Twins hitters stepping up in 2019

Minnesota Twins Nelson Cruz, left, is congratulated by Eddie Rosario after his two-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader, Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

There should be plenty of hits to go around when the Minnesota Twins open a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Monday.

Houston and Minnesota rank one-two in batting average this season, and are among the league’s most-improved teams at the plate so far.

The Twins are hitting .274 this season, up .024 from a year ago, the largest such increase in the American League this season.

Team 2018 2019 Diff
Minnesota Twins .250 .274 +.024
Houston Astros .255 .276 +.021
Texas Rangers .240 .251 +.011
Seattle Mariners .254 .264 +.010
New York Yankees .249 .257 +.008

The Twins had 19 hits Saturday in a 16-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the third time they’ve had 15-plus so far this season, tied with the Miami Marlins for the most such games all in the majors.

Jorge Polanco has been leading the way for the Twins, hitting .362, while Eddie Rosario has been on fire after going 0-for-11 through the first three games of the season.

Rosario is hitting .328 in 64 at-bats in April with a whopping nine home runs, including five in the past week.

Rosario has a 1.180 OPS in April, third in the American League over that span.

Thanks to Byron Buxton, plenty of the Twins’ hits have been doubles.

Buxton leads the majors with 12 doubles in just 18 games so far this season after hitting just 18 doubles in his previous 168 games combined.

That’s 76.5% of Buxton’s hits this season, the highest extra-base hit percentage in the majors so far this season.

Other notes:

— Twins hitters are seeing more outside pitches — 50.8% — than any team in the majors this season. The Boston Red Sox rank second at 48.1%.

— The Twins’ starter Monday, right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi, has baffled lefties this season. Left-handed batters are slugging just .132 this season against Odorizzi, second only to the Cincinnati Reds’ Sonny Gray.

— The Astros’ starter, Brad Peacock has had similar success against right-handed batters. Right-handers are slugging just 1.56 against Peacock this season, third in the American League.

Statistics courtesy of Sportradar