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  1. If you look at any ranking of the best Minnesota Twins players of all time, you’re going to find Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett firmly locked into the top five of that list. Both Carew and Puckett were legends whose names will be remembered forever. Today, we will dive into their careers and determine, once and for all, who had the better career. The Case for Rod The case for Rod Carew having a better overall career than Kirby Puckett starts with his numbers at the plate. Over the course of his career, Carew posted a higher batting average (.328 vs .318) and on-base percentage (.393 vs. .360) than Puckett. Carew’s career batting average ranks 30th all-time, and his seven career batting titles are tied for the fourth most in MLB history. Carew amassed over 3,000 hits in his MLB career, ranking 26th in MLB history. Even when accounting for era, Carew was still the better batter as evidenced by his career OPS+ of 131 compared to Puckett’s 124. On the bases, Carew also has the edge. Over his 19 year career, Carew amassed 353 stolen bases, nearly triple the number of career steals as Puckett. Another area where Carew bests Puckett is his longevity. While Puckett’s career was cut short (through no fault of his own), Carew was able to play at an extremely high level for 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. Additionally, Carew reached a higher individual peak than Puckett ever did, marked by the MVP award that he won in 1977 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. In this season, Carew led all of baseball with a .388 batting average, .449 on-base percentage, and 1.029 OPS. Carew led the majors that season in hits (239), runs (128), and triples (178). Carew was the standard of consistency during his Major League Baseball career. Carew was an all-star in 18 consecutive seasons, eclipsed a .300 batting average in 15 consecutive seasons, won four consecutive batting titles, and played in at least 140 games in eight consecutive seasons. Carew played for two different franchises, earning all-star appearances and MVP votes with each team. The Case for Kirby While Rod Carew bests Kirby Puckett at the plate, Kirby more than held his own on offense. Puckett led the Majors in batting average in 1989 and led baseball in hits on four different occasions and total bases on two occasions. Puckett didn’t break any home run records, but consistently put the ball in play and drove in runs, leading the Majors in RBI in his penultimate season in 1994. A huge mark in Kirby’s favor over Carew comes in the field where Puckett was a wizard with his glove at one of the most important defensive positions in baseball, centerfield. Over his 10-year career, Puckett earned the Gold Glove award for best center fielder in baseball six times, including four consecutive from 1986-1989. While Carew wasn’t a butcher in the field, he certainly wasn’t dominant and played a position in second base that just doesn’t bring the importance of center field. Where Kirby absolutely set himself apart from Rod Carew came in his performance in the absolute biggest of moments. Starting off with just clutch performance, Kirby was about as clutch as they come. In high leverage situations over the course of his career, Puckett posted a career OPS of .863 in 1,400 plate appearances compared to Carew’s .823 OPS in 2,095 plate appearances. Moving into the postseason numbers, the difference between the two becomes even more stark. Puckett played in four postseason series in his career, winning all four series en route to two World Series titles. In those four playoff series, Puckett amassed a .897 OPS, highlighted by a ridiculous .913 OPS across his world series appearances in 1987 and 1991. Compare that to Carew who was 0-4 in the four playoff series of his career where he hit just .220 with four extra-base hits. The moment that all Twins fans will remember from Kirby Puckett, and the absolute highlight of a Hall of Fame career was his performance in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series that single-handedly kept the Twins’ playoff hopes alive and sent them to Game 7 where they would eventually win their second title. In this game, Puckett hit a triple in the first inning, robbed Ron Gant of extra-bases in front of the Plexiglass wall in the third inning, and then won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning when he launched a game-winning, walk-off home run in front of the Twins’ faithful. The Verdict Kirby Puckett revitalized an entire generation of Minnesota Twins fans through his "clutchness" and late-game heroics. Puckett’s joy for the game was contagious and his leadership mindset and impact in the community made him a fan favorite for many. Rod Carew, however, had a better career than Kirby. As previously mentioned, Rod Carew beats out Kirby Puckett in just about every offensive category. Carew similarly has the edge over Puckett in terms of value-added. Over his 19-year career, Carew contributed 72.3 fWAR, 3.81 per season compared to Puckett providing 44.9 fWAR over his 12-year career, 3.74 per season. Carew accumulated more individual hardware with his all-star games, MVP awards, and batting titles. Whether fair or not, Puckett is hurt by his career being cut short. Only playing in 12 seasons, Puckett just didn’t have the runway to collect the number of accolades that Carew did. It’s entirely possible that if Puckett didn’t contract glaucoma, he would have gone on to have a 20-year career and rack up MVP awards and all-star game appearances, but with only 12 years, he just didn’t do enough to beat out Carew for the better career. Who do you think had the better overall career between Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, leave a comment below and join the conversation!
  2. Rough Upbringing In October 1945, Rodney Cline Carew was born on a bus in Panama. The doctor who delivered him on the bus was named Rodney Cline, so Carew’s parents decided to name their baby after him. Growing up, Carew’s father had an alcohol problem and was verbally and physically abusive towards Rod and his brother Dickie. Rod did not have a good relationship with his father and leaned on his mother for support and guidance. When he was 17, he immigrated to New York City with his brother and mother. He began playing in a sandlot league there and was seen by Twins scout Monroe Katz. He passed on a good word to the New York area scout for the Twins, Herb Stein, and the Twins signed Carew in 1964 after he finished high school. A Legend Begins In Rod’s first full year in the minors, he batted .303 and stole 52 bases while playing a stellar second base. The next year, he hit .294 with 48 stolen bases. It was clear Carew was ready for the big leagues at the young age of 20. Rod made his major league debut in 1967 and impressed from the first game, going 2-for-4. That season, he hit .292/.341/.409 (.750) and was named as the starting second baseman for the AL in the all-star game, the first all-star selection of eighteen in his career. He won the rookie of the year in the American League. From 1968 to 1972 Rod was an all-star every year and was a good player, leading the AL in batting average twice. But Rod Carew wasn’t really Rod Carew until 1973. Prime Years From 1973 to 1978 Rod Carew was one of the best players in baseball. He led the AL in batting average five times, was named an all-star all six years, led the league in hits three times, and finished top 11 in MVP voting all six years including first place in 1977. Below are some of his stats over this time span and the ranks: Stat Value Rank WAR 39.3 3rd wRC+ 152 3rd OBP 0.42 1st AVG 0.354 1st Runs 583 3rd SB 213 9th 3B 58 1st OPS 0.902 5th WPA 22.2 2nd In addition to being the best player in the American League, he was also named the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award in 1977, which is given to the player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Carew was the best to do it on and off the field in 1977, and winning the Clemente Award means more than any award he could win playing baseball. MVP Year Carew’s 1977 season was the best individual season in Twins history. In 1977, Carew led MLB in batting average (.388), OBP (.449), OPS (1.019), wRC+ (175), and hits (239). He accumulated 8.6 WAR and held an average above .400 from June 26 to July 10. Carew’s .388 average is the third closest anyone has come to hitting .400 since Ted Williams did it in 1941. His 239 hits are the fifth most of any single-season in the Expansion Era (1961-present). Life After Twins In 1978, Carew got word that owner Calvin Griffith said that he moved the franchise from Washington to Minnesota because "Minnesota only had 15,000 blacks." As a black player, this made a huge impact on Carew. “I will not come back and play for a bigot", said Carew. “I’m not going to be another (racial slur) on his plantation.” Carew stuck true to his word, as he was traded to the Angels in February of 1979 for Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens, and Ken Landreaux. Carew played for the Angels for seven years and was named an all-star six times. His production dipped a little bit relative to his Twins day, only being worth 2.5 WAR per year. He still hit .314 with the Angels but he won no batting titles. His wRC+ was 120, which is still 20 percent above league average but nowhere near his ridiculous 138 wRC+ he posted with the Twins. His OPS was .784 with the Angels compared to .841 with Minnesota. Carew finished his career in the elusive 3,000 hit club. When he reached 3,000, he was only the 16th player in history to do so. Carew was still a good player for the Angels but it was clear as he was getting older that his production was declining, and after the 1985 season he retired. Conclusion In 1991, Carew was named to the Hall of Fame, receiving 90.5% of the vote. Carew is one of the greatest hitters in Twins history, and here is where he finished in various categories in Twins history: Stat Value Rank WAR 56.9 2nd wRC+ 138 3rd OBP 0.393 1st AVG 0.334 1st SB 271 2nd 3B 90 1st OPS 0.841 6th Hits 2085 3rd Runs 950 4th Carew ranks in the top 5 of most hitting categories in Twins history, finishing first in average and on base percentage. Had he played a few more years with the Twins, he would’ve led in WAR, stolen bases, hits, and runs. Rod Carew is one of the top two players in Twins history, and he can easily be debated as the best. He was also a phenomenal person and a great representative of the Twins for the last 50+ years. What do you think about Carew being ranked second? Would you have ranked him higher? Lower? Who do you think will be #1? Let us know in the comments below! Stay tuned for the final day of Twinsmas! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! 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 - Rod Carew #1 - Coming Soon!
  3. Never a top prospect or one worthy of national attention, Arraez has long gone about his business quietly. He put up a .331 average across more than 300 minor league games, and the Venezuelan has continued to replicate that success at the Major League level. He’s a second baseman by trade, but not in the same vein that Minnesota has seen in recent seasons. He’s not a great defender, but it matters a whole lot less when the stick keeps him producing. Ever since Jorge Polanco moved off of shortstop for the Twins and Josh Donaldson took over at the hot corner, Rocco Baldelli has needed to get creative in deploying his best batting average hitter. Arraez has adapted to playing a utility role, which has included time in the outfield and given some additional rest for a balky knee issue. Playing multiple positions has allowed for offensive flexibility, and really, that’s why he’s here in the first place. To date Luis Arraez owns a .326/.388/.421 career slash line. The power production will likely never trend towards a .500 slugging mark, but it’s that average that has Twins fans dreaming of two All-Time greats. Rod Carew is a legend among these parts, and the late Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters ever to play the game. Between the two of them, both Hall of Famers, there’s a total of 15 batting titles. Minnesota hasn’t had a player accomplish that feat since future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer did so in 2009. Dreaming on Arraez with a career trajectory like that of Carew or Gwynn is probably far-fetched, but expecting similar offensive accomplishments is far from hyperbole. Right now, Arraez is just 24-years-old. Carew debuted at 21, while Gwynn showed up at 22. In his first three big-league seasons, the former owned a .299 average, while the latter put up a .329 mark. Both captured their first batting crown in year three. Right now, Arraez doesn’t have the plate appearances to qualify for the award, but he trails only the Astros Michael Brantley (.325) in the American League. Neither Carew nor Gwynn would win their second award for another three seasons but then did pull off a run of multiple years in a row. Hoping that Arraez takes crowns year over year before grabbing his first is putting the cart before the horse, but it’s clear the recipe is there. Carew had virtually the same strikeout to walk tallies, while Gwynn loaded up on free passes and went back to the dugout just over half as often. Minnesota’s two-bagger owns the same on-base percentage as the Padres legend, and the parallels run deep between this threesome. If we can separate career expectations from production viewed at the moment in time, it’s fun to see just how closely this trio is related. There’s a lot of career left for Luis Arraez, and as long as the knee issues subside or stay at bay, there’s plenty of reason to believe that one thing he’ll always do is hit for average. Maybe Minnesota wasn’t banking on him working out like this, but he’s made his mark and established it as truth. This is the type of guy you describe as rolling out of bed and being ready to hit. He’ll continue to put up the numbers in a Twins uniform, and one can only hope that there’s a shoulder full of batting titles at rest when it’s all said and done. Make no mistake about it, comparing Arraez to the best average hitters of All-Time is fairer than you may think. He’s got the goods, and they keep on coming. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Author Thom Henninger, editor of Baseball Digest magazine, has penned previous books about the Twins in this era. Back in 2015, he wrote the book Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend. Now, Henninger has gone back to the 1960s to look even closer at those turbulent times and Minnesota’s first truly great baseball seasons in The Pride of Minnesota: The Twins in the Turbulent 1960’s. Many current fans will recognize a familiar theme facing the Twins in the mid-1960s, “How do you dethrone the mighty Yankees?” New York was the dominant team of the era with names like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. In fact, the Yankees had won the American League 18 times in the 24 seasons from 1941-1964. However, change was in the air as age started impact New York and Minnesota was ready to pounce. Minnesota already had a strong core of players, but many players were able to have career years as the Twins fought their way to the 1965 World Series. Mudcat Grant became the first African American pitcher to win at least twenty games in the American League. Tony Oliva built off his tremendous rookie season and won his second straight AL batting title, even though it looked like a long shot. Those weren’t the only key figures during this era. Entering the 1965 season, Billy Martin was hired as third base coach, and this turned out to be a move that would impact the team for the rest of the decade. Zoilo Versalles won MVP in 1965 and Martin’s aggressive baserunning mentality helped Versalles to lead the AL in runs scored and total bases. Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers took the Series in seven games, but the Twins weren’t done making noise in the AL. Rod Carew joined the team in 1967 and lit the American League on fire. He’d win the AL Rookie of the Year award and he helped the Twins fight the Red Sox for the pennant, but Minnesota ultimately fell short. Minnesota was back in 1969 and 1970 as the club won back-to-back division titles before being eliminated both years by the powerful Baltimore Orioles. As the decade came to a close, the Twins had put themselves on the map as a powerhouse team in the American League. Henninger takes fans through all the ups and downs from each of these dramatic pennant races while also chronicling state and world events. In The Pride of Minnesota, Thom Henninger brings fans back to a by-gone era that has many connections to present day. For fans, like me, that are too young to remember, this book paints a picture of what this important era meant to the Twins and to the country as a whole. Others who lived through the era will enjoy reminiscing about the pennant races and players that helped them to fall in love with baseball. Minnesota only won one pennant during this stretch, but these memorable seasons are etched into team lore. What are your memories of the Twins from that era? 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
  5. As a quick preface, each of these cards won’t make fans rich and they can all be attained fairly easily on the secondary market. This makes it even more fun for those getting into the hobby for the first time. 1985 Topps Kirby Puckett Rookie Card MLB.com named the Puckett rookie as the most iconic card in team history for a variety of reasons. First, he is quite possibly the most popular player in franchise history. It also helps that his playing career corresponds with a trading card boom unlike any other. Puckett was the face of the franchise as the team ran to two World Series titles. Kids across the upper Midwest idolized the team’s star player and his rookie card made fans feel like they were even more invested in his career. Recently, this card has sold for under $5 if fans are fine with it having some imperfections. 1993 Topps Kirby Puckett Big Bat Card I loved this card as a kid growing up in the late 80’s and early 90s. Puckett’s personality was larger than life and that is depicted on this card with the giant bat. The same photo graced the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in April 1992. The Twins were coming off a dramatic World Series win, and Puckett was the face of the franchise. This card can be acquired for $2 or less, because of how many were produced at the time. 2002 Topps Joe Mauer Draft Picks Card He was the first overall pick, and he was drafted by his hometown team, so the story doesn’t get much better than that. Now, he seems destined for Cooperstown to join other St. Paul legends like Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, and Jack Morris. Over the last couple years, the card collecting hobby has really picked up and so has the value of Mauer’s first Topps card. For those interested, the time might be right to invest now before Cooperstown comes calling. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1380163376056258561?s=20 1968 Topps Rod Carew All-Star Rookie Card Carew’s actually rookie card was in the Topps 1967 series, but he was featured along with fellow rookie, Hank Allen of the Washington Senators. His 1968 card is his first card where he is featured solo, and it is just a beautiful looking piece of cardboard. The All-Star Rookie trophy on the front helps to accentuate the look of the entire card. Depending on the condition, fans can pick one up for under $20. 1986 Fleer Mickey Hatcher Big Glove Card Hatcher isn’t exactly a Twins’ legend, but this card certainly is one that fans remember across the collecting world. In the card, Hatcher was caught wearing a very oversized glove that looks like it was used either by a team’s mascot or for some type of fan contest between innings. Either way, collectors can get this card for a couple dollars. What’s your favorite card in Twins’ history? 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. 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.
  7. Over the years I’ve come across some truly exceptional work. Target Field houses a minimalist display that remains a must see. S. Preston Designs, famously known as Poot Poot, put his stamp on the Twins new home prior to being welcomed into Cooperstown. Recently New York based artist Blake Jamieson set the baseball card world on fire creating unique renditions of famous cardboard offerings as part of Topps Project 2020. Among my new favorites is Lauren Taylor, an MLB Licensed artist that takes realism to a whole new level. I’ve sat on the sidelines and observed her work for some time. She’s created original pieces for plenty of athletes themselves, and her prints are truly jaw dropping. Now having gotten to know her a bit and seeing her story unfold, I found myself looking for a way to share. Twins Daily: Let’s start with this, why baseball? You obviously have artwork that covers multiple different subjects but being an MLB Licensed artist, you have to have somewhat of a sweet spot. What is it about the sport, and what about your background has drawn you to it? Lauren Taylor: I have loved baseball ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in the Seattle area during the 90’s and idolized Griffey. There were a lot of talented people that helped me fall in love with the game and I loved EVERYTHING about it. I collected cards, I watched it, I read about it and I certainly was constantly playing it. I played other sports, but I never felt the same love like I did when I played baseball (and then fastpitch softball). People call the game boring, but I started to understand how many things have to go right in your swing to make solid contact consistently and I loved the search for the next change that would grow my talent in the game. https://twitter.com/ltillustrations/status/1293730707999604736 This all brought me to art because I don’t fumble around for inspiration with that topic. I understand the game, and it don’t feel like I have to research and fake knowledge when trying to tell a story with a piece. It feels effortless thinking of which story I want to tell; the holdup is only the occasional struggle of executing it so its appealing to the consumer haha TD: There’s something for virtually every fan when taking a look at your work. What are some of your favorite pieces, and knowing you’ve met some athletes through them, how about interactions as well? LT: I have lots of different pieces for different reasons. I love the Kelly-green jerseys of the Oakland Athletics, and the baby blue alternate jerseys for several teams…sometimes it’s simple like that because working with colors that are beautiful will always make for more fun. Other pieces I like because I was able to execute what I was thinking and work it into the wrinkles of the jersey, the reflection in the shades and helmets…etc. Sometimes it fits perfectly the way I wanted. That’s the case for a lot of the vintage originals of players like Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente…etc. https://twitter.com/mikeyaz18/status/1296600714303565824 As for interactions, the ones that stick with me the most are the athletes that seem to really enjoy the art and take a moment to interact. Jackie Bradley, Mitch Haniger, Robinson Cano, Michael Chavis, Mike Yastrzemski, Tim Anderson, Dee Gordon, Tony Kemp, Charlie Culberson, Pete Alonso, Stanton, CC and Cole Hamels are a few that come to mind (and there are many I have missed as well) that were exceptionally kind which always makes the deliveries special. As for most memorable, easily Willie Mays and Rickey Henderson. TD: How would you describe your style, and what has your training in art been like. Do you feel like this has always been a calling and what stokes your creativity? LT: My style is all self-taught and I can’t really describe it in a way that defines it well, but I believe its mixed media in the art world. I actually know very little about art and the only C I received in college was in an art class haha. I always liked making things, but I definitely didn’t plan on this being a source of income and I would have never in a million years thought this would be my career. I feel so lucky but also know how many hours upon hours went in to making art people actually wanted. TD: Art speaks to us from a mental and emotional standpoint. You’re obviously going through your own challenges right now with health and medical issues. How has the baseball and art community impacted you? LT: Sports have always been a giant extended family for most my life but usually as a member of a roster. However, this current difficult time has proved that the sports family reaches far and wide and I have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support people have shown me. Financial help aside, this has moved me in ways I won’t soon forget. I will forever do my best to pay it forward. I’m proud to be in the same realm as these artists because their talents are limitless, but more importantly, they have giant hearts, and this is the first industry I’ve worked in where I feel absolutely surrounded in it. TD: It’s pretty special what the impact of relative strangers can have on us. As you’ve set out on this #4LaurensNoggin campaign, what has been the most moving or impactful gestures to you? LT: No one is living the same life they were in 2019. Many are struggling, some are doing okay, but EVERYONE is impacted. When a group of artists and card collectors got together and started this whole campaign, I was in awe at the idea that every single person did something to help. Again…this isn’t exactly an easy time for most, and those issues were set aside to help me, who most have never met in person. That speaks volumes to me about how lucky I am to have found myself in this community and it has also reminded me that I can always do more for others. I’m grateful for the time, materials, money, personal memorabilia, kind words, and relentless sharing/retweeting…I will never forget, and I will spend a lifetime paying this all forward. It has inspired me to be more philanthropic. We can always do more, and if we don’t have money we can volunteer our time, and seeing that play out right in front of me as the sole beneficiary will forever be the nudge I need in the future when I see an opportunity to help. That #4LaurensNoggin campaign, and the hardships she’s currently enduring, are softball related. After taking a line drive to the face four years ago, she’s currently in the process of putting herself back together. Misdiagnosed injuries have taken their toll, and now surgeries to correct issues have gotten underway. It’s been through her art that she’s seen an outpouring of support. From big league players to those in the card community, Lauren Brem has felt the love from everywhere. Fellow artist Ken Karl, who focuses his work on sketch cards, has pitched in to make a mark. When I asked Ken what motived him to help and be involved he said, “I just wanted to help. Both the card and art community have been very kind to me. This was a chance to give something back. It was an opportunity to help someone in that circle who could use some help. After all, how hard is it to be nice?” As Lauren referenced the world is full of people struggling right now, and our society has seen people struggle to look out for one another. This type of display is as heartwarming as it gets in 2020. Art truly has a way of bringing people together, and that’s evidenced in both the way her art is appreciated, and the help received through her GoFundMe from what essentially amounts to complete strangers. Baseball is beautiful, but for many more reasons than the ones on the field. See more of Lauren’s work here. Support #4LaurensNoggin here. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Last week, Nate Palmer wrote an article here at Twins Daily about the 1978 event in Waseca in which then owner Calvin Griffith, who brought the team to Minnesota from Washington DC in 1961, spoke to a group of citizens. In his discussion with the Waseca Lions, Griffth was quoted as saying, "“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here." In addition, he chose to go after Hall of Famer Rod Carew, calling him a "fool" for taking the contract he did. Carew released a statement, which you can read by clicking Aaron's tweet below. It begins: "I understand and respect the Minnesota Twins decision to remove the Calvin Griffith statue outside Target Field. While I've always supported the Twins decision to honor Calvin with a statue, I also remember how inappropriate and hurtful his comments were on that fateful day in Waseca. The Twins did what they felt they needed to do for the organization and for our community. While we cannot change history, perhaps we can learn from it." https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1273971609125048321 The decision to remove the statue continues a trend of the Twins doing great things in the organization and in the community including: First team to announce they would not be releasing any minor leaguers and would continue to pay them through August. Pohlad Family Foundation donated $25 million commitment to racial justice. The Twins released the following statement in regard to their decision to remove the statue of Calvin Griffith. “When we opened Target Field in 2010 in conjunction with our 50th season in Minnesota, we were excited and proud to welcome fans to our ‘forever ballpark.’ As such, we wanted to pay permanent tribute to those figures and moments that helped shape the first half-century of Minnesota Twins baseball – including a statue of Calvin Griffith, our former owner and the man responsible for moving the franchise here in 1961. “While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value. “Our decision to memorialize Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused for many people – both inside the Twins organization and across Twins Territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome. “Past, present or future, there is no place for racism, inequality and injustice in Twins Territory.”
  9. The Twins had some solid-to-mediocre seasons in the 1970s, generally within a few games of .500 in either direction. However, there were several really great players, members of the Twins Hall of Fame and even members of baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. In addition, they had several players that had some really great seasons. You all know Patrick Reusse. His writing career began in the Twin Cities in 1968, covering the Twins starting in 1970, and he was a Twins beat reporter from 1974 to 1978. He became a columnist and has continued to cover the Twins ever since. He continues to be a columnist for the Star Tribune. He also is a key contributor at SKOR North where he has a weekly (Monday's) Reusse on Baseball podcast and also Reusse Unchained. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep16_Patrick_Reusse.mp3 Whether writing or talking, Reusse tells some great stories and fortunately, he was willing to spend an hour talking about those 1970s Minnesota Twins stories. Within the podcast, we hear his stories about Rod Carew, Gene Mauch, Lyman Bostock and many others from the decade. You won't want to miss his story on Bobby Darwin. For my money, there isn't a person around who is more knowledgeable on the Twins history (though you can probably make a strong case for Clyde Doepner, I'm sure). I enjoyed the conversation and all the stories, and I think you will as well. Please listen and let me know what you think. (Note - there are several places where the audio isn't real great. It's the beauty of recording with cell phones) http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep16_Patrick_Reusse.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) Episode 15: Get to Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. A quick intro/update on my life. I am married to my wife Jessica, who is way better looking than myself. We had a beautiful girl 10 months ago named Jamie. She sleeps from 7 pm to 7 am every night so, go me! I have stopped playing baseball officially and am currently working for the #1 Real Estate team is Southwest Florida, Domain Realty. Also, I am taking full advantage of the Twins College Scholarship Plan that was offered to me coming out of high school. Enough with the boring stuff and onto my first Minnesota Twins story. On June 6, 2011, I was attending my regular high school classes while knowing my life would change forever that evening. I was receiving calls every 20 minutes or so, and the only thing I can remember is my agent texting me, “if the Twins contact you, say you are not interested”. I didn’t think much about it until the draft had started and I got a call. It was my local Twins scout (who was the best in the area and an amazing person). He said "If you are still there and Levi Michael is off the board, we are picking you at 30." I replied with “Sounds good”. This is back when “slot money” meant less than the close door button on an elevator. People were signing for half of slot or double slot. It was just a big chess game. Anyway, pick #30 comes and goes and Levi was still there. I remember seeing my father over in the corner of the house talking on the phone with someone and wondering who it was. Turns out, he was negotiating my first professional baseball contract for me. Pick #50 comes up and Rod Carew announces my name on TV in front of all my family and friends. The time I spent with the Twins was an absolute blast. It didn’t matter if I was hitting home runs in big league spring training or striking out in AA. The lessons I learned from playing professional baseball will stick with me forever. Even though I had three concussions that really held me back, I wouldn’t change my experience for anything in the world. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/710184914109517824 I have a ton of stories to tell and I would love to answer questions about ANYTHING you might want to know. -------------------------------------------------- Related Articles: 2017 Killebrew Award Winner: Travis Harrison Q&A with Travis Harrison (5/21/13) Twins Prospect Takes Flight (Harrison is a pilot) Draft Day Memories Supplemental Draft Picks Have Great Talent, Made Tough Decisions -------------------------------------------------- EDITOR'S NOTE: We are hoping that Travis will write an article every week or two about various topics related to his baseball career, time in the Twins organizations, tips, tricks, and more. He certainly welcomes your questions and ideas for topics, so fill the comments with those. - Seth
  17. Polanco is setting a record pace to start the season. Since the team moved to Minnesota, Rod Carew is the only middle infielder to post an OPS+ of 144 or more. Polanco entered play on Monday with a 165 OPS+. Polanco is on a record pace, so let’s see how the other top seasons stack up. Honorable Mention Brian Dozier (2016): 134 OPS+ Dozier’s 2016 campaign finished just outside the top-5 on this list but it seems fitting to include him as an honorable mention. He clubbed 42 home runs that season. He’s the only player not named Harmon Killebrew to pop more than 40 long-balls in one season. Unlike the other players on this list, Dozier didn’t hit for a high average. His 134 OPS+ was the highest total of his career. He finished 13th in the AL MVP voting, but five players in front of him had a lower WAR. 5. Chuck Knoblauch (1995): 136 OPS+ The Twins teams of the mid- and late-90’s were tough to watch but these are some of my first concrete baseball memories. During the strike-shortened 1995 season, Minnesota only won 56 games. Knoblauch finished with the second highest batting average of his career. His .911 OPS was aided by 34 doubles and eight triples. He had led the league with 45 doubles in 1994 but some of those balls went out of the park in 1995. He cracked double-digit home runs for the first time in his career. He finished 17th in the MVP voting but his 6.7 WAR ranked him fourth among position players. 4. Chuck Knoblauch (1996): 143 OPS+ Knoblauch’s 1996 campaign was clearly the best season of his career. He finished third in WAR trailing only Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. He hit .341, a career high. In fact, he would never hit above .300 for the rest of his career. He led the AL with 14 triples, but he also had 13 home runs and 35 doubles. Minnesota was closer to .500 as the club finished 78-84. Clearly, the MVP voters paid little attention to the happenings in Minnesota. Knoblauch finished 16th in the MVP race. His 8.7 WAR was more than double that year’s MVP, Juan Gonzalez. 3. Rod Carew (1973): 144 OPS+ There were lots of firsts for Carew during the 1973 season. His first time leading the league in hits. His first time leading the league in triples. He would also finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP for the first time. All 24 first place votes went to Oakland’s Reggie Jackson, but a theme starts to emerge with Carew’s seasons. His WAR total was higher than the players between him and Jackson. Carew’s batting average was over 50 points higher than Jackson. Carew stole 41 bases during the season and the Twins finished 82-80. 2. Rod Carew (1974): 150 OPS+ For the first time in his career, Carew led all of baseball in hits. He would do this one other time during his MVP season. His .364 batting average was the second highest of his career and his .433 OBP was only 16 points behind the 1977 campaign. His 7.5 WAR was the third highest total of his career. He finished seventh in the MVP voting. However, only Fergie Jenkins had a higher WAR total out of the players ahead of him in the voting. 1. Rod Carew (1975): 157 OPS+ Carew’s best season for OPS+ wasn’t even the year he was named AL MVP (1977). For that season, he started all but five games at first base, so that season doesn’t qualify for this list. He posted a 178 OPS+ that year, a career high, and led the league in runs, hits, triples, batting average, OBP, OPS, and OPS+. The 1975 campaign was his last season playing in the middle infield. He won his fourth consecutive batting title and his fifth batting title overall. That season marked on the second time he had led the league on OBP, which was assisted by a league high 18 intentional walks. He was hitting above .400 into the middle of June and flirted with getting back there in late July. He finished ninth in the MVP voting but his 7.9 WAR that season was higher than all but one player ahead of him in the voting. Will Polanco be able to break the record? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  18. 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.
  19. Part 5 of a 12-part series that breaks Twins history into fun-sized chunks.You can find more here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 The roots of that decline could be traced back to late 1975, when an arbitrator’s ruling essentially struck down MLB’s reserve clause and granted players free agency at the expiration of their contracts. Griffith had a miserly reputation – the Twins built an advertising campaign around that very topic in 1976 - and baseball’s new economic reality hit the Twins hard. Before the 1978 season, both Bostock and Hisle signed with other teams and the offense suffered to the tune of 200 fewer runs. The team finished 16 games under .500 and attendance fell with it, down to just 787,000, which perpetuated the problem of retaining premier players. But even if the Twins had continued to draw fans, circumstances had deteriorated to the point where keeping a superstar like Carew with the club might have been impossible. For starters, Carew wanted more quality ballplayers around him to give the team better chance at winning. Moreover, the relationship between Carew and the Twins became irreparable after Griffith made several off-color remarks--some of a racial nature--at a Lions Club function in Waseca, Minnesota. Carew, due to become a free agent following the 1979 season, was traded for four players to the California Angels, where he would finish his career. Without their superstar, the Twins competed in two of the next three years. They finished above .500 in 1979 and had a surprise run at a division title in the second half of the strike-impacted 1981 season. But the focus was shifting from the present to the future, which would include overwhelming changes for the franchise. The first of those changes was a brand new indoor ballpark. The Metrodome was the result of a 1977 Minnesota Legislature stadium bill, but could only be built if the Vikings and Twins both signed a 30-year lease. Griffith, skeptical of the facility but intrigued by an increase in outstate attendance due to no rainouts, negotiated an out-clause: if the team failed to average 1.4 million in attendance over three consecutive years (a level the Twins had not averaged over a 3-year period in their history), he could break the lease. When the new stadium opened in 1982, the honeymoon lasted exactly one night. In its inaugural home opener, the Metrodome drew 52,279 fans amid much pageantry. The next night the club drew 5,213. By the end of the season, attendance would fail to reach the 1,000,000 mark. And by the end of the first week, Griffith started dismantling the team for a youth movement, trading quality shortstop Roy Smalley to the Yankees. Two more trades would complete the fire sale by the middle of May. The 1982 team, in their brand new home, would finish with 102 losses. But 1982 wouldn’t just be remembered for a record-setting number of losses for the Twins. It would also become known as the beginning of a new generation of Twins that would finally reach the mountaintop. Nineteen-eighty-two was the rookie season for Kent Hrbek (22 years old), Tom Brunansky (21) and Gary Gaetti (23), all of whom slugged at least 20 home runs. Starting pitcher Frank Viola (22) would also debut that season, pitching to battery-mate and rookie Tim Laudner (23). Griffith had put together the cornerstones of the next contending Twins team. But it wouldn’t be his Twins team.
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. Mr. 2000 Mauer entered play on Saturday needing eight hits to reach the 2,000 hit mark for his career. He’s hit safely in 17 straight contests against Seattle so there is a good chance that number will shrink before the weekend is done. Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew are the only players in team history to reach the 2,000 hit mark. Puckett holds the franchise record with 2,304 hits, while Carew totaled 2,085 hits before heading to the Angels. Eleven active players have surpassed 2,000 hits with Adrian Gonzalez being the last player to accomplish the feat in August of 2017. Double Trouble Mauer would need to play a couple more seasons to pass Puckett on the franchise’s hit list. However, Mauer does have a chance to set the team record for doubles. Puckett finished his career with a franchise record 414 doubles over 12 seasons. Mauer is in the midst of his 15th season and has 403 doubles. Over the last six seasons, Mauer has averaged 31 doubles so it seems likely for him to pass Puckett at some point during 2018. Solo Homers Mauer and Dozier are both moving up the ladder on the team’s all-time home run list. With 155 career home runs, Dozier needs eight to tie Tom Brunansky (163) for 9th on the Twins all-time list. Mauer has 137 career long-balls and sits four behind Michael Cuddyer for 11th in franchise history. Next in Dozier’s sights would be Gary Gaetti but he knocked 201 home runs during his Twins tenure. Dozier might be a man on a mission this season but 46 more home runs seems like a tough endeavor. Speed, I Am Speed Bryon Buxton has the kind of elite speed that could put him at the top of the team’s record books when it comes to stolen bases. For now, Dozier has made his way into the franchises top-10 list. His 91 career steals are one better than Denard Span for 10th on the team’s all-time list. With his next steal, Dozier will tie Larry Hisle for ninth. Other players in his sights this year include Matt Lawton (96), Christian Guzman (102), and possibly Dan Gladden (116). To pass Gladden, he’d have to break his career best steal total of 21 from 2014. Which record will drop first? How much longer would Mauer have to play to get to 3000 hits? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Around Twins Daily Jason Castro and a Cup of Coffee Proven Leadership Will Set Tone For 2018 Red Wings Blackmon’s Deal With Rockies Sets Precedent For Dozier
  23. In April, Aaron Gleeman’s book The Big 50: Minnesota Twins will become available; (pre-order a copy today). In it, you’ll find stories and information on the best players in Minnesota Twins history as well as some of the great stories in the franchise’s years in Minnesota. Now, I’m looking forward to it to see how his top 50 all-time Twins players rankings end up. And, I want to see how his list compares to mine. And, I want to see how my list compares to yours. Give it some thought and rank your top 10 or 15 Twins players in the comments below. ----------------------------------------------------------- 15 - Torii Hunter - bWAR: 26.2, OPS+: 103 Hunter ranks seventh in Twins history in games played, plate appearances, hits and RBI. His 214 home runs in a Twins uniform rank fifth in team history. And yet, it is his defense that made him a star. With the Twins, he won the first seven of his nine Gold Gloves. He returned to the Twins in 2015 after seven years away and was a big part on a Twins team that finished over .500. Imagine how much higher up this list he’d be if he’d stayed. 14 - Frank Viola - bWAR: , ERA+: 111 Viola debuted with the Twins in 1982 and was a fixture in the team’s rotation until he was traded to the Mets at the deadline in 1989. After going 11-25 in his first two seasons, Viola went 101-67 over the rest of his Twins career. He was an All-Star just once. He was the MVP of the 1987 World Series when he won Games 1 and 7. In 1988, he went 24-7 and won the AL Cy Young Award. He was a given for 35 starts and about 250 innings a season. 13 - Bob Allison - bWAR: 30.5, OPS+: 131 Allison made an incredible catch during the 1965 World Series, but he was best known for his bat and his power. A big, burly power hitter, Allison is currently number six on the Twins home run list with 211, just behind Hunter. Allison was an All-Star at the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959 with the Senators. He played in two All-Star games as a member of the Twins. 12 - Joe Nathan - bWAR: 18.4, OPS+: 204 His WAR may not stack up, but his dominance is unquestioned. He became the Twins closer when he arrived in 2004, and went on to record 260 saves, passing Rick Aguilera for the team’s record. His season ERAs from 2004 through 2009 were 1.62, 2.70, 1.58, 1.88, 1.33 and 2.10. In fact, if not for Mariano Rivera, more people might call Joe Nathan the best closer of the era. He struck out 30.7% of batters faced during his Twins tenure, more than 10% more than Aguilera, Al Worthington and Eddie Guardado, the next three relievers on the list. Recently retired, Nathan was a guest at the Twins Daily Winter Meltdown this year. 11 - Chuck Knoblauch - bWAR: 37.9, OPS+: 114 The Twins #1 pick in 1989, he joined the big league club by Opening Day 1991. He jumped in as the team’s leadoff hitter, won AL Rookie of the Year and helped the Twins to their second World Series championship. In his seven seasons with the Twins, he hit .304 and got on base 39% of the time. He played in four All-Star Games, and he won two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove Award in a league that included Roberto Alomar. 10 - Jim Kaat - bWAR: 31.7, ERA+: 112 “Kitty” had pitched in 16 MLB games with the Senators before the team came to Minnesota in 1961. Kaat was an All-Star in 1962 and 1966. He won 12 AL Gold Glove awards as a member of the Twins organization (and the team’s annual award for best defensive player is named after him). After being traded to the White Sox in 1973, he won 20 games for them in 1974 and 1975. Kaat was a key cog in the Twins 1965 World Series appearance. He went 189-152 with the Twins. That’s 40 more wins than the #2 on the list. He is Top 5 in many Twins pitching categories. Recently the Twins named him a Special Assistant. 9 - Brad Radke - bWAR: 45.6, ERA+: 113 Radke quietly was one of the best pitchers/players in Twins history. Always calm and poised, Radke threw a ton of strikes, mixed in a great changeup to go with a low-90s fastball. He is second all-time on the Twins list in number of starts, and he’s number three in number of innings pitched. His 148 wins is third, one behind Bert Blyleven. He won 20 games on a 1997 Twins team that won just 68 games. During a two-month stretch (12 starts), he went 12-0 with a 1.87 ERA. He finished third in Cy Young voting and made the All-Star team the next season. Overlooked because he played on some bad teams, Radke was a stabilizing force in Twins rotations for a dozen years. Shoulder issues caused him to retire after his age-33 season. 8 - Bert Blyleven - bWAR: 49.3, ERA+: 119 Blyleven came up to the Twins as a 19-year-old in 1970 and went 10-9 with a 3.18 ERA. Over his next five seasons, he won 16, 17, 20, 17 and 15 games. In those years, he posted ERAs of 2.81, 2.73, 2.52, 2.66 and 3.00. It was definitely an era for pitching, and Blyleven was one of the best at the time. He was traded in 1976 and returned in 1985. He was a key veteran starter for the Twins in that 1987 World Series championship. He went 148-139 for the Twins in his career with a 3.28 ERA. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. 7 - Johan Santana - bWAR: 35.5, ERA+: 141 Santana came to the Twins in the Rule 5 draft and became one of the best pitchers in baseball. He spent his first couple of years in the Twins bullpen. When he went down to AAA his second year, he worked with Bobby Cuellar on his changeup and the rest is history. He became a starter in 2004, went 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and won the Cy Young. He should have repeated as Cy Young winner in 2005 when he went 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA. Then in 2006, he won again after posting a 19-7 record and a 2.77 ERA. He led the AL in ERA twice, in WHIP three times, and in strikeouts three times. In his four Twins years as a starter, he averaged 228 innings. He went to three All-Star Games, finished Top 5 in Cy Young voting each year. He was traded to the Mets before the 2008 season. Last month, the Twins announced that he’s been elected into the team’s Hall of Fame. 6 - Kent Hrbek - bWAR: 38.4, OPS+: 128 The kid from Bloomington spent all 14 of his big leagues seasons with the Twins who retired his #14. His 293 home runs are second only to Harmon Killebrew in team history. He is in the Top 5 in most Twins offensive categories. He hit .282 and got on base nearly 37% of the time. He played in just one All-Star Game, and he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1982 and second in the MVP race in 1984. He was a key cog in the two Twins World Series championships. 5 - Tony Oliva - bWAR: 43.0, OPS+: 131 Oliva won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1964. He won the batting title his first two seasons and a third one in 1971. He was an All-Star his first eight seasons and finished second in AL MVP voting twice. He led the league in hits five times and doubles four times. His 220 home runs rank fourth in team history. Unfortunately in 1972, a major knee injury curtailed his career. When he returned, he was the team’s DH, and he still hit well, just not to the level he had before the injury. He was the Twins hitting coach in 1987, and his uniform #6 was retired. 4 - Joe Mauer - bWAR: 53.4, OPS+: 126 As Mauer enters his 15th season with the Twins, the St. Paul native finds himself in the Top 5 in many Twins offensive categories. He has hit .308 and been on base over 39% of the time during his career. Mauer won the AL MVP in 2009 when he led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He has been an All-Star six times, won five Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Glove Awards. He was putting together another monster season in 2013 when he suffered a concussion. He has not regained his form, though he had a strong 2017 season. 3 - Kirby Puckett - bWAR: 50.9, OPS+: 124 Puckett emerged on the scene for the Twins in 1984, and he led the Twins to their two World Series championships. A career .318 hitter, he got on base 36% of the time. He made his first All-Star Game in 1986 and then played in each of the next ten. He finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting seven times. He won six Gold Glove Awards, and he also won six Silver Slugger Awards. He is Top 5 in many Twins offensive categories and no Twins player has scored more runs or had more hits or doubles than Puckett. His career came to an abrupt end before the 1996 season and he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. 2 - Rod Carew - bWAR: 63.7, OPS+: 137 Rod Carew was a hitting machine. He was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967. He was also an All-Star that year, and in the remaining 11 seasons of his Twins career. He won the AL MVP in 1977 when he flirted with .400, ending the year at .388 (with a .449 OBP). He won seven batting titles in his 12 years with the Twins and recently the award for winning the American League batting title was named in his honor. He is Top 5 in nearly all statistical categories for the Twins, and his bWAR is just about 10 wins higher than the #2 in that list, Harmon Killebrew. Carew ended his career with over 3,000 hits and earned his induction into Cooperstown. 1 - Harmon Killebrew - bWAR: 53.8, OPS+: 148 The Killer was a feared home run hitter during his career. 475 of his 573 career home runs came in a Twins uniform (and 84 came in a Senators uniform before they came to Minnesota). So, he is the Twins leader in home runs by 182. When he retired, he was in the Top 5 in MLB history in homers. He’s the team’s leader in RBI by about 250. He walked about 430 more times than Joe Mauer has in his career, and Mauer is #2 on the Twins list. It’s hard to believe, but Killebrew actually walked more than he struck out during his Twins career. For some reason, it took him four ballots to get into baseball’s Hall of Fame. So there you have my ranking of the Top 15 Twins of all-time… Be sure to add your Top 15. Who moves up? Who moves down? Who moves out, and who moves in? It should be a fun discussion as we continue to wait for offseason news.
  24. January 28 Happy 55th Birthday, Gary Mielke It’s the birthday of former Rangers reliever Gary Mielke, born in St. James, MN in 1963. The sidearmer made three appearances with the Rangers in 1987, and another 76 between 1989 and ‘90. David Greisen contributed a thorough entry on Mielke to the SABR BioProject (click here). I’ll paraphrase. Gary went to school in St. James through eighth grade, after which the Mielkes moved to North Mankato, and Gary enrolled in Mankato West High School. He earned three letters in baseball at West, and was All-State his senior season (1981). He was also a starting forward on the basketball team his junior and senior seasons. Despite his success in high school, he received zero scholarship offers. He wound up attending local Division II Mankato State, and even there he didn’t make varsity until the middle of his sophomore season (1983). Greisen’s SABR BioProject entry includes a badass anecdote from Mielke’s junior season. He was hit by a liner in Grand Forks, breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbone. Nonetheless, he made his next scheduled start five days later vs. the rival Gophers, earning a suspenseful complete-game 3-2 win. He was sensational his senior season, not allowing a single run in North Central Conference play, and putting together a 27-inning scoreless streak overall. The Rangers selected Mielke in the 26th round of the 1985 draft. He made his major league debut on August 19, 1987 at age 24, starting the top of the seventh with the Royals beating the Rangers 10-6 in Texas. The first batter he faced, Frank White, homered. Mielke went on to induce ground outs from the next four Royals hitters. Three of Mielke’s favorite major league memories are being on hand for Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout in 1989, and his sixth no-hitter and 300th win in 1990. Mielke was such a Ryan fan, in fact, that his son, born three days after Gary’s first major league win, is named Tyler Ryan Mielke. The Mielkes later had a daughter, Chelsea. Gary threw his final major league pitch on September 30, 1990, inducing an inning-ending double play from Mark McGwire. Gary Mielke still lives in North Mankato. He has even done some umpiring there over the years. He was inducted into the Minnesota State Mavericks Hall of Fame in 1999. January 28, 1985 Met Stadium Demolished Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Twins and Vikings from 1961 to 1981, is demolished. The stadium originally opened in 1956 as the home of the Minneapolis Millers. The final game at Met Stadium was played on December 20, 1981, a 10-6 Vikings loss vs. Kansas City. The game time temperature was 10 degrees with a -8 windchill. Twins official scorer and prolific baseball historian Stew Thornley wrote about Met Stadium for the 2015 book A Pennant for the Twin Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins. The book is available on Amazon, but you can read Thornley’s article on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) website (here). January 29, 2016 Hunter and Gordon Elected to Twins Hall of Fame Twins President Dave St. Peter announces that Torii Hunter and John Gordon will be the 27th and 28th members of the Twins Hall of Fame. Gordon spent 25 years in the Twins radio broadcast booth, originally joining Herb Carneal in 1987, and retiring at the end of the 2011 season. Torii Hunter spent 12 of his 19 major league seasons with the Twins, originally coming up in August 1997 at age 22. While in a Twins uniform Hunter won seven of his nine career Gold Gloves, made two of his five All-Star appearances, and hit 214 of his 353 home runs (sixth-most in Twins history). Hunter’s three grand slams in 2007 tied the team’s single-season record (Bob Allison '61, Rod Carew '76, Kent Hrbek '85, Kirby Puckett '92). Hrbek and Hunter, incidentally, both hit their third on August 15. Don Mattingly set the MLB record with six grand slams in 1987. January 31 Happy 31st Birthday, Caleb Thielbar It’s the birthday of 2005 Randolph High School graduate and former Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar, born in 1987. Both of Caleb’s parents lettered in baseball at Randolph HS. His mom, Janet (Johnston), was the Rockets’ starting shortstop in 1976. His dad Calvin was the assistant coach of that team. In addition to baseball, Caleb Thielbar excelled in basketball at Randolph HS. He was the second-leading scorer in school history, and number one in three-pointers and free-throw percentage at the time of his graduation. He went on to pitch four season at South Dakota State University, and was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. He was released by Milwaukee in December 2010. He pitched for the St. Paul Saints in 2011, striking out 62 batters in just 49 ⅔ innings (43 appearances). On August 18 he became the first-ever Saints player signed by the Minnesota Twins. Thielbar rose rapidly through the Twins system, and made his major league debut on May 5, 2013 at age 26, beginning a historically successful rookie season. He did not allow a run in his first 17 big league appearances. He earned his first win on June 1, pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth with the Twins trailing the Mariners 4-2. The Twins mounted a comeback in the bottom of the inning, culminating in Joe Mauer scoring from first on a Ryan Doumit walk-off triple. Thielbar finally allowed his first run on July 8, giving up a solo homer to Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist. He finished the season 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 0.826 WHIP over 48 appearances (46 innings pitched). He appeared in 54 ballgames in 2014, posting a 3.40 ERA. He appeared in just 6 games in 2015 before being claimed off waivers by the Padres on August 8. He has not pitched in the majors since. Thielbar returned to the St. Paul Saints in 2016, going 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA over 64 innings (42 appearances). He went 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.761 WHIP in 22.1 innings (17 appearances) with the Saints in 2017. His contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers on January 23, 2018. Patrick Reusse wrote a great article about Thielbar prior to his rookie season with the Twins (here). February 2 Happy 50th Birthday, Scott Erickson It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson, born in Long Beach, CA in 1968. The Twins drafted Erickson out of Arizona State in the fourth round of the 1989 draft. It was the fourth time he had been drafted. Erickson made it to the majors midway through the 1990 season, finishing strong with a 5-0 record in September. He went 12-2 with a 1.39 ERA in the first half off the 1991 season, and was named starting pitcher of the All-Star Game. Erickson, however, was unable to pitch due to injury, so manager Tony LaRussa handed the ball to fellow Twin Jack Morris in his stead. Morris wore black socks and his pants low in the style of Erickson. Erickson wound up going 20-8 for the ‘91 World Series Champion Twins, tying for the major league lead in wins and finishing second to Roger Clemens for the American League Cy Young Award. After a solid ‘92 season, Erickson lost a major league-worst 19 games in 1993. ‘94 was arguably an even worse season for Erickson, though he did no-hit the Brewers at the Metrodome on April 27th. He rebounded after being traded to the Orioles during the ‘95 season, and would ultimately prove to be one of the more durable pitchers of the ‘90s, pitching an American League-leading 251.1 innings in 1998, and winning 73 games between 1995 and ’99. February 2, 2008 Twins Trade Santana The Twins do the prudent thing and trade 2004 and 2006 Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to the Mets for outfielder Carlos Gomez and three pitchers, all of whom were duds. Gomez showed sparks but never lived up to his potential in Minnesota, though he did score one of the most exciting runs in team history on October 6, 2009. Less than a month later he was traded to Milwaukee for former and future All-Star J.J. Hardy. Gomez, for his part, would go on to consecutive All-Star seasons for Milwaukee in 2013 and ‘14. After three very good seasons in New York, Santana missed all of the 2011 season. He went 6-9 in 21 starts in 2012, pitching his final major league game on August 17, 2012 at age 33. The Twins announced that Santana had been elected to the team Hall of Fame on January 19, 2018. February 2, 1996 Coldest Day in State History The state record low temperature of -60 is recorded near the town of Tower. I was on a sixth-grade class field trip, staying in pretty rustic cabins just a few miles away at the Laurentian Environmental Center in Britt. Former Pioneer Press sportswriter Jim Caple got married that day in Eagan! Don’t feel too bad for the couple, though; it was only -32 in the Twin Cities, a full two degrees warmer than the metro record of -34 set in January 1936. Caple wrote for the Pioneer Press from June 1989 to February 2000. The temperature in Tower on February 8—six days later—was 48; a swing of 108 degrees! February 3, 1979 Twins Trade Carew The Twins trade seven-time American League batting champ Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens, and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner's infamous, off-the-rails ramblings at a Lion’s Club dinner in Waseca on September 28. Griffith was quoted in the Star Tribune as having said "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here ... We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Read Nick Coleman's original October 1, 1978 article (click here). February 3, 1987 Twins Acquire Terminator The Twins trade pitcher Neal Heaton, 1980 first-round draft pick catcher Jeff Reed, 19-year-old future major league pitcher Yorkis Perez, and career minor league pitcher Afredo Cardwood to the Expos for backup catcher Tom Nieto and 1985 and ‘86 All-Star closer Jeff Reardon. Reardon would save 31 regular season games for the ‘87 Twins, plus three postseason games, including Game 7 of the World Series. Reardon surpassed Rollie Fingers as major league baseball’s all-time saves leader in 1992 with his 342nd save. His 367 career saves currently rank 10th all-time. Stupid Jonathan Papelbon passed him in 2016. Joe Nathan is eighth on the list with 377. Heaton, for his part, won a career-high 13 games for the Expos in 1987. The Twins career save leaders are Nathan (260), Rick Aguilera (254), Glen Perkins (120), Eddie Guardado (116), Ron Davis (108), and Reardon (104). Bonus Thome Tidbits Here is some Jim Thome trivia on the occasion of his first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame last week. These are just the nuggets that turn up in my Twins Almanac spreadsheet. Contribute your own Thome trivia in the comments below. Jim Thome hit .314 with 218 hits, 61 home runs, and 156 RBI in 196 career games vs. the Twins. That’s his highest average vs. any team he played at least 30 games against, second-most home runs (66 vs. Detroit), and the most hits and RBI he had against any team. He hit .321 with 28 home runs at the Metrodome, the most he hit at any visiting ballpark. He hit .365 with 11 home runs in 19 games vs. the Twins in 2002. An astonishing seven of those home runs came off Rick Reed. He hit two homers off Reed in 2001, for a total of nine, the most he hit against any pitcher. Next on the list is Roger Clemens (8), and Justin Verlander (7). He hit six off several pitchers, including Eric Milton. The Twins set a club record for margin of victory, beating Cleveland 23-2 on June 4, 2002. Cleveland’s two runs came on solo home runs by Jim Thome in the fourth and seventh innings off none other than Rick Reed. Reed only allowed three hits and no walks in seven innings pitched, improving to 6-2 on the season. He would end up leading the team with a 15-7 record. Thome homered in seven straight games for Cleveland in 2002. The Twins record is five games: Harmon Killebrew (twice in 1970), Marty Cordova (1995, in just his 23rd MLB game), and Brian Dozier (2016). The major league record is eight (Dale Long 1956, Mattingly ‘87, and Griffey Jr. ‘93). Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the eleventh inning in Kansas City on May 2, 1964. Eight teams in major league history have hit four consecutive home runs, most recently the Nationals on July 27, 2017. The last American League team to do so was the White Sox in 2008 when Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Juan Uribe went back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Twins five-hitter Bob Allison struck out five times in five at-bats on September 2, 1965, still tied for the major league record in a nine-inning game. Jim Thome tied that record on April 9, 2000. Thome had 20 four-strikeout games, third most in major league history behind Reggie Jackson (23), and Ryan Howard (27). I suspect that includes extra-inning games, but I’m not sure. Who remembers Game 163? No, not that one; the year before that, when the White Sox beat the Twins 1-0 on September 30, 2008. Chicago’s only run came on a Jim Thome solo home run off Nick Blackburn leading off the seventh. That game was in Chicago by virtue of a coin flip, despite the Twins having the better head-to-head record. Major League Baseball changed the rule, and the very next season the Twins hosted the Tigers in a Game 163 for the ages. Fun Fact: The Twins also played 163 games in 1962. Camilo Pascual pitched a three-hit shutout to become the first 20-game winner in Twins history. Thome had already hit 564 home runs when signed with the Twins on January 26, 2010 at age 39. Thome had the first walk-off hit in Target Field history on August 17, 2010. Obviously it was a home run. It was the first of a three-game series vs. the Chicago White Sox, over whom the Twins held a three-game lead in the Central Division. With the Twins trailing 5-6 in the bottom of the tenth, Delmon Young led off with a single off Matt Thornton. Thome then deposited the All-Star closer’s 1-0 offering, a belt-high fastball, onto the plaza. It was Thome's 12th career walk-off homer, tying Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson for the major league record. He broke that record on June 24, 2012 while playing for the Phillies. September 4, 2010 was a day Greg Gagne will never forget. He was inducted as the 22nd member of the team Hall of Fame before a game between the first-place Twins and Rangers. Carl Pavano picked up his 16th win in the 12-4 Twins victory. Matt Tolbert had two triples (very Gagne-esque) and drove in five runs, while Thome hit a pair of homers, passing Mark McGwire for ninth on the all-time list. Just two days later—Labor Day—Thome hit a memorable blast off the flagpole, eventually estimated at 480 feet. On July 17, 2011, Thome hit a staggering three-run 490-foot bomb, still the longest ever hit at Target Field. His 596th career home run helped the Twins to a 4-3 win over Kansas City. Thome hit his 599th and 600th home runs in Detroit on August 15, 2011. Pay attention to this, kids: both were to the opposite field. The Twins sold Thome’s contract to Cleveland 10 days later. In total he hit 37 home runs in a Twins uniform. Thome, whose final season was 2012, officially retired on August 2, 2014 with 612 home runs, eighth-most in major league history. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  25. January 7, 1982 Twins Acquire Mario Look-Alike The Twins trade Class-A prospects Scotti Madison and Paul Voigt to the Dodgers for center fielder Bobby Mitchell and pitcher Bobby Castillo, owner of one of the all-time Top 5 greatest mustaches in Twins history. Castillo won 13 games for the Twins in 1982. That would have led the team in six of the past ten seasons (2008, '11–'13, and '15–'16). Who do you think had the best (or worst) mustache in Twins history? January 8, 1991 Carew Elected to Hall of Fame Seven-time AL Batting Champ Rod Carew becomes the 21st first-ballot Hall of Famer, elected alongside Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins. Despite appearing on 90.5% of ballots, a staggering 42 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America deemed Carew unworthy. The Veterans Committee elected former second baseman Tony Lazzeri and owner/promoter Bill Veeck, father of Mike Veeck, who in 1993 founded the current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints with Bill Murray and lawyer Marv Goldklang. Rodney Cline Carew was born on a train in the Panama Canal Zone on October 1, 1945. When he was 14 his family immigrated to New York, where he would be discovered by a Twins scout playing semi-pro ball in the Bronx rather than high school ball. The Twins signed Carew in 1964 at age 18, and he made the major league club in 1967 at age 21. Carew had the first five-hit game in Twins history on May 8, 1967, going 5-for-5 with a double. He made the AL All-Star team his rookie season, beginning a string of 18-consecutive All-Star selections. He was an All-Star every year of his career but the last, 1985. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year, receiving 19 of 20 first-place votes. There have been five AL Rookies of the Year in Twins History: Tony Oliva in 1964, Carew in ‘67, John Castino (co-winner) in 1979, Chuck Knoblauch in 1991, and Marty Cordova in 1995. Bob Allison won the award as a member of the 1959 Washington Senators. Carew was a terror on the basepaths. On May 18, 1969 he stole second, third, and home consecutively off the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich. César Tovar led off the bottom of third with a single. Then, with Carew at the plate, Tovar was balked to second and stole third. Perhaps distracted by Tovar, Lolich walked Carew. Then, with Harmon Killebrew at the plate, the Twins executed a double steal, with Carew swiping second as Tovar stole home. With Killebrew still at bat, Carew stole third and home to tie the game. Killebrew ultimately struck out, and the Twins went on to lose the game 8-2. Carew is one of just 12 players since 1940 to achieve this feat. Paul Molitor pulled it off on July 26, 1987. Carew stole home 17 times in his career. The single-season record is eight, set by Ty Cobb in 1912. Carew stole home for the seventh time of the season on July 16, 1969. American League pitchers finally got wise to his game, however, and he did not pull it off again the rest of the season. He did, however, add a tenth-inning walk-off steal of home on September 1, 1970. Current Twins manager Paul Molitor, incidentally, stole home 10 times in his career. Dan Gladden did it three times. Carew hit for the first of 10 cycles in Twins history on May 20, 1970. The others are César Tovar (1972), Larry Hisle (‘76), Lyman Bostock (‘76), Mike Cubbage (‘78), Gary Ward (‘80), Kirby Puckett (‘86), Carlos Gómez (‘08), Jason Kubel (‘09) and Michael Cuddyer (‘09). On September 9, 1976 Carew hit a pinch-hit grand slam. It was just his seventh home run of the season, but his third grand slam, tying Bob Allison’s single-season team record, set in 1961. Kent Hrbek later hit three grand slams in 1985, Puckett in ‘92, and Torii Hunter in 2007. 1977 was a magical season for Carew. On June 26 (Rod Carew Jersey Day, incidentally), he went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .403. He scored a team record five runs in the game, while Glenn Adams collected a team record eight RBI. Carew’s record of five runs would be matched by Tim Teufel in 1983, Molitor in ‘96, and Luis Rivas in 2002. Adams’ record eight RBI were matched by Randy Bush in 1989. Carew led the majors with 239 hits and a .388 AVG in 1977, and was named American League MVP. He was the third of five Twins to receive the award (Versalles ‘65, Killebrew ‘69, Morneau ‘06, Mauer ‘09). On February 3, 1979 the Twins traded Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner’s Lion’s Club dinner remarks in Waseca on September 28. On August 4, 1989, Carew connected for his 3,000th hit off Twins lefty Frank Viola. He was the 16th member of the 3,000 Hit Club, and the first born outside of the United States mainland (Roberto Clemente was born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico). 1985 was Carew’s final season. After failing to receive a suitable contract offer for the ‘86 season, he officially announced his retirement on June 2 with a career AVG of .328. Owners had colluded against him and other free agents, essentially agreeing not to offer other teams' free agents contracts, thereby helping each other retain their own talent while keeping salaries low. In 1995 Carew was awarded $782,035.71 in damages for his lost wages. The Twins retired Rod Carew’s number 29 on July 19, 1987. The Angels had retired his number in ‘86. He was inducted as a charter member of the Twins Hall of Fame along with Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, and Calvin Griffith on August 12, 2000. January 10, 1984 Killebrew Elected to Hall of Fame In his fourth damn year of eligibility the Baseball Writers’ Association of America finally elects Harmon Killebrew to the Hall of Fame, along with Luis Aparicio (sixth ballot), and 1965 World Series nemesis Don Drysdale (10th ballot). Veterans Committee selections Rick Ferrell and Pee Wee Reese would also be inducted with the class of ’84. The Senators signed the 17-year-old Idahoan in 1954 as a so-called “Bonus Baby,” which required them to keep the kid on the major league roster his first two seasons. He got into just 47 games during those two years, making 104 plate appearances. He did hit the first four of his 573 career home runs in 1955. He then spent the majority of the next three seasons in the minors. Washington’s patience would pay huge dividends. In 1959, his first season as a full-timer, Killebrew tied for the league lead with 42 home runs and drove in 105 runs. Killebrew collected the first regular season hit in Twins history leading off the fourth with a single off Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1961. Bob Allison hit the Twins’ first home run later in that game, but Killebrew would have the distinction of hitting the first inside-the-park home run in Twins history vs. the White Sox at Met Stadium on July 4th. Later in the game, trailing the White Sox by two with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Julio Becquer hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam. Killebrew was known throughout his career not just for the sheer quantity, but also the mammoth quality of his home runs. Facing future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on August 3, 1962, Killebrew hit a monster home run over the roof and out of Tiger Stadium. Killer was the first of four to accomplish this feat of strength, the others being Frank Howard, Mark McGwire, and Cecil Fielder. On June 3, 1967 he hit perhaps his most famous homer, a prodigious blast at Met stadium eventually estimated by a physics professor at 522 feet. Killebrew was the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player after leading the majors with 49 home runs and 140 RBI. Not surprisingly those are both Twins single-season records. He also hit 49 in ‘64. Killebrew set another team record by homering in five consecutive games on two separate occasions during the Twins’ 1970 Division Championship season. Rookie Marty Cordova tied that record in just his 23rd major league game on May 20, 1995. Brian Dozier homered in five straight in 2016, including a three-home run game on September 5. Killebrew hit 41 homers during that 1970 season. It would be the Twins’ last 40-home run season until Dozier hit 42 in 2016, forty-frickin’-six years later. So much for the Steroid Era in Minnesota. Harmon hit his 500th and 501st home runs on August 10, 1971. All told, he would hit 573, fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson. He is still 12th all-time. 38-year-old Adrian Beltre, and 34-year-old Miguel Cabrera are sitting on 462. After he refused Calvin Griffith’s contract offer, the Twins released Killebrew on January 16, 1975. To this day nobody has played more games in a Twins uniform. The Kansas City Royals quickly signed the Killer on January 24. The Twins officially retired his #3 before a game vs. KC on May 4, 1975. As long as so many fans were there to honor him anyway, Harmon went ahead and homered in the first inning. On September 18, he hit his 573rd and final home run off the Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Bane. Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011 after a brief battle with esophageal cancer. He was just 74 years old. To put a silver lining around an otherwise sucky situation, the Twins were in town to play the Diamondbacks, and able to attend Harmon’s funeral on May 20. Bert Blyleven spoke at the service, and Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Ron Gardenhire, and Paul Molitor served as pallbearers. The Twins held a public memorial at Target Field six days later. In addition to an All-Star lineup of Twins past and present, the event was attended by Commissioner Selig and Hank Aaron. January 11, 1973 AL Adopts DH In an effort spearheaded by Oakland Athletics’ owner Charlie Finley, American League owners vote 8-4 in favor of adopting the designated hitter. Tony Oliva would hit the first regular season home run by a DH off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter on Opening Day (April 6, 1973). January 12, 1898 Birthdate of Rip Wade It’s the birthdate of 1916 Denfeld High School grad Richard “Rip” Wade, born in Duluth in 1898 (120 years ago). Wade played outfield in 19 games, and pinch-hit in 14 more for the 1923 Washington Senators, going 16-for-69 (.232), with 14 RBI and eight runs scored. Duluth’s Wade Stadium is named after Rip’s dad, Frank. January 12, 2013 Ryan Receives Genovese Award Twins GM Terry Ryan receives the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s 10th annual "In The Spirit of the Game" Sports and Entertainment Spectacular in Los Angeles. The Foundation created the award in honor of the legendary SoCal scout in 2003. Ryan’s relationship with the Twins began in 1972 when they drafted the Janesville, WI native in the 35th round. The lefty went 10-0 with a 1.70 ERA at Class A Wisconsin Rapids in ‘73. After an arm injury, however, he struggled at Double-A Orlando until being released in June 1976. Ryan joined the Mets as a scouting supervisor in 1980. In 1986 he returned to the Twins organization as scouting director. He ascended to vice president of player personnel in 1991, and became GM following Andy MacPhail’s departure to the Chicago Cubs after the ‘94 season. Ryan served as GM for 13 years before resigning on October 1, 2007. He remained with the Twins as an adviser while Bill Smith took over as GM. After Smith’s firing following the 2011 season, Ryan returned to his former post. He was fired on July 18, 2016, midway through the worst season in franchise history. Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail hired Terry Ryan as a special assignment scout on November 30, 2016. January 13 Happy 64th Birthday, Steve Comer It’s the birthday of 1972 Minnetonka grad, Golden Gophers all-time great, and former major league pitcher Steve Comer. Comer was a four-year starter at the University of Minnesota, and still holds school records with 30 wins and 25 complete games. He went on to pitch parts of seven major league seasons with the Rangers (‘78-’82), Phillies (‘83), and Cleveland (‘84), compiling a record of 44-37 with 13 saves, 4.13 ERA, and a 1.445 WHIP in 176 games (83 starts). He averaged 3.1 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
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