Minnesota Twins induct 2 time Cy Young award winning pitcher Johan Santana as the 31st member of the Twins Hall of Fame Saturday Night
Watching former Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana pitch was a thing of beauty. Santana had the most wicked change up most hitters had ever seen. Teams feared him. Even teams that generally have the Twins’ number, like the Yankees.
For anyone reading this who is too young to have watched Santana pitch, do yourself a favor; YouTube him. Now imagine watching him on the hill as the Twins’ ace and you’ll understand why we were so excited.
Rumor has it, former pitching coach Bobby Cuellar taught Santana his signature pitch, which could baffle even the best power hitters. While we’re on the subject, can we get someone on bringing Cuellar back? According to his Wiki page, he’s still coaching. You’re telling me the bullpen can’t use him right now? I mean, anyone who watched baseball in the early 2000’s definitely remembers how filthy Santana’s stuff was, how is this even a discussion?
Anyway, we’re way off topic now. The point is, Johan Santana can throw. Watching him every fifth day was a dream come true. He was easily the best pitcher in baseball during his tenure with the Twins. He was selected during the Rule 5 draft in 2000 and spent several outstanding seasons in Minnesota.
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He was the Cy Young in 2004 and 2006. He was a three time All Star. He won the AL Gold Glove Award in 2007. In 2006, he led the AL in wins, strikeouts and ERA, winning the pitching triple crown. One of his career highlights in 2007 was a 17 strike out game against the Rangers.
Injuries Derail an Almost Certain Cooperstown Career
Santana’s career was also marred by injuries. Following the 2007 season, Santana was traded to the Mets. He suffered from shoulder injuries during the next 3 seasons. In 2011, he battled through injuries the entire season, pitching only in the minors. The following year, he threw the Mets’ only no hitter against the then-World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. In that outing, he threw 134 pitches and the Mets drew criticism for not pulling him given his injury history. The critics might have had a point.
Following his historical outing, he made only 10 more outings in the big leagues. His ERA ballooned to 8.27 and he went an abysmal 3-7. He was signed to some minor league contracts but was never brought up again. His career is considered over although Santana himself has never made an official announcement. He was on the Cooperstown ballot this year but failed to receive enough votes, meaning he won’t be back next year.
Over the years, Santana has expressed regret about not ending his career on his terms. There was talk early on in his career about Cooperstown. Having it end the way it did must have been devastating. Even though Cooperstown may never come calling, Twins fans have considered Santana a Hall of Famer for over a decade.