Rand: High-five to Cuddyer, who soon will be No. 3

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2011 - 7:59 AM

Cuddy's numbers game made us wonder: Where does he rank among the all-time No. 5s in Minnesota pro sports history?

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Michael Cuddyer is wearing No. 3 with the Rockies to honor Harmon Killebrew, and because No. 5 is already taken by star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Photo: Hyoung Chang, Denver Post

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Michael Cuddyer is gone to Colorado. So, too, is his No. 5 -- he's switching to No. 3 in honor of former Twins great Harmon Killebrew.

Cuddy's numbers game made us wonder: Where does he rank among the all-time No. 5s in Minnesota pro sports history? The answer was fairly surprising. Because while MLB history is filled with examples of superstars who wore that number -- Joe DiMaggio, George Brett and Johnny Bench, to name a few -- Minnesota pro sports history is not exactly littered with all-time greats who donned No. 5. After great consideration, here are the five best No. 5s in our state's major pro sports history:

5. Kim Johnsson, Wild: OK, Wild fans. Settle down. Johnsson wasn't exactly the stalwart he was advertised to be, but in his three-plus seasons here he gave the Wild consistently functional (if not better) blue line play.

4. Brad Maxwell, North Stars: This was back in the old NHL, mind you, but did you know Maxwell -- a 6-2 defenseman -- recorded 73 points for the North Stars in the 1983-84 season? That was by far the best offensive season of his NHL career, but it earns him a spot in this top five of No. 5s.

3. Doug West, Timberwolves: West played on a ton of bad Wolves teams (and a couple of decent ones toward the end). The second-round pick out of Villanova started 371 games for the Wolves and scored more than 6,000 points. He also participated at times in the lost art of defense.

2. Roy Smalley, Twins: Smalley had a whopping 729 plate appearances in 1979, when he belted 24 homers to go with 95 RBI and the only All-Star Game selection of his career. He also finished 16th in the MVP voting that season. And that was all as a shortstop. He was J.J. Hardy at the plate before anybody knew who that was, and more than 30 years before the Twins gave up on Hardy after one season.

1. Michael Cuddyer, Twins: Cuddyer gets the nod here because of his 32-homer season in 2009, his 109-RBI season in 2006, his ability to be one of the only things not to go horribly wrong in 2011 and his .338 career postseason batting average in an era that hasn't seen a lot of playoff positives.

If you would like to argue, we'd like to show you the evidence. No. 5 is the black hole of Minnesota sports numbers. Would you prefer Chris Kluwe, who wore the number up until this season for the Vikings? Donovan McNabb? Over with the Wolves, maybe Craig Smith? Or perhaps Pedro Munoz from the Twins? Andrea Lloyd Curry with the Lynx?

Did we overlook anyone? Remember, it has to be a pro athlete. We're all ears.

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