Jorge Polanco was so bad to start the season, many don’t realize how good he was in the second half of 2017. The Twins shortstop didn’t produce gaudy stats for the season, but he showed a strong growth in skills in the second half.
The overall numbers don’t stand out. In his first full season with the Twins, the switch hitter batted .256 with 60 runs, 13 home runs, 74 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases in 18 attempts.
In the first half in 240 at-bats, he hit .242 with 27 runs, three home runs, 29 RBIs and three stolen bases. The second half over 248 at-bats, Polanco batted .270 with 33 runs, 10 home runs, 45 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. There are probably many people that didn’t pay attention to the second half and missed out on how good Polanco was.
That’s a good thing for those targeting Polanco. It means we can get him at a discount and he’s a target for me. He has an ADP of 243 on fantrax.com, which means you can plug him into the middle infield spot in mixed leagues. I recently took him at 186 (Round 13, pick six) in a 15-team draft champions league.
Polanco had a 14.3 percent strikeout rate, so he makes good contact and had a good walk rate of 7.5 percent and hits the ball in the air with a 42.8 percent fly ball rate. Polanco isn’t a household name and there’s no buzz on him.
It remains to be seen where he hits in the batting order. Last season, he batted third 32 times, seventh 31 times and sixth 20 times. He batted in each spot of the order at least one time. Polanco will likely hit somewhere in the top six of the batting order and the potential suspension of Miguel Sano could push Polanco up further. The Twins offense was Top 10 in the majors last season and they will be good again.
When young hitters struggle, the thing to watch is how they bounce back and what type of adjustments they make. Polanco did this emphatically. He had only four hits in July, going 4-for-51 (.078 average). He likely was dropped in a lot of leagues.
In the final two months, he batted .293 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases. In August, he batted .373 with six home runs, 23 RBIs and an .870 OPS in 102 at-bats. Polanco had 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases in a season where he struggled for the first four months. The skill changes in the second half look legit and not luck-based.
Polanco has a good shot to go 15-15 with the potential for 20-20 with good counting stats if he can move up the batting order. He’s only 24 years old and with stolen bases becoming a premium, he will be worth his ADP for that alone.