|Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe takes a tumble on the|
bullpen mound Thursday night while chasing a foul ball
in the expansive space in the Oakland stadium.
Box score here.
Trevor Plouffe took an 0-for-5 Thursday in that sewage-oozing dump in the Eastbay they now call the O.Co Coliseum. (One would think, at this point, that corporations would pay to NOT have their name attached to the place.) Then he left the game nursing a sore left wrist that has apparently bothered him much of the season.
Thursday's struggles (and Wednesday's 0-for-4 in Chicago) shouldn't mask his impressive surge at the plate of late. Plouffe entered the game hitting .358/.380/.493 in September and had muscled his way into the third spot in the batting order. This kind of September performance by a player on a team out of the race used to be called a "salary drive," and with Plouffe eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, the phrase probably fits.
For the season as a whole, his numbers remain pedestrian: .249/.302/.397, with 14 homers. It's been a bit of a step backwards for him at the plate.
Defensively, he's improved. The plus-minus and runs saved metrics I've cited here in the past have him as essentially playing league-average defense at third base, which would be markedly better than in 2012.
Of course, nobody really expects Plouffe to remain the Minnesota third baseman much longer, not with Miguel Sano climbing the ladder. Some figure Sano will have the job as early as April, some figure he'll come up in mid season, but he's coming. And Plouffe isn't good enough to keep him out.
One can envision Plouffe shifting into in a super-utility role: Some outfield time, some first base, some third base, some DH, maybe even a few middle infield innings here and there when the team's behind and offense is more important than defense.
But for that to work, he's going to have to hit more than he has this season. A OPS under .700 won't cut it.