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  1. Somewhere along the line the outfield of Jones-Hunter-Lawton became known as the Soul Patrol. How did they get that nickname? (Pitchman voice) The answer... may surprise you. Any time the Twins have a stretch of futility, a few names are bound to be forgotten. Due in part to the utter hopelessness of the late 90's Twins and in part to the quality players that came after him, Matt Lawton sadly is one of those players. Drafted by the Twins in the 13th round of the 1991 MLB Draft, Lawton made his debut with the big club in 1995 and stuck as a regular in 1997. The Mississippi native made two career All-Star teams, including one with the Twins in 2000. Lawton was a very good to great offensive player, boasting a .379 on-base percentage over seven seasons with the Twins. For his career, Lawton walked 681 times and struck out just 613. He had a strong arm in right field and used it to throw out 12 runners in 1998. The 1999 season saw the arrival of Kirby Puckett's heir apparent in center field, Torii Hunter. Hunter had his ups and downs over his first couple of seasons before establishing himself as an All Star in his own right in 2001. The second half of that '99 season also saw the emergence of Jacque Jones, who would end up playing 976 career games with the Twins. The trio roamed the Metrodome outfield for the equivalent of two seasons beginning in the second half of 1999 through the team's trade of Lawton at the deadline in 2001. They made up Major League Baseball's only all black outfield. Somewhere along the line the outfield of Jones-Hunter-Lawton became known as the Soul Patrol. How did they get that nickname? (Pitchman voice) The answer... may surprise you. According to the Star Tribune, it was none other than the Dazzle Man himself, Dan Gladden, who coined the nickname. Well, he foisted the job on La Velle E. Neal III: After Lawton was traded to the Mets for Rick Reed the left field spot was manned by a platoon of Brian Buchanan, Dustan Mohr and Bobby Kielty. It was Kielty who was dealt to Toronto at the 2003 trade deadline for left fielder Shannon Stewart, moving Jones to right field and restoring the Soul Patrol outfield for another season (until Jones left after the 2005 season). There were many highlights for the Soul Patrol in each iteration. Who could forget Jacque Jones opening the 2002 season at Kansas City with a two home run game, setting the tone for one of the most fun seasons in team history? Torii Hunter running over White Sox catcher Jamie Burke in the heat of the 2004 Pennant Race... Shannon Stewart's catch at the wall in the 2003 playoffs... Lawton's 'Jumpman' pose when catching a fly ball in right at Yankee stadium. The Soul Patrol made Twins baseball cool again with highlight-reel defense and some pop on offense. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Any time the Twins have a stretch of futility, a few names are bound to be forgotten. Due in part to the utter hopelessness of the late 90's Twins and in part to the quality players that came after him, Matt Lawton sadly is one of those players. Drafted by the Twins in the 13th round of the 1991 MLB Draft, Lawton made his debut with the big club in 1995 and stuck as a regular in 1997. The Mississippi native made two career All-Star teams, including one with the Twins in 2000. Lawton was a very good to great offensive player, boasting a .379 on-base percentage over seven seasons with the Twins. For his career, Lawton walked 681 times and struck out just 613. He had a strong arm in right field and used it to throw out 12 runners in 1998. The 1999 season saw the arrival of Kirby Puckett's heir apparent in center field, Torii Hunter. Hunter had his ups and downs over his first couple of seasons before establishing himself as an All Star in his own right in 2001. The second half of that '99 season also saw the emergence of Jacque Jones, who would end up playing 976 career games with the Twins. The trio roamed the Metrodome outfield for the equivalent of two seasons beginning in the second half of 1999 through the team's trade of Lawton at the deadline in 2001. They made up Major League Baseball's only all black outfield. Somewhere along the line the outfield of Jones-Hunter-Lawton became known as the Soul Patrol. How did they get that nickname? (Pitchman voice) The answer... may surprise you. According to the Star Tribune, it was none other than the Dazzle Man himself, Dan Gladden, who coined the nickname. Well, he foisted the job on La Velle E. Neal III: After Lawton was traded to the Mets for Rick Reed the left field spot was manned by a platoon of Brian Buchanan, Dustan Mohr and Bobby Kielty. It was Kielty who was dealt to Toronto at the 2003 trade deadline for left fielder Shannon Stewart, moving Jones to right field and restoring the Soul Patrol outfield for another season (until Jones left after the 2005 season). There were many highlights for the Soul Patrol in each iteration. Who could forget Jacque Jones opening the 2002 season at Kansas City with a two home run game, setting the tone for one of the most fun seasons in team history? Torii Hunter running over White Sox catcher Jamie Burke in the heat of the 2004 Pennant Race... Shannon Stewart's catch at the wall in the 2003 playoffs... Lawton's 'Jumpman' pose when catching a fly ball in right at Yankee stadium. The Soul Patrol made Twins baseball cool again with highlight-reel defense and some pop on offense. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their trek through the early 2000s with the 2003 Minnesota Twins squad. Fresh off a dominant 2002 campaign that led them to the ALCS, the 2003 team stumbled early and looked to be out of the race before Terry Ryan traded for Shannon Stewart at the deadline, which helped the team surge back into first place in a thrilling August and September. We also saw the continued emergence of Johan Santana after his breakout 2002 season, which caused quite a stir in Twins Territory over debates about the future of the young start, who spent nearly half the season pitching out of the bullpen before moving to the rotation to finish the year.
  4. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their trek through the early 2000s with the 2003 Minnesota Twins squad. Fresh off a dominant 2002 campaign that led them to the ALCS, the 2003 team stumbled early and looked to be out of the race before Terry Ryan traded for Shannon Stewart at the deadline, which helped the team surge back into first place in a thrilling August and September. We also saw the continued emergence of Johan Santana after his breakout 2002 season, which caused quite a stir in Twins Territory over debates about the future of the young start, who spent nearly half the season pitching out of the bullpen before moving to the rotation to finish the year. View full video
  5. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes conclude their look back on the Minnesota Twins' breakout 2002 season. They cover the top moments from that thrilling season: the Sports Illustrated cover, Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run in the All-Star Game, winning the division for the first time since 1991, and the thrilling Oakland series in the postseason that culminated with an AJ Pierzynski home run.
  6. Nick Nelson and John Bonnes conclude their look back on the Minnesota Twins' breakout 2002 season. They cover the top moments from that thrilling season: the Sports Illustrated cover, Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run in the All-Star Game, winning the division for the first time since 1991, and the thrilling Oakland series in the postseason that culminated with an AJ Pierzynski home run. View full video
  7. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their retrospective of the 2000s Minnesota Twins teams by talking about the best performances on the breakout 2002 squad. Corey Koskie continued his underrated run as a Twins, Torii Hunter emerged as a star, and Everyday Eddie Guardado took the reins of the closer job. And let's not forget The Vulture himself, Tony Fiore, winner of ten games as a middle reliever.
  8. John Bonnes and Nick Nelson continue their retrospective of the 2000s Minnesota Twins teams by talking about the best performances on the breakout 2002 squad. Corey Koskie continued his underrated run as a Twins, Torii Hunter emerged as a star, and Everyday Eddie Guardado took the reins of the closer job. And let's not forget The Vulture himself, Tony Fiore, winner of ten games as a middle reliever. View full video
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. The 2022 MLB Hall of Fame results are in and a former Minnesota Twin has been elected to Cooperstown. Here are the four Ex-Twins who have a shot at making the ballot for 2023. Torii Hunter Resumé - 19 Seasons - 353 Home Runs - 5x All-Star - 9x Gold Glove - 2x Silver Slugger After receiving 5.3% of the vote share in the 2022 voting, former Minnesota Twins center fielder, Torii Hunter, clinched a spot on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot as a holdover. Hunter had an extremely successful career in the Majors, as evidenced by his 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. Thanks to the multiple all-star appearances and nine Gold Glove awards, Hunter earned enough votes to stay on the ballot. While he certainly won’t make it to Cooperstown, he has the potential to add to his vote share in 2023 with big names such as David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens falling off the ballot. Glen Perkins Resumé - 12 Seasons - 3.88 ERA - 3x All-Star - 120 Saves Now that five years have passed since his retirement, Glen Perkins will finally have a shot at making the Hall of Fame ballot for 2023. Perkins provided the rare accomplishment of completing a double-digit year career with the same team as he played all 12 of his MLB seasons with the Minnesota Twins. After struggling mightily as a starting pitcher, the Twins moved Glen Perkins to the bullpen full time in August of 2010 where he thrived. In his career as a reliever, Perkins amassed a 3.09 ERA with 120 saves and three all-star appearances. Perkins certainly won’t stay on the ballot for any period of time, but a ballot appearance is possible. R.A. Dickey Resumé - 15 Seasons - 4.04 ERA - 2012 NL Cy Young - 1x All-Star - 1x Gold Glove While Dickey reached impressive heights, highlighted by a Cy Young Award, many forget that he once played for the Minnesota Twins. Dickey pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 2009 after the Twins signed Dickey to a Minor League contract that offseason. Dickey appeared in 35 games for the Twins, mostly as a reliever, posting a 4.62 ERA in 64 1/3 innings. Dickey was then plucked away from the Twins via the Rule 5 draft in 2010 where he would ultimately end up in New York with the Mets where he used his knuckleball to thrive as a starter, winning the previously mentioned Cy Young in 2012. Although he won the top award for an MLB pitcher, Dickey doesn’t figure to get much run on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot. J.J. Hardy Resumé - 13 Seasons - 1,488 Hits - 188 Home Runs - 2x All-Star - 3x Gold Glove - 1x Silver Slugger After acquiring J.J. Hardy in exchange for Carlos Goméz ahead of the 2010 season, Hardy played one season in Minnesota where he posted a .268 average with six home runs. Hardy provided excellent defense for the Twins at the shortstop position and was a constant presence in their lineup during their inaugural season at Target Field, after which he was ultimately traded away. Playing 13 seasons in the big leagues at the shortstop position is certainly impressive and might be enough to put him on the Hall of Fame ballot, however similar to the other players, he doesn’t figure to stay on the ballot for long. Do you think any of the above players have a chance to last on the Hall of Fame ballot? What memories do you have of these ex-Twins during their time in Minnesota? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! View full article
  12. David Ortiz had a legendary career, but unfortunately, his best years were outside the Twins organization. He found out that he would be enshrined in Cooperstown on Tuesday night. Ortiz began his big-league career with the Twins back in 1997 after the team acquired him in the 1996 offseason from the Mariners organization. Over the next six seasons, he became a regular in the Twins line-up, and he helped the Twins win the division for the first time since 1991. During his Twins tenure, he hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. He wasn't on a path to Cooperstown, and Terry Ryan faced a tough decision. Ortiz would start getting expensive through the arbitration process with an expected salary close to $2 million. The Twins front office had multiple reasons for non-tendering Ortiz. Matt LeCroy was an adequate replacement for Ortiz as the team's DH. Also, the club wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. Minnesota was being cheap, but there is no guarantee Ortiz would have followed his HOF path if he stayed in Minnesota. After signing with Boston, Ortiz immediately transferred himself into one of the game's best hitters. He finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in his first season outside the Twins organization. Over the next 14 seasons, he hit .290/.386/.570 (.956) with 483 home runs. Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star, a 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and he finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in five straight seasons. October is where Oritz shined as he led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. He played 85 postseason games in his career and posted a .947 OPS with 41 extra-base hits. Ortiz won the ALCS MVP as part of the Red Sox's remarkable comeback over the Yankees in 2004. In 2013, he won World Series MVP as he went 11-for-16 with four extra-base hits and six RBI in the series. He was truly an October legend. Even with his on-field accomplishments, Ortiz wasn't seen as a lock for Cooperstown because of the looming steroid cloud. Back in 2003, 100 players failed a supposedly anonymous steroid survey test. Six years later, The New York Times reported that Ortiz was one of the players that failed the survey test. Other players tied to steroids have struggled to reach the 75% threshold needed for election, but voters were able to look past Ortiz's steroid ties. Congratulations to Ortiz on a Hall of Fame career! Other Twins On the Ballot While other former Twins were on the ballot, many didn't have a chance at being elected in the current cycle. In fact, many were in danger of falling off a crowded ballot. Torii Hunter made his second appearance on the ballot, and the two halves of his career make him an intriguing candidate. He received 21 votes (5.3%) and will remain on the ballot. Joe Nathan is one of the best relievers of all time, but relievers are historically underrepresented in Cooperstown. Nathan finished with 17 votes (4.3%) and fell three votes shy of staying on the ballot. The other former Twins on the ballot were expected to be one-and-done candidates. Justin Morneau was a great player, especially to the current generation of Twins fans. Morneau was named on five ballots (1.3%). AJ Pierzynski played many years at a grueling defensive position, but he doesn't have the resume of other enshrined catchers and he received two votes. HOF Class Includes Oliva and Kaat The Minnesota Twins will be well represented in Cooperstown this summer. Former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat found out last month that they will be part of the current Hall of Fame class. It was a long time coming for both players as they had waited decades and multiple votes before finally getting the call. Following his election, the Twins also announced that Jim Kaat will become the ninth member of the organization to have his number retired. That ceremony will take place this summer at Target Field. Bonds and Clemens Question Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens entered their tenth and final year on the ballot with their best chance at enshrinement. Leading into the ballot announcement, both players were tracking at over 75% of the announced ballots, but that was no guarantee that they would get the famous call from Cooperstown. There is no question that Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players in baseball history. However, the steroid cloud has surrounded them, which has prevented them from being elected by the writers. Bonds finished second behind Ortiz on the 2022 ballot with 260 votes (66.0%). Clemens was three votes behind Bonds (65.2%). Now, both players will have to wait for their chance on the committee era ballots. What are your thoughts about this year's Hall of Fame voting? 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
  13. Torii Hunter Resumé - 19 Seasons - 353 Home Runs - 5x All-Star - 9x Gold Glove - 2x Silver Slugger After receiving 5.3% of the vote share in the 2022 voting, former Minnesota Twins center fielder, Torii Hunter, clinched a spot on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot as a holdover. Hunter had an extremely successful career in the Majors, as evidenced by his 19 seasons in the Big Leagues. Thanks to the multiple all-star appearances and nine Gold Glove awards, Hunter earned enough votes to stay on the ballot. While he certainly won’t make it to Cooperstown, he has the potential to add to his vote share in 2023 with big names such as David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens falling off the ballot. Glen Perkins Resumé - 12 Seasons - 3.88 ERA - 3x All-Star - 120 Saves Now that five years have passed since his retirement, Glen Perkins will finally have a shot at making the Hall of Fame ballot for 2023. Perkins provided the rare accomplishment of completing a double-digit year career with the same team as he played all 12 of his MLB seasons with the Minnesota Twins. After struggling mightily as a starting pitcher, the Twins moved Glen Perkins to the bullpen full time in August of 2010 where he thrived. In his career as a reliever, Perkins amassed a 3.09 ERA with 120 saves and three all-star appearances. Perkins certainly won’t stay on the ballot for any period of time, but a ballot appearance is possible. R.A. Dickey Resumé - 15 Seasons - 4.04 ERA - 2012 NL Cy Young - 1x All-Star - 1x Gold Glove While Dickey reached impressive heights, highlighted by a Cy Young Award, many forget that he once played for the Minnesota Twins. Dickey pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 2009 after the Twins signed Dickey to a Minor League contract that offseason. Dickey appeared in 35 games for the Twins, mostly as a reliever, posting a 4.62 ERA in 64 1/3 innings. Dickey was then plucked away from the Twins via the Rule 5 draft in 2010 where he would ultimately end up in New York with the Mets where he used his knuckleball to thrive as a starter, winning the previously mentioned Cy Young in 2012. Although he won the top award for an MLB pitcher, Dickey doesn’t figure to get much run on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot. J.J. Hardy Resumé - 13 Seasons - 1,488 Hits - 188 Home Runs - 2x All-Star - 3x Gold Glove - 1x Silver Slugger After acquiring J.J. Hardy in exchange for Carlos Goméz ahead of the 2010 season, Hardy played one season in Minnesota where he posted a .268 average with six home runs. Hardy provided excellent defense for the Twins at the shortstop position and was a constant presence in their lineup during their inaugural season at Target Field, after which he was ultimately traded away. Playing 13 seasons in the big leagues at the shortstop position is certainly impressive and might be enough to put him on the Hall of Fame ballot, however similar to the other players, he doesn’t figure to stay on the ballot for long. Do you think any of the above players have a chance to last on the Hall of Fame ballot? What memories do you have of these ex-Twins during their time in Minnesota? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  14. Ortiz began his big-league career with the Twins back in 1997 after the team acquired him in the 1996 offseason from the Mariners organization. Over the next six seasons, he became a regular in the Twins line-up, and he helped the Twins win the division for the first time since 1991. During his Twins tenure, he hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. He wasn't on a path to Cooperstown, and Terry Ryan faced a tough decision. Ortiz would start getting expensive through the arbitration process with an expected salary close to $2 million. The Twins front office had multiple reasons for non-tendering Ortiz. Matt LeCroy was an adequate replacement for Ortiz as the team's DH. Also, the club wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. Minnesota was being cheap, but there is no guarantee Ortiz would have followed his HOF path if he stayed in Minnesota. After signing with Boston, Ortiz immediately transferred himself into one of the game's best hitters. He finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in his first season outside the Twins organization. Over the next 14 seasons, he hit .290/.386/.570 (.956) with 483 home runs. Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star, a 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and he finished in the top-5 for AL MVP in five straight seasons. October is where Oritz shined as he led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. He played 85 postseason games in his career and posted a .947 OPS with 41 extra-base hits. Ortiz won the ALCS MVP as part of the Red Sox's remarkable comeback over the Yankees in 2004. In 2013, he won World Series MVP as he went 11-for-16 with four extra-base hits and six RBI in the series. He was truly an October legend. Even with his on-field accomplishments, Ortiz wasn't seen as a lock for Cooperstown because of the looming steroid cloud. Back in 2003, 100 players failed a supposedly anonymous steroid survey test. Six years later, The New York Times reported that Ortiz was one of the players that failed the survey test. Other players tied to steroids have struggled to reach the 75% threshold needed for election, but voters were able to look past Ortiz's steroid ties. Congratulations to Ortiz on a Hall of Fame career! Other Twins On the Ballot While other former Twins were on the ballot, many didn't have a chance at being elected in the current cycle. In fact, many were in danger of falling off a crowded ballot. Torii Hunter made his second appearance on the ballot, and the two halves of his career make him an intriguing candidate. He received 21 votes (5.3%) and will remain on the ballot. Joe Nathan is one of the best relievers of all time, but relievers are historically underrepresented in Cooperstown. Nathan finished with 17 votes (4.3%) and fell three votes shy of staying on the ballot. The other former Twins on the ballot were expected to be one-and-done candidates. Justin Morneau was a great player, especially to the current generation of Twins fans. Morneau was named on five ballots (1.3%). AJ Pierzynski played many years at a grueling defensive position, but he doesn't have the resume of other enshrined catchers and he received two votes. HOF Class Includes Oliva and Kaat The Minnesota Twins will be well represented in Cooperstown this summer. Former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat found out last month that they will be part of the current Hall of Fame class. It was a long time coming for both players as they had waited decades and multiple votes before finally getting the call. Following his election, the Twins also announced that Jim Kaat will become the ninth member of the organization to have his number retired. That ceremony will take place this summer at Target Field. Bonds and Clemens Question Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens entered their tenth and final year on the ballot with their best chance at enshrinement. Leading into the ballot announcement, both players were tracking at over 75% of the announced ballots, but that was no guarantee that they would get the famous call from Cooperstown. There is no question that Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players in baseball history. However, the steroid cloud has surrounded them, which has prevented them from being elected by the writers. Bonds finished second behind Ortiz on the 2022 ballot with 260 votes (66.0%). Clemens was three votes behind Bonds (65.2%). Now, both players will have to wait for their chance on the committee era ballots. What are your thoughts about this year's Hall of Fame voting? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Next week, Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results from this year's voting cycle. Plenty of former Twins are on the ballot, but do any of them have a chance at Cooperstown? To be elected to Cooperstown, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players remain eligible for ten years as long as they continue to receive a minimum of 5% of the vote. Some former Twins players are sitting dangerously close to falling off the ballot. David Ortiz, DH Cooperstown Case Ortiz is currently one of three players trending at over 75% of the known ballots, and he has the highest vote total with 83.5% of the vote. Twins fans are well aware of Ortiz and his case for Cooperstown as he went on to a legendary Red Sox career after Minnesota released him following the 2002 season. Entering this voting cycle, Ortiz's first ballot election wasn't guaranteed because his transition from Twins castoff to legendary slugger came under a cloud of steroid suspicion. It doesn't seem like those suspicions will keep him from being elected as it has with other players on the ballot. Joe Nathan, RP Cooperstown Case Nathan is one of the best relievers in baseball history, but relief pitchers are highly unrepresented in Cooperstown. It also means Nathan is dangerously close to falling off the ballot because of a slew of other worthy candidates on the ballot and a 10-vote limit. Through 170 ballots, Nathan has four votes (2.4%) which means he likely needs another 16 votes to reach the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot for 2023. Billy Wagner, another reliever, has comparable numbers to Nathan, and he is tracking at over 47%. Nathan has a Hall of Fame resume, but he may have to wait for a committee vote in the years ahead. Torii Hunter, OF Cooperstown Case Hunter's case is unique because of how he started and ended his career. He was an elite defender who won nine straight Gold Glove awards as a younger player. In his career's second-half, he became an improved hitter as he posted a 120 OPS+ from 2006-2013. Hunter received 8.1% of the vote in 2021, his first year on the ballot. This season, he has three votes (1.8%), and he will need 17 more votes to reach the 5% threshold. Hunter's closest comparison on the ballot may be Andruw Jones, also known as an elite defender, and he is tracking at over 48% of the known votes. Justin Morneau, 1B Cooperstown Case Morneau collected many accolades throughout his big-league career, including an AL MVP Award and an NL Batting Title. Those accomplishments likely will not be enough to keep him on the ballot past 2022, as he currently has one vote, and he will need to be listed on 19 other ballots to reach 5%. Morneau had some great moments throughout his career, but there's no question that one slide in Toronto changed the course of his career. AJ Pierzynski, C Cooperstown Case Pierzynski is best known in Twins Territory for being part of one of the most famous trades in team history. He'd go on to have a long career at a grueling defensive position, and some writers may consider this as part of the voting process. Like Morneau, he has one vote so far, and he would need a significant boost in the remaining ballots to reach 5%. Are the results playing out as you expected? Do you think Nathan or Hunter deserves to stay on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. To be elected to Cooperstown, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players remain eligible for ten years as long as they continue to receive a minimum of 5% of the vote. Some former Twins players are sitting dangerously close to falling off the ballot. David Ortiz, DH Cooperstown Case Ortiz is currently one of three players trending at over 75% of the known ballots, and he has the highest vote total with 83.5% of the vote. Twins fans are well aware of Ortiz and his case for Cooperstown as he went on to a legendary Red Sox career after Minnesota released him following the 2002 season. Entering this voting cycle, Ortiz's first ballot election wasn't guaranteed because his transition from Twins castoff to legendary slugger came under a cloud of steroid suspicion. It doesn't seem like those suspicions will keep him from being elected as it has with other players on the ballot. Joe Nathan, RP Cooperstown Case Nathan is one of the best relievers in baseball history, but relief pitchers are highly unrepresented in Cooperstown. It also means Nathan is dangerously close to falling off the ballot because of a slew of other worthy candidates on the ballot and a 10-vote limit. Through 170 ballots, Nathan has four votes (2.4%) which means he likely needs another 16 votes to reach the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot for 2023. Billy Wagner, another reliever, has comparable numbers to Nathan, and he is tracking at over 47%. Nathan has a Hall of Fame resume, but he may have to wait for a committee vote in the years ahead. Torii Hunter, OF Cooperstown Case Hunter's case is unique because of how he started and ended his career. He was an elite defender who won nine straight Gold Glove awards as a younger player. In his career's second-half, he became an improved hitter as he posted a 120 OPS+ from 2006-2013. Hunter received 8.1% of the vote in 2021, his first year on the ballot. This season, he has three votes (1.8%), and he will need 17 more votes to reach the 5% threshold. Hunter's closest comparison on the ballot may be Andruw Jones, also known as an elite defender, and he is tracking at over 48% of the known votes. Justin Morneau, 1B Cooperstown Case Morneau collected many accolades throughout his big-league career, including an AL MVP Award and an NL Batting Title. Those accomplishments likely will not be enough to keep him on the ballot past 2022, as he currently has one vote, and he will need to be listed on 19 other ballots to reach 5%. Morneau had some great moments throughout his career, but there's no question that one slide in Toronto changed the course of his career. AJ Pierzynski, C Cooperstown Case Pierzynski is best known in Twins Territory for being part of one of the most famous trades in team history. He'd go on to have a long career at a grueling defensive position, and some writers may consider this as part of the voting process. Like Morneau, he has one vote so far, and he would need a significant boost in the remaining ballots to reach 5%. Are the results playing out as you expected? Do you think Nathan or Hunter deserves to stay on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. The beginning of a new year allows everyone the chance to reflect on the previous year. For the Twins, signing Byron Buxton was critical, but his contract has multiple risks. In the days leading into MLB’s lockout, Minnesota accomplished one of the organization’s most important tasks this winter by signing Byron Buxton to a long-term extension. Reports had the two sides close to making a deal throughout the summer, but some hurdles remained. Eventually, they found common ground, and Buxton will be wearing a Twins uniform for the next seven seasons. With any eight-figure contract, there are inherent risks involved. For Buxton, fans are more aware of those risks because of the time he has missed throughout his big-league career. On paper, the contract looks like a very team-friendly deal. Still, Minnesota certainly had the opportunity to go in a different direction and allocate Buxton’s contract to other roster pieces. Risk #1: Long-Term Injury Issues Injuries are part of the Buxton equation, and the team can try various strategies to keep him healthy and on the field. As a 28-year-old, Buxton has recovered from every injury he has faced and returned to his previous on-field performance. There is no guarantee that continues to happen, and Buxton is one serious injury away from his contract looking poorly for the Twins. His injury history is well known, and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons Minnesota was able to sign him. A player of Buxton’s caliber with fewer injury concerns probably garners offers near $200 million on the free-agent market. Last season, Buxton was the best hitter on the planet at the season’s start as he hit .370/.408/.772 (1.180) through his first 24 games. A hip injury caused him to miss over six weeks, and his swing didn’t miss a beat. In three games after returning, he went 4-for-11 with two extra-base hits. Then a hit-by-pitch broke his hand, and he missed two more months. He came back from this most recent injury and batted .314/.375/.686 (1.061) over the team’s final 26 games. There’s no question he has been able to bounce back so far in his career, but what if an injury causes some long-term performance issues? Risk #2: Age Buxton will now be under team control throughout the prime of his career. However, a player with his skill set will see natural regression as he ages. Two of Buxton’s most essential skills are his speed and his fielding, but those are skills impacted by age. His extension keeps him under team control through age 34, but some parts of his game will likely need to be adjusted before the contract expires. Former Twins’ great Torii Hunter may give fans some insight into how players like Buxton can change as Father Time wields his ugly head. For instance, Hunter was an elite defender in the first half of his playing career. Age and injuries made him less effective in center field, and he was eventually forced to move to a corner outfield spot. Hunter adjusted his skills and became an improved hitter in the second half of his career as his defensive skills waned. Buxton is considered more of a five-tool talent than Hunter, but fans can see how center fielders age by looking at Hunter’s career. The risks mentioned above seem to be more prominent with Buxton, but any free agent acquisition faces these same kinds of risks. In recent memory, Josh Donaldson, Minnesota’s biggest free-agent signing, had concerns about his health and how his on-field performance would decline with age. Luckily, his offensive performance has been above average, but injuries have been part of his Twins tenure. Overall, Buxton’s contract comes with risks, but he has provided value even when he misses significant time. Are you worried about the risks involved with Buxton’s extension? 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
  18. In the days leading into MLB’s lockout, Minnesota accomplished one of the organization’s most important tasks this winter by signing Byron Buxton to a long-term extension. Reports had the two sides close to making a deal throughout the summer, but some hurdles remained. Eventually, they found common ground, and Buxton will be wearing a Twins uniform for the next seven seasons. With any eight-figure contract, there are inherent risks involved. For Buxton, fans are more aware of those risks because of the time he has missed throughout his big-league career. On paper, the contract looks like a very team-friendly deal. Still, Minnesota certainly had the opportunity to go in a different direction and allocate Buxton’s contract to other roster pieces. Risk #1: Long-Term Injury Issues Injuries are part of the Buxton equation, and the team can try various strategies to keep him healthy and on the field. As a 28-year-old, Buxton has recovered from every injury he has faced and returned to his previous on-field performance. There is no guarantee that continues to happen, and Buxton is one serious injury away from his contract looking poorly for the Twins. His injury history is well known, and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons Minnesota was able to sign him. A player of Buxton’s caliber with fewer injury concerns probably garners offers near $200 million on the free-agent market. Last season, Buxton was the best hitter on the planet at the season’s start as he hit .370/.408/.772 (1.180) through his first 24 games. A hip injury caused him to miss over six weeks, and his swing didn’t miss a beat. In three games after returning, he went 4-for-11 with two extra-base hits. Then a hit-by-pitch broke his hand, and he missed two more months. He came back from this most recent injury and batted .314/.375/.686 (1.061) over the team’s final 26 games. There’s no question he has been able to bounce back so far in his career, but what if an injury causes some long-term performance issues? Risk #2: Age Buxton will now be under team control throughout the prime of his career. However, a player with his skill set will see natural regression as he ages. Two of Buxton’s most essential skills are his speed and his fielding, but those are skills impacted by age. His extension keeps him under team control through age 34, but some parts of his game will likely need to be adjusted before the contract expires. Former Twins’ great Torii Hunter may give fans some insight into how players like Buxton can change as Father Time wields his ugly head. For instance, Hunter was an elite defender in the first half of his playing career. Age and injuries made him less effective in center field, and he was eventually forced to move to a corner outfield spot. Hunter adjusted his skills and became an improved hitter in the second half of his career as his defensive skills waned. Buxton is considered more of a five-tool talent than Hunter, but fans can see how center fielders age by looking at Hunter’s career. The risks mentioned above seem to be more prominent with Buxton, but any free agent acquisition faces these same kinds of risks. In recent memory, Josh Donaldson, Minnesota’s biggest free-agent signing, had concerns about his health and how his on-field performance would decline with age. Luckily, his offensive performance has been above average, but injuries have been part of his Twins tenure. Overall, Buxton’s contract comes with risks, but he has provided value even when he misses significant time. Are you worried about the risks involved with Buxton’s extension? 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. In this series, we will be counting down the top 12 players in Twins history, starting with number 12, Torii Hunter. There have been plenty of great players in the history of the Minnesota Twins. From Killebrew to Buxton and many in-between, it is tough to narrow it down to the top twelve players in the history of the Twins. One player who had a huge impact on me growing up was the electrifying Torii Hunter. Torii Hunter is the 12th greatest player in Twins history. Rough Start Torii Hunter was drafted 20th overall in the 1993 draft by the Twins out of Pine Bluff High School in Arkansas. He spent parts of five seasons in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut as a pinch runner in 1997. In 1998, he mostly spent time in the minor leagues and it wasn’t until 1999 that he finally played a full season in the majors. He hit .255/.309/.380 (.689) while only accumulating 0.1 fWAR in 135 games for the Twins. In 2000, he had a terrible start to the season, hitting .207 with an OPS of .543 and no home runs in 140 at-bats. He was then demoted to AAA, and he thrived, hitting .368/.403/.727 with 18 home runs in 55 games. He was then recalled to the big leagues on July 29 and hit .332/.371/.485 in 53 games the rest of the season. The Prime From 2001 to 2007, Torii Hunter was one of the best center fielders in all of MLB. He was 5th among all center fielders in fWAR (22.4), 4th in Home Runs (178), and 3rd in RBI (630). Defensively, among all center fielders, Hunter was second in defensive WAR with 7.7 in this seven year stretch, behind only Andruw Jones. He won an incredible seven straight gold gloves with the Twins in this span, while being voted as an all-star twice. His best season was 2002. Hunter hit .289/.334/.524 (.858) with 37 doubles, 29 home runs, 94 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Hunter finished 6th in MVP voting, won a gold glove, made the all-star team as a starter, and was a leader of the first Twins team to win the AL Central. They beat the Moneyball A’s in the ALDS in five games before eventually losing to the World Series Champion Angels in five games in the ALCS. The Robbery Hunter was notorious for making incredible catches in the outfield. Despite having a good 2001 season, he still was not a household name. Then came 2002. Hunter had an incredible first half, hitting .306/.347/.564 (.911) with a wRC+ of 135 and 20 home runs while stealing 14 bases. For this effort, Hunter was rewarded by being named the American League All-Star starting center fielder. Then came the All-Star Game. In the bottom of the first inning with two outs, slugger Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate for the National League. Derek Lowe threw Bonds a 1-1 hanging slider, and Bonds (who hit 73 home runs the year prior) unloaded on it to center field. The crowd erupted, thinking Bonds had just hit a home run. Hunter had other thoughts. He raced back to the wall, timed his leap perfectly, and robbed Bonds of a home run. On his way into the dugout, Bonds picked Hunter up and lifted him over his shoulder. This was an iconic moment in Hunter’s career and put the league on notice. Leadership Hunter was never afraid to speak his mind. In 2015, he came back for one final season with the Twins. That season was very impactful for young Twins such as Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton. In a 2016 interview, Buxton said he still talked to Torii Hunter weekly about baseball. Hunter clearly had a knack for helping the young bucks with their game, and his impact is still seen today through Buxton. Hunter also knew how to fire a team up. Most notably, he threw a tantrum in which he berated the home plate umpire for a bad strike three call, and he started to throw his equipment, including his jersey, onto the field when they had to remove him. Conclusion Torii Hunter was a great center fielder for the Twins teams of the early 2000’s, accumulating 22.6 fWAR across ten seasons with the Twins. In his Twins career, he hit .268/.321/.462 (.783). He also hit 214 home runs which is 6th in franchise history, stole 128 bases (14th), and hit 281 doubles (13th). He impacted the team on and off the field, was an idol for many young Minnesotan ballplayers, and is an all-time fan favorite in Minnesota for rejuvenating the Twins in the early 2000s. Stay tuned for the second day of Twinsmas! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins View full article
  20. There have been plenty of great players in the history of the Minnesota Twins. From Killebrew to Buxton and many in-between, it is tough to narrow it down to the top twelve players in the history of the Twins. One player who had a huge impact on me growing up was the electrifying Torii Hunter. Torii Hunter is the 12th greatest player in Twins history. Rough Start Torii Hunter was drafted 20th overall in the 1993 draft by the Twins out of Pine Bluff High School in Arkansas. He spent parts of five seasons in the minor leagues before making his Major League debut as a pinch runner in 1997. In 1998, he mostly spent time in the minor leagues and it wasn’t until 1999 that he finally played a full season in the majors. He hit .255/.309/.380 (.689) while only accumulating 0.1 fWAR in 135 games for the Twins. In 2000, he had a terrible start to the season, hitting .207 with an OPS of .543 and no home runs in 140 at-bats. He was then demoted to AAA, and he thrived, hitting .368/.403/.727 with 18 home runs in 55 games. He was then recalled to the big leagues on July 29 and hit .332/.371/.485 in 53 games the rest of the season. The Prime From 2001 to 2007, Torii Hunter was one of the best center fielders in all of MLB. He was 5th among all center fielders in fWAR (22.4), 4th in Home Runs (178), and 3rd in RBI (630). Defensively, among all center fielders, Hunter was second in defensive WAR with 7.7 in this seven year stretch, behind only Andruw Jones. He won an incredible seven straight gold gloves with the Twins in this span, while being voted as an all-star twice. His best season was 2002. Hunter hit .289/.334/.524 (.858) with 37 doubles, 29 home runs, 94 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Hunter finished 6th in MVP voting, won a gold glove, made the all-star team as a starter, and was a leader of the first Twins team to win the AL Central. They beat the Moneyball A’s in the ALDS in five games before eventually losing to the World Series Champion Angels in five games in the ALCS. The Robbery Hunter was notorious for making incredible catches in the outfield. Despite having a good 2001 season, he still was not a household name. Then came 2002. Hunter had an incredible first half, hitting .306/.347/.564 (.911) with a wRC+ of 135 and 20 home runs while stealing 14 bases. For this effort, Hunter was rewarded by being named the American League All-Star starting center fielder. Then came the All-Star Game. In the bottom of the first inning with two outs, slugger Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate for the National League. Derek Lowe threw Bonds a 1-1 hanging slider, and Bonds (who hit 73 home runs the year prior) unloaded on it to center field. The crowd erupted, thinking Bonds had just hit a home run. Hunter had other thoughts. He raced back to the wall, timed his leap perfectly, and robbed Bonds of a home run. On his way into the dugout, Bonds picked Hunter up and lifted him over his shoulder. This was an iconic moment in Hunter’s career and put the league on notice. Leadership Hunter was never afraid to speak his mind. In 2015, he came back for one final season with the Twins. That season was very impactful for young Twins such as Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton. In a 2016 interview, Buxton said he still talked to Torii Hunter weekly about baseball. Hunter clearly had a knack for helping the young bucks with their game, and his impact is still seen today through Buxton. Hunter also knew how to fire a team up. Most notably, he threw a tantrum in which he berated the home plate umpire for a bad strike three call, and he started to throw his equipment, including his jersey, onto the field when they had to remove him. Conclusion Torii Hunter was a great center fielder for the Twins teams of the early 2000’s, accumulating 22.6 fWAR across ten seasons with the Twins. In his Twins career, he hit .268/.321/.462 (.783). He also hit 214 home runs which is 6th in franchise history, stole 128 bases (14th), and hit 281 doubles (13th). He impacted the team on and off the field, was an idol for many young Minnesotan ballplayers, and is an all-time fan favorite in Minnesota for rejuvenating the Twins in the early 2000s. Stay tuned for the second day of Twinsmas! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins
  21. While some other former Twins are making their ballot debuts, Torii Hunter gets his second chance at Cooperstown glory. Does he have a case for the Hall of Fame? Two years after winning the 1991 World Series, the Twins took an athletic high school outfielder from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Hunter struggled mightily in his pro debut by posting a .503 OPS in 100 at-bats. Hunter moved quickly through the team’s system and spent nearly all of the 1996 season at Double-A, where he got on base over 33% of the time. Entering the 1997 season, Baseball America ranked Hunter as baseball’s 79th best prospect. He improved his OPS by over 150 points, including a tremendous Triple-A debut with a .891 OPS. Hunter appeared in seven games for the Twins between 1997-98, but the 1999 season was his first full season at the big-league level. As a 23-year old, he struggled offensively as he hit .255/.309/.380 with 28 extra-base hits in 135 games. One of the biggest reasons for his struggles was related to how the Twins were coaching him. Coaches told him to keep the ball on the ground and use his speed. “I was really bred to be a leadoff guy,” Hunter told The Athletic. “I felt like I had more, but I didn’t want to be un-coachable. I just did what I was told to do, but I felt like I was in prison. I had much more in me, but they wouldn’t let it come out of me. It was my fault. It wasn’t until 2000 I realized who I was and became who I thought I could be.” From there, Hunter established himself as one of baseball’s best center fielders on both sides of the ball. He posted a 108 OPS+ in eight seasons from 2000-2007. Hunter was the heart and soul of the Twins teams that helped save the franchise from contraction. However, his career wasn’t entirely defined by his time in Minnesota, as he spent multiple seasons in Los Angeles and Detroit. His final resume puts him in the conversation for one of the best center fielders in baseball history. He won nine straight Gold Glove awards, the third-highest total of any center fielder in history. Hunter led the league in center field assists three times. He was named to five All-Star Games and won two Silver Slugger Awards. During his 19-year career, he hit 20 or more home runs in 11 seasons. From 2001-2013, he averaged 23 home runs and 12 steals per year while posting a 115 OPS+. He helped teams to the playoffs in eight different seasons, including trips to the American League Championship Series with three different organizations. Even with multiple opportunities, his teams were never able to make it to the World Series. In those 11 Postseason series, he hit .274 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 48 games. Even with his accolades, Hunter is going to have a tough time making a case for Cooperstown. His closest comparison on the ballot is Andruw Jones, who has been slowly gaining traction. Last year, Jones was in his fourth year on the ballot, and he received 33.9% of the vote. Hunter received 38 votes which accounted for 9.5% of the vote. Jones was one of the best defenders in baseball history, but Hunter’s offensive numbers may help him as voters get a more extended look at his candidacy. Hunter has more hits than 11 of the 19 center fielders already enshrined in Cooperstown. His 353 home runs rank even better as he is ahead of 13 of the 19 players in center. Unfortunately, his .277 batting average would be the lowest average among enshrined center fielders, and his 110 OPS+ is lower than 17 of the 19 center fielders. Hunter's career is tough to analyze because he was a great fielder early in his career and a much better hitter in the second half of his career. He will always hold a special place in the heart of Twins fans, but it doesn’t look like Cooperstown will be calling anytime soon. Do you think Hunter will be elected to Cooperstown? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — David Ortiz — Joe Nathan View full article
  22. Two years after winning the 1991 World Series, the Twins took an athletic high school outfielder from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Hunter struggled mightily in his pro debut by posting a .503 OPS in 100 at-bats. Hunter moved quickly through the team’s system and spent nearly all of the 1996 season at Double-A, where he got on base over 33% of the time. Entering the 1997 season, Baseball America ranked Hunter as baseball’s 79th best prospect. He improved his OPS by over 150 points, including a tremendous Triple-A debut with a .891 OPS. Hunter appeared in seven games for the Twins between 1997-98, but the 1999 season was his first full season at the big-league level. As a 23-year old, he struggled offensively as he hit .255/.309/.380 with 28 extra-base hits in 135 games. One of the biggest reasons for his struggles was related to how the Twins were coaching him. Coaches told him to keep the ball on the ground and use his speed. “I was really bred to be a leadoff guy,” Hunter told The Athletic. “I felt like I had more, but I didn’t want to be un-coachable. I just did what I was told to do, but I felt like I was in prison. I had much more in me, but they wouldn’t let it come out of me. It was my fault. It wasn’t until 2000 I realized who I was and became who I thought I could be.” From there, Hunter established himself as one of baseball’s best center fielders on both sides of the ball. He posted a 108 OPS+ in eight seasons from 2000-2007. Hunter was the heart and soul of the Twins teams that helped save the franchise from contraction. However, his career wasn’t entirely defined by his time in Minnesota, as he spent multiple seasons in Los Angeles and Detroit. His final resume puts him in the conversation for one of the best center fielders in baseball history. He won nine straight Gold Glove awards, the third-highest total of any center fielder in history. Hunter led the league in center field assists three times. He was named to five All-Star Games and won two Silver Slugger Awards. During his 19-year career, he hit 20 or more home runs in 11 seasons. From 2001-2013, he averaged 23 home runs and 12 steals per year while posting a 115 OPS+. He helped teams to the playoffs in eight different seasons, including trips to the American League Championship Series with three different organizations. Even with multiple opportunities, his teams were never able to make it to the World Series. In those 11 Postseason series, he hit .274 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 48 games. Even with his accolades, Hunter is going to have a tough time making a case for Cooperstown. His closest comparison on the ballot is Andruw Jones, who has been slowly gaining traction. Last year, Jones was in his fourth year on the ballot, and he received 33.9% of the vote. Hunter received 38 votes which accounted for 9.5% of the vote. Jones was one of the best defenders in baseball history, but Hunter’s offensive numbers may help him as voters get a more extended look at his candidacy. Hunter has more hits than 11 of the 19 center fielders already enshrined in Cooperstown. His 353 home runs rank even better as he is ahead of 13 of the 19 players in center. Unfortunately, his .277 batting average would be the lowest average among enshrined center fielders, and his 110 OPS+ is lower than 17 of the 19 center fielders. Hunter's career is tough to analyze because he was a great fielder early in his career and a much better hitter in the second half of his career. He will always hold a special place in the heart of Twins fans, but it doesn’t look like Cooperstown will be calling anytime soon. Do you think Hunter will be elected to Cooperstown? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — David Ortiz — Joe Nathan
  23. Defensive metrics have come a long way over the last two decades and new technology continues to help front offices evaluate their defensive talent. Many key advanced fielding stats like Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Above Average (Def) began being calculated in 2002. Over the last 20+ seasons, the Twins made defense an organizational hallmark and these teams rank as the best defenders during that stretch. 5. 2003 Twins (23.2 Def, 23.2 UZR) Top Defenders: Torii Hunter (18.4 Def, 16.2 UZR, Gold Glove), Corey Koskie (10.1 Def, 8.2 UZR), AJ Pierzynski (9.0 Def) The 2003 Twins were on their way to claiming a second straight AL Central title and there were some clear standout defenders. Hunter was the team’s top defender, and he was awarded his third Gold Glove on the way to winning seven straight honors for the Twins. His defensive numbers in 2003 were otherworldly as he posted career highs in Def and UZR. Koskie was underrated as a defensive third baseman and he should have won a Gold Glove at some point in his career (see below) 4. 2010 Twins (33.8 Def, 28.1 UZR) Top Defenders: Joe Mauer (12.2 Def, Gold Glove), JJ Hardy (11.8 Def, 7.4 UZR), Orlando Hudson (10.5 Def, 8.7 UZR), Denard Span (9.3 Def, 7.0 UZR) This one might hurt for some Twins fans as JJ Hardy’s lone season in Minnesota saw him put up some strong defensive numbers at shortstop. Since that season, the Twins have rotated through carousel of players that were stretched to play shortstop. Mauer would win his third straight Gold Glove behind the plate, but it would be his last as he was eventually forced to move to first base. Orlando Hudson and Hardy formed quite the double-play combo and Span only strengthened the team’s up the middle defense. 3. 2006 Twins (34.8 Def, 30.8 UZR) Top Defenders: Jason Bartlett (16.1 Def, 11.6 UZR), Nick Punto (14.1 Def, 13.1 UZR), Joe Mauer (8.1 Def) Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto might surprise some to be at the team’s top defenders over the course of a season. Bartlett was helped by the fact that he played fewer than 880 innings so a player can hide more of their defensive flaws in a smaller sample size. Punto’s numbers above were at third base, but he also posted a 5.3 Def and a 4.6 UZR at shortstop albeit in 146.2 innings. It was one of Mauer’s worst defensive seasons as a catcher and he was still one of the best defenders on the team. 2. 2005 Twins (41.9 Def, 31.9 UZR) Top Defenders: Juan Castro (16.1 Def, 13.2 UZR), Jason Bartlett (15.6 Def, 12.6 UZR), Joe Mauer (8.6 Def), Torii Hunter (3.4 Def, 2.5 UZR, Gold Glove) For the fifth consecutive season, Hunter was awarded the Gold Glove, but he was limited to just over 810 innings in center. Minnesota turned to Lew Ford for 548 innings in center field and he finished fifth on the team with a 4.9 Def. Castro and Bartlett have high totals, but neither player played more than 590 innings at shortstop. In fact, Mauer and Justin Morneau were the only players to play close to 1,000 defensive innings at one position. Morneau’s 13.5 UZR was the team’s highest total and it was the highest mark he’d have in his entire career. 1. 2002 Twins (60.4 Def, 60.4 UZR) Top Defenders: Corey Koskie (21.9 Def, 19.9 UZR), Jacque Jones (11.5 Def, 17.6 UZR), AJ Pierzynski (8.9 Def), Torii Hunter (5.1 Def, 3.0 UZR, Gold Glove) ESPN dubbed them, “The Team That Saved Baseball,” and a lot of the credit can be given to the defensive side of the ball. Koskie might have been the AL’s best defensive player as his Def and UZR ranked him at the top of the league ahead of players like Darin Erstad and Alex Rodriguez. Minnesota had three players rank in the AL’s top six when it came to UZR (Koskie, Jones, and Doug Mientkiewicz). Koskie lost the Gold Glove to Eric Chavez, but the Twins had the last laugh as they defeated Oakland in the ALDS. Do you think the 2021 Twins can match the defensive numbers from 2002? 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
  24. Recently, Torii Hunter fellow former Twins greats LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer found their names on the new Hall of Fame ballot. All three had fantastic, long careers and deserve the honor. On this show, we will be talking about Torii Hunter. Whether you believe that he had a Cooperstown-worthy career or not, Hunter has been a popular player, teammate and mentor to many in and around the game. Our panel includes three people that have great relationships with Torii Hunter to discuss his career and his role as a mentor. JACQUE JONES Jones found himself on the Hall of Fame ballot about seven years ago, and he got a vote. Jones and Hunter came up through the Twins farm system together after Jones was the team's second-round pick out of USC. Jones debuted and was Hunter's teammate through the 2005 season. The two remain good friends. NIKO GUARDADO Guardado has found himself in a number of memorable roles in TV and movies over the past eight years or so including a recurring role on The Goldbergs and a leading role in the remake of Party of Five. As you know, he is the son of Twins Hall of Famer and remains a fan of the team. He got to view those early '00s Twins team from a pretty special, unique perspective. Torii and Jacque remain active in many charities including the Eddie Guardado Autism Foundation Stars & Strikes event. Get to know more about Niko here. ROYCE LEWIS The Twins top prospect hails from southern California where he grew up watching Hunter with the Angels. The two met before the Twins even drafted Lewis and have built a very strong relationship. Lewis says that Hunter has been a tremendous mentor to him, giving him knowledge about topics on the baseball diamond as well as in the real world. Last offseason, Lewis moved to Texas and lives in the same city and the Hunter family. In this show, it will be fun to hear stories from all three about their relationships with Torii Hunter over the years. ------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 8:00 central time tonight on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those social media platforms during the show and we'll ask them. Subscribe to the Twins Daily podcast on Libsyn, Apple iTunes or anywhere you download podcasts. Here is the YouTube link where you can watch the show.
  25. Hunter was a first-round pick by the Twins back in 1993 and he went on to have a 19-year big-league career. Known for his defensive prowess, he won nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-09. He was no slouch at the plate either as he hit .277/.331/.461 (.793) while being awarded two Silver Sluggers. He was selected to five All-Star teams and there were five times he finished in the top-20 for the AL MVP. Those numbers are only part of the Hall of Fame equation. Center field is a tough position to judge when it comes to Hall of Fame credentials. Some of the game’s all-time best players like Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Ken Griffey Jr. played the position and this can skew the numbers a little bit. Overall, there have been 24 center fielders elected to the Hall of Fame, which means not everyone was of the same caliber as the names mentioned above. So, what does a center fielder need to do to get to Cooperstown? JAWS, a scoring system used to measure a player’s HOF worthiness, helps to separate players at each position. According to Baseball Reference, “A player’s JAWS is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR.” Hunter doesn’t exactly fare well when using JAWS as he ranks the 34th best center fielder. There are four HOF players that rank lower than him, but all of them played in the 1930’s or earlier. The players directly ahead of him on the list include Curtis Granderson, Ellis Burks, and Andrew McCutchen. None of those players scream that they should be in Cooperstown. Andruw Jones is a player that might fit a similar mold to Hunter’s career. Like Hunter, Jones was known for his defensive prowess on his way to winning 10 Gold Gloves. In fact, Jones is one of only three center fielders with more Gold Gloves than Hunter (Mays- 12, Griffey Jr.- 10). Unfortunately, their trophy rooms might be the only thing that puts Hunter and Jones in the same HOF conversation. According to JAWS, Jones is the third best center fielder that has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown behind Carlos Beltran and Kenny Lofton. That puts him well ahead of Hunter’s JAWS total. What might be even more discouraging is the fact that players like Lofton (10th place JAWS) and Jim Edmonds (15th place JAWS) fell off the HOF ballot after only one appearance. Even Jones has struggled on the ballot as he reached 19.4% in 2020 in his third year of eligibility. Hunter will always have a special place in the hearts of Minnesota Twins fans. His energy and leadership help to define the teams that put Twins baseball back on the map. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to imagine he has much of a case for Cooperstown. Do you think Hunter has a shot at Cooperstown? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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