It's been a frustrating year for a lot of Twins players, up and down the roster. I would be hard pressed to name the player who would be the most frustrated, but candidates are likely to include Josh Willingham, Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, Aaron Hicks, and Trevor Plouffe. With Plouffe, for the last two season's it's seemed like success was just a click from settling into place.
This year it's been a story of blowing hot and cold. When he's hot, he's standing naked on the surface of the sun and inhaling the process of thermonuclear fusion. No joke. And when hes cold, well, insert hyperbole here. I'm not sure I could take it far enough.
We all know about Plouffe's hot stretch in 2012. It was reasonable to expect some kind of progression this season and, while it hasn't manifested itself in the same homer-happy stretch as it did last season, there have been periods of time where he's been a middle of the order type of hitter. Of course there have been just as many times where he hasn't looked like that guy, but that's exactly what I'm talking about. Check out his monthly splits.
What would Plouffe's season have looked like if he hadn't been such a miserable black hole of run production in April, July, and August? We could also turn that around and ask how awful of a season it would be if he hadn't set fire to the skies in May, June, and September, but we're optimists here.
The most frustrating part of this is that Plouffe has now shown extended stretches of production at the plate a number of times. For me, I see a good hitter in there, screaming to be let out, that just doesn't have the discipline or the leadership or the patience or the knowledge or whatever it is that's necessary to unlock that potential. Finding a level of consistency, or at least a way to keep those up and down swings of momentum less volatile, has to be a priority for both Trevor and the Twins.
Sometimes that's the difference; sometimes that's what separates the player that can be from the player that is: the inability to do whatever it is that pushes them over that one big hurdle. Plouffe isn't the first player to have this issue and he won't be the last, but damned if it isn't frustrating to endure for everyone involved.
I'm not going to pretend that I know how to solve the consistency issue. But I do still believe that Plouffe can be a better hitter, and one that deserves to be near the middle of the batting order in 2014. Here's hoping he and the Twins can help him get off the developmental plateau.