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Greatest Minnesota Twins: The Twinkie Town Definitive List (Round 8)

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Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Rounds 1-7 Results:

  1. Harmon Killebrew
  2. Kirby Puckett
  3. Rod Carew
  4. Tony Oliva
  5. Joe Mauer
  6. Bert Blyleven
  7. Kent Hrbek

I had no idea what to expect this round considering the mix of long-term vets and short-peak stars—and it was a doozy! At first, newcomer Johan Santana looked to be the front-runner—until Jim Kaat knocked him from that perch. Then, the Hrbek clan must have beat the bushes for support, as Big Kenny surged ahead in the final reckoning.

I’ll admit to having a blind spot for Herbie. By the time I saw him play, he had put on a few—okay, maybe more than a few—pounds and looked a little sloppy. But his “salad days” (pardon the pun) saw spectacular defense at 1B and anchored a middle-of-the-lineup spot for nearly the entire 1980s. It certainly doesn’t hurt to swat an ear-shattering salami in the 1987 World Series and then catch the final out of that seminal MN pro sports championship.

The new entry: a Canadian sensation whose late-’00s peak took a back seat to no MLB sluggers.

Round 8:

World Series:Los Angeles Dodgers v Minnesota Twins, October 7, 1965 Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Jim Kaat

  • After 55 innings as a Washington Senator, Kaat made the journey to the Twin Cities, From 1961-1973, he was a fixture in Twins starting rotations. At age 34 he could have called it a career, but ended up hurling 10 more seasons in various locales! Kaat compiled 283 W’s and 16 Gold Glove awards from the mound, then parlayed that playing success into an equally robust announcing tenure. Not a year has gone by in which Kitty hasn’t popped into a broadcast booth somewhere. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
GIANTS04001_CAG.JPG Minnesota Twins’s centerfielder, Torii Hunter makes a diving catch on a Rich Aurilia hit to center field in the bottom of the first inning of play at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, Ca., on Tuesday, June 3, 2003. The game was Photo By Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Torii Hunter

  • After nearly a decade (1993-2000) of being doormats, the Twins became competitive again in 2001 and Torii Hunter was the face of the franchise. His sparkling center field defense, solid bat, infectious smile, and competitive fire were reminiscent of predecessor Puckett. Torii’s Twins took home four division titles and the rise to prominence can be thanked for this website’s very existence. #48 returned in 2015 after a similar slump (2011-2014)—and Minnesota immediately became contenders.
Twins - Angels baseball — Brad Radke delivers a pitch against Anaheim on his way to avictory Saturday night.

Brad Radke

  • For his first six MN seasons, Radke pitched for cellar-dwelling Twins clubs. That didn’t stop him from being staff ace, even racking up 20 wins in 1997 and finishing 3rd in AL Cy Young voting. From 2001-2006, #22 was reliability personified on much stronger squads. It wasn’t always pretty—the propensity for first-inning runs and gopher balls limited his ceiling—but his pinpoint control and maddening changeup made fools of MLB’s prodigious sluggers. In terms of career bWAR of any player wearing a Twins uniform, only Carew, Killebrew, Mauer, Puckett, & Blyleven eclipse him.
Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Sherman/Getty Images

Johan Santana

  • From 2003 through 2007, one could make a convincing case that Johan Santana was the best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. Smoosh together those years and you get this average 162-game line: 31 GS, 17-7, 220 IP, 237 K, 1.01 WHIP, 154 ERA+ (also consider that half of his ‘03 came out of the bullpen!). His electric fastball and devastating circle changeup utterly baffled opposing batters—a true A-1 ace. Not bad for a 1999 Rule 5 pickup. Johan was traded to the New York Mets after the ‘07 season and after a few similarly spectacular Queens campaigns a shoulder injury prematurely curtailed his career.
ALDS Game 2: Oakland A’s v Minnesota Twins

Justin Morneau

  • From 2005 to mid-2010, one could make a compelling case that Justin Morneau was the Twins’ most prodigious slugger this side of Harmon Killebrew. On a 162-game average in that span, Morneau was putting up 31 home runs, 117 RBI, and a 131 OPS+. Teaming with fellow “M” Joe Mauer, Justin won AL MVP in 2006, finished second in 2008, and was a perpetual All-Star. His left-handed swing was perfect for blasting baseballs over the Baggy ™ or the limestone. Sadly, much like Mauer, Morneau’s batting prowess was slowed by years of concussion symptoms stemming from a knee to the head sliding into second base in Toronto in July 2010. In recent years, he established himself as a solid color analyst in the Twins TV booth.

Poll

Greatest Minnesota Twin: Round 8

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Jim Kaat
    (117 votes)
  • 13%
    Torii Hunter
    (36 votes)
  • 4%
    Brad Radke
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    Johan Santana
    (86 votes)
  • 8%
    Justin Morneau
    (23 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now