Minnesota’s Best Defensive Seasons
Image courtesy of Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsCorey Koskie, 3B (2002)
The 2002 season saw some of the best individual defensive seasons in team history. Corey Koskie manned the hot corner for the Twins that season and he compiled a 21.9 Fangraphs DEF total, the highest DEF ranking in club history. His 19.9 UZR ranking is also the top total in the club’s record books. If you extrapolate that total out to 150 games, his 22.4 UZR/150 would be more than four runs higher than his next closest competitor.
Jacque Jones, LF (2002)
While Koskie was dominating at third base, Jacque Jones was also performing very well in left field. His 11.5 DEF score is the seventh best in team history but his 17.6 UZR is the third best overall. He is the lone corner outfielder to rank in the top 20 for UZR and DEF. As a younger player, he spent time playing center field and those instincts clearly translated to his corner outfield spot. His season in left field was the best corner outfield season by any player in team history.
Carlos Gomez, CF (2008)
While Hunter and Puckett are legendary in center field, Gomez compiled arguably the best center field season in team history. His 20.1 DEF and 17.9 UZR totals only trail Koskie’s 2002 season at third base. When it comes range runs (RngR), Gomez tracked down more balls in his vicinity than any player in team history. His 18.9 RngR total was 4.5 runs higher than Koskie’s 2002 total. He lost out on the Gold Glove to Grady Sizemore but he scored much better than him according to defensive metrics.
Torii Hunter, CF (2003)
Seeing Hunter run hard into the Metrodome “baggie” was a common sight during the Twins renaissance in the early 2000s. Hunter won nine Gold Gloves but his best defensive season came in 2003. His 18.4 DEF is third in team history and his 16.2 UZR is one of the team’s four seasons of over 15.0 UZR. When it comes to RngR, only Gomez and Koskie rank higher with their seasons mentioned above. Hunter might be the team’s best defensive player all-time and the 2003 campaign was his crowning achievement.
Byron Buxton, CF (2017)
Buxton became the first Twins player to sweep the Gold Glove, Platinum Glove and Wilson Best Defensive Player. Some of these awards are new editions to the postseason awards circuit but it is an accomplishment to earn multiple honors naming a player as the top defender in the league. When it comes to the defensive metrics, Buxton’s totals are below Gomez (2008) and Hunter (2003). Buxton’s window as the league’s best defender might be small but he still compiled one of the team’s best defensive campaigns.
Who gets your vote for the best defensive season in team history? Koskie? Hunter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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