Why Luke Hughes got a rotten deal by the Twins?
- He was not given a chance when he deserved it, but was by-passed for lesser players: In 2008 when he was 23 years old,in a season split between Rochester and New Britain he hit .309/.369/.524 with 18 HR. If Brian Dozier has these numbers in 2012 in Rochester at age 25 and he is not with the Twins in 2013, there will be cries of "bloody murder" all over. Instead of giving Hughes a chance to a starting job in 2009, the Twins signed 34 year old Orlando Cabrera, 31 year old Joe Crede, and acquired 28 year old Brendan Harris. In addition they gave additional bench and starting opportunities to Matt Tolbert (27) and Brian Buscher (28) who never had any talent.
- Luke Hughes has a rare talent: He is a power hitting middle infielder who can be a late bloomer. Luke's career major league isoP is .118 in 335 plate appearances. His career minor league slash line is .268/.330/.419 (.155 isoP) up to his age 26 season. This compares pretty nicely to Dan Uggla's career MiLB numbers (.276/.347/.442, .166 isoP) who had to be a rule 5 pick up after his age 26 season to flourish. Luke Hughes has Dan Uggla potential which was either not seen or not appreciated by the Twins
- Luke Hughes is a versatile player: There have been rumors recently around Luke Hughes. By now Twins' fans with an open mind know how those originate: usually when the team (read Ron Gardenhire) does not like someone, certain writers are given tidbits to spread around. Slowey and Perkins (during his grievance season) are a couple of recent examples; even more recently the manager and the interim general manager were publicly saying that they were frustrated by Scott Baker's unwillingness to "let it rip", while the guy had a torn UCL.) The rumors that you will hear about Luke Hughes is that a. he is not a versatile player and b. his defense was suspect. To kill this right away, Luke played all positions in the field, including pitching a scoreless inning (one hit allowed) in a game with the New Britain Rock Cats in 2007, other than Catcher; this season Gardenhire himself named him the Twins' emergency catcher. So if that is not being versatile, I am not sure what versatility is. As a matter of fact, Luke has played more positions than Michael Cuddyer (who cannot play LF) who has been a darling of his manager and thus the Twin Cities media.
- Luke Hughes is an above average fielder. The second part of the rumor mill you will hear is that Luke Hughes is not a "good enough fielder" (and ironically this will start from the same people who were starting Mike Cuddyer at 2B and CF last season.) The fact is that in limited opportunities on the field in 3 seasons in MLB, his fielding has been 4.1 runs above average based on Fangraphs' fielding WAR. He saved 5 runs above average based on Baseball Info Solutions defensive runs saved above average. In 319.3 innings his UZR/150 at 2B has been +6.8, and in 282 innings, his UZR/150 at 1B has been +11.0.
- They are lesser players still with the Twins. There is absolutely no reason the Luke Hughes should be designated for assignment and Sean Burroughs and Jeff Gray remain with the Club. Do the Twins really need 13 pitchers? Terry Ryan spoke about accountability when he was named the interim manager. I hope that he holds himself and his field manager accountable for their decisions.
I wish the best luck to Luke Hughes who has been in the Minnesota Twins' family for 10 years. Hopefully he will pass waivers and be in Rochester and come back with the Twins under better front office and field management circumstances