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TwinsCentric: The Hammer Pounds Again

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: September 20, 2012 - 7:17 AM

 Rightfully so, the big story from the Twins 6-4 win in Cleveland was Liam Hendriks. The right-hander won his first big league game in his 18th big league start. It was a tremendous moment for the Australian.

However, it was also a huge night for another Twins player. He went 4-5 with a home run and four RBI. He had two RBI singles, and the home run came with a runner on.

It’s been a huge season for the powerful outfielder. After last night, he now has career-highs with 35 home runs and 110 RBI. If he plays in just four of the final 14 Twins games, he will play in the most games he has played in. Being able to DH at times certainly helped keep his bat in the lineup. Manager Ron Gardenhire has done a terrific job of giving him occasional days off to help keep him healthy and strong. 

Here are the single-season home run leaders in the Twins 52-season history:
 

Hitter Home Runs Year
Harmon Killebrew 49 1964
Harmon Killebrew 49 1969
Harmon Killebrew 48 1962
Harmon Killebrew 46 1961
Harmon Killebrew 45 1963
Harmon Killebrew 44 1967
Harmon Killebrew 40 1970
Harmon Killebrew 39 1966
Josh Willingham 35 2012
Bob Allison 35 1963
Gary Gaetti 34 1086
Kent Hrbek 34 1987
Justin Morneau 34 2006
 

 

The relationship between Willingham and the Twins seems to align perfectly. When Terry Ryan let Michael Cuddyer go to Colorado for 3 years and $31.5 million, some Twins fans were upset. When the Twins signed Willingham for 3 years and $21 million days later, Twins fans had mixed emotions. Cuddyer was the face that Twins fans saw most, and he was most often the voice of the Twins players, always willing to talk after games, good or bad. Stat-heads continued to write that the Twins got the better player for $10.5 million less. There is no question, not only was Willingham the Twins biggest free agent signing in their history, he clearly has been the Twins best free agent signing.

Last month, Willingham let it be known that he would be open to talking to the Twins about signing an extension. He is owned $7 million in 2013 and $7 million in 2014. If Willingham were a free agent following the 2012 season, what would he get in the free agent market? Despite the fact the he will turn 34 years old about the time spring training starts next February, he would most likely get a deal in the three year, $30 million range. If he were willing to play the 2015 season at $7 million, it would be like signing him to a three year, $21 million contract again. 

The Twins have long had a need for right-handed power in the middle of their lineup. Can Trevor Plouffe take that next step in his career to provide consistent power? Willingham gives the Twins what they have needed for years. Also, unlike many Twins hitters in recent years, he is not intimidated by Target Field.

Fangraphs
 is a tremendous site for baseball information and statistics. They have a stat called “Value” the takes a look at how players compare to a ‘replacement players’ and based on that, they place a “value” on his season. Right now, Willingham’s 2012 “Value” is placed at $17.5 million (and that factors in his negative defense). He has been consistently valuable since 2006, his first full season.
 

Year “Value”
2006 $7.7 M
2007 $8.6 M
2008 $13.3 M
2009 $11.4 M
2010 $12.0 M
2011 $9.1 M
2012 $17.5 M
 

 

There are reasons that not adding a year to Willingham’s contract are probably the right thing to do. The Twins do have lots of outfield prospects. Denard Span’s name will likely be remain in trade rumors and Ben Revere has shown he can be a solid big leaguer. Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson are all prospects that could be ready as early as sometime in 2013. Many believe that Miguel Sano will be ready by late 2014 or 2015 and could be in the outfield. The other side of that remains that you never know how good prospects will actually be no matter how elite their prospect status.

Harmon Killebrew had all those 40 home runs seasons, but his last home run season was in his age-34 season in 1970. He then hit 28 homers in 1971 and 26 homers in 1972, still good power numbers. Over the final three seasons of his career, he combined to hit 32 more home runs. Of course, that isn’t to say that Willigham’s last great season would be in 2012, but that trajectory of declining numbers certainly is not unusual.

The other angle for not extending Willingham beyond 2014 is that right now his value is likely the highest it would ever be. The Twins are likely a couple of years from competing for another division title, so as much as Willingham is great in the middle of the Twins lineup, he is someone that the Twins could get a very nice player/prospect return from in a trade.

Willingham is right in making his request to add another year to stay with the Twins known. As a Twins fan, I want to hear that. It is wise for the Twins to let 2013 play out before considering extending Willingham. It will be another year to see how he performs as well as seeing how the prospects progress. Finally, as Twins fans, I think it’s wise just to sit back and marvel at what an incredible season 2012 has been for Josh Willingham, and leave it at that for now!

---

Over at Twins Daily, there is still plenty of new, original Twins content. 

Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0020320007140
Minnesota010010000272
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:C.Kluber(17-9) L:A.Swarzak(3-2)
HR: CLE- None MIN- None

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Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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