Upon the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Minnesota Twins effectively closed the book on the “10s” decade (2010-2019). With that in mind, I’d like to take a look back on the players that personified this up-and-down decennial.
WARNING: This is NOT a best-of list. For a 10-year span that produced a 50/50 split of over/under .500 squads, sometimes the best player isn’t the one who exemplifies any given position. That is what this decade-spanning remembrance is really all about: the players I feel best personified the team during that span.
So sit back and enjoy—or maybe bemoan—the key 2010’s figures according to yours truly…
- C- Joe Mauer: Sure, Kurt Suzuki and Mr. Angry Eyes (Ryan Doumit) were fun, but this is a no-brainer. Mauer did transition to 1B later in the decade, but was primarily still a catcher from ’10-’13. Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images
- 1B- Michael Cuddyer: As much as it saddens me to not pick Justin Morneau, he was only a shadow of his former Dome self, save for the first few months of ’10 before the Toronto concussion. Since Mauer cannot play two positions at once, Cuddy gets the nod here for his all-around versatility.. Personally, I’ll never forget the leadership he showed during that decade-opening playoff campaign and the ’11 debacle.
- 2B- Brian Dozier: The Bull Dozier worked his way up from a fringe prospect to a legitimate slugging All-Star. Despite being the ultimate boom-or-bust hitter, he was the heart and soul of the Molitor squad. Plus, if I didn’t put him on this list my sister would never talk to me again. So there’s that. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- SS- Eduardo Escobar: Jorge Polanco better be the slam-dunk ten years from now, but EE was a guy that both Gardy and Molly trusted in the middle infield as the franchise continued to struggle locking down the SS spot since…hmmm…checks notes…Greg Gagne? Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
- 3B- Trevor Plouffe: This one is personal as Plouuuuuuuufe was an all-time favorite of mine. On a bunch of bad teams, he shone even brighter as a competent component. Plouffe’s mid-summer 2012 HR surge will forever live in my memory. I also yelled so loud at an early-2015 Plouffe extra-inning walk-off homer that I legitimately lost my voice for the first time in my life. Good times. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- LF- Josh Willingham: Another “good player on a bad team”, but his massive Target Field moonshots were a sight to behold (as was his outfield defense, albeit in a different capacity). I also experienced an almost other-worldly phenomenon of seeing The Hammer go long nearly every time I was in the ballpark from ’12-’13. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- CF- Denard Buxton (or Byron Span): I’m playing Dr. Frankenstein here because I literally can’t make this decision. Span was an all-time favorite of mine, while Buxton is, well, Buxton—one of the most dynamic players in the game (when healthy, of course). Just imagine the raw talent of Buck with the durability and savvy of the Span Man. Scary. Jerry Holt/ STAR TRIBUNE/(Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images
- RF- Eddie Rosario: I’m cheating on position a bit here (though Rosie has been known to pop over to right field), but Eddie has been an OF fixture since homering in his first major league at-bat in 2015. He’s inspired his own rooting section (the Ed-Heads) and chants of Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die are often carried along the Target Field cross-wind. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- DH- Jim Thome: After hitting the flag pole home run to walk-off the ChiSox in ’10, The Man with the Ox in the Batter’s Box will always and forever be my Twins DH. That is all. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
- SP- Jose Berrios: La Makina is as close to an ace as the Twins have had since Johan Santana absconded to the Big Apple. Berrios took his lumps in the early goings, but has established himself as a solid front-of-the-rotation cog. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- SP- Kyle Gibson: Performance fluctuations aside, Gibby has to be on this list for longevity’s sake (’13-’19) alone. His transition from stubborn sinkerballer to slider strikeout machine has been an interesting ride, to say the least. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- SP- Carl Pavano: At the end of the 2009 season, the mustachioed Pavano established himself as staff workhorse, a moniker he would hold for two more seasons. He wasn’t always great, but he was dependable. Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images
- SP- Brian Duensing: Talk about a guy who did a little bit of everything: Starter, long-relief, LOOGEY, mop-up...whatever you asked Duensing to do, he was ready and willing (and usually pretty able). Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
- SP- The final rotation slot is dedicated to all the, uh, interesting youngsters given a shot during the “lean years” (‘11-’14). Scott Diamond is pictured, but I’m also remembering the likes of Cole DeVries, PJ Walters, Samuel Deduno, Liam Hendriks, Pedro Hernandez, & Andrew Albers. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
- Setup Man- Trevor May: While not always exactly consistent, May has constantly been thrust into the role of fireballing high-leverage arm this past decade, and seems to survive to stick around for the next time. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- Closer- Glen Perkins: Closing out an All-Star Game on your home field throwing to your own catcher (Suzuki)? Yeah, he’s the pick here. For all his foibles, Perk was a solid (briefly spectacular) ‘pen presence. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
- Manager- Paul Molitor: While Ron Gardenhire’s Target Field era was largely defined by losing clubs, and Rocco Baldelli hasn’t been around nearly long enough to get the nod, this has to be Molly’s spot. His lows were unprecedented (‘16), but his highs (‘15, ‘17) were extremely fun seasons. Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images
You’ll notice, of course, that names like Garver, Sano, Polanco, & Kepler are missing from this retrospective. It is my hope that they will be firmly ensconced when I do this 10 years from now. The above players, however, will be the ones that always immediately spring to mind when I think “the Twins of the 2010’s”.
What am I missing?! Let me know with a comment!