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What was the most talented Twins core?

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A much-needed look back at better times

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Cleveland Ohio, 9/15/02 Twins win---- Twins Torii Hunter left Cristian Guzman, and Doug Mientkiewicz celebrated their American League central divison chmpionship Sunday at Cleveland.

Not long ago, I finished reading the book Chumps To Champs. Basically, it tells the story of how the New York Yankees organization went from MLB laughingstock in the late 1980s and early-90s to a perennial powerhouse. Inherent to that tale was the development of a core of players—Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, & Williams chief among them—that helped fuel such a rapid ascendance.

This got me thinking about the most talented cores of Twins squads from years gone by. If I were to say “best core”, one would be hard-pressed not to pick the group that took home two World Series titles. “Favorite core”? Based on the likely median age of most Twinkie Town readers, the early-2000s bunch would almost assuredly get the nod. But what about “most talented”, regardless of championships or nostalgia?

The way I see it, the Twins have had five distinct cores of players helping fuel their fruitful periods:

The OG’s

  • Battey, Killebrew, Allison, Hall, Rollins, Oliva, Kaat, Pascual, Versalles
  • Notable achievements: World Series appearance in 1965, division titles in ‘69 & ‘70, near-miss in ‘67.
July 14, 1970 - Major League Baseball Allstar Game, American League v National League
Oliva & Killebrew—perhaps the two earliest MN Twins stars

The Champs

  • Hrbek, Puckett, Gaetti, Brunansky, Laudner, Viola, Bush, Gagne
  • Notable achievements: World Series championships in ‘87 & ‘91, very strong squads in ‘88 & ‘92.
Minnesota Twins
Kirby & Hrbie

Get To Know ‘Em

  • Pierzynski, Mientkiewicz, Rivas, Guzman, Koskie, Jones, Hunter, Radke, Milton, Hawkins, Guardado
  • Notable achievements: Division titles from ‘02-’04, ALCS appearance in ‘02, potentially saved the organization from MLB contraction scheme.
Marlin Levison - Strib 09/16/05 - Assign#95177- Twins vs. White Sox baseball. IN THIS PHOTO: Torii Hunter, left is welcomed back to the dugout by his buddy Jacque Jones after Jones hit a one-run home run in the 4th inning. Hunter has been on DL with an
2⁄3 of the Soul Patrol outfield (Hunter & Jones)
Photo by MARLIN LEVISON/Star Tribune via Getty Images

M & M’s

  • Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel, Span, Santana, Liriano, Slowey/Perkins/Baker/Blackburn
  • Notable achievements: Division titles in ‘06, ‘09, & ‘10, near-miss in ‘08.
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
The M&M Boys (Morneau & Mauer) plying their trade
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Molly’s Bunch

  • Dozier, Plouffe, Rosario, Sano, Buxton, Gibson, Polanco, Kepler, Berrios
  • Notable achievements: Playoff appearance in ‘17, division titles in ‘19 (2nd-best year in franchise history) & ‘20.
Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
Buxton & Sano strike confident poses
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

So, the question I pose...

Poll

Most talented Twins core?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    OG’s
    (107 votes)
  • 50%
    Champs
    (191 votes)
  • 7%
    Get To Know ‘Em
    (28 votes)
  • 12%
    M&M’s
    (47 votes)
  • 2%
    Molly’s Bunch
    (8 votes)
381 votes total Vote Now

As a result of all the losses thus far in 2021, a glimpse has been given—and will likely continue—at the next potential Twins core: guys like Arraez, Alcala, Garver/Jeffers/Rortvedt, Rooker, Larnach, and Kirilloff. Perhaps some of those names can take the Twins to the promised land—or at least a playoff victory. Baby steps.