Remember the good old days? 2018 wasn’t the greatest of Twins seasons but a short stocky utilityman debuted late in the season. After slashing .355/.371/.516 the legend of La Tortuga was born. While that magic at the plate didn’t carry into 2019, Astudillo remained a fan favorite not only in Twins territory, but throughout all of baseball.
La Tortuga has been a ton of fun, but it’s important to note that he’s more than just an entertaining story. Even though he’s never approached his scorching hot debut again, he’s been right around a league average hitter for his career. He can play all over the field at just about any position except shortstop and center field, though not particularly well. Even for a good team he’s a Major League caliber player, even if that comes with the condition he shouldn’t be playing everyday.
Speaking in present day terms, it’s safe to say that Astudillo has been exposed a bit more than we would prefer so far. He’s played in 22 of the Twins 31 games so far which is probably more than a player like Astudillo should see. That being said he’s having his best season since his debut with a slash line of .313/.308/.484, good for a wRC+ of 120. Sure, his plate approach can be frustrating which has led to his OBP hilariously being lower than his batting average (nope that slash line wasn’t a typo), but he’s been 20% above a league average hitter so far this year.
Nope, I’m not trying to make the point that Astudillo is a key offensive player on this Twins team. He has however been basically the best bench bat they could have asked for. Has he come up in some big spots and failed miserably? Sure!
Nobody likes to see this, but it was never the plan. Astudillo is the same fun Twins player he has been these last few years. In fact, he’s been that player and then some offensively. Look back just one year to see Marwin and Adrianza who were in the same overexposed role and falling flat on their faces.
The Astudillo slander has to stop. I’m not saying Twins Territory has to fall back in love with him, but we shouldn’t let our frustrations with the team as a whole boil over into undeserving parties. The team has plenty of problems, Tortuga being overexposed being one of them, but his performance hasn’t been an issue. He may not be spectacular but in a season of disappointments, the blame deserves to be directed elsewhere.