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Kevin Slowey was Framed!

Significant Date in Twins' History - November 21, 2007

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2007 was a rare poor season for the Twins in the first decade of the 21st Century. They finished under .500 and in 3rd place. A long-time Minnesota Twin was heading for free agency after the season as well. Torii Hunter was likely the fourth or fifth best player on the team at this point, behind Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Johan Santana and possibly Joe Nathan (I think Hunter was better). In addition, he was 31 years old and slipping defensively from a great centerfielder to an aging centerfielder who probably would benefit from a change to right field. I know that I was personally against signing Hunter to a long-term deal, but Hunter obviously wanted to cash in on what had been a good career to this point.

I remember hearing that the Twins offered 3 years and 45 million dollars. I thought that was too high, but the years were not offensive to me. I tried calling Terry Ryan, but realized quickly that I didn't have his number, and that he doesn't care what I think. It was all irrelevant anyway, as Anaheim and Hunter agreed to terms on a 5 year, 90 million (actually 89.5) dollar contract on November 21, 2007. I found this to be laughable, and I was more than relieved that the Twins did not offer anything close to that.

I thought that Hunter might do well for the first 2 or 3 years of that deal, and then completely fall off the table as a 35 and 36 year old. Knowing that his defense was slipping a bit, moving him to right field might have made some sense for the Twins. So, I wanted to see how he did against Twin center and right fielders. The results? Well, let's just see, shall we? I took the liberty of making some charts; I hope you don't mind.

Chart 1 - Torii Hunter's WAR, compared with Twins' center and right fielders over the past 5 years.

WAR Hunter Twins CF Twins RF
2008 2.6 Gomez 2.6 Span 3.2
2009 3.9 Span 4.1 Cuddyer 2.8
2010 3.7 Span 2.6 Kubel/Cuddyer 0.4
2011 2.6 Span/Revere 4.2 Cuddyer 3
2012 4.4 Span 3.5 Revere 2.7
Total 17.2 17 12.1

As you can see, Hunter was more valuable (by Fangraphs' WAR) than either Twins' center or right fielders. Although, it was very close in center field. If nothing else, this chart makes me appreciate just how good and underrated Denard Span is. Hunter has been really consistent over the 5 year deal and definitely exceeded my expectations.

Chart 2 - Torii Hunter's Salary (in million dollas), compared with Twins' center and right fielders over the past 5 years.

Dollas (in mils) Hunter Twins CF Twins RF
2008 16.5 0.4 0.4
2009 18 0.4 7.66
2010 18.5 0.75 13.516
2011 18.5 1.4 10.5
2012 18 3 0.5
Total 89.5 5.95 32.576

I chose dollas over dollars, because I am currently wearing my trucker cap tilted slightly to the side. As is clearly seen, Hunter has been significantly more expensive than these two Twins outfield positions combined. The center field situation is almost a laughable comparison. So, let's take this one step further.

Chart 3 - Torii Hunters WAR/Million Dolla, compared with Twins' center and right fielders over the past 5 years.

WAR/Dolla Hunter Twins CF Twins RF
2008 0.16 6.50 8.00
2009 0.22 10.25 0.37
2010 0.20 3.47 0.03
2011 0.14 3.00 0.29
2012 0.24 1.17 5.40
Total 0.96 24.38 14.08

I'm still using dolla instead of dollar, although my trucker cap did fall off. I am still wearing my favorite shirt. This is a rather crude measurement, I admit. However it does show that the Twins got comparable production from these positions and at a much lower price. Over the 5 years Torii Hunter was worth 17.2 WAR. Over that same time, Denard Span was worth 15.6 WAR. He also make approximately 200 billion dollars less (I don't feel like checking my math).

Chart 4 - Torii Hunter statistics over the past 5 years

Hunter Totals 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 5 Year Total 5 Year Avg
Games 146 119 152 156 130 703 140.6
HR 21 22 23 23 15 104 20.8
RBI 85 74 76 80 74 389 77.8
SB 19 18 9 5 9 60 12
OPS 0.810 0.873 0.819 0.765 0.802 0.814 0.814
WAR 2.6 3.9 3.7 2.6 4.4 17.2 3.4

If you had shown me this chart in 2007, I would have said two things: 1. What is WAR? 2. Wow, that honestly surprises me. Over the last 5 years, Torii Hunter has been a good player. He has been about a 3 and a half win player and has produced good counting stats. He also seems like a really good guy and someone that the Angels like having around. My charts did not measure things like clubhouse chemistry, ballpark factors of anything like that. I am sure there are ways to make the Twins' decision to let Hunter leave look bad. As much as I have grown to appreciate Hunter over the years, I am glad he left. Denard Span has really flourished in his absence and has become an overall more valuable player than Hunter (when you consider salary and age). In addition, he also seems like a good guy. The good guy stuff balances out!

Were you sad or glad when Torii Hunter left? Were you mad? Did you feel you'd been had? Don't feel bad. Love, Brad.

Updated 09-25-2012 at 08:36 AM by Brad Swanson

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Comments

  1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    Good analysis and Hunter really did bounce back this season when he could have continued to decline.
  2. OldManWinter's Avatar
    He chose big money. That is fine, understandable even. I would not have kept him for those dollars and those years. But, after he left it seemed to me he trashed the Twins in a manner that made him a hypocrite.

    Hunter leaving let us develop Span so I am glad he left.
  3. Twins Twerp's Avatar
    Isn't it crazy how we give him a pass, yet we hate on Knoblauch?
  4. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    AJ too. I don't really understand it. I guess Hunter was a more beloved figure while here, so he is remembered more fondly.
  5. PopRiveter's Avatar
    I still love Hunter and AJ. I only hate Knoblauch because he blew me off when I saw him at valleyfair as a kid- and then became a Yankee.
    I was glad they made the offer to Torii that they did. I thought it was fair. When he signed with Anaheim, I was equally glad they did not make that offer to him. If he had a career year every year of the deal, Anaheim wasn't going to get a good deal at that price.
    Happy for him! Happy for Denard!
    Well, at the time, I had really low expectations for Denard and was first hoping Jason Tyner would be a stopgap solution at center.

    I can recall thinking, "They have to choose either Hunter or Santana, because they can't keep both, but they can't succeed with neither."
    Those two became very, very rich men. Jason Tyner did not.
  6. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    I guess AJ and Knoblauch were just kind of jerky. Hunter always stayed a pretty cool bro.

    Jason Tyner was roughly my size, so I always kind of liked him.
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