Category Archives: History

Mount Rushmore of MN Sports

Alright, let's do this. Nibs dropped Lindsey Whalen as a suggestion for the MN Sports Mount Rushmore, and I find myself curious what others would come up with.

The rules are simple: you get 4 people (no less, no more). You can only use athletes who played for Minnesota teams (we'll keep out the Sid Hartmans and Bud Grants), but can include non-athletic factors in your decision (Kent Hrbek now advertises for a local company, Alan Page was a MN Supreme Court Justice!). This is not limited to athletes from Minnesota, though I think most people would agree that being from MN probably helps.

I'm gonna kick it off:

Whalen, KG, Dave Winfield, Mauer

(Wow, this was way tougher than I expected.)

One Man’s Opinion Of The Top 300 Twins Of All Time-Updated Through 2017

It is year 6 of putting my pet project on the WGOM site, SBG put it on his old site a few years before this. The Twins first playoff appearance in 7 years (kind of) leads to some movement on the list. Joe finally jumps TonyO for the #4 spot. Dozier follows up on his 2016 season with another great one to jump into the top25. Sano and Ervin enter the top100. Escobar, Buxton, and Rosario are poised to join them just outside (ranging from 117-125). On the strengh of mostly just some added longevity, Gibson joins the top150. Polanco and Kepler join the top200 and Grossman and Vargas make modest jumps from last year. Newcomers this year are Kintzler, Castro, and Berrios. I updated with Ervin's Cy Young votes and MVP votes and Gold Gloves for Buxton and Dozier.

Staying put (or even falling backward) are Perkins, Hughes, Danny Santana, and Ryan Pressley. Falling out of the top300 this year are Darrell Brown, Juan Castro, and Brent Gates.

I stole most of the idea from when Aaron Gleeman started his top40 list over a decade ago (book coming soon of the top50?) The below quote is his, and the rest is an excerpt from a book I put together at the 50 year mark. I’ve updated the list and stats through 2017.

“The rankings only include time spent playing for the Minnesota Twins. In other words, David Ortiz doesn’t get credit for turning into one of the best players in baseball after joining the Red Sox and Paul Molitor doesn’t get credit for being one of the best players in baseball for the Brewers and Blue Jays. The Twins began playing on April 11, 1961, and that’s when these rankings start as well.”

I used a variety of factors, including longevity and peak value. Longevity included how many years the player was a Twin as well as how many plate appearances or innings pitched that player had in those years. For peak value, I looked at their stats, honors, and awards in their best seasons, as well as how they compared to their teammates. Did they lead their team in OPS or home runs or ERA for starters or WPA? If so, that got some bonus points. I factored in postseason heroics, awards (gold gloves, silver sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs), statistical achievements (batting titles, home run leaders, ERA champs, etc), and honors (all star appearances), and I looked at team success as well. If you were the #1 starter on a division winning champ, that gave you more points than the #1 starter on a cellar dweller. I looked at some of the advanced stats like WPA, WAR (as calculated by fan graphs and baseball-reference.com), WARP (as calculated by Baseball Prospectus), and Win Shares (as calculated by Bill James). For hitters, I also looked at OPS and the old school triple crown statistics like batting average, home runs, stolen bases, and RBI (and not only where you finished within the AL in any given year, but where you appear on the top25 lists amongst all Twins in the last 50 years). For pitchers I looked at strikeouts, innings pitched, win/loss percentage, ERA as well as ERA+). If there was a metric that was used for all 57 years of Twins history, I tried to incorporate it. I tended to give more credit to guys who were starters instead of part time/platoon players, more credit to position players over pitchers (just slightly, but probably unfairly) and starters over relievers (and closers over middle relievers). There’s no formula to my magic, just looking at a lot of factors and in the end going with the gut in all tie-breakers. Up in the top10 I’m looking at All star appearances, Cy Young and MVP votes, batting average or ERA titles or top10 finishes, etc, and placement in the top25 hitting and pitching lists in Twins history as well. In the middle 100s, it’s more about who started a few more years or had 2 good seasons rather than 1 with possibly an occasional all-star berth or top10 finish in SB or strikeouts. Once you’re in the latter half of the 200s there are none of those on anyone’s resume, so its basically just looking at peak season in OPS+ or ERA+, WAR, Win Shares, and who started the most years, had the most at bats, or pitched the most innings. What the player did as a coach, manager, or broadcaster is not taken into consideration for this list, so Billy Martin, Tom Kelly or Billy Gardner weren’t able to make the top 300 since they were poor players and Frank Quilici and Paul Molitor didn’t improve his status due to his managing career. Feel free to pick it apart and decide in your opinion, who was slighted, and who's overrated.
Continue reading One Man’s Opinion Of The Top 300 Twins Of All Time-Updated Through 2017

Hall of Shame

This weekend the Twins will induct Michael Cuddyer (2001–2011) & Andy MacPhail (1984–1994) as the newest members of the club's Hall of Fame. This honor was first bestowed on five players—Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, & Kirby Puckett—and a former club owner in 2000.

MacPhail was the primary architect of the Twins' two World Championship teams, which had the potential to develop into a mini-dynasty had his boss Carl Pohlad given him slightly more latitude with payroll, particularly following the second trophy in 1991. MacPhail left the Twins in 1994 to take over the capsizing Cubs, and soon after Pohlad began issuing a string of threats to sell the team to an ownership group in a mediocre mid-Atlantic market (still without a team decades later), where it doubtless would have quickly withered in a minor-league ballpark under the heat from the Atlanta Braves dynasty to its south. True to form, a couple years later Pohlad conspired with his pal Bud Selig—so distraught over the loss of his beloved Milwaukee Braves that he hijaked the Seattle Pilots—to take a payout from MLB and contract the Twins. I doubt that is mentioned in his Twins Hall of Fame bio.

Apart from MacPhail and Pohlad, four other executives have been inducted, a somewhat restrained number given the franchise's Brezhnevesque fetishization of internal stability in its front office, to the point of systemic intellectual stagnation. These are:

Calvin Griffith, the owner who relocated the franchise to Minnesota, and whose considerable baseball savvy was only trumped by his racist grudges & motives.

George Brophy, general manager of the Minneapolis Millers until the club folded in advance of the Twins' arrival; he was promoted to the majors in Minnesota and eventually presided over the club's entire farm system, developing a prospect-rich pipeline that won it all two years after he retired.

Jim Rantz, who succeeded his mentor, Brophy, and ran the farm system through thick & thin for twenty-seven years.

Tom Mee, tridecennial PR man, uneven official scorer, and holder of various other titles, none more singular than "First Twins Employee*" (*non-player personnel, of course).

Cuddyer, the Twins' first round draft pick (9th overall) in 1997, will be the 20th player inducted by the Twins. He joins real some real Hall of Famers, some Very Good-ers who rightfully claim legendary status in Minnesota, and a couple guys with notable careers but dubious credentials. Unfortunately for Cuddyer, this last group describes his own Minnesota curriculum vitae. By position & rWAR with Minnesota, these players are:

C: Earl Battey
1b: Kent Hrbek
2b: Rod Carew
3b: Harmon Killebrew, Gary Gaetti
SS: Greg Gagne, Zoilo Versalles
LF: Bob Allison
CF: Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter
RF: Tony Oliva
SP: Bert Blyleven, Brad Radke, Jim Kaat, Frank Viola, Jim Perry, Camilo Pascual
RP: Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado

The lone elected–but–uninducted player is Chuck Knoblauch, the brassy second baseman of the 1991 World Champions who has ridden his way into ignominy on waves of domestic assault, performance-enhancing drugs, and sewer-worthy social media activity. Twins fans pelted Knobby with hot dogs in 2001. The Twins disinvited him from the Hall of Fame in 2014.

We are fortunate to live at a time when public monuments to reprehensible conduct are being contested and removed. Knoblauch's anathematization suggests the Twins are willing to draw a line; the question becomes, should the club reconsider how it has celebrated:

Calvin Griffith, who was memorialized in bronze outside Gate 29 in 2010. This is the same Calvin Griffith who said of moving his club from the District of Columbia to Minnesota—"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. ... We came here because you've got good, hardworking, white people here."—and drove away the best position player in franchise history with his potent combination of bigotry & parsimony in the same night. If the Twins are an organization with a conscience, Griffith's statue should be razed before the end of the season. I am not the first to point this out. Perhaps I could make the first suggestion for its replacement: Carlos Paula, a Cuban right fielder who broke the Washington Senators' color barrier in 1954 and played for the Minneapolis Millers in 1957.

Carlos Paula presents an opportunity to consider the status of Torii Hunter, the Twin Cities media darling whose brand of casual bigotry seems to be amenable to the Pohlads, Dave St. Peter, and the new Derek Falvey-Thad Levine front office regime that retained him. Hunter once slandered black Latino players like his then-teammate Vladimir Guerrero, pioneers like Carlos Paula, and the most beloved Twin of all time, Tony Oliva, as race "imposters." One wonders what he makes of Miguel Sanó, the Twins' emerging slugger and a Dominican of Haitian & Cocolo heritage. During the press conference celebrating his return to Minnesota, Hunter indulged himself by publicly branding a reporter a "prick" four times for asking him to reflect on his freely-professed anti-gay rhetoric. The Twins had expressly brought Hunter back to mentor its talented, ethnically diverse next generation.

Carl Pohlad was a multi-billionaire who, as a young bank official, foreclosed on mortgagees during the Depression and then, at the end of his life, bilked his community for the beautiful ballpark the Twins call home. His manipulative, naked avarice will likely be forgotten thanks to the Vikings' new monstrosity, and in any case his kids aren't about to remove the statue of their parents from the ballpark's grounds. Hopefully a future owner of the Twins will find a more suitable place for that statue, perhaps overlooking the HERC.

Finally, there's the thorny question of what to do about Kirby Puckett, a phosphorescent talent whose effervescent personality made him a hero of a generation of Twins fans, and who, after his forced retirement, fell hard from atop the improbable mountain he scaled out of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. Frank Deford's "The Rise and Fall of Kirby Puckett" read like the kind of hit piece someone as misanthropic as Deford would relish writing, but looking away from the accusations it detailed is not an option, no matter the apparent glee with which they were related. Over a decade after Puckett's early death, many of us remain deflated as the Metrodome he electrified, uncertain how to address a man who did much good in the community and failed to live up to that standard in his private life.

There are four other non-player members of the Twins' hall, disparate talents unified by indelible personalities:

Herb Carneal, always and forever the stentorian Voice of the Minnesota Twins.

Tom Kelly, laconic, fungo-weilding skipper of both World Series Champions.

Bob Casey, public address announcer whose quintdecennial gig in Minnesota's pro ballparks barely outlasted how long he held the second syllable of "Kirby."

John Gordon, everyone's loquacious radio uncle who, in his later years, could make guys like Jason Tyner sound like Babe Ruth.

The gap between the number of club executives and people who shaped the games on the field and in fans' minds suggests a couple areas where the Twins Hall of Fame neglects the club's history.

Rick Stelmaszek's two visits to Minneapolis this season following his pancreatic cancer diagnosis have been bittersweet. Stelly's firing in October 2012 after 32 years of coaching struck me as particularly cold-blooded. Stelmaszek was not the GM who assembled a bullpen corps that included Brian Duensing, Jeff Gray, Matt Capps, Tyler Robertson, and Anthony Swarzak. Stelmaszek was a notorious conditioning taskmaster for decades; unpreparedness and ambivalence would have been completely out of character. Twins players across generations seem to love the guy. For his critical role on two World Champions and his decades of relationship & player development, Rick Stelmaszek should be in the Twins Hall of Fame while he is still among the living.

Wayne Terwilliger's tenure with the Twins coincided with Andy MacPhail's, but it was neither his first experience in the organization nor his first Minnesota go-around in professional baseball. Twig might be the embodiment of both Minnie & Paul. He played for the St. Paul Saints in 1952 and the Minneapolis Millers from 1954–1957. In between, he played for the Senators from 1953–1954. Jackie Robinson's understudy on the '51 Dodgers, Twig appears to have been out with an injury when Carlos Paula broke the Senators' color barrier at home on 1 September; Twig & Paula saw action as replacements in the first game of a double-header in Detroit on 12 September. They both met again in Minneapolis as starters for the '57 Millers. Twig joined the Twins in 1986 and is one of a handful of on-field personnel on both the '87 & '91 teams. After leaving the Twins (why?), Twig managed the St. Paul Saints from 1995–2002. I don't know much about Twig's personal life other than his WWII tour with the Marines (including Saipan, Tinan, & Iwo Jima), but not many non-owners get to spend over sixty years in professional baseball if they're jerks. Somebody could go ask Willie Mays for a character reference—he & Twig were teammates on the Giants.

I am not ready for Sue Nelson to retire, but I hope that the Twins will see fit to celebrate a woman who has had as much influence on the soundscape of Twins baseball as any player to knock out a home run, or any broadcaster whose voice rises in anticipation, meshing with the fans shouting a hip-hooray as the ball soars out of the field. Sue would be a fantastic addition to the Twins Hall of Fame.

The last of these is Halsey Hall. Halsey's the namesake of the Minnesota SABR chapter, and he was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame nearly thirty years ago, so this should be a relatively easy. If more proof of his merit was necessary, his status as an Twins' original—and easily the all-time most colorful—broadcaster, his longtime affiliation with the Minneapolis Millers, and his post-retirement tour as pre-game emcee at the old Met would be sufficient. And yet, with every year it seems less likely that Halsey will be elected to the Twins Hall of Fame. He retired from broadcasting in 1972 and died in 1977, so the current voters and younger fans likely couldn't care less about a loveable nut calling baseball games on radio signals that are probably passing into interstellar space.

But that's still a shame for the Twins. It's just not a Hall without Halsey.

Game 100: Brooklyn Dodgers at Los Angeles Senators

Los Angeles Senators

Celebrating 70 Years of Baseball in the City of Angels

All credit to "Tom" over at Ghosts of DC.

Griffith declared he has assurances from Los Angeles officials that a written proposal for transfer of the Washington franchise would be forthcoming before the Nats 5-man board of directors meets on Friday.
“I am sure we will have a Los Angeles offer to consider in addition to those received from San Francisco and Louisville,” Griffith said. “That is the word I received by telephone from Kenneth Hahn, Los Angeles county supervisor.”

Included in the Los Angeles proposal, Griffith said, would be guarantees of a stadium seating “at least 50,000, perhaps larger, with parking for 20,000 cars, and low stadium rental.”

The Louisville proposal offering use of the new Fairgrounds Stadium seating nearly 32,000, which could be expanded to 40,000, was made, Griffith said, by William Henry, Fairgrounds superintendent. It was accompanied by a letter from Kentucky Governor A. B. (Happy) Chandler.
The mayor of San Francisco authorized that city’s bid for the Washington franchise, Griffith said. It emphasized the availability of a $5 million bond issue, already passed, into which to build a stadium for the stipulated purpose of inviting major league baseball.

The negotiations and bidding war was heating up (by the way, Happy Chandler was also the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and a U.S. Senator). On Wednesday, October 17th, the Post reported the official offer received by the team.

Los Angeles officials yesterday telegraphed Calvin Griffith an offer of a new $11,000,000 stadium and appropriated $2,000,000 with which to buy out their minor league franchise in a new move to lure his Washington team to that city.

Griffith said he was disappointed at the County Board’s failure to spell out its proposal in complete detail for submission to the Friday meeting of the Washington Club’s board of directors.
“I’m not going out there to work out any plans,” said Griffith, president of the Washington club. “They are the ones seeking a franchise. We’re not.”

Griffith was non-commital on the question as to whether construction of a new, municipal stadium in Washington would be sufficient to keep the Nats in the Capital. “We’ll answer that question and a lot of others on Friday.”

The good news, albeit temporary, was that Griffith didn’t like the deal offered by Los Angeles. He ended up passing that year and the Senators would stay in Washington for the 1957 season.

After the 1957 season, L.A. successfully lured the Dodgers from Brooklyn with San Francisco pulling in their rival Giants. The Senators lost their negotiating position slightly and rebuffed an attempt by Minneapolis to bring them to town for the 1958 season.

Major League Baseball expanded after the 1960 season by adding a new franchise in Minneapolis. Still stuck in D.C. with an old stadium and lagging attendance, Calvin requested that his team swap with the new expansion team. The Senators would become the Minnesota Twins and Washington would get a new, even crappier Senators team, complete with a roster of unrecognizable players. The Twins would go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 World Series.

Maybe alternate history helps the current iteration of the club salvage a win & avoid a sweep. We'll see what Erv has for them tonight.

"With Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list with a lower back strain, manager Dave Roberts will insert righty Brock Stewart into the Dodgers' starting rotation."

"Stewart, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Dodgers' No. 10 prospect, will make his first start this season on Wednesday against the Twins..."

Source

1987 ALCS Champs’ Domecoming

I found this gem shortly after JeffA started his 1987 Rewind. This evening seemed like the appropriate time to share it. I didn't want to detract from Jeff's content, and in any case figured there were enough goodies that this would be worth its own post. Hope you don't mind, Chaps.

3 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 103 votes, average: 10.00 out of 10 (3 votes, average: 10.00 out of 10)
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November 21, 1998: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1998.

The Twins concluded a sixth-consecutive losing season in 1998 and began to finally embrace a full rebuild.   Relatively cheap veterans Greg Swindell, Bob Tewksbury, Mike Morgan, Otis Nixon, and Orlando Merced were all traded during the season or allowed to leave as free agents.  Paul Molitor finally retired.

The STrib's John Millea noted, "Don't be surprised if the 1999 season is Tom Kelly's last as manager of the team.  The payroll is getting smaller, the players are getting younger, and Kelly's patience continues to wear thin.  He is at his best when the clubhouse is full of veterans who have been through the wars and earned their stripes.  Kelly is not exactly the fatherly type when it comes to youngsters, and sometimes that has resulted in strained relationships that can hinder the ballclub's progress."

Well, that wasn't entirely true.  1999 wasn't Kelly's last season with the team, although the payroll did get smaller and the roster got younger.  Who knows how Kelly's patience wore.  The sentence about striped veterans is the type of non-factual, journalistic mumbo-jumbo that would make Ken Tremendous a cult hero within years.

On this date, Terry Steinbach had filed for free agency and the Twins were mulling whether to bring him back.  Their internal candidates were Javier Valentin and A.J. Pierzynski, and the team did not believe either was fully ready for the next season.  Still, the team had been disappointed with Steinbach's production behind the plate the previous two years.

Postscript: On January 4, the Twins finally re-signed Steinbach.  Despite being nearly ready, it would take Pierzynski two more years to become the starting catcher mainly due to some, um, maturity issues.  One wonders at the official number of "wars" Pierzynski has endured in his career.

Did You Know that David Ortiz played in 86 games, and Torii Hunter played in 6 games that season?  On the mound, Eric Milton started 32 games that year.  Hunter has been retired for one season, and Ortiz just retired.  Milton was just 105 days older than Ortiz, and just 122 days older than Hunter, but  has not played in a game since June 27, 2009 even though he earned more than $47 million in his career.

Did You Also Know that the winning pitcher in Milton's last game was King Felix?

Furthermore, Did You Know that the final hitter Milton faced was Junior Griffey?

Top 300 Twins of all Time: One Man’s opinion

It is year 5 of putting my pet project on the WGOM site, SBG put it on his old site a few years before this. Despite the worst record in 56 years of Minnesota Twins baseball, a few players did move up the rankings. Joe seems stuck for eternity between Oliva and Hrbek. He still needs one more decent year to crack the top4, but he's running out of time. Dozier rockets into the top30 on the strength of his outstanding 2016 season. Plouffe jumps 13 spots to 83. Sano jumps 39 spots to 123. Suzuki jumps 31 spots to #133 just ahead of his almost statistical equal (as a Twin) Terry Steinbach. All Star Eduardo Nunez goes from unranked last year all the way to 145. Ervin jumps over 100 spots to #156. Besides Nunez, other newcomers this year (that all are in the 250-300 range) are Grossman, Kepler, Buxton, Pressley, Polanco, Vargas

Staying put (or even falling backward) are Perkins, Hughes, Escobar, Danny Santana, Rosario, Gibson, Fien, Arcia, Milone

I stole most of the idea from when Gleeman started his top40 list years ago (book coming next year?) The below quote is his, and the rest is an excerpt from a book I put together at the 50 year mark. I’ve updated the list and stats through 2016.

“The rankings only include time spent playing for the Minnesota Twins. In other words, David Ortiz doesn’t get credit for turning into one of the best players in baseball after joining the Red Sox and Paul Molitor doesn’t get credit for being one of the best players in baseball for the Brewers and Blue Jays. The Twins began playing on April 11, 1961, and that’s when these rankings start as well.”

I used a variety of factors, including longevity and peak value. Longevity included how many years the player was a Twin as well as how many plate appearances or innings pitched that player had in those years. For peak value, I looked at their stats, honors, and awards in their best seasons, as well as how they compared to their teammates. Did they lead their team in OPS or home runs or ERA for starters or WPA? If so, that got some bonus points. I factored in postseason heroics, awards (gold gloves, silver sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs), statistical achievements (batting titles, home run leaders, ERA champs, etc), and honors (all star appearances), and I looked at team success as well. If you were the #1 starter on a division winning champ, that gave you more points than the #1 starter on a cellar dweller. I looked at some of the advanced stats like WPA, WAR (as calculated by fan graphs and baseball-reference.com), WARP (as calculated by Baseball Prospectus), and Win Shares (as calculated by Bill James). For hitters, I also looked at OPS and the old school triple crown statistics like batting average, home runs, stolen bases, and RBI (and not only where you finished within the AL in any given year, but where you appear on the top25 lists amongst all Twins in the last 50 years). For pitchers I looked at strikeouts, innings pitched, win/loss percentage, ERA as well as ERA+). If there was a metric that was used for all 54 years of Twins history, I tried to incorporate it. I tended to give more credit to guys who were starters instead of part time/platoon players, more credit to position players over pitchers (just slightly, but probably unfairly) and starters over relievers (and closers over middle relievers). There’s no formula to my magic, just looking at a lot of factors and in the end going with the gut in all tie-breakers. Up in the top10 I’m looking at All star appearances, Cy Young and MVP votes, batting average or ERA titles or top10 finishes, etc, and placement in the top25 hitting and pitching lists in Twins history as well. In the middle 100s, it’s more about who started a few more years or had 2 good seasons rather than 1 with possibly an occasional all-star berth or top10 finish in SB or strikeouts. Once you’re in the latter half of the 200s there are none of those on anyone’s resume, so its basically just looking at peak season in OPS+ or ERA+, WAR, Win Shares, and who started the most years, had the most at bats, or pitched the most innings. What the player did as a coach, manager, or broadcaster is not taken into consideration for this list, so Billy Martin, Tom Kelly or Billy Gardner weren’t able to make the top 300 since they were poor players and Frank Quilici didn’t improve his status due to his managing career.
Continue reading Top 300 Twins of all Time: One Man’s opinion

Updated one Man’s opinion of top300 Twins-55 years of numbers

Looks like this is year 4 of putting my pet project on the WGOM site, SBG put it on his old site a few years before this. A little movement from last year. Joe still can't quite catch TonyO. Hunter moves up a spot over Jim Perry. Perkins and Dozier jump up in the top60, Plouffe joins the top100, and Sano/Rosario/Hicks/Pelfrey/Milone/Ervin are new to the list with Sano/Rosario/Gibson new to the top200.

I stole most of the idea from when Gleeman started his top40 list years ago (forever unfinished right?) The below quote is his, and the rest is an excerpt from a book I put together 5 years ago. Some of it is outdated, but I’ve updated the list and stats through 2015.

“The rankings only include time spent playing for the Minnesota Twins. In other words, David Ortiz doesn’t get credit for turning into one of the best players in baseball after joining the Red Sox and Paul Molitor doesn’t get credit for being one of the best players in baseball for the Brewers and Blue Jays. The Twins began playing on April 11, 1961, and that’s when these rankings start as well.”

I used a variety of factors, including longevity and peak value. Longevity included how many years the player was a Twin as well as how many plate appearances or innings pitched that player had in those years. For peak value, I looked at their stats, honors, and awards in their best seasons, as well as how they compared to their teammates. Did they lead their team in OPS or home runs or ERA for starters or WPA? If so, that got some bonus points. I factored in postseason heroics, awards (gold gloves, silver sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs), statistical achievements (batting titles, home run leaders, ERA champs, etc), and honors (all star appearances), and I looked at team success as well. If you were the #1 starter on a division winning champ, that gave you more points than the #1 starter on a cellar dweller. I looked at some of the advanced stats like WPA, WAR (as calculated by fan graphs and baseball-reference.com), WARP (as calculated by Baseball Prospectus), and Win Shares (as calculated by Bill James). For hitters, I also looked at OPS and the old school triple crown statistics like batting average, home runs, stolen bases, and RBI (and not only where you finished within the AL in any given year, but where you appear on the top25 lists amongst all Twins in the last 50 years). For pitchers I looked at strikeouts, innings pitched, win/loss percentage, ERA as well as ERA+). If there was a metric that was used for all 54 years of Twins history, I tried to incorporate it. I tended to give more credit to guys who were starters instead of part time/platoon players, more credit to position players over pitchers (just slightly, but probably unfairly) and starters over relievers (and closers over middle relievers). There’s no formula to my magic, just looking at a lot of factors and in the end going with the gut in all tie-breakers. Up in the top10 I’m looking at All star appearances, Cy Young and MVP votes, batting average or ERA titles or top10 finishes, etc, and placement in the top25 hitting and pitching lists in Twins history as well. In the middle 100s, it’s more about who started a few more years or had 2 good seasons rather than 1 with possibly an occasional all-star berth or top10 finish in SB or strikeouts. Once you’re in the latter half of the 200s there are none of those on anyone’s resume, so its basically just looking at peak season in OPS+ or ERA+, WAR, Win Shares, and who started the most years, had the most at bats, or pitched the most innings. What the player did as a coach, manager, or broadcaster is not taken into consideration for this list, so Billy Martin, Tom Kelly or Billy Gardner weren’t able to make the top 300 since they were poor players and Frank Quilici didn’t improve his status due to his managing career.
Continue reading Updated one Man’s opinion of top300 Twins-55 years of numbers

Game 155: Twins 7, Tigers 1

And now we're down to one week left and the Twins are still in this thing. The Twins are still just 1 1/2 games back. Of course, it seems like they've been 1 1/2 games back for a couple weeks. They could be leading the wildcard after Tuesday's games. At this point in the season, anything can happen and the Twins can't be considered out of it until they're officially eliminated.

Look at 2009. The Twins were 3 games back with 4 to play and only 1 game left with the Tigers. The Twins went on win the division in an epic Game 163 in the final regular-season game in the Metrodome.

As for Sunday, the Twins did what they really need to do a lot of for the next week, which is score early and often. The Twins take pride in being resilient, but they really haven't shown that characteristic during games much. In fact, they haven't won a game in which they didn't score first since Sept. 5 in Houston, and that game ended with Byron Buxton making a sliding/diving catch on a line drive with the tying run at third and the winning run at second.

Fortunately, the Twins have been very good at scoring first as of late. They did so again Sunday with six runs in the second inning. It was the 14th time in the last 20 games the Twins have scored first. What was really nice to see was it started with the bottom of the lineup. The much maligned Kurt Suzuki got the Twins on the board first with an RBI single, then Buxton, getting a rare start, came up with two on and no outs. He attempted to bunt the first pitch in an obvious bunting situation, especially with a struggling No. 9 hitter at the plate. However, he got a slow curve on the next pitch and lined it into left-center for an RBI double. The top of the order kept the hit parade going to give Ervin Santana more than enough runs.

On Aug. 25, Santana was pulled in the third inning of an eventual 11-7 win over the Rays. His ERA at that point on the season was 6.05 for the pitcher who had been given the biggest free-agent contract in franchise history.  After that start, pitching coach Neil Allen put Santana through some drills to help him make an adjustment in his mechanics. Since then, he's been terrific. He's pitched at least 7 innings and not allowed more than 2 runs in his last 6 starts. The Twins have won 6 of those games. The one loss was when Kevin Jepsen blew the save with help from a bad decision on a throw by Aaron Hicks and then Paul Molitor went all pinch runner crazy and the Twins ended up losing to the Tigers in 12 innings.

Santana didn't look like he was as sharp as he's been, but his biggest problem was a high pitch count early in the game, but he still managed to get through 7 innings on 105 pitches, which is right where you want a starter to be at. He pretty much made it look easy once he got the big lead, and he might have gotten some help from the Tigers, who might find it hard to get motivated to make big comebacks in games that are essentially meaningless to them and their season.

If a team wants to go on a long winning streak, they need to find ways to win without constantly using their best relievers. On Sunday, Michael Tonkin was the only other pitcher used with him throwing the final two innings.

The fun part of the game was seeing several firsts. While Buxton's double early in the game was probably more crucial to the victory, it was nearly as exciting to see him hit his first major league home run late in the game. The fact that it came on a high fastball from a hard-throwing right-handed reliever made it even more exciting.

Miguel Sano finally found a ballpark big enough for him to get his first major league triple. He hit a rocket shot to right-center field to the deepest part of probably the biggest AL ballpark. What was even better is that it came with two outs in the ninth and with rookie Max Kepler on deck pinch hitting for Torii Hunter. Sano's triple extended the inning so that Kepler could get his first major league at-bat. He ended up striking out, but at least he finally got a chance to bat after sitting on the bench for a week.

Martin Luther King JR – I Have A Dream

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs

I know that this may seem like an easy out for the video of the day, but I'd never really listened to this speech. On the day that most* of us take off from work to celebrate the birth of MLK, I think it's only right to listen to his words, and to examine our relationship to injustice and prejudice. Today is a day to reflect, and a day to challenge long held beliefs, in an effort to effect positive change in our world through nonviolent intervention.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

If only we could all find a way to channel our feelings of injustice, of inequity, into such a positive, non-violent action for change.

*I work for an institution that believes MLK day isn't actually a holiday. I'm afforded two days off for Mardi Gras. Draw your own conclusions.

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