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.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.