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  1. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15
  2. The Twins are closing in on 1,000 home runs at Target Field and plenty of memorable players have helped them reach this milestone. Here are the players that cracked the back-half of the top-10 and their biggest hits. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 View full article
  3. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson explore the best players of the Minnesota Twins' 2005 season, which including a breakout season from sophomore Joe Mauer. But leading the charge that season was the best pitcher in baseball during the mid-2000s, Johan Santana.
  4. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson explore the best players of the Minnesota Twins' 2005 season, which including a breakout season from sophomore Joe Mauer. But leading the charge that season was the best pitcher in baseball during the mid-2000s, Johan Santana. View full video
  5. Carlos Correa is an electrifying talent, combining an elite offensive game with incredible defense at a premier position. For those reasons, he’s perhaps the best player the Twins have had since Joe Mauer and one of the best to wear a Twins uniform. Today, Correa is expected to make his Twins debut against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium. The Twins had many routes to choose from this offseason. It started with the most impactful decision: what to do with Byron Buxton. After the team rightly extended him for seven years and $100 million, it became clear that they couldn’t punt on his age-28 season. The idea of Buxton finally staying healthy and putting together an MVP-level campaign only to miss the playoffs was untenable. The Twins picked the path to competition. With all of the uncertainty, the money available, and the robust free-agent class, there was one certainty: the Twins weren’t landing Carlos Correa. A $300-plus million talent, Correa topped the market. The Twins have never actually paid more than $50 million to a free agent, an incredible fact and one that placed them firmly outside of Correa’s stratosphere. It was almost more unlikely to happen if Correa wanted a shorter-term deal. Why wouldn’t handfuls of teams line up for a shorter, high-AAV deal for Correa’s prime years? The Twins weren’t the destination, not even close. Until they were. If you’re not *still* shocked, I don’t believe you. The Twins took advantage of a surprisingly depressed market and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. With one swift and stunning move, the Twins added the best player they’ve had since Joe Mauer’s heydays (in addition to Buxton). So, just how good is he? Correa produced 7.1 r-Wins Above Replacement(WAR) in 2021, which would place him in the top-10 for all-time Twins position-player seasons. No Twins hitter has eclipsed 7 WAR since Mauer in 2009, and Chuck Knoblauch's 1996 season was the most recent before Mauer, and that was way back in 1996. The Twins have never had a shortstop like Correa. His great 34.1 WAR would rank first in Twins history through a position player’s age-26 season, and it isn’t close. Only four Twins hitters have ever eclipsed 6.5 WAR in a season. Correa has done it three times on his own. Among shortstops who played at least 500 games through their age-26 season, Correa ranks fourth in WAR, and has played in a combined 1,090 less games than the three players ahead of him. Those players? Alex Rodríguez, Cal Ripken Jr., and Robin Yount. And that’s just the regular season. The Twins’ postseason hits leader is Kirby Puckett with 30. Correa has 82. Correa has driven in 59 runs in the playoffs, more than the top-four Twins leaders combined (54). Correa has played more postseason games (79) than the Twins have in their 121-year franchise history (74). (Of note, this isn't completely an apples-to-apples comparison as MLB has more playoff rounds than there were in 1987 and 1991, which was more than 1965.) The Twins have *never* had an in-their-prime, all-around star with Correa's track record. Only two Twins in team history can match the 7.1-WAR, 25 home run season Correa put together last year: Bob Allison in 1963, and yes, you guessed it! Mauer in 2009. If Correa’s career ended today, he’d rank 8th in Twins' position-player history in WAR, ahead of Allison (30.6), Gary Gaetti (27.1), and Torii Hunter (26.4). Among Twins with at least 700 games played, Correa would rank 6th in OPS+ (127), ahead of Mauer (124) and Puckett (124). Of course, Correa has played a total of zero games with the Twins to this point and we don't know exactly how long his tenure with the team will last. It certainly is exciting to think about what type of talent he can be. Defensively, Correa saved 20 runs in 2021, per FanGraphs. Only one Twin in team history has ever eclipsed that mark: Buxton in a Platinum-Glove winning 2017 when he saved 22 runs in centerfield. Like his similarly talented teammate in centerfield, Correa does it all. In no way am I discounting the great players we’ve seen excel for the Twins. They have a rich history of outstanding, Hall-of-Fame level performers. Correa tracks for similar status, and he’s in the middle of his prime. Enjoy the (likely one-year) ride. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. The Twins had many routes to choose from this offseason. It started with the most impactful decision: what to do with Byron Buxton. After the team rightly extended him for seven years and $100 million, it became clear that they couldn’t punt on his age-28 season. The idea of Buxton finally staying healthy and putting together an MVP-level campaign only to miss the playoffs was untenable. The Twins picked the path to competition. With all of the uncertainty, the money available, and the robust free-agent class, there was one certainty: the Twins weren’t landing Carlos Correa. A $300-plus million talent, Correa topped the market. The Twins have never actually paid more than $50 million to a free agent, an incredible fact and one that placed them firmly outside of Correa’s stratosphere. It was almost more unlikely to happen if Correa wanted a shorter-term deal. Why wouldn’t handfuls of teams line up for a shorter, high-AAV deal for Correa’s prime years? The Twins weren’t the destination, not even close. Until they were. If you’re not *still* shocked, I don’t believe you. The Twins took advantage of a surprisingly depressed market and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. With one swift and stunning move, the Twins added the best player they’ve had since Joe Mauer’s heydays (in addition to Buxton). So, just how good is he? Correa produced 7.1 r-Wins Above Replacement(WAR) in 2021, which would place him in the top-10 for all-time Twins position-player seasons. No Twins hitter has eclipsed 7 WAR since Mauer in 2009, and Chuck Knoblauch's 1996 season was the most recent before Mauer, and that was way back in 1996. The Twins have never had a shortstop like Correa. His great 34.1 WAR would rank first in Twins history through a position player’s age-26 season, and it isn’t close. Only four Twins hitters have ever eclipsed 6.5 WAR in a season. Correa has done it three times on his own. Among shortstops who played at least 500 games through their age-26 season, Correa ranks fourth in WAR, and has played in a combined 1,090 less games than the three players ahead of him. Those players? Alex Rodríguez, Cal Ripken Jr., and Robin Yount. And that’s just the regular season. The Twins’ postseason hits leader is Kirby Puckett with 30. Correa has 82. Correa has driven in 59 runs in the playoffs, more than the top-four Twins leaders combined (54). Correa has played more postseason games (79) than the Twins have in their 121-year franchise history (74). (Of note, this isn't completely an apples-to-apples comparison as MLB has more playoff rounds than there were in 1987 and 1991, which was more than 1965.) The Twins have *never* had an in-their-prime, all-around star with Correa's track record. Only two Twins in team history can match the 7.1-WAR, 25 home run season Correa put together last year: Bob Allison in 1963, and yes, you guessed it! Mauer in 2009. If Correa’s career ended today, he’d rank 8th in Twins' position-player history in WAR, ahead of Allison (30.6), Gary Gaetti (27.1), and Torii Hunter (26.4). Among Twins with at least 700 games played, Correa would rank 6th in OPS+ (127), ahead of Mauer (124) and Puckett (124). Of course, Correa has played a total of zero games with the Twins to this point and we don't know exactly how long his tenure with the team will last. It certainly is exciting to think about what type of talent he can be. Defensively, Correa saved 20 runs in 2021, per FanGraphs. Only one Twin in team history has ever eclipsed that mark: Buxton in a Platinum-Glove winning 2017 when he saved 22 runs in centerfield. Like his similarly talented teammate in centerfield, Correa does it all. In no way am I discounting the great players we’ve seen excel for the Twins. They have a rich history of outstanding, Hall-of-Fame level performers. Correa tracks for similar status, and he’s in the middle of his prime. Enjoy the (likely one-year) ride. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes move to the 2005 season, which saw the end of three consecutive AL Central championships for the team. But in a brighter light, it was also the first full season from the next wave of Twins players; both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau played their first full seasons in a Twins uniform that year.
  8. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes move to the 2005 season, which saw the end of three consecutive AL Central championships for the team. But in a brighter light, it was also the first full season from the next wave of Twins players; both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau played their first full seasons in a Twins uniform that year. View full video
  9. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes talk about the Minnesota Twins' top moments from their 2004 campaign, which included their third consecutive AL Central division title. That season we saw the debut of Joe Mauer, the first pitch thrown by Joe Nathan, and a Cy Young award from Johan Santana.
  10. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes talk about the Minnesota Twins' top moments from their 2004 campaign, which included their third consecutive AL Central division title. That season we saw the debut of Joe Mauer, the first pitch thrown by Joe Nathan, and a Cy Young award from Johan Santana. View full video
  11. There are times when expectations need to be tempered, and there are times when players more than live up to the hype. Here’s a look back at the top-5 prospects in Twins history. Baseball America became the first place to rank prospects on a national level in 1990. Since that time, other national outlets like Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com have also grown in popularity. The top-5 prospects in Twins history were all considered among baseball's top-10 prospects at some point in their professional careers. 5. Francisco Liriano Top-100 Peak: 6 Liriano came to the Twins in one most lopsided trade in franchise history. He was a top-100 prospect entering the 2003 season, but his 2005 minor league campaign put him on the prospect map. As a 21-year-old, he posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 11 SO/9 at Double- and Triple-A. He was electric at the beginning of his career as he was an All-Star in 2006. Unfortunately, his elbow gave out, and he missed the end of 2006 and all of 2007. Some have argued the 2006 Twins had a chance to win the World Series with Johan Santana and Liriano at the top of the rotation. 4. Royce Lewis Top-100 Peak: 5 Expectations are high for any player taken with the first overall pick. After a .788 OPS in his pro debut, Lewis was a consensus top-30 prospect. His 2018 performance moved him even higher as he posted an .803 OPS at Low- and High-A. Unfortunately, Lewis struggled through parts of the 2019 season, and he hasn’t played a professional game since that year. A knee injury took away his 2021 season on the heels of the pandemic canceling the 2020 campaign. His stock has dropped this winter as many evaluators have moved him off top-100 lists. Now, he will have plenty to prove when the lockout finally ends. 3. Miguel Sano Top-100 Peak: 4 Sano may or may not have lived up to his expectations, but he was clearly among the best prospects in Twins history. He appeared on national top-100 lists for five consecutive offseasons, and multiple lists included him as a top-15 prospect for consecutive seasons. Sano was an easy prospect to be intrigued by with light-tower power and a .932 OPS throughout his minor league career. His big-league career has had ups and downs, but the power he showcased as a prospect has been his greatest tool. He has the 12th most home runs in franchise history, and seven home runs this season will move him into the top-10. His .491 slugging percentage only ranks behind Harmon Killebrew in team history. 2. Byron Buxton Top-100 Peak: 1 Buxton‘s five-tool talent was evident early on in his professional career. All three national prospect rankings ranked him number one entering the 2014 season. Over the remainder of his minor league career, some ranking dropped him to second behind Chicago’s Kris Bryant. However, there were some tremendous prospects in the minors simultaneously as Buxton, including Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, and Lucas Giolito. Many of these players scored big contracts over the last couple of offseasons. Thankfully, Minnesota was able to work out a deal to keep Buxton in a Twins uniform for the prime of his career. 1. Joe Mauer Top-100 Peak: 1 Minnesota selected Mauer as the number one overall pick in 2001, so plenty viewed him as one of baseball’s best prospects. Baseball America immediately included him in baseball’s top-10 prospects as he ranked seventh entering the 2002 campaign. He ranked as baseball’s top prospect in two consecutive off-seasons. He’s the only player in Twins history to accomplish this feat. Mauer went on to a tremendous career as he is considered one of the best players in Twins history. Do you feel like these are the best prospects in Twins history? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. Baseball America became the first place to rank prospects on a national level in 1990. Since that time, other national outlets like Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com have also grown in popularity. The top-5 prospects in Twins history were all considered among baseball's top-10 prospects at some point in their professional careers. 5. Francisco Liriano Top-100 Peak: 6 Liriano came to the Twins in one most lopsided trade in franchise history. He was a top-100 prospect entering the 2003 season, but his 2005 minor league campaign put him on the prospect map. As a 21-year-old, he posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 11 SO/9 at Double- and Triple-A. He was electric at the beginning of his career as he was an All-Star in 2006. Unfortunately, his elbow gave out, and he missed the end of 2006 and all of 2007. Some have argued the 2006 Twins had a chance to win the World Series with Johan Santana and Liriano at the top of the rotation. 4. Royce Lewis Top-100 Peak: 5 Expectations are high for any player taken with the first overall pick. After a .788 OPS in his pro debut, Lewis was a consensus top-30 prospect. His 2018 performance moved him even higher as he posted an .803 OPS at Low- and High-A. Unfortunately, Lewis struggled through parts of the 2019 season, and he hasn’t played a professional game since that year. A knee injury took away his 2021 season on the heels of the pandemic canceling the 2020 campaign. His stock has dropped this winter as many evaluators have moved him off top-100 lists. Now, he will have plenty to prove when the lockout finally ends. 3. Miguel Sano Top-100 Peak: 4 Sano may or may not have lived up to his expectations, but he was clearly among the best prospects in Twins history. He appeared on national top-100 lists for five consecutive offseasons, and multiple lists included him as a top-15 prospect for consecutive seasons. Sano was an easy prospect to be intrigued by with light-tower power and a .932 OPS throughout his minor league career. His big-league career has had ups and downs, but the power he showcased as a prospect has been his greatest tool. He has the 12th most home runs in franchise history, and seven home runs this season will move him into the top-10. His .491 slugging percentage only ranks behind Harmon Killebrew in team history. 2. Byron Buxton Top-100 Peak: 1 Buxton‘s five-tool talent was evident early on in his professional career. All three national prospect rankings ranked him number one entering the 2014 season. Over the remainder of his minor league career, some ranking dropped him to second behind Chicago’s Kris Bryant. However, there were some tremendous prospects in the minors simultaneously as Buxton, including Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, and Lucas Giolito. Many of these players scored big contracts over the last couple of offseasons. Thankfully, Minnesota was able to work out a deal to keep Buxton in a Twins uniform for the prime of his career. 1. Joe Mauer Top-100 Peak: 1 Minnesota selected Mauer as the number one overall pick in 2001, so plenty viewed him as one of baseball’s best prospects. Baseball America immediately included him in baseball’s top-10 prospects as he ranked seventh entering the 2002 campaign. He ranked as baseball’s top prospect in two consecutive off-seasons. He’s the only player in Twins history to accomplish this feat. Mauer went on to a tremendous career as he is considered one of the best players in Twins history. Do you feel like these are the best prospects in Twins history? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson move on to the 2004 season, which was the third consecutive division title for the Minnesota Twins. It featured the debut of Joe Mauer in a Twins uniform, Johan Santana at his peak dominance, and (unfortunately), the last postseason win for the franchise through today.
  14. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson move on to the 2004 season, which was the third consecutive division title for the Minnesota Twins. It featured the debut of Joe Mauer in a Twins uniform, Johan Santana at his peak dominance, and (unfortunately), the last postseason win for the franchise through today. View full video
  15. It can be one of the most debated topics for any franchise. Who are the best players in franchise history? Minnesota's Mount Rushmore isn't as easy to design as one might think. There is some debate over how far back to go into the franchise's history regarding Minnesota's Mount Rushmore. The Twins moved to Minnesota before the 1961 season, but the franchise came from Washington with an already established legacy. They recently discussed Minnesota's Mount Rushmore on MLB Network and included Walter Johnson, one of the best pitchers in baseball history. He never played a game in Minnesota, so it doesn't seem right to include him. Since 1961, there have been some clear favorites to include on the team's Mount Rushmore. Many of the great players in team history have their numbers retired, including Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Bert Blyleven, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, and Joe Mauer. An argument can be made for a handful of players outside the team's inner circle, but those players are the most straightforward selections for being the organization's all-time great players. Founding Fathers Killebrew and Carew are two of the easiest choices on the team's Mount Rushmore. Killebrew is the George Washington-like figure in Twins history as he came with the organization from Washington and was the team's first star. According to Baseball-Reference, only one Twins player ranks higher than him when it comes to WAR in a Minnesota uniform. Killebrew became the first player to don a Twins hat in Cooperstown as he was a 13-time All-Star and an MVP. Killebrew was in his early-30s when Carew made his big-league debut, but there was an evident passing of the torch between these two players. Carew quickly became the team's most consistent hitter and a perennial MVP candidate. He leads the franchise in WAR, which is crazy considering he added even more career WAR in his seven seasons with the Angels. Both Carew and Killebrew separated themselves enough to be locks for the team's Mount Rushmore. Just Missed Oliva and Blyleven played in the same era as the Founding Fathers mentioned above, but their greatness might not have been fully appreciated in their time. Both players had a long wait before being elected to Cooperstown, but each has provided a long-term connection to baseball in the Upper Midwest. Blyleven is in the conversation for best pitcher in team history with players like Brad Radke, Johan Santana, and Jim Kaat. Oliva might be the best pure hitter in team history, but injuries kept him from reaching his full potential. An argument can be made for both players to be on the team's Mount Rushmore, but for me, they fall just short. Hrbek is a Minnesota legend, and he ranks in the top-8 for franchise WAR. He provided some of the most important World Series moments in team history, including his tag on Ron Gant and his Game 6 grand slam in 1987. Like Oliva and Blyleven, he has become part of the baseball culture in Minnesota, but it isn't enough to include him on the team's Mount Rushmore. Final Spots No history of the Minnesota Twins is complete without Kirby Puckett. Even with an injury-shortened career, he ranks fourth in franchise WAR. He also provided some of the most dramatic moments in arguably the greatest World Series of all time. Some may move him off the franchise's Mount Rushmore due to his off-the-field issues, but many in Twins Territory still see him as a hero. Puckett gets one of the four spots for his Hall of Fame career on the field while still acknowledging that he was far from perfect off the field. For the final spot, Joe Mauer gets the nod over some of the other Twins legends. According to Baseball-Reference, he only ranks behind Carew and Killebrew in franchise WAR. Mauer is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, but his case is strong for induction when he appears on the ballot. He was one of the league's best hitters while playing a grueling defensive position. According to JAWS, Mauer ranks as the seventh-best catcher in baseball history, and his seven-year peak puts him in the top five. He's a franchise great that deserves Mount Rushmore recognition. Who would you put on Minnesota's Mount Rushmore? 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 View full article
  16. There is some debate over how far back to go into the franchise's history regarding Minnesota's Mount Rushmore. The Twins moved to Minnesota before the 1961 season, but the franchise came from Washington with an already established legacy. They recently discussed Minnesota's Mount Rushmore on MLB Network and included Walter Johnson, one of the best pitchers in baseball history. He never played a game in Minnesota, so it doesn't seem right to include him. Since 1961, there have been some clear favorites to include on the team's Mount Rushmore. Many of the great players in team history have their numbers retired, including Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Bert Blyleven, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, and Joe Mauer. An argument can be made for a handful of players outside the team's inner circle, but those players are the most straightforward selections for being the organization's all-time great players. Founding Fathers Killebrew and Carew are two of the easiest choices on the team's Mount Rushmore. Killebrew is the George Washington-like figure in Twins history as he came with the organization from Washington and was the team's first star. According to Baseball-Reference, only one Twins player ranks higher than him when it comes to WAR in a Minnesota uniform. Killebrew became the first player to don a Twins hat in Cooperstown as he was a 13-time All-Star and an MVP. Killebrew was in his early-30s when Carew made his big-league debut, but there was an evident passing of the torch between these two players. Carew quickly became the team's most consistent hitter and a perennial MVP candidate. He leads the franchise in WAR, which is crazy considering he added even more career WAR in his seven seasons with the Angels. Both Carew and Killebrew separated themselves enough to be locks for the team's Mount Rushmore. Just Missed Oliva and Blyleven played in the same era as the Founding Fathers mentioned above, but their greatness might not have been fully appreciated in their time. Both players had a long wait before being elected to Cooperstown, but each has provided a long-term connection to baseball in the Upper Midwest. Blyleven is in the conversation for best pitcher in team history with players like Brad Radke, Johan Santana, and Jim Kaat. Oliva might be the best pure hitter in team history, but injuries kept him from reaching his full potential. An argument can be made for both players to be on the team's Mount Rushmore, but for me, they fall just short. Hrbek is a Minnesota legend, and he ranks in the top-8 for franchise WAR. He provided some of the most important World Series moments in team history, including his tag on Ron Gant and his Game 6 grand slam in 1987. Like Oliva and Blyleven, he has become part of the baseball culture in Minnesota, but it isn't enough to include him on the team's Mount Rushmore. Final Spots No history of the Minnesota Twins is complete without Kirby Puckett. Even with an injury-shortened career, he ranks fourth in franchise WAR. He also provided some of the most dramatic moments in arguably the greatest World Series of all time. Some may move him off the franchise's Mount Rushmore due to his off-the-field issues, but many in Twins Territory still see him as a hero. Puckett gets one of the four spots for his Hall of Fame career on the field while still acknowledging that he was far from perfect off the field. For the final spot, Joe Mauer gets the nod over some of the other Twins legends. According to Baseball-Reference, he only ranks behind Carew and Killebrew in franchise WAR. Mauer is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, but his case is strong for induction when he appears on the ballot. He was one of the league's best hitters while playing a grueling defensive position. According to JAWS, Mauer ranks as the seventh-best catcher in baseball history, and his seven-year peak puts him in the top five. He's a franchise great that deserves Mount Rushmore recognition. Who would you put on Minnesota's Mount Rushmore? 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
  17. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson explore some of the most note-worthy moments of the Twins' 2001 campaign, including their hot start that led to a Sports Illustrated cover, the drafting of Joe Mauer first overall, and yes... the infamous contraction vote by MLB owners late in the year.
  18. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson explore some of the most note-worthy moments of the Twins' 2001 campaign, including their hot start that led to a Sports Illustrated cover, the drafting of Joe Mauer first overall, and yes... the infamous contraction vote by MLB owners late in the year. View full video
  19. As the calendar turns to 2022, take a look back at the top stories at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. There were plenty of significant events and a little fun along the way. If you missed the first half of the series, take a look back at some of the year's other top stories. Below is a rundown of the top-10 stories of the year at Twins Daily. 10. Three Starting Pitchers to Trade for this Winter Published: September 19 Author: Cody Pirkl Trading for starting pitching might be the most logical path to building Minnesota's 2022 rotation, and that was even before Minnesota missed out on many of the top-tier free agent arms. There are multiple teams with controllable arms that offer intriguing trade options. Which player makes the most sense for the Twins? 9. Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer Published: November 18 Author: Ted Schwerzler With Joe Mauer, the Twins paid a premium for one of baseball's best players. He was coming off an MVP season, and his hometown connections were tough to ignore. Like Mauer, Byron Buxton was a homegrown star on the cusp of free agency. Luckily, the Twins didn't bypass a Buxton extension. Fans may continue to connect Mauer and Buxton because of their injury histories, but Twins fans won't have to watch Buxton in another team's uniform. 8. The 10 Best Twins Target Among Remaining Free Agents Published: January 17 Author: Nick Nelson Last winter, multiple free agents seemed like fits for the 2021 Twins. Two of the names identified ended up signing with the Twins, and both players signed for one-year deals. This leaves the Twins looking for replacements for these players during the current off-season. Also on the list, there were some names that Minnesota was lucky to avoid 7. 4 Possible Teams Interested in a Byron Buxton Trade Published: June 15 Author: Cody Christie During the summer, rumors swirled about the Twins and Buxton not reaching an agreement on a contract extension. It seemed like a very real possibility the team would entertain trading their Gold Glove center fielder. Imagining Buxton in a Yankees or Red Sox uniform might have been tough to swallow for Twins Territory. Luckily, fans won't have to worry about that for the foreseeable future. 6. Sano Sets Strikeout Record Published: September 18 Author: Seth Stohs When he was a top prospect, Miguel Sano breaking a record was something all Twins fans hoped for, but this probably isn't the record most fans had in mind. Not only did he set the record for fastest player to 1,000 career strikeouts, but he also smashed the record. The other players on the list aren't exactly a group of Hall of Fame players, but this is the type of player Sano has become throughout his career. 5. Notebook: Twins Have Offer Out to Veteran SP Published: February 11 Author: Matthew Lenz Twins fans were excited about the possibility of adding a veteran pitcher to Minnesota's starting staff. Unfortunately, the signing became one of the worst free-agent moves under the current regime. Other news covered in this story included the Twins claiming Kyle Garlick, who eventually made the team's Opening Day roster over Brent Rooker. 4. Simmons Wants to Know the Real Story Behind Reliever's Broken Hand Published: October 1 Author: Randballs Stu Randballs Stu offers a little humor to the Twins Daily site, and this piece was one of multiple he has in the top stories of the year. After celebrating the team's playoff-clinching victory, Milwaukee's Devin Williams broke his hand. Andrelton Simmons, a player with a known anti-vaccine stance, questions whether fans are getting the full story with the relief pitcher's injury. 3. What Happened Between Josh Donaldson and Luis Arraez? Published: July 18 Author: Tom Froemming There were plenty of frustrations with the Twins in the middle of the season. During the middle of July, Josh Donaldson got frustrated with Luis Arraez during a game in Detroit. Arraez was slow to get his lead off second base with Donaldson batting. This caused Donaldson to call time and step out. Eventually, the two had a heated discussion with Nelson Cruz playing mediator. 2. 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin Published: July 30 Author: Nick Nelson After his blockbuster trade to the Twins, fans were excited to know more about Austin Martin. Austin Martin immediately entered the conversation as one of the team's top prospects after being a 2020 top draft pick. His college experience and defensive flexibility make him one of the exciting prospects in the Twins farm system. 1. Rare Unwritten Rule Triggers Name Change for Minnesota Twins Published: May 21 Author: Randballs Stu Baseball's unwritten rules can undoubtedly cause some on-field headaches. Randballs Stu painted a satirical picture of how ridiculous these rules can be when teams follow some of these old-school mentalities. It might be fun to have some Minnesota Cocaine Dentist gear. I wonder if MLB.com still has some available? Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. If you missed the first half of the series, take a look back at some of the year's other top stories. Below is a rundown of the top-10 stories of the year at Twins Daily. 10. Three Starting Pitchers to Trade for this Winter Published: September 19 Author: Cody Pirkl Trading for starting pitching might be the most logical path to building Minnesota's 2022 rotation, and that was even before Minnesota missed out on many of the top-tier free agent arms. There are multiple teams with controllable arms that offer intriguing trade options. Which player makes the most sense for the Twins? 9. Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer Published: November 18 Author: Ted Schwerzler With Joe Mauer, the Twins paid a premium for one of baseball's best players. He was coming off an MVP season, and his hometown connections were tough to ignore. Like Mauer, Byron Buxton was a homegrown star on the cusp of free agency. Luckily, the Twins didn't bypass a Buxton extension. Fans may continue to connect Mauer and Buxton because of their injury histories, but Twins fans won't have to watch Buxton in another team's uniform. 8. The 10 Best Twins Target Among Remaining Free Agents Published: January 17 Author: Nick Nelson Last winter, multiple free agents seemed like fits for the 2021 Twins. Two of the names identified ended up signing with the Twins, and both players signed for one-year deals. This leaves the Twins looking for replacements for these players during the current off-season. Also on the list, there were some names that Minnesota was lucky to avoid 7. 4 Possible Teams Interested in a Byron Buxton Trade Published: June 15 Author: Cody Christie During the summer, rumors swirled about the Twins and Buxton not reaching an agreement on a contract extension. It seemed like a very real possibility the team would entertain trading their Gold Glove center fielder. Imagining Buxton in a Yankees or Red Sox uniform might have been tough to swallow for Twins Territory. Luckily, fans won't have to worry about that for the foreseeable future. 6. Sano Sets Strikeout Record Published: September 18 Author: Seth Stohs When he was a top prospect, Miguel Sano breaking a record was something all Twins fans hoped for, but this probably isn't the record most fans had in mind. Not only did he set the record for fastest player to 1,000 career strikeouts, but he also smashed the record. The other players on the list aren't exactly a group of Hall of Fame players, but this is the type of player Sano has become throughout his career. 5. Notebook: Twins Have Offer Out to Veteran SP Published: February 11 Author: Matthew Lenz Twins fans were excited about the possibility of adding a veteran pitcher to Minnesota's starting staff. Unfortunately, the signing became one of the worst free-agent moves under the current regime. Other news covered in this story included the Twins claiming Kyle Garlick, who eventually made the team's Opening Day roster over Brent Rooker. 4. Simmons Wants to Know the Real Story Behind Reliever's Broken Hand Published: October 1 Author: Randballs Stu Randballs Stu offers a little humor to the Twins Daily site, and this piece was one of multiple he has in the top stories of the year. After celebrating the team's playoff-clinching victory, Milwaukee's Devin Williams broke his hand. Andrelton Simmons, a player with a known anti-vaccine stance, questions whether fans are getting the full story with the relief pitcher's injury. 3. What Happened Between Josh Donaldson and Luis Arraez? Published: July 18 Author: Tom Froemming There were plenty of frustrations with the Twins in the middle of the season. During the middle of July, Josh Donaldson got frustrated with Luis Arraez during a game in Detroit. Arraez was slow to get his lead off second base with Donaldson batting. This caused Donaldson to call time and step out. Eventually, the two had a heated discussion with Nelson Cruz playing mediator. 2. 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin Published: July 30 Author: Nick Nelson After his blockbuster trade to the Twins, fans were excited to know more about Austin Martin. Austin Martin immediately entered the conversation as one of the team's top prospects after being a 2020 top draft pick. His college experience and defensive flexibility make him one of the exciting prospects in the Twins farm system. 1. Rare Unwritten Rule Triggers Name Change for Minnesota Twins Published: May 21 Author: Randballs Stu Baseball's unwritten rules can undoubtedly cause some on-field headaches. Randballs Stu painted a satirical picture of how ridiculous these rules can be when teams follow some of these old-school mentalities. It might be fun to have some Minnesota Cocaine Dentist gear. I wonder if MLB.com still has some available? Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. The epic adaptation of a Charles Dickens' class continues today. Where were we? That's right. In Part 2, Jim Pohlad just spent time with Kirby Puckett, the Ghost of Twins' Christmas Past. Clearly upset, he went back to bed. Let the story continue. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 2 Jim Pohlad tosses and turns in bed and finally awakens with a start. He gasps and feels his pajamas, which are soaked in sweat. He reaches for his end table and takes a big drink of water. He isn’t sure why, but he is absolutely parched. “Oh, my, what a terrible dream,” Pohlad says. “And stupid because that story has a happy ending, we got our stadium.” He pulled his sleep mask over his eyes and fell back into a deep slumber, but it didn’t last long. He was awakened again by the sound of cleats on the floor. Pohlad awoke and asked “Kirby? Is that you again?” But this time it wasn’t Puckett at all. It was a tall, quiet, side-burned figure wearing a Twins jersey outlined in beautiful Kasota gold. His name, he explained, was Joe Mauer. The Ghost of Christmas Present. Without a word, Pohlad is taken to a big convention center full of happy people. There are hands shaking everywhere they looked and happy agents calling their clients. They were at the MLB Winter Meetings. There was Max Scherzer shaking hands with Mets GM Billy Eppler. On the other side of the room Robbie Ray shook hands with Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto. Free agents were signing at a record pace and everyone seemed to be very happy. Suddenly, Mauer led Pohlad to an alleyway behind the convention center. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were looking tired while picking through the offerings near the dumpster. A Dylan Bundy here, a Michael Wacha there… there simply wasn’t much for the duo to choose from. “Thad, I don’t know what we are going to tell Mr. Pohlad if we come up empty here,” Falvey said. “I’m afraid we won’t have enough pitching for the upcoming season and if we don’t start winning some games, we might not have a job soon.” “Don’t worry Derek, everything will work out for us in the end,” Levine said, with more than a little hint of doubt in his voice. Suddenly, Mauer and Pohlad were standing outside of a house in Burnsville. Inside was a family of meager means and a child was opening a present. Inside was a pair of tickets for a Twins game and a Jose Berrios jersey. “I know Berrios isn’t on the team any more son, and I know he was your favorite player. But the Twins simply couldn’t afford to pay him anymore,” the dad said. “Jerseys nowadays are so expensive but this one was on clearance so we could finally afford one. “You see, the Twins are just a small-market team that cannot afford to pay any players. Sure, there is no salary cap and the owners have money they could never spend in seven lifetimes, but something something TV contracts. “I worked overtime to get us two tickets to see the Twins play against the Tigers this April,” the dad said. “It was outside of our normal budget, but you have been so good and loyal that I wanted to reward you this year.” The child thanked the dad and gave him a big hug. “That dad works 50 hours a week to put food on the table,” Mauer explained. “He had to work overtime to be able to afford two tickets to take his baseball-loving kid to a Twins game, even though they won’t be very good this year, especially without Jose Berrios.” He explained that sometimes people spend more money than they maybe want to in order to show someone that they appreciate them. He called this phenomenon ‘reciprocation.’ Mauer then shows Pohlad the 2022 MLB Standings. The Twins have finished with a record of 54-108. “If you don’t change your ways, Jim, this is what you have to look forward to,” Mauer warned. Suddenly, Jim Pohlad was back in bed and again soaked in sweat. He began to think he was losing his mind but he was so, so tired. He went back to sleep. Check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to... A Minnesota Twins' Christmas Carol. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 2 View full article
  22. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 2 Jim Pohlad tosses and turns in bed and finally awakens with a start. He gasps and feels his pajamas, which are soaked in sweat. He reaches for his end table and takes a big drink of water. He isn’t sure why, but he is absolutely parched. “Oh, my, what a terrible dream,” Pohlad says. “And stupid because that story has a happy ending, we got our stadium.” He pulled his sleep mask over his eyes and fell back into a deep slumber, but it didn’t last long. He was awakened again by the sound of cleats on the floor. Pohlad awoke and asked “Kirby? Is that you again?” But this time it wasn’t Puckett at all. It was a tall, quiet, side-burned figure wearing a Twins jersey outlined in beautiful Kasota gold. His name, he explained, was Joe Mauer. The Ghost of Christmas Present. Without a word, Pohlad is taken to a big convention center full of happy people. There are hands shaking everywhere they looked and happy agents calling their clients. They were at the MLB Winter Meetings. There was Max Scherzer shaking hands with Mets GM Billy Eppler. On the other side of the room Robbie Ray shook hands with Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto. Free agents were signing at a record pace and everyone seemed to be very happy. Suddenly, Mauer led Pohlad to an alleyway behind the convention center. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were looking tired while picking through the offerings near the dumpster. A Dylan Bundy here, a Michael Wacha there… there simply wasn’t much for the duo to choose from. “Thad, I don’t know what we are going to tell Mr. Pohlad if we come up empty here,” Falvey said. “I’m afraid we won’t have enough pitching for the upcoming season and if we don’t start winning some games, we might not have a job soon.” “Don’t worry Derek, everything will work out for us in the end,” Levine said, with more than a little hint of doubt in his voice. Suddenly, Mauer and Pohlad were standing outside of a house in Burnsville. Inside was a family of meager means and a child was opening a present. Inside was a pair of tickets for a Twins game and a Jose Berrios jersey. “I know Berrios isn’t on the team any more son, and I know he was your favorite player. But the Twins simply couldn’t afford to pay him anymore,” the dad said. “Jerseys nowadays are so expensive but this one was on clearance so we could finally afford one. “You see, the Twins are just a small-market team that cannot afford to pay any players. Sure, there is no salary cap and the owners have money they could never spend in seven lifetimes, but something something TV contracts. “I worked overtime to get us two tickets to see the Twins play against the Tigers this April,” the dad said. “It was outside of our normal budget, but you have been so good and loyal that I wanted to reward you this year.” The child thanked the dad and gave him a big hug. “That dad works 50 hours a week to put food on the table,” Mauer explained. “He had to work overtime to be able to afford two tickets to take his baseball-loving kid to a Twins game, even though they won’t be very good this year, especially without Jose Berrios.” He explained that sometimes people spend more money than they maybe want to in order to show someone that they appreciate them. He called this phenomenon ‘reciprocation.’ Mauer then shows Pohlad the 2022 MLB Standings. The Twins have finished with a record of 54-108. “If you don’t change your ways, Jim, this is what you have to look forward to,” Mauer warned. Suddenly, Jim Pohlad was back in bed and again soaked in sweat. He began to think he was losing his mind but he was so, so tired. He went back to sleep. Check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to... A Minnesota Twins' Christmas Carol. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 2
  23. There have been plenty of great players in the history of the Minnesota Twins. From Killebrew to Buxton and many in-between, it is tough to narrow it down to the top twelve players in the history of the Twins. The fourth-best player in Twins history is a hometown hero who, despite having one of the best careers in Twins history, remains one of the biggest what-if’s in team history. If you don’t know who I’m talking about by now, it’s Joe Mauer. Other than my parents, there is nobody I idolized more growing up than Joe. Joe Mauer was an extremely talented hitter and it was evident from the moment he put on a Twins uniform that he would do great things for the Twins organization. Young Prodigy When Mauer was four years old, he was asked to leave his youth tee-ball league because he hit the ball too hard for the other kids. When he was in high school, he might have been the best athlete in the entire country. A three-sport athlete at Cretin-Derham Hall, Mauer excelled in all three sports. In baseball, he hit a remarkable .605, hit a home run in seven consecutive games, and only struck out once in his entire career. In football, he threw for 5,528 yards and 73 touchdowns over a two-year career, being named National Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year. He had a verbal commitment to play college football for Bobby Bowden at Florida State had he not been drafted by the Twins. 247 Sports ranked him as the 17th best football player in the country, ahead of Frank Gore and Larry Fitzgerald. In basketball, he averaged 20 points per game and was named All-State his junior and senior years. Meteoric Rise In the 2001 draft, Mauer was selected first overall by his hometown Twins. He started in rookie ball the summer of 2001 and dominated, hitting .400/.492/.491 in 32 games there. In 2002, he played in A ball with the Quad Cities River Bandits and continued to perform well, hitting .302 with a .785 OPS while walking more than he struck out as a 19 year old. In 2003, Mauer split time between high A ball and AA, and combined to hit .338/.398/.434 with 30 doubles. This accumulation of great performance earned Mauer the #1 prospect ranking in all of baseball heading into the 2004 season. Because of Mauer’s readiness for the big leagues, the Twins traded their starting catcher, AJ Pierzynski, to the San Francisco Giants for Boof Bonser, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Liriano. In 2004, Mauer started out hot before suffering a sprained left knee. He returned in June of that year and appeared in 35 games, hitting .308/.369/.570 with six home runs. In 2005, Mauer was able to stay healthy and played 131 games, hitting .294/.372/.411 while also throwing out 43 percent of base stealers (league average was 30 percent) for a 3.4 WAR season. It was clear that Mauer and his beautiful swing were close to breaking out and he was already a major contributor for the Twins. Prime Years 2006 was the year Mauer took a big step forward. He started off the season hitting an absurd .378/.446/.535 with 40 extra base hits and a 157 wRC+ before the all-star break. He was named the starting catcher in the all-star game for the first time in his career. Mauer finished that season as the batting champion, hitting .347/.429/.507 with 13 home runs and 84 RBI while accumulating 5.8 fWAR. He was named the AL Silver Slugger at the catcher position and finished 6th in MVP voting while teammate Justin Morneau won it. Mauer led the Twins to a 96-66 finish and a division title. In 2007 Mauer took a minor step backwards, only hitting .293/.382/.426 (.808). He had his best defensive season yet, posting 7 Defensive Runs Saved. In 2008, Mauer won the AL batting crown again, hitting .328/.413/.451 while winning his first Gold Glove and his second Silver Slugger. He was once again named an all-star and finished 4th in MVP voting while posting a 6.4 WAR. MVP In 2009, Mauer missed the first month of the season due to a back injury. He made his season debut on May 1st and hit a home run in his first at bat. That was only the start of a historic season. Through his first 185 plate appearances, Mauer was hitting an otherworldly .429/.497/.756 with a 225 wRC+ (125 percent above league average). He was named AL Player of the Month in May. He was named an all-star and finished the season hitting .365/.444/.587 (1.031) with 28 home runs. He led the American League in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, wRC+ (170), and was second in fWAR (8.4). He won the AL MVP and received 27 of 28 first place votes. This was the second best season in Twins history in terms of WAR only behind Rod Carew’s 1977 MVP year. He also won his third silver slugger and his second gold glove. Go Get Paid On March 21, 2010, Mauer was given a large 8 year, $184 million extension. This was the biggest contract in Twins history and remains the biggest. In the 2010 season, Mauer continued his excellence, hitting .327/.402/.469 (.871) with 43 doubles and nine home runs in the Twins first year at Target Field. He was worth 5.7 WAR and led the Twins to another division title. He won his fourth silver slugger and third gold glove. In 2011 and 2012, the Twins were terrible, averaging 64.5 wins. Mauer however was a bright spot, hitting .308/.397/.419 (.816) with an average of 3.3 WAR. 2013 was more of the same, but Mauer started off great. Then August 19th came along. On August 19, 2013, Mauer took a foul tip off the mask and suffered a concussion. He hit .324/.404/.476 (.880) with a 143 wRC+ and won his fifth silver slugger while being named to his sixth all star game. But he was never the same after the concussion. Mauer’s concussion greatly affected his vision, and his stats can back it up. Pre-Concussion (2004-8/19/2013): (.323/.405/.468) .873 OPS, 134 wRC+, 12.2 BB%, 11.1 K% Post-Concussion: (8/20/2013-2018): (.278/.359/.388) .747 OPS, 103 wRC+, 11.1 BB%, 16.2 K% First Baseman In 2014, the Twins announced they were going to make Joe Mauer into their full-time first baseman because of his concussion risk and they thought he would be able to stay in the lineup more if he played first base. They were right, as he averaged 136 games played from 2014 to 2018. However, he was a shell of his former self, only accumulating 6.4 WAR in those five seasons. He went from being 34 percent better at hitting than league average while excelling at a premium defensive position to only being 3 percent above league average while playing first base, not a premium position. Final Goodbye In 2018, there had been ramblings about Mauer potentially retiring at the end of the season, as his contract was due to expire. In his final game against the White Sox, he had quite the final send-off. In his final at bat as a Twin, he got to a full count and hit a hard line drive into the left-center gap for a double. Mauer always used the whole field so it was fitting that his final at bat was a hard hit double the other way. In the ninth inning, there was a slight delay in starting the inning, and there was no catcher behind home plate. Mauer emerged from the tunnel in catcher’s gear, and the stadium gave him a standing ovation. Mauer caught just one pitch before getting pulled for Chris Herrmann, and got yet another lengthy ovation from the home faithful. This was Mauer’s first time catching since 2013 so it was a very emotional moment. A month later, Mauer penned a retirement letter to Twins Territory, citing health reasons and wanting to be with family as a couple of main reasons for retirement. Conclusion Joe Mauer was a fan favorite for many years. Seeing an athlete play for his hometown team, dominate, and do it all with class made Mauer one of the most likable athletes in Minnesota history. Mauer had five seasons of 5+ WAR in his career. Only three catchers in MLB history have more. These catchers are Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, and Gary Carter. Mauer finished his career with 52.5 WAR (3rd in team history), 2,123 hits (2nd), 428 doubles (1st), 1,018 runs (3rd), 923 RBI (5th), 939 walks (2nd), and 143 home runs (12th). A personal note - Joe Mauer is my favorite athlete of all-time. Right when I started playing sports as a kid, Mauer was in the midst of his prime and he was very fun for me to watch. A couple years for his birthday, I sent him a letter and he responded. This made me into a fan of his for life. Mauer was a fantastic player but an even better person and this makes him the fourth best Twin of all time and eventually, a Hall of Famer. Stay tuned for the tenth 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 - Coming Soon! View full article
  24. Last week, MLB.com tried its best to identify the best draft pick in each club’s history. There’s no question this can be debatable, so here are the top-5 draft picks in Twins history. When it comes to the rankings below, there are many factors to consider. Should the rankings be based on the team’s best players of all time? Should the rankings be associated with players found later in the draft that provided tremendous value? In the end, it’s likely a combination of multiple ranking methods. 5. Kent Hrbek, 1B Twins WAR: 38.6 There were 431 players taken ahead of Hrbek in the 1978 MLB Draft, but he made a life-long impact on the Twins franchise. His hometown team drafted him in the 17th round, and he went on to be a fixture on the team’s 1987 and 1991 World Series titles. His 293 home runs rank second in team history behind only Harmon Killebrew. At 34-years old, he retired earlier than some, so his career numbers may have looked even better if he continued playing. 4. Brad Radke, RHP Twins WAR: 45.3 Fans might not realize how good Radke was during his 12-year career because he was part of some terrible Twins teams. Only one pitcher in team history has accumulated a higher WAR (see below). The Twins selected Radke with their 8th round pick (206th overall) in 1991. He averaged over 200 innings pitched during his career with a 1.26 WHIP and a 113 ERA+. Some of his other numbers aren’t as impressive because he was one of the team’s original pitch-to-contact arms. He provided durability and consistency for the Twins rotation as the team came back to prominence in the early 2000s. 3. Bert Blyleven, RHP Twins WAR: 48.9 Blyleven was MLB.com’s pick for the best draft pick in team history, and he has an argument for the top spot. Both of the players listed below were taken in the first round of their drafts, which can come with high expectations. Blyleven was a third-round pick, and 54 other players were taken ahead of him in 1969. His 22-year career saw him play for five franchises, but he accumulated more WAR during his Twins tenure than any other pitcher in team history. He was a great pitcher and a steal in the third round, but the players below should be ranked higher than him. 2. Joe Mauer, C Twins WAR: 55.2 It’s hard to fathom the amount of pressure Joe Mauer had to feel when he was taken with the first overall pick by his hometown team. Not only did he live up to the hype, but he also went on to have a career that has him in the Hall of Fame conversation. According to Baseball-Reference, only two players in Twins history have accumulated more WAR in a Twins uniform, Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew. Both of these players are in Cooperstown, and Mauer hopes to join them in the years ahead. 1. Kirby Puckett, CF Twins WAR: 51.2 Puckett’s path to the Twins was a unique one as the team drafted him third overall in the 1982 MLB January Draft. This now-defunct draft is different from the regular draft used to select all the other players on this list. That being said, it’s hard to ignore what Puckett did in a Twins uniform. Minnesota’s assistant farm director Jim Rantz stumbled across Puckett while watching his son play, and the rest is history. Puckett was a critical piece to both of the franchise’s World Series titles, and he was a first-ballot Hall of Fame player. How would you rank these players? 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 View full article
  25. If you don’t know who I’m talking about by now, it’s Joe Mauer. Other than my parents, there is nobody I idolized more growing up than Joe. Joe Mauer was an extremely talented hitter and it was evident from the moment he put on a Twins uniform that he would do great things for the Twins organization. Young Prodigy When Mauer was four years old, he was asked to leave his youth tee-ball league because he hit the ball too hard for the other kids. When he was in high school, he might have been the best athlete in the entire country. A three-sport athlete at Cretin-Derham Hall, Mauer excelled in all three sports. In baseball, he hit a remarkable .605, hit a home run in seven consecutive games, and only struck out once in his entire career. In football, he threw for 5,528 yards and 73 touchdowns over a two-year career, being named National Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year. He had a verbal commitment to play college football for Bobby Bowden at Florida State had he not been drafted by the Twins. 247 Sports ranked him as the 17th best football player in the country, ahead of Frank Gore and Larry Fitzgerald. In basketball, he averaged 20 points per game and was named All-State his junior and senior years. Meteoric Rise In the 2001 draft, Mauer was selected first overall by his hometown Twins. He started in rookie ball the summer of 2001 and dominated, hitting .400/.492/.491 in 32 games there. In 2002, he played in A ball with the Quad Cities River Bandits and continued to perform well, hitting .302 with a .785 OPS while walking more than he struck out as a 19 year old. In 2003, Mauer split time between high A ball and AA, and combined to hit .338/.398/.434 with 30 doubles. This accumulation of great performance earned Mauer the #1 prospect ranking in all of baseball heading into the 2004 season. Because of Mauer’s readiness for the big leagues, the Twins traded their starting catcher, AJ Pierzynski, to the San Francisco Giants for Boof Bonser, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Liriano. In 2004, Mauer started out hot before suffering a sprained left knee. He returned in June of that year and appeared in 35 games, hitting .308/.369/.570 with six home runs. In 2005, Mauer was able to stay healthy and played 131 games, hitting .294/.372/.411 while also throwing out 43 percent of base stealers (league average was 30 percent) for a 3.4 WAR season. It was clear that Mauer and his beautiful swing were close to breaking out and he was already a major contributor for the Twins. Prime Years 2006 was the year Mauer took a big step forward. He started off the season hitting an absurd .378/.446/.535 with 40 extra base hits and a 157 wRC+ before the all-star break. He was named the starting catcher in the all-star game for the first time in his career. Mauer finished that season as the batting champion, hitting .347/.429/.507 with 13 home runs and 84 RBI while accumulating 5.8 fWAR. He was named the AL Silver Slugger at the catcher position and finished 6th in MVP voting while teammate Justin Morneau won it. Mauer led the Twins to a 96-66 finish and a division title. In 2007 Mauer took a minor step backwards, only hitting .293/.382/.426 (.808). He had his best defensive season yet, posting 7 Defensive Runs Saved. In 2008, Mauer won the AL batting crown again, hitting .328/.413/.451 while winning his first Gold Glove and his second Silver Slugger. He was once again named an all-star and finished 4th in MVP voting while posting a 6.4 WAR. MVP In 2009, Mauer missed the first month of the season due to a back injury. He made his season debut on May 1st and hit a home run in his first at bat. That was only the start of a historic season. Through his first 185 plate appearances, Mauer was hitting an otherworldly .429/.497/.756 with a 225 wRC+ (125 percent above league average). He was named AL Player of the Month in May. He was named an all-star and finished the season hitting .365/.444/.587 (1.031) with 28 home runs. He led the American League in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, wRC+ (170), and was second in fWAR (8.4). He won the AL MVP and received 27 of 28 first place votes. This was the second best season in Twins history in terms of WAR only behind Rod Carew’s 1977 MVP year. He also won his third silver slugger and his second gold glove. Go Get Paid On March 21, 2010, Mauer was given a large 8 year, $184 million extension. This was the biggest contract in Twins history and remains the biggest. In the 2010 season, Mauer continued his excellence, hitting .327/.402/.469 (.871) with 43 doubles and nine home runs in the Twins first year at Target Field. He was worth 5.7 WAR and led the Twins to another division title. He won his fourth silver slugger and third gold glove. In 2011 and 2012, the Twins were terrible, averaging 64.5 wins. Mauer however was a bright spot, hitting .308/.397/.419 (.816) with an average of 3.3 WAR. 2013 was more of the same, but Mauer started off great. Then August 19th came along. On August 19, 2013, Mauer took a foul tip off the mask and suffered a concussion. He hit .324/.404/.476 (.880) with a 143 wRC+ and won his fifth silver slugger while being named to his sixth all star game. But he was never the same after the concussion. Mauer’s concussion greatly affected his vision, and his stats can back it up. Pre-Concussion (2004-8/19/2013): (.323/.405/.468) .873 OPS, 134 wRC+, 12.2 BB%, 11.1 K% Post-Concussion: (8/20/2013-2018): (.278/.359/.388) .747 OPS, 103 wRC+, 11.1 BB%, 16.2 K% First Baseman In 2014, the Twins announced they were going to make Joe Mauer into their full-time first baseman because of his concussion risk and they thought he would be able to stay in the lineup more if he played first base. They were right, as he averaged 136 games played from 2014 to 2018. However, he was a shell of his former self, only accumulating 6.4 WAR in those five seasons. He went from being 34 percent better at hitting than league average while excelling at a premium defensive position to only being 3 percent above league average while playing first base, not a premium position. Final Goodbye In 2018, there had been ramblings about Mauer potentially retiring at the end of the season, as his contract was due to expire. In his final game against the White Sox, he had quite the final send-off. In his final at bat as a Twin, he got to a full count and hit a hard line drive into the left-center gap for a double. Mauer always used the whole field so it was fitting that his final at bat was a hard hit double the other way. In the ninth inning, there was a slight delay in starting the inning, and there was no catcher behind home plate. Mauer emerged from the tunnel in catcher’s gear, and the stadium gave him a standing ovation. Mauer caught just one pitch before getting pulled for Chris Herrmann, and got yet another lengthy ovation from the home faithful. This was Mauer’s first time catching since 2013 so it was a very emotional moment. A month later, Mauer penned a retirement letter to Twins Territory, citing health reasons and wanting to be with family as a couple of main reasons for retirement. Conclusion Joe Mauer was a fan favorite for many years. Seeing an athlete play for his hometown team, dominate, and do it all with class made Mauer one of the most likable athletes in Minnesota history. Mauer had five seasons of 5+ WAR in his career. Only three catchers in MLB history have more. These catchers are Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, and Gary Carter. Mauer finished his career with 52.5 WAR (3rd in team history), 2,123 hits (2nd), 428 doubles (1st), 1,018 runs (3rd), 923 RBI (5th), 939 walks (2nd), and 143 home runs (12th). A personal note - Joe Mauer is my favorite athlete of all-time. Right when I started playing sports as a kid, Mauer was in the midst of his prime and he was very fun for me to watch. A couple years for his birthday, I sent him a letter and he responded. This made me into a fan of his for life. Mauer was a fantastic player but an even better person and this makes him the fourth best Twin of all time and eventually, a Hall of Famer. Stay tuned for the tenth 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 - Coming Soon!
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