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A Platoon Role For Trevor Plouffe?

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the 2013 season, Trevor Plouffe will have played the better part of two seasons with the Twins as their first option at Third Base.  Last year, Plouffe had a monster June with 11 home runs and a 1.126 OPS that realistically bought him more time in the Majors (and probably won him the starting job in 2013) after putting up replacement level stats in his first couple of years with the Twins.  If nothing changes and he doesn’t catch fire this season, Plouffe will put up similar stats to 2012 but with lower power numbers and lower home runs.  The question then becomes, can he recapture his home run magic or is he destined for mediocrity?

Plouffe has the ability to change a game with one swing but those moments seem to come few and far between, with the in between being filled with little offensive impact on the game.  Since the All-Star Break, he has an abysmal .162/.231/.263 triple slash, with an OPS that is over 30 points lower than Pedro Florimon (.494 to .526)!  Even if you chalk it up to a long slump, his offense this year has fallen short of preseason expectations or hopes, and his defense still leaves much to be desired.  Miguel Sano is charging up through the Minors, making Plouffe’s stay at Third Base limited.  If he sticks with the Twins through their rebuilding phase, he’ll be playing in a different position (likely first base or a corner outfield spot utility guy).  But how should he be handled in that new position?  His numbers might point to a platoon plan.

2013

Avg.

OPS

Vs. Left Handers

.299

.863

Vs. Right Handers

.215

.635

 

2012

Avg.

OPS

Vs. Left Handers

.242

.911

Vs. Right Handers

.232

.691

 

2011

Avg.

OPS

Vs. Left Handers

.308

.782

Vs. Right Handers

.212

.665

Plouffe’s stats are significantly better (especially OPS) against Left-Handers than Right-Handers, prompting the possibility of creating a platoon to artificially raise his value.  Plouffe would look like a pretty solid player if you only looked at his numbers against Lefties, allowing another player to handle Righties.  In his home run filled 2012, Plouffe hit 12 dingers against lefties and 12 against righties.  With different at bat numbers, he hit a home run every 10 AB against Lefties and hit a homer in every 25 at bats against Righties.  A HR in every 10 at bats is hard to dismiss and could keep Plouffe a Twin for a while.  However, it’s important to note that in 2013’s relative power outage he only has a home run in every 34 at bats against Lefties.

In 2012, 32% of all games were started by lefties.  Thus, if the Twins created a platoon to get more value out of Trevor Plouffe, he would get significantly less playing time than he has had these last two seasons as the main third baseman.  Additionally, Plouffe’s power is said to come in waves so what if he hit a home run in one game but didn’t start another game for a week or more because the Twins missed playing against an opposing teams’ left-handed pitching?  What happens to his swing momentum playing as a platoon player?  Is Ron Gardenhire a coach that would strictly stick to his platoon or ride one player over another if he gets hot?  These are questions that need to be answered by Terry Ryan and Gardy before considering whether to create a platoon to increase Plouffe’s value to the team.

These last 40 odd games should determine what the Twins do with Trevor Plouffe.  He will continue to hold down the third base job until Sano takes it from him, that much is almost certainly true.  A September call-up for Sano would give the fans something to cheer about during the last month of the season, but Plouffe should get every start at Third Base for the rest of the year to see if he can straighten out his hitting and prove that he is valuable enough to keep around as a starter next year.  If he improves his all-around hitting against all pitchers, great!  Find him a sole starting job somewhere around the diamond when Sano eventually displaces him.  If his hitting stats play to his career splits vs. Lefties and Righties, find him a platoon mate.  If his overall numbers and, more importantly, his power numbers stay low, it might be time to start fazing him out of the Twins’ rebuilding plans.

[Author's Note - In just the last two games, Plouffe has raised his post All-Star Break triple slash from an even lower .143/.220/.231.  This gives support to the argument to give him as much playing time as possible these last 30+ games to see if he can find his swing again.]

Topics: Minnesota Twins, Trevor Plouffe

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.garone.56 Mike Garone

    Think you are going in the right direction with Plouffe.. I do like him.. think its his head ..which is such a big deal in baseball ( like golf) I hope he stays on the team.. but off the bench .. Twins teams that won in the past always had players like Plouffe .ie: . Bush, Larkin … etc .. etc. at this point that’s what he seems to be.. Winter ball also may be an option..get his head straight and swing !

  • Pingback: FEATURED TWINS ARTICLE: A Platoon Role For Trevor Plouffe? | Twins Dugout | Minnesota Twins Blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.garone.56 Mike Garone

    Hi Eric.. can you get interviews with Twin players ? would love to hear from Cola bello.. its been a long road for him.. great human interest / baseball story ..(ie: the Natural) .. think it would make for good content & reading .. Thanks Mike

    • Erik

      Hey Mike, Thanks for reading my stuff! I don’t have any connections with the team so I only get my information from the internet. You are right though that talking with Chris would be really interesting. He’s back with the team now with Mauer on the DL and hopefully he’ll be able to stick around until the expanded rosters in September!