• 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. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Great article. I am hoping that he gets sent down so he can work on his mechanics at Rochester. Parmelee seems like a great kid, but lost at the plate. Also, it would be nice if he could work on his defense, especially as to ground balls hit to his right.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      .355/.443/.592 in a small sample size led to some unrealistic expectations. .205/.266/.301 in an equally small sample has caused some angst that might be more justified. The track record prior to these samples indicated a player who would struggle to hit enough to play 1B. While his current stats are well below what he should be able to do, a trip to Rochester might help him regroup.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      The answer is simple, he misses Joe Benson. Other than a few days a couple years ago, they have been together since drafted 1-2 in 2006. Looking at their starts this year, splitting them up may be the cause!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Playing in September is different than playing in April. There are a lot of September miracles out there that end up mirages. Remember Shane Spencer? (Not that I am saying that Parmelee is one of them. Plenty of time for him yet.) The rosters are expanding in September so you end up facing Ps who have no business being there, it is colder in April and the ball is heavier in April. Just give him time. He is young. He might need some AAA time but he will be ok.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Playing in September is different than playing in April. There are a lot of September miracles out there that end up mirages. Remember Shane Spencer? (Not that I am saying that Parmelee is one of them. Plenty of time for him yet.) The rosters are expanding in September so you end up facing Ps who have no business being there, it is colder in April and the ball is heavier in April. Just give him time. He is young. He might need some AAA time but he will be ok.
      Agree with all of that and would add the small sample and extremely high BABIP to the mix of things that might have added to the appearance of being farther along than he is. Through spring training as Morneau started piling up consecutive starts at DH, I kept hoping to see him at 1B every day and was disappointed each time it didn't happen. Partly because it seemed to be a warning sign for his health (which eventually was addressed when they explained the reasons), but also because I could see the writing on the wall that Plan B was having Parmelee skip AAA. I've said it a lot of other places here, but the domino effect of Morneau's move to DH (and subsequently DL) has caused a lot more damage than it would seem like it should at first glance. The looking-ahead-question for me is: If Parmelee is indeed sent down to AAA, who becomes the everyday first baseman? I don't think I like any of the answers to that question, either, any better than I like the one they're already using. Ugh.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      We shouldn't be surprised by his struggles. His minor league track record was never anything to be excited about. Unfortunately, he's just an ordinary middle of the road prospect who probably won't hit well enough to play first base in the Majors.
      I hope I'm wrong...
    1. MileHighTwinsFan's Avatar
      MileHighTwinsFan -
      I just hope he is not the second coming of David McCarty or Scott Stahoviak. We need a young guy, with power in the lineup. I am guessing the pressure of a new season and higher expectations is weighing on him a bit. Hopefully with some expanded playing time while Morneau is shelved will help.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Willingham can play 1b.
    1. twinsfan214's Avatar
      twinsfan214 -
      I really appreciate all the info in this article. Very informative. How about Mauer as your regular at 1st, and Doumit at C? Keep Butera as backup C. DH? Um, I'll get back to you.

      Maybe Parm could benefit from some time at AAA. Sounds like we should be optimistic he will improve. I'm worried about Valencia. I'd like to read an analysis of what's going wrong for him at the plate also.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I am always baffled that Smalley or Parker notice these things, yet they go on and on.....I had pretty low expectations for Parmalee, but this is worse than I expected. I thought he'd be just below average (other than HR, which I expected well below average) compared to other 1B/DH.....It's way too early to give up on him....
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I am always baffled that Smalley or Parker notice these things....
      I really liked having Smalley in the booth for a few days there. He's obviously spent a lot of time devoted to hitting a pitched baseball and the mindset and physical act of it. Was really good to get some of that insight, I thought.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan214 View Post
      How about Mauer as your regular at 1st, and Doumit at C? Keep Butera as backup C.
      Seems like they've taken a half or quarter step that way. But it feels like a "have to" move much more than anything you'd actually like to have happen. I know I certainly don't think it's a great full-time or long-term move, but might be what has to happen. Ugh again.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      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.

      RIGHT?
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      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.

      RIGHT?
      I on the other hand, was one of the people who backed up the Twins in their decision to bring up Parmelee and I predicted that Parm would have some votes as AL ROY. I am of opinion that Morneau will not stay healthy unless he is a full time DH, and even then, that is a stretch. I am a Pro-Stereotype person when it comes to having power potential from your Corner Infielder's and that makes Mauer a Non Fit, especially with DV at 3B. I view Doumit as a 300-400PA type player, not an everyday starter - which lead me to believe that Parmelee was a good fit. The Twins screwed up by not playing him regularly to start the season. I could not make a guess if that is the reason he is struggling, but what the hell, everyone has essentially been struggling at the plate the last 2 weeks. Will they send Parm down? Probably sooner than later if he keeps hitting the way he is. I still think he can have a very good year knocking the ball around the yard. He won't hit 20 jacks, but who will except for Willingham? I do not want to hear the terms "more development", "more seasoning". "more blah, blah, blah"! Parmelee is 24 years old, old enough to figure it out. Old enough to be trusted to break out of a slump at the MLB Level. Enough of the paranoid coddling of young to semi young players. Also, Benson's demotion to AA is a mistake.
    1. NorthwestTwinsFan's Avatar
      NorthwestTwinsFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      I really liked having Smalley in the booth for a few days there. He's obviously spent a lot of time devoted to hitting a pitched baseball and the mindset and physical act of it. Was really good to get some of that insight, I thought.
      I think he meant that he's baffled by the fact that Smalley and Parker are noticing things that people within the organization (Joe Vavra) are apparently missing.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      He never even put up above average numbers in the minors and skipped triple A. This one's pretty simple. To my eye he projects slightly below replacement level at either 1st or RF.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I don't know if Vavra is missing things, or cannot get them to change, those are two very different things
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jack Torse View Post
      He never even put up above average numbers in the minors and skipped triple A. This one's pretty simple. To my eye he projects slightly below replacement level at either 1st or RF.
      Correct. Bottom line is Chris is just not that talented. His ceiling is a below average power BACKUP corner infielder. Very little value so really nothing lost by brining him up "early" since he won't be part of this team's future.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Sounds simple. Parmelee needs to learn how to hammer pitches on the outside part of the plate. If he can do that, then it stops being his weakness, and pitchers will need to find some other way to get him out.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Correct. Bottom line is Chris is just not that talented. His ceiling is a below average power BACKUP corner infielder. Very little value so really nothing lost by brining him up "early" since he won't be part of this team's future.
      I agree in general. I'd like to see him gain more at-bats and confidence at AAA so that potential is maximized rather than having him slumping in the majors and then sitting on the bench.
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