Monday, March 11, 2013

Morneau, Plouffe set up to surprise

The corner infield positions for any club can be an important part of a team's offensive picture. Power hitters usually occupy these two positions and it helps to be competent on the defensive side of the ball. First basemen and third basemen can former the cornerstone of a franchise and they are important positions for the future of the club.

Minnesota has basically had one first baseman for the great part of the last decade. On the other hand, third base seems to be a revolving door that the team hopes they have finally stopped. Justin Morneau could be in the last year of his deal with the Twins and Trevor Plouffe is trying to prove that he belongs as a fixture on the club.

Each of these men has something to prove in 2013 and both players could be set up to surprise.

Over the last few days, fans have gotten an up-close view of just how ready Justin Morneau is for the coming season. In Canada's three games in the World Baseball Classic, Morneau went 7-for-11 with three doubles, four runs scored, and three RBI. It was a great sight for Twins fans to finally see a healthy Morneau producing on the field.

While this three game performance was great, it is tough to draw a lot of conclusions from such a small sample size. There are still other things that point to Morneau getting back to his old ways in the coming year.

He was able to go through his normal offseason workout routine for the first time in a couple years. This should only help to prepare him for playing a full season. Morneau also knows that he could be reaching free agency for the first time next offseason. He could be playing for his last big contract and that should help to energize him for the coming year.

Trevor Plouffe is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Morneau. He has a little over one year of big league experience and he is trying to prove that he belongs with the Twins. There was talk for most of the offseason about bring in competition for Plouffe at third. That competition never showed up and it's up to him to prove the Twins were right to trust him.

Last season, Plouffe proved that he could smash the ball over the right field seats on a regular basis. This was great to see but his overall numbers weren't that great. He hit .235/.301/.455 so there is still some room for improvement. The club wants him to show that he can take the ball the other way on occasion. He has been doing that so far this spring and it could be a sign of things to come.

While the Twins might not be gearing up for a run to the top of the Central Division, there can still be some positive signs to come out of this year. Morneau wants to prove that he is still one of the best hitters in the game. Plouffe wants to work his name into the long-term plans for the Twins.

The corner infielders on Opening Day might be at different points in the careers but they are both set-up to surprise in 2013.

No comments: