As the beginning of the season approaches, there can be a lot of focus thrown on different players for each team. Some fans will focus on starting pitching and other fans will look at the top players in the line-up. There are usually some players that sneak under the radar before putting together a very good season for the club.
Last year, the Twins signed Josh Willingham and there wasn't a whole lot of buzz around him at the beginning of the year. Most fans were worried about the health of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Willingham would put together the best offensive season of his career and he was rewarded with a Silver Slugger. If someone would have told Twins fans that at the beginning of the year, there would probably be plenty of people that would be surprised.
Surprises have always been part of baseball and this year Twins fans might be surprised by the performance of one player in particular..... Mr. Chris Parmelee.
Over the TwinsFest weekend, Terry Ryan spoke candidly about Parmelee and his weight. The Twins GM has talked to the new right fielder about where the team thinks he should weigh in at for the coming year. Last season, he came in at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. It looks and sounds like he will be a slightly slimmer version of himself for the start of the year.
With the Twins trading away two of their outfield starters from last season, Parmelee finally has a position to play with the Twins. Last season, Parmelee broke camp with the club and he played in the team's first handful of games. It became frustrating to watch the way he was used from that point on because he would spend weeks at a time on the big league roster without getting to play every day.
Parmelee figures that most of his playing time will come in the outfield this season. That's why he has been working on his first step quickness to help him get good jumps in the outfield. The loss of weight should also help him to get to balls. Out of his 673 minor league games, 282 of them have come as a right fielder. Most of those games came in the lower levels of the minors but the position isn't foreign to him so that should help.
While the Twins were jerking Parmelee between the minors and the big leagues, he had plenty of time to show that he can destroy pitching at the Triple-A level. He hit .338/.457/.645 with 17 home runs and 17 doubles over 64 games in Rochester. If he got a few more at-bats in the minor leagues, there is a very good chance that the Twins would have named him minor league player of the year.
When Parmelee was first called up at the end of 2011, he surprised a lot of people with his ability to hit consistently. He also added some power on top of that, which was nice to see. Parmelee's MLB numbers from last season don't look that great as he batted .229/.290/.380 over 64 games. Part of the problem was only getting sporadic playing time for the first portion of the year.
In the last month of the season when Parmelee started to play on a more regular basis, he hit .262/.300/.452 with nine extra-base hits in 24 games. This included an eight-game hitting streak where he had five multi-hit games. His batting average for the season was sitting around .200 before this run so it made his numbers a little more respectable.
Is Parmelee going to be the team MVP next season?
No, probably not.
But he could be a vital part of the rebuild that is taking place in Minnesota. He is ready to show that he belongs as an every day player for the Twins and there should be plenty of eyes watching his progress.
All of the signs point to a breakout season from Mr. Parmelee.