Minnesota Twins slugger Josh Willingham smashed his 35th home run of the 2012 season during Wednesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians, which makes him the first Twins player to reach the 35 HR mark for a single season since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 long balls in 1970. The historical note comes via Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500, who also reminds fans that Twins history was marred by a long drought of 30+ home run hitters from 1987 to 2006 -- a streak finally snapped by Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau.
Willingham has been a revelation for the Twins since he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the team during the off-season. The 33-year-old slugger has posted a batting line of .262/.369/.901 over 594 plate appearances with the Twins in 2012, but his home run prowess has been even more intriguing.
Target Field is a big park that actually suppresses home runs when compared to the average ballpark, so the fact that Willingham has managed to belt the sixth-most home runs of any player in the American League is quite an accomplishment.
The season has been a disaster for the Twins, but Willingham has more than pulled his weight. According to FanGraphs, he has produced $17.5 million in value on the field for Minnesota this season. That's quite a deal, considering his contract.