The Minnesota Twins for as long as memory serves have been a “small ball” team; one that does all the little things right such as playing sound defense, running out every ground ball and moving runners over with bunts.
The style of play has gotten the team plenty of attention in recent seasons, especially after Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen compared the team to a fish.
Guillen’s comment, comparing the Twins to a Piranha, was quite the analogy. It was also a comparison that made some sense. Much like a Piranha, a speedy fish that slowly attacks, the Twins slowly score runs with small ball and, as Guillen put it, suddenly take a victory.
While the Twins continue to do the little things right in 2009, they’ve turned their attention to things quite the opposite – long ball.
For the first time since 1987, the Twins have five players with double-digit homerun totals before the All-Star Break. Currently, Justin Morneau (16), Joe Mauer (14), Jason Kubel (13), Michael Cuddyer (11), and Joe Crede (11) have all reached one of the key homerun marks.
The five players, along with homeruns from other players including Denard Span (4) and Brendan Harris (4), have given the team a total of 79 homeruns. While the power surge has somewhat cooled in the month of June, and while the Twins have dropped out of the top five in the power category, they still find themselves in 9th place in the American League and within nine homeruns of 4th place and five other teams.
For the season, the Twins have seven players on pace to reach the double-digit mark.
Justin Morneau – 35
Joe Mauer – 38
Jason Kubel – 30
Michael Cuddyer – 25
Joe Crede – 28
Denard Span – 10
Brendan Harris – 10
* Numbers based on homeruns per at-bats from ESPN.
Since manager Ron Gardenhire took over seven years ago, the Twins have had one season with nine double-digit homerun players, two seasons with seven players, one season with six, two seasons with four, and one season with three.
2008 – 3
2007 – 4
2006 – 4
2005 – 6
2004 – 9
2003 – 7
2002 – 7
In recent memory the totals have been down as the team has been more speed and less power. This season however, the Twins have combined the speed and power to give them a larger threat.
Tied for the fewest errors in all of baseball, the Twins have continued to do the little things right. In doing so however, they’ve found an easier way to quickly score runs.