The Best Twins Centerfielder in history? The outfield is a challenge because so many times managers see them as interchangeable parts. But a great Centerfielder must have range and perhaps some flare. The NY press had a great time when there were three teams – and they had Mays, Mantle, and Snider.
Lenny Green Was our first year CF and Bill Tuttle backed him up when he was not playing out of position at 3B. The same two in 1962. Green was traded to the Angels for Frank Kostro and Jerry Kindall.
Green would play 6 years for the Twins/Senators .270/.359/.384/.743. 7 WAR.
The phenom Jimmie Hall took over center in 1963 after an injury to Green, but Green started more games. Hall, Allison, and Oliva played Center in 1964 which would make quite an outfield with all three in the same game. Hall had the most by far, but lost time after being hit on the cheek in the All Star game by Bo Belinsky. Hall, Nossek, Oliva in 1965. Hall would play 8 years in MLB. His last four years were a minus -1 WAR. Hall was traded to Angels with Pete Cimino and Don Mincher for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez. After the trade his career was terrible. A Sabr article said, “Little is known about Hall’s life after his baseball career ended. He returned to Elm City, North Carolina, and made his living as both a woodworker and longhaul truck driver. When he wasn’t working, he was an outdoorsman who liked to hunt and fish. He also enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren. Hall stayed away from the game entirely, even refusing to return to Minneapolis in 2005 for a 40th-anniversary reunion of the 1965 team.” https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/6ad8a4ec
Hall played 4 years. .269/.334/.481/.815 14.8 WAR
Ted Uhlaender took over with Hall and Oliva getting some action and kept the position in 1967, 1968, and 1969 with Tovar behind him. He was traded with Graig Nettles, Dean Chance and Bob Miller to the Indians for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams in 1969.
Uhlaender was a Twin 5 years. .262/.306/.354/.661. 3.2 WAR.
1970 Tovar was the centerfielder, and I would have had him there all the time, but he was so versatile. Holt was the most frequent CF in 1971, but Jim Nettles and Tovar matched him. Then in 1972 we had Bobby Darwin at CF with Nettles and Brye next in line. Darwin lost the position quickly and Larry Hisle took over in 1973, with Brye having just a few less games there. Hisle divided his time between LF and CF so Brye had the most CF games in 1974. In 1975 Dan Ford dominated the position with Lyman Bostock taking the majority of other appearances.
Then in 1976 Bostock took over CF and Brye still had 57 games. 1977 Bostock, Hisle and Norwood shared the position. Bostock had a total of 17 putouts in a doubleheader which is a good example of his fielding prowess, which set an American League record for outfielders. Then in 1978 Bostock was gone from MN and one year later he was just gone. In Gary Indiana while visiting his uncle, the uncle Turner agreed to give Hawkins and her sister, Barbara Smith, a ride to their cousin's house. “Turner drove his vehicle, with Hawkins seated in the front passenger's seat. Bostock and Barbara Smith rode in the vehicle's back seat. Barbara Smith had been living with Hawkins while estranged from her husband, Leonard Smith. Unbeknownst to the group, Leonard Smith was outside Hawkins' home in his car, and observed the group's departure in Turner's car. According to Leonard Smith, his wife was frequently unfaithful to him, and though he did not know Bostock, he later said that upon seeing Bostock get into the back seat of Turner's vehicle with his wife, he concluded that the two were having an affair. In fact, however, Bostock had only met the woman 20 minutes previously, when he and his uncle arrived at Hawkins' home.” Wiki. The gunshot that was intended for the wife, caught Bostock, a killing blow and a great young man and his career were finished.
By 1978 Bostock had 3 years and .311/.365/.427 /.791. 10.3 WAR
Steve Brye had 7 years in MN .261/.311/.360/.671. 4.7 WAR.
In 1978 Dan Ford was in CF. In 1979 Kenny Landreaux was the centerfielder. 1980 was another of those years where it did not seem like we could make up our mind. Landreaux 67, Rick Sofield 51, Dave Edwards, Greg Johnston 14. I liked Landreaux but he was not here long enough to get in the conversation. Of course in 1981 Mickey Hatcher had 86 games and he is not going to be the best and Gary Ward had 19. Bobby Mitchell who I do not remember was in 115 games as our CF in 1982 With Brunansky and Eisenreich behind him. Then the who is Hell is he continued in 1983 with Darrell Brown 76, Bobby Mitchell 44, Tom Brunansky (in center?) 38, and Rusty Kuntz 27.
Kenny Landreaux 2 years, .294/.341/.435/.776 1.8 WAR
Sigh of relief – 1984 and Kirby Puckett was in Center! Finally. Kirby dominated the CF position in 1985, 1986 with no others having any claim. Then in the WS year Mark Davidson had 20 games behind Puckett. Moses was behind him in 1987 and in 1988. Puckett, Mack and Moses in 1990. Puckett, Mack and Jarvis Brown in 1991. Puckett, Bruett and Brown in 1992. 1993 Puckett had a strong backup with Mack getting 67 starts and Puckett was moved to RF. “Puckett woke up on March 28 without vision in his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma and was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his professional career. Three surgeries over the next few months could not restore vision in the eye.” WIKI.
Puckett 12 years .318/.360/.477/.837 51.1 WAR
1995 Rich Becker took over CF with Alex Cole and Matt Lawton behind him. Becker stayed in control in 1996 with Roberto Kelly and Lawton behind him. 1997 Becker, Lawton and Darrin Jackson. 1998 Otis Nixon was in CF.
Rich Becker, 5 years. .267/.349/.379/.728. 6.5 WAR. Nixon was gone in 1999 and Torii Hunter was in CF with Jacque Jones getting substantial appearances. Hunter, Jones, Hocking were there in 2000. Torii with Kielty had 2001, 2002, and in 2003 Lew Ford backed up Hunter. Again, Hunter and Ford in 2004, 2005, and 2006 Tyner was behind Hunter and again in 2007. In 2008 Span was behind Hunter. Hunter was a first round pick, one of our best. As a free Agent Hunter went to the Angels, then at the end of his career reappeared in a Twins uniform. He had nine consecutive Gold Gloves!
Torii Hunter 12 years, .268/.321/.462/.783 26.4 WAR
2008 Carlos Gomez was in CF with Denard Span behind him (no wonder Denard left us). Same two in 2009. Span finally got the position he deserved in 2010 and Repko backed him with Revere. Revere started the most in center in 2011 and Span was second. Then in 2012 Span had most of the games and Revere a few. We traded Span for Alex Meyer.
Span had 5 years .284/.357/.389/ .746 17.2 WAR
Aaron Hicks took over in 2013 with Clete Thomas in 50, and Alex Pressley 28. Then Danny Santana got the most starts over Hicks in 2014 and Sam Fuld got too many too. Then in 2015 Hicks was pushed by Buxton and was soon to be a Yankee.
Who is the Best? Hicks could have been really good, but not for us; Gomez looked good but had a short shelf life, Eisenreich was exciting and faded fast.
1. Kirby Puckett 12 years .318/.360/.477/.837 51.1 WAR
2. Torii Hunter 12 years, .268/.321/.462/.783 26.4 WAR
3. Denard Span had 5 years .284/.357/.389/ .746 17.2 WAR
4. Bostock had 3 years and .311/.365/.427 /.791. 10.3 WAR
5. Jimmie Hall played 4 years. .269/.334/.481/.815 14.8 WAR
6. Lenny Green 6 years for the Twins .270/.359/.384/.743. 7 WAR
7. Rich Becker, 5 years. .267/.349/.379/.728. 6.5 WAR
8. Steve Brye had 7 years in MN .261/.311/.360/.671. 4.7 WAR
9. Uhlaender was a Twin 5 years. .262/.306/.354/.661. 3.2 WAR.
10. Kenny Landreaux 2 years, .294/.341/.435/.776 1.8 WAR