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Glen Perkins: Tribute To A Twins Daily Hall Of Famer

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're re-pinning this article from October today due to the news that Glen Perkins has officially retired from baseball.

On the final Sunday of the 2017 regular season, Minnesota Twins fans had the privilege of watching 44-year-old Bartolo Colon put, perhaps, the finishing touch on a lengthy major-league career that will go down as unforgettable.

One night earlier, another pitcher likely closed the book on a story that's been far more impactful and personal to us, playing out from start to finish in our own backyards.

Glen Perkins won't loom as large as Colon in the game's history, but he will deservedly go down as a Minnesota baseball legend, and if we were to establish a Twins Daily Hall of Fame, he'd certainly be a first-ballot inductee.
Image courtesy of Denny Medley, USA Today
Why do I say Perk is an easy choice for this hypothetical TD Hall of Fame? The biggest reason is obvious enough: his play. Our site launched in 2012, and during the first several years of its existence, he was easily one of the team's brightest stars.

Perkins first took over the closer role midway through that campaign, relieving us all of Matt Capps. From that point through the end of the 2015 season, the left-hander was one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, a three-time All Star and a dominant force.

His best years coincided directly with the rise of our community. They also coincided directly with one of the darkest chapters in this franchise's modern history, which is a true shame. I do wonder how much differently Perkins might be viewed if more than a handful of his 120 career saves were actually meaningful.

But it's not just the performance Perkins delivered at his peak that makes him near-and-dear to this site. He is in so many ways a reflection of everything Twins Daily stands for: a celebration of Minnesota baseball; an embracing of deeper and more thoughtful analysis; a sometimes nerdy level of passion for the game.

This piece is my attempt to recognize Perkins for all of these things.

Local Product
He's the definition of a homegrown talent. Perkins was born in Stillwater, just inside the Minnesota border, in 1983. He grew up and played prep ball there, then attended the University of Minnesota, where he starred for the Gophers. Taken by his hometown MLB team with the 22nd overall pick in 2004, Perkins became the eighth first-round pick out of the U of M, joining – among others – Paul Molitor.

How fitting that Molitor would eventually be the manager to send Perk out for his emotional curtain call in the season's second-to-last game.

Obviously our central focus here at Twins Daily is covering the Twins (daily) but we also make efforts to extend our lens to Minnesota hardball at large. Readers could find frequent coverage of the Gophers and St. Paul Saints this summer, and around draft time we always shine a light on the locals. Perkins covers the breadth of our scope.

When he donned those road jerseys with the "MINNESOTA" lettering across the front, it had quite a bit more meaning for Perkins than most.

The Reinvention
After joining the pro ranks, Perkins rose quickly through the minors, making his first big-league appearance two years after being drafted. But in time it became apparent that he wasn't cut out as an MLB starter.

After working up to 150 innings in 2008, his arm didn't respond well. The following year he battled injuries while his fastball dipped below 90 and his K/9 sank to an untenable nadir. Late in the season, relations between he and the team reached a low point when Perkins filed a grievance against the Twins for optioning him to the minors instead of sending him on a rehab assignment off a DL stint, preventing him qualifying for Super 2 status (and thus, an arbitration raise).

It was a logical decision for the Twins, but one could understand the lefty's frustration. His budding career momentum had grinded to a halt before yielding any significant money. The next year he pitched terribly in Triple-A but came back up to the majors in August anyway, in a probable last shot with the organization.

Ron Gardenhire and the Twins saw something they liked as Perkins worked as a reliever in September, posting a 3.09 ERA and averaging a strikeout per inning. They brought him to New York for the playoffs.

In spring of 2011, he was reportedly close to not making the team before a late-March meeting with Gardenhire in which he told the skipper, “I want to pitch for the Twins. It’s where I grew up. Just give me a chance.”

They did, and boy was it a good call. Perkins blossomed as a setup man that year, pumping heat in the mid-90s, then took over the closer role in 2012. He would make three straight All Star teams in that capacity, and four years later he'd overtake Eddie Guardado for third on the franchise leaderboard in saves.

It's the kind of turnaround that should inspire every struggling young player in the game.

A Studious Mind
As you may or may not be aware, Perkins wrote the foreword for this year's edition of the Baseball Prospectus Annual. In it, he recounts the story of discovering BP in 2009, and thusly becoming aware of sabermetrics and modernized analysis. Suddenly, he was noticing the negative harbingers in a 12-win 2008 season – a sub par K-rate, a bloated fly ball ratio, a FIP north of 5.00.

A change in mindset, and reevaluating the factors of his game really worth focusing on, may have played a big role in driving his turnaround.

By the time he was blooming as an elite relief pitcher in 2013, Perkins was well versed in advanced stats. That May, he participated in a Q&A with David Laurila of FanGraphs where he drilled down into metrics like K/9, Z-Swing%, and HR/FB.

His assertion in that interview that FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is the most important pitching statistic probably wasn't shared by any of his peers in the majors, but was music to the ears of bloggers and analytical fans.

This commonality – a fervent curiosity about baseball, extending beyond its traditions and platitudes – helped many of us fans feel an inherent bond with the hurler, and he strengthened it with an engaging and accessible personality. Perk has always been pretty interactive on Twitter. He and his wife Alisha host an annual 5K supporting mental health. He notoriously bought a round of beers from the bullpen for Twins Daily readers at our first Touch Em All Pub Crawl. He has even gone to bat for the value of baseball writing not driven by access:



Perkins has done much to endear himself to Twins fans – and the hardcore sorts that patronize this site especially – so it's safe to say he wasn't the only one dealing with dust in his eyes as he sat in the dugout after that final appearance of the year.

One of Us
Here in Minnesota, the above term is thrown around often in sarcastic tones, teasing the absurd amount of pride we tend to express over athletes with local ties. But Perkins fulfills that descriptor in every sense.

Thanks, Perk, for being One of Us and representing Us so well.

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18 Comments

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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 15 2017 07:12 PM

Beautiful article about a good man. 

Even though I'm not from Minnesota, so the idea of him being one of us is lost on me personally, he was a great player who I enjoyed watching a lot.

 

This is a very good article.Thanks.

Back then I was on the Trib pages a lot.I remember making the case that Mauer should give a discount to the Twins and got ripped by fans wanting the twins to extend his contract. My position was what difference does a few million make when we are talking 20 some million a year and the response was wouldn't I go elsewhere to make more money (like its the same thing for me). Anyway this was when 99% of posters wanted Mauer signed no matter the cost (as opposed to 2011 when 99% of the posters said they were always against the deal).About this time Perkins was filing his grievance. I never liked the guy (Perkins) all that much but couldn't help notice the fans defending Mauer's right to make as much as he could while ripping on Perkins for trying to milk as much money as he could out of what looked like a mediocre career that was pointing toward wash up. Just didn't make sense to me.I came to admire Perkins not for his pitching so much but more for just appearing to be a stand up guy.

    • Dman likes this
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WiesbadenDAN
Oct 16 2017 07:47 AM

Good stuff Nick!  As a diehard Minnesotan and Twins fan I loved Perk not only because he was great but because he was one of us.Because of that I felt like he got who we were, although there is one thing he will never understand.That is the fact that we loved him no matter what and because he sat in in that dugout we were represented and represented with class.Thanks Glen!

    • IndyTwinsFan and Broker like this
I'm not 100% sure he's done. His velocity was starting to creep ball up, and might not have topped out. His feel was certainly off, but in general it seems like he was rushing back in case this season was his last shot. His role may be more loogy going forward, but I wouldn't be surprised if he succeeded in that capacity if he wanted to put in the work for 1 more reinvention.

If this was it, the thing I always loved about perk was his willingness to pitch up in the zone and challenge hitters at a time when the twins philosophy was "keep the ball down and pitch to contact.
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Aaron Cross
Oct 16 2017 02:59 PM
I saw him berate enough Latino teammates that I’m not going to say he was a great person or teammate. I saw him scream at Alexi Casilla right on the field. Publicly trash Josmil Pinto, a great non-English speaking kid who couldn’t even defend himself. I’ve seen him stare down Rosario on atleast two occasions after misplays. It’s not politically correct to rip Perkins here, but I’m sticking up for these kids that he treated badly.
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 17 2017 02:56 PM

buying a round of beer for TD pub crawlers somehow didn't make this list?

    • ashburyjohn likes this

Aaron Gleeman wrote about Glen Perkins as well. 

 

https://www.baseball...tter-long-perk/

 

    • dbminn likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jan 23 2018 02:37 PM

From the original report, the news that's out there is nothing close to an official retirement announcement. This was a radio station relaying something Thad Levine said. Or maybe said. They don't even sound that confident ...

 

 

I would feel a lot better about this if something came out from Glen or at least one of the main beat writers, but what do I know?

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Carole Keller
Jan 23 2018 02:56 PM

I had to unlike the original in order to like it again ... thanks, Nick.

    • nicksaviking and Riverbrian like this

Great person, great player. Can't wait to see him again!

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Nick Nelson
Jan 23 2018 03:39 PM

 

From the original report, the news that's out there is nothing close to an official retirement announcement. This was a radio station relaying something Thad Levine said. Or maybe said. They don't even sound that confident ...

Interesting. I guess I've always presumed this would be the case, so it's easy for me to accept at face value. Seems clear that he is, at the very least, taking this year off. 

 

If there's an issue at play here, it may be the handling of how it was announced. Might have just been a slip of the tongue by Levine. If I recall correctly, when Berardino reported Willingham's retirement, Josh's wife got very upset because she felt it was Hammer's news to give.

 

To that end, for whatever it's worth (probably nothing), Perk's wife Alisha 'liked' a tweet I posted earlier today referencing that report and linking to this article. 

I wish I could like this article again.

Great career Perk!
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Tom Froemming
Jan 23 2018 07:22 PM

 

Interesting. I guess I've always presumed this would be the case, so it's easy for me to accept at face value. Seems clear that he is, at the very least, taking this year off. 

 

If there's an issue at play here, it may be the handling of how it was announced. Might have just been a slip of the tongue by Levine. If I recall correctly, when Berardino reported Willingham's retirement, Josh's wife got very upset because she felt it was Hammer's news to give.

 

To that end, for whatever it's worth (probably nothing), Perk's wife Alisha 'liked' a tweet I posted earlier today referencing that report and linking to this article. 

LaVelle has reported on it now, but only adds that "a source close to Perkins confirmed late Tuesday that he would be interested in working with the club in that (front office) capacity." Odd way for things to end, even if it was somewhat expected. I can't imagine he's too pleased that Levine spilled the beans. Would've been nice to announce at TwinsFest or something like that so fans had an opportunity to show him some love, but what is done is done, I guess.

should be in HOF if for nothing else, ushering Capps out!

Not quite a Mariano Rivera farewell tour...... but sometimes things end quietly.

Born in Stillwater

High School in Stillwater.

College at the U of M.

Drafted by the Minnesota Twins

Entire Career Spent with the Twins Organization

 

He couldn't be more one of us... even if he spent his retirement walking around the lakes cleaning Zebra Mussels and Pondweed off of boats. 

 

I finding my biggest hat to tip to him. 

 

 

 

 

    • Nick Nelson likes this

Glen Perkins tweeted the below this morning:

 

 

    • ashburyjohn and h2oface like this

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