Thanks to Trevor Plouffe, the Minnesota Twins are having a great start to the month of June. The Twins are 7-3 to begin the month and are close to moving out of last place in the American League Central Division.
Among the main reasons for the Twins' sudden surge is the outstanding play of Plouffe. So far this month, Plouffe has a batting average of .417, a slugging percentage of .944, 12 RBIs and five round-trippers.
Up until now, Plouffe seemed to be an afterthought for the Twins. It appeared, as recently as opening day, that Danny Valencia was the team's long-term solution at third base. If Plouffe was going to remain a Twin, he was going to need to play in the outfield on a semi-regular basis.
But Valencia struggled mightily to start the season, batting just .191 and striking out in nearly one-quarter of his at-bats. Because of these paltry numbers, Valencia was shipped to Triple-A Rochester, where he has struggled to bat above .200.
With Valencia in the minors, the Twins were relegated to platooning the third base position with guys like Plouffe, Jamey Carroll and others.
Plouffe didn't return from Rochester on fire, but he has steadily improved. His recent outburst has made him a regular in the lineup, keeping Carroll at second base, and Brian Dozier as the everyday shortstop.
The Twins have been desperate for a guy to step up like Plouffe has and lead this team from an offensive standpoint. If he can keep this up, the Twins are, dare I say it, contenders.
So far in June, the team has scored at least six runs in six of their first 10 games this month. They have also put up double-digits in runs on four occasions. I hardly think it's a coincidence that the Twins as a whole are hitting the ball better, now that Plouffe has shown the potential the front office thought he had when they drafted him in 2004.
The emergence of Plouffe is exactly what this team needed. His prowess at the plate takes the pressure off of guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. It also spears to have inspired other players to work harder, and in turn have more success from a hitting standpoint.
While the Twins dug themselves a giant hole in April and May, they may be able to climb out of it by late summer if the play of Plouffe is a trend and not a mirage.
Blair Reynolds is a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan who once sold tickets at the Metrodome to pay his college tuition.
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