• What to do with Trevor Plouffe?

    Through May of 2012, Trevor Plouffe was hitting just .163/.261/.347 (.608) with three doubles and five home runs. Then the calendar turned to June. Over his next 32 games played, Plouffe hit .317/.373/.634 (1.006) with nine doubles and 14 home runs. That's when he injured his thumb and did not play again until mid-August. Over his final 45 games of 2012, he hit .196/.254/.344 (.598) with seven doubles and five homers.

    2013 was meant to be a big year for several Twins including Brian Dozier and Chris Parmelee. However, arguably, 2013 was most important for Trevor Plouffe. Was he the sub-.300 on-base percentage guy still looking for a defensive position? Or, could he put up numbers approaching what he did for a month last June?



    For the most part, 2013 has been a frustrating season for the Twins third baseman. On May 21, he was kneed in the head as a base runner at second base and ended up on the Disabled List with a concussion. Before he could get back in the lineup, recurring calf tightness put him on the 15 day disabled list. When he returned in mid-June, he had a single, double and home run in his first game and had hits in 13 of 14 games played in the month. Unfortunately, July was a tough month as well as he hit just .189/.223/.300 (.523). Since August 1st, he has hit .237/.298/.404 (.702), though that includes the first two games in Houston when he went 7-9 with two homers.

    There are 20 MLB third basemen who qualify for a batting title (3.1 plate appearances per game their team has played). Here are Plouffe's rankings in several categories:



    • Batting Average - .243 (15/20)
    • On Base Percentage - .301 (17/20)
    • Slugging Percentage - .404 (15/20)
    • OPS - .705 (18/20)
    • WAR - 1.4 (17/20 - only Mike Moustakus, David Freese and Michael Young have lower WAR)



    So, now what?

    Trevor Plouffe will likely need to show in the final month of the season that he should be the team's Opening Day third baseman. To assume that is a given is not correct on a couple of fronts:

    First, there is the Miguel Sano factor. The Twins ultra-talented, immensely powerful prospect finished his 2013 campaign with 35 home runs and will likely be ranked in the top three baseball prospects when the lists come out next spring. He finished the season in AA after spending the first half in Ft. Myers. He will be invited to spring training, but will the Twins be willing to give him the opening day starting job after seeing the struggles of Aaron Hicks coming straight from AA? Sano will be just 21 years old when the 2014 season starts. My assumption is that Sano will start the season in Rochester, but he won't be there for long. No more than two months, most likely.

    Second, Trevor Plouffe came into the 2013 season with 1.162 years of service. As he spent the entire season with the Twins, that number will be 2.162 at season's end. He is shy of 3 years of service time, but it is almost guaranteed that Plouffe would be a Super-2 arbitration-eligible player. That means that he will likely go from making just over $500,000 this season to somewhere between $1.8 and $2.8 million in 2014. Could the Twins non-tender Plouffe? I don't think that they would. He is still just 28 and although his defense has, at times, been shaky all around the field, he can play multiple positions even if it is in a super-utility role.

    That kind of position flexibility, and the fact that he does have good power, makes the idea that he could be traded at least feasible.

    Plouffe has been with the Twins since they drafted him out of high school with the first of five first round picks in 2004. He worked up the system one step at a time, and then was up and down with the Twins for a couple of seasons. He has been on the Twins roster for the last two years.

    So, what does the future hold for Trevor Plouffe in a Twins uniform?

    In my opinion, he will likely begin the 2014 season as the Twins third baseman. I do expect that Miguel Sano will be up by mid-June, if not by the end of May, and when he does the third base job will be his. I think that Trevor Plouffe can easily shift over to first base where he can split time with Joe Mauer. I think Mauer will continue to do some catching in 2014, but will also play a lot of first base. Plouffe can be a right-handed bat off of the bench, but he can also be a backup in the corner outfield positions, and yes (gasp) in the middle infield as well.

    That's how I envision things shaking out in 2014 for Trevor Plouffe. What do you think?
    This article was originally published in blog: What to do with Trevor Plouffe? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 41 Comments
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I agree that Arcia looks better in right than left as well. I also think that Arcia needs to be put there and just let him play. He is going to be good. As far as Plouffe goes, I agree with most of what has been said. He hasn't estabished that he can be a regular, but there is the power that continues to make him intriguing. Platooning him gets difficult with the limited position player bench most teams play with, but his positional flexability opens some possibilities. The Cuddyer comparsions have some merit, but his minor league track record and inconsistent major league play, largely suggest that he probably won't reach that level.

      Fortunately for Plouffe, he should get more chances or at least one more good chance to establish himself as a regular or a guy that can be a regular somewhere. Sano would appear to need a bit more minor league seasoning and that could be true about Hicks as well. There could even be an opening at first. I don't really think his glove is that bad at 3rd, and that is probably his best fit. Of course with Sano coming, he would have to fit with some other team.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      These are some options:

    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Kill him? I say trade him. Baltimore might want to swap their budding 3b prospect. He hit 6 hr in 92 at bats with the parent club, posting a .293/.330/.587 split. Ever heard of him? Daniel Paul Valencia. But, you can call him Danny.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      Plouffe needs to be a 1B platoon with Parmalee next year with both players serving as a bench/4th OF when the other is not in the lineup.

      It would be so much easier if Dozier could slide back over to SS for Rosario to come up as well.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Plouffe goes as far as his bat takes him. At 27, I can't see him being a good fielder anywhere, but perhaps he would be more serviceable at first base. At third, he still doesn't seem to have good reactions or instincts. A .700 OPS isn't enough to get regular play at a corner, .800 is good enough, but Trevor's poor second half has pushed that OPS close to .700.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      He had a pretty good first half. July and August were just horrible months. I'm guessing he gets a little more of a leash. Obviously, through the end of the year he'll get playing time and most likely through the beginning of next season too. Sano wont start with the Twins if they've learned anything with Benson, Parmelee, Hicks, Dozier... etc.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Yeah, Arcia is definitely a better RF than LF. It's what he played most of the time in the minors. Played one season in CF, and only played about 5-6 games in LF in the minors.
      OK, then move Plouffe to LF and make the Hammer the full-time DH. I just don't like Plouffe in the infield. He doesn't have the quickness to be even middle of the pack.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      Plouffe goes as far as his bat takes him. At 27, I can't see him being a good fielder anywhere, but perhaps he would be more serviceable at first base. At third, he still doesn't seem to have good reactions or instincts. A .700 OPS isn't enough to get regular play at a corner, .800 is good enough, but Trevor's poor second half has pushed that OPS close to .700.
      I still don't get why he's OK at first and not third. First is arguably a tougher position than third. You have to have the reactions of a third baseman and field throws and pick-offs. You do get slack on grounders in the hole when you hold guys on. But the better first basemen have range in the hole. If you're not going to hit like a first baseman (and Plouffe struggles to hit even like a third baseman--which is about 50 OPS points below the typical first baseman), and you are not a plus defender over there, you have no business playing there in the majors. Put him in the outfield where his slow-twitch muscles won't be as big of an issue.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      First, Plouffe should get rid of his locked front knee batting stance. Sure, it gets his weight back, but it also limits the flexibility of his lower half when adjusting to pitches. Second, he's stale here, and needs to go to the Orioles or something. They seem to fix a lot of broken Twins. Or the Pirates, Seattle, or Colorado, or Arizona. Frankly, the Twins have a few guys in AA and AAA that could step in and do as well as Plouffe hitting, while being much better utility infielders. Cheaper guys. No reason not to give them a shot. Heck, just bring up Levi Micheal and throw him in at 3rd. Would that be any worse?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      First, Plouffe should get rid of his locked front knee batting stance. Sure, it gets his weight back, but it also limits the flexibility of his lower half when adjusting to pitches. Second, he's stale here, and needs to go to the Orioles or something. They seem to fix a lot of broken Twins. Or the Pirates, Seattle, or Colorado, or Arizona. Frankly, the Twins have a few guys in AA and AAA that could step in and do as well as Plouffe hitting, while being much better utility infielders. Cheaper guys. No reason not to give them a shot. Heck, just bring up Levi Micheal and throw him in at 3rd. Would that be any worse?
      Yes. Much worse. .500 OPS. Never played the position. Still in single A. Dumb idea. You'd go from 1.4 WAR to - 4 WAR, a net less of 5.4 WAR.

      I could get behind giving Romero a limited try until Sano is ready. If it wasn't for his Visa issue, he'd probably be a September call-up.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Why is everyone so die-hard that Plouffe has terrible defense? His dWAR is .1, which is pretty much average. His defensive metrics are all slightly below average, but not too far off. Some of you are suggesting that he is Tony Batista out there, which isn't true at all.

      I'm not a huge fan of defensive metrics, but I'm also not a fan of people over-exaggerating to the point of stupidity. He is an average defensive 3b.

      All that aside, he is still destined for a utility type role in 2014. He might even hit enough between now and when Sano is ready that justifies a permanent spot somewhere other than 3b. A lot of factors will come into play. I don't think anyone is ready to just dump him like Valencia since he can play multiple positions. The next 50 games for Plouffe are going to be very important towards his career.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post

      I'm not a huge fan of defensive metrics, but I'm also not a fan of people over-exaggerating to the point of stupidity. He is an average defensive 3b.
      Plouffe has a -6.9 UZR at 3B. That's bad. Not Miguel Cabrera bad, but it's bad. Most of the people rated below him are either huge (Panda), playing injured (Zimmerman who is usually good), old (Young) or playing out of place because their bats (Cabrera). Just because there are players at 3B currently doing worse, doesn't make him any less terrible at 3B. You wanna say it's over-exaggerating, that's your OPINION. Calling other people's opinions over-exaggerating to the point of STUPIDITY just because you disagree is something frowned upon on this site.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      The salary and skillset say to me that he might be more valuable to another team than to the Twins. If two or more teams would be a fit, thus a small bit of competition for his services, maybe he could draw enough in trade to have it make sense for both teams. As we like to say, include Duensing if need be to sweeten the deal for someone with higher ceiling but less certainty to make it to the majors.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      A "corner utility" player can be pretty valuable to have on the bench. Look at the career of Eric Hinske for example. The Twins did well with Michael Cuddyer sliding to whichever position was needed that week. I still wonder what Casey Blake could have done for the team. It would be great if Plouffe could fill in where needed at the corners. As a starter you're looking to replace him but he's a fair sight better than what a team can typically call up from AAA.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Plouffe has a -6.9 UZR at 3B. That's bad. Not Miguel Cabrera bad, but it's bad. Most of the people rated below him are either huge (Panda), playing injured (Zimmerman who is usually good), old (Young) or playing out of place because their bats (Cabrera). Just because there are players at 3B currently doing worse, doesn't make him any less terrible at 3B. You wanna say it's over-exaggerating, that's your OPINION. Calling other people's opinions over-exaggerating to the point of STUPIDITY just because you disagree is something frowned upon on this site.
      How about we have a little context? Is stupid now a bad word that we aren't aloud to use? Wow dude. I guess we need to use kid gloves when posting on this site now.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      How about we have a little context? Is stupid now a bad word that we aren't aloud to use? Wow dude. I guess we need to use kid gloves when posting on this site now.
      That's a question for the moderators, certainly posts nowhere near as offensive as calling a group of people's opinion stupid have been given warnings or been outright deleted.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Why is everyone so die-hard that Plouffe has terrible defense? His dWAR is .1, which is pretty much average. His defensive metrics are all slightly below average, but not too far off. Some of you are suggesting that he is Tony Batista out there, which isn't true at all.

      I'm not a huge fan of defensive metrics, but I'm also not a fan of people over-exaggerating to the point of stupidity. He is an average defensive 3b.

      All that aside, he is still destined for a utility type role in 2014. He might even hit enough between now and when Sano is ready that justifies a permanent spot somewhere other than 3b. A lot of factors will come into play. I don't think anyone is ready to just dump him like Valencia since he can play multiple positions. The next 50 games for Plouffe are going to be very important towards his career.
      I didn't mean to imply that he is terrible. But he will never be a plus defender in the infield because he has a slow first step. So his bat must carry him. And it didn't as much as many of us (me included) thought it would this year. With Sano looming large in his rear-view mirror, he needed a breakout year this year to solidify his position. He had a mediocre year. So other positions are in his immediate future. To me the outfield is the most likely.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      That's a question for the moderators, certainly posts nowhere near as offensive as calling a group of people's opinion stupid have been given warnings or been outright deleted.
      You are misinterpreting the context in which I used the word "stupidity." If this is so offensive to be deleted I think we have some bigger issues.

      stu∑pid∑i∑ty
      st(y)o͞oˈpiditē/
      noun
      [COLOR=#878787 !important][/COLOR]

      • 1.
        behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.






    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Let's get back on topic, the self-policing and the squabbling can stop right about....meow. Lest the hammer be brandished.


      Continue.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I don't trust defensive metrics either. I have seen a lot of Plouffe at third in the last two years and he has some things going for him defensively, but has never looked totally comfortable and at ease there. Third basemen need to hit for a better than a .700 OPS, especially guys that play below average "D" and provide nothing in baserunning etc.
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