StaTuesday: Twins offense on track to rewrite record book
The Minnesota Twins are in unfamiliar territory at the All-Star break.
Minnesota is leading the division at the break for the first time since 2002 with a 5 1/2 game lead on the second-place Cleveland Indians.
Ok, it’s not entirely unfamiliar. Tony Oliva and Rod Carew have road tripped with the Twins this season, while Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer, of the 2002 team, have nebulous roles in the front office, but still.
For Oliva and Carew at least, this should all sound very familiar.
The 1970 Twins, led by Harmon Killebrew, Oliva and a young Carew, were 53-29 at the break and went on to win 98 games falling to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS.
This year’s Twins are on pace to set a few records of their own, however.
Minnesota’s “#BombaSquad” hit a whopping 166 home runs in the first half. They’re on pace to shatter the major-league record, and set a few more team records along the way.
The Twins aren’t on pace to break their single-season wins record anymore, not after limping — almost literally with four players on the injured list and Max Kepler nursing a knee contusion — into the All-Star break. The 1965 team holds the record with 102. That squad featured a who’s who of Twins greats: Oliva, Killebrew, Bob Allison, Zoilo Versalles (that season’s MVP), Jim Kaat and Mudcat Grant. They advanced to the World Series for the first time in the franchise’s brief history, falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
|YEAR||WINS AFTER 89 GAMES||FINISHED WITH|
|YEAR||WINS AFTER 89 GAMES||ON PACE FOR|
Record pace? No.
The Twins are on pace to shatter the MLB record, set a year ago by the New York Yankees, but it’s a team effort. Max Kepler leads Minnesota with 21 home runs — he’s still 10 behind the MLB leader, Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich — while 10 Twins players reached double digits during the first half and an 11th, Byron Buxton, is up to nine. It would take a monster second half from Kepler, Eddie Rosario (20), C.J. Cron (17) or Nelson Cruz (16) to match Harmon Killebrew’s franchise record of 49, set back in 1964 and 1969. A healthy Cruz might be the Twins’ best bet. He hit a career-high 44 homers in 2015, and hit 37 last season.
|YEAR||HOMERS AFTER 89 GAMES||HOMERS PER GAME||FINISHED WITH|
|YEAR||HOMERS AFTER 89 GAMES||HOMERS PER GAME||ON PACE FOR|
Record pace? Yes.
The Chuck Knoblauch-led 1996 team scored a bunch of runs, too, but weren’t quite as successful on the other side of the ball. They only won 78 games, finishing 24 games behind the division-winning Indians. Their dismal pitching staff had a combined 5.28 ERA, 12th in the 14-team American League that season. This year’s Twins are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the MLB scoring lead, while their team ERA (3.97) is the sixth-lowest in the majors.
|YEAR||RUNS AFTER 89 GAMES||RUNS PER GAME||FINISHED WITH|
|YEAR||RUNS AFTER 89 GAMES||RUNS PER GAME||ON PACE FOR|
Record pace? Yes.
The times (and probably the baseballs) have a-changed. The 2002 Twins hit just 167 home runs total (this year’s team already has 166) but hit a team-record 348 doubles. Hunter, Jacque Jones and Corey Koskie hit 37 apiece, while David Ortiz (32), Cristian Guzman (31), A.J. Pierzynski (31), Doug Mientkiewicz (29) were also big contributors. This year’s Twins have Buxton, a doubles machine who leads the team with 24 — he somehow managed to stretch a shot to the left-field corner into a triple Sunday — plus All-Star Jorge Polanco (23), and Max Kepler (21).
|YEAR||XBH AFTER 89 GAMES||XBH PER GAME||FINISHED WITH|
|YEAR||XBH AFTER 89 GAMES||XBH PER GAME||ON PACE FOR|
Record pace? Yes.