Sano chasing rare Twins trifecta

Despite his slow start to the season slugger Miguel Sano has been a critical contributor for the Minnesota Twins in just his second major-league season.

So when Sano came up limping in the third inning Tuesday, Twins fans were understandably dismayed to learn he wouldn't be available for the start of an upcoming series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

And for good reason.

Sano has a chance to become just the fifth player since 1985 to lead the Twins in runs, home runs and RBI, and the first since Josh Willingham in 2012.

Players Leading Twins in Runs, HR and RBI, Since 1985

Player Year R HR RBI
Kirby Puckett 1992 104 19 110
Matt Lawton 1998 91 21 77
Torii Hunter 2003 83 26 102
Josh Willingham 2012 85 35 110
Miguel Sano 2016 23 11 27

Fortunately for the Twins, first baseman Joe Mauer has been MLB's most productive batter all-time when facing the Rays, racking up 76 hits and 32 RBI in 206 at-bats.

Highest Career Batting Average vs. Rays, All-Time

*Minimum 150 PA

Player Average
Joe Mauer .369
Howie Kendrick .359
Roberto Alomar .356
Victor Martinez .355
Ivan Rodriguez .351

However, Minnesota might want to hold off on scoring and let the Rays tally a run first.

The Twins are actually better when the other team scores first, having won twice as many games when surrendering the first run as they have when scoring it.

The Rays came close in 2005 and 2006, but no team has actually completed a season this way since 1912.

Largest Winning Pct. Increase when Opponents Score First, MLB since 1912

Team Year Score First Opp First Diff.
Twins 2016 .250 (5-15) .313 (10-22) +.063
Rays 2006 .391 (34-53) .360 (27-48 -.031
Rays 2005 .443 (35-44) .386 (32-51) -.057
Reds 2016 .375 (9-15) .310(9-20) -.065

Statistics courtesy of STATS inc.