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Gary Armida's Blog
This Year's Superman: Trevor Plouffe Stuck
Posted on June 18, 2012 at 09:25 AM.

In most seasons, there is one player who does the unexpected. He may be a player who was once a top prospect, but usually he is a player who is barely hanging on to a career and has been discounted by most analysts. Last season, Sam Fuld became Superman in Tampa Bay. For a period of two weeks in May, Fuld hit .393/.417/.589 and made one spectacular play after another on defense. Fuld would be human again and would finish the season with a .240/.313/.360 batting line. But, for a month or so, Sam Fuld was the talk of the Baseball world. Baseball, because of its 162 game season, allows for those subplots in its novel. Sometimes the subplots will last; other times, they are just an interesting twist. Thatís what makes the season so fun. It will always keep you guessing and wanting more.

This seasonís subplot looked like it would be the Chicago Cubsí Brian LaHair who, after finally receiving his first real chance, started hot. But, he never really captured our full attention. Josh Hamilton was as hot as any player in Major League history, but heís Josh Hamilton. We expect that. Itís the unexpected guy who, for a few weeks, can do his best Hamilton impression. Thatís why our attention is now fully turned towards Minnesota. The last place Twins are actually playing better Baseball this month and may move out of the basement soon. The man responsible? He would be Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe is a 26 year old utility player who entered the season with a Major League resume that read: 102 games played and a batting line of .226/.286/.382.

Trevor Plouffe was the 20th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He showed some homerun power during his first few seasons, but he never posted an on base percentage over .340. In fact, as he progressed up the Twinsí farm chain, his on base percentage got worse, bottoming out at .300 in 2010. He was called up in 2010 and struggled in his 22 games, getting just 6 hits in 44 at bats. He didnít walk once.

He began the 2011 season in Triple-A, where he showed a bit more patience. He was called up in May and struggled again. But, homerun power was there. The fact that he could play just about anywhere on the field made him an attractive option as a utility man. Despite hitting .207, he added 3 homeruns in 58 May at bats. He ended the season on a high note, hitting .333/.367/.511 over his last 11 games of the season. 18 doubles and 8 homeruns in 81 games has value from a utility man.

He made the roster to begin the 2012 season, but was hitting just .163/.261/.347 as late as May 29th. As the calendar turned to June, Trevor Plouffe wouldíve likely been sent to the Minors had he been on any team other than the Twins. But, with Danny Valencia getting sent out and the Twins having no other options, Plouffe was given one last chance.

The Superman cape fit as Plouffe is now the hottest hitter in Baseball. Heís hitting .396/.420/1.042 in June. In 13 games, he has 4 doubles, 9 homeruns, and 16 RBI. While he isnít any more patient--7 walks in that span, with 5 of them coming in Saturday and Sundayís games with Milwaukee-- he is on one historic run. He started the run with a homerun on June 2nd. He added another two games later. Three games later, he hit another. He followed with another one the next night. After a homerless game, Plouffe hit one each day from June 12th through June 15th. He hit two on the 15th to make it 7 homeruns in 7 games and 10 homeruns in 14 games. Plouffe was so hot, that the Brewers actually pitched around him on Saturday, forcing him to walk three times.

He became the first Twinsí player to homer in four consecutive games since Jim Thome. Since May 16th, Trevor Plouffe leads the Major Leagues in homeruns with 13. His .826 slugging percentage in that time period also leads the league. On the season, Plouffe has a compiled a .336 ISO, which is slugging percentage minus batting average. That ISO ranks third in the American League behind Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn.

And, now the fun part begins. Weíll all try to figure out if this is the case of a 26 year old finally figuring it out or if he is one of the subplots. At the very least, the power is real. In 147 career games, he does have 24 homeruns and 26 doubles. The analyst will look at Plouffeís resume and simply call this time period a blip. Heís never made this much contact. Heís never hit for this much power. Not many have hit for this much power. The analyst is just waiting for it all to, in technical terms, regress back to the norm.

But, that isnít what this is all about. This is about watching baseball and wondering what this player is going to do next. He is playing like we did in our minds when we conjured up situations in our backyards. Right now, Trevor Plouffe is playing like that. Heís seemingly hitting homeruns at will and on one of those hot streaks that we imagined when we were kids. Josh Hamiltonís great homerun streak conjured a different feeling. It conjured awe; no regular person could ever do what he did. We just sat back and watched as if we were 10 year olds watching Mickey Mantle swat homeruns out of stadiums. But, Trevor Plouffe is flawed. Heís struggled. We can identify with his story. None of us are perfect. Weíve all struggled. We hope for those unexpected hot streaks in our lives. Trevor Plouffe is on that type of roll, so we live vicariously through him.

Just how long can he keep up the Superman act? Thatís why we will keep watching. Thatís why Baseball can get us in so many different ways. Players such as Trevor Plouffe or Sam Fuld can hold our attention as much, even a bit more, as Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton. The ride may not last, but it is, indeed, one great ride.


Gary Armida is a staff writer for OS and can be found around the web as well. Talk with him on twitter @garyarmida
Comments
# 1 mhanson93 @ Jun 18
Thanks for the write-up! Since the team is in last place, Plouffe's power streak has gone pretty much unnnoticed by the media outside of the Twins Cities. At least something fun is happening with this the Twins this year. Twinsdaily.com did an interesting write-up last week on the adjustments that Trevor has made to his swing this season. http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.ph...ower-Come-From . Obviously he will come back down to earth, but hopefully he will be a productive hitter going forward.
 
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