MINNEAPOLIS — Bat flips are so 2021 — and it looks like Max Kepler wanted to innovate.
Instead of finding an emphatic way to toss his bat aside to celebrate his RBI single as part of the Twins’ nine-run fifth inning in an eventual 12-8 win over the Guardians on Friday night at Target Field, Kepler instead put a fresh twist on an old classic by snapping his bat over his leg, Bo Jackson-style, and tossing both halves aside in one fluid motion as he ran to first base.
The most impressive part? Kepler did all this without breaking stride during his jog to first after he poked an opposite-field single through a wide-open left side of the Cleveland infield to end Aaron Civale’s outing.
“He’s starting something new, apparently,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s got style and you can’t teach style. He’s apparently coming up with new things every day, and I think this might be his new thing.”
If you listen to the knock, it sounds like Kepler partly broke the bat on his swing — but he definitely showed his excitement by finishing the job on the basepaths afterwards.
And hey, who can argue with the results? Kepler’s knock made him the second of seven consecutive Twins hitters to reach base against Civale and reliever Bryan Shaw in that rally, punctuated by a grand slam for the first career homer of Royce Lewis, the club’s No. 1 prospect.
It’s probably safe to say managers and trainers would prefer the bat flip for, well, safety reasons.
Or maybe not. Baldelli seemed more concerned after the game about making his player look as impressive as possible.
“Was the bat fully intact, or was the bat broken at that point?” Baldelli asked. “Was it partly broken? We’re going to say it was fully intact. We’re going to go fully intact, and he just snapped the thing.”
We live in the age of baseball innovation these days, and Kepler showed that can extend to celebrations, too. Consider his manager impressed.