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  1. Highlights of the Minnesota Gophers during their Friday and Saturday games at US Bank Stadium. Players highlighted include Easton Bertrand, Sam Ireland, Chase Stanke and J.P. Massey. Also around college baseball this weekend, NDSU beat Long Beach State Friday evening. During that broadcast the TV analyst and former Minnesota Twins player Denny Hocking shared some pinch hitting advice he got from Kirby Puckett. View full video
  2. Highlights of the Minnesota Gophers during their Friday and Saturday games at US Bank Stadium. Players highlighted include Easton Bertrand, Sam Ireland, Chase Stanke and J.P. Massey. Also around college baseball this weekend, NDSU beat Long Beach State Friday evening. During that broadcast the TV analyst and former Minnesota Twins player Denny Hocking shared some pinch hitting advice he got from Kirby Puckett.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Centerfield is one of baseball’s most important positions, and the Minnesota Twins has a tremendous lineage at the position that stretches back to the 1980s. Here’s a look back at how these players are connected. Kirby Puckett to Torii Hunter (1980s-2000s) Kirby Puckett’s Hall of Fame career was cut short as he played his final game in 1995. Luckily for the Twins, they had drafted his heir apparent in the first round two years prior. Minnesota selected Torii Hunter out of high school in Arkansas, but Puckett’s injuries meant the two players could never roam the same outfield. That still doesn’t mean that Puckett wasn’t able to make a lasting impact on Hunter’s career. “Watching him carry himself, you had no choice but to be infected,” Hunter said. “He had a great smile. The way he moved about the room and the way he treated people — everybody — the same. Whether it’s the vendor or I don’t care who it was, he treated everybody the same.” Hunter went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career. Over his first two voting cycles, he has garnered enough support to stay on a packed ballot. With some more prominent names falling off the ballot, it will be interesting to see if Hunter can gain more support in the years ahead. His impact on the centerfield position lasted beyond his years in Minnesota. Torii Hunter to Denard Span (2000s-2010s) Hunter’s first Twins tenure ended in 2007 after he hit the free-agent market and signed with the Angels. Like Hunter, the Twins had drafted Hunter’s replacement in the years before his departure. Minnesota selected Denard Span with the team’s first-round pick in 2002. He debuted in 2008, the season after Hunter left. Span was so tied to Hunter that he was one of the first people he contacted when he got called up to the big-league level. “He texted me right back,” Span said. “And then, right after he texted me, he called me. … He said: ‘I’m happy for you. Just go out there, have fun and learn.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry for waking you up.’ He said, ‘No, this is the best news I’ve heard in a while.’ ” Span spent his age 24-28 seasons as a regular in the Twins outfield as he hit .284/.357/.389 (.746). Following the 2012 season, Minnesota traded Span to the Washington Nationals for top-pitching prospect Alex Meyer. His big-league career spanned six more seasons, but the Twins center field lineage didn’t end with him. Denard Span to Byron Buxton (2010s-2020s) In Span’s final season in Minnesota, the Twins drafted Byron Buxton with the second overall pick. After Buxton signed with the club, Span played catch with him and discussed that he would be interested in tutoring the young outfield much as Hunter had done with him. Span filled a similar role with Ben Revere, but the Twins traded both players in the same offseason. Minnesota used a variety of other players in center field as Buxton moved through the minor leagues. He made his big-league debut until the 2015 season, and he has joined a group of center fielders that are among the best in Twins history. Buxton has already accumulated enough WAR in his career to be among the best Twins center fielders of all time. Puckett leads the way with a 51.1 WAR, followed by Hunter, Span, and Buxton. Over the last two seasons, Buxton has accumulated enough WAR that he is close to passing Span for third on the above list. With Buxton signed long-term, it will be interesting to track his movement up this list in the years ahead. Can the Twins keep him healthy enough to pass Hunter’s WAR? Who do you think carries on the lineage after Buxton? What do you remember about 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
  6. Kirby Puckett to Torii Hunter (1980s-2000s) Kirby Puckett’s Hall of Fame career was cut short as he played his final game in 1995. Luckily for the Twins, they had drafted his heir apparent in the first round two years prior. Minnesota selected Torii Hunter out of high school in Arkansas, but Puckett’s injuries meant the two players could never roam the same outfield. That still doesn’t mean that Puckett wasn’t able to make a lasting impact on Hunter’s career. “Watching him carry himself, you had no choice but to be infected,” Hunter said. “He had a great smile. The way he moved about the room and the way he treated people — everybody — the same. Whether it’s the vendor or I don’t care who it was, he treated everybody the same.” Hunter went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career. Over his first two voting cycles, he has garnered enough support to stay on a packed ballot. With some more prominent names falling off the ballot, it will be interesting to see if Hunter can gain more support in the years ahead. His impact on the centerfield position lasted beyond his years in Minnesota. Torii Hunter to Denard Span (2000s-2010s) Hunter’s first Twins tenure ended in 2007 after he hit the free-agent market and signed with the Angels. Like Hunter, the Twins had drafted Hunter’s replacement in the years before his departure. Minnesota selected Denard Span with the team’s first-round pick in 2002. He debuted in 2008, the season after Hunter left. Span was so tied to Hunter that he was one of the first people he contacted when he got called up to the big-league level. “He texted me right back,” Span said. “And then, right after he texted me, he called me. … He said: ‘I’m happy for you. Just go out there, have fun and learn.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry for waking you up.’ He said, ‘No, this is the best news I’ve heard in a while.’ ” Span spent his age 24-28 seasons as a regular in the Twins outfield as he hit .284/.357/.389 (.746). Following the 2012 season, Minnesota traded Span to the Washington Nationals for top-pitching prospect Alex Meyer. His big-league career spanned six more seasons, but the Twins center field lineage didn’t end with him. Denard Span to Byron Buxton (2010s-2020s) In Span’s final season in Minnesota, the Twins drafted Byron Buxton with the second overall pick. After Buxton signed with the club, Span played catch with him and discussed that he would be interested in tutoring the young outfield much as Hunter had done with him. Span filled a similar role with Ben Revere, but the Twins traded both players in the same offseason. Minnesota used a variety of other players in center field as Buxton moved through the minor leagues. He made his big-league debut until the 2015 season, and he has joined a group of center fielders that are among the best in Twins history. Buxton has already accumulated enough WAR in his career to be among the best Twins center fielders of all time. Puckett leads the way with a 51.1 WAR, followed by Hunter, Span, and Buxton. Over the last two seasons, Buxton has accumulated enough WAR that he is close to passing Span for third on the above list. With Buxton signed long-term, it will be interesting to track his movement up this list in the years ahead. Can the Twins keep him healthy enough to pass Hunter’s WAR? Who do you think carries on the lineage after Buxton? What do you remember about 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
  7. The 1991 Minnesota Twins won the World Series on the back of a dominating pitching performance, but it was Kirby Puckett that brought them to that fateful evening with his Game 6 heroics. A member of the 2001 Baseball Hall of Fame class alongside teammate Dave Winfield, the Twins legend has his number 34 retired down the left-field line at Target Field. Selected third overall in the 1982 Major League Baseball Draft, Puck was a kid from Chicago, Illinois. He made a mockery of the Appy League to the tune of a .928 OPS over his first 65 professional games. At 23, he was sent to Visalia in the California League and posted an .808 OPS. Playing just 21 games at Triple-A Toledo, it was time for the call. Puckett didn’t see immediate success with Minnesota. Through his first 289 games, Kirby posted just a .689 OPS and 86 OPS+. He was below league average and had just four homers to his name. Defensively though, he began to force the conversation and picked up MVP votes in 1985. Then the breakout came. In 1986 Puckett posted a .903 OPS, the first of four times he’d do so during his 12-year career. His 31 homers made the four previous look laughable, and he grabbed a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and made his first All-Star Game. He’d participate in the All-Star game for a consistent decade, taking home MVP honors during the 1993 contest played at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. As a vital member of the 1987 World Series-winning club, Puckett collected a league-best 207 hits. His .332 average was a career-best to that point, and he followed up the impressive power display the season before by launching another 28 dingers. In 1988, Puckett led the league in hits again, posting 234. His 215 hits completed three-straight seasons of league-leading hits, and despite falling off from his .356 average in 1988, Puckett won the American League batting title in 1989 with a .339 mark. Slipping below the .300 mark for the first time since the beginning of his career, Puckett returned in 1991 with a vengeance. His .319 average and 15 homers helped push Tom Kelly’s Twins to a 95-win season and a Postseason worth remembering. In Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves, the ALCS MVP robbed Ron Gant of a base hit in the third inning to preserve Minnesota’s two-run lead. Tied at three in the 11th inning, Puckett stepped in against Atlanta reliever Charlie Leibrandt and sent the Twins fans home happy. While Minnesota’s winning went down from there, Puckett remained a constant. Through 1995 he posted a .314/.366/.501 slash line with another 84 homers to add onto his career totals. On September 28, 1995, Puckett was playing for a terrible Twins team rounding out the year and was hit in the face and broke his jaw. Ready for Spring Training the following season, things seemed to be going fine until March 28, when he woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Diagnosed with glaucoma in which the optic nerve is damaged, often as a result of high pressure, Puckett underwent four surgeries trying to correct the blindness. When they ultimately failed, he was forced to retire on July 12, 1996. A player still competing at the peak of the highest level, and at just 35-years-old, Puck was done. Puckett was extremely involved in the community following his retirement. He became a spokesperson for the Glaucoma Foundation and worked throughout Twins Territory to give back to a community that had embraced him as their own. While his character was often lauded as a player, things did go south through a divorce with his wife Tonya and charges alleging sexual conduct. Unfortunately, the everyman who garnered fans' excitement through his short and stocky stature saw that take him too soon. Excessive weight gain following his playing career ultimately led to a stroke that took his life at just 45 in March of 2006. Puckett is often remembered as a tale of two beings but was responsible for providing Twins fans some of the highest highs they’ve experienced since the franchise relocated from Washington. Keep checking back to Twins Daily throughout Black History Month as we hope to share several more stories about African Americans to don a Twins uniform over the past 62 seasons.
  8. February is Black History Month, and over the coming weeks, Twins Daily will have a series of articles on African Americans in Minnesota Twins history. There have been award winners, All-Stars, and even a couple of Hall of Famers, and no one is more beloved in these parts than Kirby Puckett. The 1991 Minnesota Twins won the World Series on the back of a dominating pitching performance, but it was Kirby Puckett that brought them to that fateful evening with his Game 6 heroics. A member of the 2001 Baseball Hall of Fame class alongside teammate Dave Winfield, the Twins legend has his number 34 retired down the left-field line at Target Field. Selected third overall in the 1982 Major League Baseball Draft, Puck was a kid from Chicago, Illinois. He made a mockery of the Appy League to the tune of a .928 OPS over his first 65 professional games. At 23, he was sent to Visalia in the California League and posted an .808 OPS. Playing just 21 games at Triple-A Toledo, it was time for the call. Puckett didn’t see immediate success with Minnesota. Through his first 289 games, Kirby posted just a .689 OPS and 86 OPS+. He was below league average and had just four homers to his name. Defensively though, he began to force the conversation and picked up MVP votes in 1985. Then the breakout came. In 1986 Puckett posted a .903 OPS, the first of four times he’d do so during his 12-year career. His 31 homers made the four previous look laughable, and he grabbed a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and made his first All-Star Game. He’d participate in the All-Star game for a consistent decade, taking home MVP honors during the 1993 contest played at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. As a vital member of the 1987 World Series-winning club, Puckett collected a league-best 207 hits. His .332 average was a career-best to that point, and he followed up the impressive power display the season before by launching another 28 dingers. In 1988, Puckett led the league in hits again, posting 234. His 215 hits completed three-straight seasons of league-leading hits, and despite falling off from his .356 average in 1988, Puckett won the American League batting title in 1989 with a .339 mark. Slipping below the .300 mark for the first time since the beginning of his career, Puckett returned in 1991 with a vengeance. His .319 average and 15 homers helped push Tom Kelly’s Twins to a 95-win season and a Postseason worth remembering. In Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves, the ALCS MVP robbed Ron Gant of a base hit in the third inning to preserve Minnesota’s two-run lead. Tied at three in the 11th inning, Puckett stepped in against Atlanta reliever Charlie Leibrandt and sent the Twins fans home happy. While Minnesota’s winning went down from there, Puckett remained a constant. Through 1995 he posted a .314/.366/.501 slash line with another 84 homers to add onto his career totals. On September 28, 1995, Puckett was playing for a terrible Twins team rounding out the year and was hit in the face and broke his jaw. Ready for Spring Training the following season, things seemed to be going fine until March 28, when he woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Diagnosed with glaucoma in which the optic nerve is damaged, often as a result of high pressure, Puckett underwent four surgeries trying to correct the blindness. When they ultimately failed, he was forced to retire on July 12, 1996. A player still competing at the peak of the highest level, and at just 35-years-old, Puck was done. Puckett was extremely involved in the community following his retirement. He became a spokesperson for the Glaucoma Foundation and worked throughout Twins Territory to give back to a community that had embraced him as their own. While his character was often lauded as a player, things did go south through a divorce with his wife Tonya and charges alleging sexual conduct. Unfortunately, the everyman who garnered fans' excitement through his short and stocky stature saw that take him too soon. Excessive weight gain following his playing career ultimately led to a stroke that took his life at just 45 in March of 2006. Puckett is often remembered as a tale of two beings but was responsible for providing Twins fans some of the highest highs they’ve experienced since the franchise relocated from Washington. Keep checking back to Twins Daily throughout Black History Month as we hope to share several more stories about African Americans to don a Twins uniform over the past 62 seasons. View full article
  9. February is Black History Month, and over the coming weeks, Twins Daily will have a series of articles on African Americans in Minnesota Twins history. There have been award winners, All Stars, and even a couple of Hall of Famers. Today we feature a guy whose resume more than speaks for itself. On October 3, 1951, Dave Winfield was born in St. Paul, MN. He honed his skills at St. Paul Central High School, and it was as a senior he truly burst onto the scene. Going to the hometown Minnesota Gophers on a full baseball scholarship, Winfield also played basketball. He was part of the 1972 Gophers team that won a Big Ten conference championship on the hardwood, and he more than held his own. After being named an All-American and the College World Series MVP in 1973, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. The San Diego Padres made Winfield their first-round pick (4th overall) in the 1973 MLB draft as a pitcher. Despite that designation, he never appeared on the mound. The Atlanta Hawks picked Winfield in the NBA draft, with the Utah Stars drafting him for the ABA. Despite not having played football in college, the Minnesota Vikings also selected Winfield in the 17th round of the NFL draft. He’s one of only three athletes to be selected by four different leagues. Obviously, it was on the diamond where Winfield shined brightest, and his career was one of utter dominance. Spending his first 15 years with the Padres and New York Yankees, Winfield debuted at 21 years old and blasted 357 homers in his first 2,269 games. His .839 OPS pushed him to seven All-Star game appearances. In 1979, as a 27-year-old, Winfield drove in a league-best 118 runs. Playing well into his 40s, in 1993, Dave Winfield came home. Following a World Series victory with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992, Winfield joined the Twins for his age 41 and 42 seasons. He hit another 31 homers for his hometown nine, and the .760 OPS was more than impressive at this stage of his career. On September 16, 1993, Dave Winfield joined the 3,000 hit club with a single off of Oakland Athletics reliever Dennis Eckersley. While Winfield wasn’t the same player at this stage, seeing him don the Minnesota pinstripes and return to his roots was a treat for Twins fans. Since his playing career ended, it’s been nothing but accolades in droves for the St. Paul native. San Diego retired his number 31, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside another Twins great in 2001. Kirby Puckett was the star of those Minnesota lineups that Winfield was in, and for them to be enshrined together will forever be among the highlights of Minnesota history. Winfield has served in differing roles around baseball and has worked as an analyst. Now 70-years-old and living in sunny California, Winfield gets to enjoy being a living legend of the sport. Keep checking back to Twins Daily throughout Black History Month as we hope to share several more stories about African Americans to don a Twins uniform over the past 62 seasons. View full article
  10. On October 3, 1951, Dave Winfield was born in St. Paul, MN. He honed his skills at St. Paul Central High School, and it was as a senior he truly burst onto the scene. Going to the hometown Minnesota Gophers on a full baseball scholarship, Winfield also played basketball. He was part of the 1972 Gophers team that won a Big Ten conference championship on the hardwood, and he more than held his own. After being named an All-American and the College World Series MVP in 1973, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. The San Diego Padres made Winfield their first-round pick (4th overall) in the 1973 MLB draft as a pitcher. Despite that designation, he never appeared on the mound. The Atlanta Hawks picked Winfield in the NBA draft, with the Utah Stars drafting him for the ABA. Despite not having played football in college, the Minnesota Vikings also selected Winfield in the 17th round of the NFL draft. He’s one of only three athletes to be selected by four different leagues. Obviously, it was on the diamond where Winfield shined brightest, and his career was one of utter dominance. Spending his first 15 years with the Padres and New York Yankees, Winfield debuted at 21 years old and blasted 357 homers in his first 2,269 games. His .839 OPS pushed him to seven All-Star game appearances. In 1979, as a 27-year-old, Winfield drove in a league-best 118 runs. Playing well into his 40s, in 1993, Dave Winfield came home. Following a World Series victory with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992, Winfield joined the Twins for his age 41 and 42 seasons. He hit another 31 homers for his hometown nine, and the .760 OPS was more than impressive at this stage of his career. On September 16, 1993, Dave Winfield joined the 3,000 hit club with a single off of Oakland Athletics reliever Dennis Eckersley. While Winfield wasn’t the same player at this stage, seeing him don the Minnesota pinstripes and return to his roots was a treat for Twins fans. Since his playing career ended, it’s been nothing but accolades in droves for the St. Paul native. San Diego retired his number 31, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside another Twins great in 2001. Kirby Puckett was the star of those Minnesota lineups that Winfield was in, and for them to be enshrined together will forever be among the highlights of Minnesota history. Winfield has served in differing roles around baseball and has worked as an analyst. Now 70-years-old and living in sunny California, Winfield gets to enjoy being a living legend of the sport. Keep checking back to Twins Daily throughout Black History Month as we hope to share several more stories about African Americans to don a Twins uniform over the past 62 seasons.
  11. Both are Minnesota Twins legends. Both are Hall of Famers. But who was better: Rod Carew or Kirby Puckett? If you look at any ranking of the best Minnesota Twins players of all time, you’re going to find Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett firmly locked into the top five of that list. Both Carew and Puckett were legends whose names will be remembered forever. Today, we will dive into their careers and determine, once and for all, who had the better career. The Case for Rod The case for Rod Carew having a better overall career than Kirby Puckett starts with his numbers at the plate. Over the course of his career, Carew posted a higher batting average (.328 vs .318) and on-base percentage (.393 vs. .360) than Puckett. Carew’s career batting average ranks 30th all-time, and his seven career batting titles are tied for the fourth most in MLB history. Carew amassed over 3,000 hits in his MLB career, ranking 26th in MLB history. Even when accounting for era, Carew was still the better batter as evidenced by his career OPS+ of 131 compared to Puckett’s 124. On the bases, Carew also has the edge. Over his 19 year career, Carew amassed 353 stolen bases, nearly triple the number of career steals as Puckett. Another area where Carew bests Puckett is his longevity. While Puckett’s career was cut short (through no fault of his own), Carew was able to play at an extremely high level for 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. Additionally, Carew reached a higher individual peak than Puckett ever did, marked by the MVP award that he won in 1977 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. In this season, Carew led all of baseball with a .388 batting average, .449 on-base percentage, and 1.029 OPS. Carew led the majors that season in hits (239), runs (128), and triples (178). Carew was the standard of consistency during his Major League Baseball career. Carew was an all-star in 18 consecutive seasons, eclipsed a .300 batting average in 15 consecutive seasons, won four consecutive batting titles, and played in at least 140 games in eight consecutive seasons. Carew played for two different franchises, earning all-star appearances and MVP votes with each team. The Case for Kirby While Rod Carew bests Kirby Puckett at the plate, Kirby more than held his own on offense. Puckett led the Majors in batting average in 1989 and led baseball in hits on four different occasions and total bases on two occasions. Puckett didn’t break any home run records, but consistently put the ball in play and drove in runs, leading the Majors in RBI in his penultimate season in 1994. A huge mark in Kirby’s favor over Carew comes in the field where Puckett was a wizard with his glove at one of the most important defensive positions in baseball, centerfield. Over his 10-year career, Puckett earned the Gold Glove award for best center fielder in baseball six times, including four consecutive from 1986-1989. While Carew wasn’t a butcher in the field, he certainly wasn’t dominant and played a position in second base that just doesn’t bring the importance of center field. Where Kirby absolutely set himself apart from Rod Carew came in his performance in the absolute biggest of moments. Starting off with just clutch performance, Kirby was about as clutch as they come. In high leverage situations over the course of his career, Puckett posted a career OPS of .863 in 1,400 plate appearances compared to Carew’s .823 OPS in 2,095 plate appearances. Moving into the postseason numbers, the difference between the two becomes even more stark. Puckett played in four postseason series in his career, winning all four series en route to two World Series titles. In those four playoff series, Puckett amassed a .897 OPS, highlighted by a ridiculous .913 OPS across his world series appearances in 1987 and 1991. Compare that to Carew who was 0-4 in the four playoff series of his career where he hit just .220 with four extra-base hits. The moment that all Twins fans will remember from Kirby Puckett, and the absolute highlight of a Hall of Fame career was his performance in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series that single-handedly kept the Twins’ playoff hopes alive and sent them to Game 7 where they would eventually win their second title. In this game, Puckett hit a triple in the first inning, robbed Ron Gant of extra-bases in front of the Plexiglass wall in the third inning, and then won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning when he launched a game-winning, walk-off home run in front of the Twins’ faithful. The Verdict Kirby Puckett revitalized an entire generation of Minnesota Twins fans through his "clutchness" and late-game heroics. Puckett’s joy for the game was contagious and his leadership mindset and impact in the community made him a fan favorite for many. Rod Carew, however, had a better career than Kirby. As previously mentioned, Rod Carew beats out Kirby Puckett in just about every offensive category. Carew similarly has the edge over Puckett in terms of value-added. Over his 19-year career, Carew contributed 72.3 fWAR, 3.81 per season compared to Puckett providing 44.9 fWAR over his 12-year career, 3.74 per season. Carew accumulated more individual hardware with his all-star games, MVP awards, and batting titles. Whether fair or not, Puckett is hurt by his career being cut short. Only playing in 12 seasons, Puckett just didn’t have the runway to collect the number of accolades that Carew did. It’s entirely possible that if Puckett didn’t contract glaucoma, he would have gone on to have a 20-year career and rack up MVP awards and all-star game appearances, but with only 12 years, he just didn’t do enough to beat out Carew for the better career. Who do you think had the better overall career between Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, leave a comment below and join the conversation! View full article
  12. If you look at any ranking of the best Minnesota Twins players of all time, you’re going to find Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett firmly locked into the top five of that list. Both Carew and Puckett were legends whose names will be remembered forever. Today, we will dive into their careers and determine, once and for all, who had the better career. The Case for Rod The case for Rod Carew having a better overall career than Kirby Puckett starts with his numbers at the plate. Over the course of his career, Carew posted a higher batting average (.328 vs .318) and on-base percentage (.393 vs. .360) than Puckett. Carew’s career batting average ranks 30th all-time, and his seven career batting titles are tied for the fourth most in MLB history. Carew amassed over 3,000 hits in his MLB career, ranking 26th in MLB history. Even when accounting for era, Carew was still the better batter as evidenced by his career OPS+ of 131 compared to Puckett’s 124. On the bases, Carew also has the edge. Over his 19 year career, Carew amassed 353 stolen bases, nearly triple the number of career steals as Puckett. Another area where Carew bests Puckett is his longevity. While Puckett’s career was cut short (through no fault of his own), Carew was able to play at an extremely high level for 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. Additionally, Carew reached a higher individual peak than Puckett ever did, marked by the MVP award that he won in 1977 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. In this season, Carew led all of baseball with a .388 batting average, .449 on-base percentage, and 1.029 OPS. Carew led the majors that season in hits (239), runs (128), and triples (178). Carew was the standard of consistency during his Major League Baseball career. Carew was an all-star in 18 consecutive seasons, eclipsed a .300 batting average in 15 consecutive seasons, won four consecutive batting titles, and played in at least 140 games in eight consecutive seasons. Carew played for two different franchises, earning all-star appearances and MVP votes with each team. The Case for Kirby While Rod Carew bests Kirby Puckett at the plate, Kirby more than held his own on offense. Puckett led the Majors in batting average in 1989 and led baseball in hits on four different occasions and total bases on two occasions. Puckett didn’t break any home run records, but consistently put the ball in play and drove in runs, leading the Majors in RBI in his penultimate season in 1994. A huge mark in Kirby’s favor over Carew comes in the field where Puckett was a wizard with his glove at one of the most important defensive positions in baseball, centerfield. Over his 10-year career, Puckett earned the Gold Glove award for best center fielder in baseball six times, including four consecutive from 1986-1989. While Carew wasn’t a butcher in the field, he certainly wasn’t dominant and played a position in second base that just doesn’t bring the importance of center field. Where Kirby absolutely set himself apart from Rod Carew came in his performance in the absolute biggest of moments. Starting off with just clutch performance, Kirby was about as clutch as they come. In high leverage situations over the course of his career, Puckett posted a career OPS of .863 in 1,400 plate appearances compared to Carew’s .823 OPS in 2,095 plate appearances. Moving into the postseason numbers, the difference between the two becomes even more stark. Puckett played in four postseason series in his career, winning all four series en route to two World Series titles. In those four playoff series, Puckett amassed a .897 OPS, highlighted by a ridiculous .913 OPS across his world series appearances in 1987 and 1991. Compare that to Carew who was 0-4 in the four playoff series of his career where he hit just .220 with four extra-base hits. The moment that all Twins fans will remember from Kirby Puckett, and the absolute highlight of a Hall of Fame career was his performance in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series that single-handedly kept the Twins’ playoff hopes alive and sent them to Game 7 where they would eventually win their second title. In this game, Puckett hit a triple in the first inning, robbed Ron Gant of extra-bases in front of the Plexiglass wall in the third inning, and then won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning when he launched a game-winning, walk-off home run in front of the Twins’ faithful. The Verdict Kirby Puckett revitalized an entire generation of Minnesota Twins fans through his "clutchness" and late-game heroics. Puckett’s joy for the game was contagious and his leadership mindset and impact in the community made him a fan favorite for many. Rod Carew, however, had a better career than Kirby. As previously mentioned, Rod Carew beats out Kirby Puckett in just about every offensive category. Carew similarly has the edge over Puckett in terms of value-added. Over his 19-year career, Carew contributed 72.3 fWAR, 3.81 per season compared to Puckett providing 44.9 fWAR over his 12-year career, 3.74 per season. Carew accumulated more individual hardware with his all-star games, MVP awards, and batting titles. Whether fair or not, Puckett is hurt by his career being cut short. Only playing in 12 seasons, Puckett just didn’t have the runway to collect the number of accolades that Carew did. It’s entirely possible that if Puckett didn’t contract glaucoma, he would have gone on to have a 20-year career and rack up MVP awards and all-star game appearances, but with only 12 years, he just didn’t do enough to beat out Carew for the better career. Who do you think had the better overall career between Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, leave a comment below and join the conversation!
  13. I assume many know the history of Kirby Puckett. He's a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players in Minnesota Twins history. His legend grew as the leader of the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship teams. For someone in my age group, we know all about the Kirby Puckett story. However, consider that he has been retired since spring training of 1996. Anyone born after September 28, 1995. never had the chance to watch him play in an MLB game. That means that no one under the age of around 27 or 28 would have memories of watching him during his playing career. Puckett was born and raised in the projects on the South Side of Chicago, some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. Following his high school playing days, he received no scholarship offers. He went to work on the assembly line at a Ford Motors plant. He was given an opportunity to play at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, but after one year, he went to Triton Community College. That's where the Jim Rantz legend was born. Rantz went to Triton one day to watch his son play, but in the process, he also got to see Kirby Puckett play. He was so impressed that he recommended the Twins continue to send scouts to watch him. Then 37 years ago today, they used the third overall pick to to select the outfielder. As a 22-year-old, Puckett went to Elizabethton where he hit .382/.438/.491 with 15 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 35 RBI. It may surprise some, but he also stole 43 bases (in 47 attempts) during the short-season. In 1983, he moved up to Visalia where he hit .314/.366/.442 with 29 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs and 97 RBI. He stole 48 bases in 59 attempts. Let me make a brief side note here. Puckett was putting up monstrous numbers in A-Ball, but he was already 23 years old, so I imagine had prospect rankings been done by more at that time, he may have been dropped a few spots because he was "too old for the level." (of course, it did come out shortly after his playing career that he was born on March 14, 1960. He had been listed as being born March 14, 1961, throughout his career, although he never hid that information from the Twins.) In 1984, he jumped all the way up to AAA Toledo. 21 games into the season, he was hitting just .263/.294/.325 with two doubles and a home run. He was also 8 for 10 in stolen base attempts. The Twins were tired of their centerfield situation that included the likes of Bobby Mitchell and Darrell Brown, and they decided to promote Puckett. On May 8, Puckett debuted with four hits against the Angels. During his 12-year career, he played in 10 All Star games and won six Gold Glove awards and six Silver Slugger Awards. He finished in the Top 3 in MVP voting three times. He won the batting title when he hit .339 in 1989, but the year before, he hit .356 and finished second to Wade Boggs (.366). Overall, he hit .318/.360/.477 with 414 doubles, 57 triples, 207 home runs, 1,085 RBI and 1,071 runs scored. He also stole 134 bases. Obviously his career ended way too soon when, in the spring of 1996, he was diagnosed with glaucoma and could never play again. He became a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001. How many of you make that trip to Cooperstown for Puckett's induction? (Me!!) In 2002, a lot of information came out that destroyed the great-guy persona that Puckett had throughout his playing career. There's no getting around that or excusing that, but those of us who were eight years old when Puckett debuted and remember all the great catches, the home runs, the All Star games, the World Series titles, choose (right or wrong) to remember those things and what Kirby Puckett meant to fans around the Upper Midwest. Puckett had a massive stroke in March of 2006 and passed away the following day. I had to leave work. 36 years ago today, the Twins drafted Kirby Puckett. He became the Minnesota Twins to so many. I wish I could have met him.
  14. As a 1997 baby I never had the chance to watch Kirby Puckett play in person. Yet his 1991 game six catch and walk off homer are by far the most watched pieces of baseball content that will ever grace my life. Thirty years doesn't diminish the goosebumps that prevail when watching two of the most prolific moments in Twins (and baseball) history. Those moments present Kirby not as a player, but an essence of glory and an overarching sense of a legend that is cemented in history. But as a player, he was pretty damn good too. One can point to any spot on Puckett's 12 year MLB career stat line and find talking points that are pretty impressive. The tip of the iceberg is Puck's .318 career batting average and 51.2 WAR coupled with six gold gloves, a batting title, and two shiny rings. Not to mention, the man made the All-star game in ten of his 12 seasons and was named the MVP of the '93 Mid-summer Classic. That's all great, but the tip of an iceberg fails to share the entire story of the mass. Puck was an impact player right out the gate. His 1984 rookie season consisted of a .296 batting average, 165 hits (he would go on to lead the league in this category four times), and only 69 strikeouts in 583 plate appearances. The man knew how to get on base! Kirby finished the season third in the vote tally for American League Rookie of the Year behind the Seattle duo of Alvin Davis and Mark Langston (Puckett's career turned out to be a bit more fruitful). It didn't take long for Puckett's name to enter the MVP conversation. He first received votes in 1985 and would go on to receive them in eight of his remaining ten seasons. Funny enough, he never actually won the award. Yet it isn't MVP votes that win titles. That comes from consistency, availability, and drive. Those three things were arguably Kirby's biggest contributions to the Twins. Need a break from you in-laws over the holidays? Spend 30 minutes on Puckett's Baseball Reference page to brighten the mood. The consistency is unbelievable. Puck never had a season with a batting average that dipped below .280. His lowest was a .288 average in that 1985 season, still knocking 199 hits in a league-leading 691 at-bats. Puck could perform because he was practically always available. Seldom was it that Kirby played in under 150 games in a season. His lowest was 108 in 1994 due to the MLB lockout. And while all that is great, Twins fans will remember Puckett for being the heart and soul of the organization in some of it's brightest days. The Twins were graced with some incredible players like Hrbek, Viola, Aguilera, and Gladden, but it's safe to say that Kirby was the backbone of the Twins' glory days. Puckett's heroics in game six of the 1991 World Series must be associated with his leadership and words of inspiration before the game. With their backs against the wall after losing three in a row (including an absolute whooping in game five) Kirby encouraged his team to 'jump on his back.' Something must have worked. Kirby delivered, the Twins won, and the 1991 World Series will forever be one of the greatest championships ever played in sport. And on a personal level, the legacy of Puck has always been special to me. As a chubby kid with little self-confidence, my mother would read me his children's book before tough days at school, sporting events, and difficult situations. Kirby Puckett: Be the Best You Can Be; it still sits on my television stand as a small reminder of self-love and inspiration. Kirby wasn't perfect, none of us are. Yet the impact that he had and still has on baseball and the Minnesota Twins organization is unprecedented. There are few organizations in sports that have what Kirby Puckett and the Minnesota Twins have/had. Everyone has their favorite Puck memory. Take some time to think of yours. Hopefully it brings a smile to your face on this Christmas Day. Read Previous "12 Days of TwinsMas" articles here: #12 - Torii Hunter #11 - Chuck Knoblauch #10 - Jim Kaat #9 - Frank Viola #8 - Kent Hrbek #7 - Tony Oliva #6 - Johan Santana #5 - Bert Blyleven #4 - Joe Mauer #3 - Harmon Killebrew #2 - Rod Carew #1 - Kirby Puckett
  15. From his World Series heroics to jubilant personality, Kirby Puckett is regarded by most as the greatest player to ever don a Twins uniform. As a 1997 baby I never had the chance to watch Kirby Puckett play in person. Yet his 1991 game six catch and walk off homer are by far the most watched pieces of baseball content that will ever grace my life. Thirty years doesn't diminish the goosebumps that prevail when watching two of the most prolific moments in Twins (and baseball) history. Those moments present Kirby not as a player, but an essence of glory and an overarching sense of a legend that is cemented in history. But as a player, he was pretty damn good too. One can point to any spot on Puckett's 12 year MLB career stat line and find talking points that are pretty impressive. The tip of the iceberg is Puck's .318 career batting average and 51.2 WAR coupled with six gold gloves, a batting title, and two shiny rings. Not to mention, the man made the All-star game in ten of his 12 seasons and was named the MVP of the '93 Mid-summer Classic. That's all great, but the tip of an iceberg fails to share the entire story of the mass. Puck was an impact player right out the gate. His 1984 rookie season consisted of a .296 batting average, 165 hits (he would go on to lead the league in this category four times), and only 69 strikeouts in 583 plate appearances. The man knew how to get on base! Kirby finished the season third in the vote tally for American League Rookie of the Year behind the Seattle duo of Alvin Davis and Mark Langston (Puckett's career turned out to be a bit more fruitful). It didn't take long for Puckett's name to enter the MVP conversation. He first received votes in 1985 and would go on to receive them in eight of his remaining ten seasons. Funny enough, he never actually won the award. Yet it isn't MVP votes that win titles. That comes from consistency, availability, and drive. Those three things were arguably Kirby's biggest contributions to the Twins. Need a break from you in-laws over the holidays? Spend 30 minutes on Puckett's Baseball Reference page to brighten the mood. The consistency is unbelievable. Puck never had a season with a batting average that dipped below .280. His lowest was a .288 average in that 1985 season, still knocking 199 hits in a league-leading 691 at-bats. Puck could perform because he was practically always available. Seldom was it that Kirby played in under 150 games in a season. His lowest was 108 in 1994 due to the MLB lockout. And while all that is great, Twins fans will remember Puckett for being the heart and soul of the organization in some of it's brightest days. The Twins were graced with some incredible players like Hrbek, Viola, Aguilera, and Gladden, but it's safe to say that Kirby was the backbone of the Twins' glory days. Puckett's heroics in game six of the 1991 World Series must be associated with his leadership and words of inspiration before the game. With their backs against the wall after losing three in a row (including an absolute whooping in game five) Kirby encouraged his team to 'jump on his back.' Something must have worked. Kirby delivered, the Twins won, and the 1991 World Series will forever be one of the greatest championships ever played in sport. And on a personal level, the legacy of Puck has always been special to me. As a chubby kid with little self-confidence, my mother would read me his children's book before tough days at school, sporting events, and difficult situations. Kirby Puckett: Be the Best You Can Be; it still sits on my television stand as a small reminder of self-love and inspiration. Kirby wasn't perfect, none of us are. Yet the impact that he had and still has on baseball and the Minnesota Twins organization is unprecedented. There are few organizations in sports that have what Kirby Puckett and the Minnesota Twins have/had. Everyone has their favorite Puck memory. Take some time to think of yours. Hopefully it brings a smile to your face on this Christmas Day. Read Previous "12 Days of TwinsMas" articles here: #12 - Torii Hunter #11 - Chuck Knoblauch #10 - Jim Kaat #9 - Frank Viola #8 - Kent Hrbek #7 - Tony Oliva #6 - Johan Santana #5 - Bert Blyleven #4 - Joe Mauer #3 - Harmon Killebrew #2 - Rod Carew #1 - Kirby Puckett View full article
  16. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 Jim Pohlad enters one of his many estates, muttering to himself about the nerve of his employees trying to ‘extort’ him for pitching. He hands Rudy his fur coat and takes the elevator up to his bedroom. “125 million dollars for a pitcher… not in this lifetime,” Pohlad says as Rudy helps him into his silk pajamas. “What do they expect me to do? Sell my Porsche dealership? One of my many houses,” Pohlad asks while Rudy silently nods in agreement. Pohlad puts on his nightcap and tucks himself into the covers. Pohlad falls asleep but is quickly awoken by the sound of cleats on the marble floor in his bedroom. He grabs his smartphone to turn on the lights, but before he can find the app his room is aglow with a backlit figure standing in the doorway. “Rudy? Is that you?,” Pohlad asks. “No, Jim, I am not Rudy,” the figure replies as Pohlad squints to adjust his eyes to the glowing figure in his cavernous bedroom. “I am the Ghost of Twins’ Christmas Past.” Then it becomes clear who is standing at the foot of the bed. It is, unbelievably, Kirby Puckett. “Kirby! It can’t be! I thought you were….well….,” Pohlad stutters. “Dead? Remember Jim, there's heroes and there's legends: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” Puckett said. “I am here to show you the error of your ways.” Puckett and Pohlad suddenly appear on Chicago Avenue during the Twins 1991 World Championship parade. Chili Davis and Jack Morris roll by in floats while the fans celebrate and cheer. “You see, Jim, this town LOVED the Twins and all it took was a few big free agents to complete the puzzle,” Puckett said. “You could have OWNED this state if you could have kept the momentum. But you stopped spending.” Suddenly a montage plays out in front of Puckett and Pohlad. Disappointing seasons in ’92 and ’93. The 1994 strike and Kent Hrbek’s retirement. Puckett’s glaucoma. The awful, awful seasons from ’95-2000. Puckett reaches out and takes Pohlad by the hand. Suddenly, the room begins to spin and spin until they find themselves inside the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. It is 2001. On the field, the Twins are playing against the White Sox. It is an exciting young Twins team featuring up-and-coming players like Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie. Although the crowd is sparse, it is far better than even three seasons ago. Fans seem to be getting interested in the team again after a dark decade of losing. Puckett and Pohlad find themselves in the offices in the bowels of the stadium. “Is that my dad?” Pohlad nervously asks. “Who is that man he is sitting with?” Puckett laughs and gives Pohlad a dumbfounded look. “You know who that is, the Commissioner of baseball Bud Selig,” Puckett says incredulously. Selig and Carl Pohlad are looking over some documents while lawyers observe from the background. Suddenly, Selig smiles and begins to speak. “There we have it, Carl, your team will officially be contracted before next season. The owners will buy out your stake and there will no longer be Major League Baseball in Minnesota,” Selig said. A single tear fell from Puckett’s eye as he watched Carl Pohlad sign the contract. Jim Pohlad instantly became defensive. “You don’t understand, the state wouldn’t buy us a new stadium! Our family simply couldn’t afford to pay for our own ballpark, we needed the charity of the citizens of Minnesota,” Jim Pohlad said. “Ah, so you admit, you NEED the fans,” Puckett asked. “Is that what you are trying to say?” “No, we need the fans’ MONEY. We don’t care what the fans actually think about the team as long as they are giving us their MONEY…. can’t you understand that?” Jim Pohlad seethed. Suddenly, after climbing about 6,000 stairs, Puckett and Pohlad are in the Twins clubhouse. Players are hearing the news of contraction and calling their families confused and scared about what the future may hold. Employees are being encouraged to find employment elsewhere in case there is no team in 2002. “That’s IT. I’ve seen enough of this and I DEMAND to go back home,” Pohlad yelled. “As you wish,” Puckett said, and suddenly Jim Pohlad was back in his California king-sized bed. Part 3 is coming soon! A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1
  17. In Part 2 of this adaptation of a Dickens classic, Jim Pohlad finds himself awoken by, well, you're going to have to read on to find out. A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 Jim Pohlad enters one of his many estates, muttering to himself about the nerve of his employees trying to ‘extort’ him for pitching. He hands Rudy his fur coat and takes the elevator up to his bedroom. “125 million dollars for a pitcher… not in this lifetime,” Pohlad says as Rudy helps him into his silk pajamas. “What do they expect me to do? Sell my Porsche dealership? One of my many houses,” Pohlad asks while Rudy silently nods in agreement. Pohlad puts on his nightcap and tucks himself into the covers. Pohlad falls asleep but is quickly awoken by the sound of cleats on the marble floor in his bedroom. He grabs his smartphone to turn on the lights, but before he can find the app his room is aglow with a backlit figure standing in the doorway. “Rudy? Is that you?,” Pohlad asks. “No, Jim, I am not Rudy,” the figure replies as Pohlad squints to adjust his eyes to the glowing figure in his cavernous bedroom. “I am the Ghost of Twins’ Christmas Past.” Then it becomes clear who is standing at the foot of the bed. It is, unbelievably, Kirby Puckett. “Kirby! It can’t be! I thought you were….well….,” Pohlad stutters. “Dead? Remember Jim, there's heroes and there's legends: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” Puckett said. “I am here to show you the error of your ways.” Puckett and Pohlad suddenly appear on Chicago Avenue during the Twins 1991 World Championship parade. Chili Davis and Jack Morris roll by in floats while the fans celebrate and cheer. “You see, Jim, this town LOVED the Twins and all it took was a few big free agents to complete the puzzle,” Puckett said. “You could have OWNED this state if you could have kept the momentum. But you stopped spending.” Suddenly a montage plays out in front of Puckett and Pohlad. Disappointing seasons in ’92 and ’93. The 1994 strike and Kent Hrbek’s retirement. Puckett’s glaucoma. The awful, awful seasons from ’95-2000. Puckett reaches out and takes Pohlad by the hand. Suddenly, the room begins to spin and spin until they find themselves inside the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. It is 2001. On the field, the Twins are playing against the White Sox. It is an exciting young Twins team featuring up-and-coming players like Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie. Although the crowd is sparse, it is far better than even three seasons ago. Fans seem to be getting interested in the team again after a dark decade of losing. Puckett and Pohlad find themselves in the offices in the bowels of the stadium. “Is that my dad?” Pohlad nervously asks. “Who is that man he is sitting with?” Puckett laughs and gives Pohlad a dumbfounded look. “You know who that is, the Commissioner of baseball Bud Selig,” Puckett says incredulously. Selig and Carl Pohlad are looking over some documents while lawyers observe from the background. Suddenly, Selig smiles and begins to speak. “There we have it, Carl, your team will officially be contracted before next season. The owners will buy out your stake and there will no longer be Major League Baseball in Minnesota,” Selig said. A single tear fell from Puckett’s eye as he watched Carl Pohlad sign the contract. Jim Pohlad instantly became defensive. “You don’t understand, the state wouldn’t buy us a new stadium! Our family simply couldn’t afford to pay for our own ballpark, we needed the charity of the citizens of Minnesota,” Jim Pohlad said. “Ah, so you admit, you NEED the fans,” Puckett asked. “Is that what you are trying to say?” “No, we need the fans’ MONEY. We don’t care what the fans actually think about the team as long as they are giving us their MONEY…. can’t you understand that?” Jim Pohlad seethed. Suddenly, after climbing about 6,000 stairs, Puckett and Pohlad are in the Twins clubhouse. Players are hearing the news of contraction and calling their families confused and scared about what the future may hold. Employees are being encouraged to find employment elsewhere in case there is no team in 2002. “That’s IT. I’ve seen enough of this and I DEMAND to go back home,” Pohlad yelled. “As you wish,” Puckett said, and suddenly Jim Pohlad was back in his California king-sized bed. Part 3 is coming soon! A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part 1 View full article
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. On Wednesday afternoon, I did my regular weekly Twins Talk segment with Dave Overlund on WJON radio in St. Cloud. Instead of talking more about a struggling Twins team, we had a really fun time doing a Twins Fantasy Draft. I'd love to hear your thoughts on our teams. Who would win? Click the link in the tweet below and you can listen to the segment. For this draft, we selected the following: SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, DH It's always so much fun looking back at the history of the Twins. 60+ seasons. So many great players. Hall of Famers. Twins Hall of Famers. All Stars. Find out who we selected for our teams and let us know what you think. I think I'll go with this lineup: Rod Carew 2B Joe Mauer C Kirby Puckett CF Tony Oliva RF Kent Hrbek 1B Bob Allison LF Justin Morneau DH Corey Koskie 3B Roy Smalley SS Jim Kaat SP
  21. I explained my process of how I chose these players in the first part of this trilogy, so if you didn’t read that, I recommend reading this so this article will make more sense. Taking all of the position player seasons over 4 WAR, I found salary data for 86 players. Using these 86 players, I compared their equivalent 2021 salaries with their season WAR’s and constructed the graph below. The names highlighted in yellow are the players who made the starting lineup As was the case in part 1, the bottom right of the graph is where you want to have your players be, signifying a lot of WAR for not a lot of 2021 money. There were some very tough decisions in constructing this lineup, but these are the position players I decided would make the best team in Twins history. Catcher: 2009 Joe Mauer - $15.69M translated salary, 7.8 WAR Because of his lackluster production despite a large contract in the latter part of his career, some Twins fans see Joe Mauer as a bust and not as one of the best players in Twins history. In reality, over the course of his career, Mauer vastly outproduced his contracts. Adding in 2018 to these totals, Mauer made just over $218M in his career but according to FanGraphs, he was worth over $307M. Mauer was so phenomenal early in his career that he completely outperformed his rookie contract and arbitration deals. It makes you wonder what he would’ve done if not for his concussion problems later in his career. Mauer’s best year was 2009. He slashed .365/.444/.587 for the second highest single-season OPS in Twins history of 1.031. Mauer also hit a career high 28 home runs, had a wRC+ of 170, walked more than he struck out, and was an above average defensive catcher in his MVP campaign. In 2009, Mauer had a salary of $10.5 million. This translates to over $15 million in 2021, meaning his contract efficiency number was 0.497. Mauer outperformed his contract not just in 2009, but over the duration of his entire career and he should be inducted in the hall of fame. First Base: 1977 Rod Carew - $10.93M translated salary, 9.7 WAR In 2021, Rod Carew would not be your stereotypical first baseman. Today, first basemen are power-hitters who strike out quite a bit, hit home runs, and don’t steal a lot of bases (see Sano, Miguel). Carew was the greatest player in Twins history and in 1977, he had the greatest season in Twins history. In Carew’s historic 1977 season, he stole 23 bases, slashed .388/.449/.570 for an OPS of 1.019, and had a 135 wRC+. He had a Twins franchise record 239 hits, his .388 average was a franchise record, and he won the MVP award. In 1977, Carew had a salary of $180,000. This translates to just shy of $11 million in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 0.888. Carew was an outstanding player, will bring some defensive quickness to first base, and would be an outstanding leadoff hitter for this dream-team. Second Base: 1995 Chuck Knoblauch - $13.44M translated salary, 6.7 WAR Even though Chuck Knoblauch isn’t Keith Olbermann's favorite player, he still had an outstanding tenure as a Twin. Knoblauch was a four-time all-star with the Twins before contract disputes led to him becoming a Yankee. In 1995, Knoblauch batted .333, had a .911 OPS, stole 46 bases, and won the American League Silver Slugger at second base. Although Knoblauch’s best season may have been a year later in 1996, he still accumulated nearly 7 WAR in 1995 on a cheaper contract. In 1995, Knoblauch had a salary of nearly $3 million. This translates to $13.4 million in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 0.499. Knoblauch was a great all-around player for the Twins and is the greatest second baseman in Twins history, so it is only right to put him here. Third Base: 2001 Corey Koskie - $606K translated salary, 6.3 WAR One player who was always undervalued for the Twins was Corey Koskie. In the early 2000’s, you could tell Koskie was a very solid player for the Twins but if you look at him in a more advanced scope, you can see that Koskie was a great player for the Twins and they did not have to pay much for him. In 2001, Koskie slashed .276/.362/.488 for an OPS of .850 and a wRC+ of 119. He led the team in slugging percentage, walks (68), RBI (103), and WAR (6.3). He was an outstanding defender at third base, racking up 1.9 defensive WAR which ranked 4th among third basemen in MLB. Combining above average offense with a stellar glove at third base makes Koskie an easy choice to be our third baseman. In 2001, Koskie had a salary of only $300K. This translates to only $606K in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 10.39, which was the highest contract efficiency number out of all of the top 100 WAR seasons in Twins history. Getting a 6 WAR player for nearly league minimum does not happen very often so we can save a lot of money while getting a lot of value out of Koskie at 3B. Plus, the man is a townball star Shortstop: 1965 Zoilo Versalles - $7.63M translated salary, 7.2 WAR When building this team of superstars, Zoilo Versalles was the most confusing player I researched. He only had 12 career WAR, and over half of it came in this MVP 1965 campaign. Versalles was the Baha Men of 1965, a one-hit wonder. Digging deeper into his MVP season, he only had a wRC+ of 116 and led the American League in strikeouts. The reason Versalles was so good in 1965 was that he was the best defensive shortstop in the league. He led all MLB shortstops with 3 defensive WAR, also the best mark for any shortstop in Twins history. Versalles’ defensive prowess coupled with his above average offensive abilities (led AL in runs, doubles, and triples) made him the best player in the AL in 1965 and the best shortstop in Twins history. In 1965, Versalles had a salary of $28K, which translates to $7.63 million in 2021. His contract efficiency number (0.944) was very good. Cristian Guzman was also in contention for this spot with an extremely cheap contract, but Versalles accumulated 2.4 more WAR than Guzman so I thought it was a worthwhile trade-off. Left Field: 1992 Shane Mack - $5.44M translated salary, 6.5 WAR One of the most overlooked Twins of all-time is World Series Champion outfielder Shane Mack. After being the Twins Rule 5 draft pick in 1989, he had a great five-year stretch with the Twins. In those five years, he slashed .309/.375/.479 (.854) while hitting 119 doubles, 67 home runs, and stealing 71 bases. His best year of that stretch was 1992, having a wRC+ of 142, hitting 31 doubles, 16 home runs, and stealing 26 bases. He also led the American League with 15 hit by pitches. In 1992, Mack had a salary of $1.075 million, which translates to $5.44 million in 2021. He posted a WAR of 6.5, so his contract efficiency number was very good at 1.195. Mack is one of the most underrated players in Twins history and was frankly one of the best outfielders in Twins history. Center Field: 1992 Kirby Puckett - $6M translated salary, 7.2 WAR Undoubtedly the most beloved figure in Twins history, Kirby Puckett is also the best outfielder in team history and delivered some unforgettable moments, like his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Kirby joins fellow ‘92 outfielder Shane Mack on the team. One of Kirby’s best seasons was 1992. He hit .329/.374/.490 (.864) while leading MLB in hits (210). He had 110 RBI, a wRC+ of 136, hit 38 doubles, 19 home runs, and had a defensive WAR of 1 while manning center field for the reigning World Champs and being a clubhouse leader. In 1992, Puck had a salary of $2.97 million, which is about $6 million today. He had a 7.1 WAR so his contract efficiency was about 1.184. Puck would be the heart and soul of this team and bring some much needed energy and leadership to the team. Right Field: 1964 Tony Oliva - $2.12M translated salary, 6.8 WAR Recent Hall of Fame inductee Tony Oliva joins the squad with his phenomenal rookie season of 1964. Oliva is one of the greatest hitters in Twins history and a Twins great, hitting .304/.353/.476 (.830) over his 15-year career with the Twins. Oliva was phenomenal in his rookie season, winning rookie of the year and finishing fourth in AL MVP voting. He had a wRC+ of 148, led the AL with a .323 batting average, 109 runs, 43 doubles, and 217 hits while posting a .916 OPS and clubbing 32 home runs. In 1964, Oliva had a salary of $7,500, which translates to $2.12 million in 2021. He accumulated 6.8 WAR, so his contract efficiency was 0.73. Oliva has always been an excellent representative of the Twins organization both on and off the field, so he is a great addition to the team. Designated Hitter: 1963 Bob Allison - $8.75M translated salary, 7.4 WAR The last hitter we have in the lineup is Bob Allison. Allison was ahead of his time. He was more of a three true outcomes hitter than most people in his time. Allison was one of the original Twins, coming from the Washington Senators. He is one of the more underrated players in Twins history and he was one of the leaders on the 1965 World Series team. Allison was a star in 1963, hitting .271/.378/.533 (.911). He led the American League in WAR (7.4), OPS, and wRC+ (150). He hit 35 home runs and was solid defensively, posting a defensive WAR of 1.1 as a right fielder. Somehow, he finished 15th in MVP voting despite leading the league in all of these categories. If they could revote today knowing what actually makes a player valuable, he would most definitely finish in the top 3. In 1963, Allison had a salary of $29,250, translating to a $8.75 million salary today. His contract efficiency was 0.846 so he would be a great bopper in a lineup full of them. Harmon Killebrew was also considered for this position but Allison edged him out in WAR and was slightly cheaper. Summary Overall, the Twins lineup would bolster some heavy hitters and some very high on-base guys, creating a high-powered offense that would wreck the league. These hitters accumulated 65.6 WAR and would be worth $70.6 million translated to 2021 salaries. Part 3 will cover the bullpen and bench, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for reading, and Go Twins!
  22. As we saw in part 1, having your pick of whoever you want in Twins history can be quite fun. We built a pitching rotation of 40.6 WAR while only spending about 20 percent of our $130 million budget. This is what the lineup would look like. I explained my process of how I chose these players in the first part of this trilogy, so if you didn’t read that, I recommend reading this so this article will make more sense. Taking all of the position player seasons over 4 WAR, I found salary data for 86 players. Using these 86 players, I compared their equivalent 2021 salaries with their season WAR’s and constructed the graph below. The names highlighted in yellow are the players who made the starting lineup As was the case in part 1, the bottom right of the graph is where you want to have your players be, signifying a lot of WAR for not a lot of 2021 money. There were some very tough decisions in constructing this lineup, but these are the position players I decided would make the best team in Twins history. Catcher: 2009 Joe Mauer - $15.69M translated salary, 7.8 WAR Because of his lackluster production despite a large contract in the latter part of his career, some Twins fans see Joe Mauer as a bust and not as one of the best players in Twins history. In reality, over the course of his career, Mauer vastly outproduced his contracts. Adding in 2018 to these totals, Mauer made just over $218M in his career but according to FanGraphs, he was worth over $307M. Mauer was so phenomenal early in his career that he completely outperformed his rookie contract and arbitration deals. It makes you wonder what he would’ve done if not for his concussion problems later in his career. Mauer’s best year was 2009. He slashed .365/.444/.587 for the second highest single-season OPS in Twins history of 1.031. Mauer also hit a career high 28 home runs, had a wRC+ of 170, walked more than he struck out, and was an above average defensive catcher in his MVP campaign. In 2009, Mauer had a salary of $10.5 million. This translates to over $15 million in 2021, meaning his contract efficiency number was 0.497. Mauer outperformed his contract not just in 2009, but over the duration of his entire career and he should be inducted in the hall of fame. First Base: 1977 Rod Carew - $10.93M translated salary, 9.7 WAR In 2021, Rod Carew would not be your stereotypical first baseman. Today, first basemen are power-hitters who strike out quite a bit, hit home runs, and don’t steal a lot of bases (see Sano, Miguel). Carew was the greatest player in Twins history and in 1977, he had the greatest season in Twins history. In Carew’s historic 1977 season, he stole 23 bases, slashed .388/.449/.570 for an OPS of 1.019, and had a 135 wRC+. He had a Twins franchise record 239 hits, his .388 average was a franchise record, and he won the MVP award. In 1977, Carew had a salary of $180,000. This translates to just shy of $11 million in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 0.888. Carew was an outstanding player, will bring some defensive quickness to first base, and would be an outstanding leadoff hitter for this dream-team. Second Base: 1995 Chuck Knoblauch - $13.44M translated salary, 6.7 WAR Even though Chuck Knoblauch isn’t Keith Olbermann's favorite player, he still had an outstanding tenure as a Twin. Knoblauch was a four-time all-star with the Twins before contract disputes led to him becoming a Yankee. In 1995, Knoblauch batted .333, had a .911 OPS, stole 46 bases, and won the American League Silver Slugger at second base. Although Knoblauch’s best season may have been a year later in 1996, he still accumulated nearly 7 WAR in 1995 on a cheaper contract. In 1995, Knoblauch had a salary of nearly $3 million. This translates to $13.4 million in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 0.499. Knoblauch was a great all-around player for the Twins and is the greatest second baseman in Twins history, so it is only right to put him here. Third Base: 2001 Corey Koskie - $606K translated salary, 6.3 WAR One player who was always undervalued for the Twins was Corey Koskie. In the early 2000’s, you could tell Koskie was a very solid player for the Twins but if you look at him in a more advanced scope, you can see that Koskie was a great player for the Twins and they did not have to pay much for him. In 2001, Koskie slashed .276/.362/.488 for an OPS of .850 and a wRC+ of 119. He led the team in slugging percentage, walks (68), RBI (103), and WAR (6.3). He was an outstanding defender at third base, racking up 1.9 defensive WAR which ranked 4th among third basemen in MLB. Combining above average offense with a stellar glove at third base makes Koskie an easy choice to be our third baseman. In 2001, Koskie had a salary of only $300K. This translates to only $606K in 2021 for a contract efficiency number of 10.39, which was the highest contract efficiency number out of all of the top 100 WAR seasons in Twins history. Getting a 6 WAR player for nearly league minimum does not happen very often so we can save a lot of money while getting a lot of value out of Koskie at 3B. Plus, the man is a townball star Shortstop: 1965 Zoilo Versalles - $7.63M translated salary, 7.2 WAR When building this team of superstars, Zoilo Versalles was the most confusing player I researched. He only had 12 career WAR, and over half of it came in this MVP 1965 campaign. Versalles was the Baha Men of 1965, a one-hit wonder. Digging deeper into his MVP season, he only had a wRC+ of 116 and led the American League in strikeouts. The reason Versalles was so good in 1965 was that he was the best defensive shortstop in the league. He led all MLB shortstops with 3 defensive WAR, also the best mark for any shortstop in Twins history. Versalles’ defensive prowess coupled with his above average offensive abilities (led AL in runs, doubles, and triples) made him the best player in the AL in 1965 and the best shortstop in Twins history. In 1965, Versalles had a salary of $28K, which translates to $7.63 million in 2021. His contract efficiency number (0.944) was very good. Cristian Guzman was also in contention for this spot with an extremely cheap contract, but Versalles accumulated 2.4 more WAR than Guzman so I thought it was a worthwhile trade-off. Left Field: 1992 Shane Mack - $5.44M translated salary, 6.5 WAR One of the most overlooked Twins of all-time is World Series Champion outfielder Shane Mack. After being the Twins Rule 5 draft pick in 1989, he had a great five-year stretch with the Twins. In those five years, he slashed .309/.375/.479 (.854) while hitting 119 doubles, 67 home runs, and stealing 71 bases. His best year of that stretch was 1992, having a wRC+ of 142, hitting 31 doubles, 16 home runs, and stealing 26 bases. He also led the American League with 15 hit by pitches. In 1992, Mack had a salary of $1.075 million, which translates to $5.44 million in 2021. He posted a WAR of 6.5, so his contract efficiency number was very good at 1.195. Mack is one of the most underrated players in Twins history and was frankly one of the best outfielders in Twins history. Center Field: 1992 Kirby Puckett - $6M translated salary, 7.2 WAR Undoubtedly the most beloved figure in Twins history, Kirby Puckett is also the best outfielder in team history and delivered some unforgettable moments, like his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Kirby joins fellow ‘92 outfielder Shane Mack on the team. One of Kirby’s best seasons was 1992. He hit .329/.374/.490 (.864) while leading MLB in hits (210). He had 110 RBI, a wRC+ of 136, hit 38 doubles, 19 home runs, and had a defensive WAR of 1 while manning center field for the reigning World Champs and being a clubhouse leader. In 1992, Puck had a salary of $2.97 million, which is about $6 million today. He had a 7.1 WAR so his contract efficiency was about 1.184. Puck would be the heart and soul of this team and bring some much needed energy and leadership to the team. Right Field: 1964 Tony Oliva - $2.12M translated salary, 6.8 WAR Recent Hall of Fame inductee Tony Oliva joins the squad with his phenomenal rookie season of 1964. Oliva is one of the greatest hitters in Twins history and a Twins great, hitting .304/.353/.476 (.830) over his 15-year career with the Twins. Oliva was phenomenal in his rookie season, winning rookie of the year and finishing fourth in AL MVP voting. He had a wRC+ of 148, led the AL with a .323 batting average, 109 runs, 43 doubles, and 217 hits while posting a .916 OPS and clubbing 32 home runs. In 1964, Oliva had a salary of $7,500, which translates to $2.12 million in 2021. He accumulated 6.8 WAR, so his contract efficiency was 0.73. Oliva has always been an excellent representative of the Twins organization both on and off the field, so he is a great addition to the team. Designated Hitter: 1963 Bob Allison - $8.75M translated salary, 7.4 WAR The last hitter we have in the lineup is Bob Allison. Allison was ahead of his time. He was more of a three true outcomes hitter than most people in his time. Allison was one of the original Twins, coming from the Washington Senators. He is one of the more underrated players in Twins history and he was one of the leaders on the 1965 World Series team. Allison was a star in 1963, hitting .271/.378/.533 (.911). He led the American League in WAR (7.4), OPS, and wRC+ (150). He hit 35 home runs and was solid defensively, posting a defensive WAR of 1.1 as a right fielder. Somehow, he finished 15th in MVP voting despite leading the league in all of these categories. If they could revote today knowing what actually makes a player valuable, he would most definitely finish in the top 3. In 1963, Allison had a salary of $29,250, translating to a $8.75 million salary today. His contract efficiency was 0.846 so he would be a great bopper in a lineup full of them. Harmon Killebrew was also considered for this position but Allison edged him out in WAR and was slightly cheaper. Summary Overall, the Twins lineup would bolster some heavy hitters and some very high on-base guys, creating a high-powered offense that would wreck the league. These hitters accumulated 65.6 WAR and would be worth $70.6 million translated to 2021 salaries. Part 3 will cover the bullpen and bench, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  23. In this series of promotional shorts leading up to the 1985 Minnesota Twins season, we're offered a throwback to some classic faces that contributed to the 1987 World Championship team: Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, and Gary Gaetti's mustache. But despite these iconic players taking the stage, the real star of the show ends up being the free tube socks. Presented in partnership with TC Media Now.
  24. In this series of promotional shorts leading up to the 1985 Minnesota Twins season, we're offered a throwback to some classic faces that contributed to the 1987 World Championship team: Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, and Gary Gaetti's mustache. But despite these iconic players taking the stage, the real star of the show ends up being the free tube socks. Presented in partnership with TC Media Now. View full video
  25. The first-place Twins are greeted like rock stars upon arriving home in Minnesota. Over two games that weekend in Milwaukee, Kirby Puckett compiled a league-record 10 hits, including a team-record 6 hits in Sunday's game and 4 HR total. The win Sunday gave the Twins sole possession of first place, which they would keep for the rest of the season. Watch that day's complete newscast here. Presented in partnership with TC Media Now. View full video
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