Sometime next spring, Nick Punto and Kyle Lohse will receive World Series rings. If there were any justice in this world, they would each have a double handful of them from when they played on the Twins. Instead, they had to earn theirs with the Cardinals.
Punto was a useful utility guy for the Cards when he wasn’t hurt this season, compiling a .388 on-base percentage and playing his usual stellar defense. His performance at the plate wasn’t so solid in the playoffs. In 15 postseason games (six each in the World Series and LCS, and three in the NLDS), Punto went six for 35 (.171) with three RBI. While he played in all but one game of the World Series, he only collected three hits (all singles), but he walked five times, leading to a bizarre .214/.421/.214 slash line.
Like Punto, Lohse played well during the season but wasn’t as good in the postseason. He was 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in the first 162 games. In the postseason he was 0-2 with a 7.81 ERA. In 12.2 innings pitched, he gave up 18 hits and 11 earned runs. Lohse made one World Series start, in Game 3. Lohse breezed through three innings, but he couldn’t get an out in the fourth. He faced four men, and three came around to score in the biggest slugfest of the World Series, a 16-7 Cards win.
Lohse and Punto are the latest Twins to win a championship, but they’re not the only ones. The 2010 Giants and the 2009 Yankees somehow managed to win it all without the help of any former Twins. But most of the other championship teams this century have had at least one:
J.C. Romero was a very important bullpen arm for this squad. In 59 regular season innings, he struck out 52 and earned a respectable 2.75 ERA. Romero made it into four of the five World Series games, and he didn’t allow a single run in 4.2 innings versus the Rays. In the process he notched two wins.
2007 Red Sox
As you probably recall, David Ortiz was, and still is, on the Red Sox. In the 2007 World Series against Colorado,
Ortiz hit .333. Somehow, the Rockies managed to prevent the super-slugger from going deep at Coors Field, as he was held without a homer in the Red Sox sweep. The Angels weren’t so lucky. In the 2007 ALDS vs. Los Angeles, Ortiz had a three game slash line of .714/.846/1.571! Sure, it was a small sample size, but how often to you see a guy have a 2.418 OPS in ANY series?
While you almost certainly recall Ortiz being on this team, you might have forgotten about another former Twin: Bobby Kielty. Kielty, who the Twins traded away in 2003 for Shannon Stewart, was a bit player for the ’07 Sox. He had only one at bat in the World Series, but he certainly made the most of it. In the eighth inning of Game 4, with the Red Sox up 3-1, Kielty pinch hit for the pitcher slot. He hit a homer off future Twin Brian Fuentes for a crucial insurance run. Boston ended up winning 4-3, so Kielty turned out to be the game winner.
Romero was also on the 2007 Red Sox, but he was released in June of that season before signing with Philly. He had to wait another year for his ring.
No former Twins graced this roster, but future Twin Sidney Ponson was on the team before the Cardinals came to their senses and released him in July. He signed with Minnesota the next year.
2005 White Sox
Beloved former Twin A.J. Pierzynski brought his Pollyanna-like attitude to the ’05 Sox clubhouse. Pierzynski was a hot hitter in the playoffs. His .444/.545/1.333 line in the ALDS wasn’t as impressive as Ortiz’s two years later, but it was close.
Joe Crede, who went on to spend one injury-filled season with the Twins, was a major contributor to this squad as well.
2004 Red Sox
This team had a lot of Twins connections. Ortiz played on this edition of the Sox as well, and he hit .400 with 5 homers and 19 postseason RBI. Most memorably, Big Papi also ignited the dramatic Red Sox ALCS comeback with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning of Game 4.
Doug Mientkiewicz was traded from Minnesota to Boston before the trade deadline that year. He didn’t hit well for Boston, going just .215/.286/.318 in a handful of games. Mientkiewicz entered all four World Series games as a defensive replacement. He only had one at bat, but he did catch the last out of the clinching game. What happened next was just weird. He kept the ball, and when the team asked for it back, he refused. The Sox sued, and eventually reached a deal with Mientkiewicz to send the ball to the Hall of Fame. Red Sox fans, being incredibly reasonable and not at all violent, sent death threats to Mientkiewicz and his family during the controversy.
The same trade that brought Mientkiewicz to Boston also brought future Twin Orlando Cabrera. O-Cab was an important defensive component of the Sox title run, and he hit .379 in that epic ALCS against New York.
Finally, Jason Varitek should get some mention here. He never played for the Twins, but not for lack of opportunity. Minnesota drafted the tough as nails catcher with the 21st overall pick in 1993, but he chose to finish college instead.
The Marlins are another Series winner with a ton of Twins connections. Remember Chad Allen? The outfielder played with the Twins from 1999 through 2001. In 2003, he had 25 plate appearances for the Marlins, but he didn’t make it onto the postseason roster.
Mark Redman did make the cut. He was a staple of the Marlin rotation, going 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA. He had some trouble in the postseason, giving up 13 runs in 17 innings. He got shelled in the World Series against New York. He started Game 2 and gave up four runs before being lifted in the third inning.
It’s the future Twins that stand out from this team. Mark Redmond, who gets the award for being the Major Leaguer with the most similar name to Mark Redman, was a backup catcher for the Fish as he would be for the Twins three years later. He had only one World Series at bat and no hits.
Luis Castillo was one of the stars for the Marlins. He hit .314/.387/.391 that year and stole 21 bases . Castillo, who was traded to the Twins for the 2006 season, became a footnote in baseball history in the 2003 NLCS. He’s the guy who hit the foul ball that Steve Bartman deflected away.
Current Twin Carl Pavano was on the 2003 Marlins team. He won 12 games and pitched 201 innings in his usual workhorse-like fashion. He was a beast in the playoffs, though, allowing only three runs in 19.1 innings. Pavano dominated the Yankees in Game 4 of the World Series, lasting eight innings and allowing only one run, but he got a no-decision. Pavano’s participation in that Series makes him the only current Twin with a World Series ring.
Finally, Rick Helling, who signed with the Twins in 2004 but never played, appeared in 11 games for Florida that year.
There were no former Twins on the 2002 Angels or the 2001 Diamondbacks, but there was one on the 2000 Yankees. Chuck Knoblauch, an upstanding citizen who was even better-liked than Pierzynski, was on this team. He hit .283 for the Yankees in the regular season, but just .100 (1 for 10) in the World Series.