So many things about the Twins’ 2019 home-run barrage feel somewhere between remarkable and unbelievable.
That the Twins — the Twins? — have been on a historic pace basically since the end of April and smashed the major league record with a couple of hours left in August defies so much of what fans of a certain vintage have come to expect from this team.
If your deepest association with the Twins comes from the run of success between 2002 and 2010, for instance, watching Minnesota batters blast balls over the fence with such regularity up and down the lineup seems flat-out wrong, even though it feels so right.
To that end, here is perhaps the most remarkable number I have found in conjunction with the Twins’ record-setting launch party — and the one that might make you feel the best when thinking about how much a juiced ball has contributed to the fun:
After Sunday’s 8-3 victory over Detroit, during which the Twins were actually outhomered 1-0 — just the 24th game all season in which the Twins went homerless — they have hit 101 more homers than their opponents. That’s 268-167 if you are keeping score, and Twins pitchers entered Sunday having allowed the third-fewest homers in the American League.
Between 2002 and 2010, by contrast, the Twins won six division titles and went to a Game 163 in another season. In those seven seasons, Minnesota only outhomered its opponents once (191-167 in 2004). And on average in those successful years, the Twins were outhomered 177-154.
Those were the good fielding, pitch-to-contact, “Piranha” Twins for the most part. This incarnation? Their definition of “small ball” is that of their 11 hitters who have double-digit home runs totals this year, three of them have yet to crack 20.
The common denominator is regular-season success. If the Twins can keep up this pace for another month, we’ll see if the home run formula proves to be a better fit for October.
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A fifth-round pick in the NFL is a long shot to play a starring role for any team, and just sticking on a roster from that initial draft spot is far from a sure thing.
The Vikings’ fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft, linebacker Cameron Smith, didn’t make the initial 53-man roster (though he is on the practice squad). Very few picks turn out like Stefon Diggs (fifth round, 2015).
That context is worth considering given the news over the weekend that the Vikings cut punter/kicker Kaare Vedvik. And yet it’s still quite a thing to also consider how quickly a 2020 fifth-round pick — the price the Vikings paid in an Aug. 11 trade with Baltimore for Vedvik — evaporated, particularly with the news Sunday that the Vikings were adding a different punter, Britton Colquitt, to replace Matt Wile.
That’s a lot of tinkering. The Vikings can only hope now that Dan Bailey is steady on field goals and that Vedvik — who was claimed off waivers by the Jets — doesn’t become the next Daniel Carlson.
Carlson was good for the Raiders last season after the Vikings cut him. And yes, he was Minnesota’s 2018 … fifth-round pick.
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A little extra perspective on Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter, an absolute masterpiece Sunday for the Astros in which he walked just one and struck out 14: There are nine teams in the majors, including the Twins, that don’t even have a complete game this season.