Saturday, September 20, 2014

Contemplating Trevor Plouffe (with a Danny Santana tangent)

Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia
enjoy the moment after Plouffe's
game-winning single Friday night.
Trevor Plouffe's extra-inning walkoff single Friday night underscores the fine season he's had.

Plouffe has career highs in almost every stat: Games, at-bats, runs, RBIs, doubles, triples, walks, on-base percentage, total bases. He's not close to matching the home run total from his 2012 power surge, but the slugging percentage is pretty much a match anyway, Plus he's gone from being a brutal third baseman afield to being average or slightly above,

This figured to be an important year for him. Miguel Sano, superstar slugger in waiting, is still waiting. Plouffe, as I've said before, isn't good enough to keep Sano out of the lineup once the big Dominican is ready for the majors. But Plouffe has established now that he's good enough to play third base for somebody. That wasn't necessarily the case entering the season.

Plouffe was a Super Two arbitration eligible player this year, so he has two more years to go before he's eligible for free agency. He might be of interest on the trade market this winter -- if the Twins are confident enough that Sano will be ready for the big club by midseason.


Plouffe, of course, came to the majors in 2010 having played almost nothing by shortstop in the minors. He played himself out of the position in the majors in 2011, then had a brief detour to the outfield before settling in at the hot corner in 2012.

Danny Santana came to the majors this year having played strictly shortstop for the past couple of years and was pressed into service as a centerfielder. The continued reluctance to deploy the rookie sensation at his accustomed position is irritating some fans. (He did get the start at short Friday.)

For me, that reluctance signals that the Twins already know that Santana is not a good defensive shortstop. A recent post on that thought elicited this response:

Trevor Plouffe played minor league SS for about 7 years, and the people in the Twins system still did not realize he couldn't handle the job in the majors (and that he could barely stick at third). Is their evaluation of Santana any better?

The first sentence is accurate, which makes the second sentence a valid question.

One aspect of this is that it's a different set of evaluators.

The minor league managers who had Plouffe in 2009-11, his final two-and-a-fraction seasons in the minors, were Tom Nieto and Stan Cliburn. The minor league managers who had Santana in 2012-14, his (presumably) final two-and-a-fraction seasons in the minors, were Gene Glynn, Jeff Smith and Jake Mauer.

If there was a stack of reports attesting that Plouffe was a valid shortstop option for the major league team in 2011, those reports came from managers who aren't working for the Twins anymore. I suspect that may not be a coincidence.

1 comment:

  1. You are old enough to remember that there were many people who thought that Gagne would/should be moved off of shortstop when he first came to the majors. I think that things will have to play out a bit before final decisions are made. More than likely, Santana will get his chance to be a fulltime shortstop. He has the tools for it, and if he is relatively consistent, he is going to be better than Escobar in every way. Santana has value as a super utility guy like you have suggested, but he is much more valuable as a full time shortstop.

    There are guys in the minors who might move Santana off of short, or even cause the Twins to trade him, but they are probably years away from the majors. I don't really think that Polanco will be better defensively than Santana, which means he will have to be significantly better offensively to move him, which seems a bit unlikely right now.