Michael Cuddyer got into the habit of playing postseason baseball during his Minnesota years. He’s rekindled his love for October baseball this year in New York.
“I got to go [to the playoffs] six out of my first nine years” in the majors, the former Twins All-Star said. “And my last four years, I’ve lost 93-plus games. So this feels pretty daggone good.”
The Mets outfielder, who chose New York over a significantly bigger salary in Colorado last winter in part because he believed the Mets were more likely to win, came back strong after a midseason knee injury, batting .313 with an .819 OPS over the season’s final seven weeks to help his new team capture its first division title since 2006.
“I understand what this means to the city, to our fans, because I’ve been going through the same thing,” Cuddyer told mlb.com after the Mets clinched last week. “You just want a chance to play for a championship — that’s why we’re here. And if you don’t get that chance, and suddenly years have gone by, it gets pretty hard to watch others earn something you want so badly.”
Cuddyer will get that chance this month, and he’s not the only former Twins player who will. In fact, of the 42 former Twins who competed for another team in the majors this season, as many as a dozen could perform on the postseason stage in 2015, some of them with prominent roles.
R.A. Dickey, for instance, will be in the Blue Jays rotation, handed the ball in Toronto’s first postseason since 1993. Same for Francisco Liriano, the 31-year-old lefthander, if the Pirates survive Wednesday’s wild-card game against the Cubs. Cuddyer is a career .338 hitter in 22 postseason games, so he will be in the Mets lineup, while Kendrys Morales, who drove in more than 100 runs this season, bats fifth for the Royals.
Ben Revere has taken over in left field for the Blue Jays since being acquired in a trade-deadline deal, and Chris Colabello has had a career year for Toronto, turning in an .878 OPS, better than every current Twins player but Miguel Sano. And LaTroy Hawkins, who reached the World Series with Colorado in 2007, will take the final bow of a 21-year major league career in a postseason game, perhaps even another championship round.
Assuming the Astros reach the postseason, Park Center High grad Pat Neshek will return to the postseason for the fourth time, carrying a 2.89 ERA in 11 playoff games. And Carlos Gomez will have much attention on him, as he plays in October for the first time since the Brewers reached the NLCS in 2011.
Ironically, one former Twins player who won’t be playing this month is outfielder Delmon Young, who had reached the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. Young was released by Baltimore in June and never found another big-league job.
Players aren’t the only former Twins to watch for in the postseason, either. If the Pirates and Mets reach the championship series, check out that battle of third-base coaches, former Twins players both: Pittsburgh’s Rick Sofield vs. New York’s Tim Teufel.
Former Twins in 2015
Statistics through Friday
Player, team summary
Andrew Albers, Tor Made one relief appearance for Blue Jays but went 2-11 with a 5.70 ERA in Class AAA.
Scott Baker, LAD 5.73 ERA in two starts for Dodgers but 3.39 in AAA; groin injury ended season in July.
Grant Balfour, TB Cut by Rays after a month, tried comeback in AAA; velocity down, he opted out, likely retired.
Joe Beimel, Sea At 38, had another OK year as lefty specialist, but ERA jumped by two runs, to 4.17.
Craig Breslow, Bos So-so year in the bullpen, but made first career start by shutting out Orioles for four innings.
Drew Butera, LAA-KC Cut by Angels in May, defense got him a shot with Royals, where he has hit .200 — a career high.
Chris Colabello, Tor An .878 OPS with 14 homers, he has had stellar season in middle of baseball’s top offense.
Kevin Correia, Phi Made five midseason starts for Phillies, four of them bad, and was released; likely retired.
Michael Cuddyer, NYM Knee, wrist injuries made him part-time player; he’s had some big hits for playoff team.
Samuel Deduno, Hou Made nine appearances, two starts, but a hip injury and surgery ended season in May.
R.A. Dickey, Tor Fifth consecutive season of 200-plus innings, knuckleballer posted 3.91 ERA at age 40.
Pedro Florimon, Pit Steady defense earned him another look, but still can’t hit: 2-for-23 (.087) in majors.
Sam Fuld, Oak Batted .197 for a last-place team, yet his glove kept him in lineup for almost 120 games.
Matt Garza, Mil With 5.63 ERA, refused to pitch out of bullpen, then left team for year Sept. 16.
Carlos Gomez, Mil-Hou After two NL All-Star seasons, power dried up; Astros coveted him for CF range.
J.J. Hardy, Bal Played with torn rotator cuff, may have contributed to awful (.211, .246 OBP) season.
LaTroy Hawkins, Col-Tor Says his 21st MLB season is his last, and it’s a good one: 2.76 ERA in Blue Jays bullpen.
Liam Hendriks, Tor Found a niche as hard-throwing reliever: 71 strikeouts, 2.95 ERA in 64 innings.
Garrett Jones, NYY Released in July after .215 season in 57 games, he will be seeking a spring invite in 2016.
Francisco Liriano, Pit Still only 31, had another strong season (12-7, 3.38), including second 200-K year.
Kyle Lohse, Mil Free-agent-to-be lost spot in rotation by leading NL in earned runs allowed (99).
Jeff Manship, Cle On fourth team in four years, finally a breakthrough: astounding 0.93 ERA in bullpen.
Jason Marquis, Cin Another comeback try lasted nine mostly ugly starts: a 6.46 ERA and release in May.
Kendrys Morales, KC Royals received what Twins wanted: .847 OPS, 22 homers, 102 RBI as DH.
Justin Morneau, Col Hit .307 but injuries limited him to fewer than 50 games; will Rockies pick up $9 million option?
Joe Nathan, Det Whiffed Torii Hunter, only batter he faced in 2015; second Tommy John surgery may end career.
Pat Neshek, Hou Another stellar bullpen season for five months, then allowed runs five times in September.
David Ortiz, Bos Just keeps rolling: third straight season of 30-plus homers, 100 RBI, and joined 500-HR club.
Chris Parmelee, Bal Batted .219 in six-week look in majors, then broke forearm in August at AAA when hit by pitch.
A.J. Pierzynski, Atl Still productive at 38: caught 106 games, enjoying first .300 season since 2009.
Yohan Pino, KC Bounced between majors and Omaha, got into seven MLB games and wasn’t bad (3.26).
Jason Pridie, Oak Rewarded with September call-up for excellent season (.894 OPS) at AAA Nashville.
Wilson Ramos, Was Steady if unspectacular catcher, hit 15 homers despite worst offensive year of career.
Ben Revere, Phi-Tor Hit .300 for fifth straight year, his defense makes him good fit for powerful Jays.
Rene Rivera, TB Batting crashed to .179, still caught more than 100 games, emblematic of MLB catching shortage.
Denard Span, Was Three DL trips, including labrum surgery, limited pending free agent to 61 games.
Tim Stauffer, NYM Cut in June, resurfaced in Mets bullpen, but hasn’t gone well: five earned runs in 5⅔ innings.
Anthony Swarzak, Cle Lost long-relief job in May, found no MLB takers, wound up in South Korea.
Danny Valencia, Tor-Oak August waiver pickup found new home and had his best MLB season (.864 OPS).
Vance Worley, Pit Bounced from rotation, still OK (4.02) at filling long-relief, spot-start role.
Delmon Young, Bal Cut in June with .628 OPS, his six-year postseason streak is about to end.