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Recent Baseball America Milb Organization Rankings

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:33 PM
Since I'm not giving everything away, assuming it's OK to just mention the Twins here. BA ranks the Twins 8th going in to the 2020 season...
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Good Cuts.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:13 PM
Mark Salas blocked the heck outta that plate.  
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Athletic article on the 2019 postseason baseball

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:11 AM
For those who have a subscription to the Athletic, there is a very interesting article I saw that was a deep dive into the 2019 postseaso...
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Get to know each other

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:48 PM
I did this once about 2-3 years ago, but it was during the offseason and well, it's been a long time ago... Let's get to know each other...
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VIDEO: Opposing Pitchers Getting Wasted By The Bomba Squad

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:51 PM
Here's an entire highlight reel of just pitchers reacting to Twins bombas. Enjoy.  
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The Five Most Underrated Players in Twins History

While there have been more than a few tough years since 1961, and there hasn’t been a World Series since 1991, there have been a ton of great individual performers over the years. Many of them are celebrated, but these five stick out as being deserving of a higher amount of praise.
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
When teasing this piece on Twitter recently I found myself inundated with names that all fill this bill. From Kevin Tapani to Jason Kubel, there were dozens of replies reflective of compelling cases. Many of them I found myself nodding in agreement. While this is obviously opinion, I tried to create some objective parameters.



To truly be underrated there was a need for a sustained level of greatness. No player below a career fWAR mark of 20.0 would be included. That’s a modest bar to clear for the established veteran, but one that generally comes with some substantial highlights along the way (for the sake of comparison, Justin Morneau produced exactly 20.0 fWAR as a Twin).

That numerator was the only hard and fast rule. If I was going to blueprint another, it was that the player needed to be given a higher level of appreciation than I felt they’d been shown. There’s nothing more subjective than that, but again, opinion.

Honorable Mention: Shane Mack 17.9 fWAR

He doesn’t meet the numerical parameters and therefore could never have been fully under consideration. However, for a guy that played in just north of 600 games for the Twins after being out of the big leagues the year prior to joining the club, he made his presence felt. After two seasons with the Padres, Mack showed up and posted an .854 OPS across parts of five seasons. He batted .309, had some pop, and played all three outfield positions. A 130 OPS+ is nothing to make light of.

4. Cesar Tovar 21.6 fWAR

Of all players in Minnesota history, Tovar owns the 13th highest fWAR. Despite playing in fewer games, he’s ahead of guys like Roy Smalley, Justin Morneau, and Greg Gagne. Often brought up during the yearly debate regarding the Twins Hall of Fame inductions, Tovar gave the Twins eight seasons of a good average and great plate discipline. He played all over the diamond and earned MVP votes in five straight seasons. Not often considered among the best in franchise history, this is a guy too often forgotten in those discussions.

3. Corey Koskie 23.2 fWAR

Maybe the most impressive on this list given the games played, Koskie compiled the 10th best fWAR in franchise history despite playing in the 25th most games. He tallied better totals than both Torii Hunter and Brian Dozier, all while being a relative footnote on those early 2000’s teams. He earned MVP votes one time, but never drew any other accolades. His .836 OPS with the Twins matches Eddie Rosario’s best year, and is nearly 50 points above Rosario's career average.

2. Brad Radke 38.7 fWAR

Arguably the most overlooked member on this list, Radke was the reliable anchor on some clubs that faced significant uphill battles. His contributions trump those of Frank Viola and Jim Perry while getting only a smaller amount of runway. An All- Star just once in his career, Radke earned a top-3 Cy Young finish in 1997, starting 35 games. He pitched 200 innings in nine of his twelve major league seasons, and it was because of his efforts that Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire had a go-to arm they could count on. Nothing was flashy about Brad, but he never was going to beat himself, and he gave Minnesota that luxury for 377 career starts.

1. Joe Mauer 52.5 fWAR

We can argue all day long about whether Joe was better than Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, or Harmon Killebrew but I don’t see any questions around which one struggles to get his due. Minnesota’s top trio are all enshrined in Cooperstown while the generational catcher is often questioned about his inclusion by a hometown fan base. One-third of Mauer’s career was dragged through a period in which injury altered his trajectory (though he became one of the best defensive first basemen in the game). Poor press releases and an out-of-position contract further complicated his narrative. There’s no reason for a future Hall of Fame catcher to have a questioned legacy.

Because of the subjective nature here, let’s see your list. Who do you agree with and what would you change?

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49 Comments

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#1ShaneMackFan
Mar 25 2020 03:28 PM

 

To me, under-rated is a guy who is better (more valuable) than his numbers indicate...particularly the offensive numbers. Guys who had qualities not necessarily captured in many of the numbers...particularly the 'averages'. Qualities like defensive flexibility, good/smart on the bases, ability to perform in big moments, great durability/availability, defensive quality/consistency. This list comes off more like popularity vs numbers.

 

Mauer and Koskie are not those guys for me...to me, they're better examples of players that were exactly as good as their numbers would indicate.

 

Tovar, Gladden, Pierzynski...I'd probably go with Gagne as an all-timer.

 

And while Mack certainly served a useful role with the Twins in the early 90s, it's easy IMO to argue that he was actually NOT as good as his numbers would indicate. His numbers are based on a relatively small period of time where he demolished left-handed pitching. Not the most valuable skill for a guy that played primarily a corner outfield spot. He actually platooned for a significant period with the Twins. In the outfield, he had a legendarily weak arm (early career injury contributed). At age 30,he OPS'd .966 in the major leagues. The Twins let him go...and the highest bidder was the Giants. The Yomiuri Giants.

I am sure someone can go into specific details, but that is not how I remember it. I don't remember the Twins letting him go. I remember him going to Japan because of the strike. And that killed me.

    • Dantes929 likes this
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pierre75275
Mar 25 2020 05:15 PM
I think that Brian Harper was under rated
Jaques Jones, another of the Soul Patrol, had like 7 - 8 really nice seasons and then just disappeared.

I am sure someone can go into specific details, but that is not how I remember it. I don't remember the Twins letting him go. I remember him going to Japan because of the strike. And that killed me.


Crazy disappearance, 1994 the strike shortened season Mack hit .333 with a .966 OPS and then was gone. Dude could hit.
    • #1ShaneMackFan likes this
Not many pitchers mentioned on here, but one that comes to mind for me is Kyle Lohse; he probably had a better career away from Minnesota than with Minnesota. But he just seemed to keep pitching forever and was always decent. Had some good seasons for St Louis and Milwaukee.

I think that Brian Harper was under rated


Harper was a good hitter, but I think his shortcomings came on defense. A lot of guys in the TK era suffered due to their mediocre defense. David Ortiz comes to mind. Was gotten rid of for Dougie baseball. It was a different era back then.
    • Dantes929 likes this
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Nine of twelve
Mar 26 2020 11:11 AM

 

Bob Allison comes to mind for me. 31.1 fWAR as a Twin (removing all the Senators seasons, though I'm fine including them) with a terrific run in the prime of his career. Feels like he's become the forgotten man from those great Twins clubs in the 60's. Heck of a player, a big thumper in the middle of the lineup.

Bob Allison was my mom's favorite Twin in the '60's, but I think it was for reasons other than his baseball talent.

    • Craig Arko, JLease and jkcarew like this
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Nine of twelve
Mar 26 2020 11:21 AM

My comment on Mauer: I don't know if he would have made my list or not but I think it's appropriate to consider him underrated because there are so many people who, for lack of a better way to say it, hated on him for many years. He was a very good catcher, maybe not the best at preventing WP's or PB's but an he had an outstanding arm. He also seemed to have a reputation within the baseball community of being very good at working with pitchers. That skill, getting the most out of your pitcher, is almost impossible to measure statistically but is probably the most important part of a catcher's job.

And in 2009 he was the best baseball player in the world.

    • DocBauer likes this

 

I am sure someone can go into specific details, but that is not how I remember it. I don't remember the Twins letting him go. I remember him going to Japan because of the strike. And that killed me.

You're right in that Mack became a free agent at the exact wrong time....and I should have mentioned that. It's entirely possible that Mack simply decided he couldn't wait for the strike to end (couldn't take the chance it would carry through the following year)...and signed with a Japanese team.

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Halsey Hall
Mar 26 2020 01:25 PM

David Ortiz, so under appreciated he left..

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#1ShaneMackFan
Mar 26 2020 03:48 PM

 

You're right in that Mack became a free agent at the exact wrong time....and I should have mentioned that. It's entirely possible that Mack simply decided he couldn't wait for the strike to end (couldn't take the chance it would carry through the following year)...and signed with a Japanese team.

That's how I remember it. 

 

You're right in that Mack became a free agent at the exact wrong time....and I should have mentioned that. It's entirely possible that Mack simply decided he couldn't wait for the strike to end (couldn't take the chance it would carry through the following year)...and signed with a Japanese team.

Below is a link to the cluster that ended with Mack leaving. He was not a platoon player. I believe he got hurt during 1993 and also missed the first 30 games in 1994. He was having a monster year before the strike was called.Mack was 2nd in WAR in 1991 only to Tapani.He was 2nd only to Puckett in 1992 and he was 2nd only to Knoblach in 1994 and only because he played 28 fewer games. He was on pace for a 7.8 WAR over 162 games.Keep in mind those teams had Knoblach, Puckett, Hrbek, etc.Yes, he did mash left handed hitting but he was good against righties also.

 https://www.twinkiet...lost-shane-mack

Below is a link to the cluster that ended with Mack leaving. He was not a platoon player. I believe he got hurt during 1993 and also missed the fir

st 30 games in 1994. He was having a monster year before the strike was called. Mack was 2nd in WAR in 1991 only to Tapani. He was 2nd only to Puckett in 1992 and he was 2nd only to Knoblach in 1994 and only because he played 28 fewer games. He was on pace for a 7.8 WAR over 162 games. Keep in mind those teams had Knoblach, Puckett, Hrbek, etc. Yes, he did mash left handed hitting but he was good against righties also.
https://www.twinkiet...lost-shane-mack


Just looked Mack's Japan stats and they looked almost the same as him MLB stats, when he came back with Boston and KC it seemed as though his production was still pretty good but never seemed to get a fair shot at playing time?
    • Dantes929 likes this

 

Just looked Mack's Japan stats and they looked almost the same as him MLB stats, when he came back with Boston and KC it seemed as though his production was still pretty good but never seemed to get a fair shot at playing time?

I'm just guessing injuries were part of it. 

I think Kaat was probably appreciated in his time. I just don't know if he is remembered in the same vein. For second highest fWAR he just is never talked about much on these boards. Carew, Killebrew, Allison, Oliva and yes, even Tovar are brought up way more often.


I think the big difference between all of those guys and Kaat is that everyone of those other guys are everyday players. Not many pitchers have been brought up at all, especially ones from back in the 60's and 70's
    • Dantes929 likes this
https://www.google.c...tchers.amp.html


This article is almost 10 years old, but dang, the Twins havent had many real good pitchers in their existence. They have probably had a few 1 - 2 year guys like Morris, Smiley, Koosman, etc... But to see some of those names in the top 20??? Granted Berrios will knock a few of them out, but still.
    • Dantes929 likes this

 

https://www.google.c...tchers.amp.html


This article is almost 10 years old, but dang, the Twins havent had many real good pitchers in their existence. They have probably had a few 1 - 2 year guys like Morris, Smiley, Koosman, etc... But to see some of those names in the top 20??? Granted Berrios will knock a few of them out, but still.

Interesting that Liriano wasn't on the list. Hard to determine from that list how much longevity is valued.Think about it though. Aside from the Yankees, the Red Sox the Dodgers and Cardinals how many other teams would have Santana ranked 5th and Viola 8th. How many other teams could you name 10 great pitchers? 5?

Interesting that Liriano wasn't on the list. Hard to determine from that list how much longevity is valued. Think about it though. Aside from the Yankees, the Red Sox the Dodgers and Cardinals how many other teams would have Santana ranked 5th and Viola 8th. How many other teams could you name 10 great pitchers? 5?


Yeah Liriano should have been ahead a couple of those guys? It said I think they needed 4 years with the Twins, I'm assuming Liriano had that much.

Mauer was certainly one of the best Twin's players ever, but hardly the underrated type. For an underrated player, I'd have to go with another catcher, Earl Battey.

    • ashbury likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Mar 28 2020 08:35 PM

Something I noticed about Mauer awhile back to illustrate just how much his career was altered by the concussion:

 

After the concussion, he played 660 games for a .746 OPS and accumulated 10.7 rWAR.

 

In 2013-14 after "bilateral leg weakness", he played 260 games for an .870 OPS and accumulated 10.0 rWAR.

 

It's hard to call Mauer underrated and maybe he isn't outside Minnesota... but he is the best Twin to don a uniform since possibly Carew, maybe Puckett depending how you frame your opinion. He is a top ten catcher in history through his prime years and then he took a shot to the head and it all went to hell. But for those 7-8 years, he was as good as it gets behind the plate.

    • Dantes929 likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Mar 29 2020 03:06 AM

Interesting that Liriano wasn't on the list. Hard to determine from that list how much longevity is valued.Think about it though. Aside from the Yankees, the Red Sox the Dodgers and Cardinals how many other teams would have Santana ranked 5th and Viola 8th. How many other teams could you name 10 great pitchers? 5?

Well, #s 20-11 are rather uninspiring. The top 10 isn't terrible. My favorite is the end quote to the article, "With his induction into the Hall of Fame, Blyleven is the only pitcher in the ranking to be inducted—yet.
Who knows, someday Scott Baker could end up joining him."
    • Dantes929 likes this

Who knows, someday Scott Baker could end up joining him."

Thought this was snark, then went back and checked the source of the comment and it dated back to 2011.
 

https://bleacherrepo...o-20-11#slide10

The numbers 20 - 11 of the New York Mets have a few interesting names.
    • ashbury likes this
Michael Cuddyer is another guy who played very well at multiple positions for a number of years.
    • stringer bell likes this

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