The Minnesota Twins are completing one of their most disappointing seasons in their history in one week. While they will only win around 70 games, they have major league talent under team control at every position except one--shortstop. Andrelton Simmons was acquired on a one-year deal and has shown himself to be a competent (not all-world) defender and has had a putrid offensive season. The consensus at this site is that he should not and will not return in 2022. By all measures, the 2021 Simmons has been among the worst hitters in MLB. Good luck elsewhere Simba. It didn't work out in Minnesota.
Who replaces Simmons as the everyday SS next year? I think the question is interesting. The Twins can go several different directions, including moving Jorge Polanco back to short. I would think that any shortstop decision has to be made with an eye on some of the Twins top prospects. Royce Lewis will miss all of 2021 following knee surgery. Lewis has the potential to be the kind of five-tool star that Byron Buxton has teased us with when he has been healthy. Lewis also has a minor league resume that is considerably short of his potential and there are murmurs that he won't end up as a shortstop. Another top prospect is Austin Martin, obtained in the José Berríos trade, He also has a history at shortstop, but exclusively played outfield for Wichita since he was acquired by the Twins. Martin seems to have a much more refined hit tool than Lewis, with a high OBP and relatively low strikeouts. He hasn't demonstrated big power in the minors, however. Do the Twins believe either of these guys will be their everyday shortstop next year? I really doubt it. Lewis has almost no experience in the high minors and has essentially missed two years of baseball and while it is quite likely that Martin will make his major league debut next season, his most likely position will be outfield. A third minor league option is Wichita's regular shortstop this season, Jermaine Palacios. He has had a power surge and has been a shortstop through his minor league career. Could he make the jump? At least to start 2022, I think all three guys are longshots to even be on the major league roster.
Of course, there are two possible candidates on the big league roster. Polanco has almost 500 games played at short, and while he isn't league average with the leather, he is a proven hitter. Nick Gordon has impressed, but despite playing a lot of shortstop in the minors, he's only logged 43 innings at short in this, his rookie year, with the Twins. Again, I have my doubts. However, I think the readiness of a replacement from the organization is the key to determining what type of player the Twins will seek to fill the void at shortstop.
If they are convinced that one of their prospects will be an everyday shortstop in the majors by 2023, then the focus would be on more of a stopgap player, perhaps someone who might start the season as a regular, but could evolve into a utility player. If the feeling is that none of the prospects in the high minors can cut it as an everyday shortstop by 2023, then they have to sign someone with a bit more permanence. Signing someone from outside the organization for more than one year also would seem to create a glut of major league players. Sano and Kirilloff at first, Polanco, Arraez and Gordon at second, Donaldson at third with also Arraez capable at the hot corner. Add in that their near-certain Minor League Player of the Year, Jose Miranda, can fill first second and third and there seems to be too many players for the infield and DH positions.
One additional thought--while he didn't get much love from Twins fans, I think the Twins missed Ehire Adrianza, or at least someone who could fill the role of Adrianza. Moving Polanco to shortstop whenever Simmons was hit for or had a day off seemed to disrupt the entire infield. Having a true backup shortstop who could fill in at other positions would have been a good thing for the Twins' roster. Having such a player in addition to Adrianza and Gordon might make the position player part of the roster very crowded. The frontline defense for the Twins was pretty good, but it seemed whenever a starter was subbed out, it would be for an inferior defender, sometimes weakening more than one position.
I think that there is enough talent on the position player side for the Twins to contend, perhaps as soon as next year. To achieve the dream of contending, they would have to come up with pitching, but the late-season performances of Ryan and Ober offer hope that they might be pieces of the puzzle next year and that the minor leagues could possibly start producing good quality pitching from within the organization.
There are decisions to be made. I don't see any clear path to solving the shortstop position problem, but there have to be answers somewhere. Falvey and Levine need to make the right choices in several areas to help bring the club back. Their jobs may depend on the choices they make.
This post will be about why I am a Twins fan and some memories of the Twins, and a little about me. My name is Levi Hansen, I am 24 years old and I am from Rochester, Minnesota. I went to high school at Mayo High School and graduated in 2016. When I was in high school I knew that after I graduated I wanted to go to college and major in something that involved sports, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to go for. My senior year I decided I wanted to go to school and major in Athletic Training, after a couple years of doing this I found out that this wasn’t right for me, so I switched my major to Mass Communications, I graduated from Rochester Community and Technical College for my Associates Degree this last Spring Semester after I was done with my internship. For my internship I did play-by-play for the Yellowjackets at Rochester Community and Technical College men’s and women’s basketball team’s. At first I was really scared to do play-by-play because I am not a huge basketball fan in general, but halfway through the season the Athletic Director at school stopped me in the hallway after one of the games and told me that an assistant coach from one of the team’s really enjoyed listening to my play-by-play announcing, but the one thing I could change is to say the player’s names more instead of saying the jersey number. At the end of season I was really mad because I think I improved a lot throughout the season and I didn’t want the season to end.
I think I got the love of sports, mostly baseball and football from my father, both my parents are from Trempealeau, Wisconsin, my dad grew up a huge Vikings fan, and when my mom was pregnant with me my dad would read the sports section of the newspaper to my mom’s growing stomach. I like to thank my dad for doing that because I love my Minnesota Twins no matter if they are one of the best teams in the regular season and sadly 0-18 in the last 18 playoff games, or if they are having a disappointing season like they are having this season. Ever since I was in Kindergarten my dad would ask myself, along with my younger brother and sister if we wanted to play youth sports, I played baseball, football, from Kindergarten thru my freshman year of high school and I wrestled from Kindergarten thru my 8th grade year, I truly miss playing all these sports. I also did Boy Scouts for a couple years and they would do a fun night at the Metrodome watching the Twins game and have some fun activities and at the end of the night the Boy Scouts could sleep on the turf. Those times were very fun.
All good things come to an end. I decided I didn’t want to play football anymore after my freshman year, and I wasn’t good enough to make the high school team my freshman year, the players wanted me to stay and be the student manager my Sophomore year, I knew this was an easy choice I ended up managing the baseball team my sophomore year through my senior year for the baseball team and I ended up managing the football team my senior year both of them were so much fun being around a good group of guys and some good coaches. A little story. The Twins drafted Bradley Mathiowetz in the 2014 draft in one of the later rounds. Bradley was a couple years older than me in high school. I thought that was pretty cool that I went to high school and knew a Twins draftee either though he ended up not signing. Bradley ended up being Mr. Baseball for Minnesota in 2014, Bradley was a treat to watch it seemed he hit a home run every at bat and he was a pretty great defensive catcher as well.
Over my 24 years of being a Twins fan, there have been several good players, however my favorite Twins fan of all time is power hitting, gods defensive first basemen Justin Morneau. I think Justin could’ve been in the Hall Of Fame if it wasn’t for all the concussions he suffered while playing the game tough. Justin ended his playing career with 1,545 games played, 5,699 at- bats, 247 Home Runs with a .281 Batting Average, those are pretty good career numbers if you ask me. There was a time I got to meet Justin Morneau at the Metrodome. Years ago there was a reading contest through Cub Foods and people had to read a certain number of minutes to meet Justin, I completed the assignment not because I love to read (I only like to read sports books.) It was because I wanted to meet my favorite player. I remember going through the line as a little kid telling him he was my favorite player it was very fun meeting my favorite player.
The year 2020 was a very sad year with COVID making the world a not so very fun place to live. Spring Training was cut short because of it. When I heard there might not be baseball played last year I felt sick to my stomach and didn’t know what to do in my free time. When there wasn’t any baseball I found some fun baseball podcasts to listen to, I really enjoy Nash Walker’s podcasts and really like Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes’s podcasts both podcasts are a treat to listen to, another podcast I love listening to are Twins Daily offseason podcasts. If there is ever a time that I could join a Twins Daily offseason podcast it would be so fun. I like listening to the podcasts because I just really like listening to people’s takes on my favorite sports team, most of their takes I agree with but, some I don’t. I wanted to pick up my blog I took a break off from writing on Twins Daily, but a couple months ago I stated blogging again. I love to blog on Twins Daily because I can write whatever comes to mind about the Twins, and people can comment on posts. When I found out there was going to be baseball, but only 60 games, without any fans I was really happy that ”America’s Favorite Pastime” was coming back. Other Twins fans can follow me on Twitter my handle is LeviHansen11
Hopefully you guys like this post. My next post will be about the trades the Twins made at the trade deadline and if I like them or not.