2016: The Year In Firsts
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson, USA TodayAs you watch, review and remember these great Twins moments (and individuals' moments), consider your favorite Twins moments in 2016 on the field. Share yours in the comments below.
What a season 2016 was for the Twins second baseman. After struggling mightily through the season’s first two months, Dozier was baseball’s best hitter the final four months of the season.
On September 5th, he had his first three-home run game of his career. Against the Royals, he hit a home run into the first deck, the second deck and the third deck to become the first Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew to surpass 35 home runs in a season.
One week later, Dozier took a high fastball in Detroit and launched a home run to left field, just beyond a leaping Justin Upton to join the 40-home run club.
On the final day of the 2015 season, Max Kepler singled off of Johnny Cueto to record his first major league hit. He began 2016 in Rochester, but he wasn’t there for long. He was called up within a week of the start of the 2016 season. He played rarely for three weeks before being sent back to Rochester. When he came back up, he took off.
On June 12 at Target Field, Kepler came up with runners on second and third and nobody out in the 10th inning of a tie game against the Red Sox. On an 0-2 pitch, he crushed a 98-mph fastball to dead center for his first home run in the big leagues. What a moment, as the blast also was his first walk-off for the Twins.
It was on August 1st that Kepler really had his coming out party. In Cleveland, he had his first three-home run game. The first two came off of Danny Salazar. He had six RBIs in the game.
Polanco had a couple of cups of coffee in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he finally got more opportunities to get consistent playing time. He responded well. On May 15 in Cleveland, Polanco came to the plate to face righty Trevor Bauer. On a 2-2 pitch, Polanco knocked his first major league home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning.
Like Polanco, Centeno had been up to the big leagues a couple of times the previous two seasons. On May 14 in Cleveland, the Twins were down 1-0 to Corey Kluber. With a runner on base Centeno launched his first MLB homer to put the Twins into the lead. Centeno went on to hit three more homers the rest of the season.
It was the story of the year for the Minnesota Twins. Beresford, who had signed with the Twins in 2005, was called up to the Twins for September. Just a couple of days later, his parents flew in to Minneapolis from Australia to surprise their son. It was 24-hours worth of travel, and with the help of long-time friend Brian Dozier, the Twins were able to surprise Beresford before the game.
Little did they know that the next night, their son made their MLB debut, at third base for the Twins. He made a couple of nice defensive plays, and later in the game, he came through with his first MLB hit.
There is one more first major league hit that we’ll bring to you today. In mid-September, the Twins made a trip to New York to play the Mets. It was an interesting pitching matchup with Berrios facing 42-year-old Bartolo Colon. In his first at-bat as a big leaguer, Berrios singled to right field. It was also the Twins first hit of the game.
However, it wasn’t the hitting of Berrios that had Twins fans most excited. His debut was anticipated and many hoped it would have happened a year earlier, but Berrios was up before May. Just 21 at the time, Berrios struck out five in his MLB debut, though he didn’t complete five innings. His first strikeout was Jason Kipnis, the second batter he faced.
Within the first week of the season, Glen Perkins went on the disabled list and Rogers was called up. On April 14, Rogers made his major league debut. He faced three White Sox batters and got two of them out. A couple of days later, he pitched two innings in relief of Ricky Nolasco. He gave up a couple of runs, but he also recorded his first two strikeouts. The first was JP Martinez.
Rogers was a key part of the Twins bullpen as the season went on. He’ll be an even more important piece as we move forward. He has the ability to be really dominant against left-handed batters as he showed in this early July game against the Rangers when he struck out the side, facing three left-handers.
Many were surprised when the Twins added Pat Dean to the 40-man roster in November of 2015. In early May, the Twins needed another pitcher and Dean was summoned from Rochester. He made his debut in Baltimore against the Orioles, coming in to the game to replace Phil Hughes in a big deficit. He struck out three in 2.2 innings, including Joey Rickard for his first strikeout.
JT Chargois’ MLB debut in June didn’t go as he would have hoped (5 ER in ⅔ of an inning), but by September, he was showing his potential to dominate hitters in the late innings. Check out his slider on this big strikeout in the 12th inning of a September 10th game against Cleveland. Chargois’ first strikeout came in his first game back from Rochester. It was Tony Kemp.
Mejia came to the Twins organization in the Eduardo Nunez trade in late June. The left-hander was in Baseball America’s Top 100 midseason prospects. On August 10th, the Twins were desperate for arms. Mejia was called up to work in relief. He replaced Hector Santiago with the Twins already down 8-0 in the 5th inning against the Royals. Mejia gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. He didn’t record a strikeout, but he did make this play on a hard-hit ball back at him.
As good as the story was when James Beresford was called up for September, the Alex Wimmers story was very good too. Wimmers was the top pick of the Twins in 2010 out of Ohio State. He overcame the yips and Tommy John surgery, and in late August, he earned the promotion to the big leagues.
On August 26th, he came in for his MLB debut against the Blue Jays with the Twins down 15-7. He got a ground out which was followed by strikeouts of Justin Smoak and Ezequiel Carrera.
In a season full of disappointments and losses, what were some of your favorite moments?
- HitInAPinch likes this