Polanco off to best start for shortstop in Twins history

The (very) early returns on Jorge Polanco’s five-year deal he signed before the season are looking good.

After notching back-to-back two-hit games to beat the Houston Astros on Wednesday and Thursday, Polanco raised his batting average to .336 through the Twins’ first 29 games this season.

That’s the best start to a season for a shortstop in Minnesota Twins history.

It beats out two-time World Series champion Greg Gagne’s first month of the 1991 campaign, as well as Cristian Guzman’s in 2004.

2019 Jorge Polanco .336
1991 Greg Gagne .313
2004 Cristian Guzman .312
1983 Lenny Faedo .305
1997 Denny Hocking .304

Polanco has recorded 10 multi-hit games and has reached base at least once in 23 of 28 games. His .336 average ranks third among MLB shortstops, behind Chicago White Sox slugger Tim Anderson (.352) and Texas’ Elvis Andrus (.348). Polanco’s on-base percentage of .405 is up there as well, second among big-league shortstops and trailing Andrus by a mere six points (.411).

Polanco’s been a big reason why the Twins own MLB’s best record at 19-10.

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That record was aided early by a six-game season sweep of the lowly Baltimore Orioles, but the Twins proved they’re legitimate this week by taking three of four games at home over Houston, which boasts one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball.

Minnesota will be put to the test again this weekend as it visits the New York Yankees for a three-game set.

The Twins have played 64 games at Yankee Stadium since 2002, and it hasn’t gone well. Minnesota spent most of the 2000s getting swept by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees in the postseason and have won just 14 of those 64 games on the road.

This Twins team, however, could rewrite that script.

Minnesota, which leads MLB with a .498 team slugging percentage, has actually hit better on the road. The Twins own a batting average of .281 away from Target Field this season, the best road mark in the big leagues.

Led by outfielder Eddie Rosario’s 11 dingers, the Twins have hit 52 homers in 29 contests this season, which slots in at third behind Seattle (60) and Milwaukee (59). As a team, they’re currently on pace to hit 291 homers in 2019. That would shatter the franchise record of 225 dingers set back in 1963, the franchise’s third year in Minnesota when sluggers Earl Battey, Jimmie Hall, Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew all clobbered 26+ homers.

That short right-field fence in Yankee Stadium could play right into the Twins’ favor this weekend.

The Twins and Yankees begin their three-game series Friday night. Kyle Gibson toes the rubber for Minnesota, while the Yankees counter with James Paxton, who owns a 0.46 ERA through three starts at home this season.

Statistics courtesy Sportradar, baseball-reference.com