Justin Morneau hit three homers July 6, becoming just the fourth Twin and first in 34 years to hit that many in one game.
That gave him 23 homers and 72 RBI with 76 games remaining. He appeared on his way to the best power-hitting season by a Twins player since Harmon Killebrew slugged 49 homers and drove in 140 runs in 1969.
Yet Morneau reflected last week on a season that, instead of being great, turned out barely good.
In July I thought I had a really good chance to hit 40 home runs, said Morneau, who is batting .273 with 31 homers and 111 RBI. Hopefully I saved them for next year when we make a playoff run. This year, we didnt do as well as we should have.
The last two years, my home run numbers in the second half have not been as good as the first half [47 pre-All Star break vs. 18 after the break]. I think Im going to start the workouts a little earlier and, at least for the first half, keep going.
I still lift, but I dont do much leg work because Im trying to save my legs for so many games because they get beat up. My plan is to stick with full leg work and see if that makes a difference. Thats my plan anyway.
Morneau initially thought that participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby affected his swing the rest of the season although he hit four homers in his first 11 games after the break. But last week he admitted that he gave away too many at-bats, which his postbreak numbers (seven homers and 37 RBI) reflect.
In retrospect, he feels he should have been more patient, taking more walks
and not missing when he did get a fat pitch.
I never really forced [pitchers] to give me anything to hit, he said. I wouldnt get much to hit, but I wasnt swinging as much [early in the count]. So there was no reason for them to challenge me. I could get out on whatever they wanted to throw me. My walks should be a lot higher than they are. But the whole team was struggling, and I was trying to do as much as I could to keep the team winning.
But Ill get strong during the offseason and get my confidence back and get back to where we were. Theres no reason why I cant do that.