The Minnesota Twins are just 76 days away from opening day in Baltimore. As we near that day, we will tap into Twins history related to each number as we get closer!
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 opening day on March 29th in Baltimore.
When the Twins first moved to Minnesota, they came with a young core that produced successful teams immediately in their new location. However, even the brightest optimist would not have imagined that the team would make the World Series with less than 5 seasons in Minnesota when they faced off with the Dodgers in 1965.
To propel the Twins to that spot, the team had the top two vote-getters in the 1965 MVP race, 4 of the top 10, and 6 of the top 15. Our number 76 memory in Twins history has to do with the player who won that MVP, shortstop Zoilo Versalles, who had 76 extra base hits in 1965, the third highest total in Twins history.
Versalles’ career beginnings
Zoilo was just 19 when he made his major league debut with the Senators in 1959. He got another cup of coffee in 1960, but when the team moved to Minnesota, he was thrust into the starting role.
Versalles hit well his rookie year, slashing .280/.314/.390 with home runs and 16 stolen bases. He powered up to 17 home runs in 1962, but his batting average suffered, as he hit .241.
Starting in 1963, Versalles started a four-year run where he was arguably the top shortstop in the American League. Over that time, he hit .261/.310/.413 and averaged 32 doubles, 10 triples, 14 home runs, and 14 stolen bases.
His 1965 was on another level, however, and it stands as one of the best shortstop seasons by a Minnesota Twins player in team history. He hit .273/.319/.462, and he led the majors with 126 runs and 45 doubles. He led the American League with 308 total bases and 12 triples (the third straight year he led the AL in triples).
Versalles also hit 19 home runs in 1965, drove in 77 runs, and stole 27 bases. He was selected to his second All-Star game.
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While Versalles was a slick fielder and won two Gold Gloves, he was not a patient hitter, leaving him susceptible if he would lose a bit of personal speed or bat speed due to injury or age.
That came in 1967 in a hurry. He played in 160 games, but his bat had slowed significantly, and he hit just .200/.249/.282 with 16 doubles, 7 triples, and 6 home runs.
The Twins traded him to the Dodgers after the 1967 season with Mudcat Grant. Injuries and a quick decline in Zoilo’s bat speed caused him to play with four teams in his final three seasons of play.
Versalles finished his Twins career with a .250/.296/.383 slash line, and he leads Twins shortstops in career home runs with 86, doubles with 188, runs with 564, and RBI with 401. His 1965 season was one of the best individual seasons of Twins history.