Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 5, MVP and Rookie of the Years

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 24: Infielder Justin Morneau
FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 24: Infielder Justin Morneau /

The Minnesota Twins are just 7 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the return of the game we love, let’s look at the #5’s place in team history.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will be highlighting numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

As we sit five days away from the start of spring training we have the opportunity to celebrate the number 5 in a fun way. Today we get to remember how Twins players have five times won two awards which are coveted by every player that puts on a baseball uniform, Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

Rookie of the Year

The Twins first Rookie of the Year award came at the hands of none other than Tony Oliva in 1964. That season he hit .323/.359/.557 and scored 109 runs, had 217 hits, 43 doubles, and 32 home runs. He wasn’t only the best rookie but nearly the best player in baseball and finished fourth in MVP voting.

In 1967 Rod Carew brought the Twins their second ROY award. He slashed .292/.341/.409, 8 home runs, 22 doubles, and 7 triples. Carew also made his first of eighteen All-Star teams. Then in 1979, third baseman John Castino took home the honor after hitting .285/.331/.397 with 5 home runs and 13 doubles.

In one of the more memorable ways, Chuck Knoblauch took home ROY and a World Series ring in the same season. On his way to the World Series, Knoblauch hit .281/.351/.350 and added 24 doubles, 6 triples, and 25 stolen bases. Then most recently in 1995, Marty Cordova took home the award for himself. In that season he hit .277/.352/.486 and had 16 home runs and 46 doubles while primarily playing left field.

Most Valuable Player

Most Valuable Player is the most sought-after personal award for a professional baseball player. The first member of the Twins to achieve the honor was shortstop Zoilo Versalles. In that World Series year, Versalles hit .273/.319/.462 and led the leagues in both doubles (45) and triples (12).

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In 1969 it was Harmon Killebrew‘s turn. It may be because I have grown up in an era where the Twins just haven’t had a true power hitter, but Killebrew’s 1969 stats just seem absolutely incredible. It starts with his league-leading 49 home runs which helped him on his way to his also league-leading 140 RBIs. Killebrew got there by way of a .276/.427/.584 slash line. By the way, that .427 OBP led the league as well.

If we thought Killebrew had a good season in 1969, Rod Carew in 1977 was differently amazing. There almost wasn’t a category he didn’t lead the league in but the list looks like this: .338 average, .449 OBP, 1.019 OPS, 128 runs, 239 hits, and 16 triples. 1969 was also just one of seven batting champion seasons for Carew.

That brings us to the M & M boys. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The recently retired Morneau took home the award in 2006. He hit .274/.363/.516 with 30 home runs, 31 doubles and 100 RBIs. It was Mauer’s turn in 2009 as he slashed .365/.444/.587 and had a 1.031 OPS, leading all of those statistical categories. He also hit his career high 28 home runs and added 30 doubles.

Next: Is Mike Napoli helping the Twins recruit Yu Darvish?

Sometimes in the grind of rooting our team on to do great things we lose sight of some of the greatness that has happened. So with 5 days until spring training it has been fun to remember these 5 Rookie of the Year and 5 Most Valuable Player awards achieved in Twins history.