In the fourth inning of last night's game, a "Who's Hot" graphic was displayed on the Metrodome JumboTron, listing three players who had been performing well recently for the Twins. The top name on this list was Brian Buscher, and below his name there was a stat line indicating that he had batted .500 with a homer and three RBI in his last three games for the Twins. The problem, of course, is that those three game appearances had been spread over a period of six days, and one of them was a single ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance. Last night, Buscher was riding the pine again, in favor of Nick Punto and his wonderful .199 batting average.
In 57 major-league plate appearances this year, Buscher has hit .294/.368/.412. That makes for a .780 OPS, which is well above the major-league average of .758. It's just a bit below the major-league average OPS for a third baseman, which is .786. Yet, Buscher has been penciled into the starting lineup in just four of the Twins' 13 September games.
Here we have a young, cheap, controllable third baseman who had a terrific year in the minors and who has thus far shown to be an above-average major-league hitter, and he's consistently being benched so that Punto can continue to have arguably the worst offensive season in the history of baseball. What sense does this make? My belief in Ron Gardenhire's managing abilities is starting to fade.
To show my support for Buscher, I have taken the liberty of sponsoring his page on Baseball-Reference.com. I'm not saying the kid is going to be the next Wade Boggs, but he could very well be the answer we've been looking for at third base, and for some inexplicable reason Gardenhire won't give him a chance to show his stuff. This infuriates me to no end.