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  1. The Twins have had some great players throughout their franchise history, including multiple Hall of Famers. So, which players would make up the All-Time Twins All-Star Team? Every year around the Mid-Summer Classic, it can be fun to scroll through the list of former All-Stars for your favorite franchise. There are all-time great players, but there are also some less familiar names like John Roseboro, Ken Landreaux, and Dave Engle. It can be an entertaining review of team history to look back at All-Stars from yesteryear. I created an entire team roster in the roster below, but there were a few stipulations. Some players on the roster played multiple positions in their careers, but they had to be placed in the position from their All-Star season. Also, a player couldn’t be on the list multiple times. For instance, Johan Santana was great in the 2000s, but he only gets to be in the rotation once. Without further ado, here is the All-Time Twins All-Star Roster. Catcher: Joe Mauer (2009) Joe Mauer’s MVP season is one of the best overall seasons in franchise history. In franchise history, there have been seven other All-Star catchers, but none of them compare to Mauer. 1B: Rod Carew (1977) Rod Carew’s MVP season in 1977 is hard to top, even with other All-Star sluggers like Justin Morneau, Kent Hrbek, and Bob Allison. Luis Arraez made the 2022 All-Star team at first base, but Carew still gets the nod. 2B: Chuck Knoblauch (1996) Minnesota has only had three All-Stars at second base, including Carew, Knoblauch, and Brian Dozier. Fans may forget, but Knoblauch was one of baseball’s best players in the mid-90s as he was elected to the Mid-Summer Classic in four different years. 3B: Harmon Killebrew (1969) Harmon Killebrew made the All-Star team at three different positions, but third base was his best spot to crack this roster. During the 1969 season, he won his only MVP and led baseball in home runs (49) and RBI (140). SS: Zoilo Versalles (1965) The 1965 Twins were the first in franchise history to make the World Series, and Versalles can get forgotten among some of the other greats on that squad. He was awarded the AL MVP for his 1965 season, and he’s the only Twins shortstop to make multiple All-Star appearances. OF: Kirby Puckett (1988), Tony Oliva (1970), Byron Buxton (2022) For Twins fans, this might be a dream outfield. Kirby Puckett was a 10-time All-Star, and Baseball-Reference pegs his 1988 season as his most valuable (7.8 WAR). Tony Oliva made eight-straight All-Star appearances from 1964-1971, and he compiled a 7.0 WAR in 1970. Byron Buxton is on pace for his best season, and MLB awarded him with his first All-Star start. Other Twins outfielders in the conversation include Torii Hunter and Bob Allison. DH: Nelson Cruz (2021) Nelson Cruz is the only player in Twins history to be selected to the All-Star Game as a designated hitter. He combined for a 129 OPS+ and 32 home runs during the 2021 season. Rotation: Johan Santana (2004), Francisco Liriano (2006), Jack Morris (1991), Bert Blyleven (1973), Frank Viola (1988) It doesn’t get much more exciting than this starting rotation. Johan Santana was arguably the best pitcher on the planet in 2004. By 2006, Francisco Liriano joined Santana and was at the top of the baseball pitching world before his elbow gave out. Frank Viola won the World Series MVP in 1987 and was even better in 1988 by winning the AL Cy Young. Plus, there are two other Hall of Fame pitchers to add to the mix, including Jack Morris from his memorable World Series run and a young Bert Blyleven. Overall, this rotation is stacked. Bullpen: Rick Aguilera (1991), Joe Nathan (2004), Jeff Reardon (1988), Glen Perkins (2013), Eddie Guardado (2002) Minnesota has been lucky to be home to some of baseball’s best closers. Except for Reardon, all these relievers were selected for multiple All-Star Games. It’s hard to imagine the starters listed above needing much help from the bullpen, but this group was dominant in late-inning situations. Here is the updated list of the team’s All-Stars directly from the Twins. What changes would you make to this All-Star roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Every year around the Mid-Summer Classic, it can be fun to scroll through the list of former All-Stars for your favorite franchise. There are all-time great players, but there are also some less familiar names like John Roseboro, Ken Landreaux, and Dave Engle. It can be an entertaining review of team history to look back at All-Stars from yesteryear. I created an entire team roster in the roster below, but there were a few stipulations. Some players on the roster played multiple positions in their careers, but they had to be placed in the position from their All-Star season. Also, a player couldn’t be on the list multiple times. For instance, Johan Santana was great in the 2000s, but he only gets to be in the rotation once. Without further ado, here is the All-Time Twins All-Star Roster. Catcher: Joe Mauer (2009) Joe Mauer’s MVP season is one of the best overall seasons in franchise history. In franchise history, there have been seven other All-Star catchers, but none of them compare to Mauer. 1B: Rod Carew (1977) Rod Carew’s MVP season in 1977 is hard to top, even with other All-Star sluggers like Justin Morneau, Kent Hrbek, and Bob Allison. Luis Arraez made the 2022 All-Star team at first base, but Carew still gets the nod. 2B: Chuck Knoblauch (1996) Minnesota has only had three All-Stars at second base, including Carew, Knoblauch, and Brian Dozier. Fans may forget, but Knoblauch was one of baseball’s best players in the mid-90s as he was elected to the Mid-Summer Classic in four different years. 3B: Harmon Killebrew (1969) Harmon Killebrew made the All-Star team at three different positions, but third base was his best spot to crack this roster. During the 1969 season, he won his only MVP and led baseball in home runs (49) and RBI (140). SS: Zoilo Versalles (1965) The 1965 Twins were the first in franchise history to make the World Series, and Versalles can get forgotten among some of the other greats on that squad. He was awarded the AL MVP for his 1965 season, and he’s the only Twins shortstop to make multiple All-Star appearances. OF: Kirby Puckett (1988), Tony Oliva (1970), Byron Buxton (2022) For Twins fans, this might be a dream outfield. Kirby Puckett was a 10-time All-Star, and Baseball-Reference pegs his 1988 season as his most valuable (7.8 WAR). Tony Oliva made eight-straight All-Star appearances from 1964-1971, and he compiled a 7.0 WAR in 1970. Byron Buxton is on pace for his best season, and MLB awarded him with his first All-Star start. Other Twins outfielders in the conversation include Torii Hunter and Bob Allison. DH: Nelson Cruz (2021) Nelson Cruz is the only player in Twins history to be selected to the All-Star Game as a designated hitter. He combined for a 129 OPS+ and 32 home runs during the 2021 season. Rotation: Johan Santana (2004), Francisco Liriano (2006), Jack Morris (1991), Bert Blyleven (1973), Frank Viola (1988) It doesn’t get much more exciting than this starting rotation. Johan Santana was arguably the best pitcher on the planet in 2004. By 2006, Francisco Liriano joined Santana and was at the top of the baseball pitching world before his elbow gave out. Frank Viola won the World Series MVP in 1987 and was even better in 1988 by winning the AL Cy Young. Plus, there are two other Hall of Fame pitchers to add to the mix, including Jack Morris from his memorable World Series run and a young Bert Blyleven. Overall, this rotation is stacked. Bullpen: Rick Aguilera (1991), Joe Nathan (2004), Jeff Reardon (1988), Glen Perkins (2013), Eddie Guardado (2002) Minnesota has been lucky to be home to some of baseball’s best closers. Except for Reardon, all these relievers were selected for multiple All-Star Games. It’s hard to imagine the starters listed above needing much help from the bullpen, but this group was dominant in late-inning situations. Here is the updated list of the team’s All-Stars directly from the Twins. What changes would you make to this All-Star roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes explore the most memorable moments of the 2005 season: Johan Santana unfairly losing the Cy Young to Bartolo Colon, Kyle Lohse infamously taking a baseball bat to manager Ron Gardenhire's door, Carlos Silva's minimalist complete game, and more.
  4. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes explore the most memorable moments of the 2005 season: Johan Santana unfairly losing the Cy Young to Bartolo Colon, Kyle Lohse infamously taking a baseball bat to manager Ron Gardenhire's door, Carlos Silva's minimalist complete game, and more. View full video
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  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. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson focus on the 2004 Minnesota Twins' most valuable players; as the Twins pursued their third consecutive division title, a trio of pitchers led the charge, accumulating a combined Wins Above Replacement of nearly 15.
  12. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson focus on the 2004 Minnesota Twins' most valuable players; as the Twins pursued their third consecutive division title, a trio of pitchers led the charge, accumulating a combined Wins Above Replacement of nearly 15. View full video
  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. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes continue their conversation about the Minnesota Twins' 2003 season, focusing on the most memorable moments of the season. These moments include the Shannon Stewart trade, the final relief appearance of Johan Santana, the AJ Pierzynski trade that brought back Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, and more.
  16. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes continue their conversation about the Minnesota Twins' 2003 season, focusing on the most memorable moments of the season. These moments include the Shannon Stewart trade, the final relief appearance of Johan Santana, the AJ Pierzynski trade that brought back Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, and more. View full video
  17. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes continue their examination of the Minnesota Twins' 2003 season and focus on the team MVPs for that season. It was a season that saw a deadline deal bring Shannon Stewart to Minnesota and he was outstanding throughout their summer push. It was also the season that cemented the greatness of Johan Santana, as he entered the rotation mid-season and was the Twins most valuable pitcher. It was also the penultimate year of wildly-underrated Corey Koskie in a Twins uniform, who led the team in wins above replacement.
  18. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes continue their examination of the Minnesota Twins' 2003 season and focus on the team MVPs for that season. It was a season that saw a deadline deal bring Shannon Stewart to Minnesota and he was outstanding throughout their summer push. It was also the season that cemented the greatness of Johan Santana, as he entered the rotation mid-season and was the Twins most valuable pitcher. It was also the penultimate year of wildly-underrated Corey Koskie in a Twins uniform, who led the team in wins above replacement. View full video
  19. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their trek through the early 2000s with the 2003 Minnesota Twins squad. Fresh off a dominant 2002 campaign that led them to the ALCS, the 2003 team stumbled early and looked to be out of the race before Terry Ryan traded for Shannon Stewart at the deadline, which helped the team surge back into first place in a thrilling August and September. We also saw the continued emergence of Johan Santana after his breakout 2002 season, which caused quite a stir in Twins Territory over debates about the future of the young start, who spent nearly half the season pitching out of the bullpen before moving to the rotation to finish the year.
  20. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their trek through the early 2000s with the 2003 Minnesota Twins squad. Fresh off a dominant 2002 campaign that led them to the ALCS, the 2003 team stumbled early and looked to be out of the race before Terry Ryan traded for Shannon Stewart at the deadline, which helped the team surge back into first place in a thrilling August and September. We also saw the continued emergence of Johan Santana after his breakout 2002 season, which caused quite a stir in Twins Territory over debates about the future of the young start, who spent nearly half the season pitching out of the bullpen before moving to the rotation to finish the year. View full video
  21. Johan Santana’s trade from the Twins to the Mets will be memorable for many reasons. Now, one final player from that trade is still making his mark at the big-league level. Bill Smith was in a no-win situation. After taking the reins as the Twins GM, Torii Hunter left via free agency, and he faced trading away baseball’s best pitcher. Rumors swirled about potential prospect packages from the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets. Eventually, the Twins settled on a package that included Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Philip Humber. Gomez had the longest Twins career, but the club traded him to Milwaukee, where he made back-to-back All-Star appearances. He played his final game in 2019. Humber pitched just over 20 innings in Minnesota, but his most significant mark on baseball was pitching the 21st perfect game in MLB history. His final big-league pitch came in 2013. Mulvey pitched fewer than 30 big-league innings and only appeared in two Twins games. He is about to start his sixth season as the head coach at Villanova. That leaves one man standing. Like many pitching prospects, Guerra didn’t follow a linear development path. He pitched his first two professional seasons in the Mets organization, where they were aggressive with his level. Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s 35th best prospect at the time of the trade, while Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 79th. Of course, he had yet to throw an inning above High-A, but evaluators considered him one of the game’s best pitching prospects. Guerra pitched seven seasons in the Twins organization but never got the call to the big league level. He switched to a bullpen role in 2011 after posting an ERA north of 6.00 during the 2010 season. His strikeout numbers improved with the switch, but he still allowed too many runs and gave up too much hard contact. Following the 2013 season, he left the Twins organization and went on quite the professional journey. Pittsburgh signed him for 2015, and he made his big-league debut. Unfortunately, he allowed five home runs in 16 2/3 innings, but he struck out more than a batter per inning. The following winter, he re-signed with the Pirates on December 7, and three days later, the Angels selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. Los Angeles had to keep him on the big-league roster for the 2016 season, and he got his first extended look in his age-27 season. In 53 1/3 innings, he compiled a 3.21 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and 36-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. From 2017 to 2020, he bounced around from Los Angeles to Texas to Milwaukee to Philadelphia. During those stops, he made 29 appearances and had a 6.55 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP. He had posted some substantial numbers in the high levels of the minors, but those numbers weren’t translating to the big-league level. Entering his age-32 season, it looked like his career might be coming to a close. Oakland gave Guerra one last chance, and he slid into their bullpen for the entire 2021 season. He posted a 4.11 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP across 65 2/3 innings. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story as he ranked in the 85th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, wxOBA, xERA, and xBA. Even without eye-popping strikeout numbers, batters cannot make solid contact against his offspeed offerings. In fact, only his four-seam fastball allowed a batting average over .245 and a slugging percentage over .392. He uses five pitches out of the bullpen, which is a rarity in today’s game. Oakland kept Guerra on their 40-man roster this winter, so it looks like he may be part of the team’s plans for the 2022 campaign. Either way, his journey to this point in his career is one of determination and resilience. He’s the last piece of the Johan Santana trade, and he still has something to prove. What do you remember about the Santana trade? Did you think players tied to the trade would still be playing? 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
  22. Bill Smith was in a no-win situation. After taking the reins as the Twins GM, Torii Hunter left via free agency, and he faced trading away baseball’s best pitcher. Rumors swirled about potential prospect packages from the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets. Eventually, the Twins settled on a package that included Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Philip Humber. Gomez had the longest Twins career, but the club traded him to Milwaukee, where he made back-to-back All-Star appearances. He played his final game in 2019. Humber pitched just over 20 innings in Minnesota, but his most significant mark on baseball was pitching the 21st perfect game in MLB history. His final big-league pitch came in 2013. Mulvey pitched fewer than 30 big-league innings and only appeared in two Twins games. He is about to start his sixth season as the head coach at Villanova. That leaves one man standing. Like many pitching prospects, Guerra didn’t follow a linear development path. He pitched his first two professional seasons in the Mets organization, where they were aggressive with his level. Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s 35th best prospect at the time of the trade, while Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 79th. Of course, he had yet to throw an inning above High-A, but evaluators considered him one of the game’s best pitching prospects. Guerra pitched seven seasons in the Twins organization but never got the call to the big league level. He switched to a bullpen role in 2011 after posting an ERA north of 6.00 during the 2010 season. His strikeout numbers improved with the switch, but he still allowed too many runs and gave up too much hard contact. Following the 2013 season, he left the Twins organization and went on quite the professional journey. Pittsburgh signed him for 2015, and he made his big-league debut. Unfortunately, he allowed five home runs in 16 2/3 innings, but he struck out more than a batter per inning. The following winter, he re-signed with the Pirates on December 7, and three days later, the Angels selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. Los Angeles had to keep him on the big-league roster for the 2016 season, and he got his first extended look in his age-27 season. In 53 1/3 innings, he compiled a 3.21 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and 36-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. From 2017 to 2020, he bounced around from Los Angeles to Texas to Milwaukee to Philadelphia. During those stops, he made 29 appearances and had a 6.55 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP. He had posted some substantial numbers in the high levels of the minors, but those numbers weren’t translating to the big-league level. Entering his age-32 season, it looked like his career might be coming to a close. Oakland gave Guerra one last chance, and he slid into their bullpen for the entire 2021 season. He posted a 4.11 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP across 65 2/3 innings. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story as he ranked in the 85th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, wxOBA, xERA, and xBA. Even without eye-popping strikeout numbers, batters cannot make solid contact against his offspeed offerings. In fact, only his four-seam fastball allowed a batting average over .245 and a slugging percentage over .392. He uses five pitches out of the bullpen, which is a rarity in today’s game. Oakland kept Guerra on their 40-man roster this winter, so it looks like he may be part of the team’s plans for the 2022 campaign. Either way, his journey to this point in his career is one of determination and resilience. He’s the last piece of the Johan Santana trade, and he still has something to prove. What do you remember about the Santana trade? Did you think players tied to the trade would still be playing? 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
  23. Johan Santana and Joe Nathan were each top pitchers of their generation. Both were one-and-done on the BBWAA ballot, so who was the more significant snub? Voting for baseball’s Hall of Fame can be a challenging process for fans to understand. Some of baseball’s best players are being held out because of their steroid ties, while others with lesser resumes are inducted. Some deserving players fall off the ballot and follow a much longer path to Cooperstown. Two former Twins greats, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, were elected to the Hall of Fame this year through the era committee voting process. Four era committees are divided by baseball’s different eras. The Golden Days Committee elected Oliva and Kaat, and next winter, the era up for consideration is Today’s Game which covers 1988-Present. Johan Santana and Joe Nathan will get the opportunity to appear on this ballot in the years ahead. Johan Santana’s Hall of Fame Case Santana’s Cooperstown case is almost the exact opposite of newly elected Kaat. Santana was baseball’s best pitcher for multiple seasons, but his career was cut short due to injury. Kaat pitched for a long time and compiled solid numbers over a long career. He only received Cy Young votes in one season and finished a distant fourth that season. So what’s more important for a Hall of Fame case, longevity or peak value? Injuries clearly impacted the longevity of Santana’s career, but there have been other players with shortened careers to be elected to Cooperstown. Twins fans are well familiar with Kirby Puckett and the injury that forced him to retire early. When he became eligible, voters had no problem selecting him on the first ballot. According to JAWS, Puckett ranks as the 24th best center fielder, with players like Kenny Lofton, Andruw Jones, Jim Edmonds, and Johnny Damon ranking ahead of him. Sandy Koufax is considered one of the best starting pitchers of all time, and he compares very closely to Santana. Like Santana, Koufax pitched 12 years at the big-league level, which meant he retired before his age-31 season. According to JAWS, Koufax is the 96th best starting pitcher, and Santana is 26 places higher in the rankings. Santana also lost out on a third Cy Young that would have significantly helped his HOF candidacy. Joe Nathan’s Hall of Fame Case While Santana was out of baseball in his early 30s, Nathan didn’t become a big-league regular until his late 20s. Nathan pitched into his early 40s and established himself as one of the top-10 relievers of all time. Unfortunately, relievers are criminally underrepresented in Cooperstown, with it being the only position group to have fewer than ten elected players. According to JAWS, Nathan is the eighth-best reliever which puts him ahead of Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter. Billy Wagner is a prime example of a reliever similar to Nathan, that has been gaining HOF support. Wagner ranks two spots ahead of Nathan regarding JAWS, and their career numbers are very similar. Wagner was named on 51% of the ballots in his seventh year of eligibility, a jump of over 40% since his first year. Now he has three more voting cycles to gain 24% of the vote. Nathan’s career numbers put him in elite company. Among pitchers with at least 900 innings pitched, only Billy Wagner and Nolan Ryan have a lower Hits per Nine Innings ratio. He topped the 30-save mark in nine seasons, including accumulating 40 or more saves in four seasons. Even as a reliever, he had multiple top-five finishes in the AL Cy Young Award Voting. Also, Nathan ranks in the top-7 all-time relief pitchers using a hybrid average of WAR, WPA, and situational or context-neutral wins (WPA/LI). Nathan was clearly one of the best relievers in baseball history. Santana was baseball’s best starting pitcher for multiple seasons. Their Hall of Fame cases are complicated, but they both deserve to be more than one-and-done on the ballot. Who do you think was the bigger, more significant HOF snub? Will either player be elected to the Hall? 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
  24. Voting for baseball’s Hall of Fame can be a challenging process for fans to understand. Some of baseball’s best players are being held out because of their steroid ties, while others with lesser resumes are inducted. Some deserving players fall off the ballot and follow a much longer path to Cooperstown. Two former Twins greats, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, were elected to the Hall of Fame this year through the era committee voting process. Four era committees are divided by baseball’s different eras. The Golden Days Committee elected Oliva and Kaat, and next winter, the era up for consideration is Today’s Game which covers 1988-Present. Johan Santana and Joe Nathan will get the opportunity to appear on this ballot in the years ahead. Johan Santana’s Hall of Fame Case Santana’s Cooperstown case is almost the exact opposite of newly elected Kaat. Santana was baseball’s best pitcher for multiple seasons, but his career was cut short due to injury. Kaat pitched for a long time and compiled solid numbers over a long career. He only received Cy Young votes in one season and finished a distant fourth that season. So what’s more important for a Hall of Fame case, longevity or peak value? Injuries clearly impacted the longevity of Santana’s career, but there have been other players with shortened careers to be elected to Cooperstown. Twins fans are well familiar with Kirby Puckett and the injury that forced him to retire early. When he became eligible, voters had no problem selecting him on the first ballot. According to JAWS, Puckett ranks as the 24th best center fielder, with players like Kenny Lofton, Andruw Jones, Jim Edmonds, and Johnny Damon ranking ahead of him. Sandy Koufax is considered one of the best starting pitchers of all time, and he compares very closely to Santana. Like Santana, Koufax pitched 12 years at the big-league level, which meant he retired before his age-31 season. According to JAWS, Koufax is the 96th best starting pitcher, and Santana is 26 places higher in the rankings. Santana also lost out on a third Cy Young that would have significantly helped his HOF candidacy. Joe Nathan’s Hall of Fame Case While Santana was out of baseball in his early 30s, Nathan didn’t become a big-league regular until his late 20s. Nathan pitched into his early 40s and established himself as one of the top-10 relievers of all time. Unfortunately, relievers are criminally underrepresented in Cooperstown, with it being the only position group to have fewer than ten elected players. According to JAWS, Nathan is the eighth-best reliever which puts him ahead of Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter. Billy Wagner is a prime example of a reliever similar to Nathan, that has been gaining HOF support. Wagner ranks two spots ahead of Nathan regarding JAWS, and their career numbers are very similar. Wagner was named on 51% of the ballots in his seventh year of eligibility, a jump of over 40% since his first year. Now he has three more voting cycles to gain 24% of the vote. Nathan’s career numbers put him in elite company. Among pitchers with at least 900 innings pitched, only Billy Wagner and Nolan Ryan have a lower Hits per Nine Innings ratio. He topped the 30-save mark in nine seasons, including accumulating 40 or more saves in four seasons. Even as a reliever, he had multiple top-five finishes in the AL Cy Young Award Voting. Also, Nathan ranks in the top-7 all-time relief pitchers using a hybrid average of WAR, WPA, and situational or context-neutral wins (WPA/LI). Nathan was clearly one of the best relievers in baseball history. Santana was baseball’s best starting pitcher for multiple seasons. Their Hall of Fame cases are complicated, but they both deserve to be more than one-and-done on the ballot. Who do you think was the bigger, more significant HOF snub? Will either player be elected to the Hall? 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
  25. 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 sixth best player in Twins history was not a lifelong Twin, but his time in Minnesota was very memorable. This Venezuelan pitcher is one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation and should be a Hall of Famer. Who do you think this could be? If you thought I was talking about Johan Santana, then you would be correct. As a young Twins fan living in Minnesota in the mid-2000s, the first pitcher I can remember watching in person was Johan. Johan was an exciting pitcher who captivated Twins fans with his outstanding stuff, especially his changeup. Rule 5 Johan Santana was born in Venezuela in 1979. In 1995, he was signed as an amateur free agent by the Houston Astros. After three seasons in the minor leagues in which he was 17-17 with a 5.05 ERA, the Astros left him unprotected in the 1999 Rule 5 Draft. In the Rule 5 Draft, Santana was drafted by the Marlins and immediately traded to the Twins for Twins legend Jared Camp. In 2000, Santana made his Twins debut despite never pitching above single-A ball. Santana was used mostly out of the bullpen, appearing in 30 games over his rookie season and throwing 86 innings with a 6.49 ERA and a 5.26 FIP. 2001 was rather uneventful as well, as Santana posted a 4.74 ERA in 43 innings. A Change of Pace In 2002, the Twins started Santana at AAA in hopes of converting him from a reliever to a starter. While at AAA, Santana developed an absolute weapon. The pitching coach for the AAA team, Bobby Cuellar, taught Santana about the importance of throwing a changeup. Cuellar knew Santana needed an elite pitch to pair with his fastball to be effective at the Major League level, so he worked with Santana on his changeup, often having him throw it in traditional fastball counts or having him throw seven straight changeups in games. In late May, the Twins called Santana back up and he was very good the rest of that year, going 8-6 with a 2.99 ERA. Another very encouraging sign that he was developing more swing-and-miss stuff was that he had 137 strikeouts in 108 innings, compared to 92 strikeouts in 129 innings the two years prior. Dominance After a very encouraging 2002 campaign, Santana had a great 2003, going 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA. He also decreased his BB/9 from 4.1 to 2.7. All signs were pointing towards a Santana breakout. From 2004 to 2006, Santana had the most dominant three year stretch by any Twins pitcher ever. During this time period, Santana was the best pitcher in baseball. He was 55-19 (most wins in MLB), threw 693 innings (3rd), struck out 748 (1st), had a 2.75 ERA (2nd), 2.92 FIP (2nd), and led all MLB pitchers in WAR (20.4). Santana’s stretch was historically great. In MLB history, there are only three left handed pitchers to have three seasons or more of 200+ innings pitched, an ERA under 3, a WHIP under 1, and 220+ strikeouts. These pitchers are Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw, and Johan Santana. Highway Robbery For his excellent work, Santana won the Cy Young in 2004 and 2006 and got second place in 2005. However, Santana should’ve won it in 2005. In 2005, Bartolo Colon won the Cy Young award in the American League. However, it should’ve been Santana. Here is a comparison of their 2005 statistics: Colon ERA: 3.48, Santana ERA: 2.87 Colon IP: 222.2, Santana IP: 231.2 Colon SO: 157, Santana SO: 238 Colon ERA+: 122, Santana ERA+: 155 Colon FIP: 3.55, Santana FIP: 2.80 Colon WHIP: 1.159, Santana WHIP: 0.971 Colon fWAR: 4.1, Santana fWAR 7.1 Any sensible baseball mind would be able to see that Santana was clearly a better pitcher in 2005 and he was robbed of having three consecutive Cy Young awards. Goodbyes In 2007, Santana had another good season, going 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA and leading the American League in WHIP. However, he demanded a lot of money out of the Twins as he would be a free agent after the 2008 season. The Twins offered him a four year, $80 million extension, which he declined. The Twins wanted to get some value for him, so they traded Santana to the New York Mets for Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Phillip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey. He then agreed to a six year, $137.5 million deal with the Mets. Santana had a successful four year stretch with the Mets, going 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA and accumulating 13.9 fWAR. On June 1st, 2012, Santana had a magical start. He threw a complete game no-hitter in a legendary pitching performance. He recorded the last out on a disgusting changeup. This is one of the most memorable moments of Santana’s career. 2012 would prove to be his last year in professional baseball because of a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. This is not an ideal way to end such an illustrious career, but Johan was still an outstanding talent either way. Twins Legend The Twins have won four Cy Young awards, and two of them are Santana. Both of Santana’s awards were unanimous decisions. Among Twins pitchers all-time, Santana has the best ERA+ (141) and the fourth best fWAR (31.7). Santana was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2018 and appeared on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot in 2018, but only received 2.4 percent of the vote so was removed the following year. This is very unfortunate because every pitcher who has three Cy Youngs is in the Hall of Fame or will most certainly be inducted after they retire. If Santana would have won that 2005 Cy Young award he most likely would be on the ballot this upcoming year. Conclusion Johan Santana was the most dominant pitcher in Twins history and was a major part of the successful Twins teams of the 2000s. Santana is a beloved figure in Twins history and is the sixth best player in Twins history. Stay tuned for the eighth 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 - Coming Soon! View full article
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