C: Mark Salas, 1985
Stats: .300/.332/.458, 51 R, 20 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 18/37 BB/K
The Twins have had a number of players who had impressive seasons behind the plate, but Salas’ 1985 seems to have disappeared among the names of guys who had a productive season. What is really impressive is that Salas was a Rule 5 pick before the 1985 season, so the Twins were “forced” to keep him on the roster, yet he ended up having his largest amount of playing time in his 8-year MLB career, with 120 games played and 382 plate appearances.
1B: Rich Reese, 1969
Stats: .322/.362/.513, 52 R, 24 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 23/57 BB/K
Reese struggled to break through with the Twins, but once he did, he was a productive first baseman and left fielder for a few years in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but 1969 was by far the best of his career. Reese played every year of his 10-year career with the Twins, signing back with the Twins in 1973 after the team lost him to the Tigers after the 1972 season.
2B: Rob Wilfong, 1979
Stats: .313/.352/.458, 71 R, 22 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 11 SB, 29/54 BB/K
A 13th round selection by the Minnesota Twins out of high school in California, Wilfong was primarily a backup and utility player outside of two seasons, and 1979 was by far the best of his two seasons as a full-time player in his 11-year career. Wilfong ended up leading the American League in sacrifices in 1979 with 25.
3B: John Castino, 1980
Stats: .302/.336/.430, 67 R, 17 2B, 7 3B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 7 SB, 29/67 BB/K
Castino is a guy who broke through and immediately played quite a bit, but flamed out quickly. He was the Twins' 3rd round selection in 1976, and when he got to the big leagues, he immediately was a starter, playing 100 games and coming to the plate 400 times every seasons until his final year of 1984 when he finally succumbed to back issues that bothered him through his entire career, ending his career at 29 years old.
SS: Leo Cardenas, 1969
Stats: .280/.353/.388, 67 R, 24 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB, 66/96 BB/K
An incredibly smooth defender from Cuba, Cardenas was a 4-time All-Star by the time the Twins acquired him away from the Cincinnati Reds in 1968. He was with the Twins for just three seasons, but he received MVP votes in two seasons, 1969 and 1971 and was an All-Star in 1971. However, his two other seasons were more impressive by the numbers that most followed at that time (more home run and doubles), so the brilliance of his all-around performance in 1969 has been lost to history to some degree.
Next: Forgotten Outfield