While coming up through the minor leagues, Trevor Plouffe was seen as a shortstop and a hitter that wouldn't be spectacular in the major leagues. In fact, his 2010 year at Triple-A Rochester featured him with a .244/.300/.430 triple-slash, not eye-catching, but it did earn him a September call-up that year where he popped a couple home runs in 44 plate appearances, but he didn't muster much else while in the majors.
The next year, Plouffe made a significant adjustment and the ball just jumped off his bat in Rochester. That year, he hit .313/.384/.635, a jump in OPS of nearly 300 points. He played mostly shortstop that year while in the majors, but his bat didn't really make the jump and his defense was atrocious.
Moving forward to 2012, Plouffe had a career year in the power department. Thanks to a stretch in the middle of the season where he hit 7 home runs in 7 games, he surprised many with 24 total homers for the season, though his batting average was still below-average at .235. Last season, Plouffe's power disappeared, though interestingly enough his batting average was at a career-best .254 for the season, suggesting that perhaps Plouffe was trading in some power for some more base hits.
One thing that has been quite clear since his debut is that Plouffe's power is definitely to the pull side of the field. Whenever he hits a home run, it's a good bet to assume that it was driven to left field. Indeed, Plouffe has hit .385/.383/.735 whenever he pulled the ball over to the left side. However, if you've had even a year of baseball experience, or watched enough Bert-isms from Twins games, you know that success comes from hitting the ball all over the field, and this is something that Plouffe has struggled in accomplishing. Going up the middle, Plouffe has hit a decent .298/.295/.425, and his batting ability really slips when looking at the opposite field. For his career, Plouffe turns into Drew Butera when he tries to go oppo, as he's hit .205/.201/.315. How about this fact also? 54% of his hits have gone to his pull side. When going to right field, it slips to 13%.
While it's early, it appears that Plouffe has adopted a new approach at the plate, and it's been paying dividends immediately. Whether on accident or on purpose, Plouffe has been slashing the ball to the opposite field more often through the first week of the season. A third of his batted balls have gone to the right side, and 56% of his hits have gone to the opposite field as well, which includes two of his three extra-base hits thus far.
I must admit that this is likely just noise this early in the season. However, it could also signal that Plouffe is finally learning to embrace to use the opposite field. While he hasn't demonstrated the ability to hit for power to the opposite field like Joe Mauer or Chris Colabello, I bet taking the ball to right field could lead to a better batting average for Plouffe as he'd drive those outside pitches over to the first base side, instead of rolling over those pitches and grounding them to shortstop and third base.
Who knows? A month from now, Plouffe could have reverted to his old pull-happy ways. But, this ability to spray the ball around the field has been a main contributor to Plouffe's early hitting success this year.