Let’s first dish out some indisputable truth: the entire premise of owning Trevor Plouffe centers around a ridiculous stretch he had in the early summer nights of 2012.
Plouffe hit half of his home runs that season between June 8 and July 3, a span of about three-and-a-half weeks. In that time frame, he hit .330/.398/.791, with 18 of his 30 hits over that span going for extra bases.
But Plouffe is a career .240/.300/.411 hitter. That comes out to a .311 wOBA, or just above his .309 mark from 2013. That’s still considerably below the .317 that AL third basemen compiled on the whole last year. And as arbitrary as it sounds, strip out that hot streak, and all the sudden Plouffe’s hitting just .233/.292/.381 for his career.
And I’ll again emphasize how arbitrary it may be, but I would have to wager that few players’ career lines drop like that by taking out just one month.
Let’s break down what Plouffe brings to the table, exactly:
* Plouffe is a poor defensive third baseman. Not quite as poor as he was at shortstop, and not quite a bad as he was in 2012, but he’s still not particularly good. His first reaction tends to be a bit slow, and his arm is still somewhat erratic, as Justin Morneau saved him more than a couple errors before he was dealt to the Pirates.
And if you’re asking what the relevance is there fantasy-wise, here it is: It makes him far less likely to stick at third base.
Not only is Miguel Sano in the pipeline behind Plouffe, but his defensive woes could make him more of a first baseman-corner outfield type in the future. Sort of like a destitute man’s Michael Cuddyer, which brings up another interesting point….
* Like Cuddyer (at least prior to 2013), Plouffe can only hit lefties. Consider:
v. LHP – .278/.346/.495 (.363 wOBA) | v. RHP .227/.284/.382 (.293 wOBA)
In 2013 context, he was Allen Craig versus lefties, but Zack Cozart versus righties. The relevance here is that the Twins aren’t apt to platoon him — they don’t really believe in platoons. He’ll either start, or sit, but nowhere in between (such as an ideal-world platoon with Eric Chavez, for instance) unless he’s a utility player. A utility player with no draft potential, then.
* Plouffe stopped pulling the ball as much in 2013, and that’s a really bad thing. In 2012, Plouffe pulled 152 of 330 batted balls (46.1%) with a triple-slash of .395/.392/.875. Insane, right? Well in 2013, that slumped to 153 of 365 (41.9%) and .379/.379/.654 — a 200-plus point OBP drop. So even though Plouffe did much better to the middle of the field in 2013 — .358/.352/.488 in ‘13 | .233/.233/.353 in ‘12 — the percentage and production drop (both of which funneled down to the push side) definitely hurt him.
And like many dead-pull hitters, Plouffe is downright abysmal going the other way. In 2013, he hit .213/.209/.303 on 89 batted-balls (24.4%), versus .194/.190/.290 on 62 (18.8%) in ‘12.
Basically, my out-of-breath takeaway from the situation is that nothing about his solid season in 2012 — whether it’s the hot streak or the batted ball rates — seems all that sustainable.
In summary, here are the situations in which I would consider drafting Plouffe:
* AL-only, where his position flexibility could be helpful.
* Deep daily leagues where you could feasibly platoon or play matchups.
* Any league where Will Middlebrooks goes off the board, Plouffe should follow thereafter.
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