Posted at 9:30 PM on July 13, 2008
by Steve Rudolph
Dear Mr. Punto:
I'm sorry I called you the worst everyday player in MLB history last season and would like to take back some of the comments I've made about you on this blog.
Last year was a rough one for yourself and Twins fans and your start to this season did little to make me think you could still hit at this level. But something has changed of late. And I couldn't be happier.
Without your recent contributions, the Twins season could well be over. Instead they are getting clutch production out of the bottom of the order; something that's reminiscent of the "piranha" days of 2006.
In the last week you batted .455 with 10 hits, 5 RBIs and one of the best at bats I've seen a Twins hitter have all season.
Your ninth inning double off the Red Sox's John Papelbaum in the ninth inning of Tuesday's loss was a thing of beauty. I have no idea now you managed to foul off that many pitches before leading off the inning with a double and giving the club a chance to tie the score.
I'm also not sure how you're managing to hit .324 for the season either when you're a career .250 hitter who struggled to stay above the Mendoza line last year. But I really don't care.
You had a career year in 2006 when you hit .290. The Twins made you their everyday third baseman and tripled your salary and maybe that added pressure was too much for you.
It doesn't matter. It's good to have you back. If you keep hitting anywhere close to how you're hitting the past month we're in for a fun end to this season.
Although should you revert to 2007 form...you might want to avoid clicking on Bleacher Bums.
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Nick "the Human Highlight Reel" Punto, has long been one of my favorite players in baseball. Offense aside (but thank goodness he has it this year), he is one of the most underrated players in baseball. The kid deserves several Gold Gloves, without question. Even last year, when his offense wasn't up to par, he still made some of the most amazing plays I've ever seen (see: Link).
All that said, I'm thrilled to see the kind of year he's been having. He is an amazing resource for the Twins (where can't he play?), and a key to the Twins' success. If he can maintain his justification for being an everyday player instead of a late-inning defensive substitution, I see good times ahead...
Well done Steve. That at-bat Punto had against Papelbon was tremendous, and kind of seems symbolic of this whole Twins season. He had no business hanging in there for 12 pitches. Gardy should make Gomez and Young watch that at-bat every single day.