Thursday, August 14, 2014

1994 Twins: What Could Have Been

On August 12, 1994 baseball went away. 

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the end of that season, a season that could have included many historical events. ESPN wrote earlier this week about Tony Gwynn's chase for .400, Matt Williams hunting down Roger Maris' home run record, and the Montreal Expos possible trip to the World Series. All of these events didn't take place because of the 1994 strike.

The 1994 Twins also missed out on what could have been some important moments. Minnesota wasn't on their way to a World Series because the team was 14 games out of first place and seven games under .500 when play was halted. There were still other memorable moments taken away.

Kent Hrbek's Farewell Season
The Twins last game before the strike was on August 10th and this turned out to be the final game in Kent Hrbek's career. The slugging first baseman surprised a lot of fans by retiring as a 34-year old but he had accomplished all that he wanted to in the game. He had two World Series rings and he got to play his entire career in his home state. There had been some injuries over his last couple of seasons and he was ready to spend more time with his family. The strike took away the opportunity for fans to acknowledge all he had done in a Twins uniform. The Metrodome faithful would get this opportunity in 1995 when his number was retired but it would have been nice to salute him while he was still wearing a Twins uniform.

Kirby Puckett's Shortened Career
Puckett would play his last game in 1995 and he was in the midst of a very good offensive season just one year earlier. His 112 RBI were tops in the American League and only four behind Jeff Bagwell for the highest total in baseball. He was also near the top of the league in a variety of other offensive categories. He was in the top 10 in extra base hits (5th), doubles (5th), total bases (6th), and hits (7th). His defensive game wasn't too bad either as he led the leagues in assists as an outfielder. He would finish seventh in the MVP voting and won his sixth and final Silver Slugger award. No one could foresee the end of his career being a little over a year away and it would have been nice to have Puck on the field for a few more games.

Shane Mack's Leaderboard Numbers
Following the 1994 season, Shane Mack wouldn't put on a big league uniform until the 1997 season as he would be playing professionally in Japan. This takes nothing away from the kind of numbers he was producing for the Twins in 1994. The slugging outfielder was in his last year in Minnesota and he sat in the American League's top 10 in a variety of categories when the strike hit. He ranked seventh in batting average (.333), seventh in slugging percentage (.564), and eighth in OPS (.966). He did all of this while being limited to 81 games There was plenty of season left to play after August and it would have been interesting to see where Mack would have finished by the year's end.

What else would you have liked to see from the 1994 Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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