Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 11, Chuck Knoblauch
The Minnesota Twins are just 11 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.
As someone born in the late ’80s there are two players that were distinctly the first players I cheered for. The first is Kirby Puckett. That is probably a no-brainer for anyone around for his playing days. The second is today’s former Twin who I would sit and try to emulate his batting stance for hours, number 11 Chuck Knoblauch.
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Knoblauch is a Texas native and was drafted by the Twins out of Texas A&M in the first round of the 1989 draft, 25th overall. The second baseman would make his major league debut on April 9, 1991, and would go on to be a significant contributor to that World Series winning Twins team. In that rookie season, Knoblauch hit .281/.351/.350 and added 24 doubles, 6 triples, and stole 25 bases. Knoblauch would run away with the American League Rookie of the Year award receiving all but two first-place votes.
The rookie stepped his performance up a step as the Twins started the playoffs. In the ALCS he hit .350/.435/.450, hit two doubles and stole two bases. Knoblauch continued his solid performance into the World Series as he contributed a slash line of .308/.387/.346 and four stolen bases. One of the more memorable plays of Knoblauch’s was his faked double play that caused Lonnie Smith to not score on a play that he should have easily done so.
After the 1991 season, Knoblauch would continue to perform well for the Twins. He would make the All-Star game four times as a member of the Twins. From 1994 to 1996 he would hit over a .300 average. The speedy infielder would also record some impressive stolen base numbers with his highest total coming in his last season as a Twin with 62 stolen bases. That tops the Twins record books for stolen bases in a season.
What many Twins fans will remember most about Knoblauch is how he left the team. Knoblauch would demand a trade, and that trade would be granted in February of 1998. The Twins would send their second baseman to the New York Yankees for Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Danny Mota, and cash. Minnesota would at least bring back two All-Star players in the trade, but fans would never forget the feeling of betrayal. The hurt came out in boos and at its pinnacle even an assortment of debris thrown in Knoblauch’s direction while manning the outfield.
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Even among the hard feelings, Knoblauch owns some of the best seasons by a Twins middle infielder alongside baseball great Rod Carew. That is why he takes center stage as we hit 11 in today’s countdown and remember number 11, Chuck Knoblauch.