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12 Thoughts on ’12: Plouffe, There It Is!

With a rebound season in the books, the “hot” corner is once again living up to its name. Here are 12 thoughts I had about the 2012 season from a third base perspective.

  • Trevor Plouffe popped more than a few dingers last year. His 24 bombs were good for seventh best at third base, and it looks completely repeatable. Unfortunately, it looks like a repeat of his .235 BA is in store, too.
  • Adrian Beltre is now officially a contributor in batting average! In five seasons from 2005-2009, Beltre had a cumulative .266 BA that never topped .276 in any single season. In three seasons from 2010-2012, Beltre twice batted .321, sandwiching a still-better-than-former-Beltre .296 BA. Despite his walk and line-drive rates remaining similar, his strikeout rate has dropped into the mid-12s from the 15%-17% range, and that accounts for the boon to his batting average.
  • In an era where sluggers remain impactful until their late 30s, 34-year-old Aramis Ramirez had a rebound season for the ages (slight hyperbole). He put up recent bests in several categories: 630 PA (most since 2008), 27 HR (2008), 92 R (2008), 105 RBI (2008), 9 SB (career best), .240 ISO (2006).
  • I’ll give David Freese a B- for his 2012 season. On the one hand, he did deliver to a degree on the promise he showed during the 2011 postseason. His 20 HR were twice as many as last year, and he did manage to stay healthy for 144 games. His walk rate also jumped over 10%, something I like in a young slugger. On the other hand, Freese scored just 70 R with 79 RBI and was wildly inconsistent from month-to-month. Freese still has a lot to prove in 2013.
  • Imagine how good Evan Longoria would be if he could just stay healthy.
  • Miguel Cabrera‘s 44 HR were six more than his previous career best. While he did post a career-best HR/FB rate (23.0%), his 36.0 FB% was ordinary at best. You can also attribute the extra homers to Cabrera drawing fewer walks (9.5 BB% in 2012, 15.7% in 2011, 11.7% career). That means more at-bats and more chances at homers.
  • Will Middlebrooks had a strikeout problem in the minors and proceeded to have a strikeout problem in the majors (24.5%). I would be moderately surprised if he batted .288 again next season, but the right-handed hitter will love peppering The Monster. Hopefully Boston will have people on base for Middlebrooks to drive in.
  • I expected a lot more out of Brett Lawrie, but a 29.8 FB% and a 9.0% HR/FB rate aren’t going to get it done. The good news is Toronto’s lineup suddenly looks  lethal, and the pressure on Lawrie will be lessened.

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Updated: November 29, 2012 — 9:36 pm
  • Dave

    I could see Plouffe hitting .260 with about the same power output (last year I have his xBA at .278) but watching him play, and the underlying skill set, makes .260 seem like a much safer projection, with the understanding that it could come in below that (even considerably) Another player whose BB/K rate leaves me semi worried.

    I so want Longoria to stay healthy. With the state of 3B (improving) and Longoria playing the entire season at age 27, I could see myself being a player for Longoria in most mixed leagues assuming the price stays right. My thinking, bid on Longoria up to his converted auction dollar figure, make sure to also roster a serviceable CI player who is 3B eligible (Kyle Seager would be my pick) and if Longoria goes down, shuffle the roster at that point. If he stays healthy, he’ll almost certainly outperform his auction value.

    • Bryan Curley

      Yeah, if I was projecting Plouffe today I’d probably sit his BA somewhere between .255-.265. On the one hand, his BABIP last year was .244, and not even the lead-footed Bengie Molina had a BABIP that low (career .275). But a fly ball hitter with a moderately high K% will definitely be on the wrong side of a .300 BABIP.

  • Chris

    The problem with Plouffe is that more than half of his HRs came in one month, and the rest of the months he was not even a top-15 performer (I picked him up off waivers last year, so I know). He’s like Mark Reynolds in that respect. I’ll be avoiding Plouffe (and Reynolds).

  • Dave

    As am I, but players that hit Hr’s in spurts does not automatically mean HR totals are going to drop. More volatile, perhaps, but the skill set was still shown.

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