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  • Could Buxton and Correa be the Best Duo in Twins History?


    Andrew Mahlke

    Last week, MLB Network released their Top-100 Players Right Now, and the only Twins players to make it were Carlos Correa at number 14 and Byron Buxton at number 39. As we all know, a healthy Buxton is not the 39th best player in the league; he is more towards the top ten. This dynamic duo for the Twins is amongst the best in the league, but could it be the best duo the Twins have ever had?

    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today

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    2022 marks the first time since MLB Network started making their top-100 lists in 2014 that the Twins have ever had two players in the top 40. Buxton and Correa have the potential to be the best duo in Twins history in 2022. After watching Buxton hit .469 with five home runs in 32 at-bats and Correa hit .350 with three home runs in 20 at-bats, it's easy to dream about this duo. Who would they have to pass to become the best single-season duo in Twins history? Let's look at the top five.

    Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock, 1977
    In Rod Carew's historic 1977 season, in which he won MVP and bid to hit .400 (finished at .388), he and the late Lyman Bostock combined with being the best duo in Twins history when they combined for 13.7 fWAR. Carew accounted for 8.6 WAR while Bostock accumulated the other 5.1 WAR in a career year when he had a career-best 142 wRC+.

    Carew, on the other hand, had the best offensive season in Twins history, leading the league in runs (128), hits (239), triples (16), batting average (.388), on-base percentage (.449), and OPS (1.019). However, this team only went 84-77 and finished fourth in the AL West.

    Joe Mauer and Denard Span, 2009
    Joe Mauer missed the first month of the 2009 season and still managed to have the fourth-best single-season WAR total of any catcher (8.4). Mauer's MVP season was a driving force in the Twins making it to the playoffs. Mauer and centerfielder Denard Span combined for 12.5 fWAR in the Twins' last season in the Metrodome. Mauer led MLB in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444), and led the American League in slugging percentage (.587) and OPS (1.031). He hit a career-high 28 home runs and drove in 96 runs. He won the American League Most Valuable Player award, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove honors.

    Span was no slouch himself, hitting .311/.392/.415 (.807) with an American League-leading ten triples. Mauer was the driving force in this duo, but every Batman needs a Robin.

    Bob Allison and Tony Oliva, 1964
    In a season where Tony Oliva had a historic debut season, winning American League Rookie of the Year, his counterpart, 1959 AL Rookie of the Year Bob Allison, was equally good. Oliva posted 6.2 WAR, and Allison was right there with him, posting 6.2 WAR. Allison hit .287/.404/.553 (.957) and had a career-high 161 wRC+. Oliva led the AL in hits, doubles, batting average, and runs as a rookie. He also hit a career-high 32 home runs. Oliva had the best OPS as a rookie in Twins history (.916). Harmon Killebrew accumulated 4.8 WAR, completing a legendary trio of Twins legends, along with these two legendary Twins. However, the Twins finished 79-83-1 in 1964, so three players can only do so much for a team.

    Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew, 1969
    Debatably the top two players in Twins history made up for the fourth-best duo in Twins history in 1969. Killebrew posted a career-high 7.1 WAR and won the AL MVP award while hitting the most single-season home runs in Twins history (49) during Billy Martin's lone season as Twins manager. Killebrew led MLB in RBI (140) thanks to a fantastic 23-year-old table-setter named Rod Carew.

    In Carew's third big league season, he was worth 5.0 WAR while leading the American League in batting average (.332). After a subpar sophomore campaign in 1968 in which his wRC+ dipped to 96, he had an outstanding 138 wRC+ and never let that figure dip below 100 for the final 17 years of his major league career.

    This Twins team went 97-65, winning the AL West. Unfortunately, they got swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs.

    Zoilo Versalles and Tony Oliva, 1965
    In one of the strangest seasons of all time, Zoilo Versalles led the American League in runs (126), doubles (45), triples (12), and total bases (308). In a career where he was only worth 13.1 WAR over 12 seasons, he accumulated 7.0 WAR in 1965 alone to win the AL MVP award.

    Tony Oliva followed up his Rookie-of-the-Year campaign with a solid 5.1 WAR season in a less fluky season. In MVP voting, Oliva finished runner-up to Versalles while leading the AL in hits (185) and batting average (.321).

    This Twins team was one of the best in history, going 102-60 but losing to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in the World Series in seven games.

    Where do Buxton and Correa fit?
    Last season, Buxton and Correa combined for 10 WAR. These aforementioned duos all had at least 12 WAR, so it will take something special for Buxton and Correa to join this list. However, if Buxton would have played in 60 more games last year at the same level he played at in the 61 games he was on the field for, he would’ve been worth 8.4 WAR while Correa posted 5.8. If these two guys combine for 14 WAR, they are the top duo in Twins history. 

    Of course, it will take some luck, health, and very good production, but these are two of the most talented players the Twins have ever had, so if anyone can do it, it’s them.

    What do you think? Where do you think Buxton and Correa could fit in on this list? Leave a comment and start a discussion.

    Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!

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    They absolutely could be on this list.  Let's just hope they are both healthy and have good years, and the Twins do well.  Your mention of Versalles brings back great memories for old time Twins fans.  His 1965 year was incredible.  While he was not in Buck's class as a speedster, I remember being in the stands for one of his triples and he seemed to fly around the bases.  That 1965 team was really impressive.  They surprised people that year.  Let's hope this year's Twins do the same. 

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    If Buck and Correa both stay healthy, I bet they will go down as best duo numbers wise, and the fact that both play top defense at top defensive positions.  Both Buck and Correa have won award for best overall defender in a given season.  To me that is what would put them above the rest if they can also put up the offense we expect. 

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    50 minutes ago, RJA said:

    BTW, Andrew, what was the best combined WAR year for Mauer and Morneau?

    I was looking for the answer in 2006, and found that Santana and Mauer combined for 14.5 fWAR, so I guess pitchers were not included in this exercise.

    Mauer and Morneau combined for 9.6 fWAR in 2006, 9.8 in 2008, 11.7 in 2009, and 10.7 in 2010

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    Mauer and Morneau in 2006 ranks way up there for me.   Morneau as MVP went beyond WAR numbers.    #s 1 and 6 in MVP ranking.    Mauer and Morneau for half a season in 2010 was about as good as it gets.    Morneau was having a monster season that would surely have gotten him top 2 in MVP and Mauer at #8.     .        

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    Mauer and Morneau in their prime. Those were the days my friends. If Correa and Buxton can come close (or do them better if healthy all year), we’re in like Span when he was known as Flint and will have fun in the sun.

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    3 hours ago, RJA said:

    BTW, Andrew, what was the best combined WAR year for Mauer and Morneau?

    I had that same question.  Article is incredible and insightful to bring back all the great memories and hopefully prepare us for seeing Twins duo greatness!  The real question is whether Buxton is Batman or Robin??

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    2 hours ago, ToddlerHarmon said:

    I was looking for the answer in 2006, and found that Santana and Mauer combined for 14.5 fWAR, so I guess pitchers were not included in this exercise.

    Mauer and Morneau combined for 9.6 fWAR in 2006, 9.8 in 2008, 11.7 in 2009, and 10.7 in 2010

    …and that’s why we all remember the M&M boys!  Not one single year of historic greatness but 4 out of 5 years of 10+ (rounding up of course)…..sounds like we need Correa to stay all 3 years to see if they can out-do M&M!

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    1 hour ago, Andrew Mahlke said:

    2009, but 2010 would've been better had Morneau not got concussed.

    Don't forget Mauer also missed the first month of 2009 with back issues.  He had a monster year but it could have really been one for the ages had he been healthy to start the season.

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    3 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

    Add Polanco to the group and you probably have the best trio in Twins history ( both offensively and defensively).

    I'm with you Terry! I can really see these 3 feeding off each other. I expect great thing from them, it'll be very exciting to watch.

    I remember Puckett, Hrbek and Gaetti how great they were. And they surprised a lot of people when they went from worst to best. I expected them to make this list. And of course Killebrew, Oliva and Allison (1965 Versalles) made quite a trio.

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    Great article.  To me the 1969 Twins team was their best ever.  Yes even better than the 1987 and 1991 championship teams. .what a duo of Killebrew and Career.  I also loved the Mauer/Morneau duo.  Buxton/Correa have potential but will have to see how it plays out.  It's just unfortunate Buxton has been hurt so much.  A great center fielders with a .248 career batting average over 7 major league seasons. We may never know what could have been.  He's had a few great months off and on.  Give me a full season of a healthy Buxton and hope all his talents bring results.

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    GREAT Article !  I wonder what it would look like if you added that 3rd player.  1964 Oliva, Allison, Killebrew already mentioned.  I wonder what 1969 Tony O's numbers would add to Killebrew & Carew.  Add Hisle to 1977 Carew & Bostock...THAT would be interesting.  And if you DID add pitchers, add Santana to a Mauer and Morneau years (2009, 2006).  Another interesting question:  What would some of the all-time trios look like ?  Ruth, Gehrig, and...Irish Meusel ?  What about 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers:  Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and either Carl Furillo or Jackie Robinson ?  How about 1961 Mantle, Maris and Elston Howard ?  

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    18 hours ago, 2wins87 said:

    Don't forget Mauer also missed the first month of 2009 with back issues.  He had a monster year but it could have really been one for the ages had he been healthy to start the season.

    Great thing about baseball is that even as great as those two were, the Twins were only treading water when Morneau went down.    Casilla, Hardy, Valencia and a few of the pitchers stepping up made the difference in the 2nd half.

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    Play the game to the best of their ability  and I'll give my answer after the end of the season ....

    I won't speculate on coulda , woulda and shoulda  ....

     

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