FanPost

Trevor Plouffe and the Best. Month. Ever.

Plouffe was drafted 20th overall by the Twins in 2004, but has never made Baseball America's top 100. After the 2007 season, Plouffe was the #8 prospect on the Twins according to Kevin Goldstein, and he hasn't made Goldstein's list since.

Around 2008 or 2009, after OPSing around .700 for several years in the minors and not really impressing with his defense at shortstop, I recall Plouffe being on the receiving end of a nasty little jab in a Baseball Prospectus annual (that my wife has since made me throw away). Something about "Plouffe" being the sound a souffle makes when it collapses, and how that imagery is more or less an accurate assessment of Plouffe's prospect status.

Then in 2011, Plouffe tore up the International League over 220 plate appearances, hitting .313/.384/.635, which made him the best hitter in the league with at least that many chances. Up until then, he’d done enough to keep moving up levels, but his 2011 in Rochester was pretty much Plouffe’s first professional statistical achievement of any significance.

But it wasn’t translating the major leagues, and I’m not sure anyone exemplified the futility of the 2011 Twins season as much as Plouffe and his .238 batting average, .305 OBP, godawful defense, and -0.6 WAR. It continued in 2012. He hit .121/.275/.242 in March and April. .185/.254/.400 in May.

And now, suddenly, the souffle is reinflated. Plouffe is hitting a face-melting .396/.420/1.042 (that last number is his SLG, not his OPS) in June and might be on the verge of something...historic?

But all sorts of losers can luck into a great 2-week or month-long stretch, can’t they? This doesn’t really mean anything, does it? I wanted to find out.

It’s hard to look at 2-week stretches on stat cites, but looking at months is easy, so I put together some numbers for the best months over the last decade. I pulled numbers for 2 stats Plouffe appears poised to dominate this month: home runs and wRC+ (measuring overall offensive contribution—100 is average, 200 means you produce twice as many runs as an average hitter per plate appearance).

First of all, in June so far, nobody’s close to Plouffe in baseball. 9 homers in 12 games and a 291 wRC+. Joey Votto is also playing out of his mind, but with “only” a 251 wRC+ and 4 homers. Jose Bautista has a 224 wRC+ and 7 homers.

Now, it’s hardly a given that Plouffe will continue to maintain his lead on these two MVP types over the rest of the month, and almost nothing is more assured than the fact that Plouffe won’t hit as well in the second half of June as he has in the first. But if he can keep up best-in-baseball numbers until the end of June, are we to the point that we can, you know, get pretty excited about him?

Well here are the best hitters in baseball for each calendar month over the last decade.:

Year

Month

Player

wRC+

2004

March/April

Barry Bonds

326

2012

June (1-15)

Trevor Plouffe

291

2002

August

Barry Bonds

285

2003

July

Barry Bonds

279

2005

July

Jason Giambi

277

2004

August

Barry Bonds

277

2008

May

Lance Berkman

269

2012

March/April

Matt Kemp

264

2011

Sept./Oct.

Mike Napoli

260

2011

March/April

Jose Batista

255

2004

July

Jim Edmonds

254

2010

June

Josh Hamilton

253

2011

June

Matt Kemp

249

2003

June

Jason Giambi

247

2006

March/April

Jason Giambi

246

2004

June

Ivan Rodriguez

246

2009

May

Joe Mauer

240

2005

June

Vladimir Guerrero

239

2005

May

Bobby Abreu

239

2005

Sept./Oct.

Randy Winn

237

2007

Sept./Oct.

David Ortiz

234

2007

July

Pat Burrell

234

2002

Sept./Oct.

Barry Bonds

234

2011

May

Matt Joyce

233

2008

Sept./Oct.

Andre Ethier

229

2007

March/April

Alex Rodriguez

229

2008

June

J.D. Drew

228

2008

July

Adam LaRoche

226

2007

June

Alex Rodriguez

226

2006

August

Travis Hafner

226

2005

March/April

Brian Roberts

226

2010

May

Justin Morneau

225

2003

August

Alex Rodriguez

224

2011

July

Dustin Pedroia

223

2010

August

Albert Pujols

223

2010

July

Delmon Young

223

2004

Sept./Oct.

Barry Bonds

222

2004

May

Lance Berkman

222

2012

May

Carlos Ruiz

221

2011

August

Joey Votto

221

2008

August

Manny Ramirez

221

2009

March/April

Jorge Cantu

220

2002

July

David Ortiz

220

2009

June

Albert Pujols

218

2003

March/April

Jim Edmonds

217

2009

Sept./Oct.

Derrek Lee

216

2006

Sept./Oct.

Ryan Howard

215

2010

March/April

Robinson Cano

214

2006

July

Chase Utley

213

2006

June

Joe Mauer

207

2007

August

David Wright

205

2009

July

Matt Holliday

204

2008

March/April

Chase Utley

204

2005

August

Alex Rodriguez

202

2009

August

Matt Diaz

201

2006

May

Matt Holliday

199

2003

Sept./Oct.

Barry Bonds

197

2007

May

Kevin Youkillis

196

2010

Sept./Oct.

Shin-Soo Choo

187

2003

May

Bill Mueller

184

The first thing that jumps out at you is that, over a full month, nobody hits as well as Trevor Plouffe has so far in June. And by nobody I mean absolutely nobody expect Barry Bonds in early 2004 when he was walked over 40% of the time.

The other thing is that almost everyone on this list is a big star. Sure there’s Matt Diaz, Jorge Cantu, Adam LaRoche...Delmon Young. But almost everyone else here is or was a true stud. In short, it’s pretty hard to be the best hitter in baseball over a month without also being one of the best hitters in baseball period. Marginal talents almost never just luck themselves into a full month at the top of the majors.

It’s pretty much the same story for the monthly home-run leaders:

Year

Month

Player

HR

2010

Sept./Oct.

Troy Tulowitzki

15

2004

June

Jim Thome

15

2003

August

Alex Rodriguez

15

2009

June

Albert Pujols

14

2007

Sept./Oct.

Alfonso Soriano

14

2007

March/April

Alex Rodriguez

14

2006

August

Ryan Howard

14

2006

July

David Ortiz

14

2006

March/April

Albert Pujols

14

2005

July

Jason Giambi

14

2003

June

Jim Edmonds

14

2002

August

Jeff Kent

14

2009

May

Mark Teixeira

13

2007

July

Hideki Matsui

13

2007

May

Prince Fielder

13

2006

May

Ryan Howard

13

2005

June

Andruw Jones

13

2004

August

Adrian Beltre

13

2004

July

Edmonds/C. Lee/Teixeira

13

2003

July

Sammy Sosa

13

2012

May

Stanton/Hamilton

12

2012

March/April

Matt Kemp

12

2011

Sept./Oct.

Adrian Beltre

12

2011

May

Jay Bruce

12

2010

August

Jose Bautista

12

2010

May

Jose Bautista

12

2009

August

Carlos Pena

12

2008

August

Ty Wigginton

12

2008

July

Adam Dunn

12

2008

June

J.D. Drew

12

2008

May

Dan Uggla

12

2005

Sept./Oct.

Manny Ramirez

12

2005

August

Alex Rodriguez

12

2002

July

Alex Rodriguez

12

2010

July

Jose Bautista

11

2010

March/April

Paul Konerko

11

2008

Sept./Oct.

Ryan Howard

11

2008

March/April

Chase Utley

11

2007

June

Alfonso Soriano

11

2006

Sept./Oct.

Frank Thomas

11

2006

June

Jason Giambi

11

2005

May

Bobby Abreu

11

2004

Sept./Oct.

Vladimir Guerrero

11

2011

August

Curtis Granderson

10

2011

June

Fielder/Konerko/Pena

10

2011

March/April

Braun/A. Soriano

10

2010

June

Prince Fielder

10

2009

Sept./Oct.

Fielder/Bautista/Cuddyer

10

2009

July

Garrett Jones

10

2007

August

4 players

10

2004

May

Ken Griffey Jr.

10

2004

March/April

Barry Bonds

10

2003

Sept./Oct.

Soriano/Thome

10

2003

May

Pujols/A. Huff/E. Martinez

10

2003

March/April

Jeff Bagwell

10

2002

Sept./Oct.

4 players

10

2012

June

Trevor Plouffe

9

2011

July

Aramis Ramirez

9

2009

March/April

Adrian Gonzalez

9

2005

March/April

Alex Rodriguez

9

Again, Plouffe’s current pace would put him right on top of the leader board for most homeriffic months of the last decade, this time including the Bonds division. Even the 9 homers Plouffe already has would be enough to lead baseball some months. If he hits 18, well, that would be freaking crazy. He’s not going to do that, but if he adds just a few more, he’s likely to lead baseball for June and be in pretty elite company.

And again, almost everyone’s an All Star-caliber player here. Garrent Jones and Ty Wigginton? Maybe not, but essentially everyone else.

By the way, the most homers ever in a month is Sammy Sosa’s 20 in June of 1998, but get this. He only had a .331 OBP that month and his wRC+ of 188 trailed 5 other players. Typically the biggest homer-hitter and the best wRC+ guy each month are 2 different people.

Anyway, something fun to watch over the rest of June. It will take a while to figure out what we really have in Plouffe, but it is streaks like this that make watching even a pretty bad baseball team a lot of fun.
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