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Twins Greatest One Hit Wonders

While we don’t presently have baseball, this sport is one of previous analysis anyways. Without the opportunity to dissect the action currently taking place, it seemed there may be no better time to look back. Some guys are great, and others are great sometimes. Here’s a look at some of the greatest outlier seasons in recent Twins history.
Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
When attempting to compile names for this list I couldn’t help but enjoy the trip down memory lane. I’m not big on re-watching previously completed sporting contests. The idea of the already known result isn’t all that exciting to me. Specific plays or portions can be fun, but much of the programming we’re being delivered doesn’t hit home here. Without needing to relive a full season, these snapshots provide pop up excellence amidst otherwise static careers.

There really aren’t any specific parameters other than the season in question truly had to be an outlier. I utilized fWAR to designate that, but a bar to clear wasn’t a hard and fast rule. Before getting into the top five here’s a relatively recent honorable mention:

2014 Phil Hughes 6.3 fWAR (17.7 career)

The first season in a Twins uniform was one for the ages when it comes to Hughes. The former Yankees top prospect and World Series winner entered Twins Territory and went on to set the All-Time MLB single-season strikeout-to-walk record. It was the only time he surpassed 200 innings in his career, and he posted a career best 3.52 ERA. With a 2.65 FIP Hughes was every bit as dominant as could be hoped for. The team wasn’t any good, but that didn’t stop him from getting serious steam in terms of Cy Young consideration.

5. 1995 Marty Cordova 3.6 fWAR (6.5 career)

It’s not surprising that a Rookie of the Year winner would put up a good season, and it’s also not unfathomable they’d fall off from there. Cordova wasn’t otherworldly in his debut, but he was better than he’d ever be again and that’s why he makes this list. He trumped the 114 wRC+ in 2001 with the Indians, but the 24 longballs always remained a high-water mark. Within two years Cordova had turned into a negative asset for the Twins and he lasted just five with the big-league club. Bouncing around between three organizations in his final four major league seasons, the magic of that debut was never recaptured.

4. 2006 Nick Punto 3.6 fWAR (15.1 career)

There has never been a team that Nick Punto was on and he didn’t provide value. The light hitting utility man was a swiss army knife that did little at the dish but was exceptional in the field. For a guy that owned a career .646 OPS and .245 average, the .725 and .290 marks in 2006 were amazing. He played five different positions that year and helped to propel Minnesota to a 96-win season capped off with an AL Central division title. More of a complimentary asset throughout his 14 years in the majors, Punto was absolutely a strong contributor on that Ron Gardenhire squad.

3. 2001 Cristian Guzman 3.9 fWAR (8.2 career)

Debuting in 1999, things didn’t go well for the Twins new shortstop. He contributed -3.1 fWAR and there wasn’t value on either side of the diamond. Fast forward two years and the script had flipped entirely. Guzman made his first All-Star Game appearance and owned a .302/.337/.477 slash line. He led the league in triples (14) for the second straight season and launched a career best 10 dingers. He wouldn’t again eclipse 2.0 fWAR in his career until 2008 with the Nationals at the age of 30 and had made a career of being slightly above replacement level by then. The 2001 Twins paved the way for a great 2002 club, and Guzman’s performance arrived just a year too soon.

2. 2004 Lew Ford 3.4 fWAR (5.9 career)

Owner of arguably the most interesting career in recently memory, Lew Ford just misses out on the top spot for this list. He played in the big leagues for just six years but had a five-year gap between year five and six. On top of that, the now 43-year-old is still playing professional ball with the Long Island Ducks and has 21 years under his belt. 2004 was Ford’s first full major league season and he contributed in a big way. The .299/.381/.446 slash line was easily a career best, and his 15 homers were 43% of his career total. He swiped 20 bases being thrown out just twice, and he posted an impressive 11 DRS.

1. 2002 Jacque Jones 5.0 fWAR (12.5 career)

The best season of any hitter on this list, Jones easily had the largest outlier year of recent Twins memory back in 2002. A team that wins 94 games and goes to the ALCS needs stars, and Jones was one of them. His .852 OPS was a career best, and it was one of only two times in his career that he batted .300. The 27 homers were also a career best, and 132 of his 149 games came with him starting in the leadoff spot. His 11 outfield assists were a high career high, and he had completely embodied an offensive and defensive threat. At no point throughout his career did he ever surpass 2.0 fWAR in a single season aside from that magical 2002 run.

What other one-year wonders can you think of in Twins history? Who do they come from further back in history?

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23 Comments

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Marv Gustafson
Apr 09 2020 07:19 PM
Brant Alyea 1970 comes to mind. As I recall, he got off to a torrid start and ended up hitting around .290 with around 20 home runs. He was out of MLB a couple of years later.
    • ashbury, glunn, Craig Arko and 3 others like this

In 1985 Mickey Hatcher maybe peaked getting 9 hits in a row but couldn't keep it up for some reason.His peak year was 1983 though hitting .317. Injury related, but Scott Erickson really only gave us one good year.

    • glunn and David HK like this

How about Chris Colabello? (Maybe for Toronto).

    • glunn likes this

2009 Joe Mauer?

 

I KID, I KID!

    • glunn and Platoon like this

My nominee would be Glenn Adams who hit .338 in 1977. His slash line was .338/.376/.468. He had 8 RBIs in a 19-12 win at Chicago White Sox, a game I listened to from my home in Toledo, OH on 670 WMAQ with Harry Carey announcing! In 1977 he had only 269 AB, playing for Gene Mauch, who was a proponent of platooning back when teams used less pitchers and you could afford to platoon. Mauch was a brilliant manager and who know-how great that 1977 team could have been if Griffith didn’t let go of via free agency and trade, all of the stars of the team, Carew being the last to depart after 1978 season, a dark moment in Twins history but Griffith made Carl Pohlad look like George Steinbrenner !!!!!

    • glunn and David HK like this
Fun topic. I would add Joe Mays, Jim Hughes and Bill Zepp for consideration.
    • glunn, David HK and Aichiman like this
Looked at Dave Engle's stats from 1984 and they don't look all that great, however, he was an All Star that year. I think he was a catcher though, so maybe his stats we're good for a catcher in 1984? Side note he finished 5th in rookie of the year voting in 1981.
    • glunn and David HK like this
Jaque Jones had more than one productive year though. He had multiple years of 20+ homeruns and he had multiple years where he hit decent he was a regular for multiple years, I see a Marty Cordova on this list way more than I see Jaque Jones.
    • glunn and #1ShaneMackFan like this

 

Looked at Dave Engle's stats from 1984 and they don't look all that great, however, he was an All Star that year. I think he was a catcher though, so maybe his stats we're good for a catcher in 1984? Side note he finished 5th in rookie of the year voting in 1981.

Good catch (no pun intended!). I lived in Toledo OH and watched Engle play regularly where I think he edged out Wade Boggs for a batting title and played a great RF with a rifle arm! I don’t think he ever caught a game for the Mud Hens who were Twins farm team for about 8 years. I became fan as 8 yr old in Orlando FL when my young self was impressed by s spring training rout of the Reds. I was hooked until now with the real intense years coming from listening to Herb Carneal "A pleasant good evening to you from the Big A in Anaheim"

    • glunn and David HK like this

 

Brant Alyea 1970 comes to mind. As I recall, he got off to a torrid start and ended up hitting around .290 with around 20 home runs. He was out of MLB a couple of years later.

First person I thought of. I guess also Bobby Darwin.

    • glunn, David HK and Nine of twelve like this

To me for one-hit-wonders, I am would think of Scott Diamond, in 2012, who had 12-9 record with 3.54 era, 2.6 war.Rest of his career was pretty much 1 full season after that where he produced negative war.After that 1 inning three years later at MLB level.That is a true one-hit-wonder.  

 

The list you put together, I would not even consider Phil Hughes as a one.If you mean for the Twins, then yes, but he had a productive career before the Twins, not to level of that one season but he was productive.Cordova, Punto, Jones, and Guzman I would not consider them one hit wonders either.Yes, they had outlier seasons that had peak value, but they still played several years in the majors.Lew Ford I would put on the list, because he pretty much came out of nowhere and returned to nowhere.Else we could put Jack Morris on Twins one hit wonder.He had 1 season with Twins and helped them win a WS, sure he was career HOF pitcher, but 1 season with Twins. 

 

Scott Diamond is my number one.Super flash in the pan to never be heard from again after he fell back to his norm.I see one-hit-wonders as coming out of no where, having big value, then nothing after that.  

 

    • ashbury, glunn, Dantes929 and 3 others like this

 

To me for one-hit-wonders, I am would think of Scott Diamond, in 2012, who had 12-9 record with 3.54 era, 2.6 war.Rest of his career was pretty much 1 full season after that where he produced negative war.After that 1 inning three years later at MLB level.That is a true one-hit-wonder.  

 

 

Scott Diamond is my number one.Super flash in the pan to never be heard from again after he fell back to his norm.I see one-hit-wonders as coming out of no where, having big value, then nothing after that.  

He is a great choice but I will defend him a little. I don't think he went back to his norm. I think he became a good pitcher as his 2012 year suggests and then had arm troubles which kept him from maintaining that. He started the 2013 year on the 15 day disabled list but his curve ball just never had the same bite when he came back. Much like Tyler Duffey though to his credit Duffey has come back from being a one and doneguy.

    • glunn likes this
Anyone remember Allan Anderson he had a 2 year run including a 17 win season and an ERA title.
    • #1ShaneMackFan, Craig Arko, DocBauer and 2 others like this
Tony Fiore had a good season as a reliever. I think he won 10 games.
    • David HK likes this

Lyman Bostock 1977RIP

 

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Nine of twelve
Apr 10 2020 03:55 PM

 

Lyman Bostock 1977RIP

He finished 4th in the AL in batting in 1976. Not really a one hit wonder.

The biggest one-season phenom for the Twins has to be Jack Morris. He showed up, won us a World Series, then promptly disappeared. Whatever happened to him, anyhow?

Danny Santana had himself lined up for mention in this article, but then went and screwed it up in 2019 by putting together a quality season in Texas. Boooo!!
 

Looked at Dave Engle's stats from 1984 and they don't look all that great, however, he was an All Star that year. I think he was a catcher though

Not very many people shared your opinion. :)

    • David HK and Nine of twelve like this
I want to mention Henry Blanco, specifically for his performance during the month of April in the 2004 season. He turned back into Henry Blanco after that, but for a few magical weeks he replaced the injured rookie phenom, Joe Mauer, with a performance for the ages.
First thought when opening this thread was Joe Mays. Very surprised he wasn’t on the list
    • David HK likes this

 

First person I thought of. I guess also Bobby Darwin.

Bobby Darwin seems a real good pick to me. I remember him and in the time I followed him he was good and powerful.

I would add Allan Anderson to the list, too. His 1988 season, where he led the AL in ERA was awesome, and he backed it up in 89 too, with another solid year.

 

But then, like Keyser Söze in Usual Suspects... Poof! He was gone...

Verbal

 

 

Looked at Dave Engle's stats from 1984 and they don't look all that great, however, he was an All Star that year. I think he was a catcher though, so maybe his stats we're good for a catcher in 1984? Side note he finished 5th in rookie of the year voting in 1981.

Yeh, that was in the lean years, when it was a crapshoot for the AL to have to pick one guy from the Twins...

I wonder if they actually used a dartboard?

 

Fun topic. I would add Joe Mays, Jim Hughes and Bill Zepp for consideration.

Like the Jim Hughes inclusion as well.


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