Flash-forward a couple months and Sano is recovering from Tommy John surgery while Plouffe has continued to look more comfortable at the plate and in the field. Plouffe is never going to be a high batting average player but he's changed some of his offensive approach. Last season, he set a career high in doubles with 22 and this season he's already notched 18 two-baggers. His OPS+ of 106 ties his career high from back in 2012 when he went HR crazy for a few weeks.
There have been two big changes for Plouffe this season. The first has been his plate discipline and more importantly his ability to coax walks. He has 19 walks to his credit this year but he has increased is BB% from 6.5% in 2013 to over 10% in 2014. Plouffe has also seen more pitches per game this season than last year. In 2013, he average 14.93 pitches seen per game and that number has jumped to 18.23 in 2014.
Another area of improvement for Plouffe has been his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Last season, he had a total of six doubles to opposite field and only two of those balls were to the gap. Already this season he has ten doubles to opposite field and seven of those doubles are in the gap. His line drive percentage has also increased from 24.7% to 28.5%.
Plouffe is in his first year of being arbitration eligible since he qualified as a Super 2 player. His salary bumped up to $2.35 million this season and that number will continue to increase in the years to come. Here's a fun little player comparison between two former Twins first round picks.
Player A: 1544 PA, .260/.336/.444, 86 2B, 48 HR, .184 ISO, .304 BABIP
Player B: 1544 PA, .242/.305/.413, 78 2B, 51 HR, .171 ISO, .281 BABIP
Player A is Michael Cuddyer, another late bloomer with the Twins. Player B is Trevor Plouffe through Wednesday night's game in San Diego. It took Cuddyer over 1500 at-bats to consistently compile an OPS+ of over 100. Plouffe is around that mark and he just crossed the 1500 career at-bats.
If Plouffe can continue to make small improvements, the Twins are going to have to continue to find room for him on their line-up card.