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  • What to do with Trevor Plouffe?

    Through May of 2012, Trevor Plouffe was hitting just .163/.261/.347 (.608) with three doubles and five home runs. Then the calendar turned to June. Over his next 32 games played, Plouffe hit .317/.373/.634 (1.006) with nine doubles and 14 home runs. That's when he injured his thumb and did not play again until mid-August. Over his final 45 games of 2012, he hit .196/.254/.344 (.598) with seven doubles and five homers.

    2013 was meant to be a big year for several Twins including Brian Dozier and Chris Parmelee. However, arguably, 2013 was most important for Trevor Plouffe. Was he the sub-.300 on-base percentage guy still looking for a defensive position? Or, could he put up numbers approaching what he did for a month last June?



    For the most part, 2013 has been a frustrating season for the Twins third baseman. On May 21, he was kneed in the head as a base runner at second base and ended up on the Disabled List with a concussion. Before he could get back in the lineup, recurring calf tightness put him on the 15 day disabled list. When he returned in mid-June, he had a single, double and home run in his first game and had hits in 13 of 14 games played in the month. Unfortunately, July was a tough month as well as he hit just .189/.223/.300 (.523). Since August 1st, he has hit .237/.298/.404 (.702), though that includes the first two games in Houston when he went 7-9 with two homers.

    There are 20 MLB third basemen who qualify for a batting title (3.1 plate appearances per game their team has played). Here are Plouffe's rankings in several categories:



    • Batting Average - .243 (15/20)
    • On Base Percentage - .301 (17/20)
    • Slugging Percentage - .404 (15/20)
    • OPS - .705 (18/20)
    • WAR - 1.4 (17/20 - only Mike Moustakus, David Freese and Michael Young have lower WAR)



    So, now what?

    Trevor Plouffe will likely need to show in the final month of the season that he should be the team's Opening Day third baseman. To assume that is a given is not correct on a couple of fronts:

    First, there is the Miguel Sano factor. The Twins ultra-talented, immensely powerful prospect finished his 2013 campaign with 35 home runs and will likely be ranked in the top three baseball prospects when the lists come out next spring. He finished the season in AA after spending the first half in Ft. Myers. He will be invited to spring training, but will the Twins be willing to give him the opening day starting job after seeing the struggles of Aaron Hicks coming straight from AA? Sano will be just 21 years old when the 2014 season starts. My assumption is that Sano will start the season in Rochester, but he won't be there for long. No more than two months, most likely.

    Second, Trevor Plouffe came into the 2013 season with 1.162 years of service. As he spent the entire season with the Twins, that number will be 2.162 at season's end. He is shy of 3 years of service time, but it is almost guaranteed that Plouffe would be a Super-2 arbitration-eligible player. That means that he will likely go from making just over $500,000 this season to somewhere between $1.8 and $2.8 million in 2014. Could the Twins non-tender Plouffe? I don't think that they would. He is still just 28 and although his defense has, at times, been shaky all around the field, he can play multiple positions even if it is in a super-utility role.

    That kind of position flexibility, and the fact that he does have good power, makes the idea that he could be traded at least feasible.

    Plouffe has been with the Twins since they drafted him out of high school with the first of five first round picks in 2004. He worked up the system one step at a time, and then was up and down with the Twins for a couple of seasons. He has been on the Twins roster for the last two years.

    So, what does the future hold for Trevor Plouffe in a Twins uniform?

    In my opinion, he will likely begin the 2014 season as the Twins third baseman. I do expect that Miguel Sano will be up by mid-June, if not by the end of May, and when he does the third base job will be his. I think that Trevor Plouffe can easily shift over to first base where he can split time with Joe Mauer. I think Mauer will continue to do some catching in 2014, but will also play a lot of first base. Plouffe can be a right-handed bat off of the bench, but he can also be a backup in the corner outfield positions, and yes (gasp) in the middle infield as well.

    That's how I envision things shaking out in 2014 for Trevor Plouffe. What do you think?
    This article was originally published in blog: What to do with Trevor Plouffe? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 41 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I agree that is how it will play out.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I posted almost exactly the same. Plouffe gets a juicy raise and is the starting 3B as the season begins. Sano will didplace him mid season, but Plouffe stays as a reserve/insurance policy against a Sano failure. Plouffe will be tradeable, so a non-tender would be a mistake.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      You take a gamble that he will increase his value next season, or have him take a gamble and sign a 3-year extension for $5-8 million with hopes of having a bench job at the least. The Twins can afford it for next season, after that, he has to really earn his at-bats. He is not a Michael Cuddyer, yet, sadly, and may never be.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I think Plouffe is a 4A player. Last year he hit 9 hrs in 12 gms, playing against some poor teams. His ave with RISP is .208 over his career. High leverage .216, low leverage .259.
      As for 1st base if Mauers hitting does't carry the value at 1st how and the heck can Plouffe?

      Baseball Ref has him campared to similar type hitters same age;

      1. John Russell (969)
      2. Josh Fields (956)
      3. Leo Gomez (950)
      4. Ryan Thompson (949)
      5. Bill Serena (949)
      6. Jeff King (946)
      7. Eric Munson (942)
      8. Bob Smith (941)
      9. Jack Lohrke (941)
      10. Wayne Gross (940)


      some list of players, ever hear of any of these guys?

      His career ops+ is 94, Delmon Young same age is +98. Plouffe is a better fielder worse hitter. If the guy was average or better anywhere in the field he may be worth something.

      IMO just another 4A player we keep coming up with.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      I think Plouffe is a 4A player. Last year he hit 9 hrs in 12 gms, playing against some poor teams. His ave with RISP is .208 over his career. High leverage .216, low leverage .259.
      As for 1st base if Mauers hitting does't carry the value at 1st how and the heck can Plouffe?

      Baseball Ref has him campared to similar type hitters same age;

      1. John Russell (969)
      2. Josh Fields (956)
      3. Leo Gomez (950)
      4. Ryan Thompson (949)
      5. Bill Serena (949)
      6. Jeff King (946)
      7. Eric Munson (942)
      8. Bob Smith (941)
      9. Jack Lohrke (941)
      10. Wayne Gross (940)


      some list of players, ever hear of any of these guys?


      His career ops+ is 94, Delmon Young same age is +98. Plouffe is a better fielder worse hitter. If the guy was average or better anywhere in the field he may be worth something.

      IMO just another 4A player we keep coming up with.
      Munson was with the Tigers for a while, then I think the Twins had him on a minor league deal for a minute. Fields was bad for the White Sox for a couple years not too long ago.
    1. PSzalapski's Avatar
      PSzalapski -
      I just proposed finding a left-handed-hitting third baseman to platoon with Plouffe, as his OPS is consistently over .800 against lefties. Such a beast is rare, but how about signing Eric Chávez to a one-year deal to play third against righties?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by PSzalapski View Post
      I just proposed finding a left-handed-hitting third baseman to platoon with Plouffe, as his OPS is consistently over .800 against lefties. Such a beast is rare, but how about signing Eric Chávez to a one-year deal to play third against righties?
      problem with platooning is that when we carry 13 pitchers and 3 catchers, there's hardly any room on the bench.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by PSzalapski View Post
      I just proposed finding a left-handed-hitting third baseman to platoon with Plouffe, as his OPS is consistently over .800 against lefties. Such a beast is rare, but how about signing Eric Chávez to a one-year deal to play third against righties?
      +1. Or put him in the DH role vs lefties, or in a 1B platoon, or as a right-handed bench bat. His splits are enormous. Even in this year, he's hitting .300+ against left-handed pitches and 859 OPS.

      He is a platoon player, and a good one, in that he really mashes lefties. Rather than stretch him to the point of being worthless, the Twins need to accept it and utilize that.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I think he'll be near the bottom of the arbitration spread you post Seth--closer to $1.4 million, which is not a bad investment for 1.4 WAR. But I don't expect him to be the third baseman in June. I wonder if they could try him in RF again. Arcia's best position is LF. Willingham's is DH. Doumit's is backup C and PH. Mauer's probably 1B going forward. If so, Hermann is your starting catcher. So the only corner job available next year once Sano comes up is RF. He has the arm for it. Maybe he'd have a similar transition to Cuddyer. If not, nontender him after the year.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      just move him back to short and buy all the fans hockey gear on the 1st base line
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      I still like Plouffe's swing. Very balanced and easy. The pop is there, esp. to the pull side. If they can squeeze him into the middle infield, I'd take another look at him there, personally. But I'd understand if they gave other guys a shot at this point.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Arcia's best position is LF.
      I'm pretty sure I've heard Gardy say he would prefer Arcia in RF. Only reason he was playing LF was because of Parmalee can only play RF
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Yeah, Arcia is definitely a better RF than LF. It's what he played most of the time in the minors. Played one season in CF, and only played about 5-6 games in LF in the minors.
    1. Steve_h's Avatar
      Steve_h -
      Great column. Out of all of the 2013's unanswered questions, Plouffe's lack of development and stagnation ranks the highest for the Twins. Coming into '13 I head high hopes. His OPS had climbed from .697 in '11 to .756 in '12. I thought there was an outside chance of a Pedro Alvarez-type ascension offensively. Obviously that hasn't happened. The Twins need to keep him and play him at least as a platoon-typle player, even with Sano knocking on the door. Ideally, you could play him somewhere and bat him 7th or 8th and let him go. His versatility to play 1B or an OF spot is a must, especially after Sano arrives.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      The last month of the season I'd like to see both Plouffe and Dozier get some positional flexability due to who the Twins have lurking behind them. This should already be happening considering we are at the experience and experiments stage of the season. Though with a manager not under contract and fighting for his job next year I understand why this hasn't, and likely will not happen.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      No need to anything yet. The Twins should not rush Sano. Let Plouffe start at 3rd next year. Worst case, he plays against LHP and acts as a super utility player when Sano arrives. Best but not likely case, he finally puts it together and finds some consistency on both sides of the ball. He becomes a nice trade piece if that should happen.

      For me, Plouffe is one of the biggest disappointments of the 2013 season. The optimist in me was hoping that a sustainable form of the Plouffe that went on a rampage last year would show-up in 2013. The other is Parmelee but I still have some hope for him.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Somebody above said that Trevor is not Cuddyer...well try it...like they did with Cuddy...tell Trevor he will get the RF job when Sano is ready...and leave him there for a month or two...it worked with Cuddy a few years back...it is worth a shot.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Plouffe's major league abilities really limit him to a platoon role, either at first or in the corner OF and he should platoon with Parmelee so that the Twins can thus have one good player made from two.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Not enough bat for that glove, not enough glove for that bat. He's a tweener who only has value at 3B and even then it isn't much. However, if Danny Valencia can find a bench role in the big leagues then so can Plouffe. When Sano finally displaces him he can platoon in the OF with Arcia, Presley and Parmelee. Do the Twins like him as the RH bench bat better than Colabello or Wilkin Ramirez?
    1. Buck Nasty's Avatar
      Buck Nasty -
      3rd base is only one hole on this squad. Use the same positional WAR comparison for all other positions on this team. You'll find we are set at catcher (assuming Mauer's there). Dozier/Floriman seem fine. But we don't rank very well at: 1B, 3B, LF, CF, RF or DH. That's a lot of holes. I realize we have some prospects coming which should fill those spots. But like Plouffe, obviously none of those guys are sure things. It would be nice if these guys would rise to the occassion when given a chance (Arcia, Hicks, Parmalee etc.)
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