When the Twins signed Nelson Cruz last winter, the hope was he'd add some significant pop to a lineup that lacked power. Last year's team hit just 166 home runs, the fourth-fewest in the American League.
Not only has Cruz delivered on his end, but the entire Twins lineup is crushing the baseball at a pace the franchise hasn't seen before.
The 2019 Twins are slugging .466 as a team, which would shatter the previous record of .432 set by the 2002 squad that made a run at to the American League Championship Series.
Minnesota also has an OPS (on base + slugging) this season of .805, which would break a record that stands from the 1930s when the Twins were the Washington Senators.
Only the Seattle Mariners have a higher slugging percentage (.504) and that's largely due to the 45 home runs they've hit.
Meanwhile, the Twins have 22 home runs in 16 games, but they've been spraying the ball all over the field and piling up extra-base hits.
The biggest difference between the Mariners and Twins lineup is plate discipline. Seattle might be leading the league in numerous power categories but they're also striking out the most in the league.
The Twins, however, have struck out just 118 times, which is the second-fewest in the league. They've played just 16 games compared to Seattle's 22 but simple math tells us Minnesota still has the more disciplined lineup
- Seattle's strikeouts per game: 220 Ks/22 games = 10 strikeouts per game
- Minnesota's strikeouts per game: 118Ks/16 games = 7.4 strikeouts per game.
Eight players in the Twins lineup are have an OPS .850+ and three players with an OPS over 1.000 (minimum 27 at-bats).
- Mitch Garver: .407/.448/.1.074, 1.522 OPS
- Jorge Polanco .400/.464/.883, 1.347 OPS
- Eddie Rosario: .262/.318/.754, 1.072 OPS
- Byron Buxton .271/.327/.667, .994 OPS
- Nelson Cruz .278/.435/.556, .990 OPS
- Willians Astudillo .286/.316/.571, .887 OPS
- Max Kepler: .242/.319/.532 , .851 OPS
Here's what league average hitters have done in the American League this season.
- .242/.318/.414, .732 OPS
It's probably unfair to assume the Twins will have five players with an OPS above .900 by season's end, but the fact that they're not striking out a ton like Seattle is is a good indication the offense will be successful over the long haul.
The two that fans have to be encouraged the most by are Buxton and Polanco.
Buxton hasn't started a season this strong in his career and Polanco, who was suspended for half a season last year due to PEDs, has picked up where things left off in 2017 when he was batting third down the stretch in Minnesota's surprising run to the playoffs.
Minnesota also always seem to answer back when opposing teams socre. No team in baseball has responded better than the Twins when their opponent scores, according to team reporter Do-Hyoung Park.
It's just 16 games into the season, but the Twins have put up these numbers while facing some big-time starting pitchers, including Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. In fact, they hit those guys better overall than they did a foursome of Blue Jays starters in the most recent series.
Imagine how good the lineup could be if Marwin Gonzalez heats up, Jonathan Schoop returns to his 2017 All-Star form and Miguel Sano returns from the disabled list and hits well.
The offense looks legit, meaning the Twins, so long as the pitching holds up, should be contenders in the AL Central all season.