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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.