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Twins get walk-off win from hot-hitting rookie Danny Valencia

Sep 2, 2010, 11:47 AM EDT

Despite shutting out the Tigers for seven innings last night Francisco Liriano was denied his 13th win when the Twins’ bullpen couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead, but rookie third baseman Danny Valencia delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give Minnesota the victory anyway.
Valencia began the season at Triple-A and was hitting just .292/.347/.373 with zero homers in 49 games when the Twins called him up in early June. At the time he was expected to simply provide an extra body for a few days while Michael Cuddyer was on bereavement leave, but three months later Valencia is still in the majors. And he’s hitting .332.
He’s continued to show little power after the homerless stretch at Triple-A, managing just two long balls in 208 at-bats with the Twins, but Valencia does have 16 doubles and a .332 batting average tends to make up for a lack of other things. Plus, he’s been significantly better than expected defensively, showing good range and an excellent arm at third base despite the Twins publicly questioning his glove this spring.
Valencia obviously won’t keep hitting .330, but as the batting average comes back down to earth his power should rise–prior to this season he smacked 19 homers per 150 games in the minors–and his unexpected contributions have been a big part of the Twins ability to thrive without Justin Morneau for the past two months.

  1. Mrsteve - Sep 2, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    ROY?

  2. Trevor B - Sep 2, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    The AL isn’t as strong in the rookie area as the NL this year which is rather odd. We’ve only been hearing about the NL when it comes to big individual performances (Triple Crown, NL ROY log jam, etc etc). The AL ROY should be interesting, but I don’t foresee Valencia getting it.

  3. ThatGuy - Sep 2, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Granted he missed the first two months, but if he continues as is and finishes with a line similiar to his current .332 avg .375 obp .447 slg .822 ops, why doesn’t he have a shot? Austin Jackson and Neftali Feliz are his only real competition. Valencia is beating Jackson in every rate stat, and is tied in hr and close in RBIs(fairly meaningless). Also Jackson has 139 Ks, which is about 110 more than Valencia. Feliz has a better case because he has been outstanding, but its not out of the question that voters would take Valencia because he is an everyday player. Voters tend to do that sort of stuff.

  4. minnesconsin_ad - Sep 2, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    first things first: i heart danny valencia. twins fans have been listening to the buzz about this kid for a couple years now…the job should have been his right out of camp. He didn’t dazzle anyone in spring training, but neither did Nick Punto or Brendan Harris and we all know their story this year. Valencia had the most upside, and I think the player and the team would have both seen mutual benefits from an earlier call-up. Gardenire & co. seem to have this odd, powertrippy “kid’s gotta learn his place” thing going on, as the reports early were that they felt DV was too cocky for his own good, etc. I love that youthful confidence. He’s not exactly nyjer morgan out there, and the kid seems to have ice in his veins, has come up with some very big hits for this team. The power will come. His .332 average didn’t come from slapping singles to right field all night — he’s been hitting the ball sharply in most at-bats, a lot of gappers and balls off the wall, etc.
    all that said, I bet Feliz wins the ROY.

  5. doctorfunke - Sep 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    He’s been truly impressive at every turn. Like you said Minn_ad, he does seem to have ice in his veins-he’s been especially impressive with two strikes. And all of his errors have been the throwing variety. It’s so great what he’s done this season, what with the injuries and the lack of production from the hot corner. It looks as if we may finally have an everyday third baseman. I heart Valencia as well.

  6. Wings - Sep 2, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    He may not be showing a lot of power, but he has seemed pretty clutch against high-quality pitching. Don’t forget his first home run was a grand slam off of Zach Greinke and his second broke up a scoreless tie against Jered Weaver, not too shabby.

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