With his write-up of former Twins in the playoffs that our resident sandwich man put out the other day, I got to wondering: What would the best possible squad of all active former Twins look like? This seemed like as good a reason as any to go down an endlessly entertaining Baseball Reference rabbit hole, and this blog is what came out the other side.
- Lance Lynn, CWS: The big righty went for a 2.69 ERA with 176 K’s in 157.0 innings for the rival White Sox this season. He’s been excellent since he flopped on his face with the Twins in 2018.
- Jose Berrios, TOR: We all know Berrios’ story, as he just got traded this season. He ended 2021 with a 3.52 ERA and 204 K’s in 192.0 innings pitched- his best season yet.
- Kyle Gibson, TEX/PHI: It was a tale of two seasons for TJ’s favorite Twin, as Gibby hurled a sterling 113.0 innings with the Rangers (2.87 ERA) before getting traded to Philly and having a poor 69.0 (nice) innings (5.06 ERA).
- Rich Hill, TBR/NYM: Ye olde Dick Mountain bounced back from something of a down year in 2020 with the Twins, ending with a solid 3.86 ERA and 150 K’s in 158.0 innings pitched.
- Jake Odorizzi, HOU: While Jake didn’t make the postseason roster for the Astros, he will make a solid 5th starter for our All-Ex Twins team. He sported a 4.21 ERA and 91 K’s in 104.0 innings.
Honorable Mentions: Martin Perez (BOS), Huascar Ynoa (ATL), Luis Gil (NYY)
Very strong top 3 for the Ex-Twins, rounded out by a 4-5 punch that the real Twins have never been able to replicate.
- Liam Hendriks, CWS: The ex-Twins bust has been one of the top few relievers in the game for the past 3 years. Unfortunately is employed by the White Sox now. 2.54 ERA, 113 K, 71.0 IP
- Ryan Pressly, HOU: Pressly, who was sold off by the Twins in dismal 2018, has been excellent for the Astros ever since. The return of Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino may pan out for us, but Pressly’s 2.25 ERA and 81 K’s in 64.0 innings would’ve been nice to have in the ‘pen this year.
- Zack Littell, SFG: After an injury-plagued 2020, the Twins let the once-promising Littell walk, and San Francisco has reaped the rewards. 2.92 ERA, 63 K’s, 61.2 IP
- JT Chargois, SEA/TBR: Chargois, the one-time Twins prospect, had a career year in 2021, posting a 2.52 ERA and 53 K’s in 53.2 innings between Seattle and Tampa.
- Trevor May, NYM: Big Trevor May acquitted himself well in his first year away from the Twins, with a 3.59 ERA and 83 K’s in 62.2 innings pitched.
- Matt Wisler, SFG/TBR: It was a tale of two seasons for slider extraordinaire Wisler, who had a 6.05 ERA in 19.1 innings in San Francisco before excelling in Tampa, where he had a 2.15 ERA.
- Brusdar Graterol, LAD: The flamethrower Graterol didn’t really have that great of a season, posting a 4.59 ERA and only 27 K’s in 33.1 innings. However, he’s too fun and too scary to leave off this list.
- Hansel Robles, BOS: After an up-and-down stint with the Twins to start the year (4.91 ERA), Robles was traded to Boston. With the Red Sox, he improved, posting a 3.60 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Nick Anderson (TBR)- Would likely make the list if not injured
This bullpen is absolutely sickening. Forget about scoring in the late innings against the Ex-Twins.
- RF- Robbie Grossman, DET: The on-base machine just keeps keepin’ on, going for a .772 OPS and 23 dingers this year.
- 3B- Eduardo Escobar, ARI/MIL: The Fogo Power has remained strong for one of the Ed’s, as Escobar was an all-start for the first time this year and ended up with a .786 OPS and 28 dongs.
- DH- Nelson Cruz, TBR: The beloved slugger’s performance fell off a bit after leaving Minnesota, but he’s still the best hitter on this list. .832 OPS and 32 dongs in his old age
- 1B- CJ Cron, COL: Cron has loved playing in the hitter’s paradise in Colorado, posting career bests in average, OBP, and slugging, and mashing 28 homers.
- 2B- Jonathan Schoop, DET: Schoop has been rock-solid as a veteran presence on the young Tigers these last two years, posting a .755 OPS to go with 22 dingers this year.
- LF- LaMonte Wade Jr., SFG: The “unneeded” Twins outfielder was let go after last season, and promptly became one of the best clutch hitters in MLB this year for the league-best Giants. .808 OPS and 18 homers.
- CF- Akil Baddoo, DET: After a blistering start to the season, the Rule 5 pick from the Twins organization settled down to a .766 OPS and 13 home runs.
- C- Jason Castro, HOU: Castro, in a backup role back in Houston, had a respectable season. He had a .799 OPS and 8 home runs for the Astros.
- SS- Ehire Adrianza, ATL: Shortstop is the weak link of the team, as Adrianza was the best hitter out of himself, Ronald Torreyes, and Niko Goodrum this year. The usual-utilityman had a .728 OPS and 5 dingers.
Bench: Alex Avila (WSN), Ronald Torreyes (PHI), Niko Goodrum (DET), Eddie Rosario (CLE/ATL)
Note: Aaron Hicks was hurt for pretty much the whole season
The lineup is surprisingly solid, although there’s no big stars in there. The top-6 is pretty dang good, and the drop-off of the 7, 8, and 9 hitters is pretty close to what you’d expect from any lineup.
In conclusion, I do believe that a lineup of all ex-Twins would have had more wins this year than the current Twins. The pitching staff is about 100x better than the arms that were on the bump for the squad this year, and the lineup is more solid, even if it probably has a lower ceiling.
Bonus: Observations from the Rabbit Hole
- Danny Santana was worth 3.8 WAR for the Twins in 2014. That would be third on the 2021 team.
- The active ex-Twin who was a Twin the longest ago I could find was Wilson Ramos, of 2010; wait, no, it’s Anthony Swarzak, 2009- Surprisingly, Drew Butera’s first Twins appearance was in 2010 and NOT 1999.
- We traded SP prospect Huascar Ynoa (4.05 ERA in first extended season) for a washed Jaime Garcia and a 33-year-old catcher who never played in the majors again (you get a gold star if you can name him), and cash.
- Deolis Guerra of the Johan Santana trade pitched his second-career “full season” in 2021.
- I strongly remember Lars Nootbaar being in the Twins system, even though he apparently never was.
- Tyler Ladendorf, who was traded straight-up for Orlando Cabrera in 2009, appeared in 1 game this year. This was his first since 2016, and his 54th total MLB appearance.
- Only one team had zero appearances by an ex-Twin this year, if I’m not mistaken. Name that team (hint: it’s the Reds)