Minnesota Twins: Comparing the 2000s Twins against the 2010s Twins

Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

With the 2010s decade closed off after this season, we compare the 2000s Minnesota Twins vs. the 2010s Minnesota Twins to see which decade was best!

With a couple of weeks before the “hot stove” season starts, baseball fans enter a lull after their team finishes up their season. To pass some of that time, I thought it would be fun to compare the Minnesota Twins from the 2000s (2001-2010) and the Minnesota Twins from the 2010s (2011-2020)!

I thought it would be a fair comparison, as both decades struggled in the playoffs. To do this, I put together a roster of players from their specific decades. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • A Five Pitcher Starting Rotation
  • A Six Pitcher Bullpen
  • A Closer
  • First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, Third Base, and Designated Hitter
  • A Three Player Outfield
  • A Four Player Bench

There will also be one player on both lists who plays two different positions (I’m sure you can guess who that is). I’ll compare each position to see who comes up on top, before seeing which decade comes out on top in the end. Let’s go!

Minnesota Twins
Matt Guerrier of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Colorado Rockies. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Bullpen: 2000s vs. 2010s


  • LaTroy Hawkins
  • Eddie Guardado
  • Matt Guerrier
  • Jesse Crain
  • J.C. Romero
  • Glen Perkins


  • Tyler Duffey
  • Taylor Rogers
  • Ryan Pressly
  • Trevor May
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Kyle Gibson

This could end up being the great equalizer. For transparency’s sake, I took who I thought were the best relievers of the decade and added a pitcher for long relief (a former starter who pitched primarily in that decade).

In the 2000s, we have a more balanced bullpen that includes three left-handed pitchers and three right-handed pitchers. All six can throw the ball hard had with breaking pitches and could get the strikeout when needed. You also have four potential closers out of that group with Hawkins, Guardado, Crain, and Perkins.

On the flip side, the 2010s have more right-handed arms, but they have a higher average velocity than the 2000s and more pitchers who can spin the ball at a higher rate than the 2000s.  This pick though comes down to results.

Choice: 2000s Bullpen

While I really like Duffey and Pressly, Kintzler really didn’t do much for me. Anybody who relies on the ground ball over the strikeout is asking for trouble. On top of this, May and Rogers are too inconsistent, and Gibson was a taller version of Kintzler.

To finish it off, Pressly really got it going after the trade to the Houston Astros while Duffey only got it really going this year. The bullpen of the 2000s went through many division battles and came out victorious. It’s not to say that the 2010s didn’t have the talent, they just weren’t as consistent as the bullpen from the decade before. We’re tied up at 1-1.

Former player Joe Nathan is inducted in the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Former player Joe Nathan is inducted in the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Closer: Joe Nathan (2000s) vs. Glen Perkins (2010s)

This one is one of only three slam dunks. The closer representative for the 2000s is Joe Nathan while the 2010 representative is Glen Perkins. Granted, longevity is included in this, but Nathan earned 260 saves as a member of the Twins, including 47 in 2009.

Perkins had a dominant string of three years (2013-2015) where he earned 36, 34 and 32 saves respectively for some below-average Twins teams. His career saves total as a Twin was 120 and he made three All-Stars teams.

Choice: Joe Nathan (2000s)

As mentioned before, this really is a no brainer. Having the all-time Twins save leader to lock down games is about as good as it gets. There was a time when Nathan and Rivera were in the same conversation as the game’s best closers. Nathan ended up being an integral part of the run of division titles in the 2000s (thank you San Francisco Giants). 2000s go up 2-1.

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Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins throws to first against the New York Yankees. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Catcher: Joe Mauer (2000s) vs. Mitch Garver (2010s)

Unsurprisingly, this is the position where we have a two-time nominee and oddly enough in two different decades. Joe Mauer was the primary catcher in the 2000s. His opponent is Mitch Garver representing the 2010s.

Mauer is a former MVP, a five-time Silver Slugger winner, and a three-time Gold Glove winner. If concussion issues didn’t force him out from behind the plate, you could make an argument he was on a path to be one of the best catchers in MLB history.

Garver has been the starting catcher since 2017 and in 2019 knocked 31 balls out of the park. He has a small sample size but it seems the Minnesota Twins are ready to roll with him and Ryan Jeffers moving forward.

Choice: Joe Mauer (2000s)

No real argument can be made for anybody but Mauer. Not in the 2000s vs. 2010s, and not in the entire history of the Twins franchise. Mauer is one of the five best Twins ever, while Garver has had one good season. No brainer. 2000s grow their lead to 3-1.

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Special assistant Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins First Base: Justin Morneau (2000s) vs. Joe Mauer (2010s)

As mentioned earlier, this is the one position, where I have a player that will end up playing a different position in one decade than another. My 2000s representative is Justin Morneau and my 2010s rep is Joe Mauer.

The M&M Boys are a stark contrast in offensive production. Morneau was able to hit for power a little more consistently than Mauer, but Mauer could hit the ball all over the ballpark. Both were key parts of the team this century, but you have to look at their production at the p

Defensively, it could be debated the two are a wash. Mauer’s high field percentage was .998 while Morneau’s was .997 and both were former catchers (though one was better behind the plate) that transitioned well to first base.

Choice: Justin Morneau

Morneau gets the nod because of his power. It was said that Mauer too had the power stroke when he wanted or needed it, but because of Morneau’s prototypical first base numbers and glove work, he gets the nod ever so slightly over his former roommate. 4-1 for the 2000s.

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Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins returns to the dugout. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Second Base: Luis Rivas (2000s) vs. Brian Dozier (2010s)

Second base shouldn’t be that hard of a choice. Brian Dozier manned second base for six and a half seasons (2012-2018). During that time, he managed to set the American League record for homers by a second baseman with 42 in 2016. He also was a Gold Glove winner in 2017.

In the 2000s, Luis Rivas was the most consistent Twins second baseman in the 2000s but honestly didn’t match up to Dozier’s defense and offensive game. This makes this decision a pretty easy one.

Choice: Brian Dozier

Dozier’s all-around game through most of the 2010s gives him an argument to be the second-best 2nd baseman in Minnesota Twins history behind Rod Carew. Rivas simply doesn’t come close in this one. 4-2, 2000s still leads.

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Jorge Polanco of the Minnesota Twins throws during game two of the Wild Card Series. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Shortstop: Cristian Guzman (2000s) vs. Jorge Polanco (2010s)

The Twins really haven’t had an elite shortstop the past 20 years. They’ve had lots of really good players, but not great. Because of longevity at the position, I have offered up two nominees for the shortstop position: Cristian Guzman (2000s) and Jorge Polanco (2010s).

Guzman was the type of player you would rather watch run around the bases than field a ball. He never really hit for much power but did lead the league in triples in 2000, 2001, and 2003. He left the Twins via free agency at the end of the 2004 season.

Polanco has been with the Twins since 2009 when he was drafted as an international free agent. Since then, he has been an All-Star and helped solidify what was a revolving door at shortstop after taking over full time in 2016.

Choice: Jorge Polanco (2010s)

Outside of Polanco getting dinged for 80 games in 2018 for using a banned substance, he has held the shortstop position for the Twins since 2016. He also figures to fit into the Twins future by signing a contract through 2023 with a team option in 2024 and 2025. 4-3, with the 2010s pulling close.

Minnesota Twins
Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins throws against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Third Base: Corey Koskie (2000s) vs. Trevor Plouffe (2010s)

Much like the rest of the infield, third base has seen its share of players over the past twenty years. With this matchup though, we’re going to go with Corey Koskie representing the 2000s and Trevor Plouffe representing the 2010s.

Plouffe was the everyday third baseman for the Twins from 2011-2016. He hit a career-high 24 home runs in 2012 and almost matched that feat in 2015 when he knocked out 22. He has a 7.2 WAR which isn’t bad considering how bad the Twins were for most of the 2010s.

Koskie saw his career cut short due to a concussion, but was a very good player for the 2000s Twins at the hot corner. Koskie’s best year was 2001 when he hit 26 homers and drove in 103. His WAR of 24.6 is over three times that of Plouffe.

Choice: Corey Koskie

Koskie is the choice here for the simple reason of overall better numbers. Granted, he only played nine seasons and had to hang it up much earlier than he probably wanted, but his defense and power numbers give him the edge here. Now 5-3, this one is going down to the wire.

Minnesota Twins
Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler of the Minnesota Twins celebrate. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Outfield: Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, and Michael Cuddyer (2000s) vs. Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler (2010s)

The Minnesota Twins draft outfielders like people check their text messages, as seemingly every year, the Twins stock up on outfielders. I’m not sure if it’s because of that athleticism being an outfielder provides or if they are the best available, but it can be heavily debated which decade had the better group patrolling the outfield grass and turf.

Let’s start with the 2000s. You start off with elite defender and many-time Gold Glove-winner Torii Hunter, followed with offense in Michael Cuddyer and a very solid left-handed stick in Jacque Jones.

They had personality, leadership, and the willingness to do whatever it took to win. It’s not a secret that these three were a key component of the divisional championships the Twins experienced in the early 2000s.

For the 2010s outfield, they are a much more athletic group and it could be argued that because of their athleticism, they are the better outfield. Right now, I would argue Kepler is the best of the group. He can play both center and right really well, hit for power, and for the most part, he stays healthy.

With Buxton (who has yet to fulfill his potential as the number two draft pick in 2012), you have one of the best defenders in baseball. He has a Platinum Glove award for his defensive effort in 2017, and he seemed to break out a little bit in 2020.

Rosario is the wildcard. When he’s on, he’s a fantastic left fielder. We’ve seen the type of arm he has, and he has the ability to hit over 30 homers consistently. His biggest problem is taking plays off, especially on the bases, and not seemingly caring about a lot of things in the field, so we don’t really know for sure.

Choice: Tie.

I know it’s a copout, but I don’t think we can fairly judge this current outfield based on the limited time they’ve had. We all know what the 2000s Twins outfield could do, but there are signs that this outfield may indeed be better. I honestly can’t make a clear choice with this one, and I think you win either way. 5-3-1 for the 2000s with two positions to go.

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Jason Kubel of the Minnesota Twins in action against the New York Yankees. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter: Jason Kubel (2000s) vs. Nelson Cruz (2010s)

The Twins have run out some questionable DH through the last 20 years but the two nominees did the most damage at the plate: Jason Kubel and Nelson Cruz. This should be another slam dunk pick but let’s give each their due.

Kubel was an original draft pick by the Minnesota Twins. He played primarily right field in the Dome then gradually moved to DH. as he got older. His top numbers were from 2009 when he hit 28 home runs and drove in 103. I would rather have put David Ortiz in this spot, but unfortunately the Twins decided to let him go. Oops.

Cruz signed on as a free agent in 2019 and proceeded to 57 homers and drive in 141 runs in his two years with the Twins. Again, it would have been interesting to see what Ortiz would have down with that group in the 2000s, but this is what we’ve got.

Choice: Nelson Cruz

No real debate here. Cruz has been a major piece of two very successful Twins teams over the past two years with some of the best offensive numbers we’ve seen since Mauer in ’09. The only debate right now with Cruz is whether or not the Twins should resign him for another year or two. 2000s’ lead is cut down to 5-4-1.

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Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins fields. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Twins Bench: 2000s vs. 2010s

2000s Bench

  • A.J. Pierzynski
  • Jason Bartlett
  • Denard Span
  • Doug Mientkiewicz

2010s Benc

  • Josh Willingham
  • Miguel Sano
  • Eduardo Escobar
  • Kurt Suzuki

This is as close a position group as there is, ranking just behind the outfield. In the 2000s, you have World Series champions (with other teams) in Pierzynski and Span coupled with Bartlett and Mientkiewicz, who were both solid defenders who could put the bat on the ball when the situation arose.

For the 2010s, this group brings a different mindset to the bench with Sano and Willingham’s all or nothing approach. You have the versatile Escobar who was a Minnesota Twins fan favorite, not only on the field but in the clubhouse. You also have a World Series champion (with the Washington Nationals) in Suzuki who did a serviceable job both behind and at the plate.

Choice: 2010s Bench

This choice is very debatable depending on what type of bench you want. The 2000s bench is more defensive-oriented, whereas the 2010s offered up more offense. When I think of making a move to the bench, it’s usually to try and score runs, as I haven’t seen a lot of games where defensive substitutions have saved a lot of runs.

Final Score 2000s Minnesota Twins tie 2010s Minnesota Twins 5-5-1

Surprise! It ended up five to five with an extra tie coming from the outfield. It’s really hard to tell who would be the best Twins group from the past two decades. Even though the Minnesota Twins playoff record has been bad, there have been a lot of bright spots in the past twenty years. Who would you take? Leave a comment and let’s talk Minnesota Twins baseball.

dark. Next. Minnesota Twins: Handing out Grades for the Outfield and DH