All worthy candidates indeed. But for this first seasonal offering, I'm giving my nod to right fielder Michael Cuddyer. Now slightly grayed and grizzled in his 10th season with the club (although he appeared in just 84 games between 2001-03), the venerable Cuddy, at 31, has gotten off to the finest start of his career.
As one of just three Twins to appear in every game (Hudson and Span being the others), Cuddyer, at .303, enters the close of April hitting 50 points above than his career April average of .253 and nearly 80 points better than his dismal beginnings to 2009. His 17 RBI are a team-best (good for top five in the A.L.), and he also ranks second (or tied) for runner-up status in team HR's (3), doubles (5) and, um, steals (2). Cuddy is also striking out a rate far lower than last year, when he was retired via K every 5 at-bats. This season? Just onestrikeout per every 6.4 at-bats, a clip that currently represents the best rate of his career.
In addition, Cuddy has found fast love for the club's new confines, sporting Target Field numbers that seem appropriately gaudy and rewarding given his vast time indoors. At home, Cuddyer is hitting .343 and is the club leader in hits (12), HR's (3), RBI (12) and Total Bases (24).
Defensively, Cuddyer continues to exhibit flexible leather, having played three different positions through the Twins' first 22 games when taking into account his brief center field appearance in Detroit on Tuesday. To date: Cuddyer has performed this year sans error at any position. While his historical stints at both second and third base offered results that threatened to derail his young career, Cuddy continues to perform as one of the American League's premier right fielders since his full-time shift to the position in '06. Moreover, his ability to backup Morneau at first remains invaluable. Since spelling Morneau at first for 34 regular season games last season and three games this year, he's made just 4 errors at the alternate position.
A celebrated magician, there's no illusion in recognizing Cuddyer as the club's anchor. And while we collectively hope that the playing card diabolist never extends his phantasms toward encasing himself (or his numbers) in ice -- there's no deception in recognizing that the veteran has taken to the Target Field environs and atmosphere with the aplomb mirroring the enthusiasm of the fan base and the fervor of our Cities.
For that, Michael Cuddyer is our April Twin of the Month. In recognition of the achievement, Cuddyer will receive a gratis scalp massage, compliments of City Pages' web editor Jen Boyles.Like hardball? As do we! Follow the Twins all season via our pithy & potent C.P. Sports Twitter.