This year, the Minnesota Twins are playing phenomenal baseball. In fact, after Saturday night’s game, the Twins have the best record in baseball with a 47-22 record. Saturday night, though, things were different because the Twins retired Twins jersey # 7 forever. In an emotional speech, Joe Mauer thanked his fans, his family and especially his parents, his wife and their 3 kids for making his career possible.

After his speech, Joe Mauer threw out the first pitch. This was different because he didn’t throw it to a Twins catcher, which is customary. The ‘catcher’ this time was Mauer’s dad. After Jake Sr. caught the ball, he and his son came together for another emotional moment.

Once the game began, the Twins’ started a little bumpy, with Jake Odorizzi serving up a 2-run homer in the top of the first. By the time he left the game after completing 6 innings, Odorizzi had given up 4 runs, the most runs he’s given up in a game this season. After the game, Odorizzi praised Mauer’s professionalism before adding this:

This Twins team is as good as it is in part because of Joe Mauer. During his last 2 years with the team, Mauer would award game balls for important plays that’d normally go unnoticed in the box score. He’d hand out a game ball for a baserunner who ran hard to second base and broke up a potential double play. He’d highlight teammates for hustling out of the batters box and stretching a single into a double.

This year’s team are making lots of those types of plays, seemingly on a nightly basis. The players that were taught by Mauer’s attention to detail and Mauer’s professionalism are this year’s leaders. That being said, Thad Levine and Derek Falvey have put together a pretty talented team.

This past offseason, the Twins brought in talented veterans like Johnathan Schoop, Nelson Cruz, Martin Perez, C.J. Cron and Marwin Gonzalez. Their leadership, combined with young veterans having career years have caused the Twins to jump out to an 11-game lead over the 3-time Cleveland Indians.

This year’s Twins team is a true team effort. Thad Levine put together a deep and talented roster. Jim Pohlad approved the budget to go out and get these talented players. Rookie Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has made one great decision after another. Nelson Cruz has helped hitting coach James Rowson teach these young hitters how to work the count into their favor, which has led to lots of extra base hits. (The Twins are on pace to shatter the MLB record for slugging percentage and homeruns in a season.)

While the Twins lead the majors in home runs hit and slugging percentage, their hitters have struck out just 629 times. Compare that with the fact that they’ve collected 651 hits. No other team in the AL can say that they have more hits than strikeouts. (That kinda sounds like a traditional Mauer year, doesn’t it?)

After his ceremony, Joe Mauer joined Twins great Bert Blyleven and long-time Twins announcer Dick Bremer in the booth for half an inning:

It’s worth your while to watch the entire ceremony, too:

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