As the Minnesota Twins coming up on their 120th season, we look back at the five best first basemen in franchise history.
The Minnesota Twins are one of the oldest franchises in baseball, dating back to 1901, when they were the league bottom-dweller known as the Washington Senators. Since that time, the team has won three championships, six pennants, and eleven division titles.
It has also suffered through seven 100+ loss seasons, fourteen playoff defeats, and have lost over 1100 games to the New York Yankees. The team has had some really good seasons, and some really bad seasons. Throughout it all, there have been some excellent players who have carried the team.
These excellent players deserve some recognition , so Puckett’s Pond will be putting together a list of the top players at each position to get ready for the top 50 players of all time. In order to make it on this list, players need to have played over 400 games, been excellent on offense and defense, and played an important role for the team.
We started with the top 5 catchers in team history, so the next position we’ll go into is first base. The team has head several great first basemen over its almost one hundred and twenty year history, so let’s get started.
Years: 1998-2004 (7 seasons)
Key Stats: 643 G, 590 Hits, .275 BA, 43 HR, 266 RBI, 6.4 WAR, -2.1 dWAR, One Gold Glove
Doug Mientkiewicz was one of the Minnesota Twins who helped turn the franchise around in the beginning of the 2000s, helping the club avoid contraction and turn into a Division title winner three years running. He also was the No.1 reason the club beat the Oakland Athletics in 2002, leading the team in homers and RBI over the course of the series.
He was a solid first baseman over his seven years for the team, hitting .275 with 266 RBI over 643 games. His stats weren’t eye-popping, but he was a reliable bat for the team when they needed him. He didn’t have a lot of power, only hitting 43 home runs, but he was solid at a position where the Twins didn’t have a ton of stars.
His best skill was probably his defense. Mientkiewicz posted a -2.1 dWAR which is very good for a first baseman. First base is seen as an easy position and receives a lower grade. Mientkiewicz even won a Gold Glove in 2001, proving his skill.
Mientkiewicz never was a star, but his reliability, name, and clutch ability made him a bit of a fan favorite. He was traded away to the Boston Red Sox to clear a spot for Justin Mourneau, someone who we’ll get to later in this list.
Years: 1960-1966 (7 seasons)
Key Stats: 617 G, 92 HR, 270 RBI, .244 BA, 8.3 WAR, -1.4 dWAR, 1965 American League Pennant
Don Mincher was the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins at an important time for the team. Mincher manned first base for the last year in Washington and the first season in Minnesota, lasting through the team’s run to the American League pennant in 1965.
Mincher was a solid hitter for the Twins and Senators, hitting 92 homers and knocking in 270 RBI over his 617 games, but his best seasons came after he left the team, as he made two All-Star teams and finished his career with 200 home runs and a 22.9 WAR.
He compiled an 8.3 WAR over his 7 seasons in Minnesota (and Washington), but similar to Mientkiewicz, his main skill was defense. He fielding percentage improved almost every year he was with the organization and finished with a dWAR of -1.4 dWAR, best among franchise first basemen.
He may not have been as memorable as some of the other players on this list, but Mincher was a strong player who held down first in a transition period for the team. After that, he helped the team reach its first World Series in the new state.