Now that the Twins' season is over and the mystery behind their undoing is well-known, they must consider how to turn it around for next year. As the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers put it:
"Minnesota Twins need more useful players, not stars."
Quite so, Tom. The Twins need several useful players if they want to have a winning season in 2013. Pitching is on everyone's mind as an obvious area in need of an overhaul. However, the Twins must also consider the 2B-3B-SS platoon.
The 10 players who have filled in at the infield merry go-round combined for a .241/.295/.345 slash line, along with 74 doubles, eight triples, 30 homers, 188 RBI and 208 runs scored. Subtract Jamey Carroll, and the other nine players (The Nine) combined for a .231 BA and a .277 OBP.
Defensively, the platoon was not very impressive either. Twins second basemen combined for 18 errors (third worst in AL); third basemen combined for 25 errors (fourth worst); and shortstops combined for 25 errors (second worst in AL). Subtract Jamey Carroll's 12 errors and formulated one error per 11 games, and The Nine combined for 54 errors and one error per seven games.
The article examines potentially "useful" 2B-3B-SS to help Jamey Carroll on the Twins' infield in 2013.
Notes: 1) GP/E = Games Played per E. Based on how many games played and errors committed at a specific position. An approximation to calculate how frequently a player commits an error. 2) Career totals such as HR, RBI and R are based on 162 games. 3) All players were listed as Free Agents when this article was written, via BaseballReference.com and MLBTradeRumors.com.
2012 Stats: .325/.367/.439, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 42 R, 12.4 AB/SO 46 R, 25 GP/E at 3B, 0 E in 26 GP at 2B
Career Stats: .288/.337/.396, .97 SO/BB, 14.2 AB per SO, 22 GP/E at 2B, 16 GP/E at SS, 12 GP at 3B
Overview: Jeff Keppinger certainly would be a useful addition to the Twins' infield due to his solid career stats. His offensive abilities would certainly be a welcomed improvement on The Nine's .231 BA. As noted in his numbers, Keppinger is extremely selective at the plate, leading the NL twice in AB/SO.
Keppinger's numbers at 2B-3B-SS also indicate that he'd come in quite handy for the Twins defensively.
He's 32 years old and was paid $1.25 million in 2012. He's certainly affordable and wouldn't be the first 33-year-old who found a new home in Minnesota (see Josh Willingham).
2012 Stats .281/.348/.496, 16 HR, 37 RBI, 36 R, 13 GP/E at 3B
Career: .267/.343/.476, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 85 R, 12 GP/E at 3B
Overview: Turning 35 years old this December, Eric Chavez is certainly one of the veteran players the Twins should consider on the free-agent market.
Though Chavez certainly hasn't been in his 30 HR, 95 RBI, six-time Gold Glove winner self of the 2000s, the third baseman certainly would be useful for the Twins. In 2012, his 19.6 AB/HR and .348 OBP would have placed second and third best on the team. Not to mention his 12 GP/E would be a welcomed improvement from the 6 GP/E the Twins have at the hot corner.
Chavez made $900,000 playing for the Yankees in 2012. He wouldn't be the Twins' 3B of the future, but a proven veteran would still be useful.
2012 .306/.348/.405, 87 R, 74 RBI, 32 2B, 15 GP/E at 2B
Career: .276/.340/.391, 32 2B, 80 R, 62 RBI, 23 GP/E at 2B
Overview: The soon to be 38-year-old, Scutaro finished one of his best seasons this year, leading the NL in AB/SO and placing third in hits and eighth in batting average. Like veteran Jamey Carroll, Scutaro is capable of playing more than one position. Though second base is perhaps his strongest position, he has logged time at SS, 3B, RF, LF and 1B, making him very useful indeed.
Despite getting paid $6 million in 2012, Scutaro's age will most likely keep his salary down. Regardless, the Twins should consider adding him if they want someone to improve their infield with a another proven veteran. Plus, can San Francisco afford him when they need to make room for Buster Posey's potentially huge contract?
2012 Stats: .225/.313/.365, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 61 R, 12 GP/E at 2B
Career Stats: .255/.338/.429, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 87 R, 12 GP/E
Overview: Kelly Johnson is perhaps not an offensive phenom, but his plate production would still be an improvement. Look past his .225 BA and consider his .313 OBP compared to The Nine's .277 OBP. Over the course a season, a .313 OBP batter gets on base 20 mores times than a .277 OBP batter.
Defensively, while Johnson commits an error once every 12 games, the Twins' second baseman averaged one error every nine games. A noticeable improvement.
Johnson turns 31 years old in the offseason, meaning he's still in his prime. Though Johnson was paid over $6 million in 2012, his price tag is worth it considering how little The Nine actually contributed in 2012.
2012 Stats: .270/.316/.321 45 R 28 RBI, 1 E per 10 GP at 2B
Career Stats: .281/.341/.350, 46 RBI, 80 R, 9 GP/E at SS, 16 GP/E at 2B
Highlights: Ryan Theriot, who turns 32 years old in December, is another all-around useful player whom the Twins should consider for 2013. Like Kelly Johnson, Theriot is not an offensive superstar, but a .270 BA and a .316 OBP is an improvement for the Twins' infield. He has also scored over 80 runs three times in his career. Something not too many Twins infielders have ever done.
Likewise, Theriot's defensive numbers would be a welcomed addition. One error every nine games doesn't sound great, but it is a step in the right direction, especially with the Minnesota's current sieves at shortstop.
Theriot earned $1.25 million in 2012. Another free agent who the Twins could afford and would find useful.