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Twins need to find a role for sudden slugger Trevor Plouffe

Jul 6, 2011, 2:37 PM EDT

Trevor Plouffe Getty Images

2004 first-round pick Trevor Plouffe, long considered a disappointment by Twins fans, hit three homers and walked four times in a doubleheader for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday.

Despite spending almost all of May in the majors, he now has 15 homers in his 45 games for the Red Wings.  Overall, he’s hitting .308/.385/.663 in 169 at-bats.

Which makes it baffling that he’s still in the minors with the Twins’ need for offense.  Plouffe more than held his own in his May callup.  He batted just .200, but that came with three homers and eight walks in 60 at-bats.  He drove in 10 runs despite starting only 15 games.

Unfortunately, manager Ron Gardenhire soured on his defense after watching him make three errors in just a handful of games at shortstop and pretty much refused to play him there any longer.  Since getting sent down, Plouffe has been used all over the place.  He’s started games at all four infield spots and both outfielder corners for Rochester.  Yesterday, Gardenhire made the call himself, telling the Red Wings to shift him to first base.

From the sound of things, Plouffe will stay at first base for now.  If he gets comfortable there quickly, then he could join the Twins right after the All-Star break and take over as Justin Morneau‘s primary replacement.

Still, the Twins can’t be looking at Plouffe as a long-term option there.  He does have the range to handle shortstop in the majors, and ideally, he still might end up at the position next year.  Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla both seem better equipped to play second.

  1. trevorb06 - Jul 6, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    This could just be another, smaller, version of Chris Davis. Beware. I am.

    • kopy - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      Nobody can strikeout as often as Chris Davis, but essentially yeah it’s impossible to say you’re wrong.

      • trevorb06 - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        What about Wily Mo?

      • kopy - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        Close, Wily Mo has struck out in 30.5% of his career plate appearances. Chris Davis is at 31.9%. In 2009, Chris Davis would have set the MLB mark for most Ks in a season by a batter, but he was sent down, and Mark Reynolds actually broke it that year. Mark Reynolds broke his own record again the next year in 2010.

        Reynolds’ K percentage was 33.7% in 2009 when he set the record and 35.4% in 2010 when he broke it. Chris Davis was at 35.8% over 419 PAs in 2009, but didn’t spend enough time in MLB to set the record. Reynolds’ career K percentage is 32.7%, so I guess he’s the only one that can truly strike out as much as Davis.

  2. shanemcdowell - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    I wouldn’t mind a Plouffe / Nishi switch. If you believe Nishi is the shortstop of the future, build up his confidence a bit at AAA while showcasing Plouffe at the major league level. He sure doesn’t seem to be in the Twins plans long-term, and having him hang out at AAA isn’t going to help his trade value that much.

    • schrutebeetfarms - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      Plouffe was showcased at the major league level already. And he was shown to be a great AAA player and not much more.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        That’s crazy. Plouffe never had even a .740 OPS in the minors until this year, and he’s at 1.030 right now. Whether or not his breakthrough season is for real or not is very much up in the air, but to say we know all there is to know about him is ridiculous.

  3. fcmlefty1 - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Even if he never plays another inning at SS for the Twins, he should be up in the majors. The Twins have long had a need for a right handed bat on the bench/utility role. Too often, Cuddyer has been the only viable RH bat in the line up. Plouffe and Hughes have both shown over the last couple of weeks that they should probably be switched out for each other, with Plouffe coming up and Hughes going down.

  4. AK47 - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Why is everyone getting excited about Plouffe hitting at AAA? When he’s gotten playing time at the Major League level he’s struggled at the plate and not only that, his defense at short is atrocious. Sure he’s hot now, but he still owns a .257/.320/.406 career minor league triple-slash and I have ZERO confidence that he would do anything in the Majors once he got the call. Nishi is still the Twins’ best SS option because his defense is halfway decent.

  5. mplsjoe - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Ehh. Sure, the Twins could use more O. But as someone above said, Plouffe has never shown a consistent ability to hit at AAA or in the bigs. And he can’t play the field.

    If he’s serviceable at first, bring him up in place of Luke Hughes or Rene Tasoni. But don’t expect miracles.

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