Four weeks ago, there was a sentiment shared by many among the Twins faithful: Michael Cuddyer, gaining legendary status for his prowess involving magic, was pulling a trick or two on manager Ron Gardenhire to gain entry into the lineup.
In April, he hit just .224 with one homer and seven RBI in 76 at-bats.
Entering Monday's game, his average is up 63 points and he's on pace for a 25 home run, 107 RBI season, with 100 runs scored.
That would equate to a wonderful season, something I definitely didn't see coming.
We all know how great Joe Mauer
has been. He leads the majors in just about every offensive category this month - 10 home runs, 29 RBI, 24 runs scored, a .525 on-base percentage, and a 1.400 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). This note appeared in Monday's editions: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a player reached
Mauer's levels of batting average, homers, RBI and runs scored over his
first 21 games in a season was 1954, when Willie Mays hit .471 with 11,
30 and 24.
Twins' media relations bigwigs Mike Herman and Dustin Morse, who do a fine job of gathering notes before each game, further hammer home the absurdness of Mauer's start - he has reached base in 20 of 22 games
and he is the fastest to 10 homers in games played since Roy Campanella hit 10 in his first 21 games in 1953.
If you were starting a team from scratch, he would have to be among the top-five position players you would want.
After Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, Mauer, Evan Longoria of the Rays, and maybe Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox or Ryan Braun of the Brewers, might Justin Morneau come in next?
Morneau might be seeing the ball better than ever and his defense should put him in the mix for a Gold Glove all at the young age of 28.
This trio of homegrown positional talent is as good as any in the league, and maybe all of baseball - with an emphasis on the homegrown aspect.
No wonder former scouting director Mike Radcliff is always in high demand. He has approved some very good draft picks the last handful of years, with former general manager Terry Ryan undoubtedly having a lot of say in the selection of Mauer. The Twins were wise to give Radcliff a promotion to Vice President of Player Personnel.
Milwaukee's trio of Braun, Prince Fielder, and Mat Gamel will be in this discussion eventually, but Gamel has only 16 at-bats. Long-term, it would be hard to pass on Philadelphia's threesome of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins or Tampa's cluster of Longoria, Carl Crawford, and B.J. Upton, but with each, one guy is struggling as we approach the one-third mark of the season. Boston's bunch of Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury is special in many ways, but Cuddyer's season thus far edges out Ellsbury's, and no developed in the system tag-team can bring down Mauer and Morneau.
Toronto has good homegrown guys - Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, and Alex Rios, but the latter two are just having ordinary seasons.
Mauer, Morneau, and Cuddyer are sending the Metrodome out with a bang.
Even with the Twins a game below .500 and in third place in a bad division, to quote the big lug Mike Tice, we need to "enjoy the season."