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Willingham Continues to Rake

This past offseason can be summarized by two names: Pujols and Fielder. Both players switched leagues, signed monumental contracts and brought a lot of attention to their new clubs. Yes, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers showed that they mean business, leaving baseball fans across the country gasping for air. But they aren’t the only teams to have added a new slugger at the plate.

Have you heard of Josh Willingham? If you’re a casual baseball fan, it’s likely that this quiet left fielder flew under your radar. Before joining the Twins this winter, Willingham spent a year with the Athletics, batting .246 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. Before that, he spent two seasons with the Washington Nationals, where he couldn’t top .270. In fact, the only time that Josh broke .300 before joining the Twins was back in 2005, his second year in the Majors with the then Florida Marlins. Keep in mind his .304 BA came off 23 plate appearances in 16 games.

So why is he worthy of Pujols- and Fielder-level attention? While it is a small sample size, Willingham is on fire this month. His 12 RBIs entering Tuesday night made up over 20% of the runs scored by the Twins this season, and his .328 BA is at the top of the Twins’ roster. His five home runs also lead the team, three of which happened at Target Field—an anomaly amongst Twins players. Picking up ten hits in seven games to start the year, Willingham ultimately tied the franchise’s longest hitting streak to start the season, a 15-game record set by Kirby Puckett in 1994. His OBP leads the Twins and is seventh-best in the American League, where he sits right behind fellow left fielder Josh Hamilton. If he continues on this path, he’ll no doubt be representing the Twins at the 2012 MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Pujols, meanwhile, has struggled in his first season with the Angels, having yet to hit his first home run. And while Fielder is hitting well above .300, his to-date power numbers do not compare to Willingham's

Simply put, Josh Willingham is the best addition to any offense in Major League Baseball. For now. Do I think he can continue at this pace? Absolutely. The Twins had a tough start to the season traveling to Baltimore, New York and Tampa Bay while hosting the Angels and the Texas Rangers at home. The month of May won’t be a walk in the park for Minnesota, but the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics will provide a little bit of a reprieve. The only thing that might put a halt to his season is the fact that his wife is set to have their third son any day now, putting him on paternity leave. And that is unlikely to matter, because he’s already proven he can hit against some of the league’s best pitchers.

Do you agree that Josh Willingham might be the best pick-up of the offseason? Tweet me at @LindsayGuentzel and let me know.

This past offseason can be summarized by two names: Pujols and Fielder. Both players switched leagues, signed monumental contracts and brought a lot of attention to their new clubs. Yes, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers showed that they mean business, leaving baseball fans across the country gasping for air. But they aren’t the only teams to have added a new slugger at the plate.

Have you heard of Josh Willingham? If you’re a casual baseball fan, it’s likely that this quiet left fielder flew under your radar. Before joining the Twins this winter, Willingham spent a year with the Athletics, batting .246 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. Before that, he spent two seasons with the Washington Nationals, where he couldn’t top .270. In fact, the only time that Josh broke .300 before joining the Twins was back in 2005, his second year in the Majors with the then Florida Marlins. Keep in mind his .304 BA came off 23 plate appearances in 16 games.

So why is he worthy of Pujols- and Fielder-level attention? While it is a small sample size, Willingham is on fire this month. His 12 RBIs entering Tuesday night made up over 20% of the runs scored by the Twins this season, and his .328 BA is at the top of the Twins’ roster. His five home runs also lead the team, three of which happened at Target Field—an anomaly amongst Twins players. Picking up ten hits in seven games to start the year, Willingham ultimately tied the franchise’s longest hitting streak to start the season, a 15-game record set by Kirby Puckett in 1994. His OBP leads the Twins and is seventh-best in the American League, where he sits right behind fellow left fielder Josh Hamilton. If he continues on this path, he’ll no doubt be representing the Twins at the 2012 MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Pujols, meanwhile, has struggled in his first season with the Angels, having yet to hit his first home run. And while Fielder is hitting well above .300, his to-date power numbers do not compare to Willingham's

Simply put, Josh Willingham is the best addition to any offense in Major League Baseball. For now. Do I think he can continue at this pace? Absolutely. The Twins had a tough start to the season traveling to Baltimore, New York and Tampa Bay while hosting the Angels and the Texas Rangers at home. The month of May won’t be a walk in the park for Minnesota, but the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics will provide a little bit of a reprieve. The only thing that might put a halt to his season is the fact that his wife is set to have their third son any day now, putting him on paternity leave. And that is unlikely to matter, because he’s already proven he can hit against some of the league’s best pitchers.

Do you agree that Josh Willingham might be the best pick-up of the offseason? Tweet me at @LindsayGuentzel and let me know.