Last week, the Minnesota Twins set a pretty substantial MLB record, that being most home runs (bombas, in these parts, these days) as a team in a single season. However, with the team embroiled in a division title race and balls flying over the fence throughout all ballparks at a record pace, it almost feels as if the moment came and went without much fanfare. As such, I want to take a moment to step back a little bit and, purely from a fan perspective, put 275 home runs (the ’19 total as of Monday) in a bit of context—context which will probably hit home if you’re part of a certain generation of Twins fan.
I began closely following the Twins in 1996, the year in which Puckett—a constant source of home run power in the middle of the lineup—was forced into unexpected retirement due to his eye issues. Fellow HR threat Kent Hrbek had ridden off into the sunset two years previous. From 1996-2000, I saw exactly one Twin eclipse the 20 home run mark…
Yep, Matt Lawton put up a gaudy 21 homers in 1998. To me, he was what a “power hitter” looked like despite a slugging average below .500.
By the time 2001 rolled around and some offensive weapons finally began to be integrated into the batting order, I remember being amazed that it could be humanly possible to have two guys in one season (Corey Koskie & Torii Hunter) hit 25+ dingers. What a Murderer’s Row!
It would be another five years before I’d see a Twin hit 30 homers in a season...
The fact that I so vividly remember the moment—Justin Morneau hitting it to Comerica Park’s right field off of Joel Zumaya in a key contest with the Detroit Tigers in ‘06—must mean it made a pretty big impression on me. It was the first time any Twin had crossed the Dirty Thirty threshold since 1987.
It would be ten years after that until the first 40-homer Twin crossed my radar...
In the “Total System Failure” campaign of 2016, Dozier cranked 42 of them when he realized he could jerk them over left field corners everywhere.
So, even in an era of obviously wild offensive production, it still stuns me to see a roster that includes eight players over 20 home runs, and two of them over 30. In terms of those benchmarks, that is quite literally a lifetime’s worth of bomba production from where I am sitting.
No matter how this season ends up turning out in the end, I’ll always remember it as the year homers became so commonplace in Twins Territory that breaking the all-time team record was meant with a “huh...cool” because it happened in early September.