When the Twins claimed Sam Fuld off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics on April 20, it was largely due to the failure of the front office in having a roster that could field not just a legitimate center fielder, but one who could hold his own in the Major Leagues without looking consistently over-matched. Backup plans Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni were lost off of waivers, the former because he was deemed expendable and the ladder because the team felt Jason Bartlett was more valuable, and in the mean time Aaron Hicks hit .167/.292/.200 through the 20th of the opening month of the year.
Claiming Fuld was a move of desperation or relief, depending on your viewpoint, but he was certainly the club's fourth option for center field since the start of spring training. He was brought in as the team's fourth outfielder, but after he and the Twins' three starters all missed time simultaneously he did return and took over center field by June 14. Still, Fuld struggled at the plate and at the end of June had a .213/.284/.339 triple slash.
But this month, Fuld has absolutely caught fire. His defense in center was always strong this year, and it has been in the corners as well, but at the plate results started falling in. He's 20-for-50 this month (.400), has taken 12 walks in his last ten games, and has raised his line (with the Twins) to .279/.372/.367.
His hot month, combined with his well above-average defense (range has been everything for Fuld this season), has led him to accumulate 1.8 fWAR so far this season. That trails only Brian Dozier (3.2 fWAR) for position players, topping Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe (1.6 fWAR each).
Fuld has been a pleasant surprise thanks to his scorching July. Is it going to continue? Probably not. But the Twins have ridden hot bats for most of the season, and he's been the bright spot as the summer days have gotten warmer. And when we look towards building a roster in 2015, the Twins could do worse for a fourth outfielder than Sam Fuld.