Reviewing the Twins Hall of Fame Ballot

The Twins Hall of Fame ballot came out a couple weeks ago, so if you haven’t voted yet, check it out. If you don’t know how to vote, allow me to provide a helpful explanation on all of the candidates.

One note on my votes. Yes obviously means I’m voting for the player this year. If I say no, that means I don’t think the player should ever be in the team Hall of Fame. Maybe means that I might vote for him in the future, but not right now. I think if we choose more than one or two players per year, the HOF will fill up with some marginal players pretty quickly, so some of these guys will just have to wait.

Dave Boswell, P. 8 seasons with Twins, 67-54, 3.49 ERA. My vote: No.

Boswell was a very competent pitcher, and he had one very good year in 1969. But he was never the staff ace, and his stock fell fast, to the point that he was cut by the team at age 26. Also, it’s hard to vote for a guy who got in a fight with Bob Allison and his manager.

Tom Brunansky, OF. 7 seasons, .250/.330/.432, 163 HR, 432 RBI. My vote: Maybe.

Bruno’s 9th place standing on the Twins home run list is safe now that Michael Cuddyer, who was 22 behind him, has left the team. He was a key piece of the 1987 Championship team, and his trade to the Cardinals in 1988 ushered in a 19 year curse that prevented any Twin from topping 30 homers in a season. He’s on the cusp of the Twins HOF. If he can get Rochester to hit well, that’ll put him over the top.

John Castino, 3B. 6 seasons, .278/.329/.398, 34 3B, 41 HR. My vote: No.

Castino won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1979. He followed in 1980 with one of the lamest accomplishments in team history, when he led the Twins with a meager 13 homers. Sorry, I just don’t think Castino did enough in his career to warrant induction.

Dean Chance, P. 3 seasons, 41-34, 2.67 ERA, 504 strikeouts. My vote: No.

Chance was good in 1967 and 1968, but can you really put a guy in the Twins HOF if he only played three years with the team? I say no. Instead, he should get an honorable mention for one of the most amazing batting stat lines in history. In 1967 he had 3 hits in 108 at bats for a .033 batting average!

Dan Gladden, OF. 5 seasons, .268/.318/.382, 116 stolen bases. My vote: Maybe.

Gladden has a big lead in the fan voting so far. If he gets in, it won’t be based on his stats, though they were better for the 80s than they look today (a .318 OBP definitely wouldn’t cut it for a lead-off hitter in today’s game). His case is based more on his work as a radio announcer and two dramatic World Series moments: hitting a grand slam in 1987 and scoring the winning run in 1991.

But let’s be honest, if you’re voting for Gladden, none of that matters. It’s his team record for Most Glorious Mullet that is carrying him at the ballot box.

Dave Goltz, P. 8 seasons, 96-79, 3.48 ERA. My vote: No.

This is the second time in three days that Goltz’s name has found its way onto the pages of Puckett’s Pond. He was a solid, reliable pitcher for the Twins during a forgettable period in team history. He just isn’t an exciting enough player to make me want to vote for him, though.

Mudcat Grant, P. 4 seasons, 50-35, 3.35 ERA. My vote: No.

Grant’s HOF case with the Twins is based on a single season: 1965, when he led the AL with 21 wins and helped carry the Twins to their first World Series. But two years later he fell to 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA, and the Twins traded him to the Dodgers after that..

Eddie Guardado, P. 12 seasons, 37-48, 4.53 ERA, 116 saves. My vote: No.

Unlike some of the others on this list, Guardado actually spent more than a decade with the Twins. For the last two of those years, he was a very solid closer. Prior to that, though, he was a not very dominant middle reliever. If you’re voting based on longevity, go ahead and pick Guardado. Otherwise, I don’t think he makes it.

Brian Harper, C. 6 seasons, .306/.342/.431, 48 HR, 346 RBI. My vote: Maybe.

I wrote about Harper a few weeks ago, and I said he was the best free agent pickup in Twins history. He was also one of the best catchers (before Joe Mauer, you could argue that he was the best). His .306 batting average is second to Mauer among Twins catchers with 1,000 or more plate appearances.

Larry Hisle, OF. 5 seasons, .286/.354/.457, 87 HR, 407 RBI. My vote: Maybe.

Hisle was one of the best hitters in the American League during his time with the Twins. He had an OPS+ of 127 in that time. If he had a couple more years like that in Minnesota, I think he would be in the Hall of Fame right now. As it is, only his short tenure with the Twins keeps me from voting for him.

Chuck Knoblauch, 2B. 7 seasons, .304/.391/.406, 276 stolen bases. My vote ABSOLUTELY NOT.

If you vote based on stats alone, there’s no way you can exclude Knoblauch. His 35.7 WAR ties Mauer for 7th in team history. He is the team’s all time leader in steals, and only Mauer and Rod Carew have a higher OBP with the Twins than Knoblauch. But the Twins Hall of Fame is not a Twins Hall of Stats. A player’s likeability and character are at least as important, if not more so, in this local popularity contest. Not only was Knoblauch one of the most disliked players ever to be a Twin, he is also a person of low moral character. The PED era largely passed over the Twins, but Knoblauch didn’t miss his opportunity to use HGH. Later, he pled guilty to hitting and choking his common-law wife (proving that Chris Cook and the Vikings don’t have a monopoly on stupidity and violence).

PED usage is enough to disqualify any player from the Hall of Fame in my opinion. Spousal abuse is enough to disqualify any human being from ever having my respect. Knoblauch is a reprehensible human being, and this team should do everything it can to forget he was ever a part of it.

Corey Koskie, 3B. 7 seasons, .280/.373/.463, 101 HR. My vote: Yes.

Koskie is 11th all time in OBP and OPS (.836). Among Twins third basemen, only Harmon Killebrew and Gary Gaetti topped Koskie’s 23.3. He was also a wizard with the glove. The Twins let him go in 2005, and what happened afterward makes his case for the team HOF even stronger. Third base was manned by a parade of replacement level players until Danny Valencia came along in 2010. For his quiet dominance and the huge part he played in the Twins’ reemergence as a good team, I would vote for Corey Koskie for the Twins Hall.

Camilo Pascual, P. 6 seasons, 88-57, 3.31 ERA, 994 strikeouts. My vote: Yes.

Pascual has recently earned some popular support amongst Twins writers, and I agree with them. He was the team’s first ace. After seven seasons with the Washington Senators, Pascual followed his team west. As a Twin, Pascual won 15 games four times, topped 20 twice, led the American League in strikeouts three times, and led in shutouts and complete games twice apiece. 1963 was his best season, with 21 wins, a 2.46 ERA, and 202 Ks. He also took part in the 1965 pennant-winning team.

The Twins should take two steps to honor their 1960s era starting pitchers next season. First, they should retire Jim Kaat’s jersey. Second, they should put Pascual in the team Hall of Fame.

Jeff Reardon, P. 3 seasons, 3.70 ERA, 104 saves. My vote: No.

Another player with only three seasons as a Twin, Reardon made a big impact on fans while he was here. It certainly helped that he pitched the final inning of the ’87 Series. But he actually wasn’t a very dominant closer other than a very good 1988 campaign. Reardon also had some post-career legal troubles, but unlike Knoblauch, I don’t hold that against him because I think there were legitimate extenuating circumstances. Still, I think Reardon would have a better case for the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame (if the team still existed) than the Twins.

Roy Smalley, SS. 10 seasons, .262/.350/.401, 110 home runs. My vote: Maybe.

It’s kind of surprising, but Smalley’s stats rank him as the best Twins shortstop ever. His 22.9 WAR is the best total among shortstops, and his .750 OPS is number one by a big margin. a switch hitting shortstop with power is a rare commodity, so it’s too bad that Smalley was wasted on the terrible teams of the early 80′s. I’d vote for him, but as I mentioned above I don’t want to see more than one or two inductees per year. Smalley will probably get my vote next year.

Kevin Tapani, P. 7 seasons, 75-63, 4.06 ERA. My vote: No.

I liked Tapani as a pitcher, but he never kept up his performance from 1991, when he was arguably the best pitcher on the Championship winning staff. From 1992 through 1995 (his last year as a Twin), his ERA rose every year.

Cesar Tovar, UT. 8 seasons, .281/.337/.371, 45 3B, 186 stolen bases. My vote: Maybe.

Everyone remembers Tovar for playing all nine positions in a single game in 1968. But he did more than that. He led the AL in doubles and triples in 1970, and he led in hits in 1971. In 1967, he managed the seemingly-impossible feat of playing 164 games. He also received MVP votes in five straight seasons. Not a lot of MVP votes (he never finished higher than 7th in the voting), but it still says that people thought he was an important player. Again, I think Koskie and Pascual are the most deserving, but I’d vote for Tovar in the future.

Al Worthington, P. 6 seasons, 37-31, 2.62 ERA, 88 saves. My vote: Maybe.

In the late 1960s, the closer role wasn’t a very big deal; the art of the complete game wasn’t lost back then. But in 1964 the Twins hit the closer jackpot when they acquired the 35 year old Worthington from the Reds. Cincinnati probably thought he was washed up, but he turned out to have six good years left in him. In 1968, Worthington led the league in saves with a whopping 18. I’m more impressed by his 9.2 K/9 in 1966. The rest of the league averaged just 5.9. If you need to vote for a closer, pick Worthington over Reardon or Guardado.

If you don’t need to vote for a closer, though, Pascual and Koskie are the way to go.

Topics: Al Worthington, Brian Harper, Camilo Pascual, Cesar Tovar, Chuck Knoblauch, Corey Koskie, Dan Gladden, Dave Boswell, Dave Goltz, Dean Chance, Eddie Guardado, Jim Kaat, John Castino, Kevin Tapani, Larry Hisle, Minnesota Twins, Mudcat Grant, Roy Smalley, Tom Brunansky

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