Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 35, Josh Willingham 2012 home runs
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are just 35 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.
During the offseason following the 2011 season, the Twins found themselves at a crossroads. One of their beloved and fan favorite players of so many winning teams, Michael Cuddyer, was a free agent and set for a payday. The Twins needed his type of bat in the lineup and in the outfield, but instead of paying Cuddyer they signed free agent outfielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham came to the Twins on a 3 year, $21 million dollar contract. He was cheaper than Cuddyer certainly, but his performance in 2012 was far from cheap. It was the 2012 season that Willingham perfected the use of that jet stream that runs from home plate to the left field bleachers in Target Field that we have seen Brain Dozier master the past several seasons.
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On the 2012 season, Willingham slashed .260/.366/.524 and what stands out most of all is his 35 home runs. In the landscape of baseball, especially coming off an era that showcased Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, 35 home runs may not seem that impressive. Willingham by hitting 35 home runs was the first player to hit that mark since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 home runs in 1970 for the Twins.
On his way to 35, Willingham only had two games with multiple home runs. Once on July 13th in a loss to the Oakland Athletics. Then again in another loss to the Chicago White Sox on July 24th. Willingham did hit a walk-off home run to seal a win on May 29th against the Athletics
On August 6th, Willingham matched his previous career high in home runs by hitting his 29th home run. There was even a little flair to the home run as Justin Morneau came up right behind him to hit his own home run in a game against the Cleveland Indians.
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Willingham would go on to hit 26 more home runs in a Twins uniform before being traded to the Kansas City Royals in the middle of 2014. Those 35 home runs by Willingham in 2012 were majestic in many different ways, and today we remember those 35 long balls off of Willingham’s bat as we countdown to Opening Day.