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The Twins’ All-Alliteration Team

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Baseball boys bat bullets beyond barriers, become best. Beautiful.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
The Alliteration Twins celebrate their conception with a lap around the diamond.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Of the thousands of players who have stepped foot onto a Minnesota field to play professional baseball. only a small portion have been bestowed with a first name beginning with the same letter as their last name. This linguistic oddity appears on only a couple players per roster each season, if that many, and only 57 players in Twins history have had alliterative names. If you’re like me and straining for an article, that’s just asking for a write-up. Here, then, from a guy with an alliterative name of his own, is the Twins all-alliteration team.

(All stats are from the player’s Minnesota tenure. Players are listed in each position group by descending bWAR.)

Starting Pitchers

Bert Blyleven (1970-76, 85-88)
W-L 149-138, 3.28 ERA, 119 ERA+, 3.15 FIP, 49.4 bWAR

The Alliteration Twins boast a top ace with the Hall of Famer curveball maestro. Over Blyleven’s two stints in Minnesota, he struck out 2,035 batters, completed 141 of his starts (29 of which were shutouts), and earned a World Series ring in 1987. Blyleven now serves as an analyst on Fox Sports North for Twins games, a role in which he has allowed far fewer home runs.

Allan Anderson (1986-91)
W-L 49-54, 4.11 ERA, 102 ERA+, 4.21 FIP, 8.5 bWAR

Although Anderson spent his entire six-year career, which overlapped both Twins World Series titles, in Minnesota, he did not pitch in either postseason. Perhaps placement on the Alliteration Twins can somewhat assuage that. Anderson’s record is hampered and ERA inflated by his 1990 and ‘91 seasons, during which he won 12 games and lost 29; in the two prior seasons, he won 33 and lost 19; Anderson won the 1988 AL ERA crown with a career-best 2.45 mark, and led the major leagues with a 166 ERA+.

Mike Morgan (1998)
W-L 4-2, 3.49 ERA, 137 ERA+, 4.79 FIP, 3.7 bWAR

Morgan is most known as the player who, before Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackson broke his mark, played for the most MLB teams in his career. The Twins were his tenth, and Morgan put up good numbers through August, at which point Minnesota traded him to his Cubs for his third stint at Wrigley.

Rick Reed (2001-03)
W-L 25-25, 4.47 ERA, 101 ERA+, 4.61 FIP, 3.6 bWAR

Reed’s best four and a half seasons came as a Met, where he recorded a 16.5 WAR before the Twins acquired him in a 2001 exchange for Matt Lawton. While the 36-year-old Reed may have been beyond his prime pitching days, he still posted a respectable 15-7 mark and 3.48 ERA (118 ERA+) in 2002.

Rich Robertson (1995-97)
W-L 17-29, 5.17 ERA, 95 ERA+, 5.32 FIP, 1.7 bWAR

These may not be the best stats - and they’re very clearly not - but when you have a slim pool to choose from, you get some weaker pitchers. Robertson makes the squad as the fifth starter, another lefty (along with Anderson) to break up the righty-heavy staff.

Bullpen

Mike Marshall (1978-80)
2.99 ERA, 54 saves, 141 ERA+, 3.34 FIP, 6.9 bWAR

With the Dodgers, Marshall won a Cy Young Award and picked a sprinter off first base in the World Series. As a Twin, Marshall led the American League with 90 appearances, 84 games finished (leading the MLB), and 32 saves in 1979, a year in which he also finished fifth in Cy Young voting and 11th in the MVP ballot count. The Alliteration Twins therefore have a star in their bullpen, a reliever who can close and possesses high endurance over a long season. This is fortunate, because the rest of their bullpen....

Blaine Boyer (2015)
2.49 ERA, 164 ERA+, 4.00 FIP, 1.2 bWAR

Boyer has been a career journeyman, but he was a solid setup man in his only season in Minnesota, a role he will likely retain with the Alliteration Twins. (Not to distress readers, but a reminder that I’m sorting each position group by descending bWAR. Boyer is the second relief pitcher, and his is 1.2.)

Matt Magill (2018-present)
3.81 ERA, 115 ERA+, 5.08 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Replace the name “Boyer” with “Magill” in the above paragraph, and you’re not all that far off. Magill came out of nowhere and was a moderately bright spot in the Twins’ bullpen last season, although he fell off a bit towards the end of the year.

Germán González (1988-89)
4.11 ERA, 102 ERA+, 4.00 FIP, 0.3 bWAR

After 16 appearances in 1988, González pitched in 22 games the next season. This may have been a small increase, but his ERA and WHIP went up along with it. Interestingly, his FIP decreased by more than a full point, from 4.69 to 3.49. What all this means, I’ll let the Alliteration Twins manager decide.

Hal Haydel (1970-71)
4.04 ERA, 90 ERA+, 4.06 FIP, 0.3 bWAR

Haydel should remind casual Baseball Reference readers of the importance of the “games played” statistic. One might think something drastic happened to Haydel’s pitching in 1971 to increase his ERA from 3.00 to 4.28 before noticing that Haydel only made four appearances in 1970.

Carmen Cali (2007)
4.71 ERA, 93 ERA+, 5.72 FIP, 0.1 bWAR

This team needs left-handed relief.

Buddy Boshers (2016-17)
4.56 ERA, 95 ERA+, 4.00 FIP, 0.0 bWAR

This team really needs left-handed relief.

With a 12-man pitching staff, the Alliteration Twins have 13 position player spots to fill. While this may seem encouraging for their hitting, remember what pool of players are candidates for this team.

Infielders

Gary Gaetti (1981-90), third base
.256 AVG, .744 OPS, 27.2 bWAR

Playing the first 10 years of his career in Minnesota, Gaetti manned the hot corner en route to the 1987 World Series title. He is also known for being the third baseman when the Red Sox grounded into two around-the-horn triple plays in the same game, a feat which has never been repeated. (Incidentally, Gaetti led the majors in 1987 by grounding into 25 double plays.)

Greg Gagne (1983-92), shortstop
.249 AVG, .677 OPS, 17.9 bWAR

Another 10-year Twin, Gagne picked up a pair of rings in Minnesota and executed another baseball rarity, hitting two inside-the-park home runs in a single game in 1986. Like his former teammate on the left side of the diamond, Gagne also led the majors in a negative category - caught stealing 17 times in a season - but that was in the strike-shortened 1994, when he was a Royal.

Rich Rollins (1961-68), third base
.272 AVG, .717 OPS, 11.9 bWAR

Rollins earned a pair of All-Star selections in 1962 and led the American League with 10 triples in 1964. Unfortunately, as the Twins’ fortunes rose, Rollins’ began to decline; 1964 was the last year he would bat over .250 (he hit .270), record an OBP over .310 (his was .334), or slug over .400 (.406). It was enough to earn Rollins a place on the Alliteration Twins, although he’ll be backing up Gaetti.

Eduardo Escobar (2012-18), shortstop
.258 AVG, .729 OPS, 6.5 bWAR

Although we still wish he’d returned to Minnesota instead of remaining in Arizona, Escobar is still a favorite and a member of this squad. Escobar is probably the most versatile player on this squad, which is fortunate, as this will be a very specialized bench....

Tim Teufel (1983-85), second base
.265 AVG, .751 OPS, 5.5 bWAR

The fourth-place finisher in the 1984 AL Rookie of the Year voting, Teufel provided a capable bat and above-average fielding during his time as a Twin. While he departed Minnesota before their championship in 1987, he arrived in New York just in time to win a World Series in 1986. Good for him.

Rich Reese (1964-72, 73), first base
.260 AVG, .711 OPS, 3.2 bWAR

Except for half a season in Detroit, Reese spent his entire career with the Twins. Though primarily a first baseman, he can also fill in at left field, which is fortunate because there aren’t going to be many outfielders on this team. (Spoiler.)

Scott Stahoviak (1993, 95-98), first base
.256 AVG, .745 OPS, 1.0 bWAR

With this team’s overspecialization on the bench, Stahoviak joins the squad to platoon at first base. Neither first baseman grades positively on defense, so our first base coach will need to be equipped with an extra mitt.

Tom Tischinski (1969-71), catcher
.181 AVG, .520 OPS, -0.1 bWAR

Right... this team needs catchers, and the pickings are few. Tischinski spent all three seasons of his career with the Twins but never played in more than 37 games in a season.

Matt Merullo (1995), catcher
.282 AVG, .714 OPS, -0.2 bWAR

Merullo’s final season was 1995, and in 76 games he put up a solidly average stat line. He’ll do.

Outfielders

Jacque Jones (1999-2005), right field
.279 AVG, .782 OPS, 11.9 bWAR

A member of the One-Hall-of-Fame-Vote club, Jones played all three outfield positions in Minnesota, playing mostly in center field as a rookie, left field from 2000-03, and right field in his final two years as a Twin. He’s listed as the starting right fielder by default, but is more than a worthy choice for the spot.

Byron Buxton (2015-present), center field
.230 AVG, .672 OPS, 6.9 bWAR

He’s shown flashes of the potential that made him the second overall pick, but hasn’t yet put it together. However, those flashes (and that Gold Glove) have been enough to earn Buxton a starting spot here.

Shannon Stewart (2003-06), left field
.294 AVG, .772 OPS, 4.9 bWAR

Although he manned left field in Minnesota during the prime Ron Gardenhire years, I don’t remember much of Stewart’s tenure, except that one catch he made with the Yankee Stadium sun in his eyes during the ‘03 ALDS. (A still of that catch was once included in “The Baseball Experience” video at the Hall of Fame.)

Rick Renick (1968-72), left field
.221 AVG, .674 OPS, 0.6 bWAR

Renick may have been only average at bat and in the field during his five-year career, but that was enough to get him the final spot on the Alliteration Twins. While Renick is listed here with the outfielders to spread out the bench a little, he only played 63 games in the outfield and more than double that - 127 games - in the infield, primarily at... third base. Some things just come back around.