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Dominant Twins Batters from 1961-Present

Attached Image: Carew_Oliva_ShakingHands_US_720.jpg With the All-Star Game just around the corner, it's a perfect time to look at some of the best batters throughout Twins history and see how their paths crossed over time. While having a great collection of hitters is one part of a playoff caliber team, the following chart shows that it is a necessary, but not sufficient criteria.

Looking at WAR over time (in this case, from Baseball-Reference.com) is a good way to get a general sense of the quality of batters over time as it is adjusted for era and playing environment.
http://twinsdaily.co...ntid=8218&stc=1
(Click here to see the chart much bigger.)

A few interesting things jump out from looking at this chart:
  • The "lean years" of Twins wins (mid-70s to mid-80s, mid-90s to early-00s) were also lean years for impact bats. But also notable is that some of the best years for Twins individual batters (Carew and Knoblauch, specifically) came during those "lean years".
  • Harmon Killebrew's career stands out for both its longevity and consistency. Every Twin fan knows that "Killer" was a great player, but placed against the other great hitters of Twins history, it becomes even more obvious.
  • The late-70s to early-80s were not quite the wasteland for Twins that the chart shows. While the only "dominant" player (picked by an arbitrary cut-off) was Roy Smalley, there were actually a number of other great years in there by Tom Brunansky (1982 being a standout for him at 5.6 WAR, but 1983 and 1984 were also good years with WAR of ~3 each), Hrbek (from 1982 forward), Butch Wynegar ('76, '77, '79), and even Rob Wilfong (3.1 WAR in 1979).
  • Rod Carew was really good.

Charts like this are fun because they are really just invitations to do deeper research and look below the surface metrics. Besides the obvious things (e.g. the dominant players of the 60s and the World Series years of the 80s and 90s), there are also the blank spots that beg to be filled in (e.g. what was going on in the late 70s?).

For the next installment of this series, I plan to take a look at the dominant Twins pitchers since the franchise was moved to Minnesota.

NOTES:
  • The idea for this post came from a recent XKCD comic title "Dominant Players over Time".
  • Data is from Baseball-Reference.com, both the Play Index and individual player pages for WAR.
  • Players were selected for having approximately 20 WAR over their career with the Twins. Ultimately, the value went down to about 17.2 to include Mack, Gagne, Battey, and Span.


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