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TwinsCentric: Keeping two eyes on Torii Hunter

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: October 8, 2013 - 9:42 PM

Although he hasn't had a great series, Torii Hunter's Detroit Tigers are headed to a decisive Game 5 against the Oakland Athletics after a huge win on Tuesday night.

This is Hunter's seventh trip to the postseason -- a pretty impressive accomplishment when you think about it. You don't see too many players reaching the playoffs seven times in their career, let alone as part of three different clubs. Part of it is that Hunter has been fortunate enough to play almost exclusively on good teams, but certainly another part of it is that he has legitimately helped those teams get it done.

Hunter has been a great player, one whose contributions in Minnesota I may have under-appreciated to some degree in retrospect.

While I've always admired Hunter's game, I haven't always loved him. He's notoriously opinionated and occasionally has things to say that I just don't care for. Then again, you can't fault a guy for speaking his mind, and based on the way he's viewed by teammates and media, it seems safe to say that overall he's an amiable guy and a clubhouse asset. Fans are drawn to his effervescent nature on the field, not to mention his constantly high levels of energy and effort.

Is he a Hall of Famer? I would say no. He has never truly been one of the greatest players in the league and to me that's a prerequisite. But Hunter has a better case than you might suspect. He has hit 314 home runs while spending most of his career as an elite defensive center fielder (nine Gold Gloves). And boy, has he been consistent. From 2001 through 2011, he hit 20-plus homers every year (with the exception of 2005, when he missed almost half the season due to a broken ankle), and while his power has waned somewhat in his late 30s, he has still posted an .800+ OPS in each of the past two campaigns.

When you look back at those scrappy Twins teams that largely reigned over the AL Central from 2002 through his departure in 2007, it's difficult not to see Hunter as the steady beating heart. Other players came and went, had their ups and downs, but Hunter was good every year, providing middle-of-the-lineup offense along with legendary defense at a crucially important position.

There's no question that, these days, the Twins are missing many of the things Hunter brought to the table. That leads to another thought: Could a return to Minnesota ever be in the cards for the veteran outfielder?

Hunter has one more season remaining on his two-year, $26 million contract with the Tigers. He'll be a free agent again next year, at age 39, when the Twins may be looking to add some extra pieces to a roster that will (hopefully) be shaping up as a contender driven by young stars.

Acquiring players who are verging on 40 can be dangerous, but the Twins had great success in a similar situation with Jim Thome and it appears that Hunter has taken phenomenal care of his body because he's showing few signs of age.

Might the Twins consider bringing him back for one last go? Should they? It's a fun talking point as the Hunter gears up for one of the biggest games of his life.

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Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta 1 Top 11th Inning
Cincinnati 1
Seattle 5 Bottom 9th Inning
Boston 3
Kansas City 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Texas 3
Pittsburgh 8 Bottom 8th Inning
Milwaukee 2
Detroit 5 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 6
Miami 6 Bottom 6th Inning
Colorado 4
San Diego 0 Top 5th Inning
Arizona 4
LA Angels 1 Top 3rd Inning
Oakland 1
NY Mets 1 Top 4th Inning
Los Angeles 1
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 28 4th Qtr 3:05
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 7 4th Qtr 12:15
Green Bay 25
Chicago 0 2nd Qtr 15:00
Seattle 14
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 0 2nd Half 25:00
FC Dallas 1
Montreal 13
Winnipeg 8
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 34 3rd Qtr
Phoenix 35

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