All-Time Greatest Twins Players

18 May

On Tuesday morning, the Minnesota Twins and baseball lost a hero. As you know by now, Harmon Killebrew passed away after his short fight with esophageal cancer. After reading and hearing stories about the man that “Killer” was, it almost makes us minimize how great of a baseball player he really was.

How often since the news came out Friday morning that Killebrew was in his final days did we hear players say, “I want to be like Harmon Killebrew,” or “Today, I lost my hero?” 

Those aren’t words uttered just any time that there is a death. With Killebrew, it all appears to be completely genuine. The respect he had for his teammates, the fans and the game of baseball was something that people could count on. It is clear that the respect was mutual.

Honestly, on Tuesday I wanted to blog about some of the negatives surrounding the Twins. This 2011 team has been very frustrating. I was ready to start some articles looking forward to 2012. And then came the news of Killebrew’s passing, and all of the stories from teammates and fans alike. All I could think was, “I want to be like Killer.” 

I want to be respectful. I want to stay positive. I still want the Twins to play better and win, but I don’t want to be that guy that starts questioning the player’s, coach’s or front office’s desire to win and compete when I don’t know the full story. I don’t want to bash players who are obviously still trying their best, and still struggling. I want to believe in people, and I think that’s OK.

That was Harmon. Yes, he was competitive and wanted to win as much as anybody, but he did it with a style, a class, a composure.

I will have my days, like any Twins fan or blogger or blog commenter, when the frustration gets the best of me. But I want to be like Harmon. To paraphrase (or steal) a slogan, as I’m blogging and thinking about writing something negative and spiteful and malicious (Which I never think is fair or right), I will ask myself, “What Would Harmon Do?”


Last night, I posted on my Twitter and Facebook pages a Poll Question: I asked people to let me know how they would rank the Top 5 Twins Players in their MInnesota history. In other words, over the past 51 seasons, who would be your top 5, and how would you rank them one through five. I had an answer in my mind, but I was curious what others would think.

Obviously this is not a scientific poll. It’s a fun poll, and for me it was particularly fun to read many of the names that were mentioned. Some may vote purely statistically. Some may choose other ways of making their selections. That’s just fine. If nothing else, it’s a nice look back at some of the greats in this franchise’s history. Ironically, when I made my charts today to show the results, there were exactly 50 people who contributed their thoughts. A pretty nice sample. I can’t help but think that if you grabbed 50 random people around Target Field or in the press box or at the Mall of America, they may come up with a fairly similar list.

The results were very interesting. There are guys at the top of this list that are quite obvious, but would the top two be in the same order if this question was asked one year ago, or one year from now?

But it was very interesting to see some of the names mentioned in the four and five spots. The best part about this type of blog is that there is no right or wrong answer (although those that put Nick Punto in the #5 spot probably should be required to explain!).

With that, enjoy this ranking, and in the comments below, discuss and add your lists too. (Note – I used a system with 5 points for a 1st place vote, 4 points for a 2nd place vote, … , and 1 point for a 5th place vote.) 

FOR THE RECORD – My vote (which I did NOT include in the chart below) would go: 1.) Kirby Puckett, 2.) Harmon Killebrew, 3.) Rod Carew, 4.) Tony Oliva, and 5.) Jim Kaat. What’s your vote?

Name 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
Harmon Killebrew 145 60 18 0 0 223
Kirby Puckett 95 96 9 8 0 208
Rod Carew 10 28 75 16 1 130
Tony Oliva 0 8 21 40 7 76
Kent Hrbek 0 4 9 4 13 30
Joe Mauer 0 0 9 8 13 30
Bert Blyleven 0 4 0 10 3.5 17.5
Johan Santana 0 0 3 6 1.5 10.5
Torii Hunter 0 0 3 2 0 5
Jim Kaat 0 0 0 0 5 5
Nick Punto 0 0 0 0 3 3
Chuck Knoblauch 0 0 3 0 0 3
Bob Allison 0 0 0 2 1 3
Justin Morneau  0 0 0 2 0 2
Frank Viola 0 0 0 2 0 2
Shane Mack 0 0 0 0 1 1
Gary Gaetti 0 0 0 0 1 1
Total 250 200 150 100 50  

Feel free to discuss!


14 Responses to “All-Time Greatest Twins Players”

  1. ERolf Pleiss May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    1. Kirby Puckett
    2. Paul Molitor
    3. Harmon Killebrew
    4. Bert Blyleven
    5. Michael Cuddyer

  2. JimCrikket May 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    I had to stay away from Twins blogs/tweets during the work day yesterday in order to have any hope of remaining productive at work. I knew if I let myself even start to read the Killebrew articles/posts, I’d never be able to focus on the job, so I waited until I got home to do that.

    But for the record, my top 5 (and this is coming from a “kid” of the 1960s) would be:

    1. Killebrew (last year, this year, next year… doesn’t matter. I saw him and I saw Puck. There’s just no contest in my opinion)

    2. Carew (Puckett fans may have a better case here, but again, Carew was simply a better all around ballplayer than Puckett)

    3. Puckett

    4. Oliva (without the injuries or with today’s medical technology, Oliva would have been in the Hall of Fame. Probably should be there anyway)

    5. This is tough… I want a 5, 5a and 5b because there are three pitchers that I really have trouble choosing between. I would probably go with Kaat, but Blyleven would be very, very close and Santana would slip behind them purely because his tenure doesn’t measure up.

    • mike wants wins May 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      In looking at the stats on Fangraphs, it really isn’t close between Puckett and Carew at all. Carew is much better.

  3. AW May 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    1. Killebrew
    2. Puckett (I agree that Carew may have been a better all-around ballplayer, but I give Puckett a bump up for helping bring our 2 World Series).
    3. Carew
    4. Tony O.
    5. Hrbek (he gets a nod from me for his tenure, affable nature, and also the 2 World Series).

    This is a great poll, and it’s fun to read answers when you learn when the voter grew up – – for me in the 1980s. Except for Punto, there really can be no wrong answers!

  4. Maija May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Myn unscientific subjective list:
    1. Kirby Puckett
    2. Harmon Killebrew
    3. Rod Carew
    4. Tony Oliva
    5. Brad Radke

    Although, ask me tomorrow and it might be different.

    • Maija May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

      What I think could get REALLY interesting, is asking what everyone’s top 5 favorite players who do NOT have their numbers retired would be… I wonder if there would be any real consensus?

  5. darin May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Could the 3 people who voted for Nick Punto please find the highest bridge and please jump off of it for the good of humanity. Frank Viola so low on the list also bothers me. I am shocked that there were no votes for Ron Davis and Everyday Eddie…
    One last thing I’m not sure about #6 Mr MVP, Batting Champ/King of the DL should be so high.

  6. jb May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    1. Killebrew
    2. Puckett
    3. Oliva
    4. Carew
    5. Take your pick. The rest are simply in a lower tier or spent a disproportianate amount of time in a different uniform. If I could I would put TK at 5, he had just as much or more for the 2 world series as anyone in my opinion.

  7. mike wants wins May 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #


    I think the last two would be higher if they had stayed healthy.

    As for staying positive, I agree, we should not question the motivation of the players, or even the effort (mostly). But I don’t think that should stop people from discussing their talent/skill. But, like you, I am trying hard to be more like Killebrew right now.

  8. Nils May 19, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    1. Nick Punto
    2. Nick Punto
    3. Nick Punto
    4. Nick Punto
    5. Nick Punto

  9. Large Canine May 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Nick Punto making any “greatest” list now makes this article/list a total joke. The only possible worst person to be on the list would be Butera. Imagine going to a Rolling Stones concert and seeing me up on stage singing Karoke. Well, that is how I feel watching Butera. .108! Really? Just because you wear a MLB uniform and receive a MLB paycheck doesn’t make you a MLB ball player.

  10. Marv Gustafson May 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    It’s not even close, Harmon Killebrew is the greatest Twin. There were others with more talent, but Harmon is a classic example of humbleness before an adoring public. He carried himself with dignity and grace. He has represented the Twins organization with class for more than fifty years. The rest of my top five would be Puckett, Carew, Kaat, and Oliva… with honorable to Mr. Blyleven

  11. Bill Klein May 21, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    1. Killebrew
    2. Puckett
    3. Carew
    4. Oliva
    5. Santana

    I find it interesting that a guy like Zoilo Versalles didn’t even get mentioned. He won an MVP! Eventually, Mauer will replace Santana on this list and even though Tony-O is my favorite all time Twin, unless he somehow finds a way into the HOF somebody else (Mourneau, Miguel Angel Sano?) may replace him.

  12. danube darin May 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    1. Puckett – 2 WS wins, would’ve had 3000 hits if not for injury along with 15+ AS, 10+ gold gloves & .300 avg.
    2. Killebrew
    3. Carew
    4. Tony O.
    5. Johan Santana – close call with Bert. Johan had more Cy Youngs & AS games though.

    Bert, Morneau & Mauer are the next in line. I could see M & M moving as high as 4/5 depending on what they accomplish from here on out. Bringing home a WS title definately help.

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