The Minnesota Natives Pushing the Twins
Minnesota is officially the best gosh-durned state in the whole entire country, dag nabbit. This is a fact that has always been assumed but never provenâ€¦ until Saturday, of course. That was when two native sons, Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins, made the All-Star roster for their home state Twins. Paul Bunyan, Prince, and Owl City swelled with pride as their state ascended above the rest.
I would be remiss if I didnâ€™t mention that Mauer and Perkins did deserve this honor. Itâ€™s not just that they hail from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and urinate maple syrup (which is not as painful as it sounds): these guys are good. Really good.
The Prides of St. Paul and Stillwater
Mauer, a St. Paul native, will be making his sixth trip to the All-Star game and his fourth as the starter. He has also won three batting titles and an AL MVP award, but whoâ€™s counting?
Among American League catchers with at least 200 plate appearances, Mauer leads in hits (101), runs (49), average (.314), on-base percentage (.393) and WAR (3.4). Then you toss in the fact that he has gunned down 11 of 24 attempted base stealers in his 54 games as a catcher this year, and you get a specimen that should be starting the All-Star game every year.
Mauer is currently on pace for 48 doubles, so heâ€™s not Manny Machado, but it would be three short of Mickey Vernonâ€™s franchise record from 1946 of 51 when the team was still the Washington Senators. The record for a player in a Twins uniform is Justin Morneauâ€™s 47 from 2008. This is followed closely by Delmon Youngâ€™s 46 in 2010 because God hates the Twins.
Mauer is also on pace to hit 15 homeruns and score 94 times, both of which would be the second-highest totals of his career. You could say Iâ€™m a fan. You could also say that I have a cabin-sized shrine of him in the woods by my house that I pray to each night. Both statements would be correct.
Perkinsâ€™ numbers are not quite as easy on the eyesâ€¦ if youâ€™re an opposing hitter, that is. Perkins is second in the American League among relievers with a 1.85 FIP. He trails Jesse Crain, whose 2.0 WAR is higher than it was his last four years with the Twins combined. Again, God HATES the Twins.
The Stillwater, Minn., native has been straight nasty all year. His 12.40 K/9 is 110 percent higher than the staff K/9 (5.91). Despite only having thrown 32.2 innings this season, Perkins is second on the team in strikeouts (45), trailing only Kevin Correiaâ€™s 56. Oh, pitch-to-contact philosophy, you dirty little fiend.
How do you get a 1.85 FIP? Well, in addition to his 45 strikeouts, has allowed only two home runs, seven walks, and one hit-by-pitch. Droolâ€¦ everywhere.
With a fastball averaging 95.0 miles per hour and a slider at 84.1, Perkins is le filth (French for â€œthe reason I get up in the morningâ€). He also could be the best trade bait the Twins have if they decide to make him available. Iâ€™d doubt that would happen, but the yield could be pretty sweet.
So, there. Thatâ€™s your proof that Minnesota is the best state in this great country. If youâ€™re not convinced, go grab some double-sided 3M tape. It will change your life. AND itâ€™s made in Minnesota. Check-mate, Nebraska. Then watch the All-Star Game to see these two great Minnesotans strut their stuff on baseballâ€™s biggest stage.
Jim Sannes covers baseball and the Minnesota Twins weekly for numberFire. Wish him a Happy Birthday (congrats Jim!) on Twitter @JimSannes.