A new season is upon us! That means players are going to be accumulating statistics. Sweet, delicious statistics. What I’ve collected here is what I consider the five least and most beatable Twins single season statistical records to break. I found these records on this totally official Twins records page. It may not actually be totally accurate, it lists the strikeout record as belonging to Bobby Darwin in 1972 when Miguel Sano holds that honor, but everything in this article should be correct. For fun, I also predict who I think is most likely to break the “easy to beat” records!
5) Bunt hits: 29, Rod Carew 1974
Rod Carew was one of the best bunters in the history of the game. Bunt hits are a hard statistic to find via research, but the Twins records page says Carew reached first on a bunt 29 times in 1974. Impressive!
Even for a player as fast as Byron Buxton, this record would be hard to break. It would take A LOT of bunt attempts to even be able to have a chance to record that many hits. If a player is even moderately successful at dropping down a bunt for a hit, teams are going to wise up and shift their defense to take that hit possibility away, too.
4) Most losses without recording a win: 13, Terry Felton, 1982
Terry Felton had a short-lived career with the Twins. He appeared in 55 games with the team in four seasons, but the bulk of them, 48 to be exact, came in 1982. Somehow, some way, Felton went 0-13 as a pitcher that season. Not a single win in 48 appearances. Four of his losses came in six starts he made that season. The rest came in relief.
It’s difficult to see someone break this record because it’s just so unlikely that the team sticks with a pitcher who has accumulated 13 losses without a win. Obviously, there are statistics more important than wins and losses when evaluating a pitcher, but if a pitcher is 0-13 at any point, something is wrong. The next closest loss total without a win I could find was Kevin Slowey’s 2011 campaign where he went 0-8.
3) Complete Games: 25, Bert Blyleven 1973
As Bert Blyleven would probably tell you himself, over and over again, the 1970’s was a different time for pitchers. Pitch counts weren’t a thing. Pitchers would throw for forever. And that’s what Blyleven did in the 1973 season. He started 40 games that season and completed 25 of them. By today’s standards, that’s just ludicrous.
This one is so unlikely to be broken just because of the way the game is played in 2019. Last season the Twins, as a team, recorded two complete games. Just two. The most recent season in which a Twins pitcher recorded even 10 shutouts was Jack Morris in 1991. This one isn’t happening.
2) Consecutive hitless plate appearances: 62, Dean Chance 1967
1967 was not a good year for Dean Chance at the plate. But why would it be? After all, Chance was a pitcher. Regardless, Chance went to the plate 108 times that season and collected only three hits. Impressively, Chance’s streak of 62 straight plate appearances without a hit was actually accomplished in his first 62 plate appearances of the season! It wasn’t until his 25th game of the season on July 28th that he collected his first base hit, a bunt single that I can only presume was a sacrifice bunt attempt.
This record is nearly unbreakable solely because I can’t imagine the team leaving a player in for 60+ consecutive plate appearances without a hit. When Chance got that hit his batting average on the season was .019! It’s just unfathomable that a team would let a batter go on for that long without a hit.
1) Most games played: 164, Cesar Tovar 1967
This one is almost unfair. As I’m sure many of you know, there are 162 games in one standard baseball season. So how did Tovar play in 164 games in 1967? Well, the team had two games end in a tie somehow. The tie games did not count in the team’s overall record and were made up at a later date, but for whatever reason, the player’s statistics still counted for that season. I don’t know.
I can barely fathom how 165 games would even be possible. There would probably need to be like a four-way tie in the AL Central and Wildcard to require that many extra games at the end of the season. The closest anyone has come was Justin Morneau playing in 163 games in 2008, thanks to a tiebreaker game with the White Sox at the end of the season. This one is going to stand forever probably.
Most Breakable Records
5) Strikeouts as a pitcher: 265, Johan Santana 2004. Who’s gonna break it? Jose Berrios
2004 was peak Johan Santana time. In his fifth major league season, the then 25-year-old struck out 265 batters in 228 innings, to go along with a sterling 2.61 ERA en route to his first Cy Young award. Minnesota has struggled to find a true ace since trading him away in 2008.
Know who else turns 25 years old in a month and is trending towards becoming a true ace? Jose Berrios. Berrios is only in his fourth MLB season, but his strikeouts have been climbing steadily each season, from 49 in 2016, to 139 the next year, to 202 in the most recent season. If anyone is primed to break Santana’s record, it’s Berrios.
4) Home Runs as a left handed batter: 34, Kent Hrbek 1987. Who’s gonna break it? Eddie Rosario
Kent Hrbek has the 14th most home runs hit by a Minnesota Twin in a single season. And yet, somehow, he is number one when it comes to home runs as a left handed hitter. Of the seven other Twins players who have hit 34 or more home runs in a season, all are right handed.
Granted, a lot of that has to do with the high right field wall that has existed since the Metrodome, but still it’s surprising that no other left hander has hit more than 34. The most recent lefty to hit at least 25 long balls was Eddie Rosario in 2017 with 27. His home runs dropped to 24 last season, but he also played in 13 fewer games. 35 might be out of reach for Rosario, but heck Joe Mauer hit 28 in 2009 and then never more than 11 after that. Rosario could explode this season.
3) Doubles: 47, Justin Morneau 2008. Who’s gonna break it: Max Kepler?
47 doubles are a lot. That’s why it’s a record. The 2008 season was the one where Morneau played in 163 games, which certainly helped him reach the milestone, but it’s not like this number is out of reach by any means.
In fact, last season Eduardo Escobar finished the season with 48 doubles. Eleven of them came with the Diamondbacks though, so he can’t claim the Twins record. But there have also been six other Twins players who had seasons of 45 doubles or more. 19 have hit 40 or more. Morneau barely holds the record. It isn’t that far-fetched to imagine someone beating it. No one on the Twins current roster jumps out as an immediate choice though. Max Kepler has hit 30 or more in the past two seasons. If he can break out this year, he could potentially reach 48. Maybe?
2) Hit batters: 18, Jim Kaat 1962. Who’s gonna break it: Jose Berrios
This is a weird one, I know, but just roll with it. Jim Kaat pitched in 25 major league seasons and only hit more than 9 batters in a season twice, so it’s not like he was known as a wild pitcher. But in one of those seasons, the 1962 season, Kaat led the league in hit batters with 18. I doubt anyone remembers that as Kaat was an All-Star for the Twins that year and finished with a very good 3.14 ERA.
The current Twins pitcher who has a knack for hitting batters may surprise you. It’s Berrios! He’s currently 5th all time in hit batters in a season with 13 in 2017 AND in 2018. Just as I predict him to take a step up in strikeouts, so too will his hit batsmen go up. All records go to Berrios!
1) Strikeouts as a batter: 178, Miguel Sano 2016. Who’s gonna break it: Miguel Sano, again.
Miguel Sano has always struck out a lot. None more so than the 2016 season when he struck out 178 times. He almost broke his own record in 2017 with 173 strikeouts. Last season he only played in 71 games, but still managed to strike out 115 times. Sano has never played in more than 116 games in a season, but if he comes back from his current injury and stays healthy for the rest of the season, his own strikeout record might not be too safe.
What team records do you, dear reader, think are unbeatable? Or who do you think can beat some of these records? Sound off in the comments or whatever!