August represented the first month of the season in which Minnesota had a winning record. Curiously enough, according to several metrics, it was also the month in which they had their lowest offensive productivity. This controversy (given that their pitching wasn’t substantially better either) could be explained by the fact that Twins hitters performed very well in clutch situations, making the difference between losing and winning in at least a handful of games.
Without further ado, here are three honorable mentions, followed by the big winner!
Honorable Mention #3: Luis Arraez
This is how good Luis Arraez is: despite having a slight dip in productivity during August, he still had one of the top 15 batting averages in baseball. Also, by slashing .291/.371/.384 (.755), he finished the month with the highest batting average on the team. Unsurprisingly, his power numbers aren’t impressive, but he compensates for that with a ton of plate discipline. Among all qualified batters in August, Arraez’s strikeout rate (8.2%) ranked fourth-best in baseball. He only struck out more than one of his teammates in August: bullpen legend Willians Astudillo (2.9%).
It should be brought to your attention that Arraez’s final numbers in August started to drop only during the last week of the month. Until Aug 24, he was slashing .314/.381/.404 (.785) before an 0-for-16 slump. Hopefully, the turn of the calendar will help him get back on track.
Honorable Mention #2: Miguel Sanó
Miguel Sanó’s mere presence in this Twins lineup was a question mark for quite some time. When he struggles, as he did during April and May, many people are vocal about it. Well, for the past three months, he’s been proving many people wrong, having a very consistent, above league average productivity. His highlight of the month happened last week, when he hit the longest home run in all of baseball this year, sending the poor baseball completely out of Fenway Park.
During August, Sanó had his highest number of plate appearances of the season (106), and he was able to sustain a season-best .820 OPS while also having a .344 wOBA and 118 wRC+. It seems as if consistent playing time makes all the difference for the big fellow. Sanó had the team’s second-most extra-base hits (11) and third-highest SLG (.489) in August. Not to mention that he stepped up when the team needed him the most, putting the ball in play 50% of the time in high-leverage situations, the eighth-best BABip in all of baseball in such situations.
Honorable Mention #1: Josh Donaldson
“The Bringer of Rain” had an incredible month of August, possibly his best in a Twins uniform. Donaldson led the team in batting average for the month, slashing .278/.360/.519 (.878) while also posting .376 wOBA and 140 wRC+, both ranking second-best on the team and considerably above league average. This was the fourth month out of five this year in which he maintained a wRC+ of at least 125.
For those who believe the Twins should pursue a trade involving him next winter, his improved second half of the season can seriously increase his trade value.
Hitter of the Month: Jorge Polanco
For the first time since we’ve established the hitter of the month award, we have a player to be named for a second time. In August, Jorge Polanco was easily the Twins’ best hitter, leading the team in fWAR, with 1.1 and also most of the other relevant offensive metrics, including .945 OPS, .612 SLG, .390 wOBA, and 150 wRC+. But what was even more impressive about Polanco’s August was how clutch and decisive he was! He was responsible for three consecutive walk-off RBI hits for Minnesota this month alone. Check out this video from Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming with every one of his five walk-off hits this season.
Given his track record and expected statistics, his current power surge is probably unsustainable over an entire season. He slugged .421 for the first three months of 2021 before jumping to .548 in July and .612 in August. Nonetheless, Polanco’s August was just the icing on the cake of what has been one of his best seasons as a major-leaguer, entitling him to be a front-runner to be named the Twins’ hitter of the year.