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Minnesota Twins All-Decade Team (2000-2009)

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Welcome back!

I hope you all have been enjoying your holidays season, and I'm happy to announce that Twinkie Town is now back to regularly scheduled programming.  Tonight I'm getting us back into the swing of things by doing what everyone is probably doing right now--creating all-decade lists.

For the Twins all-decade team we could go one of two ways--either by best single season per position, or by career numbers in this decade per position.  I like the single best season idea, although truthfully you'd probably end up with a lot of the same players.  At any rate, here we go!


Joe Mauer

#7 / Catcher

6-5

225

L

R

Apr 19, 1983

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Joe Mauer 138 523 94 191 30 1 28 96 76 63 4 1 .365 .444 .587



Joe's 2009 was the best season ever by a Minnesota catcher.  I mean, really, there really isn't even a close second option is there?  A.J. Pierzynski's best season might be fifth or sixth on the depth chart.


Justin Morneau

#33 / First Base

6-4

235

L

R

May 15, 1981

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2006 - Justin Morneau 157 592 97 190 37 1 34 130 53 93 3 3 .321 .375 .559



Two positions, two Twins still on the roster.  Justin's 2006 was essentially his coming out party, where he showed the kind of hitter he could be.  Given the first base job officially following the trade of Doug Mientkiewicz, Justin's solid '04 was followed up by a very disappointing '05.  So when he finally started recognizing breaking balls and was able to pull balls over the baggie while reducing the gaps in his swing, well, it was awesome so watch.  Some people will tell you that Justin didn't deserve his MVP from that season, but I'm not here to debate that.  I'm just saying his 2006 was the best by a Twins first baseman this decade.


Luis Castillo

#1 / Second Base

5-11

190

B

R

Sep 12, 1975

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2006 - Luis Castillo 142 584 84 173 32 6 3 49 56 58 25 11 .296 .358 .370



When the Twins pulled this trade off, just over four years ago, I had this to say.  He solidified the Twins up the middle, and he was a big improvement over years of futility in Luis Rivas.  Castillo was good at the top of the order and, as far as regular second basemen go, was really the only good one the Twins had over this stretch of ten years.  And we only had him for a season and a half.


Corey Koskie

#47 / Third Base

6-3

220

Jun 28, 1973

 

 

 

 

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2001 - Corey Koskie 153 562 100 155 37 2 26 103 68 118 27 6 .276 .362 .488



Koskie had a few good years with the Twins, but for all-around game no season comes close to 2001.  His defense was still premium, he provided the middle of the lineup with power and he stole 27 bases.  Yes, Koskie stole 27 bases!  It's hard to remember his early days because the end of his career saw him hobbled and injury prone, but our hot corner Canadian had a career year at age 28 when he was spry and healthy.  From 1999-2003, his best seasons in Minnesota, Koskie hit .287/.381/.460.  It's too bad he wasn't around ten years later.


Cristian Guzman

#15 / Shortstop

6-0

215

B

R

Mar 21, 1978

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2001 - Cristian Guzman 118 493 80 149 28 14 10 51 21 78 25 8 .302 .337 .477



Guzman was just 23 in '01.  His best season was pitted against Jason Barlett's 99 games in 2006, but while Bartlett's defense was always better than Guzy's, the rest of the toe-to-toe matchup goes in Guzman's favor.  It was a season where it looked like all the promise in our young shortstop was coming together, as his speed helped him steal bags and take extra bases.  That on-base percentage wasn't encouraging, but there's value in a speedy infielder who's a good contact hitter, which is exactly what Guzman was.


Jacque Jones

#11 / Left Field

5-10

200

Apr 25, 1975

 

 

 

 

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2002 - Jacque Jones 149 577 96 173 37 2 27 85 37 129 6 7 .300 .341 .511



He was way too aggressive at the plate.  At times it seemed he forgot a bit of baseball 101, like hitting cutoff men.  But he always had a flair for the dramatic, and for two seasons ('02 and '03) that flair paid off in the form of solid offensive seasons.  By 2002 Jones was already 27, but it was his best season as a pro.  Word is that he was hanging around the Winter Meetings this season trying to make a comeback.  Best of luck to him.


Torii Hunter

#48 / Center Field

6-2

225

R

R

Jul 18, 1975

 

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2002 - Torii Hunter 148 561 89 162 37 4 29 94 35 118 23 8 .289 .334 .524



Torii's last season in Minnesota was great, and it seems as though he's been a better hitter as he's gotten older, but like Jones '02 was Hunter's coming out party.  His defense was great (in spite of a 0.0 UZR/150), he looked like he was going to be able to hit for average as well as power, and he even stole 23 bases.  By any measure for a center fielder, it was a great year.


Michael Cuddyer

#5 / Right Field

6-2

215

R

R

Mar 27, 1979

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2006 - Michael Cuddyer 150 557 102 158 41 5 24 109 62 130 6 0 .284 .362 .504



2009 was great for Cuddles, but his breakout 2006 was still better.  He didn't hit as many home runs but there was still plenty of power, he walked more often and he thrived hitting in between Joe and Justin.  I do believe that a healthy Cuddyer means we'll get numbers closer to '06 and '09 than anything else, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he does this summer in Target Field.  But whichever season-best you prefer for Cuddyer, he deserves this spot.


Jason Kubel

#16 / Designated Hitter

6-0

220

L

R

May 25, 1982

 


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Jason Kubel 146 514 73 154 35 2 28 103 56 106 1 1 .300 .369 .539



What's that comin' over the hill?  Is it a Kubel?  Is it a Kubel?  I did look at David Ortiz's best seasons with the Twins, but Patches is our clear winner.


Johan Santana

#57 / Starting Pitcher

6-0

210

L

L

Mar 13, 1979

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2004 - Johan Santana 20-6 34 34 1 1 0 0 228.0 156 70 66 24 54 265 2.61 0.92



Brad Radke deserves his props for what he means to the organization, but nothing can touch Johan's performance in his first Cy Young award-winning season.  The man was simply super-human and down the stretch he couldn't be touched.


Joe Nathan

#36 / Closer

6-4

225

R

R

Nov 22, 1974

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2006 - Joe Nathan 7-0 64 0 0 0 36 2 68.1 38 12 12 3 16 95 1.58 0.79



Joe's had six great seasons with the Twins.  This was his best.

Who makes your team?  Shannon Stewart's performance upon his arrival in 2003 is worth an honorable mention in left field, and Jason Bartlett's 2006 was good at shortstop, but who else would you mention?  Maybe Francisco Liriano's wicked 2006?

It's good to be back.  I'll see you tomorrow.