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TwinsCentric: Offense is looking to its heart

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: May 14, 2013 - 10:13 PM

After finishing the month of April ranked near the bottom of the American League in most categories, the Twins’ offense has undergone a stunning turnaround here in May, where they led the league in scoring through Tuesday. Prior to Wednesday's loss to the White Sox, the Twins had averaged 6.2 runs per game this month and had crossed the plate five or more times in eight of their past nine games.

A sleeping beast awakened, indeed.

Can this unit continue to excel and help keep the team hovering around .500? That will largely be dependent on how young contributors like Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Brian Dozier and Chris Parmelee progress, but even more so it may be dictated by the two veterans at the heart of the order.

Justin Morneau pulled into a tie for sixth place in the American League with four RBI on Monday night, but his high ranking has more to do with opportunity than effectiveness. Morneau has started 35 of the Twins’ 36 games – 32 of them in the cleanup spot – and has routinely batted behind Joe Mauer (.426 OBP) and Josh Willingham (.377 OBP).

Entering play Wednesday, Morneau had batted with more runners on base than any player in the majors save for Prince Fielder, and while he’s done well in those situations, batting .326 with runners in scoring position (including 7-for-8 with the bases loaded), you also get the sense based on his track record that he’s been leaving plenty on the table. Morneau has uncharacteristically been limited to two home runs this season, including just one with runners on base. Although he appears healthy, he is slugging .424, which is 65 points below his career mark.

Morneau is on pace for nearly 130 RBI this season even with a mere semblance of his usual power. Imagine what that number could look like if he were flashing more pop. We may actually be starting to see that now, as the 32-year-old has been hitting the ball with increasing authority recently, having tallied five doubles (and not coincidentally 10 RBI) in his past seven games.

The man hitting in front of Morneau is another interesting case. After driving in 110 runs last year, Willingham is on pace for 72 this year. Like with Morneau, this can be attributed to decreased power – Willingham hasn’t homered in May and is well off last year’s pace despite a team-leading total of five – but the bigger culprit is a simple lack of hitting.

It’s not that Willingham has been an offensive liability; he’s contributing to Morneau’s opportunities by getting on base at a .377 clip, thanks to a career-high walk rate. But walks don’t drive in runs and the slugging outfielder is batting just .204. In 39 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, he has collected only six hits.


The Twins are relying on these two boppers to provide the brunt of the power in their lineup and produce runs. Morneau is trending up in that department and Willingham, despite his recent slump, has proven more than capable. If the heart of the lineup can start beating more steadily, this offense should be able to keep its rhythm.

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@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
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NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2 FINAL
Washington - WP: T. Roark 4
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 5 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 4
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 7 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 1
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 10
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 3 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 4
Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 2
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 6 FINAL
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 1 FINAL
Texas - WP: N. Martinez 2
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: Z. Rosscup 4
Arizona - LP: A. Chafin 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 6
LA Angels - WP: W. LeBlanc 2 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 0
San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 4
Colorado 3 Bottom 9th Inning
San Diego 2
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 0 FINAL
Buffalo 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Columbus 2
Boston 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Nashville 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Toronto 4
Detroit 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
San Jose 2 FINAL
Vancouver 4
Arizona 4 FINAL
Anaheim 0
Vancouver 2 FINAL
San Jose 5
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
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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