Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cuddyer is the consummate All-Star

By many statistical accounts, Michael Cuddyer is not one of the top tier players in the American League. The casual baseball fan is going to know little or nothing about Cuddyer when he is announced in front of the fans at Chase Field in Arizona next Tuesday. But for fans that follow the Twins, Cuddy's selection to the Mid-Summer Classic seems fitting for the man that has done it all during his time in Minnesota.

In the spring of 1997, the Twins selected Cuddyer as a shortstop with the ninth overall selection in the amateur draft. A long and winding road has brought him to his first ever MLB All-Star Game. He is the longest current tenured player on the Twins and that means he has seen his fair share of ups and downs along the way.

There have been many major events that have marked his career up to this point. His call-up in 2001 came in the days following the events of September 11th. He managed a double and a walk in three plate appearances at the Metrodome. In 2002, he was part of the last Twins team to win a series in the postseason. Being such a young player at the time, it probably never occurred to him that it would take so long to win another series in October. The middle years of the 2000's saw Cuddyer win the starting spot at 3B for the Twins. Eventually the team figured out this was not the right spot for Cuddyer and the outfield became his new defensive stomping grounds.

During the tenure of Cuddyer, two of the most exciting seasons were the 2006 and 2009 campaigns. In both of those seasons, the Twins used late season heroics to complete miraculous runs at division titles. It is not coincidence that both of these seasons are among the best offensive seasons that Cuddyer has amassed at the big league level. The 2006 season saw career highs in BA, RBI, R, DBL, OBP, and OPS. In the 2009 season, Cuddyer set career marks in HR, SLG, 3B, and he finished 21st in the MVP voting for the American League.

Cuddyer's eight seasons as a regular with the Minnesota Twins could be coming to an end as his contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2011 season. It seems very fitting that the man that has come to optimize the role of Mr. Twin will make a trip to the All-Star Game in what could be his final year in the Twin Cities. Cuddyer has meant a lot to the Twins organization and his work in the community has been well documented.

Cuddy will never be Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, or Jose Bautista. But for one night in July, he will be on the same field as these stars and he will be recognized in front of millions of fans as an All-Star. These baseball fans may never know all that Cuddyer has done but Twins fans know...

And that might be all that Cuddyer needs.

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