Normally, when one is trying to make a cross-sport comparison of athletes, it usually is “who is the Michael Jordan of football?” or “who is the Jerry Rice of baseball?” or something along those lines. In this case, I decided to use the approach of deciding which athletes best mirror some current Twins in terms of their impact and career arc. This is a rare piece from me that will include no statistics, as there will be zero numerical basis upon any of my selections. Let me know in the comments, what did I miss, who did I leave off, and which current/former Twins comparisons you may have! Here are my selections, in alphabetical order by last name.
LUIS ARRAEZ: Teddy Bridgewater. Like Bridgewater, Arraez is a fan-favorite player that uses a “death by 1000 cuts” sort of approach to his craft. Neither athlete is known for his power, as Arraez does not hit many homeruns, and much of Bridgewater’s work is done close to the line of scrimmage. Let’s hope Arraez (and everyone else) can avoid suffering a career-, and life-altering injury like Bridgewater did.
WILLIANS ASTUDILLO: Jeremy Lin. “Linsanity” is the only phenomenon comparable to Astudillo’s ascension into Minnesota folklore. Lin captivated the entire nation with his emergence out of nowhere for the New York Knicks, and “La Tortuga” stole the hearts of all Twins fans upon his arrival to the big leagues. With his fun-loving personality, unique build, and unusual skillset, it’s hard not to cheer for Mr. Astudillo.
JOSE BERRIOS: Paul Millsap. Berrios, like Millsap, is a somewhat undersized player at a position that is full of humans that are generally much more massive. In a similar fashion, Berrios still provides all the power that you would expect from a more prototypical player at his position. Finally, just like Millsap, Berrios will continue to produce All Star-caliber numbers, despite being generally underappreciated nationally.
BYRON BUXTON: Penny Hardaway. Just like Penny, Buxton was picked near the very top of his draft due to his unique blend of size, speed, and skill level. Unfortunately for Buxton, he has experienced a frustrating series of injuries, which have largely prevented him from putting his elite talents on display. It remains to be seen if Buxton can shake the “injury-prone” moniker from his career, something that Hardaway was never able to do. Penny will forever remain one of the greatest “what ifs” of the NBA.
NELSON CRUZ: Brett Favre. “The Boomstick” arrived in Minnesota at the tail end of his career, 10 years after Favre made his infamous decision to join the Vikings. In a similar fashion to Favre, Cruz joined Minnesota, had one of the best seasons of his career, and the Twins had an incredibly disappointing end to their season. Let’s hope Cruz is more careful than Favre with his use of his cell phone camera at the end of his career.
JOSH DONALDSON: Jared Allen. Donaldson is a brash, fiery, and hyper-competitive player for the Twins, which would also describe what Jared Allen brought to the Vikings upon his arrival. Both Donaldson and Allen arrived in Minnesota as already-established commodities, as both players are borderline Hall of Fame players. Unfortunately for Donaldson, injuries largely wiped out his 2020 season, so it remains to be seen if he can have a similar impact as Allen.
MAX KEPLER: Luke Rockhold. This one may require a quick Google search for most of #TwinkieTown, as Rockhold comes from a more obscure organization, the UFC. In a similar fashion as Kepler, Rockhold’s career success is largely associated with his looks, not necessarily his success in the cage. While Rockhold isn’t a household name in the general culture, he did capture the middleweight championship of the UFC, so he is certainly a talented athlete as well. Kepler has emerged as an elite outfielder in the MLB, which is a sight for sore eyes for the Twins. Max will continue to be favorite among much of Twins Territory, for more reasons than one.
KENTA MAEDA: James Harden. A finesse player that was previously trapped in his role behind other elite players, Maeda became a star for the Twins upon being given a chance to thrive in a starting role. Harden was somewhat an afterthought in his time in Oklahoma City, but began to play at an elite level once traded to Houston. Both Harden and Maeda are darlings of the analytics movement in sports, but it remains to be seen if Maeda can leverage his 2020 season into consistent long-term success. Here’s to Maeda growing a similar beard. (Somebody with photoshop talents please make this happen)
JORGE POLANCO: Wally Szczerbiak. Just like “Wally’s World,” Polanco made a somewhat fluky All Star appearance based almost purely on his offensive output. It looks like Polanco will remain a valuable offensive commodity throughout most of career, but his defense seems to leave something to be desired. Wally was part of the only deep playoff run for the Wolves, lets hope Polanco can be a part of at least one of those with the Twins.
EDDIE ROSARIO: Adrian Peterson. If Rosario was a part of previous generations of baseball, the back of his baseball card would indicate he is one of the best players in the league based upon his home run and RBI production. Peterson is very similar in the fact that he has dominated throughout his career in a fashion that was more suited to a previous era in the NFL. Both Rosario and Peterson have been seemingly adverse to adapting to current methodologies of their sports. (NOTE: during the production of this article, Rosario was placed on waivers by the Twins)
MIGUEL SANO: Andrew Wiggins. Once upon a time, Sano and Wiggins were both looked at as one half of a future superstar tandem in Minnesota. Wiggins turned out to be a lot more average than he was great, and his lack of improvement was frustrating due to his obvious athletic gifts. The strikeout for Sano has unfortunately become his version of Wiggins’ long two-pointer, as Sano has struggled to capitalize on his immense physical tools. While Sano has at least made an All Star team, it seems as though he has never quite broken through to his superstar potential.
Let’s see your comparisons, past or present!