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A year ago, the Minnesota Twins were one of the top-10 defensive teams in all of baseball. Looking to take a step forward, that became a focus this offseason. The result has been nothing short of a disaster.

In 2020 Minnesota finished the season with 17 DRS (defensive runs saved). That was good for 8th in Major League Baseball. Only 11 teams finished with a double-digit mark, and only the Pirates missed the Postseason among teams performing better than the Twins. Removing Eddie Rosario from left field and swapping Jorge Polanco to the right side of the diamond was supposed to push the needle upwards, but plans haven’t gone as expected.

Originally the Twins targeted Marcus Semien for their shortstop vacancy. He ultimately chose to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays and is having a career year. They pivoted to Andrelton Simmons and that looked like a great decision given his defensive wizardry. It comes with the caveat that he’s virtually a negative asset in the lineup, but that has only compounded Minnesota’s problems, not acted as an ignitor for them.

Simmons has drawn criticism of late due to some costly miscues. Overall, however, he’s been as billed. In terms of DRS, he ranks 6th among MLB shortstops, but his 10 OAA is 2nd best at the position. Polanco has never put up that production, and the tandem of him and Luis Arraez was substantially stretched. Simba is tracking towards something like 10 DRS in 2021, which wouldn’t touch his otherworldly numbers, but is on par with where he was at in 2019.

The bigger problem for Minnesota is that their injuries have hit most often in the outfield. Regardless of Alex Kirilloff not being the Opening Day left fielder, defensively that was a position of weakness. While Rosario previously underwhelmed in the role, he was a more natural fit athletically. Kyle Garlick, Brent Rooker, and Kirilloff have all spent time in the corners, and none will ever grade out positively. Throw in extended absences from Byron Buxton and Max Kepler to find yourself with a doomsday scenario. Minnesota’s -10 DRS in the outfield is 28th in baseball, better than only the Mariners and Reds.

Another area of issue is at the hot corner. Formerly a defensive stud at third, we’ve seen Josh Donaldson flash more than we’ve seen him be reliable. The consistency has been there from a playing time perspective, but he’s put up a -2 DRS and is on track for his worst season defensively. Sure, aging obviously factors into that reality, but this was a guy that posted a 10 DRS for the Braves in 2019. He’s failed to be positive by DRS standards for much of his career, but a career worst slide with a strong shortstop next to him probably wasn’t expected.

The laundry list of issues for this Twins collection is by no means short in 2021. They haven’t hit and they haven’t pitched. When they’ve done one, they haven’t done the other. At all times though, they’ve been poor defensively, and constructed in a way in which was a point of emphasis, that’s been a tough pill to swallow.

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Defensive metrics continue to perplex me a bit.  Sometimes they don't pass the eye test.  Not that the eye test is the gold standard of defensive prowess either.  I didn't realize the defense would rank that highly last season.  But that's not really the point.

The constant shuffling of guys in and out of the outfield has to be the bulk of this slide.  Buxton and Kepler missing significant time has been an issue.  Furthermore, with the infield injuries, you've got Astudillo playing far more in the field than he otherwise would be.  Thinking it through, it's not all that surprising.

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I still think Donaldson will net positive by the end of the year, assuming he plays enough, but seeing him make defensive mistakes is surprising.

The OF defense has been disgusting. Injuries are responsible for a lot of it (Buxton makes everyone look better, and a healthy Kepler is more than reliable) but holy cow.

And it seems like any time they've asked someone to step in they immediately make a bad botch (Blankenhorn, Celestino, et al) and so many of their errors have been impactful. Are any of the pitchers fielding their position well?

Polanco has been pretty good at 2B, that move made sense and works. But this team should be quality on D and they've been trash. It's been a huge part of why this is such a disappointing team. 

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I cannot go by the scorers judgment, it has been as bad as the plays in the field.  Too may Hs instead of Es - sympathy?  At a time when ground balls are at a minimum the amount of misplays really stands out. 

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3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

I cannot go by the scorers judgment, it has been as bad as the plays in the field.  Too may Hs instead of Es - sympathy?  At a time when ground balls are at a minimum the amount of misplays really stands out. 

I think, to a certain extent, that's why fielding percentage is outdated.

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