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The Ultimate Twins Team (Pt. 2): Minnesota Moundsmen

The arms

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After establishing the starting lineup and bench of my all-time Twins squad, it’s time to turn attention towards Minnesota’s best cadre of definitely-not-belly-itchers:

Starters

  • Bert Blyleven (RHP): A case could be made that Rik Aalbert was the most dominant pitcher to ever don the cream whites or baby blues. He was durable, piled up K’s, and featured one of the most devastating curveballs the game had ever seen.
  • Johan Santana (LHP): The other Twins premiere starter would be 2004-2006 Johan—Cy Young Award, robbed by Bartolo Colon, Cy Young Award.
Yankees v Twins - Game Four
Not that I ever seemed to see him live, what with my noted cosmic proclivity for drawing Kyle Lohse’s starts at the Dome
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
  • Jim Kaat (LHP): Kitty’s mid-1960s run was as impressive as they come. Maybe only one or two years as the 1-A ace of a staff, but essentially an entire career of 1-B status.
  • Brad Radke (RHP); If you know me in the slightest, this isn’t surprising whatsoever—Radke is my second-favorite (to Puckett) Twins player of all-time. But if you think #22 doesn’t belong here, consider: he’s 6th all-time in total Twins WAR—behind only Carew, Killebrew, Mauer, Puck, & Blyleven.
  • Frank Viola (LHP): If I’m going to give Johan credit for his astonishing trio of seasons, then Sweet Music’s ‘87-’88 (159 ERA+; 154 ERA+) also gain him entry to the top five club.

Bullpen Specialists

  • Camilo Pascual (RHP): Narrowly missing a starting slot, the Cuban-born hurler could go as long as needed in a fireman role.
Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins
Camilo enjoys his day in the Twins HOF sun
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Eddie Guardado (LHP): Starter—long reliever—middle reliever—closer—catcher of balls pin-balling off speakers. They didn’t call him “Everyday Eddie” for nothing!
  • Jim Perry (RHP): Though best remembered as a frontline starter in the late 60s/early 70s, Perry spent his first 5-6 Twins seasons being used out of the pen quite a bit.
  • Al Worthington (RHP): Remarkably, only his age 35-40 seasons were spent in a Twins uniform—and only the last wasn’t dominant.
  • Pat Neshek (RHP): A unique side-winding delivery would certainly be a late-inning asset, even if it comes with an inability to shake the specter of the starting catcher.

Bullpen Endgame

  • Taylor Rogers (LHP): Strictly based on ability to wipe out lefty batters in high-leverage relief scenarios, I don’t think the Twins have seen one better than Taylor (not to be confused with twin ectomorph brother Tyler).
Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
Taylor waves goodbye to another batch of high leverage opponents
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
  • Rick Aguilera (RHP): There’s no doubt that Aggie—and his trademark split-finger fastball—was a top tier relief talent, but his penchant for “making things interesting” relegate him to setup duty on the all-time squad.
  • Joe Nathan (RHP): “Stand up and shouuuuuuuuuuuut!” If not for Mo Rivera’s incomparable dominance, Nathan would have been baseball’s foremost stopper from 2004-2013.