Thursday, May 19, 2011

Creating My List of All-Time Top 5 Twins Players

Twins Legends at the Inaugural Game for Target Field (Photo: Star Tribune)
On Tuesday night, Seth Stohs of asked me an interesting question on his podcast that I helped to co-host. He asked myself and a caller, "Who are the top-five Twins players of all time?" Seth posted his list and a look at some responses from his Facebook account.  He also posted the story at the Twins Centric site for the Star Tribune. Make sure to read through the comments to see who others think should be in the top five. 

This was a tough question to answer without putting some thought into it. There are many players that jump to the forefront of Twins fans minds. The retired numbers of the Twins are a good place to start. Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, and Bert Blyleven would all be worthy candidates to be part of this list. There have been other faces that have formed this franchise over the years and each of them could be considered for inclusion on this list. 

To start creating my list I dug deep into my 2011 Twins Record and Information Book. I was looking for trends through the batting records and the pitching records. 

Who should be at the considered the best player in the history of the franchise? Here's a look at the top three in a variety batting and pitching statistics across the 51 year history of the Twins.

Twins Batting Records
Batting Avg: Carew, Puckett, Mauer
Runs: Puckett, Killebrew, Carew
Hits: Puckett, Carew, Oliva
Total Bases: Puckett, Killebrew, Oliva
Doubles: Puckett, Oliva, Hrbek
Triples: Carew, Guzman, Puckett
Home Runs: Killebrew, Hrbek, Oliva
RBI: Killebrew, Hrbek, Puckett

Twins Pitching Records
Wins: Kaat, Blyleven, Radke
ERA: Chance, Merritt, Perry
Games Started: Kaat, Radke, Blyleven
Complete Games: Blyleven, Kaat, Goltz
Shutouts: Blyleven, Kaat, Pascual
Saves: Aguilera, Nathan, Guardado
Innings Pitched: Kaat, Blyleven, Radke 
Strikeouts: Blyleven, Kaat, Radke

Besides hitting and pitching, it is also important to consider defensive abilities. Here are the top three players that have won Gold Gloves with the Twins:
Kaat (11), Hunter (7), Puckett (6)

Overall, that is quite the collection of star Twins players that have compiled record after record for the franchise. Let's take a look at how many times each player appeared on the lists above (only multiple appearances):
Puckett: 8
Kaat: 7
Blyleven: 6
Killebrew: 4
Carew: 4
Oliva: 4
Radke: 4
Hrbek: 2

After looking at all of this information, it was still a challenge to compose my list. Here is the countdown of my top players.

5. Jim Kaat- One of the best pitchers to play for the Twins in their history. He spent most of his career with the Twins and that places him ahead of Blyleven. The amount of Gold Gloves he was able to accumulate is still outstanding to see. He is right near the top in most of the major pitching categories, so it seems fitting that he is on this list.

4. Tony Oliva- It is amazing to think what Oliva would have been able to accomplish were it not for the injuries that plagued the end of his career. He is still high on the lists of many of the major power hitting categories for the Twins (HR, DBL, Hits, Total Bases). He also was awarded a Gold Glove in 1966. 

3. Rod Carew- Carew's placement on this list is hard to argue. He is the franchise leader in batting average and triples. He is also second all-time in hits and third all-time in runs scored. His base-running ability was also an asset that set him apart from some of the other players on this list. With the passing of Killebrew, he becomes the greatest living Twins player. 
Check back tomorrow as I debate who should be number one? 

Puckett vs. Killebrew

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