Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Zulgad: Is MLB really making return about dollars and cents?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:48 AM
https://www.skornort...lars-and-cents/   The owners have made their proposal to the players. The players association will now have t...
Full topic ›

WP article about 1924 World Series win by pre-Twins

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:20 AM
Saw this lovely article today by one of the country's best sports writers. It sounds like 1924 rivaled 1991 for excitement!   https:...
Full topic ›

Cosmetic Changes at TF

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:05 AM
I went down to Target Field with the family this weekend (got some Glam Doll donuts and played on the grass by the LRT station for my bir...
Full topic ›

Rent the Blue Wahoos' stadium for whiffle ball and ov...

Twins Minor League Talk 24 May 2020
Kind of unbelievable, but I guess they might as well make money somehow now that baseball is shut down.   https://www.washingt...all...
Full topic ›

Information on Owner's proposal to Player's Union...

Minnesota Twins Talk 24 May 2020
Chuck Garifen of NBC Sports Chicago: https://twitter.com/...3584651264?s=20
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs


Ranking the 5 MVP Seasons From Minnesota Twins History

Since moving to Minnesota and becoming the Twins in 1961, the Minnesota Twins have produced five American League MVP winners. How do those five MVP seasons rank and who had the best MVP season in Twins history?
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
5. Justin Morneau | 2006
  • .321/.375/.559 (.934 OPS/140 OPS+)
  • 34 HR
  • 130 RBI
  • 4.3 bWAR
On June 7 of the 2006 season, Justin Morneau was benched by Ron Gardenhire for a game against the Seattle Mariners after he had started the season with a .236 batting average. From that day forward, Morneau batted .362 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. Because of his slow start to the season, Morneau wasn’t even named an American League All-Star in 2006, yet was crowned MVP when all was said and done. The MVP voting in Morneau’s award-winning season was extremely close, as he edged out Derek Jeter by only 14 points, and only received three more first place votes than Jeter. Morneau had an excellent season at the plate, but because of his slow start to the season and his play at a less vital defensive position, Morneau’s MVP in 2006 comes up fifth in the ranking of Twins MVP seasons.

4. Zoilo Versalles | 1965
  • .273/.319/.462 (.781 OPS/115 OPS+)
  • 19 HR
  • 77 RBI
  • 7.2 bWAR
Zoilo Versalles missed out on being a unanimous choice for MVP in 1965 after losing out on one first place vote to fellow teammate, and fellow Cuban, Tony Oliva. Versalles didn’t have the traditional MVP season as he only posted an OPS of .781 and drove in just 77 RBI. Versalles contributed all over the place in his MVP season, though, leading the league in runs, doubles, triples and total bases. Where Versalles really secured the MVP, though, was in the field where he won a Gold Glove from the shortstop position. Versalles will always be an interesting discussion piece in Minnesota Twins history, and his MVP season of 1965 ranks fourth in the discussion of all-time MVP seasons for the Twins.

3. Harmon Killebrew | 1969
  • .276/.427/.584 (1.011 OPS/177 OPS+)
  • 49 HR
  • 140 RBI
  • 6.2 bWAR
The greatest player to ever don a Minnesota Twins jersey, Killebrew had the best season of his career in 1969 when he set career highs in home runs, RBI, and on-base percentage. Each of those three categories led Major League Baseball in 1969 and each of them still hold as team records for the Minnesota Twins. Killebrew helped lead the Minnesota Twins to an AL West title with a 97-65 record, but comes in third place due to his performance in the field. After having played majority of the decade at first base, Killebrew played 105 games at third base in 1969 and struggled, with a TZR of -12.

2. Rod Carew | 1977
  • .388/.449/.570 (1.019 OPS/178 OPS+)
  • 14 HR
  • 100 RBI
  • 9.7 bWAR
Carew’s 1977 season still stands as one of the greatest pure hitting seasons we’ve ever seen in baseball, as evidenced by his .388 batting average, the second highest batting average in the integration era of baseball (1947-present). Additionally in 1977, Carew led baseball in runs, hits, triples and OPS. After finishing in the top-10 in MVP voting the previous four seasons, Carew finally pushed through in ‘77 with a 70% award share. Carew was held back from the number one position in our rankings because of playing first base as well as his performance coming on a 1977 Twins team that finished fourth in the AL West and missed out on the playoffs.

1. Joe Mauer | 2009
  • .365/.444/.587 (1.031 OPS/171 OPS+)
  • 28 HR
  • 96 RBI
  • 7.8 bWAR
The number one ranked MVP season in Minnesota Twins history is Joe Mauer’s MVP from 2009. The 2009 season for Mauer featured him earning a third batting title, as well as setting career highs in hits, home runs, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and total bases. Mauer’s 2009 season remains the best OPS season in Minnesota Twins history, and to top it off he won a Gold Glove as the best defensive catcher in baseball. Getting top flight performance in offense and defense from the most important defensive position in baseball is enough to warrant the top spot as the best MVP season in Minnesota Twins history. Additionally, Mauer led the Minnesota Twins to an 87-76 record and an American League Central division title.

How would you rank the five MVP seasons in Minnesota Twins history? Do you agree that Joe Mauer has the best single season in team history? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • David HK likes this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

35 Comments

Photo
Tom Froemming
Apr 05 2020 09:12 PM

Just to piggyback on something you already touched on, Mauer doing what he did in '09 as a catcher is really remarkable. There's an argument that's the greatest season any catcher has ever had. Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza are the two guys who immediately come to mind as the top challengers to for that honor.

    • spanman2, DocBauer, dbminn and 4 others like this
Photo
Nash Walker
Apr 05 2020 09:58 PM
Great work brother. I think 1 and 2 could go either way. Carew hit. 400 until like August and Joe hit the 28 bombs with an insane slash line. Geez, Harmon could be #1 too.
    • gunnarthor, gil4, David HK and 1 other like this

 

Great work brother. I think 1 and 2 could go either way. Carew hit. 400 until like August and Joe hit the 28 bombs with an insane slash line. Geez, Harmon could be #1 too.

I think 4 and 5 could go either way too. It was an interesting topic. 

    • David HK and Nash Walker like this

2006 was my favorite regular season of all time. 25-33 and 11.5 games back. I remember Mike and Mike saying "stick a fork in the Twins.They are done". They went 71-33 the rest of the way in one of the most exciting finishes in baseball history and Morneau was the guy carrying them. I know Mauer was great that year also as were a few other guys but my memory was that no one carried a team over a 100 games like Morneau did that year.I put him at number one and am fine with the rest of the order from there.

    • David HK and peteymunoz like this

 

Just to piggyback on something you already touched on, Mauer doing what he did in '09 as a catcher is really remarkable. There's an argument that's the greatest season any catcher has ever had. Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza are the two guys who immediately come to mind as the top challengers to for that honor.

 

Bench in '72 and Piazza in '97 definitely should be in the conversation, but Mauer in '09 was about as good as a catcher has ever been. Just an insanely great season.

    • DocBauer, Tom Froemming and Minny505 like this
If I was an opposing pitcher:
1. Killebrew 1969
2. Carew 1977
3. Morneau 2006
4. Mauer 2009
5. Versalles 1965

As an opposing pitcher the one batter I fear was Killebrew for well over a decade.

Carew hits a lot of singles and is a great hitter, but, he doesn't score as many runs in the 1970's with the number of times he gets on base so we can contain him except for 1977 when he put together a great season.


2006: Joe Mauer in his walk year hit a career high 28 Hrs and hit .365. I'm a pitcher I am more intimidated by seasons from Bench, Campanella, Piazza, Gary Carter as hitters. After the big contract, in the second year starts becoming a 60-70 run scoring and 55-65 RBI guy while moving to 1B.

2009: Morneau can drive in runs so top RBI guy. Too bad about concussions.

1965: Versalles Was 5th or 6th on team in OPS+. Made 39 errors at SS which won't get you playing time today. Oliva should have received award in a year they pick from a team going to WS he was hard to get out. Versalles has to rank among the worst MVPs of all-time. He led league in striking out as well in 1965.
    • ewen21 likes this

 

2006 was my favorite regular season of all time. 25-33 and 11.5 games back. I remember Mike and Mike saying "stick a fork in the Twins.They are done". They went 71-33 the rest of the way in one of the most exciting finishes in baseball history and Morneau was the guy carrying them. I know Mauer was great that year also as were a few other guys but my memory was that no one carried a team over a 100 games like Morneau did that year.I put him at number one and am fine with the rest of the order from there.

I am sorry, but getting swept by Oakland in the first round really kills it for me.As great as that comeback was and as breath taking the stretch run was we did nothing with it in the end and I look back on 2006 as a damn shame.

 

I was OK with calling that a successful season at the time, but I can't look at it that way now.

Look at WAR and Carew blows them all away and even though we now question Versalles career year he the third best WAR season.By WAR it is

  • Carew
  • Mauer
  • Versalles
  • Killebrew
  • Morneau

 

I am sorry, but getting swept by Oakland in the first round really kills it for me.As great as that comeback was and as breath taking the stretch run was we did nothing with it in the end and I look back on 2006 as a damn shame.

 

I was OK with calling that a successful season at the time, but I can't look at it that way now.

No problem. I did say regular season and I have an easy time distinguishing.You are more a destination guy and I am more a journey guy.I enjoyed the ride in 2006 and thought it was a damn shame it had to end but as happy and excited as I was in 87 and 91 I could say the same thing for those years. "Wait til next year" have always been bitter sweet words to me no matter how the current season ended.

Photo
terrydactyls1947
Apr 06 2020 07:51 AM
If you want to cherry pick stats, how about waistlines? Killebrew tops them all. Or maybe height? Mauer gets my vote. Furthest distance from home? Carew wins that.

Two glaring statistical omissions for Killebrew's 1969 season:

145 walks

.427 on base percentage

 

These help tell how much opposing pitchers feared facing him.Add these stats to the rest of his for that season to see total impact.

    • TopGunn#22, kenbuddha and Rigby like this

Bench in '72 and Piazza in '97 definitely should be in the conversation, but Mauer in '09 was about as good as a catcher has ever been. Just an insanely great season.

Mauer had the slight misfortune of having Buster Posey show up around that time, and put up a season about on a par with his (in a tougher home park to hit in) in 2012. Made it seem like, "meh, catchers be catchin'." :)
 

    • Dantes929, DocBauer and Minny505 like this

 

Mauer had the slight misfortune of having Buster Posey show up around that time, and put up a season about on a par with his (in a tougher home park to hit in) in 2012. Made it seem like, "meh, catchers be catchin'." :)
 

 

Molina peaked in 2012 too, had a similar season to Posey. (I'll admit, I've always wondered a little about Molina's big jump in offense from 2011-2013, but maybe he did just hit his peak from 28-30. As a catcher.)

 

It's always a little depressing to look back and recall that Mauer was having another monster season in 2013 before the concussion. He could have ended up with another 7 bWAR season, which would have put him in some pretty rarified air: very few catchers have hit that summit twice. (Bench x3, Fisk x2, Carter x3, Piazza x2) A lot of HoF catchers never cleared that height at all (no for Yogi, Rodriguez, Campy, Dickey, Hartnett...)

 

Probably the best catching season no one remembers is Gary Carter in 1982. Fisk got hurt in '79 and Carter took the title of "best catcher in baseball" and didn't give away the belt until '86 and you can make a pretty good argument the only player in all of baseball better than him was Robin Yount (who had an insane season for Harvey's Wallbangers).

    • ashbury, DocBauer and Matthew Taylor like this

 

If I was an opposing pitcher:
1. Killebrew 1969
2. Carew 1977
3. Morneau 2006
4. Mauer 2009
5. Versalles 1965

As an opposing pitcher the one batter I fear was Killebrew for well over a decade.

Carew hits a lot of singles and is a great hitter, but, he doesn't score as many runs in the 1970's with the number of times he gets on base so we can contain him except for 1977 when he put together a great season.


2006: Joe Mauer in his walk year hit a career high 28 Hrs and hit .365. I'm a pitcher I am more intimidated by seasons from Bench, Campanella, Piazza, Gary Carter as hitters. After the big contract, in the second year starts becoming a 60-70 run scoring and 55-65 RBI guy while moving to 1B.

2009: Morneau can drive in runs so top RBI guy. Too bad about concussions.

1965: Versalles Was 5th or 6th on team in OPS+. Made 39 errors at SS which won't get you playing time today. Oliva should have received award in a year they pick from a team going to WS he was hard to get out. Versalles has to rank among the worst MVPs of all-time. He led league in striking out as well in 1965.

 

Some rather bold statements in here, but I agree with them.I totally agree with you on Zoilo.THat was the year before I was born so I didn't see what happened, but looking at the numbers the whole thing seems odd.As far as Mauer was concerned. I get what you are saying.He really wasn't a game wrecker like Piazza was or a leader (important for a catcher) and power bat like Carter and Bench.He played most of his career with a table setter's mindset.Matty Alou hit over .330 in four consecutive seasons--from 1966 to 1969.That is great, but give me what Harmon did those years over Matty Alou.

 

That said, Mauer in 2009 was unbelievable and I think Piazza, Bench and Carter had seasons that rival and perhaps surpass what Mauer did in 2009.My trouble with Mauer is this...

A lot of people like to say he was "victimized" by Target Field but that doesn't hold up to the actual evidence.When you watch the clip of all of his 2009 home runs (and watch it ALL) it is readily apparent that he hit at least a dozen home runs to center and right field and a good bunch of them went way over the wall.In the entire rest of his career I do not know if he hit that many home runs to those parts of the field.  

 

Watch this here and tell me that Mauer didn't hit some monstrous shots to CF and RF.I count about 12 absolute bombs to CF and RF with at least three upper deckers to right field.Sure, he hit a lot of HRs too left that barely made it over the wall, but if you subtract ALL OF THOSE (which is ridiculous) he still has 12 or 13 home runs that were not hit to left field at all.He hit a couple of deep deep bombs to center in NY, a couple in Texas and a couple in Anaheim.He hit six or seven moonshots to right and CF in the Dome:

 

The truth about Joe's home run decline is that he decided to become a table setter.He was all about slapping the ball to left and grinding out walks.Given the money he was paid and what was expected when he signed that contract it is kind of weak, in my opinion.

 

    • USAFChief, shimrod, David HK and 1 other like this

Re: Versalles in 1965.I recall that at the time being a semi-baseball crazed 10 year I read a story during spring training that Sam Mele fining him something like $50 for loafing. Versalles didn't like it and dared him to fine him $100, so Mele did.Then he dared to fine him $150, so Mele did that too.

 

And then he has a MVP season.

 

Motivation or something.

    • DocBauer, David HK and Matthew Taylor like this
Photo
Matthew Taylor
Apr 06 2020 12:30 PM

 

Re: Versalles in 1965.I recall that at the time being a semi-baseball crazed 10 year I read a story during spring training that Sam Mele fining him something like $50 for loafing. Versalles didn't like it and dared him to fine him $100, so Mele did.Then he dared to fine him $150, so Mele did that too.

 

And then he has a MVP season.

 

Motivation or something.

 

Awesome!

    • David HK likes this

I'll stick with Mauer #1.To do what he did as a catcher is remarkable.

#2 on my list is Killebrew.He did all that while playing OUT OF POSITION so the team could get Rich Reese's bat (and glove) in the lineup 49 HR's in the decade of the pitcher along with 140 RBI's is pretty darn impressive.

#3 Would be Carew.Tremendous season.

#4 & #5 are also tough.Morneau beat out a fellow SS in Jeter, so I'm kind of inclined to give the nod to Morneau (and I'm a child of the 60's and 70's so I've got nothing against Zoilo).  

    • David HK likes this

1 - Harmon

2 - Rod

3 - Joe

4 - Justin

5 - Zoilo

    • David HK likes this
I don’t think bwar does justice to Joe’s season. The physical and mental rigors of catching just doesn’t get reflected in any statistics. Not only was it a historically great season offensively, but he was partially responsible for understanding every hitters tendencies in the other dugout, and every pitchers repertoire in his. Catchers make situational calls, adjust the alignment of fielders. Oh, and they do it all while getting absolutely shredded physically (no other position compares even remotely, in terms of mental/physical stress - it’s the only position on the field that has to be 100% situationally engaged on every single pitch), which derailed what certainly would’ve been a 3,000+ hit and HOF career.

I’m sorry, but 40 HRs with awful defense isn’t even in the same universe as Mauer’s season. Carew’s is closer, but still a distant second. Mauer’s season is easily the most impressive in my book, and it should be undisputed.

It gets me thinking again - what could have been. The numbers Mauer could’ve put up offensively if he played first base his whole career are likely astronomical in terms of hits/average (especially before the shifting craze). Could he have had a .400 season? Not a crazy notion. He’d likely still be playing and working on hit 3,500+. By various accounts, he was injured constantly, he just never complained about it. He didn’t voluntarily recuse himself from the lineup like many would/do.

It’s insane to me how underrated Mauer was/is by the majority of Twins fans. First, I don’t think most truly understand the rigors of catching (I likely don’t either, but I caught through High School and College - incredibly demanding - try sprinting down to back up first on every ground ball in full gear when the heat index with humidity is over 100...after squatting for an hour....the dehydration alone is enough to break most). Second, I think many of these others (Killebrew, Carew, Olivia, etc) are so much more highly regarded because many fans today didn’t see them play everyday. They are only aware of the highlights....whereas we all saw Mauer’s lows first hand. If the FO would’ve actually made an attempt at going all in at any point from 2000-2010 and brought home a World Series (or even an AL pennant), people would feel differently, which is a shame.
    • DocBauer and David HK like this
I'm not going to make a choice it's like prime rib vs filet. Or Raquel Welch in her prime vs Farrah Fawcett in hers, (a little levity for us older dudes, lol)

Harmon's numbers for his season are just incredible! But what Mauer did, and being a catcher, just can't be undersold. If you twisted my arm I might cry out Mauer's name simply because he was a catcher and I have a soft spot for that position and all it entails both physically and mentally.

In my humble opinion, we have been spoiled as baseball fans for the number of catchers and SS that have come along the last 20yrs or so. Someone more steeped in baseball history might correct me, and I'd welcome that. I was a kid when Bench played, a teenager when Fisk was still playing. But when I think of Carter, Rodriguez, Posey, Mauer and a few others I am blown away by the number of HOF worthy catchers I've watched, not to mention the re-invention of the SS position.

This article does make me a little sad I have to admit. Not predicting future MVP season's or WS championships, but oh what might have been for both Mauer and Mourneau without those damned concussions.
    • David HK and Matthew Taylor like this

 

I'm not going to make a choice it's like prime rib vs filet. Or Raquel Welch in her prime vs Farrah Fawcett in hers, (a little levity for us older dudes, lol)

Doc: Raquel hands down;>)

    • Rigby and David HK like this
Photo
lecroy24fan
Apr 06 2020 08:50 PM

One thing that hasn't been mentioned was that Mauer missed all of April injured. And then played pretty much every gome the rest of the year.

    • David HK, ewen21 and Nine of twelve like this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 06 2020 09:35 PM

 

 

Look at WAR and Carew blows them all away and even though we now question Versalles career year he the third best WAR season.By WAR it is

  • Carew
  • Mauer
  • Versalles
  • Killebrew
  • Morneau

 

Though Mauer was at a huge disadvantage because he was a catcher and DH. While he mashed as both, mashing as a DH doesn't give much in the way of WAR, though he was still a huge plus for the team because he spent so much time behind the plate. Despite being a beast that season, I suspect his DH WAR is a fraction of his total WAR.

 

And let's not ignore that Mauer missed all of April that season due to injury. He came back that season and posted that WAR over five months, not six.

 

Though I won't really argue with anyone who slots Carew or Mauer above one another. There are arguments to be made for both.

    • mikelink45 and Nine of twelve like this

Thanks for this, Matthew.

 

Doc: Raquel hands down;>)

I concur.

Doctor, do you concur?

    • DocBauer likes this