Minnesota Twins: The Top 50 Players in Franchise History: 40-21
By Otto Johnson
Minnesota Twins All-Stars
This next group of players includes several former All-Stars who were excellent for the Twins but weren’t good enough to make the top thirty list. These players either played key roles for great teams or were stars on bad teams, landing them on the list, but not much higher.
No. 40: Washington Senators’ Muddy Ruel 1923-1930 (8 Seasons) 903 G, .290 BA, 373 RBI, 18.6 WAR, 7.1 dWAR, Three MVP-15 finishes, 1924 and 1925 Pennant, and 1924 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 3 Catcher
Muddy Ruel was the ever reliable catcher for the Washington Senators for eight of the team’s most successful seasons, earning an impressive 18.6 WAR while doing so. He was very good on offense and strong on defense (7.1 dWAR), making him one of the top catchers of his time.
His big contribution came when he scored the game-tying and game-winning run in Game 7 of Washington World Series Win in 1924. However, he never provided any exceptional stats, making it hard to move him higher on this list.
No. 39: Washington Senators’ Mickey Vernon 1939-1943, 1946-1948, 1950-1955 (14 Seasons) 1805 G, 1993 Hits, 121 HR, 1026 RBI, .288 BA, 26.6 WAR, -12.7 dWAR, 5 Top-25 MVP finishes, Five-Time All-Star, Two Time Batting Champ
Positional Ranking: No. 4 First Baseman
Mickey Vernon was an excellent first baseman for a terrible team, making five All-Star games and putting up a 26.6 WAR over 14 seasons in a Senators uniform. Vernon also won two batting titles over his time in the league, showing his ability to hit.
Vernon falls to 39th on this list because the team around him struggled heavily and he wasn’t a particularly strong defender. On the flip side, he was still a very good player and he earned his spot among the top forty.
No. 38: Minnesota Twins’ Dan Gladden 1987-1991 (5 Seasons) 644 G, 661 H, 358 R, 38 HR, 238 RBI, 116 SB, 169 BB, .268 BA, 5.7 WAR, -1.4 dWAR, 1987 and 1991 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 4 Left Fielder
If you are looking at just stats, Dan Gladden doesn’t come close to this list. Gladden wasn’t a great contact hitter (.268 batting average), he couldn’t hit for power (38 homers), and his defense was merely ok in left field (-1.4 dWAR). While he achieved a high amount of steals (eighteenth in team history in just five years), that was it.
However, Gladden makes this list and makes the top forty because of what he meant to the team. Gladden played for both of the Twins championship teams and was an important part of both teams. He makes the list for clutch moments like this:
No. 37: Minnesota Twins’ Roy Smalley 1977-1982, 1985-1987 (10 Seasons) 1148 G, 1046 H, 110 HR, 485 RBI, 549 BB, .262 BA, 20.8 WAR, 4.0 dWAR, 1 Top-25 MVP Finishes, One Time All-Star, 1987 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 4 Shortstop
One of many Twins stars who would go on to work in the organization in some way, Roy Smalley was one of the key pieces the Twins got back when they first traded Bert Blyleven. Smalley became a mainstay at short for the Twins, and put up very good numbers over 1,148 games.
Smalley even got to be a part of the 1987 title run as a key reserve before retiring. He now works with FSN covering Twins games, staying at work in Minnesota. Smalley was a valuable member of the team for a good chunk of time, helping him earn this 37th spot.
No. 36: Minnesota Twins’ Shane Mack 1990-1994 (5 Seasons) 633 G, 668 H, 351 R, 67 HR, 315 RBI, 71 SB, 200 BB, .309 BA, 19.6 WAR, 0.4 dWAR, 1991 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 3 Left Fielder
Twins fans often forget how good Shane Mack was over his short five-year tenure with the Twins. Mack put up a yearly average stat line of 127 games, .309 BA, .377 OBP, 13 HR, 63 RBI, and 14 SB. Those are All-Star worthy numbers out east.
He also played in 11 of the Twins 12 playoff games in 1991 en route to a World Series, hitting .333 in the ALCS. All this helped him build up a 19.6 WAR, averaging over 3.9 WAR per season, better than Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo in 2019. Pretty good company.
No. 35: Washington Senators’ Eddie “The Walking Man” Yost 1944, 1946-1958 (14 Seasons) 1690 G, 1521 H, 101 HR, 550 RBI, 58 SB, 1274 BB, .253 BA, 27.1 WAR, 36.5 oWAR, -9.2 dWAR, Three Top-25 MVP Finishes, One time All-Star
Positional Ranking: No. 4 Third Baseman
One of the longest-tenured players in team history, Eddie Yost sits tenth all-time in games played in franchise history. He built up a stellar 36.5 offensive WAR (oWAR) over his fourteen seasons as a Senator and a very solid 27.1 WAR.
Yost, known as “The Walking Man” for his ability to draw free passes, is second in team history in walks. The only reasons he sits so low on the list are because he was a very poor defender and because all of those walks never helped his team get over .500 more than once (they went 78-76 in 1952).
No. 34: Washington Senators’ Ossie Bluege 1922-1939 (18 Seasons) 1867 G, 1751 H, 43 HR, 848 RBI, 140 SB, 723 BB, .272 BA, 27.7 WAR, 12.4 dWAR, Two Top-25 MVP Finishes, One time All-Star, 1924, 1925, 1933 American League Pennants, 1924 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 3 Third Baseman
Ossie Bluege is another Senators lifer that played his whole career with the Senators. Bluege’s career was far more successful than Yost’s time with the Senators. The Senators won three AL Pennants and the 1924 World Series with Bluege at the hot corner.
Bluege was a strong defender, with a 12.4 dWAR that ranks second in team history. The reason he falls to thirty-five in our rankings is because his offensive stats occurred over 1,867 games (fifth in team history), making them far less impressive. He was a Senators great, but he falls outside of the top thirty.
No. 33: Minnesota Twins’ Tom Brunansky 1982-1988 (7 Seasons) 916 G, 829 H, 450 R, 163 HR, 469 RBI, 36 SB, 394 BB, .250 BA, 16.1 WAR, 1.2 dWAR, One Time All-Star, 1987 World Series
Positional Ranking: No. 4 Right Fielder
Tom Brunansky is another player who, similar to Dan Gladden, ranks higher because of what he meant to the organization. Brunansky was an All-Star in 1985 and ranks eleventh in homers in Twins history, but he struggled to hit for average.
His 16.1 WAR is merely average for seven seasons, and while his 1.2 dWAR is very solid for a right fielder, his contributions to the 1987 team are his biggest impact. Brunansky hit .412, 2 HR, and 9 RBI over the 1987 ALCS and played all 12 games over the playoff run. That playoff performance earns him a spot this high.
No. 32: Minnesota Twins’ Greg Gagne, 1983-1992 (10 Seasons) 1140 G, 844 H, 69 HR, 335 RBI, 79 SB, 188 BB, .249 BA, 17.9 WAR, 12.4 dWAR, 1987 and 1991 World Series
Positional Rankings: No. 3 Shortstop
One of the tougher calls in our rankings was keeping Greg Gagne this low. Gagne was never an offensive force over his time with the Minnesota Twins, and he never made an All-Star team. However, he was a great defender (second best dWAR in team history), and was the Twins shortstop for both World Series runs.
Greg Gagne made the Twins Hall of Fame and was a great defender, but unfortunately his offensive struggles keep him outside of the top thirty. On the flip side, the thirty-second best player after 120 years of baseball, is a great achievement.
No. 31: Washington Senators’ Cecil Travis 1933-1941, 1945-1947 (12 Seasons) 1328 G, 1544 H, 27 HR, 657 RBI, 402 BB, .314 BA, 30.0 WAR, 5.2 dWAR, 4 Top-25 MVP Finishes, 3-Time All-Star, 1933 AL Pennant
Positional Rankings: No. 2 Shortstop
The only top two player at their position to miss the top 30, Cecil Travis was a star for the Senators during the 1930s. Travis was a Three-Time All-Star over his twelve seasons while he hit for a .314 average (eighth in team history) and 1,544 hits.
Travis was also an above-average defender as his 5.2 dWAR and 30 WAR are both top twenty in team history. With all that being said, the team wasn’t very successful with him as a focal point, keeping him down to thirty-first.