRREL likes this

I have high hopes!I know there are one year mirages, but he sure sold me on his approach last year. 

    • hybridbear and Melissa like this

 

If Polanco and Arraez are controlable through 2025, where does that leave Lewis?

Controllable for much longer and in Cedar Rapids.

    • Danchat likes this

Well, I'm not worried about guys getting "blocked"; that just means they're a trade asset or strong depth, and right now the twins are in great shape at 2B.

 

Arraez gives them a strong starter who could get to all-star level if his D improves and he can keep/add enough power in his bat to consistently keep his SLG% in the .400-.425 range.He's young, he's cheap, he looks like he can contend for a batting title...that's awesome.

 

Adrianza can back up 2B just fine, but Marwin probably isn't an answer there any longer. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt he's got much middle infield left in him and is basically a backup at the corners: 3B, 1B, LF, RF. That's perfectly ok, IMHO.

 

Gordon's bat looks ready now, and I'm almost certain he would have gotten the call up in Arraez's place if he hadn't gone down with injury right before the opening appeared. I think he's the first middle infielder called up this year and probably gets added if Polanco, Arraez, or Adrianza goes on the IL. While I'm a little concerned about his ability to hold down SS in MLB, I'm less worried about his ability to hold down 2B.

 

Blankenhorn may be the next iteration of the current version of Marwin, but hopefully he can still play 2B for a while as needed as well. His bat looks like it might be close (I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him at AAA by mid-season) and if needed he'll be in line right behind Gordon.

 

The pipeline looks good to fill 2B right now. It looks like we should get some consistency there for a number of years with Arraez, which is kind of exciting: I really don't want to go back to 1998-2012. 15 years of looking for a 2B after Knoblauch got traded until Dozier arrived. That was 15 years of instability or inability or both.

 

The list of primary 2B in those years: Todd Walker (1 ok year, 1 awful year), the immortal Jay Canizaro (ugh), 4 seasons of Luis Rivas (awful), a Nick Punto sighting (in one of his no-hit years), 2 years of Luis Castillo (competent but on the downslide), 2 years of Alexi Casilla (gah), 1 year of Orlando Hudson (quality!), 2 more years of Alexi Casilla (ok, barely).

 

the years between Knoblauch and Dozier were pretty grim at 2B for Twins fans. I feel much better where we're at now with Arraez locked in and depth in the minors that might actually have a future as opposed to "we got no one else".

    • Nick Nelson, 70charger, Dman and 4 others like this

 

If Polanco and Arraez are controlable through 2025, where does that leave Lewis?

From what he's done in the minors (but remember he is still a young man) I'd say you have Marwin Gonzales without any bat...

My question about him is "Is he a major league shortstop?".I can deal with a .240 hitter with little power if he can play SS like it NEEDS to be played for a good team.And with the depth that the Twins lineup possesses, a below-average bat can be tolerated.Especially if he can steal the occasional base.Bunt a guy over if need be, or any number of the "little things" that used to be part of the "Twins' way" of playing baseball.

    • stringer bell likes this
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JoshDungan1
Mar 03 2020 10:39 AM

I do personally think it's a good sign that even when he had some vulnerabilities on the inner half of the strike zone, he somehow nearly hit .300 on pitches inside that were off the plate (which isn't easy to do with how he crowds the plate).

 

If you loss Arraez for any amount of time you have good depth and prospects like Gordon and Blankenhorn close.

 

If such a thing happened (and I hope not), maybe someone will do the obvious and move Polanco to where he needs to be - 2B.He has a weaker arm than Ozzie Smith had, but doesn't play on astroturf (and will be bouncing throws over to Sano this year - not a pleasant thought!).I think his arm strength might be below average at second base, but not as bad as it is at SS.  

 

A below average/ poor defender at one position ( though hopefully notup the middle) can be dealt with on an otherwise good defensive team.This team is NOT even close to a good defensive team, and really needs best-case scenariosfrom so many guys that very unlikely that they will be even an average defensive team (Improved D from Arraez, Polanco, Garver and Rosario.A full season from Buxton allowing Kepler to play where he is above average and improving.Sano being a decent 1B.Donaldson not getting injured, or having his performance fall off appreciably this year).

 

I called Polanco's defense a tire fire in another post, and I stand by it.His arm and range are very bad for a shortstop.Both would be at VERY BEST be average at 2B - but at least he wouldn't be as far below average at second.  

 

The Twins have intriguing, but seriously flawed options in the middle infield.I'm not saying that we need to go back to Nick Punto to have a glove up the middle, but our pitching isn't good enough to be paired with a subpar defense.  

I think Polanco just needs to find a consistent arm angle for his throws and work on it. If he can cut down on the crappy throws his defense would look much better. Arraez will be ok at 2B with better footwork and agility confidence, but some here might be right that he has more value as a super utility player (post Marwin). We'll have to see if Gordon can stay on the field and be reliable. Blankenhorn is a baseball player and will be an asset however he is used.

    • DocBauer and wabene like this
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stringer bell
Mar 03 2020 11:58 AM

I think Arraez is the real deal and will continue to be a high OBP guy with adequate defense. If he is a flash in the pan, there aren't any immediate answers, but giving Gordon a shot makes sense. I don't think Gordon has proven anything about his hitting and his defense in the minors from what I've seen is pretty average. He does have good speed, an ingredient the Twins lack and he's played a lot of shortstop so far. I question whether he is a good enough defender at short, as well.

 

I don't think we can dismiss Gonzalez totally as an option at second base. He played little there mostly because the Astros regular when he was there was MVP candidate Jose Altuve. He isn't ancient-he'll be 31 later this month, and he appears to be able to adjust to whatever position he's asked to play (third base last year after not playing much there previously). Last year, the Twins had Arraez, Schoop and Adrianza to fill second. If they only have one other option than Marwin, I would like to see if he would get some run at second.

    • SQUIRREL, DocBauer and Melissa like this

 

The list of primary 2B in those years: Todd Walker (1 ok year, 1 awful year), the immortal Jay Canizaro (ugh), 4 seasons of Luis Rivas (awful), a Nick Punto sighting (in one of his no-hit years), 2 years of Luis Castillo (competent but on the downslide), 2 years of Alexi Casilla (gah), 1 year of Orlando Hudson (quality!), 2 more years of Alexi Casilla (ok, barely).

And they stuck with Rivas because, after his first season, they deemed him the heir to the position. Prospect status changes quickly. You want players in the minors pushing the big leaguers or else you're stuck with what you've got.

 

Careers can change quickly. The Twins were also set a catcher "for years" after signing Mauer.

 

From what he's done in the minors (but remember he is still a young man) I'd say you have Marwin Gonzales without any bat...

My question about him is "Is he a major league shortstop?".I can deal with a .240 hitter with little power if he can play SS like it NEEDS to be played for a good team.And with the depth that the Twins lineup possesses, a below-average bat can be tolerated.Especially if he can steal the occasional base.Bunt a guy over if need be, or any number of the "little things" that used to be part of the "Twins' way" of playing baseball.

So Lewis might be Adrianza? I am pretty sure nobody is going to be OK with that.

 

    • TL likes this
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jorgenswest
Mar 03 2020 07:08 PM
I was encouraged to see Gonzalez at 2B today.

He might be the best option if something goes awry with Arraez.
    • Sconnie and DocBauer like this
Interesting on-air comments made today about the lower demands from our middle infielders with the increase in fly balls and all the infield shifts being used by teams. Hmmm. I still want a GG short stop.
    • SQUIRREL and Sconnie like this

 

So Lewis might be Adrianza? I am pretty sure nobody is going to be OK with that.

He has tons of power though, so that's not even a remotely accurate portrayal of his skillset. 

What I liked about second base last year was how they played the young hot player and sat the more expensive vet even though he was reasonably good. They also handled the politics of that situation in an exemplary fashion.

 

He has tons of power though, so that's not even a remotely accurate portrayal of his skillset. 

This is what I quoted, NOT what I said.

"I can deal with a .240 hitter with little power if he can play SS like it NEEDS to be played for a good team.And with the depth that the Twins lineup possesses, a below-average bat can be tolerated."

 

Notice the - "little power" and "below-average bat" parts., I think that accurately portrays Adrianza

 

As a Twins fan he better end up being better than Adrianza, no matter what position he ends up at, otherwise he will just be another prospect the Twins wasted an opportunity to trade super high on.

 

I really, really hope he ends up with tons of power like you stated, but at this point I wouldn't go that far yet.

 

 

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howieramone2
Mar 06 2020 08:20 AM
I can't think of any prospect our favorite team wasted an opportunity to trade super high on.

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