by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The news that Jorge Polanco had been suspended 80 games was surprising, and after a strong second half nearly eliminates one of our favorite 2018 sleepers. It also creates a significant void for a Minnesota team that wants to contend, so let’s take a look at the alternatives the team has and who could make an impact over the first few months:
Escobar is suddenly thrust into the Opening Day starting role, after hitting .254 with 21 HR over 499 PA last season. While the power is going to catch your eye a 12.8% HR/FB (8.1% for his career) may not be maintainable and his approach isn’t very impressive:
- SwStr% – 10.6%
- O-Swing% – 35.7%
He hit 13 of his home runs against fastball variations, which he saw 61.58% of the time last season. It’s possible he starts seeing fewer hard pitches and gets exposed a bit, and 8 HR courtesy of a 10.4% HR/FB in the first half is likely closer to the truth (and even that may not be “real”). He should get a long look and has the highest upside, but the questions likely outweigh the reward.
Over parts of five seasons (517 PA) he’s hit .236 with 5 HR and 12 SB. Is there anything else you need to know?
A non-roster invite to Spring Training, Aybar suddenly finds himself in position to break camp with the Twins. Of course he’s hit .243 and .234 over the past two seasons, has become a groundball machine (57.1% and 51.6%) and has never had tremendous speed (and at 34-years old it’s very possible he’s lost a step). If he’s getting the bulk of the playing time, the Twins have major issues.
It’s easy to point towards Gordon as a potential replacement, and having played all of ’17 at Double-A it’s easy to argue that he’s close. However we gave him a “B” grade for a reason (click here for our Top 10 Minnesota prospects):
- Lack of stolen base efficiency (13-for-20 in ’17)
- Lack of power (9 HR in ’17 was a career best)
- Too much swing and miss (12.0% SwStr% in ’17)
So he doesn’t have elite speed, lacks power and strikes out too much. What is there to get excited about?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|