"Piranhas" (also known as "Little Piranhas") was a nickname applied to a group of hitters for the Minnesota Twins baseball team. Specifically, the term applied to shortstop Jason Bartlett, third baseman Nick Punto, outfielder Jason Tyner, and second baseman Luis Castillo.
Midway through the 2006 season, the Twins opted for a lineup that included Tyner batting eighth, Bartlett ninth, Castillo first, and Punto second. Manager Ron Gardenhire said these players were like four leadoff hitters: all were fast and hit for average but not power. During the 2006 season, all four hit between .290 (Punto) and .312 (Tyner), but hit a combined six home runs.
|“||"All those piranhas -- blooper here, blooper here, beat out a ground ball, hit a home run, they're up by four. They get up by four with that bullpen? See you at the national anthem tomorrow. When I sit down and look at the lineup, give me the New York Yankees. Give me those guys because they've got holes. You can pitch around them, you can pitch to them. These little guys? Castillo and all of them? People worry about the catcher, what's his name, Mauer? Fine, yeah, a good hitter, but worry about the little [guys], they're on base all the time."||”|
Despite the fact that the term came from a rival manager, it was quickly embraced by both the players and the fans, as well as media outlets such as ESPN. After running a popular "Twins Territory" commercial in 2007 featuring Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto at the Mall of America's Underwater World as "Piranhas" the Minnesota Twins organization marketed official T-shirts, hats, signs, the team even had a "Little Piranha Night" in which piranha finger puppets were given to fans attending the game that evening.
2008 Season Piranhas
During the 2008 Minnesota Twins season, the team played similarly to the 2006 piranhas team. Nick Punto (shortstop) batting eighth, Carlos Gómez (center field) batting ninth, Denard Span (right field) batting first and Alexi Casilla (second base) batting second, were another set of speedy hitters. Hitting for average but not power, these players, like the original piranhas, orchestrated numerous one or two-run innings that led to eventual wins.
- "2006 Minnesota Twins Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- Thesier, Kelly. "Notes: Ozzie praises Twins". Twins Baseball News. MLB Advanced media, L.P. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- Thesier, Kelly. "Twins embrace 'little piranhas' moniker". Twins baseball News. MLB. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "YouTube – This is Twins Territory – Little Piranhas". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Homestand highlights for Friday, May 4 – Sunday, May 13". Twins Baseball Official Info. MLB. Retrieved 2010-10-12.