The Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame began in the year 2000 when they inducted former owner Calvin Griffith along with Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, and Kirby Puckett. Since then, one or two people (players or other Twins-related personnel) have been added each year. Last year, Camilo Pascual was named to the Twins Hall of Fame.
Recently, the Minnesota Twins put their online ballot for the 2013 Twins Hall of Fame. The ballot includes 18 former Twins players. Ten hitters and eight pitchers comprise the ballot. Today, I’m going to post some numbers for the hitters and the pitchers before I rank the candidates, 1 through 18. In the comments, let us know which former players you would vote for, and why. Then, go to the Twins website and make your actual votes.
Let’s take a look at the candidates.
THE STARTING PITCHERS
Let me again say that this ranking is mine. Each of you will likely switch some players around and although it could look similar, it could also look completely different.
#18 – Dan Gladden – OF – 1987-1991
Gladden came to the Twins before the 1987. He was the team’s leadoff hitter on the two Twins championship teams. He scored the World Series-winning run in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series after his hustle double. He was a solid left-fielder, but he was a leadoff hitter with a .318 on-base percentage. Maybe he can make the Twins Hall of Fame several years down the line for his radio work.
#17 – John Castino – IF – 1979-1984
Castino was the co-AL Rookie of the Year in 1979 along with Alfredo Griffin. Unfortunately, his career was shortened by back injuries.
#16 – Jeff Reardon – RH RP – 1987-1989
Like Gladden, Reardon also came to the Twins before the 1987 season. Although he posted a 4.48 ERA that season, it was such an improvement from The Ron Davis days that people thought it was good. He was actually much better in 1988.
#15 – Jim “Mudcat” Grant – RH SP – 1964-1967
Grant has done quite well for himself after his playing days with a career in music. He was also very good on the mound. He was a huge part of that 1965 World Series team when he won 21 games. He struckout pretty much no one, and he walked no one. He was also a pretty good hitter.
#14 – Brian Harper – C – 1988-1993
Harper came to the Twins as a journeyman before the 1988 season. He established himself as a very good batting average-hitting catcher with some doubles power. Although he refused to walk, he put together solid at bats. He was a key to the 1991 World Series team.
#13 – Dean Chance – RH SP – 1967-1969
Chance could probably be higher on this list, but he played for the Twins for just three years. He had a no-hitter, and he won 20 games in 1967. He was worth 12 WAR in just three seasons.
#12 – Eddie Guardado – LH RP – 1993-2003, 2008
Guardado’s overall numbers certainly don’t look great. He was not good as a starter his first couple of seasons. Although he earned the “Every Day” nickname, his first several seasons in the Twins bullpen were not successful. However, from 2001-2003, Guardado did a tremendous job as the Twins closer. His ‘stuff’ was not all that impressive, but he was all guts.
#11 – Larry Hisle – OF – 1973-1977
Hisle is another guy who did not spend a lot of time with the Twins, likely because he played so well he priced himself out of Mr. Griffith’s comfort zone. He posted hi 15.8 WAR in just four seasons.
#10 – Tom Brunansky – OF – 1982-1988
“Bruno” came to the Twins from the Angels as a 21-year-old who had just made his big league debut. He joined the other young Twins who came up in 1982 and provided the nucleus for that 1987 team. He represented the Twins in the 1985 All Star game. He was quite durable in his time with the Twins, and although he didn’t hit for average, he averaged over 28 homers a season from 1983 through 1987. He is now the Twins hitting coach.
#9 – Dave Boswell – RH SP – 1964-1970
Boswell is best known for his 1969 fight in Detroit with manager Billy Martin, but he also won 20 games during that season and was a solid performer for the Twins. He actually threw hard and unlike most pitchers from that era, he wasn’t afraid to try to miss bats. Boswell passed away this past June.
#8 – Al Worthington – RH RP – 1964-1969
Worthington was the Twins’ closer during the pre-closer era. He actually came to the Twins in 1964 as a 35 year old reliever. He debuted with the New York Giants in 1953, and he was just a 5th or 6th starter and long reliever for parts of seven seasons. He was in the minor leagues in 1961 and 1962 before resurfacing. However, once he got to the Twins, he was a dominant reliever for five years. He didn’t post an ERA over 2.84 until his final (age 40) season.
#7 – Roy Smalley – SS – 1976-1982, 1985-1987
Back in the 1970s, shortstops were supposed to be just good glove little guys. Smalley was the Twins shortstop during his first stint in the organization and provided 25-30 doubles and 18-20 home run power. He came back to the Twins as a part-time player in 1985 and ended his career with the 1987 World Series champion team. He now is an analyst for the Twins on Fox Sports North.
#6 – Kevin Tapani – RH SP – 1989-1995
Tapani came to the Twins from the Mets in the Frank Viola trade. He put together several solid, innings-eating seasons. He was kind of Brad Radke before Radke as he walked hardly anyone. His career season was 1991 when he was 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 244 innings.
#5 – Cesar Tovar – IF/OF – 1965-1972
Tovar was a player who could do it all. He played everywhere during his time with the Twins, and not just in the 1968 game in which he played all nine positions. From 1968-1971, he was a well-above average player. He played every day (and even played 164 games in 1967). He led the lead with 204 hits in 1971. He led the league in 1970 with 36 doubles and 13 tripled. He stole 186 bases during his time with the Twins.
#4 – Shane Mack – OF – 1990-1994
As I wrote last week, the former Rule 5 pick is one of the most underrated players in Twins history. A bust with the Padres, Mack became one of the best outfielders in baseball during his first years with the Twins. His 130 OPS+ shows just how much better than league average he was for that entire time frame. He did it all. He hit for average, got on base, showed power, stole bases and played great defense.
#3 – Corey Koskie – 3B – 1998-2004
Speaking of underrated, the Manitoba native put up some very good numbers during his time with the Twins. He came up to the Twins as a project, a defensive liability at third base. Through hard work, he became one of the better defensive third basemen in the league. He had some power, and he took tremendous at bats.
#2 – Dave Goltz – RH SP – 1972-1979
The Minnesota native got to live a dream of playing for his home-state team. Goltz didn’t strike anyone out, certainly not unusual in that era, but he also had good control. He won 20 games in 1977 when he also threw 303 innings. From 1974-1978, he never posted an ERA over 3.67, and his best ERA was 2.49 in 1978. The innings caught up to him. After leaving the Twins, he fought arm problems and only had one more season in which he threw more than 90 innings.
#1 – Chuck Knoblauch – 2B – 1991-1997
By the numbers, Knoblauch is clearly the best player on this list. The 1989 first-round pick had an incredible debut in 1991. He was the AL Rookie of the Year that season and was an ideal top-of-the-order hitter for the World Series championship team. He was a tremendous defensive second baseman who, if not for Roberto Alomar, would have won several gold glove awards. He became the team’s leadoff hitter and his .391 on base percentage. He stole 276 bases. He eventually added some doubles power. Things got a bit weird for Knoblauch and his career after he was traded to the Yankees, but Knoblauch is one of the greats in Twins history.
So there you have my thoughts. I would probably cast a vote for my #1-5 choices, but it would be in this order. What do you think? Cast your vote in the Comments and then on the Twins site.
Be sure to check out the transcript from last night's Live Chat with Aaron Gleeman on Twins Daily. If you want to do a Twins podcast, John and Aaron let you know how to get started.