Molitor surprised at extent of Minnesota's recent home run binge
By Do-Hyoung Park
MINNEAPOLIS -- Everyone knew that this powerful Twins offense was capable of showing a lot of power this year, but the number of homers that Minnesota has cranked out, especially of late, has come as a surprise to manager Paul Molitor.
"To be honest with you, this year, the home run has been a bigger part of what we've done offensively than I really had expected it to be," Molitor said. "I think still you try to coach and manage your team to try and be a team that has flow. We talked about that a lot this year, to run the bases and put balls in play and move runners and execute situationally. But the homer is a nice weapon."
Of course, the big story in that regard has been second baseman Brian Dozier's crazy power surge, as he homered for the fourth time in his last five games on Saturday to extend his career-high homer total to 34. Dozier's 13 homers in August led all of baseball and since June 18, his 27 big flies and 51 extra-base hits lead the Major Leagues as well.
Especially in light of a four-homer game from his team on Saturday, Molitor believes that the power surge has been contagious. Trevor Plouffe has also homered in four of his last nine games, and Max Kepler's 16 homers have come as a pleasant surprise in his first season in the Major Leagues.
"I think pretty much any area in this game can have a tendency to go in bunches according to what other people are doing," Molitor said. "It's hard to explain that and why it happens, but I do think it does."
One of the bigger questions that arose in August with Dozier hitting so well was if his hot bat was best utilized in the leadoff spot instead of in a better run-producing lineup position, but Molitor ultimately decided not to move him back down to the middle of the lineup.
"One, he does seem to thrive leading off," Molitor said. "Two is I don't think I have a lot of options that I can consider to replace him right now. Down the road, maybe, but it seems to be working. Our offense has scored enough runs with him leading off, and he's played extremely well."
The numbers do seem to back that up: The Twins' offense hit a season-high .270 in August and scored 142 runs, their second-highest total of the year, despite the team winning just nine games. So for now, a shake-up doesn't appear necessary.
If anything, Molitor is just glad that hitting leadoff is giving his team's best hitter as many opportunities at the plate as possible.
"It's a good thing to know that if you're going to get a guy that's going to get five at-bats, it's going to be [Dozier]," Molitor said. "I do think that you hope that your bottom half can do its part to roll over and give him some opportunities."
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.