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What's There to Say About Ehire?

There are some players who are simply around to fill out a roster. The technical baseball term for these kind of players would be replacement level, but let’s be real, they’re basically the Major League definition of blah.

Ehire Adrianza is one of those players. He's not going to help the Twins sell tickets, nobody's clamoring for his baseball card, but you know what? Players like that are still important.
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Among Minnesota's 10 arbitration-eligible players for 2019, only two looked like legitimate candidates to be non-tendered. One, Robbie Grossman, was sent on his way last week. The other (less likely) was Adrianza, who the Twins were quick to lock up with a one-year, $1.3 million contract.

So that’s it, open and close, he's going to be on the Twins in 2019, right? Well, not necessarily.

Arbitration contracts are not guaranteed until a player breaks camp with the team. If a player is released during the first 16 days of spring training they’re only obligated to pay them 30 days’ worth of wages. If they’re let go sometime after that, but still before Opening Day, that jumps to 45 days’ worth of pay. There’s some more info at MLB.com on guaranteed contracts.

It appears at this current time that the Twins are expecting Adrianza to fill a utility role again in 2019, but they have plenty of time to change course. Should they?

Adrianza has proven a very useful pickup for the Twins. He’s appeared in the ninth-most games among Twins position players, and has played almost everywhere: first, second, third, short, left. Let's take a closer look at the versatile infielder, quietly becoming a relative mainstay on the Twins roster.

Defense
The biggest asset Adrianza provides is the ability to play shortstop. It’s really the only thing that’s kept him in the majors this long, but how is he over there?

There are 39 players who logged at least 700 innings at shortstop over the past two seasons. Adrianza ranks 33rd in Defensive Runs Above Average, per FanGraphs. That’s one spot ahead of Jorge Polanco. If we switch the focus over to UZR/150, Adrianza gets a slight bump up to 29th.

No, that’s not especially inspiring, but I would argue he is a capable major league shortstop. The main reason why he ranks so low among his peers is mainly because guys who simply cannot play the position don’t get that many opportunities to do so at the highest level.

Let’s zoom out a bit. If you change the criteria to all players who have a minimum of 500 innings at shortstop over the last four seasons combined, suddenly Adrianza ranks 34th among that sample of 68 players in Defensive Runs Above Average.

Hitting
Of the 298 players to amass at least 500 plate appearances over the past two seasons, Adrianza’s .689 OPS ranks 247th. Well that’s pretty bad, right? In the context of middle infielders, it’s actually not all that terrible.

Ehire still has a higher OPS the past two seasons than Addison Russell, Freddy Galvis, Tim Anderson, Jose Reyes, Jose Iglesias, Amed Rosario, Orlando Arcia, Dansby Swanson … you get the point. Quite a few of those guys were starting shortstops for their teams in 2018.

Being a switch-hitter, Adrianza also doesn’t see a big hit from the platoon advantage, though he has been a little better against lefties over his career (.266/.318/.381). That’s something that can come in handy for a bench player.

Something that surprised me about last season’s numbers was that Adrianza’s hard hit rate (the frequency in which he hit a ball in play 95 mph or harder) was actually higher than Eduardo Escobar last season. Ehire was at 30.5 percent while Eduardo was at 27.2 percent.

So is Adrianza’s bat an asset? No, I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but the bar is set pretty low for a shortstop. He’s better than a good number of the alternatives.

Running
Adrianza is right around average in terms of sprint speed, which means he’s pretty slow for a middle infielder. Among the players on the Twins last season, Robbie Grossman, Logan Forsythe and Tyler Austin all registered faster sprint speeds than Ehire. But, at the same time, Adrianza is 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts as a Twin and has rated out as a slightly above average base runner by FanGraphs.

When you take a look at the overall package Adrianza presents, yes, it’s pretty blah. Still, given how he stacks up against a lot of other shortstops, I actually think that he’d have a decent chance of beating that $1.3 million deal he agreed to with the Twins if he was on the open market.

Taking a look back at his history, I also think it’s reasonable to think he’s more likely to improve than he is to regress.

Development
Since he’s already 29-years-old and hasn’t ever really shown any flashes of becoming a better offensive player, the assumption is Adrianza is without upside. That’s completely fair, but I’m not 100 percent certain it’s true.

The climb up the ladder of the minor leagues is especially difficult for guys like Ehire who make their professional debuts at 16-years-old. They always get pushed eventually. Their developmental timetables are so different than, say, a guy drafted out of college.

Adrianza reached Double A for the first time in his age 22 season. It did not go well. He hit .220/.289/.310 in 512 plate appearances. He repeated the level in 2013 and fared a little better, hitting .240/.331/.312. That slight improvement earned him a jump up to Triple A in mid July of 2014 and he busted out in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. After hitting .310/.409/.441 in 45 games, Adrianza was headed to San Francisco as a September callup.

Was he ready? Probably not, but he was already on the 40-man roster, so it was time.

In 2014, Adrianza played just six games in the minors and had 106 plate appearances with the Giants. Not a lot of room for development there. This would be a theme over his last few seasons with the Giants.

Adrianza opened 2015 with another impressive run in Triple A, hitting .316/.384/.415 over 44 games. That earned him another shot with the Giants, but again he only logged 134 plate appearances with San Francisco. In 2016, his final season with the Giants, Ehire really struggled to stay on the field. He played a grand total of 17 games in the minors and got just 41 plate appearances in the bigs.

Add it all up and you had a guy entering his age 27 season with 105 career games at Triple A, never more than 45 in one season. In the Majors, he’d accrued just 331 plate appearances stretched across four seasons.

It can’t be easy to work on anything when you’re seeing so little playing time. It’s sad to say, but the best thing for Adrianza probably would have been if he cleared waivers, became a free agent and signed a minor league deal that allowed him to get regular at-bats.

Of course, that’s not what happened. The Brewers claimed him from the Giants, then when Milwaukee tried to sneak him through the Twins claimed him. Ehire had yet another fairly inactive season in 2017.

For the four seasons from 2014-17, Adrianza averaged a grand total of just 211 plate appearances per season. Just to put that into perspective, Twins prospect Ryan Jeffers managed to get 284 plate appearances in the minors this season and he was just drafted in June. Trade deadline acquisition Logan Forsythe got 205 plate appearances with the Twins last season. That lack of seeing competitive pitching could not have helped Adrianza’s swing or approach at the plate.

Thanks to the Jorge Polanco suspension and then the Eduardo Escobar trade, Adrianza managed to log 366 plate appearances with the Twins in 2018. He had one 10-day stay on the DL in early July due to a hamstring injury, other than that he was on the roster all season.

When Minnesota acquired Adrianza he had a .220/.292/.313 slash line in 331 MLB PA; since then he's at .256/.309/.380 in 552 PA. The "all glove, no bat" label doesn't quite apply, as his 23 doubles in 2018 ranked sixth on the Twins. His offense teeters between adequate and intriguing (again, in the context of a guy who can play shortstop).

I’d love to go out on a limb and say that somebody maybe more exciting such as Nick Gordon, who is now on the 40-man roster, would be a better option to fill the utility role. I can’t. Gordon is still at the point in his career where more time in Triple A might be key. Some players (like Adrianza) have suffered from not having that extra development in the high minors. Also, Ehire may not be a guy who’s going to win you any games, but he’s also not going to hurt you. That’s probably not true of Gordon.

Throughout a season, major-league teams always have extra players a phone call (and a day) away at Triple-A. But on a game-to-game basis, you need players with flexibility to fill multiple roles. Adrianza can capably handle virtually every position.

Ehire Adrianza isn’t going to be a guy the Twins promote on their banners outside of Target Field, but he does provide value to the roster. He remains a logical piece to the 25-man roster. In today’s age of three-man benches, having a player reserve capable of playing shortstop is a must.

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90 Comments

 

This was sarcasm right?Not that I mind Schoop...but Torryes has a .664 OPS.And the Yankees thanked him on his way out.

 

But that's the talent landscape in the MI.It's sorta bad.

 

This also means Astudillo is blocked, but the Twins will hold that carrot out through spring training anyway.

 

jkcarew came up with .750.I simply said there are not that many guys better than Ehire and his .700ish OPS.

Adrinza's career OPS is 658 in about 900 PA...it was 680 last year.The Twins just got Torreyes to go with Schoop.Torreyes is at 685 OPS in a little over 600 MLB PA.Would I bet that Torreyes will be better offensively than Adrianza next year?Nope.

 

But I appreciate the effort (small that it was).There is at least some reason to hope that Torreyes can be an upgrade offensively based on his minor league track record relative to Adrianza's. If nothing else it's a little competition or another option.

Adrinza's career OPS is 658 in about 900 PA...it was 680 last year.The Twins just got Torreyes to go with Schoop.Torreyes is at 685 OPS in a little over 600 MLB PA.Would I bet that Torreyes will be better offensively than Adrianza next year?Nope.
 
But I appreciate the effort (small that it was).There is at least some reason to hope that Torreyes can be an upgrade offensively based on his minor league track record relative to Adrianza's. If nothing else it's a little competition or another option.

Im more concerned about recent production than minor league production and Adrianza beats him there the last three years. If you just count Adrianza's last two years he beats Torreyes in BB% and ISO. Torreyes gets him on avg and K%, though Adrianza is average at worst in striking out.

Torreyes may be better eventually because of his track record but he hasn't shown to be the last two years (even three if you count Adrianza as a Giant for one year) on the MLB field. At least he's not in my eyes because I'll take the more patient hitter with more power. Their defense is probably equal, but that I admit, I haven't looked at.

Im more concerned about recent production than minor league production and Adrianza beats him there the last three years. If you just count Adrianza's last two years he beats Torreyes in BB% and ISO. Torreyes gets him on avg and K%, though Adrianza is average at worst in striking out.

Torreyes may be better eventually because of his track record but he hasn't shown to be the last two years (even three if you count Adrianza as a Giant for one year) on the MLB field. At least he's not in my eyes because I'll take the more patient hitter with more power. Their defense is probably equal, but that I admit, I haven't looked at.


Both still kinda qualify as small sample sizes in my eyes so I wonder about the benefit of any statistical comparisons.

They have some years under their belt but neither have a ton of extended action.

Who knows but I’m hesitant to close the book a couple of pages in.

Both still kinda qualify as small sample sizes in my eyes so I wonder about the benefit of any statistical comparisons.
They have some years under their belt but neither have a ton of extended action.
Who knows but I’m hesitant to close the book a couple of pages in.

True, it is smaller sample sizes but neither of these guys are going to be starters on this team (knock on wood) so sample size issues will always be a problem for them.

Right now I'd go Adrianza and it's not even close for me. Devil you know, I guess, plus stats back it up for me.

True, it is smaller sample sizes but neither of these guys are going to be starters on this team (knock on wood) so sample size issues will always be a problem for them.

Right now I'd go Adrianza and it's not even close for me. Devil you know, I guess, plus stats back it up for me.


Don’t get me started on the word “starter”. LOL

Don’t get me started on the word “starter”. LOL

Haha, "mostly a bench player" work better for you?

If you're going to use analytics such as defensive measures, then I guess I would take issue with calling him a replacement level player, another analytics term. He's above that, but below average, earning a below-average salary. If he were replacement level, they would, you know, replace him, with someone earning MLB minimum instead of above that. As you go on to note, there is a place in the majors for someone "blah" like that.

Grossman by contrast was in a similar boat performance-wise but at an even higher price point around MLB average, and out he goes.

with the signing of Big Toe he might be replaced.
    • ashburyjohn likes this

 

Haha, "mostly a bench player" work better for you?

 

Nope... LOL

 

 

Nope... LOL

"Shouldn't play more than 60-70 games because they're not good enough to play 100+"?

To add: Adrianza plays league average for a shortstop which is fine and the minimum bar I want from him, but I prefer Polanco getting most of those reps.
    • Riverbrian likes this

 

"Shouldn't play more than 60-70 games because they're not good enough to play 100+"?

To add: Adrianza plays league average for a shortstop which is fine and the minimum bar I want from him, but I prefer Polanco getting most of those reps.

 

Cool... I don't have a major problem with Adrianza (other than the odd spelling of his name). 

 

I'm just absolutely serious about every roster spot utilized on players that will push the other players and therefore I don't start with labels like starter or backup.:)

 

I know most people use starter and backup... I'll wait for everyone to join me. It'll probably be a long wait but I'm patient.:)

 

 

Photo
Original Whizzinator
Dec 08 2018 08:17 AM

What? As recently as 2016, the Twins extra infielder OPS’d 758. An if Polanco had been designated the extra that year...he OPS’d 730. They won 83 games. I want a guy with a better offensive upside in that role. They exist. So I guess ignorance would be bliss in my case.

If your talking Caballo yes it happens but once it does the player expects to get paid like a starter and the team has a valuable trade chip. Eddie had some stretches before that year but then somebody gets hurt he gets more paying time and puts it all together. Now he's a starter and getting paid like one. Starting caliber players are very valuable in MLB and when a team has an extra one they also invariably have a hole they need to fill with that chip.
    • TheLeviathan and Minny505 like this

Cool... I don't have a major problem with Adrianza (other than the odd spelling of his name). 
 
I'm just absolutely serious about every roster spot utilized on players that will push the other players and therefore I don't start with labels like starter or backup.:)
 
I know most people use starter and backup... I'll wait for everyone to join me. It'll probably be a long wait but I'm patient.:)

I can see that, but not sure that's possible. There are a lot of good players in MLB but there is not enough players in the league to have multiple guys on one team who can provide legit competition to the players who play more. Usually, obviously not always, the better player gets most of the playing time and the other guy sits more because he has less talent. Plus, most of the good players want to play 140+ games a year (assumption). Like at this point no one is going to be good enough to have Mike Trout play less. Mike Trout is a no doubt "starter" unless he's hurt.

I think in order for what you want to happen, you'd probably have to eliminate 5-10 teams from the league so you'd weed out the really bad players.

 

I can see that, but not sure that's possible. There are a lot of good players in MLB but there is not enough players in the league to have multiple guys on one team who can provide legit competition to the players who play more. Usually, obviously not always, the better player gets most of the playing time and the other guy sits more because he has less talent. Plus, most of the good players want to play 140+ games a year (assumption). Like at this point no one is going to be good enough to have Mike Trout play less. Mike Trout is a no doubt "starter" unless he's hurt.

I think in order for what you want to happen, you'd probably have to eliminate 5-10 teams from the league so you'd weed out the really bad players.

 

Not true at all and the first step to flooding the market with capable talent is to simply stop thinking of "Starter" and "Bench" when constructing your roster. I am honestly surprised that I get a ton of push back on this. I'm simply asking for 25 guys who push each other for playing time and to give the playing time to the players who are playing better.

 

It's easy enough and should be easily agreed upon by everyone... Fill your entire roster with talent... who could possibly be against that but I get so much push back on it? I'm starting to realize it's because most people can't relate to anything but a "Starter" and "Bench" mentality because it's been all we've been looking at for decades and they can't let that mentality go long enough to realize that... WE REALLY DON"T NEED ANY PLAYERS that ONLY PLAY ON GETAWAY DAYS. 

 

Teams actually create those type of players by only playing players that way. They are self created on purpose by the "Starter" "Bench" mentality and it ends up handicapping the team in the end and this creates the perceived shortage of talent across baseball but it is self created and all you have to do is stop thinking "Starter" "Bench" bench when constructing your roster.The Dodgers and Cubs don't do this and they are light years ahead of the rest of the baseball as a result. 

 

The Mike Trout's... Those guys are going to play every day... Nobody is going to be able to push them for playing time because they are playing on another level than the majority of baseball players. 

 

But... there are only a handful of those Trout guys and The TWINS haven't had any Trout guys. We can't afford those guys, we haven't traded for any of those guys and we haven't drafted/developed any of those guys but because we deploy our starting 9 every year like they are all Trout guys, it does two things. 

 

1. It locks in a "Real" disparity between an actual Mike Trout type on the other team and the Trevor Plouffe guy that we play like he is Mike Trout on our team.

 

2. It shuts the door and makes it nearly impossible to find the next Mike Trout guy by pure accident or development because the Trevor Plouffe guy is played like Mike Trout and ends up hogging all of the playing/development/discovery time. They are not all born like Mike Trout, identified in the minors as the greatest ever and simply promoted to "God Like Status" like everyone expected. There are also the Justin Turner and JD Martinez types who were released by other teams and the Jose Ramirez types who were 20th ranked prospects who exploded once they got regular playing time and every year... we have less roster space to find these type of Trout guys because of the "Starter" "Bench" mentality. In the off-season, this unnecessary of locking into a "Mediocre Starter" like Plouffe and a "Fine because he doesn't have to play much" Adrianza killing two roster spots with the best expectation you can have is average is ultimately retarding the overall development of a functional complete roster of talent and prolonging the rebuild we are waiting on and results in the ping-pong seasons of good years and bad years that the majority of teams go through. The teams that are consistently in the playoffs don't buy it with money... they make the playoffs consistently because they have options to turn to in case it all goes wrong with a "designated starter". The Dodgers have the money to spend... they don't need to find Max Muncy or Kike Hernandez or Chris Taylor, they can just buy it but the Dodgers are finding these guys and playing them. It's the Twins who can't buy it and need to find Max Muncy or Kike Hernandez or Chris Taylor but they can't find it because they settle for Trevor Plouffe and "Fine as long as they don't play that much".  

 

 

So you just perpetuate a broken cycle like we have been doing over and over again for decades. Just hoping the front office gets it right in the off-season. Pure finger crossing hope, that the front office through skill or dumb luck, got the right 9 guys identified, pure finger crossing hope that those 9 guys stay healthy and actually perform like they were projected. Because the other 3 or 4 players who round out the roster, are only "Fine" as long as "they don't play much" and offered contracts knowing that they are not as good as the pre-identified "9" guys who may end up on the 60 day DL. 

 

Now, if the starting 9 works great we got a great season... if it doesn't (like 2016 and 2018) we get to hear excuses like "we really thought we would get more production out Sano, Buxton and Dozier: or... "We had this one year contract team chemistry issue" or insert the excuse du jour and the team just ping-pong balls up and down each year based on if those starting 9 do their job.  

 

I'm sure the front office hates having to make excuses like that and all they have to do to stop having to make excuses like that... TREAT EACH ROSTER SPOT like you might need that player to contribute significantly. 

 

 

We take all of our limited investment capital (playing time) and spend it on single stocks that have proven time and time again to be volatile and unpredictable, instead of diversifying in multiple stocks to increase the odds of a stock going through the roof while protecting yourself against the failure of the other stock.

 

Seriously, The closest guy we've had to one of those Trout guys was? Mauer 2009?

 

Guys who actually play like they should play every day instead of the guys we play every day but don't play well enough to play every day. 

 

The majority of our "Starters" who play every day... are Trevor Plouffe types.

 

On the Twins and across baseball,. Trevor Plouffe and his ilk prevent teams from finding the Max Muncy types (even Astudillo, Cave types) every year because of the "starter" "back-up" mentality and the playing of Trevor Plouffe like he is Mike Trout.

 

This how off-seasons screw us over! Time and time again. 

 

1. We have Trevor Plouffe.

2. 3B is therefore covered every single day.

3. No sense even thinking about someone else of at least equal or greater value to add to the roster. 

4. Whatever Trevor Plouffe gives... is what we get. The Die is cast. 

5. Now we must go find a player who isn't as good as Trevor Plouffe and call him a "back-up".  

5. Give this back-up one of only 25 roster spots.  

6. This player won't play much.

 

I'm saying that whenever anyone claims that Adrianza is "good enough" because "He won't play much", you are just perpetuating a mentality that has existed in baseball for decades "Starter" "Bench" and you have committed yourself to the painful fate of asking Trevor Plouffe to be Mike Trout or die because there is no remedy for Trevor Plouffe hitting .200. 

 

It is the yearly declaration that nothing will happen to Polanco, Schoop or Sano so we can comfortably seek out lesser players to fill out the rest of the roster, while history shows time and time again that something will happen to at least one of Polanco, Schoop or Sano to blow the "He won't play much" part of the equation right out of the water and usually before May rolls around. 

 

All the Twins have to do right now is go sign Asdrubal Cabrera or trade for Brandon Crawford or whoever. It doesn't have to be a Machado type (although Machado would be nice) but get a player who can compete with Polanco and Schoop, add him to the roster and then let the players inform the manager who should play more often by how THEY PLAY. I don't understand how anybody could be against this idea? Unless they really enjoy admonishing Logan Morrison for his crappy play and want to ensure that there is a Logan Morrison available to admonish. 

 

Now, if the front office believes that Adrianza or Torreyes could be this Cabrera or Crawford type that can push and compete with Polanco and Schoop. Never mind... I'm cool. If the front office believes this, even if Adrianza or Torreyes fails to be Cabreara or Crawford-esque, I'll give the front office the benefit of my doubt and blessing. 

 

But... I'll know. If we see Adrianza consistently sitting on the bench in 2019 watching Schoop hit .186 as an everyday player. I will know that the front office signed a lesser player on purpose and was blinded by the concept of "Starter" "Bench" like many are and couldn't figure out how to get out of it when it all went wrong. Whatever happens will be their fault and I will not listen to any excuses like "We really thought that Schoop would do better".

 

If the Manager doesn't want to play Gergorio Petit or a Motter like talent. Right now is when that decision is being made.

 

Rosters are built in the off-season! The shopping is done and the supply is exhausted in the off-season. Once the season starts... the choices become extremely limited... like Motter type limited. 

 

Right Now... STAFF THE 25 Man to the hilt. All you have to do is get rid of the "Starter" "Bench" Mentality and get to work and then make the players compete for every roster spot. 

 

No more Logan Morrison walking past the lineup card and knowing he is on the lineup card despite producing at a "should be selling cars" level because we got Gregorio Petit and Taylor Motter challenging him.  

 

This is why I've been a broken record on this... People can't get past "Starter" "Bench". This isn't my flexibility diatribe... Flexibility is a by-product of having too much talent on your roster and the necessity of finding playing time for that too much talent. 

 

You got to get the talent first for every precious roster spot. 

 

This simple change in mindset is guaranteed (By ME) to speed up the rebuild tenfold.

 

 

 

We've brought this way off topic, so I'll end with this. I don't think there's enough players in MLB to provide 2+ WAR consistently every season, which was my main point which I probably said poorly. That would be what you'd need for true constant competition. There's backups because there's not enough talent across MLB. There were a little less than 100 hitters to provide 2 WAR or better this year according to fangraphs. Maybe some of those bench guys would do better if they got to play more but would they easily be able to provide 2 WAR all the time? No and 100 hitters isn't enough for 30 teams to split between them.

I agree there should be competition for every player, unless you're Trout or some others. I agree that players who are bombing like Dozier last year should not just get to keep playing. That's always been ridiculous to me. I agree that you should find upgrades everywhere as much as you possibly can. I don't think too many people argue against much of that. The owners and their wallet, sure, but I'm guessing most fans want all the teams players to be good.

I don't agree that it's easy to do because of the lack of talent across MLB. The Ryan Lamarre's of the world are always going to have a spot on the bench on teams because there's not 200 Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario's lying around. I'd love to have their clones sitting on the bench ready to go in case something happens to the originals but it's not realistic.

The Twins would need nearly a whole new team if they were to do that kind of thing at every position. I'd be perfectly fine if the Twins upgrade on a whole ton of positions, but where are you going to find 15 new players from? Let alone all of them be potential competition/upgrades? You can and should add a couple a year, but then it'd still take 5+ years to rebuild it. There's just no way to get rid of 100s of bad players unless you start eliminating teams because not ever player has the talent to provide true competition.
    • TheLeviathan likes this

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