As I write this the Twins are tied 6-6 with the Cleveland Indians and Jason Bartlett has committed various defensive atrocities in left field. He shouldn’t be blamed, he’s a career infielder who can no longer hit, but was kept on the Twins roster for leadership purposes. Blame needs to rest with the manager, but Bartlett’s struggles in the outfield illustrate a point: defense matters.
This brings us to Pedro Florimon. He struggles to hit his weight, and leaves runners in scoring position, but he is a master with the glove. He is the finest defensive shortstop the Twins have had since Greg Gagne and he left the team after the 1992 season.
Florimon’s defensive prowess was on display Opening Day with a tremendous foul ball catch down the left field line that had him running 100+ feet to make a play and then he nearly threw the runner out at home.
Defensive statistics are never a sure indication of ability, but last year Florimon demonstrated he is among the elite defensive shortstops in the game. Last season he had the fourth highest WAR (wins above replacement) on the Twins with 1.8 and this was generated strictly from his defense. In 2013 he had 401 assists for third best in the American League and was just 32 assists behind league leader Alexi Ramirez of the White Sox. Florimon looks even better when you consider he played 300 fewer innings than Ramirez and other league leaders.
More amazing is how Pedro Florimon led all major league shortstops in putouts with 245, five more than Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who is considered the finest defensive shortstop in the game. A defensive shortstop is one of those commodities fans take for granted. It’s easy to become accustomed to the excellent plays made in the hole, the difficult throws being executed and the amount of area a top tier shortstop can cover. Many Twins fans don’t realize how much value Florimon has, but they will notice it when his lack of offense forces the team to go in another direction.
For now, enjoy Pedro Florimon for what he is: one of the most valuable players on the Minnesota Twins roster.
Photo via: Keith Allison