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Killebrew or Puckett?

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#1 Bandit34

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 11:37 PM

Wondering what you all think about Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett. Which one meant more to the Twins franchise and which one was more iconic to Baseball? I would say Kirby but I suppose that's because I am too young to have ever watched Harmon play. I think my Dad would say Harmon. He has told me a lot about watching on TV Harmon blasting homeruns when my Dad was in his teens in the 60s. My Dad told me how Killebrew would launch what should have been a single into the outfield and they sometimes were able to throw him out at first. But then he also mentions how Killebrew would hit such majestic homeruns into the stands. 

But, for me, Kirby was the greatest Twin. When I wasn't trying to emulate Wade Boggs at the hot corner, I would always take the first pitch in honour of Kirby. I loved Kirby's enthusiasm for the game and I appreciated his loyalty to our team. From what I understand, he had a chance to go to his hometown team, White Sox, whom I dislike intensely, but he wanted to re-sign with the Twins! In my opinion, Kirby tried harder than 99 per cent of all players who ever played the game in history. I really appreciated him because the outcome of the game really did matter to him. I cannot stand when I see players smiling after a bitter loss and joking around while us fans are in mourning. Well, with Kirby, the game mattered to him and I appreciated that about him! 

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#2 Thegrin

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 12:36 AM

Did you actually ever see Harmon play ?If you had, you wouldn't be asking this question.Harmon's HR were electric.Most of the time they were hard hits, that went thru the infield before the fielders could move.Most impressive were his high flys.You didn't know if they would be caught or over the fence, but most of all, you didn't know if they would ever come down.:)

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#3 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 05:11 AM

I like to picture them standing side by side, cheering the Twins'bombas..

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#4 Blake

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:51 AM

Killebrew for his efforts at making sure players never forgot the fans.

 

Puckett for his all around attitude on the field and Game Six.

 

Advantage: tossup.

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#5 EPEZRider

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:02 AM

I grew up watching Harmon and loved seeing his long, majestic home runs power the Twins to victory and drive attendance at the old Metropolitan Stadium. My daughter grew up watching Kirby and loved his enthusiasm and passion for the game in the old Metrodome. Everything is better and more exciting when you're a kid; it's a generational thing. I'm sure my two grandsons will love watching Lewis and Kirilloff keep the Twins strong for years to come at Target Field.

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#6 gunnarthor

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:38 AM

Kirby is my all time favorite sports player. Nobody else is even close. I can't imagine many kids growing up watching the 87 and/or 91 Twins feel much different than me.

 

Kirby, Killer, Carew and Johan are my Twins Mount Rushmore.

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#7 Number3

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:40 AM

Totally different players and its so unfortunate that Kirby's career was cut short. If it wasn't for a guy named Koufax, Harmon would have probably had that one World Series championship on his resume as Kirby did. Harmon would not have done too well in center field I am afraid but managed to hold his own at 3rd and1b. Harmon was a pure power hitter and mastered the big fly. Kirby was simply an all round ball player with a dynamic personality that could carry a team. Harmon led more by pure example, was not flamboyant, but didn't need to be. You always knew he was there.

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#8 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:01 AM

I saw both of them play.This is not even close.Killebrew was a nice, low-key guy and a great hitter with power.He was average in the field. Kirby was the leader of a team that won two World Series. He was phenomenal at the plate and on defense.If anyone thinks this is close, and you shouldn't, the tie-breaker would be right before Game 6 in the 1991 World Series when Kirby told the team to get on his back.Then he indeed carried the team to a win with a great catch against the wall and the game-winning homer.And we'll see you next question!

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#9 USAFChief

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:09 AM

I loved Kirby Puckett as a player. What a joy to watch.

 

But he's nowhere near Harmon Killebrew as a baseball player.

 

Starting in 1959, when Killer became a regular, his OPS+ for the next 14 years, through 1972:

 

137

142

162

138

147

153

145

157

173

131

177

159

138

138

 

When Harmon retired he was 5th all time in HRs in MLB history. One MVP, Top 5 in MVP voting 6 times, named on MVP ballots 11 times. 11 time AS in an era when ASG rosters were smaller and meant something. Led the AL in HRs 6 times, RBIs 3 times, BBs four times. Full season OBPs over .400 four times, OPS over 1.000 twice, over .900 another seven.

 

Harmon was an iconic MLB player. As much as I loved watching Kirby, and he's a deserving HOFer, he's not in Harmon's league.

 

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#10 bighat

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:16 AM

 

Kirby is my all time favorite sports player. Nobody else is even close. I can't imagine many kids growing up watching the 87 and/or 91 Twins feel much different than me.

 

Kirby, Killer, Carew and Johan are my Twins Mount Rushmore.

 

Yeah. I'm 44 so Kirby's heyday was right in my wheelhouse. The guy was just straight money. Game 6, 1991? Not many athletes have ever done what Kirby did that night. Pair his postseason accomplishments with his absurd career numbers and I honestly have never seen a player like him.

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#11 jctwins

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:17 AM

Those of us (including me) that choose to judge Miguel Sano based on his personal character and ALLEGED behavior need to remember how Kirby Puckett's personal issues came to light near the end.

 

I never saw Killebrew play, and am of the age that idolized Puckett in my childhood, so I have a bias toward him, but will admit I am seeing it differently as I am now around the age Puckett was when he publicly went down hill.

 

 


#12 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:20 AM

I loved Kirby Puckett as a player. What a joy to watch.

But he's nowhere near Harmon Killebrew as a baseball player.

Starting in 1959, when Killer became a regular, his OPS+ for the next 14 years, through 1972:

137
142
162
138
147
153
145
157
173
131
177
159
138
138

When Harmon retired he was 5th all time in HRs in MLB history. One MVP, Top 5 in MVP voting 6 times, named on MVP ballots 11 times. 11 time AS in an era when ASG rosters were smaller and meant something. Led the AL in HRs 6 times, RBIs 3 times, BBs four times. Full season OBPs over .400 four times, OPS over 1.000 twice, over .900 another seven.

Harmon was an iconic MLB player. As much as I loved watching Kirby, and he's a deserving HOFer, he's not in Harmon's league.


I'm not old enough to have seen Killer play. But this analysis seems to be leaving out half the game.

Their career OPS+ are within 5% of each other, and Puckett was an exceptional defender at a premium position, and also ran the bases pretty well.
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#13 USAFChief

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:29 AM

 

I'm not old enough to have seen Killer play. But this analysis seems to be leaving out half the game.

Their career OPS+ are within 5% of each other, and Puckett was an exceptional defender at a premium position, and also ran the bases pretty well.

Killer career OPS+: 143

Pucket career OPS+: 124

 

And that's with the last three years of Killebrew's career included, all three of which were below 100. Puckett had only one season with a higher OPS+ than Killer's career average.

 

I'll certainly grant Puckett played a great CF for a number of years. Killebrew was just fine as a first baseman...not as valuable, for sure, but the offensive difference is pretty overwhelming.

 

None of which should be taken as a knock on Puckett. I'd probably rather watch Kirby. But Harmon was the better and more valuable player.

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#14 Rosterman

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:42 AM

Killebrew was one of the nicest guys ever. He played hard. He also played a variety of positions well. He would strikeout bigtime, but his homers were beautiful to watch...from soaring fly balls to line drives over the fence. He was the kid who made good in the game. Harmon's only faults, he end his career with the Royals....and maybe sat on the bench tor weak Senator teams.

 

Kirby was excitement, hard play, and tragedy. He ahd the smile. He hed the warmth. Like a couple of curent Twins, you wouldn't think he was the apckage to play great. But he did.

 

Tony Oliva is also a face of the franchise, and continues to be. Still butchering English, you have never seen anything if you haven't watched Tony pitch wiffle-ball at the Minnesota State Fair to kids.

 

Be interesting to see how Joe Mauer ends up in Twins lore. Hometown kid. Plus player. Hardest working guy in baseball. He could be a geat ambassador for the team (and the sport) in years to come.

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#15 spycake

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:15 AM

Puckett's career was age 24-35. 51.1 bWAR. (Almost as remarkable, from his call-up in 1984 to getting hit by a pitch in his last career PA in 1995, Puckett played in 1783 out of 1843 Twins games, or 96.7%.)

 

Killebrew's best 12 years were age 23-34. 54.9 bWAR. Looks like he missed significant time in ~3 seasons, although that makes his total WAR even more impressive. (He didn't provide anything before age 23, but he did tack on another 5.9 bWAR at ages 35-36, but it's probably fair to ignore that given the circumstances of Puckett's career end. If you want to get technical, Killebrew didn't play in Minnesota until age 25. His best 12 years here were still 53.5 bWAR, though.)

 

Of course, players are more than just their career stats. Puckett had the best two single seasons between them -- 7.8 and 7.1 bWAR. Killebrew's best two were only only 6.5 and 6.2.

 

Pretty darn close!

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#16 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:20 AM

 

 

Be interesting to see how Joe Mauer ends up in Twins lore. Hometown kid. Plus player. Hardest working guy in baseball. He could be a geat ambassador for the team (and the sport) in years to come.

 

Mauer probably will never be as loved as the other 2. Just because he didn't win much or at least didn't win in the playoffs at all. Great guy, great player, hometown kid, etc. 

 

I wouldn't put him anywhere near Killebrew, Carew, or Kirby though. Just too much losing while Joe was here and lots of people had the feeling that his contract was a large reason for that losing. 

 

 

 

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#17 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:22 AM

For me this is Kirby all the way. But I never saw Killer play either. Just that stretch from 86-92 that Puckett was a part of and a great player. And him being the leader to this state's only 2 world championships. I think that alone makes him stand out.

 

The guy was a winner and the game 6 homerun is still THE BIGGEST moment in the history of Minnesota sports. 

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#18 spycake

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:25 AM

Fangraphs has a much wider spread -- 44.9 career fWAR for Puckett, vs. 58.6 fWAR for Killebrew from age 23-34. Eyeballing it, it looks like a primary difference is baserunning (Fangraphs has Killebrew at roughly 3.5 WAR ahead of B-Ref just in baserunning categories, and Puckett as roughly 2.6 below B-Ref in that same). Fangraphs also has Pucket about 2.4 WAR behind B-Ref in batting, and 1.1 WAR in positional adjustment. Replacement level is a little different between the sites too...

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#19 Bandit34

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:34 AM

Very interesting posts guys. Thanks for the great responses. Both players were elite. Does anyone here know or can confirm whether the MLB logo is the shadow of Harmon? I once thought I heard Bremer say that the shadow on the logo is that of Harmon? Is this true? 


#20 Loops

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:38 AM

I watched both play.Kirby definitely has the edge in personality.He was a leader through enthusiasm.Killebrew was a leader through his play.He showed others how the game should be played and to have respect for it.His home runs were mammoth ... as were his strike outs!As far as greatest position players go I would put Oliva and Carew above both of them.They could do it all both offensively and defensively.

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