: a worker, performer, or athlete who is experienced and good but not excellent
In the nomenclature of the game we have many names for the journeyman. On competitive teams we typically use the more endearing terms: role player, utility man, pinch hitter, defensive replacement. But on a losing team we tend to describe them in less complementary ways: placeholder, seat warmer, has been.
A journeyman’s value is not typically described with season stats or career slash lines, but in single moments; when they get a key hit, make an outstanding defensive play or simply move a runner over to allow the franchise player a chance to hit with a player in scoring position.
With a team like the Twins that is filled with players that meet the definition of journeyman, fans are quick to dismiss their value and instead pine for the brilliant prospect filled with promise and potential who is waiting in the wings.
Trevor Plouffe must have a clock ticking in his head. Intellectually he knows that his days as the Twins starting third baseman are numbered. Conversely, his competitive instincts keep pushing him to keep his job and show the world that he is not simply a placeholder for super prospect Miguel Sano.
Spring training and the first two weeks of the season were a struggle for Trevor. Despite coming off his best major league season, he had to overcome a late season freak injury, his average was firmly planted below .200 and the team had not started strong out of the gate. Anyone in his shoes would start to look in the rear view mirror to see if Mr. Sano was gaining on him.
Because of all he was up against, Plouffe’s walk-off homer in extra innings on Friday must have been particularly sweet.
The cathartic reaction from Plouffe as he screamed at his teammates in the dugout during his homerun trot was a message to us fans. He is saying, I too was once a hot prospect, a player with potential. While it hasn’t worked out for me just yet – I am still here. I have worked my ass off and I don’t intend to go quietly into the night.
So today I take my hat off to Trevor Plouffe, Shane Robinson, and Jordon Schaefer and the other journeyman who may never make an All-Star game or get the long term multi-million dollar deal. Get after it fellas, I respect your commitment. Hang in there, celebrate every success and know that when you do yield to that young super prospect, there is one fan out there who respects what you bring to the game.