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Article: What's There to Say About Ehire?

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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 09:10 PM

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.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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#2 Danchat

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 09:23 PM

He's a fine backup-(f)utility player who won't embarrass himself, unless he's trying to take home when he should be staying put at 3rd base. His bat has been better than I expected, though his defense in 2018 was disappointing compared to how he had played in the past. Let's try not to give him 300+ PAs again, alright?

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#3 tvagle

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 09:39 PM

I appreciate the new articles posted on Twins Daily and the effort made by the writers...
 
but

 

What does it say about the state of the Twins this offseason when we're less than a week from the Winter Meetings and the newest topic has to do with a $1.3M utility player?

 

If we get in the Delorean and set the flux capacitor to winter 2017 we'd see the same conversations and discussions last year as this...HR happy Bob Gorinski part 37 acquired for next to nothing...how about Twins announcement that Sano is down 15 lbs...Buxton is running at full speed?

 

Anything to warm the Calcutta Clipper (thanks Denny) that blows through MN this time a year would be appreciated

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Is it 2020 yet?


#4 Pardon My Dinger

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 01:32 AM

He’s a good enough baseball player. Should fit the Esco role adequately.
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#5 Brandon

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 01:53 AM

He belongs in a long line of Twins reserves. Al Newman, Randy Bush, Jeff Reboulet, Nick Punto, almost Grossman...his time here was too short, Gene Larkin....Im sure you can think of others. But we usually have a few decent long term reserves on this team. Why not Ehire too?

I think he resigned here cause he knows he will get more game time here.
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#6 rdehring

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 08:30 AM

Great analysis of a player who does add value to the Twins, plus versatility in the field and at the plate.

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#7 Dr. Beanpole

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 08:45 AM

He's a decent player, and I hope this year he gets a reasonable amount of playing time. Not because I want to see more of him playing, but I want Rocco to actually spell everyone now and then to keep them fresh rather than running them into the ground by late June. 

 

Give Adrianza 250 PA this year at a variety of positions except 1B, C, and CF, and I'll be happy. Perfect guy to keep around so that a guy like Dozier (or now Sano/Polanco) doesn't play through an injury all year. Looking forward to a manager that uses his bench a little more. 

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#8 ashburyjohn

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:06 AM

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.

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#9 Brandon Warne

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:18 AM

 

He belongs in a long line of Twins reserves. Al Newman, Randy Bush, Jeff Reboulet, Nick Punto, almost Grossman...his time here was too short, Gene Larkin....Im sure you can think of others. But we usually have a few decent long term reserves on this team. Why not Ehire too?

I think he resigned here cause he knows he will get more game time here.

 

he re-signed here because he didn't have a choice. he's under team control.

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#10 USAFChief

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:19 AM

Adrianza is another position that needs upgrading on the Twins roster.

He isnt awful, but "isnt awful" is by definition in need of upgrade, if you're trying to be better than middle of the ALC. How about finding a guy who is better than that as the futility infielder?
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#11 mikelink45

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:33 AM

The article really brings up the question of roster construction and that all revolves around pitching and especially the bullpen.In the olden days there could be a big bruiser like Johnny Mize or Enos Slaughter who could come in for a late comeback.There were players like Felix Mantilla that were like Ehire and succeeded.We had back ups for all positions, defensive specialist, pinch runners, etc.  

If baseball is going with this change in rosters its time to expand the roster.Make it 30 or 28 - I do not care.The same number are in the field as always, but the manager can wake up again because there are other options beside intentional walk and change of pitcher.

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#12 bobs

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:38 AM

Utility guys are utility guys for a reason....they are not great players.If they were they wouldn't be utility players!!Adrianza is fine as a utility player as evidenced by comparing those numbers to guys who are starting SS.  

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#13 blindeke

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:52 AM

Conclusion: he is not entirely terrible.

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#14 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 10:00 AM

Adrianza is what he is - a slightly better than average bench player who can give you 2-3 weeks of non-embarassing production when he has to play because of injury. He owuld probably be a starter for some team if he was elite defensively because his bat in 2018 was perfectly acceptable for a MLB SS. He's great to have around as a bench player but not good enough to start regularly. We need this guy or soemone like him and they aren't that easy to find. 

 

This all begs the real question - who is the Free Agent middle infielder that will move Adrianza back to that utility role? Right now, he's the starting 2B or SS and that can't be the plan. Has anyone heard or read anything other than that the Twins kicked the tires on DJ LeMahieu but showed no real interest? I hope the plan isn't to bring back Forsythe or Dozier... 

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#15 Rosterman

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:04 AM

White is fine if you have him as part of a playing bench or someone who can play sub a limited amount of time if you fail to call up and give revs to your hit position prospect. Are there better? Yes! But probably cost more in the end run. Is he the right piece for a contending team? There I would probably say no and spend more but right now he is economically fit for the Twins.

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#16 JLease

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:17 AM

he's got good positional flexibility and does fine with limited playing time. A useful player with a good floor and a marginal ceiling. I look at a player like Adrianza like this: if you're feeling really good about your regular lineup, you like him and feel fine about him as a bench guy who can stop up the cracks. The worse you feel about your every day lineup, the less you like him.

 

The last two years he's been an effective sub for us as he's gotten more playing time, but that's almost certainly the limit for him. That said, I still think he's a perfectly fine guy to fill out the back end of the 25-man roster.

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#17 Mike Sixel

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:27 AM

This is the exact kind of player you want on your bench. Good at multiple positions defensively, and adequate on offense. The bad part is when your regulars play like this. 

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#18 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 12:19 PM

I would venture to bet Adrianza is among the upper half of bench infielders in the league given what he brings with the bat and the glove.I don't think this is a position we have to upgrade.  

 

So that makes him a perfectly fine player until he's overpriced for that role.

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#19 Brandon

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 01:01 PM

 

he re-signed here because he didn't have a choice. he's under team control.

 

Let me rephrase.I think if Ehire said I want to be closer to 1.8 million that MLB is projecting or lets go to arbitration he may have been released.There is always a choice.  


#20 Brandon

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 01:06 PM

Ehire is a below average starter almost average and a good bench piece.Most bench players have one good skill they are good at:defense or power, or speed....Ehire is across the board average in all things but an above average base runner.He is like the floor of Gordon.  




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