Posted at 3:36 PM on June 5, 2009
by Chris Dall
Most of the focus after yesterday's 11-3 victory over Cleveland, and rightly so, was on Jason Kubel's monster day. Two home runs and six RBI is a pretty good day at the park. There was also talk of Joe Mauer's three-hit day, and Scott Baker's solid outing. Lost in the shuffle, as it often seems, were Justin Morneau's three hits and three RBI. Just another day for Justin.
Morneau is now hitting .348 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI, statistics that put him among the American League the leaders in all three categories. He's third in the AL with a 1.083 OPS. If he remains at this pace, Morneau will end the year hitting well above .300 with 30+ home runs and 120+ RBI, and should be among the candidates, yet again, for MVP. If you take a look at his statistics over the past few seasons, you realize that he's quite simply one of the best hitters in the game right now not named Joe Mauer. He's also a fine defensive first baseman.
But for all his gaudy statistics, it seems sometimes as if Morneau is the forgotten man on this team, both from a local and a national perspective. You rarely hear Morneau mentioned nationally, unless he's stealing the thunder from other media darlings (see Jeter, Derek and the 2006 MVP, and Hamilton, Josh and the 2008 home run derby). Maybe it's that he's quiet and unassuming, and just does his job. Maybe it's the fact that on a team that has a lot of issues, he's one of the guys who can always be counted on. Maybe it's just that he lives in Joe Mauer's shadow. Whatever the case, my hunch is that he's perfectly fine with it.
I just hope that when his contract comes up, his agent doesn't try to convince him he needs to go elsewhere to get more recognition, and that Twins management realizes he's as important to this team as that other guy who plays catcher.