COMMENTARY | Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmelee have created a dilemma for the Minnesota Twins, which is actually a good thing. Both young players have improved as the season has progressed and are demanding regular playing time, but there's not enough to go around.
The problem is that both players are left-handed corner outfielders on a team loaded with corner outfielders and left-handed batters. For the last couple weeks, manager Ron Gardenhire has chosen to sit Parmelee in favor of Arcia and the veteran players.
Minnesota Twins' Oswaldo Arcia Should Be Early Frontrunner for Rookie of the Year
It's hard to argue against Arcia, who has been a great hitter throughout the minor leagues and is currently hitting well enough to be considered an early frontrunner for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. That could change now that top prospects are starting to be called up, but Arcia has the advantage of a head start.
Arcia currently lead all AL rookies in doubles and extra-base hits and is tied with teammate Aaron Hicks for the most home runs with six. He is third in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Arcia also has been better since returning from the minor leagues on June 12. Since then, he is batting .316/.395/.579 and has been having consistently better at-bats. With his improved play, Arcia is now second on the Twins in OPS to Joe Mauer.
With Arcia hitting so well, that leaves one less spot for Parmelee, who is blocked by veteran players Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham at first base, designated hitter and the corner outfield spot that Arcia is not playing.
Minnesota Twins' Chris Parmelee Has Been Benched Despite Improved Hitting
It was just a year ago that Parmelee was the young hitter called up after tearing up Class AAA. However, he was not given consistent playing time in the major leagues then either with Ben Revere usually playing right field before being traded after the season. Parmelee struggled with the Twins and the general feeling was that was largely because he was not given consistent playing time.
"We sent (Parmelee) back (to Rochester), and what does he do? He goes off," Twins general manager Terry Ryan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune during spring training. "So, he's going to get every opportunity to be the everyday right fielder, and it looks like when he gets the repetitions and the consistency in playing time, he responds."
Parmelee started out slowly, but has batted .301/.370/.534 since May 23. The Twins have rewarded his improved play by starting him in just four of the last 12 games. That is not giving him repetitions and consistency in playing time.
It's understandable to give Arcia more playing time, but it shouldn't be difficult to keep Parmelee in the lineup while giving one of Doumit, Morneau, Willingham, Mauer, and even Arcia a day off. With Morneau in the final year of his contract, the Twins need to figure out what they have with Parmelee, and they can't do that if he continues to sit on the bench.
Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit Have Struggled While Chris Parmelee Sits
And it's not like the Twins would be giving up much if they sit Morneau. Since May 23, he is batting .237/.308/.344, so the Twins could have used more at-bats from Parmelee and less from Morneau.
Doumit looks like he could use more breaks as well. He went on a tear in May and early June and was moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order while getting a daily spot in the lineup. However, since he started batting third on June 8, he is only hitting .246/.317/.298.
Willingham is also having an off year, but he is one of only two sources of right-handed power on the team along with Trevor Plouffe. When Willingham sits, the Twins have five left-handed bats and up to three switch-hitters in the lineup, depending on who plays in the infield. That leaves the team very susceptible to left-handed relievers, so subbing Parmelee for Willingham should be used only in the right situations.
Hopefully, Parmelee will continue to hit well and Gardenhire will recognize it with more playing time. If not, the Twins need to send Parmelee down to Class AAA to get regular at-bats until an injury or trade clears a regular spot for him in the lineup.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
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