Friday, September 14, 2018

A pinball bumper at shortstop

Jorge Polanco pulled off a rarity Thursday night -- a three-base error at shortstop. Yet another groundball that richocheted off him. Later in the game he mishandled a throw from catcher Chris Gimenez; that error was wrongly charged to Gimenez.

Earlier in the day, on my every-other-week radio spot on KMSU, I pulled out my pinball bumper metaphor to describe Polanco's shortstop play and got some laughs from the other two. But it can't be a laughing matter to the Twins decision makers. Polanco has been charged with 12 errors in 62 games at shortstop -- his season, of course, halved by his steroid suspension -- and deserves at least one more.

It was common in the 1960s for even good shortstops to commit 30 errors in a season, but no more. That's an atrocious rate for a shortstop in 2018.

The Twins right now have Logan Forsythe as their regular second baseman. He's to become a free agent after the season. The Twins could plug that hole by moving Polanco to second base, the position the minor league staff thought a better fit for him. But moving Polanco to second opens up shortstop, and that's a more difficult position to fill.

Nick Gordon, theoretically the shortstop in waiting after being the fifth overall draft pick in 2014, didn't get a callup this month after hitting .212/.262/.283 in Triple A. I've been skeptical for some time of Gordon's ability to be a major league regular; 2018 did nothing to change that opinion.

Paul Molitor appeared a few years ago to be the organization's biggest advocate for playing Polanco at shortstop, and as the manager he has the final call. But even Molitor must realize that Polanco needs to be better at picking up groundballs than he has been.

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