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Power infusion

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: July 12, 2011 - 11:11 PM

In 89 games this year, the Twins have hit 54 home runs. Among AL teams, only the Athletics, with 50, have hit fewer. Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays has hit 31 on his own.

If they maintain their pace through the rest of the season, the Twins won't even reach 100 home runs as a team; it would be their first time failing to reach triple-digits in a full season since 1980. No team has made the playoffs while hitting fewer than 100 homers since the '88 Dodgers (who, ironically, would see Kirk Gibson hit one of the most famous home runs of all time in the World Series).

Fortunately, there are a number of reasons to believe that the Twins will beat their current 98-homer projection handily. Two of those reasons just rejoined the roster after Sunday's game.

When the All-Star break ends, the Twins will be carrying Delmon Young -- returning from a sprained ankle -- and Trevor Plouffe -- returning after terrorizing Triple-A for several weeks -- in place of Rene Tosoni and Rene Rivera.

Young had hit only two home runs in 217 plate appearances when he landed on the disabled list after an awkward collision with the outfield wall in Milwaukee, but he blasted 21 last year and is known as a player whose bat picks up as the season goes on.

His abysmal production this year after seemingly beginning to realize his immense power potential in 2010 has been baffling, but something clearly hasn't been right with the left fielder. Whatever it is, hopefully it was remedied along with his ankle during this latest DL stint. Young did homer twice during a nine-game rehab assignment in Ft. Myers, which is a good sign.

Meanwhile, Plouffe leads the organization in home runs by a wide margin this year with 18.  Michael Cuddyer, who is pacing the Twins in gopher balls and appeared in last night's All Star Game, has hit 13.

Plouffe has already rocketed past his previous career-best homer total of 15, which he set last year. Granted, he's been spending his fourth season in Triple-A, so it's not clear how much stock can be put into this shocking power outburst, but the former first-round pick did go deep three times while posting an impressive ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .183 in 18 games with the Twins back in May.

There are no guarantees with either of these players, but if Young can turn things around and Plouffe can just continue to do what he's been doing, they will add a serious infusion of power to this roster, which would go a long way toward bettering the Twins' slim postseason odds.

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