I have had more consistent fun watching the first month of the 2014 Twins’ season than I have since the last five months of 2006. They did it again on Saturday with a four-run bottom of the fifth inning that included 1 hit, 5 walks, 1 stolen base, 1 wild pitch, and 1 sacrifice bunt/throwing error. Then, Josmil Pinto hit a home run to left field that is probably still in the air to seal the 5-2 win.
What is it about this team?
1. Walks – through Saturday’s games the team has drawn 121 walks, or 5.26 per game (Beau at WGOM points out that this is a record pace). Accordingly, the Twins lead the AL with a .353 OBP – the league average is .326.
This is not the team I grew up watching. The recent history of the Twins seems to have a long line of hackers – from Kirby Puckett to Torii Hunter. Guys who questioned the toughness of a player who works the count and draws lot of walks. There has been a drastic change in this team’s approach to hitting over the last year. If it sticks, Tom Brunansky should win a pile of coaching awards for his work with the hitters. Over the last few decades, the most successful teams in baseball work the count and draw walks. Now the Twins are the league’s best at that over the first month of the season.
2. Emerging players I can get behind – Case in point: Chris Colabello turned down a guaranteed $1 million contract to play in Korea for the 2014 season. At the time, he had no guarantees that he would make the roster. He stayed to follow his MLB dream.
“I don’t think it was that hard [of a decision],” he said to Phil Rogers of MLB.com “My heart never went that way. I’ve followed my heart my whole life. I use my head too, but I follow my heart. … It has never steered me wrong.”
It gets better, because he seems to get it. Asked about setting the franchise record for RBI’s in April:
“RBIs are a product of opportunity, and I’m thankful to this coaching staff for believing in me enough to put me in the middle of this order, and to the guys in front of me for getting on base. My job is to knock them in, and it just so happens this month there’s quite a few of them.”
Additionally, the aforementioned Pinto, who draws walks and hits long home runs from the right side of the plate, yet continues to be under appreciated by his own team.
3. Crazy innings – like Saturday’s 5th or the 8-walk bottom of the 8th against the Blue Jays. This will keep happening.
Well, I guess you can’t have everything.