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stringer bell

Shortstop Pecking Order

Rating: 2 votes, 4.50 average.
Right now, the Twins have a wealth of shortstop candidates. Conventional wisdom is that shortstops aren't platooned because working with the keystone partner is so important. Here is my view on the shortstops and my best guess to what will happen. I invite anyone else to comment and offer their opinion.

1) Eduardo Escobar. Escobar is starting most games right now and why not? He's hitting over .340 and he's pretty good in the field. News flash. Eduardo Escobar won't hit .340 and he's not going to get 50 doubles. When his bat cools, we'll see how Gardy feels about playing Escobar every day. For whatever reason, Escobar has been tabbed as a utility guy and he is a versatile player. Defensively, he is a solid shortstop with good hands and a strong arm. He doesn't have great range. I think Escobar has earned this shot and I think there's a chance that he may succeed. Regardless, he has proven he is a capable utility player.

2) Danny Santana. He has the range that Escobar lacks. Routine plays are a challenge. Since his promotion, Santana has played short and center field and demonstrated his blazing speed and strong arm. So far, he has also hit the ball great. Santana isn't going to hit .400 any more than Escobar will hit .340. In fact, if he gets a couple hundred plate appearances, it is really doubtful he be above average as a hitter. In his very short trial with the Twins, he hasn't shown he's ready to be a regular major leaguer, but he also has shown he has major league tools. A trip back to Rochester is nearly certain. Maybe he can develop into a big league regular with quite a bit more sizzle than Escobar offers.

3) Eduardo Nuñez. He is the most established hitter of the group, but that isn't saying much. He currently has taken on the utility role that Escobar vacated. If EE slumps, I wouldn't be surprised if Nuñez gets a shot to prove that his bad defensive rep is an overstatement or not. I can't see Gardy going with one of the worst defensive shortstops for long, but then again we saw Plouffe and Nishi playing the position.

4) Pedro Florimon. The manager is reportedly already missing his magic glove, but Florimon just didn't hit in about 70 plate appearances with the Twins, and hasn't hit at all in AAA either (and has already committed 5 errors--those minor league fields must be rough!). I think Florimon's peak as a hitter was what he produced the first half of last year and that is barely passable. He needs to put up some kind of offense to justify his recall.

Down the road, there are others, but they are years away. I hope someone separates himself. Some are predicting that the Twins will draft a shortstop with their high first round pick, maybe that will the solution to the shortstop problem.
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  1. DocBauer's Avatar
    Great post Mr Bell. Tried a similar one a couple weeks ago to no avail. Let's hope we get everyone to climb on board here.

    As far as "order" of SS currently, I believe you're right on with Escobar as the first in line. And he should be at this point. His hard work has earned him this right. And it's rewarding to see him get the opportunity at this point. I think most of us agree his opportunity was at least a week or two overdue. I very much appreciate the tremendous defensive abilities of Florimon, but, truth be told, his setback in ST and poor performance there, probably should have warranted Escobar opening the season either in Ft Meyers or Rochester with Escobar starting from day one.

    He came to the Twins with a reputation as a versatile player with a good glove. That's why we acquired him. And up until now, he hasn't been given the opportunity to show what he's capable of on a regular basis with the ChiSox, or with us. He's still only 25, offers at least a little upside offensively, but has already been bouncing around on ML benches for 3+ years now, probably rushed up.

    Santana, two years younger at 23, is and probably should be #2 in line due to age, experience, and Escobar's quality start. Though there is no way he'll continue to hit over .300. I'm pleased he's had chances to play SS since his promotion. I understand his play in CF considering the current OF situation with the Twins. And with his athleticism, perhaps he has the ability to be a multi-positional player who can contribute in various ways offensively and defensively. And while I don't want to talk out of both sides of my mouth, Santana needs opportunities to show what he can do at SS, whether that be now, or back at Rochester and brought back up later in the season. I've had hopeful expectations for him, and simply don't expect him to perform long term as he has in his limited time with the Twins. However, he shows some real speed and athleticism, and by no means does he have any overmatched deer in the headlights look about him.

    A rough comparison of both players milb numbers shows very comparable numbers: Escobar .266/.319/.354/.673 with a SB avg of 10.5 per season and a success rate of 65%: Santana .270/.315/.395/.710 with a SB avg of 16.7 per season and a success rate of 69%.

    Very comparable numbers across the board, though skewed slightly by Santana being 2 years younger, and with at least 1 full season less in the minors to this point, a higher slugging and OPS with more speed and SB ability. This is not meant to disregard Escobar or his current opportunity. Just a reminder of the potential of Santana and a statement that he also deserves his opportunity.

    I am intrigued by Nunez and what he may offer. I also think he's in a good place with the right team as a versatile utility player who can play all over the place and get in the lineup on a fairly regular basis as the Twins have always been good about getting their bench players involved on a regular basis.

    With all due respect, Florimon's time has come and gone, I believe.

    Long term, I still wonder and have big hopes for Polanco. Could he be another Omar Vizqel? Not the strongest arm, but all the other traits needed to be a quality SS with real offensive potential.
  2. beckmt's Avatar
    No idea who will be the Twins SS of the future, but the only 2 prospects are Polanco and Michael and both are in Ft. Myers. Whether either will pan out is to be seen.
  3. tshide's Avatar
    I agree about Escobar he should stay in the lineup and be given a chance to prove he can hit. If he falters then Santana should be given a shot. I think in the long run we will see Santana as the Twins starting SS but for now Escobar deserves a chance to prove himself.
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