Twins jorge Polanco

Aug 14, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins infielder Jorge Polanco (11) makes contact during a game with the Tampa Bay Rays at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins infielder Jorge Polanco is having a historical season at the plate.

What started with a lackluster .697 OPS over the first two months of the year has quickly transformed into his best campaign in the big leagues.

Polanco emerged as a late-inning hero for the Twins with five walk-off plate appearances, including three in a four-game span from Aug. 15-18. He became the first player to tally a walk-off RBI in three consecutive team wins since Boston slugger David Ortiz in the 2004 playoffs.

On Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Polanco made more history.

During the first inning of the Twins’ 6-5 loss to New York, the infielder swatted an 0-2 changeup from right-hander Luis Gil into the right-field seats. It was his 30th home run of the season and his 22nd from the left side of the dish.

Polanco became the fifth switch-hitter in MLB history to play at least 50% of his games in the middle infield and hammer 30+ home runs.

Topping that list is Francisco Lindor, who did it in three straight seasons for Cleveland from 2017-19, including 38 big flies in ’18. Arizona’s Ketel Marte crushed 32 home runs in 2019, and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins and Chicago White Sox infielder Jose Valentin scratched the 30-homer club in 2007 and ’04.

MLB RECORD FOR HOMERS BY SWITCH-HITTERS (2B/SS)
PLAYER SEASON HR AS LHB HR AS RHB TOTAL HR HR%
Francisco Lindor (CLE) 2018 29 9 38 5.1%
Francisco Lindor (CLE) 2017 22 11 33 4.6%
Ketel Marte (ARI) 2019 20 12 32 5.1%
Francisco Lindor (CLE) 2019 24 8 32 4.9%
Jorge Polanco (MIN) 2021 22 8 30 5.2%
Jimmy Rollins (PHI) 2007 21 9 30 3.9%
Jose Valentin (CHW) 2004 23 7 30 6.0%

Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle holds the all-time single-season record for switch hitters with 54 taters in 1961, and also ranks second with 52 in 1956. Lance Berkman (2006) and Chipper Jones (1999) are tied for third with 45.

Polanco made team history as well, shattering the Twins’ single-season record for dingers by a switch-hitter of any position -- a mark that stood for 30 years.

In 1991, Chili Davis signed with the Twins as a free agent, moved from outfielder to full-time designated hitter and crushed 29 bombs while batting in the heart of manager Tom Kelly’s lineup.

In his lone All-Star season of 1979, shortstop Roy Smalley smacked 11 homers from the left side of the batter’s box and 13 from the right en route to a career-high 24 dingers.

TWINS RECORD FOR HOMERS BY SWITCH-HITTERS
PLAYER SEASON HR AS LHB HR AS RHB TOTAL HR HR%
Jorge Polanco 2021 22 8 30 5.2%
Chili Davis 1991 18 11 29 4.6%
Roy Smalley 1979 11 13 24 3.3%
Jorge Polanco 2019 16 6 22 3.1%
Eduardo Escobar 2017 14 7 21 4.2%

Polanco is now the second Twins middle infielder to notch 30+ homers in a season, joining second baseman Brian Dozier -- his teammate for parts of five seasons in Minnesota. Dozier did it twice with 42 dingers in 2016 and 34 in 2017.

Polanco has always had more power and been a better hitter from the left side. Since debuting as a 20-year-old in 2014, Polanco owns a .281/.349/.460 slash line (.810 OPS) and 55 homers as a leftie compared to a .272/.303/.438 slash line (.714 OPS) and 24 dingers from the right side.

He might not be the Twins’ defensive preference at shortstop, but the converted second baseman is a favorite of manager Rocco Baldelli’s to slot in the lineup.