Minnesota had a decent run of first round picks in the early 1990s. Torii Hunter, Todd Walker, Mark Redman and Michael Cuddyer were all drafted in consecutive years leading into the three picks discussed below. All those players would make it to the big leagues and there are multiple All-Stars on the list. However, Minnesota’s luck ran out from there.
Ryan Mills (1998, 6th overall)
Ryan Mills had been a 13th round pick out of high school by the Yankees, but he opted to head to Arizona State and he greatly improved his draft stock. He played every professional inning with the Twins organization, but he failed to get out of Triple-A. He was the only top-10 pick that year not to make the big leagues. Other players taken later in the first round included Carlos Pena (25.5 WAR), Jeff Weaver (15.2 WAR), CC Sabathia (62.5 WAR) and Aaron Rowand (20.9 WAR).
BJ Garbe (1999, 5th overall)
One year after the Twins took Mills, BJ Garbe was the team’s first round pick and the team missed out for the second year in a row. Josh Hamilton and Josh Beckett were the first two players off the board, but some other well-known big leaguers were taken later in the first round. The Twins missed out on Barry Zito (31.9 WAR), Ben Sheets (23.2 WAR), Alex Rios (27.3 WAR) and Brian Roberts (29.5 WAR). Garbe played for three different organizations and never made it past Double-A. By the age of 25, he’d be out of baseball.
Adam Johnson (2000, 2nd overall)
Adam Johnson might be the biggest swing and a miss in team history. Minnesota saw the Marlins take Adrian Gonzalez with the first overall pick before they were on the clock. There was plenty of other strong talent left on the board including Rocco Baldelli (10.2 WAR), Chase Utley (64.4 WAR) and Adam Wainwright (40.5 WAR). Johnson would make his big league debut in 2001, just one year after being drafted. He would only make nine appearances with the Twins and he allowed 30 earned runs in 26.1 innings. Johnson was out of affiliated baseball at age-26 and his professional career was over before he turned 30.
Minnesota’s first round ineptitude improved after the Johnson debacle. Joe Mauer was selected first overall in 2001, Denard Span was taken in 2002, Trevor Plouffe and Glen Perkins were taken in 2004, and Matt Garza was taken in 2005. While these picks all worked out well, one must wonder how the future of the franchise would have changed with different picks from 1998-2000.
Which player was the biggest bust? Which player do you wish the Twins would have drafted instead of these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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- Jun 08 2020 10:53 AM
- by Cody Christie
I don’t think it’s burying the lede here to note that Harmon Killebrew’s signature is going to be number one on this list. He’s got some of the greatest penmanship we’ve seen in any era, and it was a craft he took great pride in. You’ll often hear stories from more recent players where they’ll quip about the times Harmon noted they needed to clean up their signature.
Given the recent explosion of the trading card collecting hobby it seemed only fitting to explore the guys that have followed his advice best. Surprisingly, there’s more than a few modern candidates on this list. Without further ado, let’s get into it:
5. Paul Molitor
After playing 15 years in Milwaukee for the Brewers, Molitor ended his Hall of Fame career with the hometown team. The St. Paul native was well past his prime when he joined the Twins, but Molitor still put up an .858 OPS at age-39. There was no shortage of autograph requests given the local fanfare, and those continued when he became manager, and eventually Manager of the Year, following his playing days.
The signature is a compressed one, and the letters are all tight together, but getting every character is something rarely seen today.
4. Bert Blyleven
This is a weird case in which the signature is awesome, but it’s one that typically comes with caveats. Blyleven is also a Hall of Famer and played 11 of his 22 big league seasons in Minnesota. He is still connected to the team as a broadcaster, and while his capacity is slowly being phased out, it will never not be true that he was among the best to put on the uniform.
Much like Harmon’s style, Blyleven makes sure to get out his full name fully and visibly when signing. For collectors he’ll generally ink his name in undesirable places or attempt to devalue whatever he is signing for the fear of secondary market flipping. At any rate, the signature itself is a gorgeous one.
3. Torii Hunter
As the first modern day inclusion on this list Torii Hunter represents a guy bound by principles. He has often talked about things gleaned from his time listening to Harmon, and he too represents that type of retired veteran constantly passing information down. Hunter played the role of mentor and leader on multiple teams, and it’s not hard to see why doing things the right way would be of importance to him.
Hunter’s autograph is loopier and more cartoonish than the previous two entries, but it’s plenty obvious who the inscription belongs to when reading it. Often accompanied by his number, Torii takes any piece of memorabilia up a notch by putting his name on it.
2. Michael Cuddyer
One of my favorite autographs in all of baseball, Cuddyer combines principles from the three players before him. He was a Twins for 11 of his 15 Major League seasons and there was never a time in which he wasn’t fighting to cement his place as a regular. Often seen as the utility player that could contribute everywhere, Cuddyer went about all of his processes the right way.
Without sounding too sappy Cuddyer’s signature has an elegance to it. As a fan of photography, often taking pictures at away ballparks, maybe there was even an artistic tie to the swoops of his pen. Each time his name came out though, it looked as good as the last.
1. Harmon Killebrew
As I said when starting this off, it’s pretty impossible to look at any group of people under this subject and not determine Harmon as the gold standard. Playing 21 of his 22 illustrious seasons with the Minnesota franchise (after relocating from Washington seven seasons in) the Killer racked up accolades like no one’s business. An inner circle Hall of Famer doesn’t need to bother themselves with signature requests, but Killebrew took it upon himself to treat each as if it were his last.
There will never be a time that the importance Killebrew placed on a well-respected signature isn’t a story that’s shared fondly among Twins fans. Although it doesn’t resonate with every future player, it’s great to see the trickle-down effect and know that his presence remains even though he has left us.
Who's missing that you would add to this list?
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- May 21 2020 11:53 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Tom Kelly suffered through some rough Twins seasons but when he retired after the 2001 season, he left the team in a good spot. Ron Gardenhire took over and the team won six division titles in a decade. As we have seen in other decades, much of that credit for this decade belongs to the offense.
The team had two MVPs, a three-time batting champ, several Silver Sluggers and Gold Glove Awards, more All Stars, lots of 30+ double seasons and many 30+ home run seasons.
The list below includes some of the better players in Twins history, but don't worry, there are still a few tough choices in this "lineup." And, frankly, there are some snubs that are deserving as well.
Read through this list and share your thoughts in the lineup.
The Twins Hitters of the 2000s
C - Joe Mauer (2004-2009)
699 games, .327/.408/.483 (.892) with 158 doubles, 72 homers, 397 RBI.
The #1 overall pick of the 2001 draft rose quickly through the Twins minor league system and made his debut on Opening Day 2004. In the following seasons, he became one of baseball’s best players. In 2006, he hit .347 to become the first catcher in American League catcher to win a batting title. He won another in 2008 (.328) and 2009 (.365). He was baseball’s best player in 2009 when he won the AL SABRmetric Triple Crown at .365/.444/.587 (1.031). He was named the league’s MVP that season. Through the 2009 season, he had three batting titles, three All-Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers and his first two Gold Glove awards.
1B - Justin Morneau (2003-2009)
867 games, .280/.350/.501 (.851) with 190 doubles, 163 homers, 623 RBI.
Morneau was the Twins third-round pick in 1999. He made his MLB debut in 2003. He had his ups and downs for a couple of years, but he came into his own in 2006. He hit .321/.375/.559 (.934) with 37 doubles, 34 homers and 130 RBI. He won his first of two Silver Slugger Awards. He was an All-Star each of the next four seasons. He was the runner up for MVP in 2008. From 2006-2009, he hit 31 or more homers three of four years and drove in at least 100 runs all four years.
2B - Nick Punto (2004-2009)
659 games, .249/.325/.327 (.652) with 91 doubles, 11 homers, 174 RBI.
Punto was the Twins 33rd-round pick in 1997, but he didn’t sign. He was later drafted by the Phillies and worked up to the big leagues with them. The Twins acquired him after the 2003 season in the Eric Milton trade, and he became a regular, playing a variety of positions, by 2005. While he’s not a perfect fit at second base, he provided the Twins a ton of versatility. He always took quality at-bats and made pitchers throw a lot of pitches. He also was a plus-plus defender around the infield. In 2006, he hit .290/.352/.373 (.725) with 29 extra base hits in 135 games. In 2008, he hit .284/.344/.382 (.726). He averaged nearly 16 stolen bases between 2005 and 2009. Also considered at the position: Luis Castillo.
3B - Corey Koskie (2000-2004)
688 games, .278/.373/.465 (.838) with 159 doubles, 89 homers, 377 RBI.
Koskie, a native of Manitoba, was the Twins 26th-round pick in 1994. He made his debut late in the 1998 season. In 2000, he hit .300/.400/.441 (.841) with 45 extra- base hits. In 2001, he both scored 100 runs and drove in 100 runs. He also hit a career-high 26 home runs that season. He hit 37 doubles in both 2001 and 2002. He posted an OPS of .815 or higher in seven of eight seasons between 1999 and 2006. He also became a very reliable defensive third baseman.
SS - Cristian Guzman (2000-2004)
710 games, .272/.308/.398 (.706) with 130 doubles, 38 homers, 263 RBI.
Guzman was acquired by the Twins in the February 1998 Chuck Knoblauch trade. He was the Twins Opening Day shortstop starting in 1999. Initially, he was known for strong defense and his great speed. In 2000, he led the league with 20 triples. 2001 was his best season. He hit .302 and played in his first All-Star Game. He hit 28 doubles, a league-leading 14 triples, and a career-high ten home runs. He led the league with 14 triples again in 2003.
LF - Jacque Jones (2000-2005)
881 games, .278/.327/.455 (.781) with 165 doubles, 123 homers, 432 RBI.
Jones was the Twins second-round draft pick in 1996 out of USC (Southern California). The Olympian signed and made his debut midway through the 1999 season. 2000 was his first full season. In 2002, he hit .300 with 37 doubles and 27 home runs. In 2003, he hit .304 with 33 doubles and 16 homers. He hit 23 and 24 homers in 2004 and 2005, respectively. He was a solid left fielder with a great - though sometimes inaccurate - arm. Soon after the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart in 2004, Jones moved to right field.
CF - Torii Hunter (2000-2007)
1,092 games, .273/.326/.478 (.803) with 241 doubles, 183 homers, 674 RBI.
Hunter was the Twins first-round pick in 1993 out of high school. He had brief call ups in 1997 and 1998 but spent a lot of time traveling between AAA and the big leagues in 1999 and 2000 as well. He became a regular in 2001 and took off from that point. He was incredible with the glove and won six straight Gold Glove Awards between 2002 and 2007. He was an All-Star in those two seasons as well. Hunter hit a career-high 45 doubles and 2007. He had hit a career-high 31 homers in 2006. While known for his defense, Hunter came into his own offensively as well with the Twins.
RF - Michael Cuddyer (2001-2009)
843 games, .270/.344/.457 (.801) with 173 doubles, 107 homers, 479 RBI.
Cuddyer was the Twins top pick in the 1997 draft. He debuted very late in the 2001 season and had several cups of coffee in 2002 and 2003. He became a regular in 2004 and remained as such through the decade. He moved all over the diamond, but he became his best when he was thrown into right field where his rocket arm became a huge asset. That happened in 2006 when he hit .284/.362/.504 (.867) with a career-high 41 doubles, 24 homers and 109 RBI. In 2009, he received MVP votes for really leading the Twins in their incredible September to force a Game 163. That season, he hit .276/.342/.520 (.862) with 32 doubles and a career-high 34 home runs.
DH - Lew Ford (2003-2007)
494 games, .272/.349/.402 (.750) with 80 doubles, 32 homers, 172 RBI.
This may be a controversial choice, but Ford did play some DH throughout his time with the Twins. We could have gone with Denard Span whose first two MLB seasons were incredible with high batting average and on-base percentage. You could go with AJ Pierzynski who played in an All-Star Game as a Twins catcher before the Mauer years. How about Jason Bartlett for his short time with the Twins? For me though, the choice was Ford. In September of 2000, the Twins traded reliever Hector Carrasco to the Red Sox in exchange for Ford. He debuted in 2003 by hitting .329 (.928) in 35 games and made the playoff roster. In 2004, he burst on the scene with a huge first half which found him on the AL’s final vote for the last spot on the AL All- Star roster. Overall that season, he hit .299/.381/.446 (.827) with 31 doubles, 15 homers and 72 RBI in 154 games. He also had 20 stolen bases. That was the pinnacle, but he did play in 147 games in 2005. He spent most of the next two seasons with the Twins as well, though his performance dropped. But that 2004 season was special.
What are your thoughts? Agree with the choices?
Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters)
Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers)
Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona)
Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters)
Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers)
Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse)
Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters)
Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers)
Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker)
Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters)
Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers)
- May 06 2020 01:58 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Cuddyer, who played in 1,139 games for Twins and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2017, is known for many things: His dimpled smile. His cannon arm. His magic tricks in the clubhouse. His slugging prowess.
From my view, there are two specific elements of Cuddyer the player that are worth reflecting on for Twins fans at this moment in time.
#1: Cuddyer is a poster child for the circuitous path to stardom
As a high school shortstop in Chesapeake, VA, Cuddyer emerged as one of the top prep talents in the country. The Twins selected him ninth overall in 1997. He went straight to Single-A and raked, ascending the minor-league ranks rapidly and bypassing Triple-A entirely on his way to an MLB debut at age 22. From 1999 through 2003 he was a perennial Top 100 prospect according to Baseball America, peaking at #17 in his last year of eligibility.
Cuddyer's initial ascent to the big leagues was as smooth as could be. His acclimation there was anything but. From 2001 through 2005, he yo-yoed back and forth between the majors and minors, continually crushing Triple-A but failing to establish himself at the highest level.
Not until he was 27 did Cuddyer finally turn the corner, posting an .867 OPS in 2006 with 24 homers, 41 doubles and 109 RBIs in a career-high 150 games. He was a key component of a team that won 96 games. From there he went on to slash .281/.347/.468 and hit 165 home runs over the remainder of his career, making two All-Star teams.
It's helpful to remember this path as we look at the various current Twins players who seem to be stuck in neutral (or worse). Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, like Cuddyer, were both highly touted prospects that arrived in the majors at a young age but have failed to gain full traction. They're both 25 now.
Max Kepler, who follows Cuddyer in Minnesota's right field lineage, may be a more apt parallel. Like Cuddyer, Kepler earned himself a September call-up at age 22 following a monster year at Double-A. And like Cuddyer, Kepler's MLB production stagnated in the years following:
Michael Cuddyer, OPS+
Max Kepler, OPS+
Granted, Kepler hasn't really had to fight for his playing time like Cuddyer did; he's been a regular ever since he arrived, despite the unspectacular offensive numbers. This is, in part, because of his elevated defensive value. But don't despair too much about the lack of offensive progression so far. Out of Cuddyer's 17 Wins Above Replacement accumulated in the big leagues, 15 came after he turned 26. Kepler turns 26 on February 10th.
#2: Cuddyer was a model of defensive versatility
When I think about Cuddyer playing the field, I picture him out in right, gathering a carom off the Metrodome's baggy and spinning around to rifle it toward the infield. It's easy to forget, now, that he moved all over the place. In his career, Cuddyer played at least 500 innings at five different positions (RF, LF, 1B, 3B, 2B). He wasn't great at all of them, but having the option to plug him in at so many spots was a major convenience for Ron Gardenhire.
The current Twins will need to embrace this kind of flexibility, to the extent they can. Rostering a full-time DH like Nelson Cruz puts a further crunch on what'll likely be a short bench. Rocco Baldelli's life will be made easier if some players are able to help out at multiple positions, as Cuddy did.
This is another possible connection to Kepler. I've suggested before that it'd be wise to get him up to speed at first base, given his past experience there. Eddie Rosario's brief but flashy appearance in the infield last year may have had substance (he did play second for a spell in the minors). Jonathan Schoop would be an even bigger asset if he could step in at third here and there to spell Sano.
I'd like to hear about how Cuddyer kept his skills sharp enough that even at age 32, in his last season with the Twins (2011), he was able to make 41 starts at first base and 17 at second, in addition to his 77 games in right field. I also want to hear about how he dealt with the discouragement of setbacks and sideways progress over four years between reaching the majors and becoming a true bona fide big-leaguer. These insights are not only compelling to the longtime Twins fan in me who enjoys reminiscing upon the team's greatest era of my lifetime, but also for the forward-looking fan in me who sees similar scenarios playing out before my eyes.
Fortunately, I'll have a chance to hear Cuddyer talk about these topics and more on January 26th at the Winter Meltdown, along with all of you who are able to attend. For those who aren't, the Q&A session will (hopefully) be available via John and Aaron's podcast.
Feel free to share your favorite Cuddyer memories in the comments section – especially if you can connect them to any current Twins narrative.
- Jan 13 2019 10:32 PM
- by Nick Nelson
On Monday on the back fields of the Lee County Sports Complex, Brent Rooker played first base for the Chattanooga Lookouts work group against the AA work group of the Boston Red Sox. Long-time big leaguer Chris Heisey came down from big league camp and introduced himself to the Twins 2017 draft pick.
As usual in those games, he got a couple of at-bats and played half of the game at first base. He was then replaced by another quality Twins prospect, Lewin Diaz. However, Rooker’s day was not over. After watching an inning of the game, he shifted to the half-field adjacent to the field in which the game was being played.
He and fellow prospect Chris Paul went to first base where Joel Lepel hit them ground balls, and they were to throw it to second base. They were working on turning and throwing and other footwork basics. After a while, the were joined by a couple of new Twins instructors. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau found their way over there. Cuddyer mostly observed and later hit fungoes to other infielders. Morneau stood by Paul and Rooker, offering suggestions and even showing the footwork.
The opportunity is great for the minor leaguers to learn from such talent. Twins Hall of Famer Torii Hunter has worked with the players. Michael Cuddyer was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame following the completion of his career. Justin Morneau announced his retirement in January. The former MVP has joined the Twins front office as a special assistant to Baseball Operations.
These are guys who have accomplished so much, including All-Star Games in their long MLB careers. To get pointers from them can mean the world.
Rooker noted later, “Having guys like Justin and Michael around is awesome because they have so much first hand experience and knowledge that they’re able to share. Just being around them and listening to them talk about the game is a huge help to guys like me who are trying to get where they have already been.”
Rooker grew up in a small town, Germantown (TN), just miles from Memphis. His father played baseball at Memphis, and his younger brother is currently on the Memphis team. Rooker headed south a couple of hours and chose Mississippi State for his college baseball.
Rooker noted, “I originally thought, in my junior year (of high school), that I was going to play football in college. Then I started getting bigger looks for baseball, from SEC schools. I went on a few visits. The atmosphere. The energy surrounding Mississippi State is what sets it apart.”
Rooker is a great athlete and participated in three sports during his high school career at Evangelical Christian Academy. Not only did he participate, but he was a team leader in all three sports.
“I did it because I really enjoyed all three of them. I was blessed to have the opportunity to play all three (sports) and compete for a state championship in all three sports. We won in baseball twice, and then lost in football and in basketball my senior year. When people ask what advice I have for younger players, it’s always to play multiple sports as long as you can and as long as they enjoy it and have some success and contribute to a team. I think they should try to compete in multiple sports for as long as possible because it helps develop young athletes both mentally and physically.”
The coaches at Mississippi State told him that he would redshirt his freshman season. While it wasn’t ideal and could be frustrating at times, Rooker says it was the best thing for him.
“Simply put, I wasn’t ready to compete at the level I needed to to help the team, so the redshirt was the best thing for me. I was told I was going to redshirt. It’s not the most fun thing to do. You have the choice though. I could leave and go to a JuCo and play right away, or I could stick around and try to figure out how to play at this level. I chose to do the latter and it really paid off for me. That year was hard. It was a lot of hard work, and it was tough not to be able to play and compete and practice all the time. At the end of the day, I really needed it and think it was the best decision for me.
Following a strong junior year (redshirt sophomore season), the Twins took Rooker in the 38th round. He chose not to sign, betting on himself.
“Going into the draft, I was telling teams, Top 5 rounds and I’ll sign. After that, it would be a financial decision that we can discuss. After I got picked, I did have some conversations with the Twins people. At the end of the day, it was a better decision for me from a development standpoint to go back to school and compete in the SEC which is as good as amateur baseball gets.”
He continued, “I knew there was more in me.”
He spent a lot of time that summer trying to figure out how to take his game to the next level.
“My focus was to figure out what that was for me whether it was an approach thing or a physical thing or a swing thing. I knew it was in there. I knew I had more capability than I was showing. I did whatever I could, talked to people to try to figure out what it was that would take me to the next step.”
Video has become a big part of Rooker’s preparation and work toward becoming a better player. He notes that while he has had favorite players and favorite teams in the past, he now watches baseball players a little differently and has found a couple of guys whose swings he likes and studies.
“I didn’t necessarily model my game after people. I found people that I liked what they did with their swing and watched a lot of video of those guys and tried to learn a lot from those guys. The two guys that I’ve watched the most video on and studied the most over the past two years while I was trying to figure out my swing. Josh Donaldson was one, and Barry Bonds is another guy I’ve watched a lot of video on.I look at how they move and how they made their swings work efficiently.I think those are the two guys I’ve probably learned the most from from an offensive standpoint.”
On Sunday, Lance Lynn pitched in a minor league. In that game, Rooker lined a double to left field. The below video was recorded, and it illustrates the results of his work. You can see a nice, efficient swing with little extra movement and a lot of power generated.
Later that day, Parker slowed down the video to better illustrate the efficiency.
Rooker noted that the jump from the SEC to the Appalachian League “wasn’t too big, but the jump from E-Town to the Florida State League was a big jump for me in terms of seeing the quality of stuff that guys are throwing every day.”
He is working with the Chattanooga group right now, so it makes sense the that organization may plan to have him start the season back in Ft. Myers where he posted a .917 OPS with six doubles and 11 homers in just 40 games in 2017. It’s also possible that he will begin the season with the Lookouts.
While we will continue to look at his statistics, Rooker will continue to work on his process. As he said, the numbers will take care of themselves.
Could we see Rooker in a Twins uniform, playing games at Target Field by season’s end? The odds probably aren’t high, but the fact that at this time a year ago, he hadn’t even started SEC games yet, it is remarkable to note that it is absolutely possible. If not, maybe 2019.
He’s been working hard at first base, trying to learn some of the nuances of the position. Getting help from a guy like Justin Morneau, who made himself into a very solid defensive player over his career, can’t hurt. He’s also spent some time in left field this spring.
“My job is not to worry about the assignment. My job is to show up wherever they put me and continue to work my process and get better every day. If I continue to take incremental steps, every game, every week, then I’ll be where I need to be and I think the numbers should take care of themselves. I don’t worry about the end results. I just worry about my own process and what I need to do to be the best player I can.”
Twins fans, that player could be really good.
- Mar 20 2018 06:16 AM
- by Seth Stohs
This list is obviously subjective, but I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite ads produced by the Twins or featuring Twins players? Laurel Krahn (@wintwins on Twitter) has a wonderful playlist on YouTube with more than 100 Twins commercials. But even the Internet has its limitations. I’m sure there are some great older ones that aren’t out there on YouTube.
10. Joe Mauer Mean Joe Green Tribute
9. Sorta Deep Thoughts With Bert Blyleven and Carl Pavano
8. Ron Gardenhire on TC’s Natural Habitat
7. Kent Hrbek’s First Base Lessons for Joe Mauer
6. Get to Know Em: Cristian Guzman
5. Sorta Deep Thoughts With Justin Morneau and TC
4. Johan Santana/Joe Nathan Carpool
3. Torii Hunter Birthday party pinata
2. Michael Cuddyer’s Magic Show
1, Get to Know Em: Corey Koskie
There were some tough choices, and I shared another 10 spots I really enjoyed on Twitter outside of this batch. A few of these are from the same ad campaigns, but they were so good I couldn’t narrow down to just one per year.
The Twins renaissance in the early 2000s had more to do with the players on the field and their success than any ad campaign, but the Get to Know ‘Em commercials were brilliant. The Twins were a developing club packed with young talent, but the players were still mostly anonymous even in a lot of parts of Twins Territory.
The team had been an afterthought for several years. In 2000, they averaged just 12,355 fans per game, topping only the Montreal Expos in attendance that season. To put that into some more perspective, the Tampa Bay Rays were dead last in attendance in 2017, but they drew 15,477 fans on average.
Hunt Adkins was the agency behind those Get to Know ‘Em commercials that put the focus on the players, their stories and their backgrounds. They had a great four-year relationship with the Twins. The team has has been partnered with Periscope the past 13 years — I especially appreciated their Sorta Deep Thoughts commercials — but a new agency will be at the helm in 2018: Carmichael Lynch. Here’s a link to some of the agency’s work, which includes the Jack Link’s Beef Jerky Messin’ With Sasquatch ads.
OK, now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Twins commercials?
- Feb 03 2018 11:15 PM
- by Tom Froemming
Reports are that Morneau will officially retire and become a special assistant in the Twins. The team has yet to make the announcement official but that could come as Twins Fest approaches. Under the Twins new front office, the club has added former players like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants.
Morneau became a star in the Twin Cities on his way to being elected to four All-Star Games. From 2006-2010, he hit .298/.372/.528 (.900) while averaging 27 home runs and over 100 RBI per season. On his way to the 2016 AL MVP, he compiled many of the numbers voters like to see with 34 home runs, 130 RBI and a .934 OPS.
In 2010 with the Twins leading the AL Central, Morneau looked well on his way to another MVP. He posted an eye-popping 1.055 OPS with 44 extra-base hits in 81 games. A slide into second base in Toronto resulted in a concussion that ended his season. Over the next two years, multiple concussions limited his playing time.
Morneau had plenty of other memorable moments throughout his career. Josh Hamilton’s performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby was legendary but it was actually Morneau who took home the title that year. He returned to Target Field for the 2014 Home Run Derby and received a standing ovation from Twins fans.
His 2014 season was also memorable for the fact that he won the National League batting crown. Over 135 games, he hit .319 and outlasted Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. During his time in Minnesota, he also took home two Silver Slugger awards (2006, 2008) as the top hitting first baseman in the American League.
Morneau ranks very highly in multiple categories on the Twins all-time lists. His 221 home runs are third behind Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek and one ahead of Tony Oliva. He ranks sixth in RBI, ninth in runs and third in slugging.
What was your favorite Justin Morneau moment? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion.
- Jan 09 2018 10:39 AM
- by Cody Christie
Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
Top 3 Twins per WPA: Berrios .281 | Dozier .148 | Castro .084
We’ve seen several Twins break out of slumps around the same time these last couple weeks, I guess it was Berrios’ turn tonight. Jose entered the evening with a 6.18 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over six second-half starts. It’s a baseball cliche to say a player mired in a slump is due, but it certainly felt like Berrios was going to get back on track eventually.
And oh boy did he ever get back on track. Berrios gave up just two hits and walked one batter. Here are his seven strikeouts:
Last night it was all about the home runs, tonight the Twins singled the D-Backs to death. They scored all five of their runs in the fourth inning despite not recording a single extra-base hit in that frame. They strung together five singles and had an error and a walk mixed in.
Sano, who was the DH tonight, exited the game after he was slow to get down the first base line on a double play that ended that huge fourth inning. Mitch Garver replaced Sano and struckout in his major league debut.
Alan Busenitz was perfect over the final two innings, lowering his ERA to 1.93 in his 18.2 innings pitched on the big club this season.
Postgame With Molitor
Twins W-L Record
Overall: 62-59 (.512)
Last 10: 7-3 (.700)
Last 20: 12-8 (.600)
Last 40: 21-19 (.525)
Last 80: 39-41 (.488)
AL Central Standings
Minnesota 62-59 (-6.0)
Kansas City 61-61 (-7.5)
AL Wild Card Standings
WC1: Yankees 66-56
WC2: Minnesota 62-59
Angels 63-60 (-0.002 winning percentage)
Seattle 63-61 (-0.5)
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
SUN: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Arizona (TBD), 1:10 pm CT
MON: Twins (TBD) at White Sox (TBD), 4:10 pm CT
MON: Twins (TBD) at White Sox (TBD), Game 2
TUE: Twins (TBD) at White Sox (TBD), 7:10 pm CT
*It's not official, but it's sounding like the Twins will roll with Dillon Gee, Tim Melville and Kyle Gibson as the starters in those games at Chicago.
Question of the Day
Who is the player you’d most like to see enshrined next in the Twins Hall of Fame?
- Aug 20 2017 04:23 AM
- by Tom Froemming
All Major League organizations bring back players in an “assistant” type of role. The Twins have done that for guys like Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva. They represent the organization at events like Twins Fest. They may show up for a while at spring training and other special events. That is a wonderful thing and something current players should appreciate. Last spring training, LaTroy Hawkins, Torii Hunter and Rick Aguilera each spent time in big league spring training.
With today’s announcement, Cuddyer, Hunter and Hawkins will do that. They’ll be at spring training. They’ll help Paul Molitor with instruction, if asked. They’ll also be there to lend an ear to the players at camp. They’ll share stories. They’ll share things they learned in their careers.
But they’ll do much more in their roles as special assistants. As Derek Falvey noted in his introductory comments of Monday’s press conference, “Each guy will play a meaningful role in our baseball operation moving forward. That spans across baseball operations, decisions that we make on a day-to-day, but also in player development, amateur scouting, how we transition players to the major leagues, and ultimately how we impact our culture here in Minnesota to get to where we want to be as a team.”
In their introductory press conference earlier in the month, Thad Levine indicated that long-time Rangers players Michael Young and Darren Oliver hold similar roles in that organization. It isn’t just a token title, but a role where their input will be valued. Likewise in the Cleveland organization, former players such as Travis Hafner have a similar role.
But one thing was clear from the press conference on Monday afternoon, the Twins had a great culture at the turn of the century and through those division-winning years. As Michael Cuddyer noted, it was a based on a “belief in teammates and self.”
Cuddyer noted that it was a culture of team-first, and a culture of winning, throughout the organization, that helped lead to their MLB success. He exemplified the unselfishness of those teams with his willingness to play anywhere on the diamond that he was needed.
“That is a culture that is established with rookie ball. Professional baseball is a system set up for self-promotion. I think a lot of the players buy into that. When I was coming up through the minor leagues we wanted to win the Eastern League. We wanted to win the Florida State League. We wanted to play that extra week or two weeks of the minor league season. When I would go down on rehab after a few years of being in the big leagues, I didn’t see that anymore. I would see more guys saying, 'I can’t wait to go home,' or 'I better get called up.' I-I-I-I… I think that’s a culture that can get put back into it, but it has to start in the lower minor league levels, the culture of We are going to win. We move up to the Florida State League, we’re going to win there too. We get called up to the Southern League, we’re going to win there too. When we move up to the International League, we’re going to win there too. And you know what, when we move up to the big leagues, we’re going to win there too. That’s a culture that needs to be developed again.”
For what it’s worth, the Twins have seemingly developed a culture of winning in the minor leagues. In 2016, the Twins had a winning percentage of .542 for their four full-season affiliates. That was good for fifth place among big league organizations. If you want to take that out to the past four seasons, the Twins four, full-season affiliates have combined to go 1,225-1,020, a 54.6% winning percentage, third best in baseball over that stretch. Add to that, the Twins have been 1st, 3rd and 3rd in FIP (fielding independent pitching) the last three years. Brad Steil has certainly led the Twins organization and minor league system in the right direction. It also speaks well of the young talent that Terry Ryan was able to bring in to the organization.
It’s that culture of winning and togetherness that brings these guys back to the organization.
Cuddyer was the Twins first-round pick in 1997 out of high school in Norfolk, Virginia. He remained in the organization through the 2011 season. He played in 1,139 games in a Twins uniform. He hit a combined .272/.343/.451 (.794) with 239 doubles and 141 home runs for the Twins. He went to one All-Star Game as a Twins player (his final season). He went to Colorado where he went to another All-Star Game and won the 2013 batting title with a .331 average. He played in the 2015 World Series for the Mets. Injuries and a desire to spend more time with his family are the reasons he decided to retire following that season.
LaTroy Hawkins was the Twins seventh-round pick in 1991 out of high school in Gary, Indiana. He was in the Twins organization through the 2003 season. He spent 21 seasons in the big leagues and only nine pitchers in MLB history pitched in more games than Hawkins’ 1,042. For the Twins, he struggled as a starter, and he struggled as a closer. Late in his time in the organization, he moved to a set up role, and his career took off.
Torii Hunter was the Twins first-round pick in 1993 out of high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. He stayed in the organization through the 2007 season. He took a huge money deal to play five years for the Angels and then two years with the Tigers. He returned to the organization for the 2015 season. In all, he hit .268/.321/.462 (.783) with 281 doubles and 215 homer runs in 1,373 games over 12 years with the Twins.
All three experienced a lot of frustrations in their careers (injuries, struggles, demotions, etc.), and all three experienced longevity and a lot of successes in their careers. All three were and are greatly respected by their peers. All three of them give credit to the Minnesota Twins organization for who they were on and off the field. So when the Twins called offering these positions, it was an easy choice for each.
Cuddyer said, “There was really only one team that I saw myself ever being affiliated with again at this level in this early stage of my retirement, and that was the Twins. When this opportunity came about, I was excited to get join back in the organization. The organization made such a huge impact to me, a huge impact to myself and my family. This was the organization I wanted to be affiliate if I was going to do anything other than be with my family.”
Hunter added “When I came back to retire, I was here to stay for life. The reason why I am here is because of the passion I have for this organization, the love that I have for this organization. And also wanting this organization to be a championship ball club and have a great atmosphere. That’s what I’m here for. It’s not work for me. It’s something I want to do. It’s a passion for me.
Hawkins noted that he had several other similar offers, but “Once the Twins offer came, there wasn’t any other place I wanted to be. Home. Where it all started. I was very excited when I got the call about possibly joining the Twins family again.”
Chief Baseball Operator Derek Falvey called it a perfect match. He said, “It became so clear that these three wanted to embed themselves in our baseball culture and be a part of the solution and actively work. There’s really no area of baseball operations that these guys aren’t going to hit. And they’re going to be resources for Thad (Levine), for me, and for the rest of the guys here to play a meaningful role in what we’re building. (It wasn’t specifically) about getting former Twins players. We want good people, people who care about the development of where we’re going as an organization. It helps greatly when you have three guys who care as deeply as these three do about the team, so this was a perfect match as we started to work down that path.”
Bringing Back the Band doesn’t have to have the negative connotation that some seem to put on it. This is a case where the organization should be thrilled to bring back these three guys. They have represented the Twins organization well. They have always been appreciative of what the organization did for them and their families. All three are well known for giving back to their communities, and now are excited to give back to the Twins organization. It’s exciting that they aren’t going to be just “token” special assistants and want to be active. It’ll be interesting to see and hear how that will play out over the coming years.
- Nov 29 2016 05:30 AM
- by Seth Stohs
3/27/73: 37 year old future Twins HOFer, Jim Perry, okays trade to Detroit.
3/27/05: Iconic Twins public address announcer of 44 years, Bob Casey, passes away at age 79. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden and Jack Morris would serve as pallbearers at his funeral.
3/28/96: On the final day of spring training, Kirby Puckett wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He would be diagnosed with career-ending glaucoma.
3/30/81: Ken Landreaux is traded to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and 2 others.
3/31/87: Just before opening their championship season, the Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher, and trade 2 minor league pitchers and a player to be named later to San Francisco for Dan Gladden and others. The Twins would send Bemidji-native, Bryan Hickerson, to the Giants in June to complete the trade.
3/31/10: Leading off a spring training game vs. the Yankees and future-Twins pitcher, Phil Hughes, Denard Span fouls off a 3-2 pitch that hits his mother, sitting behind the third base dugout and wearing a Span Twins jersey, square in the chest. It is a scary moment at the ballpark, but she is not seriously hurt.
4/1/07: Herb Carneal, the radio play-by-play voice of the Twins from 1962-2006 (44 years), passes away at age 83.
4/2/62: The Twins trade pitcherPedro Ramos to Cleveland for Vic Power, and Nimrod, MN-native, Dick Stigman.
4/2/02: The Twins open the regular season with 5 HRs in an 8-6 win vs. KC. Jacque Jones hits solo and 3-run HRs. David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter hit solo HRs.
4/2/10: The Twins play the first MLB game at new Target Field, an exhibition vs. St. Louis. Denard Span collects the stadium’s first hit, a triple, and the first HR and run scored. Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pinch-hits and receives a moving standing ovation from Twins fans.
For the history of the Minnesota Twins, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
For the stories of the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter, and like Major Minnesotans on Facebook.
- Mar 25 2016 10:14 PM
- by Matt Johnson
Baseball America wrote this scouting report about Plouffe as he entered the draft. "He has a wiry frame, soft hands and fluid middle-infield actions in the mold of Robin Yount." They went on to say, "His range and arm strength are a notch below Matt Bush, the nation's top prep shortstop, but Plouffe may be a better hitter. He has a flatter swing path and the wrist action needed to drive balls."
This prediction would turn out to be true as Bush and two other high school shortstops were taken before Plouffe in that draft. The aforementioned Bush was the first overall pick but he never made the big leagues and ended up serving prison time. Chris Nelson is a bench player who has accumulated a negative WAR over five seasons. Stephen Drew is the only one of the group with a higher WAR than Plouffe and he's played almost twice as many big league games.
After being drafted by Minnesota, Plouffe moved through the system while being younger than the competition at every level. In his minor league career, he hit .258/.320/.405 (.725 OPS) while never hitting more than 15 home runs at any level. He made it to Triple-A by age 22 and would make his big league debut at the age of 24.
There were plenty of struggles for Plouffe in his first taste of the big leagues. From 2010-2011, he hit .226/.286/.382 (.668 OPS) with 30 extra-base hits in over 360 plate appearances. He also struck out in 26% of his at-bats. His defense at shortstop was also rough, to say the least. According to defensive runs saved, he cost the Twins 14 runs in 2011 alone.
Something needed to change.
In the winter of 2012, the Twins decided to move Plouffe away from shortstop and shift him to the outfield. The club hoped the move would spark Plouffe much like it did for another first-round pick, Michael Cuddyer. However, he would only play 17 games there that season because Danny Valencia struggled at the plate and Minnesota needed someone for third base. Plouffe had found a new home.
Flash-forward to the present day and Plouffe is now the second-longest tenured Twins player behind Joe Mauer. He has nestled himself nicely into a solid everyday regular with improved defense at third base while topping 20 home runs in two of the last four seasons. He also went on one of the most impressive home run tears in team history when he hit 10 home runs in a 14 game stretch during the 2012 campaign.
In recent years, there has been rumblings about the possibility of Plouffe being traded to make room for star prospect Miguel Sano. Those rumors never came to fruition and Plouffe's strong defense at third means Sano will play in the outfield this coming season. Plouffe is under team control for the 2016 and 2017 seasons but that still doesn't mean the Twins won't consider moving him over the next handful of years.
Minnesota surprised a lot of teams by contending in 2015 even while some of their young prospects were still trying to figure out baseball's highest level. Many feel the Twins will come back to the pack this season. If the Twins are out of the race in mid-July, Plouffe will likely hear his name on the trading block once again and it could make sense to deal him if the price is right.
Plouffe has been part of some tough seasons in Minnesota with multiple 90-loss seasons marking the last handful of years. He has transformed from a first-round pick to a failed shortstop to an above average MLB regular.
Minnesota stayed the course with Plouffe and it has paid off on the field and in the clubhouse.
- Mar 21 2016 09:12 PM
- by Cody Christie
LaTroy Hawkins announced during the season that 2015 would his last. He certainly had his ups and (a lot of) downs in his time with the Twins. He had just figured things out in 2002 and 2003, becoming one of the top set-up men in baseball. Who would have known that he would play for another dozen seasons? Even in 2015, he was still throwing a good fastball in the mid-90s. He probably could have played again in 2016, but as he is turning 43 in less than two weeks, he's ready to move on to the next stage of his life.
Another from that group of players is David Ortiz. We all know the back story, and what he has become, but he was an important piece on the field and in the clubhouse in the early part of last decade. When the Twins non-tendered him, no team wanted him. In fact, it wasn't for about two months after being non-tendered that the Red Sox signed him to a $1.5 million deal and they said he might compete for platoon at-bats. Five hundred career home runs later, he announced that 2016 will be his final season. Ortiz turned 40 following the 2015 season.
Two other players remain active in baseball from the 2002 roster that won an ALDS series before losing to the eventual World Champions, the Angels. Kyle Lohse is 36 and is currently an unsigned free agent. The other is AJ Pierzynski, who is still catching, re-signed with Atlanta for 2016, his age 39 season. He hit .300 last year. Well, I guess Johan Santana is going to give a comeback one more try, but we'll see.
If you are old enough to remember being a Twins fan through the highs of 1987 and 1991, you can also appreciate just how bad the baseball was in Minnesota from about 1996 through 2000. And then this group started coming up in 1998. Rookies were surrounded by veterans and over time, they started figuring it out. They started being competitive in 2001. Tom Kelly retired and Ron Gardenhire took over a team that everyone knew should compete. And they did.
You likely remember Dusty Kielmohr, the nickname of the Twins right field players through most of the season. Dusty Mohr and Bobby Kielty both contributed. In fact Kielty posted a bWAR of 2.7 while Mohr's was at 2.3.
Everyone will remember the Keystone Combo of Luis Rivas and Cristian Guzman. Na Na Na Na Na..
Jacque Jones was recently named an assistant hitting coach for Dusty Baker and the Nationals. Matthew Lecroy was the Nationals bullpen coach for a few years. Eddie Guardado became the Twins bullpen coach last year. Doug Mientkiewicz has won two championships in two seasons as a manager in the Twins minor leagues.
This was the group that brought me back to baseball. When I was in college, we didn't have cable in our dorm rooms the first couple of years, so I couldn't watch. But this group of players got me back into it. I've always been a fan of rookies and prospects, so watching that group come together and build to something special was a lot of fun.
Seeing another one of them retire kind of makes me sad. It also makes me feel really old.
As I'm sitting here thinking about the group of prospects that came up between 1998 and 2002, it makes me smile. It makes me think of being six years old, just getting into baseball cards, and just learning the names Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunanski, Gary Gaetti Frank VIola and eventually Kirby Puckett. And it makes me wonder which players from the Twins prospect promotions from 2014 to 2016 (like Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Tyler Duffey and JO Berrios) will be playing still in 2030.
You don't play in the big leagues for more than a dozen years without being really good. So, congratulations to Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and now Michael Cuddyer on their fantastic careers. They have all represented themselves and their organizations very well on and off the field.
- Dec 12 2015 09:13 AM
- by Seth Stohs
As Kurt Suzuki laid on the ground after a home plate collision with the Royals’ Jarrod Dyson. On Twitter, I was being asked what the Twins would do if Suzuki needed to miss significant time. In mid-September, the Twins would have to rely on the combination of Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer down the stretch.
On September 12, 2009, Justin Morneau dove head-first into first base in an attempt to avoid a tag. He jarred his back and ended up with a stress fracture in his lower back. It was all bad news. Morneau had just reached 30 home runs and 100 RBI. The team was also 5 ½ games back of the Detroit Tigers. At 70-72, the situation looked bleak. The good thing was that the Twins were scheduled to play the Tigers seven more times over the final 20 games. Little did we know at the time that they would play them an eighth time, in Game 163 at the Metrodome.
Michael Cuddyer moved in to first base. Jason Kubel was primarily DHing, and he moved out to right field. The DH position was filled with the likes of Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris. But if the Twins were going to get to the playoffs, they needed those two to step up, but others as well. And, that’s exactly what happened. The offense took off, and the Twins went 17-4 down the stretch, catching the Tigers and winning Game 163.
Here is a look at how the hitters performed over that final stretch.
The team-first Cuddyer stepped up. Over the final 21 games, he hit .325/.398/.675 (1.073) with three doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 24 RBI. He also played very well at first base in Morneau’s absence. Overall, Cuddyer hit 34 doubles, 32 homers and drove in 94 runs. This final stretch got him a lot of MVP votes.
Mauer’s MVP season was absolutely incredible. Though Cuddyer hit the home runs and drove in 24 runs, Mauer was on base most of the month. In 21 games starting September 13, he hit .378/.521/.527 (1.048) with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBI. Those numbers are amazing, but they were right in line with his full-season numbers in 2009. Overall, he hit .365/.444/.587 (1.034) with 30 doubles and 28 homers.
The Twins acquired the 34-year-old shortstop from Oakland in exchange for former 2nd-round pick Tyler Ladendorf (who made his MLB debut for the A’s in 2015). Cabrera was magnificent down the stretch. He played all 21 games and hit .355/.378/.538 (.915) with six doubles, a triple, three homers and 19 RBI while playing a strong shortstop.
Kubel moved out to the outfield from DH and hit well down the stretch. He played in 20 of the final 21 games and hit .278/.333/.597 (.931) with five doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI.
The 25-year-old Span was in his first full season with the Twins and did a great job leading off. He played in 19 of the final 21 games and hit .333/.398/.397 (.795) with three doubles and a triple. He drove in 11 runs and scored 16 times.
The 23-year-old was in left field. He played all 21 games and hit .353/.380/.576 (.957) with five doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI.
Ron Gardenhire loved his defense and his approach at the plate. He was a polarizing figure with fans. However, he took over at second base late in this season. He played in all 21 of the final games and hit .250/.407/.297 (.704) with three doubles. In that stretch, he walked 17 times and obviously played great defense.
2009 was the year they brought in Joe Crede. As he had in previous seasons, Crede ended up out for the season with recurring back issues. Tolbert wasn’t much of a hitter, but he started 18 of the final 21 games. After September 13th, he hit .313/.347/.448 (.795) with four doubles, a triple and a home run.
GAME 163 HEROES
Mauer and Tolbert each had two hits in Game 163. But that game was also a reminder that anyone can play hero in a big game or a pennant stretch. In the final inning, Carlos Gomez was on second and scored on a game-winning single off the bat of Alexi Casilla. Bobby Keppel was the winning pitcher, his first and only major league win.
People may forget, but Duensing was alright as a starting pitcher for a while. In his final four starts of that 2009 season, he went 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA. On September 13th, with the Morneau news fresh, Duensing threw seven shutout innings. He backed that up with 6.1 scoreless innings in his next outing.
Francisco Liriano was pretty bad and had been moved to the bullpen later in the season. Scott Baker went 2-1 despite a 4.61 ERA. Jeff Manship wasn’t great, but he picked up his first career win in Game 160. Joe Nathan posted a 1.46 ERA and recorded nine saves. The Twins went 12-0 in games he pitched.
2010 was the last time the Twins were in the playoffs and Twins fans were involved in a pennant race. However, the second half of the final month of 2009 was as exciting as it gets in the baseball world. The former MVP gets hurt. Things don’t look good. Someone needs to step up. Everyone did step up. Mauer was amazing. Cuddyer had some huge home runs. And then there was Game 163, one of the most exciting games in Twins history.
So, what will happen in the final three weeks of the 2015 season? There’s no way to know. The Twins are just 1.5 games back of a playoff spot. Who will step up? Will it be a big name? Will Miguel Sano hit a few more big home runs? How will the rookies respond? Will the veterans lead the way? Will a role player come up in a big situation and come through? In reality, they will need a combination of all of the above.
No one knows the answers to those questions. All I know is that it’s going to be a lot of fun to find watch!
- Sep 10 2015 06:39 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Seeing countless former Twins crush their old Minnesota ballclub got me thinking, what would a team look like made up entirely of former Twins players who are still active in the MLB. So without further ado here is the former-Twins All-Star Team of 2015.
The team has a solid core lineup in Morales, Ortiz and Cuddyer and has good on-base guys in Span and Gomez. The only real hole is the second base position filled by Pedro Florimon. Florimon is moved from his primary position of shortstop to second base to make room for J.J. Hardy. Florimon has struggled at the plate in 2015, but did produce a walk-off hit for Pittsburgh just last week. The batting order for the hypothetical Twins team would be this:
1. Span: .301/.365/.431, HR 5, RBI 22
2. Gomez: .246/.307/.392, HR 10, RBI 51.
3. Kendrys Morales: .285/.352/.456, HR 13, RBI 87
4. Ortiz: .260/.350/.499, HR. 26, RBI 76
5. Cuddyer: .263/.313/.408, HR 10, and RBI 37.
6. Ramos: .238/.271/.367, HR 11, RBI 53.
7. Hardy: .222/.253/.315, HR. 7, and RBI 32
8. Valencia: .289/.328/.518, HR. 12, RBI 43
9. Florimon .105/.190/.211, HR 0, RBI 1
Not a bad lineup. The team would however be lacking in power. David Ortiz is the only player on the former Twins All-Star team to have more than 20 homer runs in the 2015 season, although the likes of Hardy, Morneau, and Cuddyer have topped that mark in seasons past.
The former Twins squad has a decent batting order but the team’s true strength is the starting rotation. The most difficult decision for me was picking who would be the number one pitcher. Too many Twins pitchers have gone on to be successful in other ballclubs and it shows in the starting rotation below. Here’s the rotation.
1. Francisco Liriano: 9-6, 3.23 ERA.
2. R.A. Dickey: 8-10, 4.26 ERA.
3. Matt Garza: 6-14, 5.26 ERA.
4. Kyle Lohse: 5-13, 6.27 ERA.
5. Jason Marquis: 3-4 6.46 ERA.
The strength of the former Twins starting rotation is evident in all the solid pitchers our team has decided to let go. A weakness of the current Twins ballclub is in fact pitching. No starter has solidified himself as an ace in the rotation and many of the younger pitchers have struggled down the stretch. The former Twins would also give the current Twins a run for their money in the relief pitching department.
Pat Neshek: 3-3, 3.11 ERA.
Jeff Manship: 0-0 1.48 (only appeared in 19 games in 2015)
Craig Breslow: 0-3 with an E.R.A. of 4.28
LaTroy Hawkins (Closer): 3-1, 2.81 ERA. Only one 2015 save, but since it is against the Twins, we will make him the closer.
Liam Hendriks: 4-0, 2.25 ERA
Grant Balfour: 0-0, 6.23 ERA. (Six games played in 2015)
Anthony Swarzak: 0-0, 3.38 ERA. (Ten games played in 2015)
The bench players include: Chris Colabello (BA .332/.373/.531, HR 13, RBI 49), Ben Revere (.294/.334/.362,HR 1, 30 RBI, SB 24) A.J. Pierzynski (.293/.334/.426, HR. 7, RBI 40), Justin Morneau: (.290/.317/.450, HR 3, RBI 9) and Garrett Jones (.215/.257/.361, HR 5, RBI 17)
Overall, I think the former Twins All-Star team would give the current roster a run for its money when it came to pitching, but would struggle to produce runs (especially if David Ortiz or Justin Morneau got hurt). Keep in mind that the current team is a young one and in a couple of seasons I think Twins fans everywhere will begin to forget about all the key players lost to free agency.
- Aug 27 2015 10:22 PM
- by JackWhite
#10 – 1972 – Dick Ruthven – RHP
With the eighth overall pick, the Twins selected Ruthven out of Cal. St.-Fullerton. He chose not to sign. He was then selected by the Phillies with the first overall pick in the January draft of 1973. He signed and made his debut that April. In his career, he played for the Phillies, the Braves, the Phillies again and the Cubs. He combined to go 123-127 with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. He won 15 or more games twice in his career and was twice named an all-star. MLB WAR: 18.6.
#9 – 1983 – Tim Belcher – RHP
Twins fans will have to try their best as they read this to look past the fact that the #1 overall pick of the 1983 draft chose not to sign with the Twins. In the 1984 January draft, the Yankees took him in the first round and signed him. He was traded to the Dodgers and in September of 1987, he made his big league debut. He went on to play 14 years in the big leagues. Besides the Dodgers, he pitched for the Reds, the White Sox, the Tigers, the Mariners, the Royals and the Angels. In other words, he played for everyone in the AL Central except the Twins (and Cleveland). In his career, he went 146-140 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. Nine times he won ten or more games in his career, with three 15-win seasons. MLB WAR: 26.2.
#8 – 2002 – Denard Span – OF
With the 20th overall pick in the 2002 draft, the Minnesota Twins selected an outfielder from Tampa, Denard Span. He signed with the Twins, though he had a football scholarship offer too. Span was raw and it took him some time to work his way up the system. In 2008, he had a big spring training but the decision was made that Carlos Gomez would be the team’s center fielder. Less than a week later, Span was in the big leagues. As a 24 year old, he hit .294/.387/.432 (.819) and finished sixth in rookie of the year voting. The next season, he hit .311/.392/.415 (.807). The next season, his production fell and in 2011, a concussion cost him most of his season. He returned solid in 2012, but after the season, he was traded to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Alex Meyer. In 2013, he hit .279 and led the league – for the second time in his career – in triples. In 2014, he led the National League with 184 hits and batted .302. He is currently hitting .308 for the Nationals. In his eight-year career, he has hit .287/.352/.395 (.747) with 186 doubles, 55 triples and 37 homers. He has also stolen 149 bases. MLB WAR: 23.7.
#7 – 1997 – Michael Cuddyer – SS
With the ninth overall pick in the 1997 draft, the Twins drafted a high school
shortstop from Virginia named Michael Cuddyer. He debuted with the Twins late in the 2001 season as an outfielder. For the first few years of his big league career, he played all over: third base, second base, first base, left and right field. Almost everywhere but the position he was drafted. In 2006, he was moved to right field and he took off. That season, he hit 41 doubles, 24 homers and drove in 109 runs. In the Twins late-season run to the playoffs in 2009, Cuddyer led the way. He hit .276 with 34 doubles, seven triples, 32 homers and 94 RBI. A lot of that production came late in the season. He made his first All- Star Game appearance in 2011. Following the season, he signed a three-year deal with the Rockies. He was an All -Star in 2013 and won the Silver Slugger. He led the league with a .331 batting average. This past offseason, he signed a two-year deal with the Mets. In his 15-year big league career, he has hit .277/.345/.462 (.807) with 326 doubles, 42 triples, 193 home run. MLB WAR: 16.5.
#6 – 1993 – Jason Varitek – C
The Twins used the 20th pick in the 1993 draft on Torii Hunter. One pick later, the Twins selected Jason Varitek, a highly-touted catcher from Georgia Tech. As you know, Varitek did not sign and went back to school. A year later, the Red Sox drafted him with the 14th overall pick. He debuted with the team with one at-bat (a hit) in 1997. He stayed up for good in 1998 and was the team’s primary catcher through the 2008 season. He was credited with being one of the team’s big leaders as they won a couple of World Series titles. He was an all-star three times and won one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger award. In 15 seasons with the Red Sox, he hit .256/.341/.435 (.776) with 306 doubles and 193 home runs. MLB WAR: 24.3.
#5 – 2004 – Glen Perkins – LHP
Two picks after taking Trevor Plouffe with the 20th overall pick in 2004, the Twins kept it local, selecting Stillwater grad and University of Minnesota alum Glen Perkins. He had been the Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Year that season. He worked very quickly up the Twins minor league system and debuted in September of 2006. He split time between the big leagues and Triple-A in 2007, pitching 19 games out of the bullpen for the Twins. In 2008, he made 26 starts for the Twins and went 12-4 despite a 4.41 ERA. He struggled in 2009 and spent a significant amount of 2010 in the minor leagues. Out of options, Perkins moved to the bullpen full-time and has been one of baseball’s best relievers ever since. Since that time, he has posted a 2.61 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP and struck out 314 batters in 286.2 innings. He has been an all-star the last two years and was on the mound to record the save for the American League team at Target Field in the 2014 game. He is certainly on his way to another All-Star appearance in 2015 as he is 23-23 in save opportunities. MLB WAR: 9.3.
#4 – 1984 – Jay Bell – SS
With the eighth overall pick in the 1984 draft, the Minnesota Twins went with a prep shortstop from Pensacola, Florida. They signed Jay Bell and he spent that summer in Elizabethton. He played the 1985 season at Visalia before he was traded to Cleveland with three other players in exchange for Bert Blyleven. On September 29, 1986, a 20-year-old Bell made his major league debut, ironically against the Twins. More ironic, his first major league hit was also his first major league home run… hit off of Bert Blyleven (who would likely tell you that he was the winning pitcher in a Twins 6-5 win that day). Bell was a part-timer with Cleveland for a couple of years before being traded to Pittsburgh where his career took off. From 1990 through 1996, he was a leader and stabilizing force for some very strong Pirates teams. He spent 1997 with the Royals before spending five seasons with the Diamondbacks. He ended his career with 72 games in 2003 with the Mets. His best season was 1993. He hit .310/.392/.437 (.830) with 32 doubles, nine triples and nine home runs. He was an all-star and won the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger. He went to his second and final All-Star Game in 1999 for Arizona. MLB WAR: 36.9.
#3 – 1989 – Chuck Knoblauch – SS
The Twins used the 25th overall pick in the 1989 draft to select Chuck Knoblauch, a shortstop from Texas A&M. He moved very quickly and was the Twins Opening Day second baseman in 1991. That was a great year for “Knobby” and the Twins. He won the AL Rookie of the Year and was an instigator near the top of the Twins World Series championship lineup. He spent seven seasons with the Twins. He was an all-star four times. He won two Silver Slugger Awards. Despite being an excellent fielder, he won just one Gold Glove because he played in the same league as Roberto Alomar. In his time with the Twins, he hit a combined .304/.391/.416 (.807) with 210 doubles, 51 triples and 43 home runs. He also stole 276 bases. He played great, but the Twins were really bad. He requested a trade and following the 1997 the Twins traded him to the Yankees in exchange for Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Brian Buchanan and Danny Mota. In his four years with the Yankees, he developed the inability to throw the ball accurately from second base to first base. He DH'd some and played in the outfield. In those four years, he went to four World Series and the team won three titles. He spent one season with the Royals before his career ended. In his 12 year career, he hit .289/.378/.406 (.783) with 322 doubles, 64 triples and 98 home runs. He also stole 407 bases. His post-career has been filled with turmoil. Despite being one of the greatest Twins players ever, he is not in the Twins Hall of Fame, though he was supposed to be added in 2014. MLB WAR: 44.6.
#2 – 1993 – Torii Hunter – OF
With the 20th overall pick in the 1993 draft, the Twins drafted Hunter out of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He was very athletic and toolsy, but very raw. He debuted with a pinch-running appearance in August of 1997, just after he turned 22. He got into six games in 1998. In 1999, he played 135 games for the Twins and posted a .689 OPS. It has been well documented that he was sent back down to Triple-A in 2000 because of his struggles. It’s also used as an example of not giving up on prospectswhen they struggle because when he came back, he came back strong and has been up ever since. He won his first Gold Glove in 2001. He went on to win seven straight with the Twins. He became famous when he robbed Barry Bonds of a home run during the 2002 All-Star Game. Following the 2007 season, he signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Angels. He played in two All-Star games and won two more Gold Gloves and his first Silver Slugger. He spent 2013 and 2014 with Detroit. He played in the All-Star Game in 2013 and won a Silver Slugger Award again. In the offseason, Hunter returned to the Twins on a one-year contract. He will turn 40 next month. In parts of 12 seasons with the Twins, he has hit .271/.324/.466 (.790). In his 19 big league seasons, he has hit .279/.334/.463 (.797). MLB WAR: 50.7.
#1 – 2001 – Joe Mauer – C
The Twins earned the first overall pick in the 2001 draft by being the worst major league team in 2000. They had a difficult decision to make. Would they take the sure-fire, top-of-the-rotation Mark Prior from USC, or the local, prep catcher? The Twins went with Cretin-Derham Hall star Joe Mauer. Mauer gave up a football scholarship to Florida State to sign with the Twins. He moved quickly up the Twins farm system and debuted with the Twins on Opening Day 2004 as a 20-year-old. He hurt his knee in the opening home series and played in just 35 games that season. He hit .294/.372/.411 (.783) in 2005, his first full season. And then he took off. He won his first of three batting titles in 2006 when he hit .347. He won his second in 2008 (.328) and 2009 (.365). He went to his first of six All- Star games in 2006. He won his first of five Silver Slugger Awards in 2006. It was also the first of four times in which he finished in the top eight in MVP voting. 2009 was his greatest year, and frankly, one of the greatest seasons in Twins history. He hit .365/.444/.587 (1.031) with 30 doubles, 28 homers and 96 RBI. Along with future Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez, Mauer put up offensive numbers from a catcher that had not been seen in a couple of generations. Not only that, but he was also very good behind the plate. He won three Gold Glove awards. And, though advanced stats for catchers may not have been available at the time, he's been proven to be a terrific pitch framer. Concussions forced a move to first base before the 2014 season. His production has dropped precipitously in the last season-and-a-half. However, in his nearly 12 years with the Twins, he has hit .316/.397/.455 (.853, 131 OPS+). He has 323 doubles, 24 triples and 726 RBIs. MLB WAR: 46.4.
So there you have it, a ranking of the top Minnesota Twins first-round draft picks since the Rule 4 draft began in 1965. It is an interesting list on its own. It would be interesting to compare the Twins list to the first-round draft picks of the other Major League organizations. My assumption is that it would look pretty similar.
Please feel free to discuss.
Part 1: 31-53
Part 2: 21-30
Part 3: 11-20
- Jun 08 2017 08:29 AM
- by Seth Stohs