The Minnesota Twins are just 71 days away from opening day in Baltimore. As we near that day, we will tap into Twins history related to each number as we get closer!
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until opening day on March 29th in Baltimore.
The 1991 Minnesota Twins World Championship team had an impressive group of players. However, few people remember that among all of those excellent players, the position player who had the highest bWAR on that season was not Puckett, Hrbek, Knoblauch, or Davis, it was Shane Mack. It is his all around game that we feature today.
Mack’s skill set
A number of people who remember Shane Mack remember his excellent ability to put the bat to the ball, and that was certainly true, as he hit .309 in his 5 years with the Twins.
Others remember his power to all fields, and that is certainly true. Mack tallied 119 doubles, 24 triples, and 67 home runs in his time with the Twins, to the tune of a .479 slugging percentage (which ranks him 6th all-time among Twins players with 500+ games in the uniform).
Still others remember his excellent defensive work in right field, and while defensive metrics today don’t exactly agree on whether he was truly an excellent outfielder or not, he contributed a full 1.0 dWAR in that 1991 season.
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What often goes neglected is the speed that Mack utilized in the game. While he wasn’t the most incredibly successful base stealer (67.7% career success rate, 68.3% with the Twins), he was an incredibly impressive base runner. His base stealing is what we are mentioning here, as he stole 71 bases over his 5 seasons with the Minnesota Twins.
Mack never did top 30 steals in a season, but much like Cristian Guzman would show in the early 2000s, speed and base running skill aren’t always measured by the number of stolen bases one accumulates.
As the above video shows, Mack often used excellent cutting on the edges of the bases and routes between bases to take an extra base on a play and be a constant threat to pitchers who had to keep him close, worried that a single could score him from first base with his excellent base running and his speed.
His best single season for the Twins in steals was 26 in 1992, and his best season for triples was 8. He did not have another 20-steal season as a major leaguer.
The 1994 strike really did a number on Mack’s career. He went overseas to Japan, and when he came back in 1997, he was 33 years old, and while he could still hit, he was more quickly broken down as older bodies in the game tend to have happen, and he was out of the game after the next season.