Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 73, Oliva’s 1971 Runs

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 23: Former player Tony Oliva during batting practice prior to a game against the Seattle Mariners on May 23, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockies won 6-5. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 23: Former player Tony Oliva during batting practice prior to a game against the Seattle Mariners on May 23, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockies won 6-5. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins are just 73 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.

Tony Oliva won three batting titles and attended eight All-Star games as a member of the Minnesota Twins. The last of both was in 1971 as Tony’s injuries began to rob him of his ability to stay on the field and produce elite numbers. Today’s number is the runs Oliva scored in that final “elite” season of his career.

Oliva’s 1971 season

The 1971 season would prove to be Oliva’s best batting season in many ways in his career. He led the American League with a .337 batting average and .546 slugging percentage. However, because he had injury issues, he played in just 126 games, which meant he did not set any career bests in any counting stats.

Oliva’s career best for home runs throughout his career remained his rookie season, when he hit 32 round trippers. He did clear 20 home runs four more times in his career, but never again topped 30. In 1971, he hit 22 home runs.

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Oliva did set career highs in wOBA (.405), wRC+ (154), but also in the number of double plays he hit into (21), a sign of his lost speed due to his injury.

Oliva’s 73 runs were not his low for a season with 500 plate appearances as he scored just 54 runs in 1968, but he also had a much worse season that year, putting up just a .289/.357/.477 line.

He did have 30 doubles, which is one of 7 seasons of 30 or more doubles that he had in 11 full seasons. Oliva finished 10th in the American League Most Valuable Player voting, his 8th straight season receiving votes in the MVP race.

Missing a chunk of the season in early July where he had 7 plate appearances over the course of 16 games likely cost Oliva the ability to finish even higher in the MVP race and add counting stats to his best rate season of his career.

Next: Twins 5 best OFs

Oliva’s injury issues likely cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame, and many of his contemporaries still swear that he is as deserving as many of the players who have been elected into the Hall.

We look forward to that first day of the season against Baltimore!

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