Forgotten Seasons of the Past By Minnesota Twins Players

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 14: Lew Ford /
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LF: Lew Ford, 2004

Stats: .299/.381/.446, 89 R, 31 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 20 SB, 67/75 BB/K
The sad thing about Ford’s career is that so few remember the impressive journey that Ford took to the big leagues to even get his break. Once he finally did break through, the Twins had a need for a leadoff hitter, and they acquired a guy whose primary position was his position, so many felt it was due to Ford’s level of play. Ford had a tremendous year in 2004, playing in 154 games and coming to the plate 658 times. He even garnered MVP votes for his performance, but he would be phased out in 2005 and made a backup player in 2006 before being allowed to leave in free agency after 2007. For many of the era hollering “Lew” at the top of our lungs, even we did not appreciate just how excellent he was in 2004.

CF: Rich Becker, 1996

Stats: .291/.372/.434, 92 R, 31 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB, 68/118 BB/K
The Twins drafted Becker in the 3rd round of the 1990 draft (a draft that also brought the Twins Pat Meares and Eddie Guardado in the rounds after the first two), and his power/speed combo and excellent defense were actually the impetus for Kirby Puckett moving to right field, as Becker was intended to take over center field in 1994 before injury derailed those plans. He did grab hold of the position in 1995, but he was never the same player, and 1996 was certainly his best season before an okay season in 1997 and seeing the Twins trade him for another center field prospect after the 1997 season.

RF: Shane Mack, 1991

Stats: .310/.363/.529, 79 R, 27 2B, 8 3B, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 13 SB, 34/79 BB/K
Another example of an exceptional Rule 5 pick by the Minnesota Twins, Mack was drafted before the 1990 season, and by the end of the 1990 season, he had taken over a starting outfield position. Mack became a vital part of the Twins lineup, and many know him as a guy whose final numbers as a Twin place him among the top Twins, but his first full season as a starter got overshadowed by Brian Harper‘s big season, Kent Hrbek and Chili Davis knocking out home runs, Kirby being Kirby, and Chuck Knoblauch taking home the rookie of the year. If the strike had not happened, who knows how great Mack could have been with the Twins as he left due to becoming a free agent after the 1994 season and no agreement reached that would allow him to sign, leading to him leaving to Japan for 2 seasons right as he was hitting his peak stride as a player.

DH: Jason Kubel, 2009

Stats: .300/.369/.539, 73 R, 35 2B, 2 3B, 28 HR, 103 RBI, 56/106 BB/K
There has not been a better recent story of “what might have been” in the Minnesota Twins organization than Kubel. A gifted outfielder with speed and power to spare, Kubel hit a combined .352 between AA/AAA in 2004 before coming up to the major leagues and suffering a devastating knee injury. The injury would keep him out all of 2005, and his defense and speed were never part of his game again. Kubel was still able to work his way to the big league club, and in 2009, he had an exceptional offensive season, but on that 2009 Twins team, he was tied with Joe Mauer for 3rd on the team in home runs and his .300 average was only 3rd on his own team, allowing his season to go unnoticed by many.

Next: Forgotten Starters