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Article: Minnesota Twins 2019 MLB Draft Signing Tracker

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:18 AM
Now that the 2019 MLB Draft is behind us, it is time to sit back and wait for news on when each of the 41 picks will either sign or decid...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (6/18): All-Star Tuesd...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:18 AM
There was a lot going on in the minor leagues on Tuesday as both the Midwest League and Southern League played their All-Star Games and t...
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Article: Zack Littell Changes Role, Changes Mindset

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:06 AM
When Zack Littell returned to Rochester at the start of the month of June, he was told that he should work out of the bullpen. Did he sul...
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Article: MIN 4, BOS 3: Twins Win in 17th Inning, Get Firs...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:01 AM
For the first time this season the Twins win on a walk-off hit from (who else?) Max Kepler. It was the longest game of the season for bot...
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Polanco Proving It for Good

If the Major League Baseball season were to end today Jorge Polanco’s .339 average would land him a batting title in the American League. Through his first 46 games this season he already outdone what projection systems saw from him this season, and he’s proven to be one of the most valuable players in baseball. Twins fans may be wondering what the regression looks like and when it’s coming but take some solace in knowing that this is for real.
Image courtesy of © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Polanco has been on the radar since debuting in 2014 as a 20-year-old. He was a premature call-up then, needed by happenstance because of a bad big-league club and lackluster 40-man depth. Throughout his time in the minors though there was always one thing he could be counted on to do: hit. Legitimate questions as to whether his arm would allow him the ability to stick at shortstop remained, but the bat to ball skills, and eventual power development, were all plus traits. The production he’s generated at the top of the 2019 Twins lineup is just a reflection of what we’ve seen all along.

On the season Polanco is hitting a career best 41% of batted balls with a hard-hit speed. He’s also significantly sliced the ground ball rate all the way down to a career low 23.5%. Adding the percentage to balls in the air, his 49.7% fly ball rate is also a career high. Elevation has provided a moderate increase in his HR/FB ratio, and it’s the other extra-base hits that have followed suit. Compiling a total of 24 extra-base hits, he’s nearly matched the 77-game production from a year ago. Polanco isn’t selling out for power either as he’s still using the whole field at roughly a one-third clip across the three sectors.

In 2019, the name of the game for the Twins has been aggression. Swinging earlier, more often, and getting off their best hacks, it’s been a systemic change throughout the lineup. None of those principles have changed Polanco’s discipline. His whiff and chase rates are on par with career norms, and his contact rate sits right where it always has. On the league-leading average, he’s got just a .372 BABIP which also suggests that nothing is out of whack in that vein.

In short, Jorge Polanco is producing along the exact clip the numbers say he should be. A 5.5-degree launch angle adjustment has made the balls he’s putting in play more productive, and hard contact is giving those batted balls opportunity to be more valuable. Harder, higher, and farther is a trio of principles that is synonymous with success in today’s game and the Twins shortstop has embodied it.

While we’re here, we should probably take note that all this offensive production is happening while Polanco owns a positive DRS at short for the first time in his career. Range factors don’t view him favorably, but defensive metrics label him average at worst. The offense is sustainable, and the defense is allowing him to settle in.

None of this is to suggest that Minnesota will employ one of the hottest hitters in baseball all season. Over the course of a 162-game slate there will be slumps. Polanco will fall off for a time, but the important reality is that this is truly the player he’s capable of being, and a production level like what we’re seeing can be viewed as more of the expectation than the outlier.

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11 Comments

One thing I would like to point out that his average will come down a bit because of his fly ball heavy approach. If he was hitting more grounders that BABIP likely could stay in that range. Not that I'm complaining, I rather see flies then grounders!

    • DocBauer likes this

The one thing that is different about Polanco's defense:No airmailed throws at first base.The solution was a simple one:Polanco has always been throwing somewhat sidearmish.Molitor & Co were pushing him to stop doing it.Baldelli allowed him to return to his natural motion and it is working.

 

As far as the rest go, glad that people are starting to see Polanco's potential (and this comes from the only person who had him ranked ahead of Buxton in his Twins' prospect list...)

    • Mike Frasier Law, DocBauer and ToddlerHarmon like this

The one thing that is different about Polanco's defense:No airmailed throws at first base.The solution was a simple one:Polanco has always been throwing somewhat sidearmish.Molitor & Co were pushing him to stop doing it.Baldelli allowed him to return to his natural motion and it is working.
 
As far as the rest go, glad that people are starting to see Polanco's potential (and this comes from the only person who had him ranked ahead of Buxton in his Twins' prospect list...)


I never had him ranked that high, but he was really close in my opinion. After his first couple of years, the bat came alive and just kept getting better. Now, not sure I expected him to hit like THIS, but his second half of 2018 and second half of 2019, always felt he'd be at least some combination of the two years.

Like you, I always disagreed that he couldn't play SS. He showed the range and athleticism. He just needed time and repetition. Minor league history is filled with future top ML SS who had high error totals early in their career.

We have a good one here!
    • Thrylos and ToddlerHarmon like this

He was the player I was least worried about on the roster. 

 

He really looked like he was turning a corner last year... right out of his suspension when he was supposed to behind everyone because of the time on the shelf. 

 

I'm honestly not shocked. (Maybe a little shocked). Who could have predicted this? 

    • Twins33, Mike Frasier Law and DocBauer like this
“On the league-leading average, he’s got just a .372 BABIP which also suggests that nothing is out of whack in that vein.”

Maybe not completely out of whack, but 372 is a good margin higher than anything he’s been able to sustain before. Still, if teams continue to shift him, I think maybe he could sustain that.

He is showing his second half a couple years ago was no fluke.His signing was a huge deal for Twins moving forward.In terms of looking at defense for SS the old book is out the window with new shifting being done.Range for SS will be so overrated now because the need to range way up middle or deep in the hole will not be as needed.This is because players are playing up the middle and leaving the other side wide open for many hitters.This decreases need for huge range.As long as you can make routine plays lack of range, compared to other past super star defensive SS are not needed.  

 

If he can keep up the offense, he should be considered for MVP.  

    • Danchat likes this

He is showing his second half a couple years ago was no fluke.His signing was a huge deal for Twins moving forward.In terms of looking at defense for SS the old book is out the window with new shifting being done.Range for SS will be so overrated now because the need to range way up middle or deep in the hole will not be as needed.This is because players are playing up the middle and leaving the other side wide open for many hitters.This decreases need for huge range.As long as you can make routine plays lack of range, compared to other past super star defensive SS are not needed.  

 

If he can keep up the offense, he should be considered for MVP.  

My "book" on Polanco has always involved questions about the arm, not the range.

The hit tool, looked like it was always going to be there, and remember we burned him up pretty fast under Gardy at an early age, because the lack of depth back then. 

 

Love him as a player.  Glad he's batting 2nd.  Now if we could get our 2nd best hitter batting lead off I would be happier!

It's Friday evening. I just got done watching Polanco air mail a toss over Crons head. So not everything is quite fixed. But he can hit, there is nod out about that. I am not sold on him at SS, and likely never will be. But with the proliferation of shifts, range becomes less of an issue by the week.

The only surprise for me is that he didn't break out two years ago, but that's true for everybody on the team.

 

He was a premature call-up then, needed by happenstance because of a bad big-league club and lackluster 40-man depth.

Well, to be more specific, Polanco was brought up for a cup of coffee when they needed a body, and they had already used an option on Polanco to start him at Fort Myers, so calling him up for a few games in 2014 did not use an option. A lot of folks seem to misunderstand that scenario.

    • Twins33 and dgwills like this

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