Minnesota Twins: The Top 50 Players in Franchise History: 20-1
By Otto Johnson
Minnesota Twins Top 10
The second to last of the Top 50 Lists focuses on the Minnesota Twins (and two Washington Senators) who are franchise icons but just couldn’t crack the top four in team history. All of these players are either in the Hall of Fame, the Twins Hall of Fame, or both. We’ll start with Number 10.
No. 10: Minnesota Twins’ Torii Hunter 1997-2007, 2015 (12 Seasons) 1373 G, 1343 H, 739 R, 214 HR, 792 RBI, 128 SB, 354 BB, .268 BA, 26.4 WAR, 6.2 dWAR, Three Top-25 MVP Finishes, Two-Time All-Star, 7 Gold Gloves
Positional Ranking: No. 2 Center Fielder
Fan favorite and beloved member of the organization, Torii Hunter is one of the most recognizable faces in organization history. His trademark smile and lovable attitude made him a hero for Twins fans and a star in the league.
A defensive marvel with seven Gold Gloves as a Twin, Hunter was a consistent 20 homer-20 steal threat that was just fun to watch. He was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2016 and has an outside shot to become a professional Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2021.
No. 9: Washington Senators’ Sam Rice 1915-1933 (19 Seasons) 2307 G, 2889 H, 1466 R, 33 HR, 1044 RBI, 346 SB, 680 BB, .323 BA, 52.9 WAR, -3.5 dWAR, One Top-25 MVP Finish, 1924, 1925, 1933 AL Pennant, 1924 World Series Champion, Hall of Fame
Positional Ranking: No. 2 Right Fielder
The greatest hitter in Senators history (Killebrew excluded), Sam Rice earned the fourth highest WAR in Senators history of 52.9. His name is all over the record book as well. Rice is the franchise leader in at-bats (8,394), runs scored (1,466), hits (2,889), singles (2,194), doubles (479), and triples (183).
Rice also ranks third in batting average (.323), second in stolen bases (346), and eleventh in walks (680) while helping the franchise win three AL Pennants and win the 1924 World Series. The Hall of Famer is well worth the inclusion at ninth on the All-Time list.
No. 8: Minnesota Twins’ Kent Hrbek 1981-1994 (14 Seasons) 1747 G, 1749 H, 903 R, 293 HR, 1086 RBI, 37 SB, 838 BB, .282 BA, 38.6 WAR, One Time All-Star, 2 Top-25 MVP Finishes, 1987 and 1991 World Series Champ, ROY-2
Positional Rank: No. 1 First Baseman
We’ve officially reached the point where the Twins started retiring numbers, including Kent Hrbek‘s Number 14. An inaugural member of the Twins Hall of Fame class in 2000, Hrbek is another local hero here, as his run with the Twins included two World Series victories and 293 homers (second in team history).
Born and Raised in Minnesota, Herbie was and is one of our own and that made him all the more important to the team. He was a stellar first baseman, and Twins fans recognized him as such. Plus his legendary pulling of Ron Gant off the bag lives on forever:
No. 7: Minnesota Twins’ Tony Oliva 1962-1976 (15 Seasons) 1676 G, 1917 H, 870 R, 220 HR, 947 RBI, 86 SB, 448 BB, .304 BA, 43.1 WAR, -4.4 WAR, 1964 Rookie of the Year, Three Batting Titles, Eight Top-25 MVP Finishes, 8 Time All-Star, One Gold Glove, 1965 Pennant
Positional Ranking: No. 1 Right Fielder
One of the best players to not be in the Hall of Fame, Tony O is another franchise icon with his number (No. 6) retired by the team. Oliva was a skilled hitter whose .304 BA (thirteenth), and 220 HR (fifth), and 947 RBI (seventh) all rank among the top marks in team history.
Oliva was an eight-time All-Star and another inaugural member of the Twins Hall of Fame. He’s a key figure in Twins history and a large reason the team won the 1965 Pennant when Oliva should have won MVP. The three-time batting champ earned his spot at number seven.
No. 6: Minnesota Twins’ Bert “The Frying Dutchman” Blyleven 1970-1976, 1985-1988 (11 Seasons) 348 G, 2,566.2 IP, 149-138 W-L, 3.28 ERA, 2,035-674 K-BB, 141 CG, 29 Shutouts, 49.1 WAR, 2-Time All-Star, Three Top-10 Cy Young Finishes, Two Top-25 MVP Finishes, 1987 World Series, Hall of Fame
Positional Ranking: No. 2 Starting Pitcher
An easy call for the Top Ten List, Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven just had to figured out for what spot on this list he deserved. The Frying Dutchman was an excellent pitcher who ranks second in team history in strikeouts and fifth in Major League History.
He was a member of the 1987 World Series team as well, as he was an excellent secondary member of the rotation that year. The long time broadcaster has given Twins fans so many great memories and he will continue to go down as an All-Time great.
No. 5: Washington Senators’ Walter “The Big Train/Barney” Johnson 1907-1927 (21 Seasons) 802 G, 5,914.1 IP, 417-279 W-L, 2.17 ERA, 3,509-1,363 K-BB, 531 CG, 110 Shutouts, 151.9 WAR, 1913 and 1924 MVP, Six Top-25 MVP Finishes, 3-Time Pitching Triple Crown Winner, 5-Time ERA Title, 1924 and 1925 AL Pennant, 1924 World Series, Hall of Fame
Positional Ranking: No. 1 Starting Pitcher
In terms of talent, Walter Johnson belongs on top of this list. The Big Train is the greatest starting pitcher in team history and has a strong argument as the top pitcher of all time. The Hall of Famer has three pitching Triple Crowns and took home the ERA title five times.
He is the all-time team leader in WAR, Wins, ERA, Strikeouts, Complete Gams, Shutouts, and the 1913 and 1924 MVP. His total career WAR of 164.5 (he also earned 12.7 WAR as a hitter) is second behind Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest ball player ever.
Why then is Barney left knocking at the door? For the Mount Rushmore of Twins Players, you had to play in Minnesota and mean something to Minnesota. And because Johnson was long out of the league when the franchise moved here, he isn’t considered. However, his talent is the strongest in team history, so if you view that as all that matters, he is Number One.