Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eye on 2013: Trevor Plouffe

Chris Parmelee greets Trevor Plouffe (24) at home plate
after Plouffe's home run Monday.
Trevor Plouffe hit his 24th home run of the season Monday night in Toronto. He also doubled in a run and drew a walk, giving him three straight games with two hits.

He also had his adventures defensively at third base. In the sixth inning, with the bases loaded and one out, he threw home on a ground ball and got one out. The next batter then doubled between Plouffe and the line — Plouffe's range to his right has been an issue — for two runs.

Ron Gardenhire's take on the inning, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:

I think a failed double play hurt us. We went home with it, but in my opinion we had to turn two there, and it ended up costing us to let them get in striking range.

Highs and lows. That's been Plouffe's season, and it's not certain that 26-year-old former first-round draft pick is going to be a regular for the Twins next year.

He had a monster run at the plate in mid-season. From May 13 (Mother's Day) through July 20 — 54 games, one third of the season — he hit .293/.345/.610 with 18 homers and 11 doubles.

Then he hurt his thumb, a "day-to-day" injury that ultimately kept him out of the lineup for three weeks and perhaps should have kept him out longer. Once he returned Aug. 13, he didn't hit: .188/.241/.312 through Sunday. As unimpressive as that slash line is, it's better than the .130/.277/.204 he compiled leading up to Mother's Day.

That roller coaster makes him a prime candidate for the misevaluation I call "Dick Bremer Disease," the tendency we tend to have of judging a player's talents by what he does at his best. Plouffe's not a .610 slugger. For the season, he has an on-base percentage under .300 and a slugging percentage under .450, and I think that's closer to his reality.

Defensively, Plouffe has not been good at third base. Baseball Info Solutions' plus-minus and runs saved metrics — explained here — put him near the bottom of defensive third basemen. Of the 20 men with at least 700 innings at the hot corner, Plouffe is tied with Miguel Cabrera for 17th in plus-minus and is 18th in runs saved.

Combine the lousy defense with the underwhelming offensive totals for the season, and Plouffe appears ripe for replacement. With whom is another matter; the Twins lack an obvious in-house alternative.

1 comment:

  1. Need to disagree with you here Ed. He finally 'got it' - started knocking the stitches off he ball - then got hurt. 24 HR puts him second on the team, probably closer to 30 if he doesn't hurt his thumb. The Twins need power - maybe DH him more?