On paper, the Minnesota Twins lineup doesn’t have any particularly big names that could hurt you with the bat. However, the leadoff hitter in Rod Carew is one of the best all around second baseman the sport has ever seen and Kirby Puckett was one of the most sensational players to grace the outfield before injury ended his career. The same goes for Joe Mauer who was the face of the franchise for the Minnesota ball club for much of my childhood. After the top three are more high contact and power hitters, switching back from right and left handed batters to give opposing managers a bunch of matchup problems. Don’t forget about Walter Johnson on the mound who’s known as one of the best pitchers to ever play the game.
1. Rod Carew, 2B (L)
2. Kirby Puckett, CF (R)
3. Joe Mauer, C (L)
4. Harmon Killebrew, LF (R)
5. Kent Hrbek, 1B (L)
6. Tony Oliva, DH (R)
7. Sam Rice, RF (L)
8. Gary Gaetti, 3B (R)
9. George McBride, SS (R)
Walter Johnson, P (R)
Manager: Tom Kelly
2004-18: 1,018 Runs, 143 HR, 923 RBI, 52 SB, .306 BA/.388 OBP/.439 SLG
While he likely won’t get into the Hall of Fame, Joe Mauer was the heart and soul of the Twins from the later parts of the 2000s into the early 2010s. He was the best catcher in the entire league and on point and if it weren’t for injuries, he likely would have made a strong case for Cooperstown. In his prime, Mauer was an elite defensive catcher who hit right in the middle of the Minnesota lineup. While he didn’t hit for much power, with the exception of the 2009 season, he was a great hitter for average and always had a good eye at the plate. After having to shift from the catcher spot to first to preserve his body, Mauer’s career went downhill as he stopped hitting as well and just never looked the same.
Honorable Mentions: Muddy Ruel, Earl Battey
1981-94: 903 Runs, 293 HR, 1,086 RBI, 37 SB, .282 BA/.367 OBP/.481 SLG
While only named to the All Star team once, Kent Hrbek was one of Minnesota’s finest during his 14 year run with the team. He was a great middle of the order bat who knew how to hit for both power and average. He hit 20 home runs almost every season after his rookie year and always had a knack for making contact. After a first year, Hrbek proved he belonged in the bigs and remained at the first base position until his retirement.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Judge, Mickey Vernon, Justin Morneau
1967-78: 950 Runs, 74 HR, 733 RBI, 271 SB, .334 BA/.393 OBP/.448 SLG
It wouldn’t be wrong to call Rod Carew one of the best second baseman of all time. The Hall of Famer captured the Rookie of the Year Award in 1967 and seemingly never looked back. In 19 professional seasons, Carew was selected to the All Star team 18 straight times. He won MVP in 1977 and was always known as one of the league’s best at his position. The batted ball profile was always very good and the steals were a great bonus to an already great bat. Power was the one thing Carew never had but when you’re scoring close to 90 runs every season and hitting the way he did, no one really worried. Carew makes for a great top of the order bat and looks to get on base very often.
Honorable Mentions: Buddy Myer, Chuck Knoblauch, Brian Dozier
1908-20: 461 Runs, 5 HR, 393 RBI, 116 SB, .221 BA/.286 OBP/.268 SLG
Manning the shortstop spot is one of Minnesota’s best ever defenders, George McBride. While they didn’t hand out Gold Gloves at the time, McBride was known for his great defense at the shortstop spot. The batting profile is very weak and he likely won’t make much of a difference in the offensive game. Playing back in the days of the Washington Senators, McBride was a decent base stealer and garnered a few MVP votes simply for the defense alone. We’ll slot him in the #9 spot and hope he delivers a hit every once in a while. Worse case scenario, McBride will be used purely for defensive purposes.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Cronin, Cecil Travis, Roy Smalley
1981-90: 646 Runs, 201 HR, 758 RBI, 74 SB, .256 BA/.307 OBP/.437 SLG
Gary Gaetti began his career with the Twins and was poised to become one of the best players heading into the 1990s. However, his hitting disappeared in 1989 and he would never really live up to the potential he showed just a few years ago. For his career, Gaetti was always a great glove at third base and key bat in the Twins’ lineup for a few years. While we can’t exactly count on him being consistent or repeating his breakout 1986 and 1987 performances, he’s a very good fielder who will have short bursts of power.
Honorable Mentions: Buddy Lewis, Ossie Bluege, Eddie Yost
1954-74: 1,258 Runs, 559 HR, 1,540 RBI, 18 SB, .258 BA/.378 OBP/.514 SLG
One of the Twins’ best hitters is Harmon Killebrew. While he predominantly played first for his career, he did log time in left and that’s where we’ll put him to get Hrbek’s bat in the lineup. Killebrew was notorious for his power and would lead the league in home runs for three consecutive seasons from 1962 to 1964. While his hitting abilities weren’t always that great, as evidenced by his average, he had a knack for hitting the ball out of the park whenever he did make contact. He’s an ideal middle of the order bat that the Twins will count on for the longball.
Honorable Mentions: Goose Goslin, Cesar Tovar, Heinie Manush
1984-95: 1,071 Runs, 207 HR, 1,085 RBI, 134 SB, .318 BA/.360 OBP/.477 SLG
Though he only played 12 years in the majors, Kirby Puckett is one of the most remembered Twins and was a great all around player. He played Gold Glove caliber defense in center and actually collected 6 of those awards during his time in the bigs. He earned 10 All Star appearances and was always one of Minnesota’s best hitters year in and year out. He was the ideal five tool player who collected averaged around 200 hits each season and slugged a bunch of homers in his prime. His career was cut short by vision problems though he would be later elected into the Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year of eligibility.
Honorable Mentions: Clyde Milan, Torii Hunter, Stan Spence
1915-33: 1,466 Runs, 33 HR, 1,044 RBI, 346 SB, .323 BA/.375 OBP/.429 SLG
While Sam Rice played almost a century ago, he remains the best base stealer in Twins history. He’s also got great contact skills and averaged well over a .300 batting average every season. The Hall of Famer rated pretty well defensively was a prolific scoring machine atop the order. However, Rice will play a different role on this team with already so many high contact bats in the lineup. I debated putting him at the #9 spot to have a great steals source at both the top and bottom of the lineup but shortstop, George McBride, is just too poor a hitter to put at the #8 spot. Instead, Rice will slot in at the #7 to split up the bunch of righties at the bottom of the lineup and provide a contact bat in the middle of the power bats.
Honorable Mentions: Bob Allison, Shane Mack
1962-7: 34870Runs, 220 HR, 947 RBI, 86 SB, .304 BA/.353 OBP/.476 SLG
While Tony Oliva did play right field for the majority of his career, he did operate as the team’s designated hitter during the later years of his career. He won Rookie of the Year honors back in 1964 and was a great all around batter for the Twins. While his calling card was his ability to make contact and put balls in play, Oliva showed pop in his bat and could steal double digit bags during the earlier years of his career. He’s an overall all around bat that could be put anywhere in the lineup. He’ll slot in between a pair of righties to give the club an almost perfect righty-lefty switch throughout the lineup.
1907-27: 417-279 Record, 2.17 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
There’s absolutely no doubt who should be the pitcher for our Twins All Time Team. It’s got to be 2 time MVP, 3 time Triple Crown winner, and Hall of Famer, Walter Johnson. He was widely considered one of the best pitchers of all time and hold the record for shutouts at 110. The stats he put up will almost certainly never be touched again as pitcher nowadays rarely go over 200 innings per season. By comparison, Johnson was pitching well over 300 innings per year during his prime. He was an absolute stud during his entire career and is widely considered as one of the best pitchers, not only in Minnesota history, but of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Bert Blyleven, Johan Santana, Brad Radke
The Twins have had quite a few managers who have gone onto gain Hall of Fame status though that’s not the case for Tom Kelly. After joining the staff in 1983, Kelly was awarded the title of manager in 1983 and is currently the longest tenured skipper in Twins history. While his overall record of 1,140-1,244 doesn’t look impressive at all, he did help the Twins reach and win both the 1987 and 1991 World Series. The 1991 series was one of the best in history though the victory would be short lived. After missing out of the playoffs in 1992, the Twins struggled for many seasons before finally deciding to rebuild. That likely hurt Kelly’s managerial record and who would endure 8 straight losing seasons before a final 85-77 mark in 2001.
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