Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Where they stand: Shortstop

Presumed regular: Jorge Polanco

Others on the 40-man roster: Ehire Adrianza, Ronald Torreyes, Nick Gordon

Nonroster notables: Royce Lewis, Wander Javier

The signing of Jonathan Schoop put to rest the notion that Polanco would move to second base. I am of the belief that Polanco is stretched to play shortstop, and I thought that the ouster of Paul Molitor as manager removed the organization's biggest advocate of playing Polanco at short.

And maybe Polanco will eventually wind up at second. Schoop is on a one-year deal, and Lewis is charging up the organizational ladder, and even if the Twins step up their reliance on shifts to mask a lack of range in the infield they may well conclude at some point that they have to sacrifice some offense in the middle infield to help the pitching staff.

For now, however, "Hip-Hip Jorge" is the shortstop, and probably their most reliable on-base guy as they enter the post-Mauer era. Polanco isn't a notable base stealer, but he might be their best bet to hit leadoff.

He also isn't a notable long ball threat, but he's had (very slightly) more plate appearances as the No. 3 hitter than anywhere else in the lineup in his brief major league career, and he hit third a lot in the minors.

Polanco perpetually feels to me like a round peg in a square hole. He doesn't really fit at shortstop. but this will be the third straight season in which he's the Twins best option for the position. He isn't a classic leadoff or No. 3 hitter, but he is probably going to lock down one of those two crucial lineup slots this year. He'll certainly hit in one of the first three slots in the batting order.

It's entirely possible that I will spend his entire Twins career grumbling about him being misused. And I probably shouldn't. He may not be a perfect fit, but he certainly makes the team better.

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