This week’s series against the Baltimore Orioles presents an interesting what-if scenario for the Twins.

With former shortstop J.J. Hardy having a career year with the Orioles, many fans may wonder how our infield would have been had Hardy stayed in Minnesota. Granted, Hardy had trouble staying on the field in his only year here, but he would still be an upgrade over current shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Nishioka was signed for his ability to play tremendous defense as well as his ability to make contact. Yet, Nishioka has only shown flashes of the player he was in Japan. Hardy has consistently provided good defense and tremendous offense for a struggling Orioles team. He has played well enough, in fact, to earn a 3-year contract extension to stay in Baltimore.

There are many factors as to why Hardy is having as good of a year as he is. Probably one of the biggest is the home park he plays in. Camden Yards has always been a hitter’s park, whereas Target Field is proving to be more of a pitcher’s park. This would no doubt have an effect on Hardy’s offensive numbers, but I still believe he would have been able to play on a consistent basis due to his ability to stay healthy this year.

The Twins were in a difficult spot with Hardy, wondering if they would be able to re-sign him to a longer deal or trade him away for some prospects. They chose the second option, but who knows what would have happened had they tried to re-sign him?