Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The merits of a Revere-Plouffe platoon

Ben Revere's defensive range
is a definite plus; his
throwing arm is not.
I have found frequent cause in recent days to mention Ron Gardenhire's reluctance to utilize platoons.

Jason Kubel. Jacque Jones. Michael Cuddyer. Mike Redmond. These were all players with pronounced platoon differentials, yet for a variety of reasons Gardenhire didn't platoon them. (Redmond, of course, was a backup, but Gardenhire over the years bypassed plenty of opportunities to give Joe Mauer his rest day against a left-hander and instead used Redmond the following day against a rightie.)

Gardenhire has used a few short-term platoons -- about a half-season in 2008 with Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris at third base, September 2009 with Harris and Jose Morales at DH -- but he prefers to identify a regular at each position and use the bench as fill-ins.

Left field in 2012, however, appears to offer good reason for a time-share arrangement. Let's break it down:

Ben Revere is generally viewed as the regular-in-waiting in left. (He's also the backup center fielder to Denard Span.) He is a player with one great tool (speed afoot) and two obvious weaknesses (power and throwing arm).

Trevor Plouffe spent 2011 convincing the Twins that he's not a major-league caliber middle infielder. They do see hope for his hitting, particularly in the power department.Terry Ryan has repeatedly said this offseason that Plouffe will be an outfielder going forward, but he has little experience, majors or minors, in the outer garden.

Trevor Plouffe has played
his way out of the Twins'
infield plans.
This is a classic platoon situation: Two marginal talents whose strengths and weaknesses match up. Plouffe has power; Revere does not. Revere covers ground like few others in the outfield; Plouffe is a novice. Revere can't throw; Plouffe has a strong arm. Revere hits left, Plouffe hits right.

Plouffe hit .212 against righties in 2011, .308 against lefties. Revere showed no real platoon differential last season, but in both cases the playing time is small enough that the stats are merely indicative, not conclusive. Over time, we can expect both players to show a platoon differential.

The underlying point: This is not a case where a platoon is likely to retard the growth of a potential star. This is a case of trying to maximize the production from two flawed talents.

And it's not a case that fits into Gardenhire's established managerial strengths or style.


  1. Too bad we can't take their strengths and combine them in one guy. :-(

  2. I see this as a litmus test... I think Revere ends up with the vast majority of playing time and Ploufe treads water all year.