The Minnesota Twins had significant success in the 1960s, and that era has been well-represented in the Hall of Fame already, but in spite of less overall success in the 1970s and 1980s, the team had players that certainly deserved recognition.
A Minnesota native, big righty Dave Goltz was drafted by the Twins in 1967 and made his debut with the team in 1972. He would go on to be one of the most consistent members of the rotation over the 1970s.
Goltz’s best season was 1977 when he finished 6th in the AL Cy Young voting, even though he led the league in wins, with 20, and threw over 300 innings.
Over his 8-year Twins career, Goltz won 96 games, with a 3.48 ERA over 1,638 innings.
With family background in the game (father Roy Smalley, uncle Gene Mauch), Smalley was always highly regarded for his baseball “smarts” around the game. When he came to the Twins in 1976, he took over as the starting shortstop, and in 1979, he made his one All-Star game in what would be arguably his best season, hitting .271/.353/.441 with 24 home runs, 94 runs, and 95 RBI.
He was traded in 1982 to the New York Yankees, and he would return to the Minnesota Twins in 1985, though due to the presence of Greg Gagne, Smalley spent more time at DH, where he was the starter in 1987 on opening day for the Twins.
Smalley really spans the 1970s and 1980s nearly evenly with 5 games played difference between his time with the Twins in the 70s and his time with the team in the 80s. Overall, in 10 Twins seasons, he hit .262/.350/.401 with 110 home runs.
A small, but gifted, player from Venezuela, Tovar came up with the Twins in 1965. He’s known for being one of the few guys to play all 9 positions in one game, but Tovar was an extremely valuable player for the 1960s Twins.
Tovar received MVP votes in five seasons with the Twins, he was the primary starter at second base for one season, third base for two seasons, center field for two seasons, left field for one season, and right field for one season, and that flexibility was a huge benefit for the Twins in putting together their roster.
He put up a career line of .281/.337/.377 with 38 home runs and 186 stolen bases over 8 seasons, only striking out 307 times in nearly 1,100 games.
Next we’ll look at players from the 1990s