Trevor Plouffe has largely been an underachiever since being a first round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2004, as he did not even make his first appearance in the big leagues until 2010 and spent at least parts of four straight seasons (2008-2011) at Triple-A Rochester. He also seemed to be a player without a position, as he proved he is not a good enough defensive shortstop to play there regularly and the Twins seemed set at most other positions on the diamond.
A slow start this season (.133 batting average through May 15) did nothing to enhance his profile within the organization and the possibility of Plouffe being released was definitely on the table, but incumbent third baseman Danny Valencia’s continued struggles and ultimate demotion to Triple-A gave him what looked like one last chance to prove he could stick.
Plouffe has taken the opportunity and run with it, and has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball since the middle of May by hitting .300 with 17 home runs and 28 RBI along with a .721 slugging percentage and 1.070 OPS over that span. He has also provided stability at third base, with a solid fielding percentage (.943 through Sunday) and without the throwing issues that plagued him at shortstop in 2011.
Plouffe leads the Twins in home runs this season with 18 despite playing in just 59 of a possible 78 games, and is hitting .250 with 31 RBI in an even 200-at bats through Sunday. His emergence would seem to make Valencia expendable, but he has not been particularly good at Rochester since being demoted (.254, 6 HR, 26 RBI in 181 at-bats) and his trade value remains virtually nil until he turns things around.
In any case, in another season that looks on track for 90-100 losses despite a recent run of better play, the Twins seem to have found a potential building block for 2013 and beyond in Trevor Plouffe.