Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parmelee and Plouffe Disappoint

As part of the Twins Daily preseason preview, I took an in-depth look at Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe as they headed into the 2013 season. Going into the season, both former first round draft picks figured to get extended playing time. The hope for Twins fans was for each of these players to show some of the potential they had shown while playing at the Triple-A level.

Plouffe showed some impressive power in 2012 with 24 home runs and 19 doubles. He had a career high .756 OPS and it looked like the Twins might have found someone to be an offensive threat in the second half of the line-up. At the beginning of 2012, there was talk of him moving into the outfield but he found a new home at third base. There was hope of improvement from Plouffe as the team headed to Florida for spring training. 

Minnesota wanted to bring in some competition for Plouffe at third base during spring training but this never happened. Plouffe was penciled in as the starting third baseman and he started 118 games there. Over the course of the season, his batting average rose to the point where he hit .330/.369/.417 in September. He posted a positive defensive WAR for the first time in his career but his other defensive numbers were lacking. 

It's hard to know what the role of Plouffe will be going forward. Stud prospect Miguel Sano will enter spring training with a chance to take over the starting third base job. This could mean Plouffe spending more time in the outfield or keeping Sano's spot warm while he gets some seasoning at Triple-A. Injuries impacted different parts of his 2013 season but Plouffe is surely going to feel the heat from Sano entering 2014. 

For Parmelee, there were high expectations after his strong September call-up in 2011. Justin Morneau was a giant question mark at first base and the Twins fan base thought Parmelee could take over the role of starting first baseman. In 2012, he received sporadic big league playing time and this might have been the main reason for his struggles. Minnesota was going to find more at-bats for him in 2013 and this meant a move to the outfield.

The power Parmelee showed in Triple-A and in his September call-up has continued to be absent. His OPS dropped this season and he had the same OPS+ as in 2012. Left-handed pitchers owned Parmelee by holding him to hitting .172/.250/.276 in 58 at-bats. Even his time at Triple-A was unimpressive (.231/.318/.370) following a year where he was a force in the minor leagues. 

If the Twins are going to have to find playing time for Joe Mauer at a position besides catcher, it will likely be first base. This takes at-bats away from Parmelee and the outfield might start to fill-up with more viable options. Josh Willingham, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, and Ryan Doumit all need playing time and this could leave Parmelee without regular at-bats. It's looking more and more like Parmelee will be the odd man out. 

The Twins need their first round draft picks to make it at the big league level. As I said in the article from the beginning of the year, "It takes a lot to become a regular on a major league ball club." The hope was for Parmelee and Plouffe to be part of the long-term solution in Minnesota.

At this point, that is starting to look more like a dream than a reality. 

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