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  1. The Puckett Clause Twins fans are well aware of the legend of Kirby Puckett. His career tragically ended too soon at the young age of 35 after 12 seasons. Puckett was a dominant player during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as the Twins won two championships in a five year span. For 10 straight seasons, he was named an American League All-Star and he won six Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess. Some would argue he willed the Twins to a Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with his heroic actions in Game 6. Puckett was on a path for the Hall of Fame before his career was cut short. He wasn’t able to compile the same type of careers numbers that would scream Hall of Fame player. He only had two seasons in the top 10 for WAR and his career WAR only places him as the 184th all-time position player. That ties him with Brian Giles. Heck, even Joe Mauer ranks higher. There are plenty of people who believe he shouldn’t be part of Cooperstown’s elite group. The members of the BBWAA thought differently about Puckett. He was elected on his first ballot with 82.1% of the vote which easily cleared the 75% needed for induction. By receiving 36 more votes than were needed, he joined Dave Winfield in the Class of 2001. Puckett was able to pack enough into 12 seasons and the writers honored him for being one of baseball’s best for the better part of a decade. Applying the Puckett Clause Much like Puckett, Santana saw his career ended too early because of injury. Santana wasn’t hit in the head with a Dennis Martinez fastball. Instead, his golden left arm was betrayed by an ailing left shoulder. Some Santana supporters will point to his no-hitter on June 1, 2012 as his Puckett-Martinez moment. On the way to the first no-hitter in Mets’ franchise history, Santana tossed 134 pitches. At the conclusion of that contest, his season ERA dropped to 2.38 but he posted an 8.27 mark over his final ten appearances. He would never pitch in another MLB game. With writers limited to 10 names per ballot, it could be easy for some to ignore what Santana was able to accomplish. From 2003 through 2008, he pitched at much more than a Hall of Fame level. In over 1400 innings, he posted a 2.86 ERA (156 ERA+) while striking out four times as many batters as he walked. Throw in two Cy Young Awards and a third award that was stolen from him and it looks like he has a solid case for Cooperstown. As with Puckett, Santana didn’t have the longevity to accumulate many of the numbers needed to be deemed Hall of Fame worthy. He couldn’t pitch 3,000 innings. He couldn’t strike out 2,500 batters. He couldn’t accumulate a large career WAR total. If he had been able to pitch four or five more seasons in the back-end of a rotation, he’d be a lock for the Hall. His ailing shoulder took those seasons away. The greatness of careers shortened by injury should be given the benefit of the doubt. When Twins fans examine Kirby Puckett, it is clear that he was a Hall of Fame player. One high and tight fastball from Dennis Martinez deprived Twins Territory of the end of his career. Santana fits the same mold as he dominated the game before an injury forced him off the mound. The Puckett Clause applies and only strengthens Santana’s case for Cooperstown. Should the Puckett Clause be applied to Santana? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Don’t forget to stop back in the coming weeks as I continue to make the Cooperstown Case for Johan Santana.
  2. On a late summer day under the Metrodome’s Teflon covering, fans watched a master at work. Johan Santana dominated the Texas Rangers over eight shutout innings. He set a Twins team record with 17 strikeouts and allowed only two hits. For the over 36,000 fans in attendance, it was Mozart’s greatest symphony or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It was the music of a man on his way to the Hall of Fame. In a perfect world, Santana would have pitched into his late 30’s or early 40’s while continuing to be one of the best in the game. That ideal world didn’t play out and he never pitched a big league game after the age of 33. At the height of his career, there is no doubt that he was the best pitcher on the planet. This year will mark his first chance at being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In this series, I will build up Santana’s case for enshrinement. The following is a paean to the career of the southpaw from Venezuela. A man who should and can be elected into the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown.The Puckett Clause Twins fans are well aware of the legend of Kirby Puckett. His career tragically ended too soon at the young age of 35 after 12 seasons. Puckett was a dominant player during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as the Twins won two championships in a five year span. For 10 straight seasons, he was named an American League All-Star and he won six Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess. Some would argue he willed the Twins to a Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with his heroic actions in Game 6. Puckett was on a path for the Hall of Fame before his career was cut short. He wasn’t able to compile the same type of careers numbers that would scream Hall of Fame player. He only had two seasons in the top 10 for WAR and his career WAR only places him as the 184th all-time position player. That ties him with Brian Giles. Heck, even Joe Mauer ranks higher. There are plenty of people who believe he shouldn’t be part of Cooperstown’s elite group. The members of the BBWAA thought differently about Puckett. He was elected on his first ballot with 82.1% of the vote which easily cleared the 75% needed for induction. By receiving 36 more votes than were needed, he joined Dave Winfield in the Class of 2001. Puckett was able to pack enough into 12 seasons and the writers honored him for being one of baseball’s best for the better part of a decade. Applying the Puckett Clause Much like Puckett, Santana saw his career ended too early because of injury. Santana wasn’t hit in the head with a Dennis Martinez fastball. Instead, his golden left arm was betrayed by an ailing left shoulder. Some Santana supporters will point to his no-hitter on June 1, 2012 as his Puckett-Martinez moment. On the way to the first no-hitter in Mets’ franchise history, Santana tossed 134 pitches. At the conclusion of that contest, his season ERA dropped to 2.38 but he posted an 8.27 mark over his final ten appearances. He would never pitch in another MLB game. With writers limited to 10 names per ballot, it could be easy for some to ignore what Santana was able to accomplish. From 2003 through 2008, he pitched at much more than a Hall of Fame level. In over 1400 innings, he posted a 2.86 ERA (156 ERA+) while striking out four times as many batters as he walked. Throw in two Cy Young Awards and a third award that was stolen from him and it looks like he has a solid case for Cooperstown. As with Puckett, Santana didn’t have the longevity to accumulate many of the numbers needed to be deemed Hall of Fame worthy. He couldn’t pitch 3,000 innings. He couldn’t strike out 2,500 batters. He couldn’t accumulate a large career WAR total. If he had been able to pitch four or five more seasons in the back-end of a rotation, he’d be a lock for the Hall. His ailing shoulder took those seasons away. The greatness of careers shortened by injury should be given the benefit of the doubt. When Twins fans examine Kirby Puckett, it is clear that he was a Hall of Fame player. One high and tight fastball from Dennis Martinez deprived Twins Territory of the end of his career. Santana fits the same mold as he dominated the game before an injury forced him off the mound. The Puckett Clause applies and only strengthens Santana’s case for Cooperstown. Should the Puckett Clause be applied to Santana? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Don’t forget to stop back in the coming weeks as I continue to make the Cooperstown Case for Johan Santana. Click here to view the article
  3. 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
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