Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 33, Canadian MVP

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 27: Justin Morneau
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 27: Justin Morneau /

The Minnesota Twins are just 33 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

One thing the Twins have done recently is bringing back former members of the successful Minnesota Twins teams from the 2000s in roving instructional/coaching roles once they retire. Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter already were part of the organization in that manner, and recently, Justin Morneau joined that group.

Morneau’s Twins time

Drafted in 1999 in the 3rd round of the draft, Morneau joined the Minnesota Twins organization with a sweet left-handed swing and a wiry 6’4″ frame. He filled in that frame and was one of Baseball America’s top 25 prospects for 3 straight seasons (#21 before the 2002 season, #14 before 2003, and #16 before 2004).

His loud knocking on the door behind Doug Mientkiewicz turned into pounding in 2004 when he pounded out 22 home runs and 23 doubles in AAA in just 72 games in the first half of the season, forcing his way to the majors, and encouraging a trade of Mientkiewicz in a 4-way deal that landed him in Boston.

Morneau didn’t disappoint, hitting 19 home runs in 2004 in spite of not seeing the major leagues until June 10th that season. When he struggled in his first full season, many Twins fans were frustrated, and some thought perhaps the organization made the wrong move in trading away Mientkiewicz.

Justin simply responded with the first 30 home run season for the Twins in 30 seasons, smashing 34 home runs in 2006 and winning the American League MVP. That began a 4-year run where Morneau averaged .292/.364/.516 with 30 home runs and 118 RBI per season from 2006-2009.

In 2010, Morneau was on his way to possibly his best season of his career, hitting .345/.437/.618 with 18 home runs half way through the season before concussion issues ended his season prematurely. This would become the downfall of Morneau’s time in Minnesota, as he was only able to come to the plate a total of 1,206 times in 3 seasons, from 2010 to 2012.

Healthy again in 2013, though struggling to produce the same power he had once produced so easily, the Twins traded Morneau to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a pair of prospects.

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Post-Twins career

Morneau’s new digs in Pittsburgh to finish out the season produced a better eye at the plate, more like his previous production, but he could not bring out the power the Pirates were hoping for, slashing .260/.370/.312 in 92 plate appearances.

The market for Morneau wasn’t as flush as his previous levels, taking a $9 million pay cut from 2013 to 2014 after signing a 2-year deal with Colorado. As many players have, Morneau found success with the Rockies.

In his first season with the Rockies, Morneau won the National League batting title with a .319 batting average, putting up a .319/.364/.496 with 32 doubles and 17 home runs in 135 games. However, the concussion bug bit again in 2015, with a concussion in May. He was only able to come back for a bit more of 2015, finishing with a .310/.363/.458 line in 49 games.

Morneau played 2016 with the White Sox, struggling with physical injuries, and hitting .261/.303/.429 with 6 home runs over 58 games after signing on June 9th. He was not signed in 2017, and this position with the Twins likely makes his career officially over.

Next: Twins 5 best OFs

For 33 days to spring training, we’ll remember #33 for the Twins in some of their best seasons in recent memory. Morneau finished his Twins career with a .278/.347/.485 line with 221 home runs. Overall, his career numbers were .281/.348/.481 with 247 home runs.

Come soon, spring!!