Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The error-prone Jorge Polanco

This tweet grated on me more than it should have:

What grated was the "two crummy pitches" line. Yeah, Kyle Gibson served up a pair of gopher balls. That accounted for two of the four runs he allowed. The other two came in large part because Jorge Polanco booted a (judging from the radio play-by-play as I did some yardwork before the rain hit) likely double-play ball. Gibby paid the price not only for the homers but for having a subpar shortstop.

There's a long-standing adage, which I think is credited to Paul Richards but may well predate him: More baseball games are lost than won. Meaning that the team that makes the fewest mistakes -- physical errors, mental errors, tactical errors -- comes up on top. 

This, I think, accounts for the remarkable second half of the season for Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, which as a low-A circuit is more prone to what-are-they-doing moments than the majors. The Kernels lost a lot of top-shelf talent after the first half as Royce Lewis, Alex Kiriloff and Brustar Gaterol were promoted, and have compiled a better record after they left.

They aren't bereft of talent now -- the Twins' top two draft picks from June's draft are on their roster -- but they really benefit from their new middle infield, a pair of June draftees who played for major programs. Shortstop Michael Davis and second baseman Michael Helman aren't as highly regarded as predecessors Lewis and Jose Miranda, but they are older, more mature and more reliable. In the two games I watched last week in Cedar Rapids, Davis and Helman turned four double plays and didn't miss a makable play. The same could not be said of the infielders for the opponents.

This year's Twins team has been given to baserunning gaffes, unmade plays and general sloppiness. Polanco has been charged with 10 errors already, and remember, he lost half the season to suspension. Errors are an exceedingly blunt tool for evaluating defense, of course, but 10 errors in 52 games -- that's a lot for a major league shortstop in 2018. 

I like Polanco -- as a second baseman. Paul Molitor has been determined to find a shortstop in him. Last year it appeared that Molitor might be right about Polanco. This year, not so much.

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