Last night Josh Willingham slugged his 35th home run of the season. That's good enough for seventh in all of baseball and sixth in the American League...and still just third in the American League Central Division. Is it just me or does it feel like a big year for power in the AL?
It's been a long time since Twins fans have seen a power display like Willingham's from one of their own. There are a few recent players who had campaigns that graced 34 home runs. Justin Morneau in 2006. Kent Hrbek in 1987. Gary Gaetti in 1986. But Willingham bashing out 35 is a feat Twins fans haven't seen in 42 years, because that last time a Minnesota player hit that threshold was in 1970.
In 1970 a 34-year old Harmon Killebrew had the last truly spectacular season of his career. He batted .271/.411/.546 with 41 home runs. By OPS+ it was his third best year, and yet the only thing he led the league in was grounding into double plays (28).
The following summer he'd lead the league in RBI (third time in his career) and walks (for the fourth time in six years), so it's not like he was quite done following 1970. But it really was his last other-worldly season.
It's kind of bizarre to think that, in the second-worst year this team has had since the turn of the millennium, we're seeing something that even my dad hasn't seen since he was 18 years old. That's special. Enjoy it, because you just never know when another Twin will rack up home run totals like this again.