Twins position breakdown: Jorge Polanco should be back to his old self at second base in 2023
While on the field, Polanco saw his offense dip a bit, but he was still an above-average hitter, finishing the season with a 117 OPS+ (100 is league-average).
ST. PAUL — The 2022 season was unlike any veteran second baseman Jorge Polanco had ever experienced before.
Sure, he had played through bumps and bruises and injury in the past, notably requiring offseason ankle surgery in consecutive years. But until this June, the durable Polanco, who often leads the team in games played, had never landed on the major-league injured list.
In 2022, Polanco saw his season disrupted by a pair of injuries, the latter of which kept him off the field for the crucial month of September.
The 104 games Jorge Polanco played in 2022 were the fewest he had played — save for the 60-game, pandemic-condensed 2020 season — since 2018, a season that did not start until early July for him because of a performance-enhancing drug suspension. In both 2019 and 2021, he played more than 150 games over the course of the 162-game seasons.
This season, Polanco spent time in June on the injured list for low back tightness and then suffered what would become a season-ending injury in mid-August, injuring his left knee on a slide at the plate. He played in nine games after that, before he could no longer play through the pain, winding up on the injured list for the second time.
A comeback attempt in September was cut short as he was still dealing with discomfort in his knee during a rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul.
While on the field, Polanco saw his offense dip a bit, but he was still an above-average hitter, finishing the season with a 117 OPS+ (100 is league-average). Polanco slashed .235/.346/.405 in his 104 games. In his absence, both Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon filled in, while Jermaine Palacios, who was claimed off waivers after the season, saw some action over at second base in the last month of the season.
Polanco is set to earn $7.5 million in the final guaranteed year of his contract (there are options for the next two seasons), and while his late-season injury cost him more than a month of 2022, it’s not one that is expected to affect him moving forward.
Minnesota Twins president of baseball operations, Derek Falvey, called it a “tendinitis-like issue” near the end of the season but said there was “no surgical procedure in the future.”
If his past is any indication, the Twins can plan on penciling in the dependable Polanco into the lineup — and at second base — nearly every day in 2023.
While Arraez doesn’t have a set position, he could see some time at second base — as well as first base and designated hitter — when Polanco has a day off, as should Gordon, the Twins’ do-it-all utilityman who broke out in 2022, hitting .272 with a 113 OPS+ and flashing some more power, finishing with 41 extra-base hits, nine of them home runs.
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