Since the inception of the Hall of Fame in 1936 there have been 25 men inducted that have played or managed the Twins/Senators during their careers. Of those 25, only 8 are shown wearing a Twins/Senators cap on their plaque.
Walter Johnson (SP) - Inducted in 1936 by way of BBWAA (inaugural class)
Goose Goslin (LF) - Inducted in 1968 by way of Veterans Committee
Sam Rice (RF) - Inducted in 1963 by way of Veterans Committee
Bucky Harris (Manager) - Inducted in 1975 by way of Veterans Committee
Bert Blyleven (SP)- Inducted in 2011 by way of BBWAA
Rod Carew (IF) - Inducted in 1991 by way of BBWAA
Harmon Killebrew (IF) - Inducted in 1984 by way of BBWAA
Kirby Puckett (CF) - Inducted in 2001 by was BBWAA
It got me thinking, “who might be the next Twin to make the Hall of Fame?”
Joe Mauer is easily the first player that comes to mind, but making his argument would just be beating a dead horse. Instead I want to breakdown different players, players that might not get in on their first ballot, but might sneak in after awhile like Larry Walker did this year. Players I intend to cover include the likes of Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan. I also will look at possible Era Committee, formerly known as the Veterans Committee, candidates like Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Frank Viola, Chuck Knoblauch, and Jim Perry. Eventually I hope to make it around to analyzing current Twins players and trying to predict who might wear the next Twins cap in the Hall of Fame. I will only be covering players who would most likely be wearing a Twins cap on their plaque. While I know a lot of players might not have much of a case, it will be fun to get nitpicky with them!
Each breakdown will consist of when they’ll be on the ballot, or how long they have been on a ballot without election. Then it will have a blurb taking us through the players career highlights and accolades earned. Finally, it will go into an analysis of career stats and picking out the highlights that might be grounds for election.
Below is the HOF Case for Torii Hunter. He spent twelve years with the Twins and is set to be on the 2021 ballot, alongside fellow Twins LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer. He was known for his superb defense but, also he did a cool front flip and he threw one of the greatest temper tantrums to grace the MLB. He also robbed the most prolific home run hitter of all time of a homer.
Torii Hunter was drafted in the 1st round, 20th overall, in the 1993 Amateur Draft by the Twins. Drafted out of high school, Hunter was considered a “raw tools” guy. Meaning he had the speed and strength, but lacked the experience to utilize them. He would struggle in rookie ball to start his career, hitting just .190 with a 4/23 BB/K ratio. Once past rookie ball, he was back and forth production-wise, spending three years in AA until finally making it to the Show in 1998, where he would stay for 19 years.
Okay, I lied. He got to the majors in 1997, but it was only 1 game!
Career Stats- Twelve years with the Twins (1997-2007, 2015)
.277/.331/.461, 2452 hits, 1391 RBI, 351 HR.
5 time All-Star
9 time Gold Glove Award Winner
2 time Silver Slugger
Career WAR: 50.6
Throughout his career Torii Hunter was known for his excellent defense, noted by his 9 Gold Gloves. He has the 7th most Gold Gloves by any outfielder in the MLB. He also was an above average hitter for most of his career. Hunter maintained an average above .250 from 1999 to 2014. He also is a member of the 300 HR club, which might be his highlight for entry. He also has pretty comparable stats to another Twins center fielder, Kirby Puckett.
Though he did play seven more seasons than Kirby, Torii Hunter was consistent. You could always count on him for a good amount of RBIs and 20 home runs. The same could be said for Kirby, though he would have a higher average. At the end of their respective careers, both Twins center fielders would have pretty comparable smiles, but also stats.
Average- Hunter: .277 Puckett: .318
RBIs- Hunter: 1391. Puckett: 1085
Home Runs- Hunter: 353 Puckett: 207
Steals- Hunter: 195 Puckett: 134
OPS+- Hunter: 110 Puckett: 124
WAR- Hunter: 50.7 Puckett: 51.5
Again, Hunter played seven more years in the bigs. At the end of the day, stats are stats. Kirby Puckett also earned many more accolades than Hunter. Five more All-Star appearances, a batting title, and finally two World Series rings. Seeing the stats you have to ask, “Would Hunter make it in with two rings?” Kirby Puckett was amazing, but he also has one thing that Hunter doesn’t....well...two.
Overall, Torii Hunter has the stats to have a good case, but I just don’t think it will be enough for a Hall of Fame induction. What’re your thoughts?