When Glen Perkins made 23 relief appearances between 2006 and 2007, we knew it was just an attempt to get him a few Major League innings. He made 26 starts for the Twins in 2008 as part of a group of young pitchers that were supposed to be a core of the team's rotation in the coming years: Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, and Perkins were all between 24 and 26-years old.
It didn't turn out that way of course. Bonser and Slowey never gained a foothold, Blackburn's luck eventually ran out, Liriano's frustration led him to greener pastures, and Tommy John surgery derailed Baker's promising career. Perkins floated between the rotation and the bullpen (and the Twins and the Red Wings) for much of 2009 and 2010, and looked to be following the rest of that young crew out the door after posting a 5.06 ERA in 44 starts between '08 and '10. We even listed him among a few potential non-tenders in November of 2009, stating:
There's been a lot of publicized stress between Perkins and the organization over the last few months. No matter who you think is right, if anyone really is, there is strain on the relationship. If both sides decide to work through it, good for them, but I'm not sure that can happen.
Around the site it's been discussed that Perk could be part of a trade package. I think that's more likely than a non-tender, but you never know. This one is a tricky call, and a lot of it depends more on whether the two sides can kiss and make up, rather than anything financial or roster space related.
We were all wrong. Somewhere between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, something changed. Perkins sat down with the Twins' brain trust, told them he wanted to be in Minnesota, and the two sides came together with a plan to try and make it work. That season, he posted a 2.48 ERA in 65 relief appearances while helping to set up Joe Nathan and Matt Capps. He's been one of the American League's best and most consistent relievers ever since. I can't say it any better than Aaron Gleeman said it two months ago.
Now heading to his third consecutive All-Star game, Perkins is in elite company as far as the Minnesota Twins are concerned. His 116 saves already ties him for third in team history with Eddie Guardado. Rick Aguilera's 254 and Joe Nathan's 260 are a few seasons away. Suffice it to say that by the time Perk's career is over he'll be one of the best three relievers in Twins history.
But he's also one of a number of Twins closers who have been selected to represent the club at the mid-summer classic. Aguilera went three years in a row (1991-1993), but only Nathan (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009) has been to more All-Star games as Minnesota's closer. In fact, since the first of Guardado's back-to-back appearances in 2002, a Twins closer has appeared in the game more often than one hasn't: nine to five.
Here's a look at every Twins closer who's been nominated to an All-Star team.
Fans of Ron Davis will remember that he never made an All-Star appearance for the Twins, having his lone nomination come in 1981 - the year before he arrived in Minnesota. His 108 saves are fifth all-time for the organization, but the 4.51 ERA while in a Twins uniform speaks for itself.
Davis' immediate predecessor was Doug Corbett, who led the American League in relief appearances and saved 17 games for the Twins in 1981. The season after Davis left the Twins brought in Jeff Reardon, sixth on the all-time Twins list with 104 saves, who closed out games as a member of the 1987 World Championship squad before heading to the All-Star game in 1988. Aguilera took over from him for the 1990 campaign.
If the Twins had a pretty good set of closers throughout the 80s and early 90s, and there's little doubt that they did, the trio of Guardado-Nathan-Perkins over the last 14 years has been something special considering there are now nine All-Star appearances between them. Congratulations to Perkins on his third go-round, very much deserved, and here's hoping that there's still one or two more on the books before all is said and done.