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The tales of second base




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blog-0367884001590423135.pngAfter reading the 2005 season summary that is part of an excellent series on TD I was forced to think about second base where 2005 demonstrated the difficulty we had for many years.


Here is a summary of our highs and lows:


Billy Martin was our 2B in the first year in Minnesota and would last one year before becoming a coach and manager and then going to the Yankees again and again and again. If only he would stop hitting marshmallow salesmen.

Bernie Allen had five years of average play (239 BA). In 1960, Allen led the Boilermakers to a record of 4-4-1 (2-4 Big Ten) and wins over #12 Notre Dame, Ohio State and #1 Minnesota

Jerry Kindall was there for the championship with a career 213 batting average. His fame came in Arizona as their coach winning 860 games and three College World Series championships over 24 seasons (1973–1996).

Then came ROD CAREW and he might have had a full career with us if Calvin Griffith had kept his racist mouth shut. Here is a summary from Wikipedia - "The greatest contact hitter in Twins history, he won the 1977 AL Most Valuable Player Award, setting a Twins record with a .388 batting average.Carew appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games and led the AL in hits three times, with his 239 hits in 1977 being twelfth most at the time. He won seven AL batting titles, the second most AL batting titles in history behind Ty Cobb, and on July 12, 2016 the AL batting title was renamed to the Rod Carew American League batting title." To make matters more painful he got his 3000th hit against Frank Viola! And what was it that Calvin said --"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."

Danny Thompson - An All-American at Oklahoma State he was diagnosed with leukemia at age 26. He said, “You don’t have time to get down,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your head up and go right at it.” After and excellent rookie season he slid over to SS and Carew went back to 2B. He died in 1976.

Bob Randall - A lifetime 257 hitter who came to the Twins from the Dodgers and played all his major league games with the Twins (460) and took over 2B as Carew was again moved to 1B. He was with us five years and went on to be a college coach.

Rob Wilfong - His claim to fame is that he lead the American League in sacrifice hits in 1979. He hit 262 in six years with the Twins and was traded to the Angels. Currently he is a scout for the Detroit Tigers (I hope he is finding some better players for them now).

John Castino - he was moved to 2B in 1982. He led the league in fielding percentage at 2B in 1982, but if the switch to 2B was supposed to protect his back it did not work. He was out in 1984 when back fusion ended his career - as a person with back fusion I can sympathize.

Tim Teufel - known for the Teufel shuffle at bat - a wiggle of the butt His best years would be with the Mets when he was at 2B for the World Series. He is currently their goodwill ambassador and minor league coach. He hit 265 in his six years with the Twins. He was traded for Billy Beane and two others. If only we had moved Beane into the front office and off the field!

Steve Lombardozzi - he played in the 1987 World Series and hit .412 with a home run in Game 5. He hit 233 in five seasons with the Twins. In 1986 he led second basemen in fielding percentage.

Wally Backman and Tommy Herr - Backman was traded for from the Mets where he was platooned with Tim Teufel. He hit 231 for us. "The Mets sent him and Mike Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens, none of whom emerged as a major leaguer.The Mets sent him and Mike Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens, none of whom emerged as a major leaguer." That year we also traded for Tommy Herr from the Cardinals, Herr announced that he didn’t really want to be in Minnesota. Backman was brought in to replace Herr and Backman announced that he was thrilled to be with the Twins and bought a house on Lake Minnetonka. Kent Hrbek said, “Tommy Herr never wanted to play here, so he didn’t fit in with the rest of us." Then he added, “Backman does fit in. You can see the difference just in the fact that Wally wants to have fun. Already, Backman and (Dan) Gladden are pulling pranks on each other.” Backman is a minor league manager with an excellent resume.

Al Newman - 231 Twins average, he went on to be a coach with the team. He was acquired in a trade where we gave up pitcher Mike Schade (who?). He was allowed to leave as a free agent after 1991 and eventually ended up coaching the St Cloud Rox.

Chuck Knoblauch - if we ignore some statements and actions and personality he might be the next greatest second baseman for the Twins after Rod Carew. Rookie of the year, part of the 1991 World Series team. Wiki says, "During the 1994–96 seasons, Knoblauch batted .312, .333, and .341, respectively, won the AL Gold Glove Award at second base in 1997, and stole over 40 bases in three consecutive seasons." Twins fans became irate when he requested that he be traded. When he returned he was booed, bottles and hot dogs were thrown at him. With the Yankees he developed the yips - he could not throw and that was the beginning of the end. He played 12 years, seven with the Twins where he had a 304 career average. His post baseball career in marred by his physical abuse of his former wife which came as he was about to be named to the Twins HOF. He was also named in the Mitchell report for HGH.

Todd Walker - a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame was a first round draft pick who never prospered in MN and I blame Tom Kelly who seemed to resent the college degree and accomplishments of Walker. Walker his 285 for the Twins in five seasons and his career did better after he left us. He is now on the New England sports network and I was shocked to hear him when I tuned in on a game when I was working in Maine. He was acquired from the Twins in Theo Epstein's first trade. A quiet, studious and serious player "He really took baseball serious," Matt Lawton said. "Everything he did, he's always talking about hitting. He'd play a video game and he'd compare that video game to anything about hitting. He'd bring up something about hitting fastballs, hitting breaking balls." "Some of his former teammates in Minnesota said Walker's glove wasn't the only reason he was in Kelly's doghouse. Their stormy relationship led to him being traded to Colorado in July 2000.

Lawton said Kelly wasn't particularly fond of first-round picks. Walker, who had an outstanding collegiate career at LSU, was the eighth overall pick in 1994. Lawton said it didn't take much for a first-round pick to rub Kelly the wrong way, citing pitcher Todd Ritchie and first baseman David McCarty as examples." https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2003-03-30-0303300603-story.html "You'd have to ask him all about that, but it certainly seemed that way," Walker said. "I certainly didn't do anything to warrant the way I was treated by him on and off the field. He had his good moments, and he certainly had his bad moments."

Jay Canizaro - I have to admit this is the first of the second basemen I do not remember. In two years he hit 255 and went back to the minors.

Luis Rivas - Venezuelan - a free swinger who was supposed to take over the base and become the man of the future pairing with Guzman at SS. But think of the free swinging of Rosario with no power and less contact! Six seasons with 262 average and 307 OBP and 383 slugging.

Nick Punto - a Gardy favorite - the opposite of Walker this was a guy who hustled, got dirty, wanted to play, had a smile and attitude that made him a lovable piranha. But would you trade Walker for Punto - no way. He played for us for seven years and hit 248, 323 OBP, 324 Slugging.

Luis Castillo - Dominican Republic - had a 299 BA for two years with the Twins. 720 OPS. He was with the Marlins for both their World Series. In 2007 he set a major league record for consecutive games at 2B without an error - 143. In August 2019, Castillo was cited on charges related to a drug trafficking and money laundering operation - he was not convicted.

Alexi Casilla - Dominican - His biggest contribution was giving up his number so Jim Thome could have it. In seven years he hit 250 for the Twins with a 639 OPS.

Orlando Hudson - Hudson hit .268 with a career-low .710 OPS. Hudson founded the C.A.T.C.H. Foundation, a 501c3 organization that seeks to provide resources and a support system for youth coping with autism.

Brian Dozier - our third best second baseman in Twins history (my judgment). A member of the Southern Mississippi college team that played in the 2009 college world series. He started as a SS as so many players do and found a home at second. He was a Twin for seven years - hit 248/325/447 - which would be much better if we took his last five years - his HR totals per year are - 6,18,23, 28,42,34. I was say we got rid of him at the right time. He had peaked for us and although he continues to play his top HR since being traded is 20. Notorious for great half years paired with lousy halves it took patience to get the best from him. He became the first second baseman to hit 40 home runs.

Jonathan Schoop - we hardly knew you although your 256/304/473 slash line fits many of our historic 2B men. Good luck in Detroit and say hi to Gardy.

Luis Arraez - we hope he is the future. His 334 BA certainly makes us think of another great - Rod Carew. Let's hope flash-in-the-pan is something you never hear. I am very excited by him and his potential.


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