Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I’m not going to lie, I’ve just been lazy despite the fact that spring training is almost over. I’ll try to curb this habit before the season starts.
With the Twins’ 25-man roster being announced, there have been some murmurs from fans over the inclusion of Matt Tolbert over Luke Hughes. Honestly, I’m not surprised by the Twins choosing Tolbert. He’s the incumbent, more similar to Nick Punto (and likely thus a better person to fill Punto’s vacated role), etc. etc.
But look at Hughes’ home runs and RBI during the spring! Yeah, I know. Want to know someone else that once hit a ton of home runs early? Chris Shelton in ’06. Who? Well, if you don’t remember Shelton, he was the Opening Day 1st baseman for the Detroit Tigers in 2006. Shelton roared out of the gates with 9 home runs in his first 13 games, and I believe had 10 at the end of April. However, he only managed 6 more homers for the rest of the season, and was eventually sent to Triple-A in favor of the recently acquired Sean Casey.
I know, it’s only one player and one example, but it shows an important lesson: It doesn’t matter how well you start the year, it matters more if you can be consistent or show improvement towards the end. In Hughes’ case, he followed a similar path as Shelton, as he started 8 for 19 (.421) in his first seven games, but finished by going 8 for 49 (.163) in his final sixteen. That’s not what the coaching staff wants to see, even if you hit 6 home runs over 23 games.
There’s no doubt that Hughes can hit, and Tolbert can seem Punto-esque at times, but I feel that Tolbert’s ability to bring speed and more defensively flexibility earned him the roster spot over Hughes. Even though he doesn’t make the roster, it’s almost certain that Hughes will be the first infielder called up from the minors if needed. There’s still a good chance for him to be a righthanded bat off the bench for the majority of the season. Remember that there are 162 games, and injuries will happen. Provided that one of those injuries doesn’t afflict Hughes, we will see him very shortly in Minnesota.