Michael Cuddyer has emerged this season as a hitter who provides some of the power and run production the Twins have been missing for years. His development as a home run hitter and RBI man batting in the clean up position has been a nice fit with Joe Mauer hitting in front of him and Justin Morneau behind.
While Mauer makes a run at the American League batting title and Morneau draws some nods as a league MVP candidate for his home run and RBI production, Cuddyer has made his own contributions. Sandwiched between the two left handed hitters, the right handed hitting Cuddyer has joined the 20 home run and 100 RBI club this season. It’s a group few Twins have gained membership to in recent seasons.
In the last 10 seasons the Twins have been without a hitter with more than 30 home runs, and three times the club leader didn’t even hit 20. During the past 10 seasons the team RBI leader reached 100 or more only three times, and three times the leader had less than 80 RBI.
Earlier this week Cuddyer had 22 home runs and 100 RBI, Morneau 33 homers and 123 RBI, and Torii Hunter 26 home runs and 84 RBI. The last time the Twins had two hitters with 100 RBI or more in the same season was 1977 when Larry Hisle and Rod Carew did it.
Cuddyer, 27, came into 2006 wondering what awaited him. In the previous two seasons he had hit .263 and had 12 home runs each year with RBI totals of 45 and 42. In 2005 he had 93 starts at third base, 18 in the outfield, six at second base and three at first base.
This season Cuddyer has become the team’s right fielder and take’s “pride” in being the cleanup hitter. In the minor leagues he had been a middle of the batting order run producer and the Twins had been hoping for similar production. “This year everything has kind of come together and I have produced the way I know I was capable of producing,” Cuddyer said.