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  • What Happened to Chris Parmelee?

    Only eight short months ago, Chris Parmelee was the talk of what was left of this baseball town in the aftermath of a 99-loss season.

    A September call-up, straight from Double-A no less, Parmelee went out and mashed pitching at the major league level. In a short span of time, he impressed people by demonstrating a keen batting eye, an excellent line drive swing and was able to put the occasional charge into the ball.

    He seemed immune to the crumbling franchise around him. While the other youngsters of the team, reportedly referred to as “the fun bunch”, enjoyed simply being called major leaguers, Parmelee went out and produced, even when the outcomes did not matter. He was an oasis in what has become a prospect-less desert for the Twins.

    His impressive spring training performance the following March (combined with Justin Morneau’s uncertainty) only served as fuel the discussion that this kid was ready to join the big league club full-time.

    However, after the same amount of games in 2012 as he had in the 2011 season, Parmelee’s results are vastly different. Last year in 88 plate appearances, he raked to the tune of .355/.443/.592. In 79 plate appearances this year, he is checking in with a .205/.266/.301 batting line.

    The first is that the opposition has concocted a game plan. At the end of September of last year, I forewarned that the scouts would be vicious on Parmelee, targeting his weak spot out over the plate. Opponents have stayed away from the left-handed first baseman this year, giving him fewer pitches middle-middle and middle-low where he was driving the ball a year ago. As such, he is swinging at pitches he did not do so with regularity in September.

    The second reason Parmelee’s numbers are down is that he is having some mechanical issues at the plate. During a recent broadcast, former Twin and FSN commentator Roy Smalley accurately noted that Parmelee was opening up far too quickly with his hips, causing his bat speed to drag through the zone. Sure enough, video replays confirmed this. This makes it particularly more difficult to get to pitches on the outer-half – where, as noted above, pitchers have been targeting him - and drive them with authority.

    Last, perhaps in response to the opposing teams pitching him better or because he has been pressing while slumping, his lauded plate discipline has all but disappeared. In 2011 he drew 12 walks to 13 strikeouts but has managed to coax just 4 free passes to 20 strikeouts this season.

    Prior to the 2010 season, Parmelee’s track record is indicative of someone who has the tendency to whiff a bit. From 2006 through 2009, he struck out in 21.5% of his total plate appearances. From 2010 to 2011, he shaved that down to a more manageable 15%. So it is possible that Parmelee, who has struck out in roughly 25% of his plate appearances this year, has reverted back to his old ways once the competition caught up to him.

    Pitchers have also thrown him fewer in-zone pitches as well this year (dropping from 46% to a below average 38%) and Parmelee, who has a disciplined eye, has increased his rate of chasing after pitches out of the strike zone – also likely a byproduct of (1) game plan changes and (2) trying to break out of a slump.

    While those are three explanations behind why Parmelee has not been producing in 2012 - his plate discipline being the most troubling -there are reasons that may lead one to believe he can rebound from this slow start.

    The first is his high baseball aptitude. For statheads, this sounds like jargon (and rightly so) but in this case, it refers to his ability to make adjustments. In the minors he worked with his coaches to change his swing from an upper-cut variety to a more level swing. As such, his line drive rate increased as did his batting average in the latter minor years. If he is able to adapt under those circumstances, he is likely able to adjust to how the opposition is game planning him – work on keeping those hips in and driving pitches on the outer-half.

    Secondly, and more importantly, when he does connect, he is hitting a high percentage of line drives. A year ago, he hit a high amount of line drives (19%) and was blessed with an unsustainable .390 batting average on balls in play. It was not just the line drives that were finding turf, his grounders and fly balls found empty real estate just as frequently and well above average. This, by the way, is not unusual in a small sample size. So far in 2012, Parmelee has hit a higher percentage of line drives (23%) but the BABIP gods have eschewed him, giving him a .283 batting average on balls in play. Those ground balls and fly balls have now found their way to defenders (perhaps a result of teams being about to position better against him).

    If Parmelee corrects his discipline and maintains that high line drive rate, balls will begin to find vacant land once again. The bigger question is can the Twins wait on that to happen at the major league level?

    In the end, Parmelee may be better served with a stretch in Rochester to right his course.
    This article was originally published in blog: What Happened to Chris Parmelee? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by shs_59 View Post
      I was one, even with Morneau's uncertainties, that WANTED Parmelee in AAA. The fact he hasn't played 1 game there, is going to catch up with him, i thought, he's tainted now, in all honesty.

      Unfortunately, Since April 1st Parmelee has looked just off mechanically, i agree with Parker he's not even the same hitter right now anyway, the fact the Twins leave him in the bigs, after doing all these moves in recent days, is a little baffling. Maybe they entrust Vavra's "magical powers" to bring him out of it.

      But i don't see it.

      Parmelee will bat .230-.245 this year with single digit Homers if he's in the bigs all year.

      Time to send him to AAA, as SOON as Morneau is back off DL.

      Totally disagree. The Twins organization and Twins fans need to realize that sending a player down to AAA or prolonged minor league progress is not the only way to develop a player. Players can and at times should, develop at the major leagues.

      The problem with the Twins is that right now they do not have that type of organization. They need to FINALLY accept that this is a rebuilding team. I have said it from the beginning of the season: this team is not good enough to even come close to competing and they need to start the rebuilding process NOW. Adding a Jamey Carroll is not the solution to this team's woes, and we have seen the downside of that. That is, instead of letting Brian Dozier start the season from the beginning and even hitting .220, instead we had a 38 year old player signed to a $3.5 million 2 year deal hitting under .220. We should have had Joe Benson, Ben Revere, Chris Parmalee, and several other players playing everyday in the major league lineup. We also need to have a coaching staff designed to develop these players at the major league level. Our current major league coaching staff is too impatient and expects all of the players to be ready to win the division crown again. They simply are not adequate to rebuild this team.

      In fact, and I have already said it it in this forum as perhaps the first to make the statement, the Twins really need to consider promoting our lower level phenoms like Sano and Rosario up to the majors. So what if they strike out 150 times. The experience will make them that much better, and in the long run the team gains value from the at bats, rather than waste them on the likes of Clete Thomas.

      The claim that this will "taint" a prospect is just pure BS. Frank Viola was in the major leagues with just 8 AAA games of experience. His rookie year ERA was 5.21 followed by an ERA of 5.49 in his first full season with the Twins. Yet, the Twins sent him out there for 210 innings and eventually he worked out ok.

      The time is now. If these prospects are worth anything, they should be in the major leagues. If they are not with a major league team that is on pace to lose 100+ games, they are not prospects. All of the TwinsCentric writers "top 40" prospect lists are invalid if they think that each of them should move up the minors one rung at a time with the major league team at the level it is. "Rushing" worked with Greg Gagne, Kent Hrbek, Frank Viola, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Randy Bush, and Kirby Pucket. The proof is in the World Series championships.
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