The 2017 MLB Hall of Fame results are in, and the only two former Twins on the ballot—Orlando Cabrera and Casey Blake—received a grand total of... zero votes. Hence, both will be dropped from the ballot in 2018.
The newcomers on next year’s ballot, however, will feature at least five and potentially up to six former Twins, including some with a significant case for being elected.
Let’s take a look at these guys and their HOF prospects.
Who could forget the Brian Fuentes era in Twins history? Probably most of you, so don’t feel bad. Fuentes, the left-handed reliever, was only around for about a month, coming over from the Angels via a waiver-trade in late August 2010. It was actually a pretty good late season pick-up on the part of GM Bill Smith. Fuentes pitched a total of 9.2 innings for the Twins and didn’t give up a single run.
As for his career as a whole, Fuentes had a pretty good one. The closer pitched 12 years, made the All-Star Game four times, and ended up with an 3.62 ERA.
Is he a Hall of Famer? Hell no.
Second baseman Orlando “O-Dog” Hudson played 12 years in the majors, one (2010) being with the Twins. Even though he did a solid job for the team (.268/.338/.372 with six home runs and ten stolen bases), he reportedly annoyed Gardy and a number of his teammates so much they begged the front office not to bring him back.
What made O-Dog so annoying? He never stops talking. Ever.
Just kidding. He was speechless one time when an entire restaurant in New York City sang him Happy Birthday when it was not actually his birthday, which you can see starting around 1:40 in the video below (but really, watch the whole thing if you have the time).
While I think Hudson seems pretty hilarious, I can see how this would get old if you were with him nearly all the time for six months straight.
Anyway, is O-Dog a Hall of Famer? Nah.
Carl Pavano was a pretty well-liked guy during his time as a Twin, right? For the most part, he was a fairly solid starter who ate a bunch of innings and kept Drew Butera firmly employed as his personal catcher.
Same can’t be said for the rest of his career, though. Yankees fans loathe Pavano, who spent so much time sitting around on the DL while in New York that he earned the nickname “American Idle”. It’s literally on his Baseball Reference page.
To be fair, Pavano’s earlier years with the Expos and Marlins were at least moderately successful. He won a World Series ring in 2003, and was an All-Star in 2004.
Unfortunately, moderate success and eating innings does not one make a HOFer.
A lot of people remember Livan Hernandez’s time as a Twin with distain, but I actually liked him, so stop picking on him! Hernandez ate a bunch of innings for the Twins early in 2008 before they released him to give one of the younger, up-and-coming starters a shot. Sure, he didn’t exactly pitch great, but he served his purpose.
Hernandez had a pretty long and fairly successful career spanning 17 years. He made the All-Star Team twice, had a 4.44 career ERA, and even won a Silver Slugger Award playing for the Expos in 2004.
But is he a Hall of Famer? Maybe in my heart.
Now we’re talking about someone who could actually get a significant number of Hall of Fame votes. For a period of maybe six years in the ‘00s, Johan Santana was widely considered the best pitcher in baseball. He won the Cy Young award twice (should have been thrice), the Pitching Triple Crown (most wins, lowest ERA, and most strikeouts) once, and was a four time All-Star. I know it’s really hard for Twins fans (including me) to imagine now, but other teams used to fear our pitching, and Johan was the biggest reason why.
In fact, Johan was so dominant that Ervin Santana, who was born “Johan Santana”, changed his name—because there could only be one Johan Santana, and everyone, including “Ervin”, knew it.
Twins fans (and others) might feel that Johan is a HOFer, but... I don’t. As much as I deeply love him, Johan’s period of dominance just wasn’t long enough, and neither was his career. He only lasted 12 years before an elbow injury, followed by a shoulder injury, followed by an ankle injury, a back injury, another shoulder injury, a torn Achilles tendon, and a season-ending toe infection (!?!) derailed his career.
The good news is, all is not lost, as Johan Santana, like the Dark Knight in Monty Python, is attempting another major league comeback this year. If successful, he would not be on the HOF ballot next year, and could potentially rack up enough numbers to better his chances of being voted in at a later date. Maybe.
JIMBO. JI. THE LIVING PAUL BUNYUN. MASHER OF TATERS. TATER MASHER. NICE GUY. DINGERS.
Oh yeah—he’s going to the Hall of Fame next year, baby. Jim Thome is a lock as a first ballot HOF inductee.
Don’t you dare let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, he played a significant time at DH, but he was actually a corner infielder in his younger days and spent a lot more time at those positions (818 games at DH versus 1599 at 3B/1B). Also, Frank Thomas spent a lot more time at DH, and where is he? In the Hall of Fame.
Not good enough for you? I have 612 more reasons why Thome is an unquestionable HOFer. They’re called dingers, baby. Sloppy mashed taters. Thome was the king of the long-dong, hitting 612 of them (which should really be 613 if you count that one that bounced back into play at Progressive Field in 2010 and the stupid umps ruled it not a home run, despite replay evidence that it was).
Though Thome did play during the steroids era, he—like fellow masher Ken Griffey Jr. (note: IN THE HOF)—never had the slightest rumor of steroids attached to him. Don’t even come at me with any argument that Thome might have used PEDs or I will cut you, because I’m not as nice as Jim Thome.
Yeah, that’s right. Jim Thome is a really freakin’ nice guy, and everyone loves him. Fans love him. Other players love him. Dogs love him. Babies love him. My mom? Loves him. Most importantly, reporters—like the ones who vote for the HOF—love him. Everyone loves Jim Thome.
The Master Masher of Taters is going to the HOF, baby—BOOK IT.
Disagree with any of these observations? Leave a comment and I will fight you. Just kidding (sorta).