The 2000’s were a wondrous time for Twins baseball. The names of legends such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Brad Radke, Johan Santana, and Nick Punto graced the field for the Twins under the teflon sky of the Metrodome (RIP.) But if you were to add one player from this era to the current iteration of the Twins, who would it be?
There’s definitely a strong case to be made for 2008 Joe Nathan. The all-world closer had his best year in 2008, hurling a 1.33 ERA (whoa) and 74 strikeouts in 68 appearances. Throw Nathan in the back end of the 2020 ‘pen, and we’re looking at one of the best bullpens in history. Rogers, May, Duffey, Romo, Clippard, Littell, and Stashak(?) with an all-time closer cherry on top? I’m drooling.
While the 2020 lineup certainly is devoid of holes, there are a few position players I’d consider. 2002 Torii Hunter, with his .859 OPS, 29 ding-dongs, and elite defense, could be swapped out for the injury-prone Byron Buxton in centerfield. While Buxton could probably reach heights similar to that Torii season, and his defense is probably a hair better, who knows when he’ll be healthy enough to give us that performance. The other position player that comes to mind is 2009 Joe Mauer, obviously. While Mitch Garver is already one of the very best catchers in the big leagues, 2009 Joe Mauer was one of the top-2 players in the league, full stop. He provided excellent defense behind the plate while leading the AL in batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage, with 28 home runs to boot. The MVP campaign is one of the best seasons ever seen for a catcher, or a hitter of any position.
You could also go the route of just bringing back someone you like. Nick Punto, from any year, is certainly tempting for me. Also, I’m sure Mike Redmond’s naked batting practice antics would be great comedy with the group in 2020.
However, my pick is going to be 2004 Johan Santana. While I may be higher on our starting rotation than most, the rotation is our biggest need in 2020. 2004 Johan Santana turns the area of need into one of the strongest rotations in the league. The lefty won the Cy Young that year, leading the AL with a 2.61 ERA and 265 K’s in 228.0 innings. He would be a true ace to put in front of All-Stars Berrios and Odorizzi, giving the Twins a scary trio to throw out there in a playoff series (and that’s without mentioning Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda). Santana would definitely be my pick to push the 2020 team over the top.
What do you think? Who would you choose to join the 2020 squad? Let us know in the comment section!