Morneau manages to slip under radar
First baseman largely unheralded thanks in part to Mauer
Take a look at the offensive stats among American League first basemen, and near the top of almost every category is Justin Morneau's name.Morneau's 64 RBIs rank first among AL first basemen. His 19 home runs are tied for third. Both his .309 batting average and 20 doubles rank fourth. And Morneau is the only AL first baseman who ranks in the top five among all of those categories. Thanks to another stellar start to the season, Morneau is leading the Twins in nearly every offensive category, as well. But with the tremendous season that catcher Joe Mauer has been putting together after missing all of April, the other member of the Minnesota M&M Boys has seen his impressive year go virtually unrecognized outside of his own clubhouse. "There are a lot of people that know about the 1-2 punch here. They are recognized," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But because of that .400 batting average, one guy has gotten most of it. Morny is kind of under the radar." Sports Illustrated runs an annual survey of baseball executives and scouts that asks the question, "Which five players would you pick to start a franchise?" Mauer was ranked third in the poll, but surprisingly, Morneau, the AL MVP in 2006, did not receive a single vote. "I think he's been getting overlooked for the last few years," Mauer said. "He's a great player. He's obviously one of the best players in the league. I don't think he's gotten the credit that he deserves. But I think that's fine by him. He's a guy that's low-key. He doesn't need to have all the attention on him, and that's a Minnesota-type guy." Yet there is no doubt that the Twins understand Morneau's importance to their club. "I know he's the one guy that when he's hitting and swinging and driving in runs, we win," Gardenhire said. "More so than when Joe is hitting .400, we win when Justin is driving in the runs and doing what he does. That's the way it's been here for awhile. It doesn't get overshadowed by us, but nationally, yes it does."
|"Too many times, you take it for granted what he does and what he's done around here."|
|-- Ron Gardenhire|
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.