Jump to content

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

The Forums

Article: MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:30 AM
Back in 2006, Ozzie Guillen compared the Twins’ lineup to piranhas due to its ability to relentlessly small ball a team to death. This 20...

Is it too early to talk about Twins 2019 All Stars?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:16 AM
The game is almost two months away and obviously a lot can happen in that time. As of now, I would say Polanco and Garver (depending on...

So when do we believe?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:13 AM
This team is 28-15, on the verge of 29-15. They are just +1 in pythag, just +1 in BaseRuns (if you look at the numbers, it's fractional a...

Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/18): Sands, Kernels...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:16 AM
The Twins scored 18 runs. The two Twins minor league affiliates that have been very good this year both got shut out. The Red Wings got a...

Article: Could the Twins Be the New 2015 Royals?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:55 AM
Even though I'm not a Minnesotan, nor do I live in this beautiful state, I've been observing you guys for years. I see a lot of pessimism...

Photo

The Best Third Baseman in Minnesota Twins History

Posted by mikelink45 , 20 February 2019 · 1,455 views

The Best Third Baseman in Minnesota Twins History
  • Corey Koskie
  • Bill Tuttle
  • scott leius
  • RON COOMER
  • Eduardo Escobar
  • Miguel Sano
  • Trevor Plouffe
  • Nick Punto
  • Mike Cubbage
  • John Castino
  • Eric Soderholm
  • Rich Rollins
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Gary Gaetti

Our best third baseman is another challenge. This completes the infield reviews it is not an easy task to find the best. I might choose Harmon for both first and third and he played so long that he has as many games at both positions as the others that he is competing with.


In 1961 Bill Tuttle played 3B 85 games and batted 5th behind Zoilo. He played one more full time year at 3B before leaving MLB. Bill suffered from cancer that was the result of chewing tobacco and from his playing days until he died in Anoka at age 35. This was the only year he played 3B, otherwise he was an outfielder. There was a lot of action at 3B that year with Harmon getting 45 games and Ted Lepcio, Reno Bertoia, and Jose Valdivielso dividing up the many opportunities.

Harmon Killebrew is often thought of as our third baseman, but in 1962 Rich Rollins played the bag and Harmon was in LF. George Banks is the other person who got on 3rd, but only for six games. 1963 was the same two with Johnny Goryl (future manager) getting a handful. In 1964 Goryl backed up Rollins and Frank Kostro got a few games in at the hot corner. Rollins held third again in 1965 with Harmon Killebrew getting 43 games there, but mostly playing at first.

In 1966 Harmon started at 3rd base 107 times and Rich Rollins got in 63. In 1967 Harmon went back to first and Rollins and Cesar Tovar split the most games at third. Ron Clark, Jackie Hernandez, Frank Quilici, Harmon Killebrew 3, and Frank Kostro were all there at times.

Reversing the previous year, in 1968 Tovar and Rollins again split third, but Tovar was in the most games of the two. The same backups with one addition, Craig Nettles, 23 years old got in 5 games! Considering Nettles career, he might have been our best if we had kept him. Rich Rollins was left available in the Expansion draft and went to the Seattle Pilots.


Rich Rollins played 8 years for the Twins .272/.333/.394/.727 Not considered a great glove man he still accumulated 11.9 WAR and appeared in 2 all star games.


1969 had a long menu of players – Killebrew 105 games, Quilici 84 (lots of defensive replacements), Rick Renick 31, Cesar Tovar – now an outfielder 23 and Craig Nettles 21. In 1970 Killebrew 139 was backed up by Danny Thompson, Rick Renick, and Quilici.


Harmon Killebrew 21 years a Twin, 258/.378/.514/.892 – 573 HRs (pre Peds) 60.4 WAR. In a total of 2435 games Harmon played 970 at first, 791 at third and 471 in the OF. He was HOF and much more versatile than many assume. It is hard to take Harmon out of the conversation – Rich Rollins had 828 games at third – Harmon had almost as many.


A new name entered the listing in 1971 when Steve Braun played in 73 games, Killebrew 64, Eric Soderholm 20, Danny Thompson 17. Soderholm and Braun split 1972. Craig Nettles was gone. He would win numerous gold gloves and is considered one of the top 3 defensive 3B of all time, plus he set the AL record for HRs by a third baseman. He was traded to the Indians along with Dean Chance and Ted Uhlaender for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams.


1973 Braun was in 101 games, Soderholm 33, Terrell 30, Dan Monzon 14. Then in 1974 Soderholm was in 130, Terrell 21 and Braun 17 with most of his time in Left Field. In 1975 it was still Soderholm with Dave McKay and Terrell in support. And that was the end of the Soderholm era.


Soderholm was with us 5 years and played 760 games at third. .257/.336/.389/.725 10.5 WAR


Mike Cubbage took over at third after the Twins acquired him in a trade in 1976. He kept the lead at third in 1977 with Jerry Terrell continuing to be the bench man. In 1978 with Cubbage still holding third a new name – Larry Wolfe appeared and was in 81 games at third. In 1979 John Castino grabbed third = 143 games and Cubbage was in 62 and was Rookie of the Year. The same ratio in 1980.

In 1981 Cubbage was gone, Castino was in 98 games and starting to have back pains. Gary Gaetti got in 8 games, Pete Mackanin 4.

Mike Cubbage played in 452 games at third in five years with the Twins. .266/.336/.378/.715 6.8 WAR

In 1982 Gaetti took over for Castino with 142 games while Castino got in to only 22. 1983 Castino played 2B and Gaetti had third. It would be the last full year for Castino.

Castino was with the Twins for six years - .278/.329/.398/.727 15.2 WAR 416 appearance at third, 232 at second.
Now it was Gaetti’s world. 154 games in 1984, 156 – 1985, 156 – 1986, 150 in 1987. Smalley and Newman were backups to third in the WS year. 1988 – 115 games and Al Newman got in 60. The same two dominated 1989, 1990, but by the WS year 1991 Gaetti was gone. After hitting just 229 he was allowed to leave as a free agent and went to the Angels.

Gary Gaetti played 10 years for the Twins. .256/.307.437/.744 and 27.2 WAR In 19 seasons he played 2282 games out of 2507 at third base.

Mike Pagliarulo was the third baseman for the WS run in 1991 and Scott Leius and Al Newman backed him up. Then in 1992 Leius took over 125 games, Pagliarulo 37 and Jeff Reboulet 22. 1993 had Pags back on third 79 games, Terry Jorgenson 45, Jeff Reboulet 34, Chip Hale 19. After the Auditions in 1994 Leius was back at third, Chip Hale played 21 games. In 1995 Leius was the starter and Reboulet, Stahoviak and Coomer were in line behind him. Then in 1996 Dave Hollins took over the bag with Reboulet, Todd Walker, and Coomer behind him.
Scott Leius was with us 6 years. .244/.316/.353/.669 4.8 WAR In his career he was 445 games at third and 557 total.

1997 Ron Coomer now had the bag with Todd Walker and Dennis Hocking in support. In 1998 Cooomer and Brent Gates shared the bag with Hocking and Jon Shave next in line. A guy named Corey Koskie showed up for 10 games. As you probably expected Corey Koskie was in the lead in 1999 with 79 games, Brent Gates had 61, Ron Coomer 57. Finally in 2000 the corner belonged to Koski with Jason Maxwell next in line ahead of Hocking. 2001 was the same. 2002 was the end of Maxwell and it was Hocking and Cuddyer behind Koskie. 2003 Koskie, Hocking and Chris Comez. 2004 still Koskie and a shifting line behind him – Cuddyer, Terry Tiffee and Alex Prieto. Punto made the list this year too.

Koskie in seven years out of nine he played for the Twins and had a line of 280/.373/.463/.836 He played 3B 908/928 games. WAR 22.2. Third was probably the right spot for the former hockey player and Canadian. Like Mauer and Morneau he suffered a concussion and this really ended his career.

Ron Coomer played 391 games at third and played 6 years for MN. 278/315/.431/.746 WAR 2.5

2005 things were in transition again – this time Michael Cuddyer held the hot corner with Luis Rodriguez, Tiffee, Castro and Punto in line behind him. In 2006 Nick Punto was at third 89 games, Tony Batista 50, Luis Rodrigues 29 and Terry Tiffee and Scott Baker had a few games. 2007 Punto was at third 108 games, Luis Rodriguez, Brian Buscher and Jeff Cirillo had games there as well as Tommy Watkins – soon to be our minor league manager.
Brian Bushcher with 64 games, Mike Lamb 55, Brendan Harris 34, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto and Matt Macri had substantial games in this audition year – 2008. The auditions continued in 2009 with Joe Crede, Brendan Harris, Tolbert, Buscher, Punto all showing their skills. Since that did not work we held another audition year – 2010 with Danny Valencia 81 games, Nick Punto 48, Brendan Harris 27, Michael Cuddyer 14, Matt Tolbert 14, Alexi Casilla 14, and Luke Hughes 2.

They liked what they saw and finally settled on Danny Valencia in 2011 with Luke Hughes number 2. But that did not work out and in 2012 Danny was third on the list behind Trevor Plouffe and Jamey Carroll. Plouffe settled in with 120 games in 2013 and Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar were behind him. In 2014 Carroll was gone, Plouffe was backed by Escobar and Nunez. 2015 Plouffe and Nunez held the bag. Then the auditions began again – 2016 Plouffe 63, Sano 42, Nunez 33, Ecobar 23, Polanco 9, Beresford 3, and Danny Santana 1. Then in 2017 we began the Sano era, but Escobar started almost as many games.

Nick Punto had seven of his 14 years with Minnesota. .248/.323/.324/.648 10.3 WAR He played 360 games at third, 408 at second and 337 at short.

Trevor Plouffe seven years in Minnesota. .247/.308/.420/.727 8.6 WAR.


There are the choices: Which do you want?
1. Harmon Killebrew 21 years, 258/.378/.514/.892 – 573 HRs 60.4 WAR. 791 games at third
2. Castino six years - .278/.329/.398/.727 15.2 WAR 416 appearance at third
3. Gary Gaetti 10 years .256/.307.437/.744 and 27.2 WAR 19 seasons 2282/2507 at third base.
4. Koskie seven years. 280/.373/.463/.836 WAR 22.2 3B 908/928 games.
5. Rich Rollins played 8 years.272/.333/.394/.727. 11.9 WAR 828 games at third.
6. Soderholm 5 years. .257/.336/.389/.725. 10.5 WAR 760 games at third
7. Trevor Plouffe seven years. .247/.308/.420/.727 8.6 WAR. 611 games at 3B.
8. Nick Punto seven years with. .248/.323/.324/.648 10.3 WAR 360 games at third.
9. Mike Cubbage five years. .266/.336/.378/.715 6.8 WAR 452 games at third
10. Scott Leius 6 years. .244/.316/.353/.669 4.8 WAR 445 games at third.
11. Ron Coomer 6 years .278/315/.431/.746 WAR 2.5 391 games at third

Entry
The best SS in Twins history?
Last Update Feb 21 2019 11:12 AM


Entry
The Twins best second baseman.
Last Update Feb 16 2019 10:53 AM







  • h2oface, dbminn and whatyouknowtwinsfan like this



Photo
whatyouknowtwinsfan
Feb 20 2019 03:48 PM

Thanks for sharing. I find the 2007/2008/2009 Twins to be interesting. One of my favorites on those teams was Brian Buscher....... Never really was given a chance but was a decent player. He was a career .266/.343/.356 (.699 ops 8 HR/69 RBI/89 ops+) He was the definition of league average/replacement level, but put up a 0.5 WAR across 164 games. I find it odd given his average performance he was one of my favorites, yet I enjoyed watching him play. Probably would have been a better 1st baseman, but we had a good one at that time.....

    • mikelink45 and bighat like this

These are wonderful! Thanks much. Is it just me, or does it show how hard it is to have and keep real good baseball players, and that they are really few and far between.

    • mikelink45 likes this

You always love the ones that got away and have confusion about the musical chairs same years. Shows that a career with one team in baseball is few and far between, even in the good old days.

    • mikelink45 likes this

Great series, Mike. Harmon has to be all-time at 3B. Corey Koskie is my #2. Another player brought down by concussions. He's back with a player interview/story website called "Linklete". It's for teens but is fun as an adult too. Gaetti is #3 for me.Always good to see a reference to Ron Coomer. IIRC - Kirby called him, "Sammy Softball".

 

Mike - I sure hope we get a UT player story at the end!

 

 

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Great series, Mike. Harmon has to be all-time at 3B. Corey Koskie is my #2. Another player brought down by concussions. He's back with a player interview/story website called "Linklete". It's for teens but is fun as an adult too. Gaetti is #3 for me.Always good to see a reference to Ron Coomer. IIRC - Kirby called him, "Sammy Softball".

 

Mike - I sure hope we get a UT player story at the end!

I have been thinking about it, but it is hard to come up with the criteria.Harmon Killebrew played 3B, 1B, LF, 2B, RF, and DH.That is pretty sterling utility credentials!So I have to find something more than positions played.  

 

I have been thinking about it, but it is hard to come up with the criteria.Harmon Killebrew played 3B, 1B, LF, 2B, RF, and DH.That is pretty sterling utility credentials!So I have to find something more than positions played.  

A few weeks ago, someone mentioned a Gene Mauch quote about Glenn Adams - "He plays bat." That could easily have applied to Killebrew. Few have "played bat" better. I just don't think he played enough 3b to beat Gaetti or Koskie. 

 

I'd have to go with Killebrew as a utility player - it's either him or Punto*, and while Killer didn't demonstrate hustle by diving while being thrown out at first very often, I'd much rather displace LNP at Ut than Hrbek at 1B. (I'd leave Carew at 2b.) 

 

 

 

* - The Punto thing was a joke - Caesar Tovar is miles ahead of him, but I'd still put Killebrew here and maybe call it multi-position players.

 

    • Longdistancetwins and mikelink45 like this

 

Thanks for sharing. I find the 2007/2008/2009 Twins to be interesting. One of my favorites on those teams was Brian Buscher....... Never really was given a chance but was a decent player. He was a career .266/.343/.356 (.699 ops 8 HR/69 RBI/89 ops+) He was the definition of league average/replacement level, but put up a 0.5 WAR across 164 games. I find it odd given his average performance he was one of my favorites, yet I enjoyed watching him play. Probably would have been a better 1st baseman, but we had a good one at that time.....

 

Isn't it so strange to see how many players come up to the bigs, hit between .265-.275, do everything right.....but they just never stick? Then you have guys with lifetime averages of .232 who seem to make an MLB roster every year, despite underperforming consistently? Baseball is a weird game, so much hard work for these guys plus you have to have really good luck as well.

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Isn't it so strange to see how many players come up to the bigs, hit between .265-.275, do everything right.....but they just never stick? Then you have guys with lifetime averages of .232 who seem to make an MLB roster every year, despite underperforming consistently? Baseball is a weird game, so much hard work for these guys plus you have to have really good luck as well.

I sure agree - sometimes I think a player sticks because the manager likes having him around.Maybe that is changing.There were some really interesting names that came and disappeared.

 

Photo
RaymondLuxuryYacht
Feb 22 2019 06:05 PM

I always had an affinity for Rich Rollins, for many odd and unrelated reasons.

 

Steve Braun once made a pass at my first wife, so he gets no votes from me.

    • mikelink45 likes this

I think it's great that we have 3 guys in the history of the Twins that are deserving of being the best 3B. I loved how both Gaetti and Koskie worked endlessly to improve their defense so that they could stick at the position. Their bats were their calling cards, but their defense became better over time, especially Koskie.

There is no doubt that Killebrew is one of the best, if not THE best player, in Twins history. If he isn't going to be on the team as the best 1B, then he has to be the best 3B. 'Nuff said.

    • mikelink45 likes this