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Twins getting bang for their buck with Byung Ho Park

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Many scratched their heads when Terry Ryan signed Korean first baseman Byung Ho Park last fall, but check out who looks smart now.

I LOVE YOU BYUNG HO!
I LOVE YOU BYUNG HO!
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball fans and writers were a bit surprised last November when it came out that the Twins had won the bid to exclusively negotiate a deal with Korean slugger Byung Ho Park. After all, Park was a power-hitting first baseman and the Twins already had Joe Mauer at first, Miguel Sano as the designated hitter, and Trevor Plouffe playing third (not to mention big boppers Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas, who were also first base/DH candidates).

Fast-forward to one month into the season, and the Twins now look like geniuses.

The Twins signed Byung Ho Park to a four year deal (with a fifth year club option) worth $12 million total. At the time, SB Nation's Minor League Ball tried to predict Park's performance, saying:

Park is a safe bet to hit around .260/.320/.450 with 20-25 homers per 500 at-bats.

Well, Park has had 79 at-bats... and he's hitting .253/.326/.595, with a team-leading (and American League rookie-leading) seven home runs. One of those home runs includes an absurd 466 foot shot to dead center field at Target Field, which was/is the longest ball ever hit there (at least according to ESPN's True Distance Home Run Tracker). That dinger also ranks as the third furthest hit by any player anywhere so far this year.

Park hit six of his home runs in April, which is more than any Twins rookie ever (not named Kent Hrbek).  He's on pace to hit 42 home runs this year. For some perspective, here's a list of all Twins players who have hit more than even 35 home runs for the Twins in a single season: Harmon Killebrew. That's it.

I don't want to jinx anything, but I think we all underestimated how Park's power would translate to MLB.

Power is not cheap. The highest paid player in the majors, the hard-hitting Giancarlo Stanton, signed a $325 million contract with the Marlins after the 2014 season. The most home runs he's ever hit in a season is 37. Chris Davis, who lead all of MLB with 47 home runs last year, was paid $12 million for his services. Even Mike Trout—who, as just a 23 year old, hit 41 home runs last year—was paid over $6 million. The Twins aren't even paying Byung Ho Park more than $3 million this year or next year.

Of course, small sample size, and Park is no Stanton or Trout (yet...?). The question really is if Park can keep up his performance. There's no way to know for sure about that now, but so far, things are looking pretty dang good for Byung Ho and the Twins.