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Weird Twins Franchise Records to Watch for This Year

Posted by dave_dw , 12 March 2018 · 679 views

record mauer vargas history liriano
Everybody loves a good record chase. Whether it's Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's asterisk-fueled home run battle of 1998 or the very non-asterisk-fueled Kansas City Royals challenging the record for most consecutive innings without scoring a run last season—a record chase is compelling.

There's a fine line, though, between fun facts and records. Fun facts get mocked (rightfully) for having more qualifiers than valuable information. “He has the most infield singles on Tuesday night home games before the All-Star break,” you'll hear someone say in a dopey voice that doesn't actually exist in nature. Those are fun facts and in most cases they are not fun at all. But somewhere between real records and those not-so-fun fun facts are some interesting statistics, if you're into that kind of thing.

I am very much into this kind of thing.

If you look hard enough, you could find a record-breaking event in nearly every MLB game. If you look a little less hard (look softer?) you come up with a handful of records that are on the verge of being broken in 2018. That’s what I did with the Twins. I looked softer (that doesn’t sound right) and came up with four Twins-specific records that could be broken this year. If you want to watch history in the making this season, you just need to know where to look.

Here is your guide to weird Twins records to keep an eye on in 2018.

Career Hits against Lefties
As Joe Mauer enters his 15th season with the Twins, he is starting to approach some accumulation records. While he’s still 900+ hits away from that franchise record, he is within striking distance of the franchise record of hits against left-handed pitchers.

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Mauer needs to collect 54 hits against lefties this year to pass Carew’s record mark. While he's had just 40 such hits last year, he’s had 5 seasons in his career with 54+ against southpaws. Unfortunately, the most recent of those seasons came 6 years ago in 2012. Adding to the degree of difficulty, the starting rotations of AL Central opponents expects to be very righty-heavy this year, which could suppress his number of plate appearance against lefties. If Mauer breaks this record in 2018, it will come at the very end of the year, so file this one away for a few months.

Target Field Strikeouts
If you're looking for a record that could be broken early in the year, then look no further (but please do look further, I still have 2 more after this one).

Francisco Liriano is the current record-holder for strikeouts at Target Field. His lead, however, is so narrow that he will certainly be passed by at least one Twins pitcher this year, even though he could add to his total by pitching at Target Field when his Detroit Tigers visit Minnesota.

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Even if it turns out that Kyle Gibson didn't turn a corner late last year, it won't take much for him to pass up Liriano, as he only needs 4 Ks to do it. If Gibson did turn a corner, then he'll likely take the lead after one start. Ervin Santana is poised to pass Liriano as well assuming he can remain healthy after he returns from his finger injury. As for Santana catching up to Gibson, it would require Gibson to miss most of the year or get traded. Phil Hughes could also pass Liriano with a good season, but surpassing Gibson and Santana would necessitate a BOGO sale at the Springfield Mystery Spot.

Kennys Vargas’ Elite Immobility
All Kennys Vargas has to do to set a franchise record is just stand there. Currently, he is the active MLB leader in games played without a stolen base attempt among non-pitchers. The only player in Twins history with more games played without an attempted steal is former-backup-catcher turned manager turned former-manager Mike Redmond.

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I included the rest of the top 5 because having the Butera Boyz™ together is fun, and any leaderboard that includes Mike Redmond and Hall of Famer Jim Thome together is fantastic.

Vargas is just 22 stationary games away from owning this franchise record outright. Unfortunately for him, the addition of Logan Morrison puts his playing time—and roster spot—into question. It does, however, make pinch-hit appearances even more likely if he stays on the team, which would count as games played but would limit his stolen base opportunities. If he remains on the team as a bench bat, expect this record to be his by June, assuming he doesn't screw it up by trying to steal. If he gets designated for assignment or traded, Redmond can light up a cigar in celebration.

Total Bases at Target Field
Target Field-specific records are kind of lame, but total bases, like strikeouts, is a fairly informative stat. Total bases can be used as crude short-hand for “who was good for the longest time”. If you asked the average Twins fan who was good for the longest time since Target Field opened in 2010, they would probably say either Joe Mauer or Brian Dozier, and that’s exactly who sits at the top of this leaderboard.

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Dozier needs to net 13 total bases this year to wrest the record away from Mauer. Considering that Dozier had 55 more total bases at home than Mauer last year (during Mauer’s best offensive season in four years), it’s likely that Dozier climbs to the top of this leaderboard by May and doesn’t look back for the rest of 2018. Where these guys fit into the Twins plans going forward will likely dictate who finishes their career with this record on their mantle.

Which record are you most excited to watch for in 2018? Or is there another record that isn't listed here that you'll be keeping an eye on?

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