Jose Miranda was brought aboard the Twins organization as a shortstop/second/third base type player years ago. Despite that fact, he's played first base almost exclusively since making his debut, and basically only plays a couple days per week against left handed pitching. Not only has his usage directly contradicted the Twins handling of top prospects in the past, but it's also crippled his ability to show that he belongs in the MLB. Jose Miranda is deserving of so much more.
Miranda has come to develop the reputation as a terrible defender among fans already, which is true if you're talking about first base. Many are quick to judge his ability at third base as surely if he can't handle what's considered the easiest infield position he can't play anywhere else. Unfortunately for Miranda, he was thrust into the role he has now as the Twins lack any other right handed hitters capable of playing first base.
Miranda played some first the last few years in the minors, though his innings there were insignificant compared to his time at second and third. We've seen him mess up all kinds of in between plays on defense, which makes sense considering he's been forced to debut at what is not his primary position. In his limited time at 3rd base with the big league club, he's made one error and there isn't close to enough of a sample size yet to deem him a bad defender.
Despite the Twins unwillingness to budge from their current platooning of Miranda, his bat has been good enough to warrant more of a look. While players such as Sanchez, Kepler and Larnach are limping through June, Miranda has posted a .314/.340/.510 line which almost directly coincides with his recall from AAA at the end of May.
Any hitter can go on a hot stretch, but Miranda's numbers since returning to Target Field are showing off what made him the 2021 minor league hitter of the year. He has contact skills, he has plate discipline, he has power. We saw a defensively inept Luis Arraez make himself expendable in 2019 based solely on his bat and look at him now. What else does Miranda have to do at the plate?
The Twins Can Make Room
The Twins don't have quite the log jam it appears they do in the lineup. It's understandable why Miranda is on the short end of a platoon at first base when they have Kirilloff and Arraez to mash right handed pitching. Across the rest of the lineup however, opportunity should exist. The Twins just continue to write out lineup cards that include both Gary Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers. Not only does this open them up for disaster if the starting catcher gets injured, it's just plain ineffective. Both catchers are capable of going on a run offensively for short periods, Jeffers is on one now. Both however are below league average hitters at the moment, and going an extra mile to get a second catcher in your lineup regardless of the name seems like getting too cute. MI'd argue it's worth getting Miranda some DH at bats instead of one of the catchers that we expect little offensive value from.
In addition to DH, Gio Urshela just does not need to be the 7 days per week starting third baseman. The best day at the plate he's had all season on Wednesday elevated him from a below average hitter to slightly above. He was worth 0 fWAR coming into that game making him exactly a replacement level player. His increase by 0.2 in one game is impressive, but his total value on the season still isn't anything special and I don't think we expect such performances from him regularly.
In addition, Urshela's defense appears to be overrated by many, mainly because he can make some incredible plays at the hot corner while also booting plays that should be routine.
It's a very interesting skillset for Urshela who definitely holds his own but doesn't have a gold glove like defensive skill to keep him in the lineup regardless of his bat. Mixing Miranda in every once in awhile just to evaluate him at his primary position just shouldn't be difficult.
The Twins usage of Miranda has been perplexing. We've heard them say it a million times, most recently with Royce Lewis. They don't want him on the big league club if he can't play everyday. Miranda isn't the high profile prospect Lewis is, but they're treating him like they don't care about his development at all. They're DHing below league average catchers and awarding 100% playing time to players who don't deserve it while Miranda, one of the team's hottest hitters in June, plays a couple days per week.
It's possible the Twins don't see Miranda as a future regular, an odd conclusion to already be drawing. Perhaps they see him as a trade piece as many have suggested, although I'd argue playing him solely at a foreign position on very rare occasions isn't the best way to showcase his skills.
At any rate, Jose Miranda needs more of a look. After one of the single greatest minor league seasons in Twins history, Miranda has earned more than pinch hit and weak side platoon duty on a big league club that hasn't exactly been steamrolling the competition recently.
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