StaTuesday: Morneau among Twins’ top sluggers
A week after taking a job in the Minnesota Twins’ front office, Justin Morneau is officially hanging ’em up.
Morneau nearly called it quits in 2012, two years after colliding with the knee of Toronto Blue Jays infielder John McDonald while sliding into second base. The blow caused concussion symptoms that cost Morneau the rest of the 2010 season and limited him to 69 games in 2011.
Those symptoms derailed what could have been a Hall of Fame-caliber career, but Morneau’s place in Twins history isn’t up for debate.
Morneau trails only fellow first baseman Kent Hrbek and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for the Twins’ career home run record. He hit 221 home runs over the course of his 10-year Twins career, one more than Hall of Famer Rod Carew.
Morneau hit the tie-breaker on Aug. 31, 2013, during his second-to-last at-bat with the Twins, going yard off Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish to help Minnesota to a win. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates later that day.
His numbers are among the best in Twins history across the board. Morneau ranks eighth all-time in hits (1,318), sixth in doubles (289), 10th in RBI (860) and fourth in slugging percentage (.485).
Drafted by the Twins in 1999, Morneau was seemingly a perfect fit for the State of Hockey: He split his time between baseball and hockey before graduating from secondary school, converting from catcher to first base in 2001. His number, 33, was selected in honor of fellow goaltender Patrick Roy.
He won the American League MVP award in 2006 after batting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs, hitting 30-plus home runs in 2007 and 2009, before the concussion issue reared its head.
Morneau enjoyed a brief resurgence with the Colorado Rockies in 2014, winning the National League batting title after hitting a career-high .319 with 17 home runs. He suffered another concussion a year later, before attempting a brief comeback with the Chicago White Sox in 2016.