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  1. Pitch a canoe on the currents of the Crow Wing River, and you’ll stumble across Nimrod, Minnesota, population 69. A bar, church, and campground make up the bulk of the one-horse town that was once a flourishing logging community in the World War II era. Take a few steps past the bar and the sight of four bags 90 feet apart and lush green grass will christen the eyes. Dick Stigman Field, home of the Nimrod Gnats and named after the town’s most famous son. A starting pitcher for the Twins’ infancy in Minnesota, Stigman spent seven years at the Major League level. Starting with a $200 per month contract, the tall lefty grew up in Cleveland’s organization, played two years with the parent club, and spent four years with the Twins from 1962-65. Stigman finished his career with the hallowed Boston Red Sox in 1966. Stigman’s life has run full circle; A small town boy with a deep love of America’s Pastime who had the opportunity to play for the Minnesota Twins. On his 86th birthday, Stigman couldn’t be more thankful for the road that transcended from the rural pines of northern Minnesota to baseball’s biggest stage. The Booming 50’s Despite its current quaintness, Nimrod was a bustling small town at the midpoint of the 20th century with a handful of industries painting the Wadena County town. “We had two grocery stores, two gas stations, two restaurants, a blacksmith shop, a feed mill, and a creamery,” Stigman recalled. “There was a pretty good-sized lumber mill. They used to pull logs down the river. It was a great experience. We had a community.” Young Dick spent his childhood selling grit, a popular newspaper option in rural America through the 1950s. “We sold it for five cents a copy. I think I got two cents back,” he laughed. Yet in an era when many young men were being drafted for World War II, Nimrod’s isolation provided solace for Dick and his brothers; an opportunity that sprouted a lifelong love for the game of baseball. The son of a catcher, Dick and his brothers spent hours simulating game situations and playing catch. Both Dick and his older brother were southpaws. That didn’t stop them from finding a catcher’s mitt at Montgomery and Ward to compliment each other on the mound. The mound? An old tire and some plywood. “We’d put a 2 by 4 on top of a rubber tire to pitch from and simulate situations,” Stigman said. “It wasn’t very high up, but it worked.” Barren winters didn’t stop the Stigmans from practicing their craft. The boys’ mother managed the town hall, creating a pseudo-bullpen for them over the winter months. “It was a pretty decent-sized building so we’d pitch inside the hall,” Stigman said. “We'd build a fire and take care of that if there was an event and then we'd have our baseball sessions.” Stigman's love of pitching ran deep. With no team in Minnesota during his childhood he fell in love with Cleveland because of talented pitching from the likes of Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. And with a rich list of MLB names like Williams, Lemon, and Mays to look up to, Dick’s and skill level only rose with time. “There were a couple of other guys in Nimrod that were interested in baseball, but not like we were,” he recalled. That small-town talent would expand outside the silos of Nimrod to the greater Minnesota community. Stigman pitched for Sebeka High School and began to draw looks by shutting down larger schools and towns on the mound. A tournament with strong performances against the ‘big cities’ of Aitkin and Brainerd drew the eye of Cleveland scout Marv Nutting. Impressed with the small town hurler, Nutting name-dropped Stigman to Cy Slapnika, a Cleveland scout based out of Cedar Rapids who had a stellar track record. Slapnika had signed the legendary Bob Feller to Cleveland alongside other household names like Gordy Coleman and Herb Score. Slapkina made the trek up to Minnesota to watch Stigman play Legion ball against Hawley, something that Stigman wasn’t aware of at the time. “I probably would have wet my pants if I had known that someone was watching me.” Stigman was electric, striking out 21 batters in seven innings alongside racking up a few hits himself. He even struck out Rodney Skoog, the brother of Minneapolis Lakers star Whitey Skoog who was batting in the .500 range at the time. The magic had been noticed. Slapnika drove Dick and his parents to the Greystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes to sign his first professional contract for the organization he cheered for growing up. That $200 per month contract (with an additional $200 for each month with the club) was a $50 pay raise from what Stigman was receiving at his job at the lumber mill. Was the pay raise nice? Absolutely. Yet the opportunity for Dick was priceless. “I loved baseball so much that I probably would have paid to play.” Reflecting with Grace Stigman finished his MLB career with 74 wins. His best season was his first with the Twins in 1962, finishing the year with a 12-5 record and 3.66 ERA with three saves to top it off. And while the star season in his home state was memorable, the transition to the Twins from the organization that he cut his teeth in was tough. Being in Cleveland and coming up in the farm system, it was a difficult transition, Dick recalled. “I was very apprehensive about coming to Minnesota; playing in front of people that you know, there's an added expectation.” Yet when the nerves melted, the homecoming was one of joy. “It was a pleasant surprise,” Stigman said “It was great with all the attention we got, everywhere we went people knew us. And I had a really good year so that added to it.” The innings on the ground were great; the memories, comradery, and relationships were what solidified. “Earl Battey was one of my best friends. We played cards on the plane. He was just an amazing guy," Dick recalled. "Guys like Lenny Green, Don Mincher, and Jim Kaat (were incredible). Baseball isn't all about skill, it's about chemistry. Even as big of a star that Harmon (Killebrew) and Tony Oliva were, it wasn't about them. It was about winning. And we proved that with some pretty good years.” Stigman is now 55 years removed from his MLB career. After years in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, he and his wife moved to the beaming sun of Florida. He still stays knitted to the Twins through rich admiration of the organization and participation in things like Twins Fantasy Camp. A man of deep faith and humility, Stigman looks back with a sense of appreciation and gratefulness that society can admire. Yet even he recognizes the wild ride that the uncertainty and beauty of life has graced him with. “I look back and think to myself ‘did I really do that,’ coming from where I came from,” Dick recalled. “I try not to get in front of myself, I always remember where I came from and who I am.” If you're in west-central Minnesota during the summer and happen to catch a baseball game, there is a decent chance you might see the Stigman name in the lineup.
  2. As players age, their physical abilities deteriorate and they often can not play as well as they used to play.. So when a player 35 or older has a great season, it is remarkable. Veterans are usually good locker room presences and leaders for younger players, but if they can also be one of the best players on the team, that is an added bonus. In this article, we will look at the top five seasons by hitters in Twins history over the age of 35. If a player has multiple great seasons over the age of 35, I picked their best one. All of the players on this list have had illustrious careers and while their production in these seasons wasn’t as high as they had in their primes, they still were very impactful players on their teams. 5. Josh Donaldson, 2021 - 2.2 fWAR When Josh Donaldson made news in 2021, it was for sparking a sticky controversy with White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito and for feuding with Gerrit Cole. Despite being one of the most controversial players in baseball, Josh Donaldson has also been one of the best. Since 2013, he has the third highest WAR in all of baseball, trailing only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. In Donaldson’s prime, he was a 6-8 WAR player, winning AL MVP in 2015 and finishing in the top 10 four times. In 2021, he was only worth 2.2 WAR, making him the third best player on the Twins behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. Donaldson hit .247/.352/.475 (.827) in 135 games. He had a wRC+ of 124, meaning he was 24 percent better than league average at creating runs for his team. He also had a keen eye at the plate, leading the Twins with 74 walks. When you dive deeper into the numbers, Donaldson was even more impressive. He ranked 4th in MLB in average exit velocity (94.1), 3rd in Barrels per plate appearance (11.2 percent), and 11th in hard hit rate. Below are his Baseball Savant percentile rankings. In nearly all of the offensive categories, Donaldson ranked in the top 10 percent of all hitters. This is incredible for a player who is 35 years old. As Donaldson ages, he will get more time in the DH role as the Twins look to younger players like Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda to occupy third base to keep Donaldson’s bat in the lineup more regularly. Donaldson had a good 2021 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his production improve in 2022 as a 36 year old. 4. Paul Molitor, 1996 - 2.5 fWAR After an outstanding career in Milwaukee and Toronto, Hall-of-Famer and native Minnesotan Paul Molitor returned to play in his homeland for the final three years of his career. As is the case with most veterans, Molitor was mostly a designated hitter in his tenure with the Twins. During his career, Molitor’s versatility was one of his best assets so confining him to DH took a lot of his value away. Still, the future Twins manager was able to post 2.5 WAR in 1996, his first season with the Twins. In Molitor’s prime, he was consistently a 4-6 win player for the Brewers and Blue Jays. He won the World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays and was named World Series MVP, going 11-for-24 with five extra base hits, seven RBI, three walks, and no strikeouts in six games. He also tied the World Series record for most runs in a series with 10 runs scored. In 1996, Molitor hit .341/.390/.468 (.858) for a 114 wRC+. Molitor led the American League with 225 hits, which is the third most for a single season in Twins history. He also drove in 113 runs and hit 41 doubles in that year. During that season he became the first player to hit a triple for his 3000th career hit. Molitor was a great veteran addition to a Twins team that needed some guidance. 3. Jim Thome, 2010 3.1 fWAR As a player who spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, Twins fans did not associate Jim Thome with good memories. In his career against the Twins, Thome hit an ungodly .314/.415/.635 (1.049) with 61 home runs in 196 games. In 2010, the Twins decided that if you can’t beat him, join him, so they signed Thome to a one year deal worth $1.5 million. In his age 39 season, Thome was outstanding. He appeared in 108 games and hit .283/.412/.627 (1.039) for a 177 wRC+. Among players 39 and older who appeared in 100 or more games, the only players in MLB history with a higher OPS than Thome were Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. Thome posted 3.1 WAR in only 108 games despite only playing DH. The only primary DH’s in MLB history with more WAR in a similar amount of games are Yordan Alvarez and David Ortiz. Thome hit his 600th career home run with the Twins in 2011, but his signature moment as a Twin was this walk-off home run he hit in August of 2010, the first walk-off homer in Target Field history. Thome was also an outstanding clubhouse presence, being named the nicest player in baseball by his fellow players, a nice touch on an outstanding career. 2. Harmon Killebrew, 1971 3.9 fWAR Killebrew was an outstanding player for the entirety of his career. He actually had two seasons that would’ve placed him on this list but I chose to go with the better of the seasons, 1971. Killebrew was already on his way to the Hall of Fame before he turned 35, having hit 487 home runs in his career. But in his age 35 season, Killebrew had a great season. By this time, Killebrew’s outfield days were behind him and he was splitting time between first base and third base. In 1971, Killebrew hit .254/.386/.464 (.850) for a wRC+ of 137. He led the American League in RBI (119) and walks (114). He was named to the final all-star game of his fantastic career. In late July of this year, Killebrew hit his 499th homer. For the next 16 games, Killebrew went into a slump, not able to hit his 500th. But in the 17th game, Killebrew hit home runs 500 and 501 at Metropolitan Stadium to cement his legacy as an all-time great. Killebrew was relieved, telling the Associated Press he could finally breathe a sigh of relief again. “When people keep asking you when you’re going to hit it, you try a bit harder. The only time I thought about it was when people were asking me about it”, said Killebrew. 1. Nelson Cruz, 2019 - 4.3 fWAR The ageless wonder, Nelson Cruz, was a fantastic signing for the Twins in the 2019 offseason. In his age 38 season, Cruz turned the Twins from a mediocre team into a 100 game winner. The Dominican slugger helped guide young Hispanic sluggers Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to career highs in home runs. Cruz had such a profound impact on Sano that Sano decided to name Cruz the Godfather of his daughter. He also won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award for all of the great work he does in the community. Along with his great leadership, Cruz was one of the best hitters in the league. In 2019, Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 (1.031) for a wRC+ of 164. His .639 slugging percentage was the best single season slugging percentage in Twins history. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 108 runs. He also led MLB in Barrels per Plate Appearance, Hard Hit Rate, and Average Exit Velocity. The combination of this means that he hit the ball harder than anyone else did more consistently than anyone else. This led to a lot of success for Cruz. Nelson Cruz had two more good seasons for the Twins before he was traded during his age 40 season to the Tampa Bay Rays for Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. Cruz has a strong impact on baseballs and teammates, making him a great addition to any team. Conclusion Throughout the Twins history, they have had some great seasons by older players, proving that baseball isn’t always a young man’s game. Hopefully another great season by Donaldson next year can move him up on this list, but don’t look for many Twins to make this list in the near future as the Twins will try to get younger players more experience. Who did I miss on this list? What would you change about the order? Is Cruz the best power hitter in Twins history? Leave a comment below! Let me hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  3. Just a Small Town Boy If there was ever a small-town all-American youth, Harmon Killebrew is it. Killebrew grew up in a small town eastern Idaho where he worked as a farm hand and carried 10 gallon-95 pound milk buckets daily. It’s no wonder that he was able to hit sluggers when he got older. Harmon Killebrew was a tri-sport athlete in high school in Idaho. He played basketball, baseball and was the star quarterback of his football team. Killebrew was a natural athlete, a natural talent. Harmon Killebrew intended to play at the University of Oregon and was offered an athletic scholarship, but he turned it down. Harmon Killebrew ended up attending the College of Idaho and playing in the Idaho-Oregon Border League. Stellar Player, Incredible Man Killebrew showed out in semi-pro ball; so much that Idaho senator Herman Walker dropped a bug in the ear of Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith (father of Calvin) about the state’s crowned yet uncovered jewel. That led to a $50,000 contract for Griffith and inked the start of a career that would not only serve as the greatest of a ballplayer from Idaho, but one of the most prolific in the history of Major League Baseball. Harmon spent 22 years in the majors, 21 of which were with the Twins/Senators organization. Killebrew was rock-solid for Washington, consistently flirting with and surpassing a .300 batting average and earning all star accolades in 1959. Yet when the train left D.C. and headed west to Minneapolis, Killebrew’s true talent was untapped. Ten all-star appearances, an MVP award, and five HR titles later, Killebrew’s lore as a hall of famer was cemented. Yet after years of incredible accolades Harmon is remembered by most as a great ballplayer but an even better person. Kind to teammates, fans, and even umpires, Killebrew was the pinnacle of a gentleman that had the utmost respect for those around him. That genuine demeanor carried into his life off the field following retirement from baseball. Killebrew spent time with the A’s, Angels, and Twins as a broadcaster and continued to grow the game of baseball for those of all ages. And if you need more proof on how beloved Harmon was, find another former played who had an entire episode of the David Letterman show dedicated to him. Killebrew passed away in 2011 following a battle with Esophageal Cancer. The Twins released this statement following his passing. "No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory than Harmon Killebrew. Harmon will long be remembered as one of the most prolific home run hitters in the history of the game and the leader of a group of players who helped lay the foundation for the long-term success of the Twins franchise and Major League Baseball in the Upper Midwest. However, more importantly Harmon's legacy will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man." Harmon Killebrew was the full package as a player and person. It’s no surprise that his silhouette embodies the MLB logo to this day. And while he’s no longer with us, his kind demeanor, heroic home runs, and genuine personality bring back fond memories to Twins fans that span almost the entirety of the organization’s history. Read Previous "12 Days of TwinsMas" articles here: #12 - Torii Hunter #11 - Chuck Knoblauch #10 - Jim Kaat #9 - Frank Viola #8 - Kent Hrbek #7 - Tony Oliva #6 - Johan Santana #5 - Bert Blyleven #4 - Joe Mauer #3 - Harmon Killebrew #2 - Coming Soon!
  4. How would you rank… these four Twins players? (1.) Dean Chance, 2.) Nelson Cruz, 3.) Greg Gagne, 4.) Eddie Guardado) We all like lists and rankings, right? On this site, our prospect rankings often are the most heavily-discussed articles that we put together. Everyone can have their varying opinions and none are completely wrong, well, some are just more debatable. But this new e-book, The Top 60 Twins in 60 Seasons in Minnesota, should hopefully create a lot of discussion for our readers, but also for fathers and sons, husbands and wives, grandparents and grandkids. And for just $7.99. Before last month, I had never talked to “Nate Tubbs Rules.” However, for the past decade, I have eagerly awaited his updated Top 300 Twins Player rankings. Shortly after each season, it was fun to see which current players jumped furthest up the rankings. Which players fell out of the Top 300. For his rankings, “NTR” considers several factors, and they are things that we all think about probably as we think about how we might rank the players. (No, most of us wouldn’t think to actually rank them to 60, much less 300!) As he explains, these are some of the factors that go into these rankings (and by the way, you should see all the Excel spreadsheets that go into this!). “Longevity” includes how many years the player was with the Twins as well as how many plate appearances or innings pitched that player had during those years. For “Peak Value”, I looked at their stats, honors, and awards in their best seasons, as well as how they compared to their teammates. Did they lead their team in OPS or home runs or ERA for starters or WPA? If so, that got some bonus points. Postseason Heroics, Awards (Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs), Statistical achievements (batting titles, home run leaders, ERA champs, etc), Honors (All Star appearances), and Team Success. If you were the #1 starter on a division-winning champ, that gave you more “points” than the #1 starter on a cellar dweller. For each of us, we probably weigh each of those factors a little bit differently. In the handbook, you will find profiles for each of the Top 60 on his list, but you will also find the Top 300 rankings. At the very back of the book, I tried it myself. You can find my Top 60 Twins rankings there. So, let’s go back to that original question: How would you rank… these four Twins players? (1.) Dean Chance, 2.) Nelson Cruz, 3.) Greg Gagne, 4.) Eddie Guardado) Dean Chance was really good for about three seasons as a starter for the Twins. He was an All Star, threw a no-hitter, posted a 2.67 ERA over three years. Nelson Cruz has two Silver Sluggers at DH for the Twins in his two seasons, and the team won the division both years. Greg Gagne is a Twins Hall of Famer with two World Series rings. His offense wasn’t great, though most shortstops not named Ripken or Trammell did, but he was great defensively. And, he hit for some power at times. Eddie Guardado struggled as a starter and then became a solid, and frequently-used reliever before becoming an All Star closer. Leave your comments below for how you might rank those players, but as you can see, this is a fun exercise for Twins fans. And, it brings in all of the factors. Varying longevity in a Twins uniform. Varying levels of team success. Some won awards or were All Stars. Others were just really solid for several years. How do you compare starting pitchers to relievers, to power hitters and defensively-strong players? Those are the types of questions you will find yourself asking yourself and your friends over and over while reading through this book. For each of the Top 60, you will find a profile. I wrote the profiles, but “Nate Tubbs Rules” added his comments on why he ranked each player where he did. There are lists. There are rankings. And it’s just a lot of fun. We think that if you are a passionate Twins fan, you will really enjoy this book. We made it and it is only available as an e-book. We are asking for $7.99 per book. We were told we could charge more, and if you want to give more, you can, but we just want it to get in the hands of as many Twins fans as possible. The history of the organization is a lot of fun to read about and discuss. Oh, and then you can discuss who you would rank higher… Mudcat Grant or Jack Morris? Or which DH would you rank highest? Randy Bush, Nelson Cruz, Chili Davis, Jason Kubel or Paul Molitor? And why… We certainly hope that you will enjoy the book as much as Nate Tubbs Rules and I enjoyed researching and writing it! Tuesday night at 7 pm, "Nate Tubbs Rules" and I will be discussing the book and talking about the controversial rankings and answering any questions you would like to ask.
  5. A: Bob Allison (211 Home Runs) Allison is possibly one of the most underappreciated sluggers in Twins history. His first All-Star appearance and his first 30-home run campaign came in a Senators’ uniform. Even with his season’s in Washington, he ranks sixth all-time in home runs in a Twins uniform. B: Tom Brunansky (163 Home Runs) Brunansky hit 20 or more home runs for eight straight seasons from 1982-1989. He also became the Twins first Home Run Derby participant when the Twins hosted the 1985 All-Star Game at the Metrodome. In that contest, he finished two home runs behind Dave Parker and tied with some all-time greats like Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, and Jim Rice. C: Michael Cuddyer (141 Home Runs) Cuddyer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year and his home run total puts him in the top-12 in Twins history. He’d make his first All-Star appearance as a 32-year old in his final season with the Twins and he went on to win the NL batting title in 2013 with the Rockies. D: Brian Dozier (167 Home Runs) Dozier was a late bloomer when it came to Twins prospect as he wouldn’t make his big-league debut until he was 25. His first season with 30 or more home runs was 2016 when he was already 29-years old. His 42 home runs in 2016 are the most all-time in Twins history by a player not named Harmon Killebrew. E: Eduardo Escobar (63 Home Runs) Escobar is the gift that keeps on giving as the Twins seem to still be benefiting from his trade to the Diamondbacks. His best home run season came in Arizona, but he hit 21 home runs for the Twins in 2017 and he probably would have crossed that mark again in 2018 if he weren’t traded at the deadline. F: Dan Ford (57 Home Runs) This would be a lot of fun if Lew Ford ended up with the top spot, but he only hit 32 home runs as a Twin. Dan Ford played 11 seasons as a big-leaguer and broke into the AL as a 23-year old in 1975. He hit double-digit home runs in all four seasons with Minnesota. G: Gary Gaetti (201 Home Runs) A long-time fan favorite, Gaetti is one of only eight players to clock over 200 home runs with the Twins. He’d play at the big-league level until he was 41-years old in a career that spanned 20 seasons. He’d end his career with 360 long balls which is no small feat for a player that was also a strong defensive presence. H: Kent Hrbek (293 Home Runs) Bloomington’s own has his number retired by his hometown team and only one player in team history has hit more home runs. He retired at age-34, so it’s interesting to think about how many home runs he could have ended up with if he had played well into his 30s. I: None No Twins player has ever hit a home run with the last name starting with I. J: Jacque Jones (132 Home Runs) Jones ranks 13th on the Twins all-time home run list, but he is only one home run ahead of Miguel Sano. He played seven seasons in a Twins uniform and he would only accumulate 33 home runs outside of Minnesota. In 2002, he finished eight among position players in WAR when hie hit 27 home runs. K: Harmon Killebrew (475 Home Runs) The best home run hitter in Twins history and it’s not even close. No other player hit over 300 home runs for the Twins. He led the American League in home runs six different seasons, and he is one of two Twins players to hit more than 40 home runs in one season. Oh yeah, he did that seven different times. L: Tim Laudner (77 Home Runs) Laudner played all nine of his big-league seasons in Minnesota and hit double digit home runs in four different campaigns. His lone All-Star appearance came as a 30-year old when he hit .251/.316/.408 with 13 home runs and 18 doubles. M: Justin Morneau (221 Home Runs) The more powerful half of the M&M duo, Morneau hit 18 or more home runs in seven consecutive seasons. Only a handful of Twins players have hit more than 30 home runs in a season which Morneau did three different times. He has the third most home runs in team history. N: Eduardo Nunez (20 Home Runs) He helped the Red Sox win the World Series, but his lone All-Star appearance cam with the 2016 Minnesota Twins. He’s never hit more than 16 home runs in one season, but his defensive versatility allowed him to play parts of 10 different seasons at the big leagues. O: Tony Oliva (220 Home Runs) Outside of Joe Mauer, Oliva might be the greatest Twins player that hasn’t been elected to the Hall of Fame. He became the first designated hitter to hit a home run while hitting 13 or more home runs in 11 different seasons. Only three players have hit more home runs for the Twins. P: Kirby Puckett (207 Home Runs) Puckett’s most famous homer came in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, but he hit plenty of other home runs in a Twins uniform. He hit double digit home runs in nine different seasons, and he hit 20 or more home runs in six different years. He ranks seventh in club history. Q: Frank Quilici (5 Home Runs) Surprisingly, his five home runs aren’t the lowest total on this list. He played parts of five different seasons with the Twins and ended his career as a .214/.281/.287 hitter. He was part of Minnesota’s first World Series team in 1965 and he played on the 1970 team that lost to Baltimore in the ALCS. R: Eddie Rosario (119 Home Runs) Rosario’s time in Minnesota might be done and if it is, he will finish his Twins tenure with the 15th most home runs in club history. As part of the 2019 Bomba Squad, he hit a career high 32 home runs. He has hit 10 or more home runs in every big-league season. S: Miguel Sano (131 Home Runs) After six seasons, Sano already ranks 14th in team history when it comes to home runs. If he hits 13 or more home runs next season, he will pass Joe Mauer and move into 11th on the Twins all-time list and he’s 22 home runs away from breaking into the top-10. T: Cesar Tovar (38 Home Runs) Tovar hit double-digit home runs in two seasons, but he was more known as a doubles hitter. He led the American League in doubles and triples back in 1970 and he had the most hits in the league during the 1970 campaign. U: Ted Uhlaender (23 Home Runs) His lone double-digit home run season came after he left the Twins organization. As a center fielder, he wasn’t known for his power, but he got on base over 30% of the time. V: Zoilo Versalles (86 Home Runs) The 1965 AL MVP led the league in runs, doubles, and triples that season. Versalles is one of three Cuban born players to take home MVP honors including Jose Abreu in 2020. He only hit double-digits in home runs in four seasons, but all those seasons were with the Twins. W: Josh Willingham (61 Home Runs) Willingham only played parts of three season with the Twins but only four Twins players have hit more than his 35 home runs in 2012. His career took a steep downturn from there as he never hit more than 14 home runs in another season. X: None No Twins player has ever hit a home run with the last name starting with X. Y: Delmon Young (47 Home Runs) Young was acquired to be the powerful right-handed bat to break-up Minnesota’s lefties (Mauer and Morneau). He hit a career high 21 home runs in 2010 before going on to have some postseason success with the Detroit Tigers when he won the 2012 ALCS MVP. Z: Jerry Zimmerman (3 Home Runs) Zimmerman play parts of seven seasons with the Twins, but he only played more than 85 games in one season. He hit one home run in each season from 1965-1967 to end up with the most home runs for the letter Z. What names stand out to you on this list? What home run from these players do you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. 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? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Twins fans fans may have been spoiled by the team in their first decade. The second decade started out strong with 98 wins and a playoff berth in 1970. That was their lone playoff appearance of the decade. In 1971, they finished in fifth place in the division. Each other season, they finished either third or fourth in the AL West. Some of the Twins stars of the 1960s were still around and contributing early in the 1970s, though generally just a shell of themselves after 1971. Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven certainly led the way during the decade, but there were other really solid players throughout the decade. The 1976 and 1977 Twins won 85 and 84 games. The 1977 team scored 867 runs, but the pitching was not real strong. Bill Rigney began the decade as the team's manager. He was replaced by Frank Quilici midway through the 1972 season. Gene Mach took over in 1976 and remained through the decade. He managed his nephew, Roy Smalley who was voted the starting shortstop for the American League in the 1979 All-Star Game. Let's get to the lineup... and be sure to leave your thoughts on this roster, or who I missed. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep16_Patrick_Reusse.mp3 C - Butch Wynegar (1976-1979) 577 games, .256/.344/.350 (.694) with 85 doubles, 31 homers, 250 RBI. Wynegar was the Twins second-round pick out of high school in 1974 and debuted just after he turned 20 in April of 1976. He finished second to Mark Fydrich in 1976 Rookie of the Year voting, and he was an All-Star his first two seasons. He caught between 131 and 146 games in each of his first five seasons. 1B - Harmon Killebrew (1970-1974) 634 games, .247/.373/.451 (.824) with 68 doubles, 113 homers, 391 RBI. After winning the AL MVP in 1969, Killebrew hit 41 homers and finished third in the voting in 1970. He was an All-Star in 1970 and 1971, his 10th and 11th of the year. While things went downward from there, the Twins great and future Hall of Famer was still the easy choice for this position. His 113 homers from over these five years still led the organization by 25. 2B - Rod Carew (1970-1978) 1,248 games, .345/.407/.460 (.867) with 226 doubles, 57 homers, 584 RBI. Carew was the choice in the 1960s for second base as well, but he was just getting started. Look at that, a .345 average over NINE seasons. He didn’t hit under .307 in any season, and he led the league in batting average six of those nine years. He was the AL MVP in 1977 when he hit .388/.449/.570 (1.019) with 38 doubles, 16 triples, 14 home runs and 100 RBI. He had four other Top 5 MVP seasons as well. He was an All-Star each of the 12 seasons he played with the Twins. If you’re into bWAR, his 53.7 mark is 36.5 more than anyone else in the organization during the decade. 3B - Steve Braun (1971-1976) 751 games, .284/.376/.381 (.757) with 103 doubles, 35 homers, 273 RBI. Braun was the team’s 10th-round pick in 1966 out of high school. He debuted with 128 games in 1971. He spent six seasons with the Twins. He played around the diamond, but mostly at third base the first three seasons and then in left field the next three years. He had a good, patient approach at the plate. In 1973, he hit .283 but also had a .408 on-base percentage. SS - Roy Smalley (1976-1979) 573 games, .261/.346/.388 (.734) with 96 doubles, 51 homers, 264 RBI. Smalley was the Rangers' first-round pick in 1974 from USC and debuted in 1975. On June 1, 1976, he came to the Twins as part of a package for Bert Blyleven. His best season was in 1979. He was an All-Star and received MVP votes. He led the league in games played and plate appearances. He hit 28 doubles and a career-high 24 homers. Side note - It’s inexplicable to me why Roy Smalley is not in the Twins Hall of Fame. LF - Larry Hisle (1973-1977) 662 games, .286/.354/.457 (.811) with 109 doubles, 87 homers, 409 RBI. Hisle was traded to the Twins from the Cardinals after the 1972 season and spent the next five seasons in a Twins uniform. He immediately became an impact player, hitting for average, getting on base and showing some power. He was good the first four years, but in 1977, he hit .302 with 36 doubles, 28 homer and a league-leading 119 RBI. He was an All-Star and earned MVP votes. That offseason, he left via free agency and signed with Milwaukee where he had one more really strong season. CF - Lyman Bostock (1975-1977) 379 games, .318/.366/.416 (.812) with 78 doubles, 18 homers, 179 RBI. Bostock was the Twins 26th-round pick in 1972 out of Cal State, Northridge. He debuted at the start of the 1975 season. He hit .282 in 98 games as a rookie. Then he hit .323 in 1976. In 1977, he hit .336/.389/.508 (.897) with 36 doubles, 12 triples and 14 home runs. He became a free agent and signed with the Angels. He was tragically killed in September of 1978. RF - Cesar Tovar (1970-1972) 459 games, .293/.348/.384 (.732) with 85 doubles, 13 homers, 130 RBI. Tovar continued to play all over the diamond in the early 1970s. In 1970, he led the league with 36 doubles and 13 triples. In 1971, he led the league with 204 base hits. He batted .300 in 1970 and 1971 and received MVP votes. He was traded to the Phillies after the 1972 season and played through the 1976 season. DH - Tony Oliva (1970-1976) 764 games, .299/.345/.446 (.791) with 116 doubles, 88 homers, 412 RBI. Oliva was a star for the Twins in the 1960s, and he entered the 1970s as one of the best players in the league. In 1970, he hit .325, finished second in MVP voting and led the league with 204 hits and 36 doubles. In 1971, he won his third career batting title by hitting .337. He also led the league with a .546 slugging percentage. Knee injuries cost him most of the 1972 season and lowered the trajectory of his career. He kept playing through the 1976 season. Your turn. Who would make your Twins 1970s All-Decade team? And what might that lineup look like?
  8. The Twins came to Minnesota before the 1961 season and had a really good first decade. The team won 89 or more games in six of the nine seasons. They took the Dodgers to Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. They had some batting championship, Pitchers of the Year, lots of home runs and gave Twins baseball fans some great excitement. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep15_Dave_Mona.mp3 You may know Dave Mona from his great work at WCCO, hosting The Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. But as you'll hear in this episode, he remains busy, working throughout the community. He has long been a huge supporter of all Minnesota sports. He worked at Met Stadium in the 1950s, when the Minneapolis Millers played there. He ended up at the Minneapolis Tribune and he was the Twins beat writer during the 1968 and 1969 seasons. In this episode, we discussed the top Twins hitters and pitchers of the 1960s. Mr. Mona has so many great stories from covering the team and from remaining in the sports media since then. He's got great stories of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Ron Perranoski and most of the All-Decade team. And there are great stories regarding Billy Martin, and Reggie Jackson, and others. This was one of the most enjoyable conversations I have had,and I really believe you will enjoy the conversation. There were so many great Twins players in the 1960s, and Dave Mona tells some great stories! Please listen and discuss and comment below. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep15_Dave_Mona.mp3 You can subscribe to the Get to Know 'Em podcast on iTunes. or follow Libsyn for new episodes here as well. Please leave ratings or feedback. And did you know that you can listen to the Get To Know 'Em podcast by asking Alexa to "Listen to the Get To Know 'Em Podcast." PAST EPISODES Episode 1: Get to know Niko Guardado (Actor and son of Eddie Guardado) Episode 2: Get to know Pat Dean, Brent Rooker Episode 3: Get to know Royce Lewis, AJ Achter Episode 4: Get to know Devin Smeltzer Episode 5: Get to know Jaylin Davis, Tyler Wells Episode 6: Get to know: Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade Episode 7: Get to know: Matt Wallner (and Ten Minutes with Tyler Wells) Episode 8: Get to know: Caleb Hamilton, Austin Schulfer, Nick Anderson Episode 9: Get to know: Andy Young, Billy Boyer (and Ten Minutes with Tyler) Episode 10: Get to know: Wesley Wright (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 11: Get to know: John Manuel (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 12: Get to know: Marshall Kelner (Mighty Mussels broadcaster) Episode 13: Get to know: Dick Bremer (Twins broadcaster, author) Episode 14: Get to know: Anthony Slama (former Twins pitcher, entrepreneur) Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.
  9. As you know, the Twins came to Minnesota from Washington DC where they were known as the Senators. In 1961, they won just 70 games. Then they won 91 games each of the next two seasons. 1964 was disappointing as the team finished just below .500. In 1965, the Twins made it all the way to the World Series where they lost in seven games to the Dodgers. They won at least 89 games the next two seasons but then fell below .500 again in 1968. In 1969, under Billy Martin, they won 97 games. The 1960s was the Twins first decade in Minnesota. As you look through the top hitters below, you might want to ask yourself if the 1960s Twins All-Decade team might just be the best of the six decades. Share your thoughts. Who did I miss? Who would you name the player of the decade? THE HITTERS C - Earl Battey (1961-1967) 853 games, .278/.356/.409 (.765) with 115 doubles, 76 homers, 350 RBI. Battey spent parts of five seasons with the White Sox but came to the Senators in 1960. That season, he won his first Gold Glove Award. In his seven seasons in a Twins uniform, he was an All-Star in four seasons. He won two more Gold Gloves. He finished in the top ten in MVP voting twice. 1B - Harmon Killebrew - 1961-1969 1,305 games, .266/.388/.547 (.935) with 164 doubles, 362 homers, 933 RBI. When the Twins came to Minnesota, he had already spent parts of seven seasons with the Senators.In the ‘60s, he was an All-Star all but one year. His 362 homers were best in the organization by over 150 homers. He hit 39 or more homers in seven of the seasons and led the American League five times. He won the 1969 MVP award and finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting five times. 2B - Rod Carew - 1967-1969 387 games, .299/.346/.408 (.754) with 79 doubles, 17 homers, 149 RBI. Carew didn’t debut until 1967, but he made an immediate impact. He played in all three All-Star games. He was the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year. He led the league with a .332 batting average in 1969. It was just the beginning for the future Hall of Famer whom the American League batting championship is now named after. 3B - Rich Rollins - 1961-1968 888 games, .272/.333/.398 (.727) with 117 doubles, 71 homers, 369 RBI. Rollins was an All-Star (twice). He finished eighth in MVP voting. He had at least 40 extra-base hits each year from 1962 through 1964. As the decade advanced, he became more of a part-time, platoon player. SS - Zoilo Versalles - 1961-1967 1,065 games, .252/.299/.387 (.686) with 188 doubles, 86 homers, 401 RBI. Versalles had played parts of two seasons with the Senators. He became a regular in 1961. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 1963. In 1965, he was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and the American League MVP. That season, he led the league in doubles (45) and triples (12). It was the third straight year he led the league in triples. LF - Bob Allison - 1961-1969 1,189 games, .255/.361/.482 (.843) with 162 doubles, 210 homers, 635 RBI. Allison debuted with the Senators in 1958 and was an All-Star and the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959. He was a starter throughout the 1960s. He was an All-Star in 1963 and 1964, his two best seasons. He hit over 30 homers twice and over 20 homers seven seasons in the decade. His .911 OPS led the American League. He was a leader of the 1965 World Series team and his catch is still one of the great highlights in World Series history. CF - Jimmie Hall - 1963-1966 573 games, .269/.334/.481 (.815) with 73 doubles, 98 homers, 288 RBI. Hall debuted as a 25 year old in 1963 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .260 with a career-high 33 homers. He was an All-Star in 1964 and 1965. A left-handed hitter, he started just two of the seven World Series games in 1965 because he didn’t play in the games started by Sandy Koufax or Claude Osteen. He hit 20 or more homers in all four of his Twins seasons before he was traded to California after the 1966 season. RF - Tony Oliva - 1962-1969 912 games, .308/.359/.500 (.859) with 213 doubles, 132 homers, 535 RBI. Oliva played in 16 games between 1962 and 1963. In 1964, he hit .323 and was the AL Rookie of the Year. He won batting titles his first two seasons. He was an All-Star in 1964 and for each season through the rest of the decade. He twice finished runner up in AL MVP voting, including to Versalles in 1965. He led the league in Hits four times during the decade and in Doubles four times. His 213 doubles was tops in the organization. DH - Cesar Tovar - 1965-1969 631 games, .271/.329/.371 (.700) with 108 doubles, 25 homers, 189 RBI. Obviously there wasn’t a designated hitter in the 1960s, but we are going to have one… because, well, why not? With the hitters in this lineup, Tovar likely wouldn’t be the regular DH in actual games. He would play all over the diamond with different guys DHing each game. Tovar debuted in 1965. In 1966, he became a regular. In 1967, he led the league with 164 games played (and plate appearances and at-bats). He received MVP votes each season from 1967 through 1971. What an impressive group of players, led by several Hall of Famers, Twins Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers. Check back tomorrow for the Twins Pitchers of the Decade of the 1960s.
  10. World Series Region After a Hall of Fame career and multiple heroic World Series moments, Kirby Puckett was named the tournament’s number one overall seed. Kent Hrbek was the number two seed in the region and these two seemed destined for an Elite Eight match-up. Both would advance before Puckett took out Hrbek to make the Final Four. Jack Morris might have been the one surprise in this region as he was able to defeat Tom Brunansky in the first round. Morris was the higher seed, but he only played one season in Minnesota. Still, his one season was a magical one and he pitched one of the greatest games in baseball history. It also helps that he has continued to have a media presence in the Twin Cities since retiring. Current Twins Region The Tournament Committee might have underestimated some of the players in the Current Twins Region. The biggest upset of the tournament happened in this region and it was the only region where a non-number one seed was able to make the Final Four. Nelson Cruz was given the number one seed in the region after being named the team’s MVP. Cruz made it all the way to the region final, but he was upset by Max Kepler, the region’s three seed. Kepler took out Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton along the way. The bracket’s biggest first round upset might have been Jose Berrios, the region’s number two seed, being taken out by Byron Buxton, a seven seed. Buxton’s Cinderella story ended in the next round, but he was able to handily beat the team’s two-time All-Star and scheduled Opening Day starter. Metrodome Region Of all the regions, this one might have included some of the biggest tournament snubs. Jacque Jones, Nick Punto, Doug Mientkiewicz and others were left out of the tournament with names like Lew Ford and Francisco Liriano beating them out. Joe Mauer was the easy selection as the number one and he had enough to beat out Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter to make the Final Four. The closest match-up in the entire tournament was between Johan Santana, the three seed, and Torii Hunter, the two seed. Heading into the final hour of voting it was deadlocked at 50-50. Hunter used a last-minute run to overtake Santana and head to the Elite Eight before eventually losing to Mauer. Early Twins Region Many fans on social media are far removed from the early Twins and their impact on this franchise. Harmon Killebrew earned the number one seed in the region and the number two overall seed and he seemed like the front-runner for the championship. He fell short of this goal, but it might have been connected to recency bias instead of his overall greatness. Minnesota has seven retired players eligible for this bracket and four of them made it through the first round. Realistically, the Mount Rushmore of Twins players includes multiple players from this region that wouldn’t be represented in the Final Four. Bert Blyleven and Tony Oliva weren’t able to upset the higher seeds and it set up a Killebrew vs. Carew final for the ages. Final Four Both semifinal matchups turned out to be no contests as the most recent legend in Twins history, Joe Mauer, beat out an all-time legend in Harmon Killebrew. Max Kepler, out of the Current Twins region, hasn’t made any big catches or hit any big home runs in the World Series, so it made sense for him to be demolished by Kirby Puckett. Puckett versus Mauer would be the final and it looked close at the beginning of the voting. After about eight hours of voting, both players were nearly tied for the top spot. Some on Twitter thought it would be atrocious for Mauer to beat-out Puckett, the World Series hero. Stronger heads prevailed and the top seed in the tournament, Puckett, cut down the nets. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1242161395157938176?s=20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Harmon Killebrew Killebrew moved all over the field during his big-league career as the Twins shuffled him between the left field and both corner infield spots. He spent more time at first base than any other position. His fielding percentage at first was the best of any position (.992). His total zone rating in runs above average was -6, but at third he was a -51 and he was a -19 in left field. Like Killebrew, Sano is in the Twins line-up because he can put baseballs into orbit with his powerful swing. Unlike Killebrew, the designated hitter role could impact Sano as his career progresses. Killebrew was forced to play a defensive position because the DH didn’t exist until the tail-end of his career. If Sano struggles with the transition to first, he could move to DH after Nelson Cruz vacates that position for the Twins. Rod Carew While Killebrew and Sano share similarities, Rod Carew and Sano might be the furthest thing apart when it comes to body type and approach at the plate. Carew did not move full time to first base until his age-30 season and his lone MVP award came in his second full season at first base. He played three full seasons there before leaving for the Angels and he amassed an 18 total zone rating. His best season at first base actually came in 1982 when he posted an 18 total zone rating, a career high. With a .991 fielding percentage, he and Killebrew posted nearly identical marks for their careers. Like Carew, Sano started his professional career at another defensive position where he wasn’t exactly strong defensively. Carew provided a -3 total zone rating in nearly 9,500 innings at second base. This included a bad season (1971: -11 TZ) and a couple of good seasons (1969, 1975: 6 TZ). Sano had multiple seasons with a -10 TZ rating at third including last season. His best season (4 TZ) was in 2016 when he was limited to 42 games at third. Kent Hrbek Both players above made the Hall of Fame, but Kent Hrbek was Minnesota born and he was part of some of the most famous plays at first base in team history (See: Final out 1987, Ron Gant). Hrbek posted a .994 fielding percentage at first with a 16 TZ rating. He had multiple seasons with a TZ rating higher than five, but he also had two of his final five seasons with a -7 TZ. Arguably, his best defensive season was 1984 when he finished second for the AL MVP. Like Hrbek, the Twins hope Sano can provide a big target for infielders especially Minnesota’s current middle infield duo. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez are both below average on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, Polanco was saved multiple times by CJ Cron after throwing the ball in the dirt. With a big target at first, the team’s advice for this season is to throw it high because those types of throws will be easier for a less experienced first baseman. Joe Mauer Joe Mauer won multiple Gold Gloves in his career, but all of them came as a catcher which is considerably harder defensive position than first base. Most people thought his transition from catcher to first base would be smooth because of his athleticism, but it was a skill he had to improve. In his first three seasons at first, he combined for a -6 TZ ranking, but over his final two seasons he posted positive totals to end his career with an overall 0 TZ at first. He also combined to have a .996 fielding percentage, a higher total than any player mentioned above. Like Mauer, Sano has played his entire career in an advanced analytical age and this means more defensive data to gauge player effectiveness. SABR’s Defensive Index has been used to help pick the Gold and Platinum Glove winners in each league since 2013. Back in 2014, Mauer finished tied with Albert Pujols (3.8 SDI) for the top SDI ranking at first. He tied that SDI total in 2017, but it was only good enough to finish third overall at first base. Last season, only two players ranked worse than Sano (-6.8 SDI) at third base according to SDI. What do you remember about these different defenders? How good can Sano be at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. The 2020 season will be Dick Bremer's 37th season covering the Minnesota Twins on TV. It also marks the 60th season that the Twins will be play in Minnesota. To mark the occasion, Bremer has been working with Triumph Books on an autobiography of sorts. In his typical self-deprecating way, he wrote about his life with 108 "Stitches" or short stories, most of which somehow tie back to the game of baseball. I truly enjoyed chatting with Dick Bremer in the press box at Hammond Stadium earlier this month. His passion for the Twins comes through very clearly. His passion for the history of this organization overflows. His pride in working with some of the great players in Twins history over his career behind the mic, from Harmon Killebrew, to Tommy John, to Bert Blyelven, Roy Smalley and now Justin Morneau. If you are a fan of the Minnesota Twins and watch them on TV regularly, and if you enjoy the history of the organization, the book is a Must Read, and I think that this podcast is a Must Listen. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep13.mp3 Earlier this month, Bremer celebrated his birthday. He was born just a couple of years before the Twins moved to Minnesota. He grew up admiring Bob Allison. He wrote about growing up in west-central Minnesota and getting to a couple of games each year. Even when his family moved to Missouri, he was able to listen to Twins games late at night on the radio and remained a Twins fan even though the talented Cardinals were much closer. His family returned to Minnesota. He went to St. Cloud State. There are some fun stories from his years in Cedar Rapids that Kernels fans will certainly enjoy. He's got a bunch of stories about the team in the Metrodome. There are stories of the 1987 and 1991 Twins and the players we all remember so fondly. Sure, there were some lean years too, but there were still some fun stories. There are also some emotional stories from Bremer's life that he shared. The book is comprised of 108 short stories, making it great for the coffee table, or for a bathroom reader. So again, on Tuesday, March 17, Dick Bremer's Game Used: My Life in Stitches with the Minnesota Twins will be available at bookstores around the Upper Midwest as well as wherever you get your books online (where they are already available for pre-order). Join me in this fun, recent conversation with Dick Bremer about the book and about his life with the Minnesota Twins. We even talked about the 2020 Twins, though please note that this conversation took place just over a week before news came out about the delayed started to the season. If you haven't listened to a previous Get to Know 'Em podcast, this is the one to listen to. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep13.mp3 You can subscribe to the Get to Know 'Em podcast on iTunes. or follow Libsyn for new episodes here as well. Please leave ratings or feedback. And did you know that you can listen to the Get To Know 'Em podcast by asking Alexa to "Listen to the Get To Know 'Em Podcast." PAST EPISODES Episode 1: Get to know Niko Guardado (Actor and son of Eddie Guardado) Episode 2: Get to know Pat Dean, Brent Rooker Episode 3: Get to know Royce Lewis, AJ Achter Episode 4: Get to know Devin Smeltzer Episode 5: Get to know Jaylin Davis, Tyler Wells Episode 6: Get to know: Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade Episode 7: Get to know: Matt Wallner (and Ten Minutes with Tyler Wells) Episode 8: Get to know: Caleb Hamilton, Austin Schulfer, Nick Anderson Episode 9: Get to know: Andy Young, Billy Boyer (and Ten Minutes with Tyler) Episode 10: Get to know: Wesley Wright (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 11: Get to know: John Manuel (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 12: Get to know: Marshall Kelner (Mighty Mussels broadcaster) Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.
  13. 1972 Record: 77-77 (3rd in the AL West) The first player strike in baseball history took out the first two weeks of the 1972 season. Players wanted an increase in their pension fund payments and salary arbitration added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. A total of 86 games were lost over 13-days with most teams losing six to eight games. With teams playing a different number of games, the Detroit Tigers won the AL East by half a game because they played one more game than the Boston Red Sox. Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven were the Twins team leaders in WAR. Carew hit .318/.369/.379 (.749) with 27 extra-base hits in 142 games. Blyleven pitched nearly 290 innings and posted a 2.73 ERA with 228 strikeouts and 69 walks. Harmon Killebrew led the team with 26 home runs, but Bobby Darwin was close behind with 22. Dick Woodson nearly matched Blyleven with 251 2/3 innings and a 2.72 ERA. 1981 Record: 41-68 (7th in the AL West) Every team played roughly 107 games in 1981 after the players walked out on June 11 and didn’t return until August 10. Owners were pushing for draft pick compensation when losing a free agent player and they also wanted to be able to take a player off the roster of the team where the free agent signed. Because the stoppage was in the middle of the year, MLB had division winners from the season’s first and second halves face off in a division series before moving on to a championship series. Unfortunately for baseball, the teams with the top two records (Cincinnati and St. Louis) missed the playoffs because of this format. Minnesota’s final season in Metropolitan Stadium was certainly one to forget as the team struggled out of the gate in the first half and finished with a 17-39 record. The second half went a little better as the team ended up fourth in the AL West with a 24-29 record. There were few notable names among the team’s top WAR contributors. Doug Corbett, Albert Williams, John Castino and Pete Redfern are not exactly a top-tier list of former Twins greats. 1995 Record: 56-88 (5th in the AL Central) In what might be baseball’s most famous work stoppage, the 1994 season had ended early and baseball’s strike wouldn’t end until the beginning of April 1995. Players were given three weeks to get themselves in playing shape at a shortened spring training before heading into a 144-game season. It would be the first year where the playoffs would use a three-division format with a wild card team. For Twins fans, a moment occurred in 1995 that no one saw coming, Kirby Puckett’s final game. On September 28, Puckett stepped in against Dennis Martinez and took a pitch to the head. He would play during spring 1996 before waking up with blurred vision in his right eye. Beside Puckett, Chuck Knoblauch and Marty Cordova were the team’s WAR leaders. Cordova beat out the likes of Garret Anderson and Andy Pettitte to win the AL Rookie of the Year. https://twitter.com/TwinsAlmanac/status/1045667945462910976?s=20 Baseball messed up the playoffs in 1972 and 1981, so it will be interesting to see how the season will unfold when and if the teams return to action. Minnesota hasn’t fared well in any of baseball’s previously shortened seasons, but on paper, the 2020 version of the Twins are certainly set up to do well. How will this season’s delay compare to the previously shortened seasons? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. The Minnesota Twins are celebrating their 60th season and bringing back the powder blues in 2020. A slugger that wore those uniforms prior to them becoming throwbacks was none other than Harmon Killerbrew. Known as Killer, Harmon clubbed a ridiculous 573 career homers. Twice, in 1964 and 1969, he blasted 49 in a single season. As a no-doubt Hall of Famer it’s hard to fathom Sano reaching that rarified air, but matching him for a calendar year? Yeah, I can get behind that. During the 2019 season Sano played in just 105 games. He missed the beginning of the year after suffering a gash on his heel in a freak accident. After debuting in mid-May, the Dominican native posted an .853 OPS through his first 23 games. There were seven longballs hit in that stretch, but it was bookended by an ugly five-strikeout affair in a 0-for-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox. Working with the since departed James Rowson on a teardown and rebuild of his swing while facing Major League pitching, Miguel performed admirably. Given the determination he’d shown throughout the offseason, it shouldn’t be a surprise he’d work tirelessly to get this right. Over his final 82 games he tallied a .944 OPS and 27 homers. From July on that OPS was at .955, and in September alone it was a whopping 1.067. Owning a top five barrel rate and one of the best hard-hit rates in all of baseball, it’s not a surprise to see the pill leave the yard when Miguel makes contact. He’ll obviously whiff plenty, but even a 36% strikeout rate couldn’t keep him down a year ago. The mix tells us everything we need to know. This is a three true outcomes guy that recorded an insane 36% HR/FB rate. Now what happens if he’s on the field more? Moving over to first base could present some challenges for Miguel, and he’ll definitely need to grow into the new position. If he can continue to separate his play on the field from that in the batter’s box, the rigors of the role should put less of a strain on him, however. Also, barring some unfortunate development, he’ll be entering the year with a clean bill of health. Extrapolating Sano’s numbers over the course of a full season surpasses the 50-home run plateau. It’s something that Killebrew never did and reaching 43 would put him beyond Nelson Cruz’s number last year (41) as well as Brian Dozier’s in 2016 (42). For a guy that was sent down to Single-A less than two years ago to now be capable of the heights Miguel is achieving is nothing short of extraordinary. He’s put in the work, he’s committed to be the best version of himself, and in 2020 it could culminate into some chart-topping tallies. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Calvin Faucher was the Twins 10th-round draft pick in 2010 out of UC-Irvine. He signed quickly and spent that summer in Elizabethton. He pitched mostly in Cedar Rapids in 2018. In 2019, Faucher moved up to Ft. Myers and went 3-2 with two saves and a 4.42 ERA. In 55 innings, he struck out 61 batters. Off the field, Faucher made an impression by being active in the Ft. Myers community. He kept himself busy throughout the season with a variety of activities. The Miracle have always hosted several camps for kids and Faucher was happy to volunteer. Recently he told Twins Daily, “Yeah, we hosted a few kids camps at Hammond Stadium that were always fun. Local kids coming out and enjoying a day of baseball. We also held a disability dream and do camp at the stadium as a team, which is always great, not only for the participants but also for the players. Being able to help kids that aren’t able to get out and play sports as often, to get them out and enjoying sports and letting loose and being active with a smile on their faces.” The miracle also are frequently seen at Ft. Myers area hospitals visiting sick children. “We also went to Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. Being able to do this was very special to me. My fellow teammates Joe Record, Bailey Ober, and I had the pleasure of being able to visit kids at the hospital. Being able to talk to the kids and hold conversations and just get their minds off of the illnesses that they have been battling, and putting smiles on their faces was awesome. Seeing how strong and positive these kids are while going through these battles really puts things into perspective of how there are bigger things than a game of baseball.” Faucher will soon turn 24 years old, and clearly he shows an advanced makeup and understanding of his role and responsibilities and the impact that he, as a professional athlete, can have on the youth. It’s also not lost on him the impact that Harmon Killebrew had on the communities he lived in and the impact he made. “I mean we all know Harmon Killebrew is a legend not only in the Minnesota Twins organization, but in baseball history as well. So, being associated with him and an award named after him, it’s an honor to be able to receive this award.” Previous Ft. Myers Miracle Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Reggie Williams 2012 - Andy Leer 2013 - Stephen Wickens 2014 - Tim Shibuya 2015 - Tanner Vavra 2016 - Trey Vavra 2017 - Kevin Garcia 2018 - Tyler Wells Other 2019 Killebrew Award Recipients Rochester Red Wings - Jake Reed Pensacola Blue Wahoos - Hector Lujan Fort Myers Miracle - Calvin Faucher Cedar Rapids Kernels - Brian Rapp Congratulations to Calvin Faucher on earning the 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Ft. Myers Miracle.
  16. Yesterday, we announced that Brian Rapp was the 2019 Killebrew Award recipient for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Today, we’ll discuss the 2019 Killebrew Award recipient of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, right-hander Hector Lujan. Hector Lujan was the Twins 35th round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College. This isn’t his first Killebrew Award. He was the 2017 choice for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He began the 2019 season in Ft. Myers but was moved up to Pensacola by mid-June. Combined, he posted a 2.76 ERA over 58 2/3 innings with 55 strikeouts. However, it is off the field where Lujan has also had a huge effect. Anna Striano is the Blue Wahoos Community Relations Manager, and she thought that Lujan was a terrific choice. She told Twins Daily recently, “Hector was our choice for the award because he truly lived out our mission - to improve the quality of life for those in our community.” She continued, ‘A regular visitor to our ‘autograph alley,’ Hector made time both before and after games to make sure that each child not only got the autograph that they were after, but also left with a smile on their face. As one of our players with the most community hours volunteered this season. Hector was consistently engaging with members of our community from all different walks of life. Whether it be visiting sick children in the hospital or catching a ceremonial first pitch, he was always the first to jump in when we needed volunteers, and always did so with a smile on his face.” The award does mean a lot to Lujan, and he appreciates the opportunities he has as a professional ballplayer. “It's an honor to receive an award named after Hall of Famer, Harmon Killebrew. It is also an honor to be a part of an organization that has such an impact on their community. The focus that Pensacola and the Twins have on the community was great! Lots of community interaction between the players and the fans. Hearing about the community leader that Harmon Killebrew was, I can only hope that throughout my baseball career and life, I can leave a mark on the community as he did. I want to be known as someone that gave all I had, both on and off the field and do whatever I can to help make a change in a good way in kids lives or even adults.” Striano mentioned a couple of the events that Lujan participated in. “Over the season, Hector visited Nemours Children’s Hospital on three separate occasions and stopped by the Studer Family Children’s Hospital as well. Hector was also a part of the ‘Hit a Homerun for Early Literacy’ program. During this event he read Clifford Makes the Team to an audience of about 50 children ranging in age from infancy to kindergarten. During each event Hector was always engaging and approachable – often going the extra mile to make these experiences truly memorable by creating personal interactions with each fan, patient, or person he encountered.” Lujan spoke of a couple of his favorite activities. “Two of my favorite things that I got to do were hospital visits and a boys and girls club baseball game.” Let’s start with his thoughts on visiting the local hospitals, bringing smiles to the kids and also listening to parents.. “Some of the activities that were great that I and some players were involved in were hospital visits to kids. Seeing the faces lit up on the kids when walking into the room really made our day. Talking to them and being able to hangout with them and have conversations with them was also fun being able to learn all sorts of things from them. The conversations with the parents and seeing how grateful they were when spending time with their kids was also great and it made us feel very grateful to see them happy by spending time with their kids and family.” Regarding the baseball games, Lujan noted, “The boys and girls club baseball game was a BLAST! Some police and fire department staff were there too which made it even more entertaining being able to play with them and have great conversations. ” Again, this is not new to Lujan. He not only has been doing work in the communities in which he has played as a pro baseball player but was involved in community in college and earlier. “It was a great time all around being able to participate in the community and represent the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the Twins.” Striano summarize Lujan’s impact quite well in saying “To me, Hector is the embodiment of ‘it’s bigger than baseball,’ and we are proud to recognize and thank him for the work he did in the Pensacola community.” -------------------------------------------------------------- Previous Twins Double-A Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Bobby Lanigan 2012 - Shawn Roof 2013 - Dan Rohlfing 2014 - Tony Thomas 2015 - Tim Shibuya 2016 - David Hurlbut 2017 - Travis Harrison 2018 - Chris Paul Other 2019 Killebrew Award Recipients Rochester Red Wings - Coming Soon Pensacola Blue Wahoos - Hector Lujan Fort Myers Miracle - Coming Soon Cedar Rapids Kernels - Brian Rapp Congratulations to Hector Lujan on earning the 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Blue Wahoos.
  17. The 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service recipient for the Cedar Rapids Kernels is right-handed relief pitcher Brian Rapp. Rapp was the Twins 26th-round pick in 2018 out of Boston College where he pitched for four seasons. He pitched in Elizabethton the remainder of 2018. He spent the entire 2019 season pitching mostly out of the bullpen for the Kernels. He went 5-1 in 33 games and 65 2/3 innings. So no… On the field there are not a lot of similarities between the slugging Killebrew and pitching Rapp, but off the field they both value serving the communities in which they live. Rapp said, “I really enjoyed my time being in the Cedar Rapids community. We were so blessed to have some amazing fans and people welcome us not only to their homes but the city in general.” Aron Brecht works for the Kernels. One of his responsibilities is working with organizations in the community and scheduling players to participate in a variety of events. He appreciated all that Rapp did throughout the season. Brecht said, “Brian was the choice for the Harmon Killebrew Award because of his involvement in almost all of the 41 player appearances the Cedar Rapids Kernels scheduled this year. It wasn’t only his presence that won the award for him, but his engagement with folks of all ages.” Rapp worked with young kids through some school programs but also throughout the summer. He noted, “I went to reading programs we had set up with local elementary schools to read and act out books. Also met with other kids throughout summer to speak and just hang out, there were events to feed veterans and lastly a program called “Catch with a Cop.” Brecht found Rapp’s work with the Catch with a Cop most notable. “His work with kids and law enforcement officers during the Kernels five ‘Catch with a Cop’ programs – which has local at-risk children team up with local law enforcement to establish a positive and engaging relationship during a game of catch. Sometimes, the kids could be a little wary about warming up to the officers, and Brian regularly acted as the liaison between them by starting not only conversations and games of catch, but whiffle ball games and home run derbies, too.” The players who are really good at these community service opportunities are the ones who really enjoy the opportunity to be a role model. Rapp noted, “We had such great times. I really enjoy teaching young kids and being able to talk with them and get to know what’s going on in their lives because I was that kid when I was younger. I always looked up to older kids, especially athletes. When it came to professionals, I looked up and always aspired to work hard to get there myself one day and a lot of their messages stuck with me and helped drive me forward always. So in turn I try to always do the same.” Paying it forward, if you will. It is what makes Rapp appreciative of his opportunities, and it is what made Rapp the clear choice as the Kernels 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service Recipient. Brecht concludes, “His fun personality was infectious and his attitude was incredible throughout the whole season and the Kernels thank him, and are proud to recognize him, for all of his work in the Cedar Rapids community.” ------------------------------------------------------ Previous Twins Low-A Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Ryan O’Rourke 2012 - Corey Williams 2013 - Niko Goodrum 2014 - Tanner Vavra 2015 - Jared Wilson 2016 - Nelson Molina 2017 - Hector Lujan 2018 - David Banuelos Other 2019 Killebrew Award Recipients Rochester Red Wings - Coming Soon Chattanooga Lookouts - Coming Soon Fort Myers Miracle - Coming Soon Cedar Rapids Kernels - Brian Rapp Congratulations to Brian Rapp on earning the 2019 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
  18. From 1936 through 1964, the Yankees failed to win the American League pennant just seven times, meaning they were in the World Series twenty-two times in twenty-nine years. But in 1964, there were indications that the end was near. Entering a series with the first place Twins immediately prior to the All-Star Game, the Yankees were in sixth place, 12.5 games back. In front of packed stadiums, the Twins won the first two games. However, the Yankees won the third game, and the fourth game was a tight affair, tied 4-4 going into the ninth. That last inning, it turned out, made the “Phil Cuzzi foul ball” call seem legitimate. In the top of the frame, the Yankees had runners on first and third base with two outs but failed to score when their batter hit a soft ground ball up the first base line. The Twins pitcher wasn’t able to field it cleanly, but that was because the Yankees batter interfered with him while running to first base. So the batter was out, and the runner from third that had crossed home plate didn’t count. Or did it? Yankees manager Johnny Keane came out and disputed the call, telling the umpire that he thought the Twins pitcher fielded the ball and tried to tag the Yankees batter, but then dropped it. If that’s the case, the runner would be safe and the run that crossed the plate on the play would count. Any Yankee detractor can see how this is going to end: the umpires reversed the call. Twins manager Sam Mele charged out of the dugout, but his team was told to retake the field even as he told the umpires the rest of the game would be played under protest. The Twins got the last out, but the damage had been done and the extremely agitated crowd knew it. Didn’t the Yankees get breaks like this all the time? However, the ’65 Twins had proved their resiliency throughout the year. Rich Rollins coaxed a walk, but it was sandwiched between two outs. Still, that gave Killebrew a chance to bat. He worked a full count before Yankees reliever Pete Mikkelsen challenged him with a fastball. In his book about the 1965 Twins, Cool Of The Evening, author Jim Thielman describes what happened next: “The ball jetted towards the stands, almost as if Killebrew had lit a short fuse on a Fourth of July pop bottle rocket. It was not the typical “Killebrew Fly” that featured a majestic parabolic arch. The ball was still rising when it crashed into the left-field pavilion. Silence. Had this happened? Had Killbrew hit a two-out, two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch to beat the Yankees heading into the All-Star Break? Was this team going to the World Series? The crowd erupted, screaming, applauding and stamping its feet on the stands, as had become the custom when the Met Stadium regulars wanted to display their appreciation enthusiastically. The cantilevered triple deck behind home plate shook from the thunderous pounding.” That home run was recognized as the biggest home run in Twins history until Kirby Puckett’s walkoff shot in 1991’s Game 6. The Twins did go on to the World Series that year, though they lost to the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax in seven games. The Yankees not only did not with the pennant, but they finished with a losing record for the first time since 1925 – the same year the Washington Senators (the Twins predecessors) won their only World Series. And the Yankees would not make the playoffs again for the next eleven years.
  19. I’ve had some frustrating conversations with friends and colleagues over the last few weeks as it became ever more apparent that Mauer’s career was coming to an end. In fact, Sports Illustrated looked into the reasons some Twins fans dislike Mauer. Let’s dispel some of those myths. The Money Myth Baseball’s pay structure is set-up so young players are relatively cheap for owners. At the beginning of a player’s career, they are forced to build up service time and go through the arbitration process. Typically, players enter the prime of their careers near the time they are entering free agency. This forces teams to overpay for a player’s prime and be saddled with a declining player at the end of the contract. Joe Mauer was overpaid at the end of his career, but he was vastly underpaid at the beginning of his career. From 2004-2009, the Twins paid Mauer $21,525,000. According to FanGraphs valuation system, he was worth $151,700,000 during those same seasons. Minnesota signed him to an 8-year, $184 million contract following the 2009 season. Over those eight seasons, Mauer was worth $126,000,000 in total value. For his career, the Twins paid him $218,025,000 and he repaid the organization with $307,700,000 in value. The Anti-Clutch Myth Mauer will forever be associated with Twins teams that struggled in postseason play. Teams he was on seemed to always run into the Damn Yankees before failing to advance. He famously had a double negated at Yankee Stadium in what became a turning point in the series. However, there are only certain things Mauer can control when it comes to pressure situations. This season Mauer led all of baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position. He hit .407 in those situations. That’s not a typo and it wasn’t a one season anomaly. Mauer's career .334 batting average with RISP is second among all active hitters with at least 750 plate appearances, behind only Joey Votto at .336. Mauer was great with players in scoring position and that might be one of the most clutch things a player can do. The No Power Myth Mauer was never going to live up to his 28-home run outpouring from his MVP season in 2009. That season was a season for the ages where Mauer cemented his place as one of the all-time best hitting catchers. Even though the home runs might not have continued at a record pace, there was still power on Mauer’s resume. Minnesota’s team history stretches back to the early 1960’s. There have been multiple Hall of Fame players (Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett) who spent large chunks of their careers with the Twins. None of them have hit more doubles than Mauer. Among all-time catchers, he has the third highest OPS. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1046544680865779712 The power was there but it just didn’t always come in the form of home runs. I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated Mauer during his playing career. I understood how good he was but it’s easy to see how he could have been misunderstood after looking back on his career. Casual fans don’t understand the type of value and production he was able to produce over his 15-year career. He was the hero Minnesota didn’t deserve.
  20. Following the conclusion of the Twins minor league season, Twins Daily announced our choice for the 2018 Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Right-hander Tyler Wells split the season, making 16 starts for Ft. Myers and six games in Chattanooga. Combined, he went 10-6 with a 2.49 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. He struck out 121 batters in 119 1/3 innings. It was a terrific season on the field for Wells. Wells was terrific in the community throughout the season as well and earned the Miracle choice for the Harmon Killebrew Award. The Miracle do a lot throughout their season in the community, and Wells stayed busy with it throughout his time in southwest Florida. Wells shared a list of some of the activities that he participated in. “During my time in Fort Myers, I participated in multiple camps, a special needs camp, a hospital visit to see kids with cancer, and helped promote and participated in a fundraiser with the VS. Cancer Foundation. I also participated in a kids camp up in Chattanooga.” The VS. Cancer event and fundraiser was something that meant a lot personally to Wells. https://twitter.com/TylerW13/status/1014211682732838914 Wells and some teammates raised money to fight cancer, and following a game at Hammond Stadium on a Friday night in late July, they got pied. https://twitter.com/TylerW13/status/1020757714052567041 Wells made several trips to Ft. Myers area hospitals with teammates throughout the season, and even in the offseason when he was there for various camps. Being community-minded is something that is very important to Tyler Wells, and having his name associated with an award named for the great Harmon Killebrew. “It’s a huge honor for me, as it would be for anyone to associated with the Minnesota Twins legend. Baseball is only part of the job for us, and Harmon Killebrew was the best example you could have for being so much more than a baseball player. And I’m hoping, as I continue my career, that I can set an example like Killebrew did! ” Previous Ft. Myers Miracle Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Reggie Williams 2012 - Andy Leer 2013 - Stephen Wickens 2014 - Tim Shibuya 2015 - Tanner Vavra 2016 - Trey Vavra 2017 - Kevin Garcia 2018 - Tyler Wells Other 2018 Killebrew Award Recipients Rochester Red Wings - Jake Reed Chattanooga Lookouts - Chris Paul Fort Myers Miracle - Tyler Wells Cedar Rapids Kernels - David Banuelos Congratulations to Tyler Wells on earning the 2018 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Fort Myers Miracle.
  21. Chris Paul came to the Twins as their sixth round draft pick in 2015 out of Cal-Berkeley. After signing, he went to Elizabethton but quickly moved up to Cedar Rapids. That’s where he began the 2016 season but just a couple of weeks into the season, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. In 2017, he hit .328/.380/.471 (.851) in 61 games in Ft. Myers. Unfortunately he broke his hamate bone. He made up for some of the lost time by representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League last year. Paul has done a nice job representing the Twins on the field, but also off of the field, and that’s why he’s been selected the Chattanooga Lookouts’ recipient of the Harmon Killebrew Award. Dan Kopf is the Lookouts Media Relations Manager. Asked about Chris Paul, he said, “Chris was our choice. He was also willing to get into the community. This year, Chris helped underprivileged youth go back-to-school shopping at Academy Sports. Chris was also always one of the first players to volunteer for player appearances or interviews.” Helping in the community, and especially working with kids, was something that Chris Paul really enjoyed. He pointed out, “I helped with some teammates to play games and hold camps for unprivileged kids, usually through the boys and girls club or YMCA. Also, I have helped these kids go back to school shopping and find things they needed to help them succeed in life and in school! It was very rewarding and humbling experience. You learn just as much from these kids as they do from you, and it reminds me to be grateful for everything and all the opportunities I have been given.“ It’s obviously a great perspective. Paul understands and appreciates what this award means and the legacy that has been left behind by Killebrew. “It’s an incredible honor to be given the Harmon Killebrew Award. Both on and off the field, Mr. Killebrew was held in very high regards by all; so obviously, I’m gratefully accepting this award hoping to live up to such a high standard set by such an outstanding individual and baseball player.“ Previous Twins Double-A Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Bobby Lanigan 2012 - Shawn Roof 2013 - Dan Rohlfing 2014 - Tony Thomas 2015 - Tim Shibuya 2016 - David Hurlbut 2017 - Travis Harrison 2018 - Chris Paul 2018 Killebrew Award Recipients Rochester Red Wings - Jake Reed Chattanooga Lookouts - Chris Paul Fort Myers Miracle - Cedar Rapids Kernels - Congratulations to Chris Paul on earning the 2018 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
  22. Did you have a chance to watch any of the highlights from Detroit this past weekend? Victor Martinez announced several weeks ago that 2018 would be his final season as an MLB player. Over the weekend, the Tigers played their final games at Comerica Park. The Tigers and Martinez announced earlier in the week that Martinez would be playing on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, Martinez beat out an infield single and was removed from the game for a pinch runner. Emotion ensued. https://twitter.com/tigers/status/1043632129660268544 Staring at my computer monitor through water-logged eyes, my first thought turned to the Twins and Joe Mauer. My response to that video on Twitter was: “Why I want Joe Mauer to let people know if he is going to retire... Why Joe Mauer probably won't let us know when he's going to retire...” Earlier in the month, Mauer told the Star-Tribune that he will think about his future after the season is complete. In other words, we most likely won’t know until after Sunday’s season finale whether or not Joe Mauer will play again in 2019. If this is indeed the final week of Joe Mauer’s playing career, Minnesota Twins fans should come out in droves to watch this generation’s best Twins player. If you can’t get to Target Field, hopefully you will be able to watch on TV, or listen on the radio. With his next hit or walk or the next time he is hit by a pitch, Joe Mauer will pass Harmon Killebrew for most Times on Base in Minnesota Twins history. Harmon Killebrew - 3,072 Joe Mauer - 3,072 Kirby Puckett - 2,810 Rod Carew - 2,718 Kent Hrbek - 2,613 Here is where Mauer ranks on the all-time Twins list in a variety of categories: Games Played (1,851) - 2nd (Killebrew) Plate Appearances (7,927) - 2nd (Killebrew) Runs (1,009) - 3rd (Killebrew, Puckett) Hits (2,112) - 2nd (Puckett) Doubles (426) - 1st Home Runs (143) - 11th RBI (921) - 5th Walks (935) - 2nd (Killebrew) And among Twins with 2,000 or more plate appearances, he ranks: Batting Average (.306) - 4th (Carew, Puckett, Mack) On-Base Percentage (.388) - 3rd (Carew, Knoblauch) From the time he was drafted by the Twins with the #1 overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Cretin-Derham Hall, Joe Mauer was destined for greatness. Among the #1 overall picks, Joe Mauer has been one of the best in the draft’s 54-year history. According to Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement, Mauer ranks behind only some recent Hall of Famers and another who may get there someday: 117.8 - Alex Rodriguez 85.2 - Chipper Jones 83.8 - Ken Griffey, Jr. 54.9 - Joe Mauer 42.2 - Daryl Strawberry 42.1 - Adrian Gonzalez What else? Six All Star game appearances Three Gold Gloves Five Silver Sluggers 2009 MVP Four Top 10 finishes in MVP voting Three batting titles (you may have heard that is rare for a catcher) Two on-base percentage championships While the career of Joe Mauer hasn’t been perfect, it’s been pretty great. Consider that he was hitting .324/.404/.476 (.880) with 35 doubles and 11 homers in 113 games when his career trajectory was altered by his concussion. As great as his career has been, one can’t help but wonder how great it might have been? Instead of being a Top 5 player in Twins history, he might be right at the top of the list. And hey, if we’re going to go there, how might Mauer’s legacy have been altered had Phil Cuzzi accurately called a line drive down the left field line in Yankees Stadium an RBI double, rather than a foul ball. Of course, beyond the baseball field, Mauer has been recognized for his philanthropy as well. His work with the Gillette Children’s Hospital has been incredible. He’s helped raise over $1 million for the hospital, but he and his wife Maddie are often found at the hospital visiting kids. And, I’m guessing I am not the only one reading this who has heard stories of Joe Mauer doing things without any publicity to help individuals or kids. Mauer was the Twins nominee for the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award. There is no question that Joe Mauer will be a Twins Hall of Famer and no Twins player will ever wear the number Seven again. Who knows? Mauer may come back for the 2019 season, and it’s possible he will chose to play beyond that. But just in case this is the end of the baseball road for Joe Mauer, hopefully Twins fans will take a step back and enjoy this final week of Twins baseball and maybe the final week of the Joe Mauer era. Selfishly, I want to see Joe Mauer continue to play. I love watching him take at bats and move up the Twins all-time lists. I enjoy watching him at first base and his calm in clutch situations. I like watching all-time greats play. The other side of me says that it's always better to leave a year too early rather than a year too late. But, if he enjoys the game and whatever role he's playing, I hope he gets to go out on his own terms. Hopefully this will be a week full of high fives and hand shakes, curtain calls and standing ovations.
  23. The 2018 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service recipient for the Rochester Red Wings is right-handed relief pitcher Jake Reed. On the field, it was a real solid season for the hard-throwing right-hander. His overall numbers were terrific. He posted a 1.89 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP. In 47 2/3 innings, he walked 21, but he struck out 50 batters. He missed some time early in the season, but since June 1, he was tremendous. Over the season’s final three months, his ERA was just 1.43 and opponents hit just .167 off of him. It is difficult to understand why he did not receive a September call up based on his statistical line, especially late in the season. As impressive as he was on the mound for the Red Wings, he made a strong impression in the Rochester community as well. Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason nominated Reed saying, “Jake has been a phenomenal representative for the Red Wings and the Twins in our community this season volunteering at a variety of both corporate partner events as well as community events.” The list of activities that Reed helped with in the community was quite lengthy. Mason continued, “Some of the community events he participated in include: delivering meals with Meals on Wheels. Speaking engagement for Rochester Regional Hospital, Foodlink Summer kickoff, USSSA clinic, School of the Holy Childhood ( for mentally challenged kids) clinic, Challenger Baseball World Series here at Frontier Field, Red Wings Baseball camp, and another Challenger baseball camp. ” Reed truly appreciated the opportunities he had to work in and for the community thanks to the Red Wings. He said, “The Red Wings have been one of the best organizations I have ever seen as far as the opportunities they give us players to get out into the community and serve. We have done everything from visiting hospitals and running baseball camps, to delivering meals to less fortunate families and working alongside the Challenger baseball league in Rochester, which has been my favorite.” But, according to Mason, Reed went above and beyond the team-sponsored activities. “On his own time, without anyone in our office asking him, Jake visited a Challenger baseball field on his own on a Saturday morning in June. He also can often be seen before games chatting with fans and signing autographs, doing his best to provide lifelong memories for our fans. He truly understands his responsibilities as a professional baseball player on and off the field.” Reed deserved a September call up because of his work on the field for the Red Wings in 2018. However, he fully understands his role in society and the opportunities and the platform he’s been given and chooses to use it for good. He noted recently that he really appreciates receiving the honor and having his name associated with someone like Harmon Killebrew. He said, “This award actually means a lot. I will be honest. Not getting the call at the end of the season was disappointing. But getting this reward definitely reminded me of why God actually has me playing this game. It’s not about baseball. It really isn’t. It’s about loving and serving the people that you come into contact with, and the great thing about baseball is it gives us players plenty of opportunity to do so. I think men like Harmon Killebrew have set the example for us as far as what it looks like to be more than a baseball player.” Reed joined Episode 7 of Seth’s Twins On Deck Podcast last offseason to talk about the work he’s done on the field, but also to discuss his faith as it is a very important an instrumental part of his life. Previous Red Wings Killebrew Award winners: 2011 - Kyle Gibson 2012 - JR Towles 2013 - Brian Dinkelman 2014 - Logan Darnell 2015 - Logan Darnell 2016 - Logan Darnell 2017 - DJ Baxendale 2018 - Jake Reed Congratulations to Jake Reed on earning the Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Rochester Red Wings. Over the coming days, we will share the stories of the Killebrew Award winners for the Chattanooga Lookouts, Ft. Myers Miracle and Cedar Rapids Kernels (in which there is an interesting tie to Killebrew himself).
  24. John Bonnes Joe Mauer will decide he wants to play, because he loves to compete. The Twins will decide they want him back, because there are not going to be a lot of top flight first-base-type sluggers available on the free agent market. Plus, the Twins weren't adept at getting on base this year (.314 OBP, 9th in the AL), so Mauer remains a good fit. However, I anticipate some drama, at least privately and probably publicly, around the two sides coming to an agreement. This will be the fourth significant negotiation between Mauer and the Twins: there was the draft negotiation, the long-term deal that bought out his initial free agent year, and the $23M-per-year long-term deal. In all three of those, Mauer never advertised that he was willing to take any kind of hometown discount and pushed the team to its limit. (It's almost, again, like he loves to compete.) So I expect him to ask for more guaranteed years and more guaranteed money than the Twins will expect, and I wouldn't be surprised if we hear rumors of him being courted by other teams, or that an agreement isn't reached until later in the offseason. But ultimately, I think a one-year deal or a team-friendly two-year deal will get done. That might be my heart overruling my head. Or maybe my head is assuming that hearts will hold sway over heads on both sides of the negotiation. Either way, I hope this goes the way of "heart." Seth Stohs Short answer: He'll do whatever he wants. Longer answer: If he wants to play, he'll be signed by the Twins for a 1-2 year deal. He could retire if he no longer enjoys it, but clearly, he's been healthy again the last couple of years and he still contributes to the Twins in multiple ways. Tom Froemming The deeper we get into the season without an announcement, the more I feel like Joe is going to play in 2019. The Mauers are going to be welcoming the third child into their family sometime around Thanksgiving, and I'm sure that's going to play a huge role in what Joe decides about his future. I believe him when he says he hasn't really thought about it or come to a conclusion yet, but I think there will be strong interest, from the Twins, in a reunion. It's impossible to know what's really going through his head, but I think if the Twins make any kind of honest effort to bring him back, as I expect they will, he'll be back. Ted Schwerzler I genuinely think that Joe returns to the Twins in 2019. I initially believed there was room for a 2- or 3-year deal, but think he'll sign a one-year pact this winter. If everything goes well, I could see him returning in 2020 as well. At the end of the day, he's an ideal leadoff hitter, and remains among the best defensive first basemen in all of baseball. The Twins should be doing what they can to push him into returning, and it'd be a good thing for them if he obliges. Cody Christie I’m not sure what to think after some of the decisions made by the front office this week. Falvey and Levine might decide they want to keep him around or they could decide to go in another direction. Mauer could find himself waffling through multiple emotions as well. Joe Mauer has the potential to be in the conversation of best Twins player of all-time. According to FanGraphs WAR, only Harmon Killebrew (59.3 fWAR) and Rod Carew (56.9 fWAR) have amassed more career value in a Twins uniform. Mauer might never catch those two or live up to the legend of Kirby Puckett but he’s still a once in a generation talent. I think Mauer’s competitive side wins out and we will see him back with the Twins next season. Like any player, I believe he wants to make the Hall of Fame and he will need to continue to put up numbers for multiple more seasons to pad his resume. That being said, I think he only plays for another season or two. SD Buhr I’ll make this short. I think Joe Mauer retires. I think the current front office will decide they want to move on from having Mauer as their primary first baseman, they will communicate that to him, and he will choose to retire rather than accept a reserve role. Is it what I would do? No. If I were Mauer, I’d have my agent shop me around for a regular spot with a potential contender, so I could get my ring. But, from all accounts, that’s not what Mauer is likely to do. But with a growing family, financial security and being at risk of further head injuries, I suspect that he will hang up the spikes, rather than accept a role where he’s watching as much as (or more than) playing. If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links: Grading the Front Office Grading Molitor Closing Time Prospect Promotions Hall of Fame Impact
  25. John Bonnes I've followed the Twins since 1972, and in my mind, there is no doubt that Kirby Puckett has had the biggest impact. It wasn't just the World Series championships or the postseason heroics. Indeed that was just a small fraction of what he brought, as was his performance on the field. His personality, specifically his childlike enthusiasm and joy, separated him from any other athlete I've witnessed. He was also fortunate enough to have his career fall into the perfect media landscape: media was ubiquitous, but not chaotic and social. I wasn't able to witness first-hand the greatness on and off the field that Harmon Killebrew embodied, but I have trouble imagining that any player from the 60s could impact an organization and community the way Puckett did in the 80s and 90s. Nick Nelson For me personally, it’d have to be Kirby Puckett. He was easily the team’s biggest star while I was growing up, and had a major impact on my fledgling affinity for Twins baseball at the time. However, given that Kirby’s playing career was relatively brief (by HoF standards) and his greatness somewhat overstated (*ducks*) I’ve gotta go with Harmon Killebrew. I didn’t have the privilege of watching him play, but the numbers speak for themselves: to still own essentially all the franchise’s power-hitting records 30-plus years after retiring is nothing short of incredible. Plus, Killebrew stuck around as a fantastic ambassador for the organization many years after his playing career ended, whereas Kirby faded from the spotlight unceremoniously. Puckett’s legacy is ultimately a complicated and checkered one, but Killer’s is rock-solid through and through. He arrived along with the team from Washington in 1961, on the front end of a legendary run, and will forever be emblazoned in my mind as the eternal face of the franchise. Cody Christie When looking at the organization, Tony Oliva, a player not in the Hall of Fame, might have had the greatest impact on the organization. He’s been a great ambassador for the game and an asset for the organization. However, other players elected to Cooperstown like Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Bert Blyleven have impacted the organization in different ways. Puckett brought multiple titles to the Twin Cities. Killebrew was the heart and soul of the organization’s first pennant winning team. Carew and his Heart of 29 campaign have brought him back into the fold in Minnesota. Even Blyleven and his terrible announcing have left an impact on the organization. If I am picking one player, it has to be Killebrew. His on and off the field impacts have touched every generation of Twins fans. Puckett was my idol growing up but his post career life was filled with various demons. Killebrew wasn’t perfect but his reach goes far beyond Twins Territory. Steve Lein Just to point this out while I go into my why: this is a tough question for me (for reasons discussed below and others I won’t). I grew up as a little kid loving baseball and my home/favorite team won two world series before I was ten years old. My views may be a little skewed because of that and the vivid memories I still have (one of those World Series was the first time I can remember my parents letting me stay up late). Since I’ve grown up and sought to learn much more about the franchise’s history, I know the name Harmon Killebrew should top a lot of our writer’s lists. I don’t know if you could find a Hall of Famer anywhere that without a doubt could be called a better human being. Because of that, while I was in a vintage store this past weekend I was very tempted to drop far too much money on an okay-condition Killebrew baseball card from 1958, while still in a Senators jersey. But as far as impact on the organization for me, the answer to this question will likely always be Kirby Puckett. He’s unquestionably the reason why you came to the Metrodome during his star-studded career, his joy playing the game was apparent every day with his smile, and his charisma was known throughout the major leagues. He also led his teams to those two World Series Championships, so he’s my pick. SD Buhr Given my advanced age, it’s not surprising that I’m going to go with Harmon Killebrew. Many fans may not have an appreciation for just how sorry the Washington Senators franchise was at the time Calvin Griffith moved the team to Minnesota. Washington won the AL pennant in 1933. From that point until the franchise landed in Minnesota, the Senators had three seasons in which they finished in the top half of the A.L. standings (two were during the talent-challenged World War II era). They finished dead last in the standings in four of their final six seasons in Washington. That is the legacy that Calvin Griffith brought to Minnesota. Fortunately, he also brought Harmon Killebrew to Minnesota. With Killebrew as the face of the franchise, the Twins quickly became one of most successful teams of the 1960s.They finished 6th in their debut season of 1961, but finished 2nd in 1962, 3rd in 1963 and won the franchise’s first A.L. pennant in 32 years in 1965. They were runners-up in 1966 and 1967 and then won the first two Western Division pennants of the Divisional era in 1969 and 1970. Under Griffith’s frugal ownership, the Twins became an also-ran during the following decade and a half, until Griffith sold the team to Carl Pohlad. Killebrew was the virtual embodiment of “Minnesota Nice” off the field, while being a cold blooded “killer” when he stepped into the batter’s box. If the Twins had continued their Senators legacy of being the league doormats, it’s not hard to imagine that Griffith would have been forced to sell his team much sooner than he did and who knows whether there would have been much local interest in even trying to keep the team in Minnesota. Thanks to Killebrew and his friends, the Twins were still around when Kirby and his buddies won their Championships. Andrew Thares Now batting, number 34, Kirbyyyyyyyyyyyyy Puckett! In the history of the Minnesota Twins, there isn’t a single player who has had a greater impact on the organization than Kirby Puckett. It would be easy to talk about him being the best player on both World Series winning teams, or reminisce on his brilliant preforming in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, but really it was how Kirby played the game that left the lasting impact on the organization. As a Twins fan who isn’t old enough to remember Kirby Puckett before he retired, I think it speaks volumes to the fact that he is still my favorite baseball player of all time. Ted Schwerzler While Harmon was a man that has been gone from baseball for quite some time now, I think it's safe to say his impact has been felt over multiple generations. He was consistently a figurehead for the Twins organization even after his playing days, and his instruction towards young players is still disseminated today. He instilled a way in which to go about doing things that has been bought into by players like Torii Hunter, and consistently passed down as those guys give back to the organization today. If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links: Baseball in 2028 Floundered Second Half Star Sell, Sell, Sell? Fixing the Offense
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