After recently taking a cue from Joe Posnanski and creating my ultimate MLB squad—position players and pitchers—I was surprised at how well-received that exercise was. Never underestimate baseball fans’ desire to rank things and argue about them, I guess. It was suggested that a “Twins All-Time Team” would be fun, so without further ado I present the offensive starters, bench, and field general of my all-time, 26-man Minnesota squad...
- Rod Carew (2B): The only player to cross over onto my all-MLB list gets the top slot.
- Joe Mauer (C): I always thought 7’s overall skill set screamed two-hole.
- Kirby Puckett (CF): “Batting third—number 34—Kirbyyyyyyyyyyy Puckett!” Self-explanatory.
- Justin Morneau (DH): Knack for driving in runs makes him ideally suited for clean-up duty.
- Harmon Killebrew (3B): Only batting fifth for left/right balance. He remains the most powerful slugger in franchise history.
- Tony Oliva (RF): That’s “Hall of Famer Tony Oliva” to you now.
- Torii Hunter (LF): Yes, out of natural position. But LF doesn’t seem like a huge stretch and he needs to be in my starting nine (Bob Allison fans may have something to say on this matter)
- Kent Hrbek (1B): Beats out Morneau for first-sack fielding by being the better defender.
- Jorge Polanco (SS): Can Carlos Correa go here yet?! This franchise isn’t exactly rich with SS prospects. It’s one season of Zoilio Versalles, Greg Gagne’s defense, and Roy Smalley. I’ll ride with Jorge’s implacable bat over them all.
- Chuck Knoblauch (IF): Easily the rawest deal of the bunch: he doesn’t eclipse Carew at his natural 2B and I don’t feel comfortable pivoting him to shortstop.
- Byron Buxton (OF): As much as I loved Denard Span, Buck is the pick here. His defense and speed play anywhere.
- Earl Battey (C): Gotta have a backup backstop. My grandfather once met Battey at a metro-area church function and always raved about his genuine good nature. That—and a powerful bat—is enough endorsement for me.
- Randy Bush (PH): There seems to be an art to coming off the bench in key spots and performing well—some guys have it and some don’t. Bush did.
- Jim Thome (PH): It’s the bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Twins down by one. Runner on first. Home run or long fly over an outfielder’s reach absolutely needed. Big Jim steps into the box and points his lumber at the opposing pitcher. Game over—Twins win.
- Ron Gardenhire: Tom Kelly has the jewelry. Billy Martin has the small sample size. Paul Molitor may be the closest proxy to me in the dugout. But I was an adolescent growing into my love affair with baseball in the early 2000s, so Gardy it is. Any skipper who regularly bowled with his bench coach gets the nod from me.