by, 08-31-2013 at 10:01 PM (216 Views)
On June 10th 2003, Justin Morneau picked up a base hit in his first at bat in his big leauge debut against the Colorado Rockies at the Metrodome. ast foward to August 30th, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. Morneau hit the eventual game winning home run into the second deck off of Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish. His 221st homer with the Twins. That homer moved him past Tony Oliva for 3rd on the all-time home run list. That would be his last hit in a Twins uniform after 11 seasons with the club. I say that because I believe Morneau won't return to the Twins next year even though he's a free agent this winter.
In 2006, I was really upset with Justin and the team in the first two months of the season. Morneau was inconsistant at the plate by hitting around .230-.240 at the time and the team was well under .500. Then Morneau and the Twins turned it on in the final four months of the year. He finished his 2006 year by hitting .321 with 34 HRs, 130 RBI to help lead the Twins to a 96 win season and clinching the division on the final day. That performance gave him the biggest individual award any player could recieve, the American Leauge MVP. In 2008 he had a second place finish in the MVP behind Boston second baseman Dustin Pedoria.
When I look back at Morneau's 11 year run with the Twins, I think of two things. First, he had a great career with Twins. In 1278 games he had 1318 hits, 669 runs scored, 221 HRs, 860 RBI, 289 doubles, 501 walks. Splits of .287/.347/.485, giving him an OPS of .832 during his time. He picked up 4 All-Star selections, 2 Silver Slugger Awards and of course the MVP. Plus he improved his defense every year at first base.
But the second thought that comes to mind, and it has been for the last few years is what if?. What if in 2009 Morneau doesn't miss the final month of the season? His bat in the lineup and glove in the field would have helped the Twins in the ALDS against the Yankees. What if he didnt hit his head on John McDonald's knee sliding into 2nd to miss 81 games in 2010? He was hitting .345 with 18 HRs and 56 RBI with a .437 OBP, a .613 SLG, giving him an OPS of 1.055 in the first 81 games he played. He not only could have helped the Twins in the postseason, he could have had a chance at a second AL MVP in five years. What if he didn't pile up all those injuries in 2011? He only played in 69 games and had just 4 HRs and 30 RBI that season. Maybe he adds another 15-20 homers and 45-50 RBI to the stat sheet.
Morneau will go into the Twins Hall of Fame one day at Target Field. Still all the time he missed between 2009-2011 might have cost him a spot in Cooperstown New York. I believe he could've had more than 300 HRs and 1,000 RBI with the Twins, along with a couple more All-Star apperances and maybe a couple more Silver Slugger awards. It was a roller coaster run with Morneau with some pretty big downs, but the ups were really big and really rewarding. He was a true professional on and off the field, a great community man, and became a leader in the clubhouse.
Thanks for the memories 33.