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  • The Maturation of Trevor Plouffe

    As spring training began in Twins Territory, there were questions about who should be starting at third base when the team headed north. Trevor Plouffe was coming off an underwhelming season where he dealt with some injuries and he struggled defensively at third base. Miguel Sano was ranked as one of the best prospects in the game and his powerful swing looked primed to make his debut.

    Flash-forward a couple months and Sano is recovering from Tommy John surgery while Plouffe has continued to look more comfortable at the plate and in the field. Plouffe is never going to be a high batting average player but he's changed some of his offensive approach. Last season, he set a career high in doubles with 22 and this season he's already notched 18 two-baggers. His OPS+ of 113 breaks his career high from back in 2012 when he went HR crazy for a few weeks.

    There have been two big changes for Plouffe this season. The first has been his plate discipline and more importantly his ability to coax walks. He has 19 walks to his credit this year but he has increased is BB% from 6.5% in 2013 to close to 10% in 2014. Plouffe has also seen more pitches per game this season than last year. In 2013, he averaged 4.04 pitches seen per at-bat and that number has jumped to 4.60 in 2014.

    Another area of improvement for Plouffe has been his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Last season, he had a total of six doubles to the opposite field and only two of those balls were to the gap. Already this season he has ten doubles to the opposite field and seven of those doubles are in the gap. His line drive percentage has also increased from 24.7% to 28.5%.

    Plouffe is in his first year of being arbitration eligible since he qualified as a Super 2 player. His salary bumped up to $2.35 million this season and that number will continue to increase in the years to come. Here's a fun little player comparison between two former Twins first round picks.

    Player A: 1544 PA, .260/.336/.444, 86 2B, 48 HR, .184 ISO, .304 BABIP
    Player B: 1544 PA, .242/.305/.413, 78 2B, 51 HR, .171 ISO, .281 BABIP

    Player A is Michael Cuddyer, another late bloomer with the Twins. Player B is Trevor Plouffe through Wednesday night's game in San Diego. It took Cuddyer over 1500 at-bats to consistently compile an OPS+ of over 100. Plouffe is around that mark and he just crossed the 1500 career at-bats.

    If Plouffe can continue to make small improvements, the Twins are going to have to continue to find room for him on their line-up card.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      He seems to be handling righthanders a lot better this year.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I miss you cuddy!
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Plouffe has equally frustrated and intrigued me the past few seasons. We have seen him mature slowly but surely as a milb player. We have seen flashes of a real MLB bat with power, along with maddening inconsistency. Despite some poor errors, I've never been as down on his defense as others. Perhaps I missed what others have witnessed, but when I've watched him in the field I've seen a decent glove, decent range, and a good strong arm.

      I am not yet convinced he's a good choice as a number 3 hitter, as he's been used so far this season. But I have to say that even after his recent dip and struggles, I've been pleased and surprised that he's still been maintaining contact and a good OB. And his doubles production has been very pleasing. He's one of those guys I've been maintaining, as Christie alluded to here, that needs those referenced 1500-2000 AB's to get where he needs to. I'm still really unsure what his ceiling is. A doubles machine with some OB and decent defense with a little homer power? Or does he truly have that 20+ HR power he has flashes along with that decent defense and good OB he's starting to show. I know this much, his approach and seeming comfort level at the plate is vastly improved. And his defense also appears to have reached another level.

      Give Plouffe all the credit in the world for working on his game and making himself a better ball player. Not going to annoint him, just yet, as an integral piece to the future and this rebuild. But whether at 3B with Sano moving, which I don't see, or 1B, OF or super utility, he's making a real arguement this year to be a part of things.

      I also believe this is yet another example of Bruno's outstanding work.

      While Plouffe's ceiling is still in question, I believe he has raised his floor somewhat significantly.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Plouffe has been perhaps the most pleasant positive development so far this season, IMO. That said, he's not a three hole hitter on a decent MLB team.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Plouffe has been perhaps the most pleasant positive development so far this season, IMO. That said, he's not a three hole hitter on a decent MLB team.
      Plouffe has been pleasant, but I think Dozier has been the best. At the end of 2013 I think most people wanted to know if Dozier's 2nd half was for real. He is proving that it was and becoming even better on both sides of the ball. Brian Dozier is having a career year!
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