Puckett’s Pond takes a look back at the best Minnesota Twins and Washington Senators to wear each jersey number, starting with 1-25
With yesterday being Jackie Robinson Day, we took a look at the top players to wear the Number 42 in team history. We wanted to keep that going, picking out the best players to wear each number for the Minnesota Twins.
In order to make this list, we took a look at Baseball Almanac’s list and Baseball Reference’s List of every player to wear each number (to make sure no one was left out), and chose the player that was the greatest Twin (or Senator) at each number.
Three Quick Notes:
- Players in Major League baseball didn’t start wearing numbers until 1929, so most of the Senators best players (Hall of Famers Walter Johnson, Sam Rice, Goose Goslin) don’t appear on this list.
- Each player’s ranking on our Top 50 List is included next to the player’s name, and the years beside their name are the years the player wore the number.
- Because it’s such a long list, it’s broken down into three parts; No. 0-25, No. 26-50, and No. 51-99 so it’s a little easier to read.
With those notes in mind, let’s get into it.
No. 0: Minnesota Twins’ Junior Ortiz (1990-1991)
Only one player in Twins’ history wore the number 0, and that is Junior Ortiz who played with the team in 1990 and 1991. Ortiz played 132 games with the team and hit .280 and 29 RBI, as the career reserve was a good backup for the Twins.
No. 00: Washington Senators’ Bobo Newsom (1943, 1946, 1947)
Bobo Newsom, a four-time All-Star, played in five different stints with the team and wore five different numbers, but he is the only player to ever wear double zeros. Newsom won 61 games and recorded 511 strikeouts over his eight years (1936 was his only one full season) with the Senators.
No. 1: Washington Senators’ Buddy Myer (1925-1941)
The first challenge on the list, Buddy Myer (No. 29) beat out Eddie Yost (No. 35) for the top spot here. Both players played at least fourteen seasons with the Senators, and were former All-Stars, but the edge goes to Myer, as he is a former batting champ and has the higher WAR (41.9 vs. 27.1).
No. 2: Washington Senators’ Buddy Lewis (1935-1941, 1945-1947, 1949)
Another super close call, Buddy Lewis (No. 41) edges out Brian Dozier (No. 44) and Zoilo Versalles (No. 48). While all three players were key to the franchise, Lewis’ longevity beats Dozier and Versalles’ shorter success. With a career WAR of 28.3, Lewis beats Dozier by almost six points and Versalles by almost 14.
No. 3: Minnesota Twins’ Harmon Killebrew (1957-1974)
I wanted to mention 7-Time All-Star Mickey Vernon (No. 39) and Hall of Famer Heinie Manush (No. 27) also wore number three for the Senators. With that being said, neither is any competition to Harmon Killebrew (No. 3) as the best to wear Number 3.
Killebrew also wore number 12 and number 25 during his first two seasons, but his number is retired as number 3 and he was the last player to wear it, so he sits here. The franchise leader in games, homers, and RBI, the Killer is an icon and easy call at three.
No. 4: Minnesota Twins Bob Allison (1961-1970)
It is also worth mentioning that Vernon wore this number, as did Hall of Famers Joe Cronin (No. 12) and Paul Monitor, but similar to number 3, there is only one clear choice: Bob Allison (No. 15) . The former rookie of the year and three-time All-Star is a member of the Twins Hall of Fame and a Twins great.
No. 5: Minnesota Twins’ Michael Cuddyer (2001-2011)
Very few players meant more to the Minnesota Twins than Michael Cuddyer (No. 47). He beats out Roy Smalley (No. 37) despite Smalley arguably having a better overall career. No one wore the Number 5 for longer and no one wearing the number built a career strong enough to make it to the Twins hall of fame. Cuddyer is the choice here.
No. 6: Minnesota Twins’ Tony Oliva (1964-1976)
Only thirty-one players have worn the Number 6 for the Minnesota Twins, and the last one was easily the greatest. Tony Oliva (No.7), and eight-time All-Star and three-time batting champ had his number retired by the team in 1991. No other player wore the number for more than five years, so this one isn’t close.
No. 7: Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer (2004-2018)
No player in the 2000s or 2010s meant more to the franchise than Joe Mauer (No. 4), who played a lengthy fifteen years with the team. Greg Gagne (No. 32) and Ossie Bluege (No. 34) also wore the number, but it was an easy call for Mauer, the future Twins Hall of Famer and the eighth player to have his number retired by the Twins.
No. 8: Minnesota Twins Gary Gaetti (1982-1990)
The Twins and Senators have a long career of mostly average play from the No. 8 outside of Gary Gaetti (No. 18). He was a star for the Twins, making two All-star Games and winning four Gold Gloves, easily beating out Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell and fan favorite Nick Punto for this spot.
No. 9: Minnesota Twins’ Larry Hisle (1973-1977)
Number nine is the single-digit number with the worst competition for top player, giving Larry Hisle an easy path to the spot. The only Twin to make an All-Star game with this number, Hisle tops fan favorites Gene Larkin and Mickey Hatcher for this spot.
No. 10: Minnesota Twins’ Earl Battey (1960-1967)/Tom Kelly
Earl Battey (No. 25) gets the call for the top player here. There really wasn’t much competition for this spot, with only one player wearing it for more than five years. Battey, a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, made this one easy.
However, the best Twin to wear this number isn’t even a player. The number 10 was retired for manager Tom Kelly in 2012. TK is the only manager to lead the franchise to two World Series wins and is well deserving of having his number retired.
No. 11: Minnesota Twins’ Chuck Knoblauch (1991-1997)
A tough call, Chuck Knoblauch (No. 20) gets the edge over Hall of Famer Early Wynn and Jacque Jones. Knoblauch produced a career WAR of 38.0 and made four All-Star teams during his time with the number, giving him the nod. However, if Jorge Polanco keeps playing like he did last year, we may have to change our answer.
No. 12: Minnesota Twins’ Cesar Tovar (1965-1972)
This one came down to Cesar Tovar (No. 24) and catcher Brian Harper (No. 45). As good of a hitter and as important as Harper was in 1991, Tovar earned MVP consideration five of his eight years with the Twins and was the overall better player.
No. 13: Minnesota Twins’ Mike Pagliarulo (1991-1993)
Ironically, thirteen players have worn the number 13, and none of the players had particularly good years with the number. With that in mind, Mike Pagliarulo beats out 2019 Ehire Adrianza, as Pagliarulo was a very solid third baseman in 1991 when the Twins won it all.
No. 14: Minnesota Twins’ Kent Hrbek (1982-1994)
Only one player wore the No. 14 for more than six seasons with the team, and he is the last player that will ever wear the number for the Minnesota Twins: Kent Hrbek (No. 8). The Minnesota native had no competition for this one, as the former All-Star is beloved in the state and organization, and his number was retired in 1995, the year after he retired.
No. 15: Minnesota Twins’ Glen Perkins (2008-2017)
Another number without a lot of star talent allows Glen Perkins to take this one. The Minnesota native and two-time All-Star closer tops one-time All-Stars Crisitan Guzman and Tim Laudner who were very solid players as well. Perk is third in team history and in the top 150 All-Time in saves.
No. 16: Minnesota Twins’ Frank Viola (1982-1989)
Sweet Music (No. 17) is the clear choice for the number 16. The Twins Hall of Famer and 1988 Cy Young winner was one of the greatest true aces in franchise history. Butch Wynegar (No. 46), Doug Mientkiewicz (No. 55), and Jason Kubel all earn mentions, but Frankie V is the best number 16 the franchise has seen.
No. 17: Minnesota Twins’ Camilo Pascual (1957-1966)
Camilo Pascual (No. 26) is one of the best pitchers in franchise history, and an easy choice at 17. Though fifty-four players have worn the number, only Pascual has worn it more than eight years. The five-time All-Star is on top for now, but if Jose Berrios keeps improving (and stays in Minnesota), the already two-time All-Star could steal this honor away.
No. 18: Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Guardado (1993-2003, 2008)
Everyday Eddie (No. 50) is one of the most reliable relievers in Twins history, and with no notable Senators or Twins wearing the number, he has no competition. Guardado is fifty-ninth in MLB history in saves and second in team history in games played.
No. 19: Minnesota Twins’ Scott Erickson (1991-1995)
The ace of the Twins staff throughout the 1991 regular season, Scott Erickson is the only Twins player to wear the number 19 for more than five seasons. Erickson won 20 games in 1991 and finished second in Cy Young voting and won sixty games over six seasons (with a no-hitter in 1994), and while the last three were very bad, the first three were very, very, very good.
No. 20: Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario (2015-2019)
The No. 20 is similar to 19 in that very few players have worn it for more than four seasons. Eddie Rosario is the best of that small group, topping Lew Ford and Travis Miller. Rosario’s .279 BA, 106 homers, and likable attitude make him an easy call here, and if he continues to play well in a Twins uniform, he could stay on this list for a long time.
No. 21: Minnesota Twins’ Eric Milton (2000-2003)
The Twins have yet to have a great player wear the number 21 yet, so we’ll settle on Eric Milton. Milton narrowly beat out Mike Trombley for this spot, as Milton spent one season as an All-Star with the Twins while wearing the jersey. Trombley’s eight seasons with the number don’t quite match up.
No. 22: Minnesota Twins’ Brad Radke (1995-2006)
Twins Hall of Famer and model of consistency Brad Radke (No. 23) is the top choice for number 22. Radke wore the number for more years than any other player and really didn’t have any competition here. Miguel Sano is the next closest player, but he still has a lot more to do before he tops Radke.
No. 23: Minnesota Twins’ Dave Boswell (1964-1970)
The best player to wear number 23 was a three person race: Jim Lemon, Dave Boswell, and Shannon Stewart. Boswell wins here because while Stewart was the most talented Lemon was the only All-Star, Boswell was a very good starter that won 10 games four times and 20 games once, giving him the slight edge.
No. 24: Minnesota Twins’ Tom Brunansky (1982-1988)
The hardest choice from in the first 25, No. 24 came down to Tom Brunansky (No. 33) vs. Shane Mack (No. 36). Brunansky is an All-Star who played here longer. Mack had way better stats and is one of the most underrated players in team history. Brunansky gets the slight edge because of his value to Twins fans, but this could go either way.
No. 25: Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton (2015-2019)
Hall of Famer Jim Thome deserves a mention here as his season and a half with the Twins was memorable. That said, this is between Randy Bush and Byron Buxton. I know many will disagree with this, but Buxton gets the small edge here.
Buxton is a far better defender, and Bush was a liability (-9.3 dWAR) over his twelve seasons and Buxton has already been defensive player of the year. Bush was the greatest glue guy in team history, but Buxton’s talent lands him here.