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Defense! It Saved Two Jobs and Solidified One.

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If Brian Dozier played second base this year like he played shortstop last year, is there any chance he'd still be on the big league roster? If Chris Parmelee played right field with the proficiency of Ryan Doumit and (so far) Osvaldo Arcia, would he be in Minneapolis or Rochester (NY)? Finally, if Pedro Florimon played shortstop like he did last year and the first couple weeks of this year, would the fans be calling for Escobar, Carroll and Danny Santana?

I think the answer to all three questions is that defense has made a difference. Dozier as a shortstop last year demonstrated marginal tools--average range, enough arm--and probably a lack of focus due to his offensive struggles. He was a subpar SS, for sure. This year he has moved to second and has been a very good defender, showing good range, a quick pivot, especially for someone new to the position, and good hands. His defense has kept him in the big leagues and probably kept him in contention to continue to get regular at-bats this year and beyond.

Parmelee was thought to be a displaced first baseman, basically waiting for Morneau to get injured or traded. While he isn't blessed with even average speed, Chris has caught everything he could get to, played the corners and the walls well, charged balls well hit in front of him and thrown very well. Because he gets pretty good breaks on balls, I think one could classify his range as "adequate" despite the lack of foot speed. This year, Parm has logged an inning in center field and served as a defensive replacement. Not many would have predicted either of those things going into the season. So, despite a .223 BA and .647 OPS, Chris is still getting playing time in Minnesota, not upstate New York.

Florimon's assignment as the regular shortstop was questioned. There was nothing to project him as anywhere near an average hitter and his defense didn't profile as anything special--too many errors, too many routine plays not turned into outs--and Pedro began the season with some sketchy defense. He could have been charged with a half dozen more errors than he received and threw a whole bunch of sinkers to first base, most of them dug out by Morneau. As the weather has warmed, so has Florimon's defense. The throws are 100% improved, he's fielding grounders with confidence and making very few, if any, mental mistakes. Combined with acceptable offensive production, Florimon has, for now at least, cemented his position in the lineup.

All three of these guys need to hit to maintain their roles with this club and have a future in the big leagues, but their leashes have gotten longer because they have exceeded expectations in the field. To me, Parmelee is the biggest surprise. He doesn't look like much of an athlete, but he's made the plays. Unfortunately for him, defense at first and outfield corners is not nearly as important as how well you swing the bat. Dozier and Florimon have been a decent middle infield and a real improvement over last year.

Comments

  1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
    Nice summation, I would agree with most or all of your conclusions. Parm and Doz have been nice surprises in the field, but I did expect more by now from both of their bats. Floriman has shown he could be a starting SS option for a playoff team.
  2. AScheib50's Avatar
    I don't get to see a lot of Twins games in person due to my location, but I was in Milwaukee for the 14 inning game and walked away conflicted by Florimon. It was a one game sample, of course. The first like 7 innings he looked great. Showed good defense and made some great rangy plays. He chased down a fly ball in mid left field that I thought would drop for sure. So I was impressed there.

    But then the wheels came off late in the game. He botched a double play in the 9th, which actually didn't burn the Twins. Then he made a very questionable play going to third on a GB to short and was gunned down by Jean Segura.

    His stamp was all over that game, both good and bad. It had me kicking around the idea of a blog post about the Two sides of Pedro Florimon. He showed he definitely has the tools, just maybe lacks focus from time to time.
  3. stringer bell's Avatar
    The move to third was really bad, but in general that's not as bad a move (with one out) as it might seem. A lot of time you can sucker a SS to make a hurried throw to third and get both runners safe. Segura was moving toward third and got the ball without diving, so Pedro was a dead duck unless there was a bad throw. The next batter (Dozier) walked, so the Twins ended up with Mauer at the plate with a chance to take the lead on a base hit, but Florimon shouldn't have gone. He's still not a complete player by any means, but far better than I was giving him credit for.
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