Puckett’s Pond faces off two notable Minnesota Twins players and you decide which one was greater
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Puckett’s Pond is enlisting your help in deciding who the greatest Minnesota Twins in history are at each position. Eventually we’ll square off each position against the others and wind up with the greatest Minnesota Twin, as selected by you. The first position we’ll be selecting is catcher. We’ll only be counting literal Minnesota Twins and not the pre-1961 Washington franchises. Players also will need 700 PAs as a Twin to qualify. We ask you to consider the player based solely on his time as a Twin and at the position specified. We’ve faced off George Mitterwald and A.J Pierzynski. Our second catching match up is between Earl Battey and Brian Harper.
Battey was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1953. He made his debut in 1955. He spent five seasons in Chicago and was little used. Chicago decided to part ways with Earl and traded him to the Washington Senators. It was a big mistake. Battey was a top ten MVP vote-getter and won a Gold Glove. The Senators moved to Minnesota the next season and the good times kept rolling for Battey. He was an all-star 4 of his 7 seasons in Minnesota, won two more Gold Gloves, and was top 10 in the MVP vote two more times. His best season with the Twins came in 1963 when he slashed .285/.369/.476, hit 26 home runs and provided excellent defence. A thyroid condition forced him into early retirement and he played his last game in 1967. Battey passed away in 2003 at age 68.
Battey was one of the top catchers of the 1960’s. The Twins were contenders throughout his tenure and won the pennant in 1965. He had a .766 OPS, 14.3 bWAR/18.4 fWAR and is second among Twins catchers all time with a 45.3 defensive runs above average mark.
Harper was drafted by the California Angels in 1977 and made his debut in 1979. He played minimally for the Angels, Pirates, Cardinals, Tigers and A’s before signing with the Twins in 1988. He was the backup that year but from 1989 to 1993, Harper was the Twins’ primary catcher. Harper’s best season with the Twins was 1989 when he slashed .325/.353/.449 and posted 2.9 fWAR. He backstopped the Twins to a World Series title in 1991. He signed with the Brewers in 1994 and played his last game with the A’s in 1995.
Harper was proficient offensively and defensively. As a Twin, his OPS was .773 and had a 17.4 defensive runs above average mark. He posted a 13.4 bWAR/13.3 fWAR in 2691 PAs.
Who was the greater Twins catcher? Have your say:
Feel free to leave your reasoning in the comments. Check back here for the rest of the match ups in round one and to see who moves on