Original post from twinsrubes.blogspot.com.
With the departures of Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Jason Repko; the corner outfield positions are going to have a significantly different look in 2012. With the addition of Josh Willingham, the 3 outfield positions will most likely consist of some combination of Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Ben Revere, and Trevor Plouffe. Last week, we determined that it might be best defensively for Revere to play in center, moving Span to one of the corners. The question now becomes: Is Ben Revere even one of our best 3 outfielders? Span and Willingham are without a doubt the two best outfielders on the roster, so let's break down the competition between Plouffe and Revere for that last spot.
Both Plouffe and Revere spent a small portion of 2010 with the Twins, as well as most of 2011. This will make for good comparison offensively. However, Plouffe has played only 91 innings in the outfield in his career, all coming last season. Revere has obviously played all 995 innings of his MLB career in the outfield, making the defensive comparison much more difficult to comprehend.
Plouffe is a career .226 hitter in 327 at-bats. Plouffe has shown a little pop in his bat with 10 home runs and 19 doubles during that time for a slugging percentage of .382 (a career OPS of .668). At AAA Rochestor last season, Plouffe tore up the league for 15 home runs in only 192 at-bats for a slugging percentage of .635. He struggled to put the ball in play consistently last season striking out 71 times (compared to 25 walks) in only 81 games - 320 plate appearances.
Revere has 478 career at-bats at the major league level, posting a career batting average of .262 - 36 points higher than Plouffe. Revere's power numbers are significantly weaker than Plouffe's, obviously, posting a career slugging percentage of .301 (81 points lower than Plouffe), and a career OPS at .606 (62 points lower than Plouffe). Revere only has 14 career extra base hits in 511 plate appearances, which to me is very disappointing considering his speed. Despite his lack of power, Revere can usually turn a single into a double by causing havoc on the basepaths stealing 34 bases in 43 attempts. Plouffe is a 3 for 6 career base-stealer. Revere has also been much more successful putting the ball in play so far in his short career (28 walks, 48 strikeouts, 511 plate appearances).
Without too much experience in the outfield, it's pretty difficult to determine how good of an outfielder Trevor Plouffe will turn out to be. In 91 innings, 72 of them in right field, Plouffe has posted a -34.9 UZR/150, compared to Revere's 13.6 career UZR/150 (995 innings). Plouffe has shown an above average arm in the outfield (0.8 ARM) which is expectedly better than Revere's career -3.8 ARM. Plouffe's RngR is -3.6, while Revere has posted a solid career 15.9.
This will be a fun competition to watch in spring training as Plouffe gets more and more experience consistently in the corner outfield spots. I like Revere's ability to put pressure on the defense on the base paths, but Plouffe is obviously more explosive in the batter's box. Another factor to consider is that Plouffe really struggled in the infield last year, which could have affected his ability to hit the way he hit in AAA. Taking some of the pressure off in the field by putting him out in RF or LF could very possibly loosen him up at the plate.
No matter who wins the third outfielder spot between Plouffe and Revere, I still believe Willingham needs to be our left-fielder, that being virtually the only position he has played his entire career. That would create two possible lineups assuming everyone is healthy: from left to right, Willingham/Span/Plouffe, or Willingham/Revere/Span. This is going to be a tough decision for Gardenhire, but I think the addition of Willingham's power, I think Revere will be the more likely choice for Gardy. Revere is a "Twins-Way" type of player who causes distress both in the field and on the bases. It will be interesting to see what happens if Plouffe has a hot spring, here, starting today!
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