For those of you that rag on the Minnesota Twins for their recent first-round draft pick flops, I guess you just have to give some of these guys more time. Like eight years.
Trevor Plouffe was the team’s first-round pick in 2004. And in the span of one month, he has transformed from Quad-A player with no position to a potential building block in the team’s rebuilding process.
Plouffe has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball, and today is the one-month anniversary of when this all started.
Entering a May 16 game at Detroit, Plouffe was hitting .133 with one homer. He was seemingly on the brink of losing his roster spot. Remember, a few weeks prior to this game, Luke Hughes was designated for assignment despite being the team’s best hitter in spring training. I heard some wonder whether he deserved a longer look than Plouffe.
On May 16, Plouffe homered. Since the start of that game, he has hit 27-for-86, good for a .314 average with a major league-leading 13 homers to go along with 21 RBIs.
Did anyone see this coming? I made the argument last night in the office that Plouffe may be the only reason to watch the Twins play right now considering how poorly the team has performed (despite a recent hot streak that ended earlier in the week).
So what is Plouffe’s future? Some may disagree, but I still feel he’s a player without a position. He has recently found a home at third base, and as long as he’s red-hot at the plate, you just leave him there. You never mess with a guy that’s hitting the way Plouffe is.
He has three errors in 21 starts at third base, which would put him well over 20 errors if he played a full season there. Small sample size so far this year, but considering his history in the field, it’s probably a pretty accurate one.
If you prefer advanced metrics, FanGraphs has 39 third basemen in the big leagues this year who have logged at least 170 innings at the hot corner. Plouffe’s UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games) is -6.7, which would put him tied with Kevin Youkilis for 29th on that list.
The Twins have spent an awful lot of time trying to find a position for Plouffe, and I just don’t think he’ll get much better in the field. The team will ultimately have to decide whether or not it can accept his sub-standard defense at third if he hits, say, 25 or 30 homers per year. Or is the team better off putting him in right field? My guess is that’s where he ends up next season.
But regardless of where he plays, Plouffe’s offense has been a huge breath of fresh air for a Twins team in dire need of players to build its team around. Patience may have really paid off in this case.