Through his first six games back since jamming his right thumb on July 20, Trevor Plouffe is 1-for-22 (.045) with one RBI.
It’s not exactly what one would call an enjoyable welcome-back party. It’s downright depressing.
It’s even more depressing for Plouffe considering his bat is why Minnesota keeps him at third base everyday (when he’s healthy).
On the year, he’s jacked 19 homers (second-most for Minnesota) with 59 RBI (fifth-most). His .259 batting average doesn’t exactly get the people going, but he hit .317 between the start of June and July 20 (51-for-161), when he was riding his hot streak.
The point is: Plouffe provides Minnesota with its best offensive option at third base since Corey Koskie manned the hot corner in 2004. Koskie launched 25 homers and 71 RBI that year.
The problem for Plouffe isn’t just his limited hitting since coming off the disabled but his fielding hasn't impressed either, as this piece from the St. Paul Pioneer Press documents.
"He just didn't move for the ball. He's got to take a step," manager Ron Gardenhire said in that story about a ball hit at Plouffe. "He's just kind of reaching down for them; he's got to get lower. He's starting to stand up straight again and that's probably (because) you're scuffling a little bit at the plate, you're carrying it out there, you're thinking about that. I think he knows it. I'll talk to him -- again today."
Plouffe was never a phenomenal fielder.
He was drafted in the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft as a shortstop. It’s his primary position. He's still learning to play third base defensively. But Plouffe was always regarded for his offense rather than his defense—as is the case now that he’s become an everyday player.
As is the case for any average man, when one area of his life isn’t going well it can often carry over to another area of his life. In this case, we’re looking at Plouffe’s poor hitting carrying over to his defensive performances—which are already limited.
Once Plouffe begins to hit, as I expect him to once he gets back into the swing of things, his average defense will resurface. He just needs time.