Miguel Sano may be the third baseman of the future, but don’t count on Trevor Plouffe going anywhere. The 29-year-old is reasonably priced, doesn’t become free agency eligible until 2018 and has already proven he can play first base and in the outfield.
While Plouffe’s .240ish batting average and .300ish on-base-percentage make Sabermetricians cringe, his 18 homeruns, 27 doubles and team-leading 65 RBI are a big reason the Twins are still in contention for a Wild Card spot.
Plouffe and I discussed his season, Sano, fatherhood and more prior to the Cleveland series last week.
DZ: What is your take on the season so far….?
PLOUFFE: The season as a whole so far, we are happy with. We are playing meaningful games in late August and hopefully into September. I think for us – the thing we have done really well – is to put whatever happened the day before behind us. Right now, we are going through a little bit of a tough stretch, but we just came off a series win against a pretty good Rangers team. We look to build on that. We have (Cleveland) coming here that we owe a little bit of pay back to. On the whole, we are happy where we are at – 2 ½ games out of a wildcard spot and there is a lot of baseball left.
DZ: How about you individually; how would you assess your season so far?
PLOUFFE: Similar to the team – had some good times and some tough times; that’s pretty typical of a baseball season. For me, I think that I’ve improved in some areas, I continue to work hard. I am happy where I am at and look to continue to get better.
DZ: You are kind of one of the veteran guys now, have you have to step up and be a leader with all of the young guys coming up?
PLOUFFE: I guess. I help guys who are coming up establish a routine and make sure they know that’s what it takes up here. Because the game is so difficult, you can go from feeling great one day to feeling lost the next. One thing you can rely on is your work and your routine and that’s something when you are young, it’s tough to realize. That’s something I try to help guys with. When you are in the big leagues, it’s all about winning. As a young guy coming up, you want to establish yourself, you want to let everyone know that you have the ability to play in the major leagues. Sometimes the team game gets lost in that. What we’ve all tried to emphasize is playing for the team, putting the team first.
DZ: When you first came up (to the big leagues), it really didn’t click for you. You went up and down a couple of times. When you see a guy like Aaron Hicks, do you see yourself in him…he seems to be catching on after some struggles?
PLOUFFE: Yeah, that’s pretty typical for guys to come up and go through ups and downs. It’s a tough game. There are very few guys that come up and have sustained success. You might have success right away, but then the league makes adjustments on you and you have to make adjustments back.
For a guy like Aaron, all it took for him to get going was to realize that you are going to have those struggles. It doesn’t mean you can’t play up here, it just means that you are playing against the best players in the world. You are not going to win every time. I do see a little bit of myself in him. I think that he’s still pretty young – he’s 25 I think. You have to be around a little bit to realize there are going to ups and downs and fight through those.
DZ: You have been playing a little first base lately, spelling Joe over there, what’s that like for you?
PLOUFFE: It’s good. I like being able to be versatile. I pride myself in being able to move all over the diamond. I am really the only other guy that can play first base or has experience over there. So, when Joe needs a day to give his legs a rest, I am happy to go over there.
DZ: A lot of people are talking about Miguel Sano. He came up playing third base, you play third base. How does that work? Obviously, you want to help him, but it’s kind of a different scenario I would imagine.
PLOUFFE: It’s fun, he’s a guy on our team. I want him to do well, I want him to help our team. I’ve worked him at third base a little bit, cleaning up some things…the main thing when you get up here is just slowing the game down defensively. That’s something you really have to work on. I’ve tried to help him as much as I can through that. Right now, he’s mainly playing DH, but every once and while, we’ll go out there and work on ground balls and the defensive part of the game. He’s a guy that’s gone right in the middle of the order and helped our team out. We are pretty happy with what he’s brought so far.
DZ: One last thing, you’ve had a big change in your personal life – had your first child. What’s that been like for you?
PLOUFFE: It’s been fun. It’s been a surreal experience that you think you are prepared for; you talk to a lot of people and try to get prepared. You just have to experience it to kind of understand what’s it’s all about. I’ve got a great wife that is really great with Teddy already and her mom is out here right now. We are getting our bearings together and it’s something that – I love being a dad and I can’t imagine life without him now.