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Greatest Minnesota Twins: The Twinkie Town Definitive List (Round 9)

Kitty

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

Rounds 1-8 Results:

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

From the first hour this round of polling was up, the battle lines were clearly drawn: the slow-and-steady veteran who pitched the Twins deep into the 1965 World Series versus the uber-ace who fronted the rotation (if not all baseball moundsmen) in the mid-2000s but was only around for a short time. As the old fable goes, the tortoise eclipsed the hare.

Granted, calling a guy with 50+ career bWAR and 282 victories “methodical” is perhaps a reach. Sure, an average MN season of his was more like 15-12, 226 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, & 112 ERA+—but it was over 12 campaigns and that was barely half of his entire career! Though Johan would have provided more pizazz, to be sure, a team could do a heckuva lot worse than lefty Kaat pairing with righty Blyleven atop the all-time franchise rotation.

The new entry: a speedy second sack-er who led off for nearly a decade—then may have cursed the franchise upon his departure.

Round 9:

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.
Minnesota Twins Chuck Knoblauch... Set Number: X51099

Chuck Knoblauch

  • One could make an argument that no Twin had a better initial foray into MLB—all things considered—than Chuck Knoblauch. As a rookie in 1991, the 2B-man played 151 games to the tune of 636 PA, .281 BA, 25 SB, AL Rookie of the Year Award winner & a World Series ring. For the next 7 seasons, Knobby would average .306 BA, 115 OPS+, & 40 SB. His monster 1996 season—.341 BA, 143 OPS+, 14 3B, 45 SB—represented his zenith in a Twins uniform.

Poll

Greatest Minnesota Twin: Round 9

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Torii Hunter
    (64 votes)
  • 6%
    Brad Radke
    (16 votes)
  • 50%
    Johan Santana
    (126 votes)
  • 16%
    Justin Morneau
    (41 votes)
  • 1%
    Chuck Knoblauch
    (3 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now