Baseball’s hottest hitter? Would you believe Trevor Plouffe?

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Trevor Plouffe was hitting .133 on May 14 and the 26-year-old former first-round pick had a .212 batting average for his career, which along with the Twins not trusting him to play shortstop had him in danger of potentially being designated for assignment.

Instead he’s been the hottest hitter in baseball since then. Seriously.

Plouffe homered last night for the third consecutive game and 11th time in his last 21 games. He’s hitting .305 with a .768 slugging percentage during that span and has now taken over as the Twins’ everyday third baseman despite not playing the position regularly in the minors or majors before last month.

He’ll come back down to earth soon enough, but Plouffe’s power potential shouldn’t be dismissed as a fluke. His career batting average still isn’t pretty, but even when he was struggling overall Plouffe showed plenty of pop and through 521 plate appearances as a big leaguer he has 22 homers and 26 doubles.

This season–combining his awful start with his recent Babe Ruth impression–he has an Isolated Power (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .303, which ranks third in the American League behind only Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn.

And if that’s not enough to make Twins fans optimistic about Plouffe’s upside, Parker Hageman of Twins Daily broke down his altered swing mechanics and shows frame-by-frame where all this power is coming from.

Dallas Keuchel is unlikely to return before the All-Star break

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Astros’ left-hander Dallas Keuchel might not return to the rotation before the All-Star break, Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. The club placed their star southpaw on the 10-day disabled list on June 8, retroactive to June 5, after a nerve issue was revealed in his neck.

Keuchel has taken a conservative approach to his recovery over the last several weeks, and while he appears to have made some progress, still has yet to throw off the mound. The injury interrupted the start of an outstanding run with the Astros, during which the 29-year-old lefty furnished a 9-0 record with a 1.67 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through his first 75 2/3 innings of 2017.

According to Hinch, it’s certainly possible that Keuchel could return to the team sometime within the next two weeks, but it’s clear that the team would prefer to play it extra safe with their ace. Even assuming that he feels ready to reclaim his spot on the Astros’ pitching staff, he still needs to complete a few key activities before competing in another game — like throwing off a mound, for example. In the meantime, Lance McCullers Jr. will continue to head Houston’s rotation as they try to build on their 12.5-game lead in the AL West.

 

Hinch’s full comments are below:

The Mets are promoting Tim Tebow to Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets GM Sandy Alderson told the media on Sunday that the organization is promoting outfielder Tim Tebow from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Tebow, 29, wasn’t hitting particularly well to merit the promotion. Across 241 plate appearances with Columbia, he hit .222/.311/.340 with three home runs and 22 RBI. He had just seven extra-base hits (all doubles) in his most recent 20 games. Alderson, however, defended the decision by citing Tebow’s exit velocity and other metrics.

I think we can all agree that the real reason is that promoting Tebow creates another opportunity for the Mets to sell merchandise with his name on it.

One has to feel for the outfielder Tebow will displace. St. Lucie’s regular outfielders have comparable stats to Tebow’s, so they aren’t exactly being replaced on merit. That outfielder will see less playing time, hurting his future prospects. Adding Tebow to St. Lucie’s roster will push someone off of the roster, which will also harm that player’s future prospects. And, remember, these players don’t make much money to begin with.