Jake Cave, OF
Byron Buxton’s injury is one of the biggest reasons Cave was given the opportunity to play in two of the team’s first three games. He certainly made his presence felt in Sunday’s game by cracking a first inning grand slam that put the Twins on the way to a blowout win. For the series, he finished 3-for-9 with six RBI. The argument can also be made that he is the best fourth outfielder in baseball.
Defensively, Cave has been playing in centerfield, which could be viewed as an interesting choice by manager Rocco Baldelli. Max Kepler is the better defender in center as he played nearly 460 innings there last season and was worth 4 DRS and 3.6 DEF. Cave was worth -3 DRS and -2.1 DEF, so there is little question that Baldelli should put Kepler in center. However, Cave’s impact was felt in both of the team’s victories this weekend so maybe this formula works (for now).
Ehire Adrianza, IF
Adrianza played in one of the team’s games this weekend and it was the only game the Twins lost, but he still can impact the game. He went 1-for-4 and scored one of the team’s three runs that game. His biggest influence comes on the defensive side of the ball because he is the best defensive infielder on the roster not named Josh Donaldson.
Last season, he played 59 innings or more at second base, first base, shortstop and third base. Looking at the regulars penciled in at those positions, it is going to be tough for Adrianza to get playing time at any of those spots this season. This means he will likely have to settle for being used sparingly unless an injury were to occur (knock on wood).
Marwin Gonzalez, OF/1B
Gonzalez entered the 2020 season in a different spot than last season. Miguel Sano started 2019 injured and this meant Gonzalez started the year as the team’s everyday third baseman. Sano isn’t injured this season, but his positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the start of Summer Camp, and he could have put his swing a little behind schedule. This allowed Gonzalez to start two games over the weekend and he went 2-for-8 with a homer.
One of the most impressive things from Gonzalez this weekend might have been his professional approach at the plate. On Saturday afternoon, he faced off against former teammate Dallas Keuchel who was rolling through the early innings. Gonzalez did his best to mess with Keuchel’s timing and even Justin Morneau made note of it from the booth. He did the same thing on Sunday when Reynaldo Lopez was struggling early in the game. Out of players still on the Twins, Gonzalez had the fifth most plate appearances last season, so it will be interesting to see how the club finds him at-bats this year.
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