Monday, July 15, 2013

Twins Best One-Time All-Stars

Sporting News had an interesting article up in the middle of last week, which looked at 20 memorable one-time All-Stars. There are going to be guys every season who make the All-Star team and won't be back for the rest of their careers. Especially with the new rules allowing the managers to add extra pitchers to the team if starters on the roster pitch on the Sunday before the break.

It sure seems like a lot of players end up on the roster and that might not necessarily be a good thing. But that is a different story for a different day.

There are plenty of players in the history of the Twins to make one All-Star appearance with the club. Hall-of-Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven made one All-Star appearance with the Twins. World Series hero Jack Morris also qualified for the Mid-Summer Classic while in Minnesota. Players like this would make other All-Star appearances with other clubs so this disqualified them from the following rankings.

Here are the top five players to make their lone All-Star appearance while being a member of the Twins.
1. Brad Radke: 45.6 Career WAR
There were some rough seasons during the career of Brad Radke and it seems like he should have made more than one All-Star team with the collection of players on his team. In 1998, Radke made his lone All-Star appearance. He wasn't having that great of a season but he was coming off of a 20-win season in 1997 and a third place finish in the Cy Young voting. Radke pitched the 4th inning of the game and he gave up one run on two hits with a strikeout and a walk. He was able to keep the ball in Coors Field so that was a plus on a night where there were multiple home runs.

2. Kent Hrbek: 38.2 Career WAR
During his first full season as a big league player, Hrbek was elected to the All-Star Game. It was the 1982 season and the Twins were still working their way back into contention. There were a lot of young players on the roster and Hrbek was hitting over .300 with some power. He was one of four first basemen on the roster and he was one of the last players to get into the game. With a man on first base and the AL trailing by three, Hrbek pinch hit in the top of the ninth inning. He hit a flyball to short center field and his brief All-Star Game career was over.

3. Roy Smalley: 27.8 Career WAR
Smalley never really put up the offensive numbers that would be worthy of putting him in the All-Star Game. His batting average was always low but he did have a higher slugging percentage. The 1979 season might have been one of his best as a professional. He played in all 162 games for the Twins and he would make his only career All-Star appearance. Smalley hit 24 home runs and knocked in 95 runs that season while playing good up he middle defense. He started the '79 All-Star Game at shortstop and he was the lead-off hitter for the AL squad. Smalley went 0-for-3 in the game with an intentional walk.

4. Scott Erickson: 24.9 Career WAR
After leaving the Twins, there were plenty of up-and-down moments in the career of Scott Erickson. He would pitch in some of the most important games of his life as a 23-year old pitcher on the Twins 1991 World Series squad. In that season, he tied for the league lead in wins and he finished second in the Cy Young voting. Jack Morris would start the '91 All-Star Game and Twins closer Rick Aguilera would be used as a set-up man. Erickson wouldn't get into the contest and he would never make it back to the Mid-Summer Classic.

5. Tom Brunansky: 21.7 Career WAR
In 1985, Brunansky wasn't exactly in the middle of one of the best seasons of his career. He ended up hitting .242/.320/.448 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI. His batting average was lower than his career average but he continued to hit for power as a corner outfielder. Since the 1985 All-Star Game was being played in Minneapolis, Brunansky became an important figure for Twins fans to follow. He would compete in the first ever home run derby even though he wouldn't emerge as the victor. In his one plate appearance in the game, Brunansky hit a groundout to the shortstop.

Just missed the list...
Eric Milton: 15.8 Career WAR
Milton and fellow Twins pitcher Joe Mays were both elected to the 2001 All-Star Game. A decent first half of the season was probably what got Milton elected. His ERA was under 4.00 and he had eight victories to his name. The second half of the season would be a little rough as his ERA ballooned to 5.01. Mays would make an appearance in the '01 All-Star Game but Milton was left on the bench even though he hadn't pitched in a game for six days.

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