Twins Daily: Left side, strong side: The bar has been raised

Gone are the days of a weak left side of the infield, as Twins Daily explains.
Author:
Publish date:
Jorge Polanco

The Minnesota Twins have had some pretty notable players take the field for them since the turn of the century. Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Johan Santana just to name a few. A struggle for the Twins in that same time span has been to find consistency on the left side of their infield. That may finally be changing in 2020 with Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco set to start the season on that left side once again.

As has been noted many times over the years, outside of back-to-back years of Pedro Florimon (2013 and 2014) making the Opening Day lineup the Twins had a different player playing the position ever since Cristian Guzman left the team. Barring any injuries or suspensions, Jorge Polanco should start on Opening Day for the second consecutive season at shortstop for the Twins in 2020 and will have been the starter three out of the past four seasons.

While third base has had a bit more consistency, it can certainly be argued the the performance level hasn’t been quite what it could or should be there either. Trevor Plouffe had some seasons of note while he held down the hot corner from 2013-2016, but it can be argued that the Twins haven’t had a real difference maker consistently at that position since Corey Koskie was playing.

This coming season looks to be the first in a long time the Twins will look to return both starters at those two positions. Both of those players have the potential to be real difference makers on a competitive club. For nostalgia's sake, let's just remember some of the names that have seen some notable time at those positions for the Twins. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Brian Buscher, Mike Lamb, Jamey Carroll, Tony Batista, Joe Crede, and we could keep going but I can hear the cringing as I type so I will stop there.

The 2019 Polanco-Sano pairing could be the best performances from those two positions in a season since the 2001 Koskie-Guzman pairing both attracted MVP votes. There is no debate that offensively Polanco and Sano were as good a duo as any this century for the Twins. Polanco’s .295/356/.485, .841 OPS, and 22 home runs paired with Sano’s .247/.346/.576, .923 OPS, and 34 home runs is something that certainly raises the performance level of those positions.

Positions that often were defense-first when Twins rosters of the past were assembled. Defense may be the one place where we can pick apart this duo in comparison to duos of the past. Now Polanco has done a lot to improve himself. Turning in a +1 DRS in 2019 at shortstop.

It is Sano’s defense that is the biggest blemish of this tandem turning in a -5 DRS in 2019. That is why many of us will continue to wonder if or when the Twins will be forced to move Sano across the diamond to first base. For the time being his offensive production has continued to outpace any defensive liabilities, but when sporting World Series aspirations every little edge needs to be gained and defense at third could be one.

Defensive change or not, we are witnessing something that we haven’t seen for some time. The floor for production of the 2020 left side of the infield is much higher than it has been in for most of the century. That raised level is just one of the many markers that show how far the Twins have come and forms part of the foundation that will allow the Twins to look at making some bigger moves this offseason.

To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
Who Could the Twins Trade this Offseason
Offseason Blueprint: Bet the Farm
Offseason Blueprint: Run It Back

This story originally appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News. 

Next Up

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.

snow, plow

Snowy Saturday: Here's how much snow is forecast in Minnesota

Snow will reach the metro area by the early afternoon.

Cam Talbot

Wild improve to 4-1 with victory over Dubnyk, Sharks

The 4-1 win gives the Wild four victories in five games to start the season.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Daughter of MN Supreme Court Justice, Allina Health CEO found dead in Iowa

The 21-year-old was found dead in the parking lot of a sorority, according to police.

Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 8.42.40 PM

Federal charges: MN marijuana lobbyist threatened U.S. representative

"I want you to be as scared as possible," the voicemail allegedly says.

Related

Miguel Sano

Sano has the tools to defend 1st base for the Twins

Twins Daily's Nate Palmer explains why worries about Sano could be overstated.

Jorge Polanco

Which Twins are most likely to regress in 2020?

Twins Daily explains why some big hitters could have drops in production next season.

Jorge Polanco

What might be a bigger problem than pitching for the Twins

How much will Josh Donaldson help the rest of the infield defense?

Jaime Garcia

How the 2017 Jaime Garcia trades will help the Twins in 2020

Twins Daily's Nate Palmer revisits the Garcia trades of 2017.

Revisiting trades made by Derek Falvey, Thad Levine

Twins Daily looks back at some of the trades from the 2018 season.

Jorge Polanco

Twins Daily: How long can Jorge Polanco remain at shortstop

Cody Pirkl breaks down Polanco's future in the infield.

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano and his future in Minnesota

Twins Daily breaks down what the future holds for Sano.