Ranking the Minnesota Twins' Depth at Each Position
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsFor this exercise I will be ranking the Minnesota Twins’ depth at each defensive position (excluding pitchers) by ranking them from 1 (most depth) to 7 (least depth). I will be looking at their depth in terms of names on the 40-man roster.
1. Corner Outfield
Starters: Eddie Rosario & Max Kepler
Depth: Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, Lamonte Wade, Jr., Luis Arráez, Willians Astudillo, Ehrie Adrianza
Corner outfield is undoubtedly the deepest position on the Minnesota Twins roster. It’s the reason they were so willing to part with Jaylin Davis in the Sam Dyson trade last year as well as Luke Raley in the Kenta Maeda trade this year. In 2019, Marwin Gonzalez saw the most depth appearances in the corner outfield spot, however I would expect Jake Cave to be the first depth man to appear should anything happen to Rosario or Kepler. Outside of Cave and Gonzalez, Lamonte Wade showed last year that he was a capable backup in the corner outfield, and even Arraez got some run in left field when Rosario was injured.
2. Third Base
Starter: Josh Donaldson
Depth: Ehrie Adrianza, Miguel Sanó, Luis Arráez, Marwin Gonzalez, Travis Blankenhorn
The Twins were forced to show their depth at third base to start the 2019 season when Miguel Sanó entered the season injured and unable to play for the first 40 games. Marwin Gonzalez stepped in during this time and throughout the year and played well for the Twins at the hot corner, tallying up four defensive runs saved and a 2.6 UZR in 291 innings at third base in the 2019 season. After Gonzalez, the Minnesota Twins have Miguel Sanó as third base depth along with Arráez who played 130 innings at third base last season.
3. First Base
Starter: Miguel Sanó
Depth: Ehrie Adrianza, Marwin Gonzalez, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo
The Twins are fairly well set up at first base with four different players on the 40-man roster able to provide solid first base defense. Mitch Garver was a guy who Twins fans were clamoring for getting time at first base last year, which didn’t come to fruition. If Baldelli can get Garver some reps at first base on his catching off days in 2020, their first base depth would skyrocket in potential.
4. Second Base
Starter: Luis Arráez
Depth: Ehrie Adrianza, Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Gordon, Travis Blankenhorn
If we would have made this list at this same time last year, second base would have been towards the bottom as Luis Arráez was completely off the radar at that point. Going into 2020, the depth at the second base position looks promising with Adrianza and Gonzalez having already shown the ability to play the position well and two prospects in Gordon and Blankenhorn who could get the opportunity to come up and flash potential like Arráez did last year. In 2019, Nick Gordon played 250 innings at second base in AAA, hitting .298 with a .801 OPS. Blankenhorn reached as high as AA in 2019, playing 572 innings at second base and committing just eight errors. At the plate, Blankenhorn had his best season yet, hitting .278 and belting 18 home runs.
Starter: Mitch Garver
Depth: Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo
One of the first moves that the Minnesota Twins made this offseason was moving on from Jason Castro in favor of Alex Avila. Nick Nelson did a really good job analyzing the switch from Castro to Avila and categorized the move as “at worst lateral switch with with a bit more upside.” Defensively, Avila is known for having a very strong arm, but has also become an adept pitch framer. Offensively, Avila does well against right handers but really struggles to hit lefties (.617 career OPS against LHP). Should anything happen to Garver the Twins would be in a tough spot where they would either be forced to trot out Avila against lefties, or count on Astudillo who is not good defensively and has shown his bat is not what it appeared in 2018. There are some other catching options in the system (Jeffers, Telis), but in terms of the men on the 40-man roster, Garver proves invaluable.
6. Center Field
Starter: Byron Buxton
Depth: Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Lamonte Wade, Jr.
The Minnesota Twins center field depth was put to the test in 2019, when Byron Buxton missed out on nearly half of the season due to injuries. While he was out, Baldelli tried to play Jake Cave (-19.2 UZR/150) and Lamonte Wade, Jr. (-34.7 UZR/150) in his stead, but the results showed that they just couldn’t get the job done. What Baldelli had to do, then, was play Kepler at center field. In this spot, Kepler performed well (9.5 UZR/150), but clearly below the capabilities of Buxton, and also left his right field position where he plays like a gold glover. Buxton’s value in center field is undeniable for the Twins and his health will be huge for the 2020 season.
Starter: Jorge Polanco
Depth: Ehrie Adrianza, Nick Gordon
The Minnesota Twins should thank their lucky stars that Jorge Polanco was so durable in 2019, because the depth behind him at shortstop is pretty bare. The primary backup for shortstop for the Twins in 2019 was Ehrie Adrianza, who played 152 innings with a -14.1 UZR/150. Adrianza figures to be the primary backup shortstop for the Twins in 2020, but should something happen to Adrianza the only guy on the 40 man roster who could seemingly play the position with any sort of competence would be Nick Gordon. In 2019, Gordon played 322 2/3 innings at shortstop, committing eight errors. The wildcard option who the Twins could choose to go with at shortstop in 2020 would be Royce Lewis, who isn't listed because he is not on the 40-man roster. Shortstop is such a difficult position to play, and with such limited options behind him, Polanco figures to be the most indispensable player for the Minnesota Twins in 2020.
Where do you think the Twins have the most and least positional depth heading into 2020? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
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