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Plouffe: 3B or Utility Player

Posted by stringer bell , 25 August 2014 · 1,105 views

Trevor Plouffe has been the Twins third baseman since the middle of 2012. He is the Twins' longest-serving starter at his current position on the team. That is a bit hard to believe, but every position has turned over since the Twins handed Plouffe third base out of desperation. Plouffe responded to his assignment by having a once-in-a-lifetime power surge. Most other parts of his game as a third baseman were substandard.

Now, late in the 2014 season, we see a different player. Plouffe has improved his overall hitting and his defense. He has made far more good plays and botched far fewer routine ones. He has hit better with runners on base, he has hit better against right handers and seems fundamentally sound finally.

For all the years that Plouffe has played third, he has been in the shadow of mega-prospect Miguel Sano. The question has always been "what do you do with Plouffe when Sano is ready". Of course, that is still a question. But I think there is a question be asked before that--is Plouffe a third baseman or is he a stopgap? Plouffe ranks behind three outstanding third basemen in the American League, but after those guys Plouffe rates with anyone else.

He now looks comfortable at the position, he now seems to show proper instincts and is in the right place. The throws from third were a crapshoot are now expected to be chest-high and on line and most of all he takes his time when a catcher is running and makes the quick transfer and throw when a speedster hits a slow roller. I'm saying he no longer looks like a displaced hitter, he looks like a third baseman. Plouffe learned the position on the job. He hardly played there in the minors or until he was given the position.

As a hitter, Plouffe still has some bad at-bats, but grinds through many more than he used to. He seems to have a better plan and the results have been better. He's not a high-percentage hitter, but he's had a bunch of extra base hits and in terms of production, he is one of the better Twins' hitters.

I don't know if he'll ever get any better, but at 27 he's a pretty good player. For those who use WAR, he is at 3.2 with 20% of the season remaining.

I have long thought that Trevor Plouffe could be a regular at another position and still believe he could be the Twins' next left fielder. However, I am not so sure any more that what I've speculated will turn out. Plouffe may have enough trade value to be shopped as an established third baseman. The Twins might be more prudent to hold on to Plouffe until Sano forces his way to the majors. At that point, they might be able to flip him for much more than I've ever thought possible. Congratulations to Trevor Plouffe for taking advantage of opportunities and establishing himself as a big league third baseman.

I would keep Plouffe. Everyone thinks Sano will be a great major league hitter but until he proves that we need to keep Plouffe. There are still questions about Sano being able to play 3B in the majors. If ALL our prospects make it I could still see a role for Plouffe as a possible platoon partner with Arcia, bench bat, fill in for Mauer when he misses his 40 games, may even be a late inning defensive replacement for Sano.   

    • Sconnie likes this
Also a big fan of Plouffe. He has, in my observations, turned in to a quality defensive 3B. Overall, he has turned in to a solid ML hitter with a pretty good knack for hitting in the clutch. And while I still think there is legit 20 HR potential there, he has been a doubles machine this season. Long term, I'm still mixed. He could have real trade value when Sano eventually arrives. There are a lot of teams that could really use a quality defensive 3B who hits OK, produces a lot of doubles, and has HR power flashes. (BTW, unless his powerful arm falls off, don't worry about Sano's arm. It's about his hands and feet, and reports the past few years have him showing constant hard work and improvement) Plouffe provides a great option until Sano's arrival. Many of us have compared Plouffe to Cuddyer, or at least a poor mans version. He has the arm for the OF, and enough athleticism to at least play LF. Could he see a HR jump like Cuddy did with the move? If so, he could be a nice LF option who could also fill in at a couple other positions. I don't think Sano's arrival at 3B defines Plouffe's role. I think it's the rest of the roster. If he excels in LF, for instance, he could have the afore mentioned value. If his Twins role is utility player with big bat, I'd love to have him, but his trade value at 3B may be too great to ignore.
    • Paul Pleiss likes this
Physics Guy
Aug 25 2014 10:43 PM

Starting 3B until somebody takes his spot from him.Valuable bench player until he slides or prices himself out of a bench spot.

Paul Pleiss
Aug 26 2014 12:33 AM

There's no reason to move Plouffe off of 3rd base. Miguel Sano hasn't played above AA and spent the season on the shelf. I'm excited about Sano's potential, but Trevor Plouffe has turned his potential into an everyday MLB caliber third basemen. Let him keep playing until Sano or some one else pries the job from his cold dead hands.

Currently I agree, short of moving Mauer over there (heaven forbid) there is no one currently to replace him. But I would put him in left a few times, Eddy E to third, and Santanna at SS. This lets you see what you have or don't have. Remember, if you think we have a lot of first baseman now, what happens of Sano cannot handle third, or his arm does not recover enough to make those throws?