Minnesota Twins Induct “Magic Man” Michael Cuddyer
On Saturday night, the Minnesota Twins will induct Michael Cuddyer into the Minnesota Twins team Hall of Fame
The Minnesota Twins will be inducting two former members of the organization into the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday evening when former General Manager Andy MacPhail and former outfielder Michael Cuddyer receive the honor.
Puckett’s Pond contributor Nate Palmer examined the legacy of MacPhail on Wednesday. Tonight, we’ll look at Cuddyer.
In the midst of the team’s doldrums at the end of the 1990s, Michael Brent Cuddyer was drafted 9th overall by the Minnesota Twins in 1997 out of high school in Virginia. Due to old signing rules, Cuddyer did not sign in time to get any playing time in 1997.
Cuddyer opened his minor league career with Fort Wayne in the Midwest League, and he showed good gap power along with a blend of speed and power, along with plate discipline in 1998. He hit .276/.364/.451 with 37 doubles, 7 triples, and 12 home runs while adding 16 stolen bases and posting a 61/107 BB/K ratio. He was rated the #36 prospect in baseball by Baseball America after that season.
Cuddyer moved up to Fort Myers in the Florida State League in 1999. In a predominantly pitcher’s league, he hit .298/.403/.470 with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 16 home runs, 14 stolen bases, and a 76/91 BB/K ratio. He was bumped up to #18 overall among prospects in the Baseball America list after the 2000 season.
He spent 2000 in AA New Britain and repeated the level in 2001 before getting a late season audition at the major league level. He spent 2002 with Edmondton in AAA, hitting .309/.379/.594 with 16 doubles, 9 triples, 20 home runs, and 12 stolen bases, posting a 36/79 BB/K ratio over 86 AAA games before getting 41 games with the Twins at the end of the season. He was ranked as the #17 prospect with Baseball America after the 2002 season, his highest prospect ranking of his career.
Cuddyer’s athleticism and versatility allowed him to get a full time role in 2004, spending 48 games at second base, 43 games at third base, 15 games in the outfield, and 10 at first base (along with 5 at DH. Cuddyer would split 2005 between third base and the outfield before moving to the outfield primarily in 2006. Injuries cut his 2008 season short, but he responded with force in 2009, having arguably his best season as a Twin, hitting .276/.342/.520 with 34 doubles, 7 triples, 32 home runs, and even 6 stolen bases.
Cuddyer was the Minnesota Twins representative in the 2011 All-Star game. He is ranked 11th in Minnesota Twins history with 141 career home runs. 9th in doubles with 239, 11th in RBI with 580, and 28th in bWAR with 12.5 total in his Minnesota Twins career. He hit .321/.372/.473 in 22 playoff games with the Twins, hitting 2 postseason home runs.
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After the 2011 season, Cuddyer signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent. After three seasons, he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent after the 2014 season.
With the Rockies, Cuddyer was unable to stay healthy, something that was an issue in his final seasons with the Twins as well. In spite of missing time, he won the 2013 batting title with a .331 batting average. Overall, he hit .307/.362/.525 in 280 games over his 3 seasons in Colorado, posting 76 doubles, 6 triples, 46 home runs, and stealing 21 bases.
Cuddyer signed with the Mets, but after another injury plagued season with the Mets where he hit .259/.309/.391 with 18 doubles and 10 home runs, Cuddyer voluntarily retired, leaving an undisclosed amount of his 2016 salary behind in order to retire as he knew he was struggling to stay healthy.
Next: Twins offseason free agent plan
Cuddyer became known quickly for a hobby he developed as a boy, as he learned to do card tricks as a young boy. He would do card tricks and other magic tricks in the clubhouse to keep his teammates loose, something that he found was valuable during intense series or a losing streak.
To his credit, Cuddyer took his hobby and his platform as a major league ball player and used it to both entertain children who were in children’s hospitals and also to raise funds for charity.
Congratulations, Cuddy, and welcome to the elite club!