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Jorge Polanco

From BR Bullpen

Jorge Luis Polanco Pacheco

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Jorge Polanco was signed by scout Fred Guerrero for the Minnesota Twins in 2009.

On March 18, 2018, he received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the banned old-school steroid, Stanozolol, best known as the substance that had cost sprinter Ben Johnson his gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He claimed that he had consumed the steroid inadvertently, as he thought he was taking a simple vitamin supplement in his native Dominican Republic. The suspension came on the heels of a breakout season as Minnesota's starting shortstop in 2017, when he hit .256 with 13 homers in 133 games; he had finished the year on a particularly strong note, hitting .293 with 10 home runs in 63 games after the All-Star break, helping the Twins to qualify for the Wild Card Game. He had gone 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored in the Twins' defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees in that game. He was reinstated on July 2nd, but in his absence the Twins had struggled during the first half of 2018, as they were 35-45 and 9 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians. He hit .288 with 6 homers and 42 RBIs in his half season, good for an OPS+ of 109.

On April 5, 2019, he was the first player to hit for the cycle that season, although his feat came in a 10-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He tripled in the 1st, singled in the 3rd, hit a solo homer in the 5th and completed the quartet with a double off Adam Morgan in the 7th, the first three hits having come off Nick Pivetta. He then added a single in the 9th to also notch the first five-hit game of his career. This marked the start of an outstanding first half in which he was the Twins' best offensive players while they were the best team in the American League. He was in turn elected as the starting shortstop in the 2019 All-Star Game. On August 31st, he reached the 20-homer mark for the first time of his career. He was the eighth Twins player with 20 or more homers, a new major league record, and his blast came on a night when the Twins hit six long balls to break the all-time single-season team record with 268, with a month left to play. The Twins ended up setting a new all-time single-season record with 307, with Polanco contributing 22 to the total. He hit .295 in 153 games, hit 40 doubles in addition to his homers, scored 107 runs and drove in 79, for an OPS+ of 121. He then went 3 for 11 with a homer as the Twins were swept by the New York Yankees in the Division Series.

Polanco continued as a regular player for the Twins over the next three seasons, appearing in 55 of the team's 60 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. His production fell markedly that year, to .258 with 4 homers and 19 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 82 - the lowest of his career. The Twins again made a quick exit from the postseason, falling in two games to the Houston Astros in the Wild Card Series with Jorge going 1 for 7. In 2021, he moved over to second base with defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons assuming most of the workload at short, although he remained his main back-up at that position. His season was a bounce-back to 2019, as he appeared in 152 games, hit .269 with 35 doubles and 33 homers, and scored 97 runs while driving in 98. His OPS+ was 125. He fell back in 2022, with Carlos Correa now playing shortstop as his double play partner, as he hit .235 in 104 games with 16 homers and 56 RBIs. His OPS+ was still an excellent 115 though.

The Twins missed the postseason in both 2021 and 2022, but came back to win the AL Central division title in 2023. However, Polanco was no longer an everyday player that season, as he appeared in just 80 games after starting the year on the injured list with a knee injury, and then returning twice with a left hamstring strain. Correa was back as the starter at shortstop, and rookie Edouard Julien had a very solid season as a 2B/DH, leaving Polanco to find playing time as a back-up at both second and third base (he did not make a single appearance at shortstop that year). He hit .255 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs, which was again good for an OPS+ of 115, so he was still a productive hitter when he did find his way into the line-up. The Twins finally won a postseason series that year, sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays in two games in the Wild Card Series, before bowing out to the Astros in the Division Series. He was 4 for 21 overall in the two series, with a homer, 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs.

With a logjam in the infield in Minnesota, Polanco was the odd man out, and on January 29, 2024, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in return for four players, including two major league pitchers in Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Topa, and two prospects. Polanco was immediately announced as the Mariners' starting second baseman for the upcoming season, filling up an obvious hole.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2019)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2019 & 2021)
  • 30-Home Run seasons: 1 (2021)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Daniel Kramer: "Mariners acquire Polanco from Twins in 5-player deal", mlb.com, January 29, 2024. [1]
  • Do-Hyoung Park: "Best baseball buds Kepler, Polanco enjoying Twins' playoff ride", mlb.com, October 9, 2023. [2]

Related Sites[edit]