StaTuesday: Twins manager Baldelli breaks records as rookie
Rocco Baldelli isn’t even the oldest guy in the clubhouse.
That title goes to designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who turned 39 in July and hit 41 home runs during his 15th MLB season.
The Twins‘ manager, the youngest in the majors when he was hired last October as a 37-year-old, is officially the winningest rookie skipper in franchise history.
Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi says his age — Baldelli turned 38 on Wednesday, the day the Twins clinched their first division title since 2010 — has been an asset.
“He knows what it takes to go through a full season,” Odorizzi said Wednesday as the Twins celebrated their title. “He’s honestly a player that’s still, obviously [his playing career] got cut short because of some issues, but he’s still a player at heart.”
Baldelli (101-61) broke the record Friday, passing 1933 Washington Senators manager Joe Cronin (99-53) after the Twins cruised to a 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
He’s just the seventh manager to win 100 games as a rookie, a list that has expanded quite a bit over the past two years. Alex Cora led the Boston Red Sox to a 108-54 record last season, while Aaron Boone’s New York Yankees went 100-62 in 2018, his first year at the helm.
Baldelli did them one better.
He took over a 78-win team and quickly turned things around, becoming just the fifth first-year manager ever to inherit a sub-.500 team and finish .600 or better, and the first to do it since 1993.
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Baldelli’s Twins are already one of the most successful squads in the club’s history. The 2019 team is the second in franchise history to win 100 games, joining the 1965 Twins (102-60).
Next up: The ALDS and a potential run at AL Manager of the Year, an honor the Twins’ last won in 2017, after Paul Molitor guided Minnesota to an 85-77 record and the AL wild-card game.