Polanco re-establishing himself as Twins’ go-to shortstop

Jorge Polanco is settling back in as Minnesota’s starting shortstop very nicely, thank you, and the Twins are playing better since his return.

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Polanco had to miss the first half of the season due to a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. In his absence, Minnesota tried four different starting shortstops. Ehire Adrianza got the most playing time, with 56 starts this season, since-traded Eduardo Escobar had 20 starts, Gregorio Petit received five and even Taylor Motter got one.

In 82 games without Polanco in the starting lineup this season, the Twins are 36-46, averaging 4.24 runs per game.

In the 25 games Polanco has started, Minnesota is 13-12 and averaging 5.08 runs per game.

Coincidence or correlation?

Well, Polanco is hitting .284 with a .370 on-base percentage, both of which would be career highs, and has scored 14 runs and driven in nine. And he might just be heating up. In the last two weeks, Polanco is batting .316 with a .409 on-base percentage.

The switch-hitter is hitting particularly well against right-handed pitchers thus far, owning a slash line of .377/.486/.508.

Polanco has also added to Minnesota’s defense. His range factor per game of 3.76 is easily the best of any of the four Twins who have played at least 50 innings at the position this year and he’s the only one of the four to be above the league average of 3.51. He’s also the only of those Twins shortstop to have a positive total zone rating fielding runs above average and defensive runs saved above average.

Other notes:

— Minnesota is 8-4 against Kansas City, this weekend’s opponent, at Target Field since 2017. The Twins are 30-24 (.556) at home this season.

— When Joe Mauer gets ahead in the count 1-0, he’s a .376 hitter this year.

Jake Odorizzi is one of three pitchers to have an ERA below 2.00 (1.96) and opponent batting average under .200 (.152) against the Royals. The other two are the Cubs’ Cole Hamels and Seattle’s James Paxton. Odorizzi’s .152 OBA is the fourth-lowest by any AL pitcher against a single opponent over this span (min. four starts since 2016).

Statistics courtesy STATS and baseball-reference