1970 Topps #62: AL Batting Leaders / Rod Carew, Reggie Smith, & Tony Oliva

The Twins began life in MLB as the Washington Senators, joining the AL in 1901 along with a bunch of other teams. It took until their 24th season in 1924 to make the playoffs, but they won the World Series that year. They made the World Series, losing both times, twice in following 9 years.

In 1961, the franchise moved to Minnesota and renamed itself the Twins.  The team was a force in the late 1960s, finishing first or second 5 times between 1965 and 1970, but losing in the playoffs each year. The Twins won it all in 1987 and again in 1991, and then went into a period of suffering as a small market team. That changed in 2002 when the team posted a 1st place finish (one of 6 between ’02 and ’10) but again the team has lost all 6 times in the playoffs.

In 2011, the Twins turned suddenly dreadful, losing 99 games, and they have been only a bit better so far in 2012.

Let’s take a look at this team’s long list of great players.

Top batters in franchise history, by WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Rod Carew 60.4 1967 1978
2 Harmon Killebrew 56.1 1954 1974
3 Kirby Puckett 48.2 1984 1995
4 Sam Rice 48.0 1915 1933
5 Joe Judge 42.4 1915 1932
6 Goose Goslin 40.0 1921 1938
7 Tony Oliva 39.7 1962 1976
8 Buddy Myer 38.1 1925 1941
9 Chuck Knoblauch 36.3 1991 1997
10 Clyde Milan 36.2 1907 1922
11 Kent Hrbek 35.7 1981 1994
12 Joe Cronin 34.6 1928 1934
13 Joe Mauer 33.8 2004 2012
14 Bob Allison 31.3 1958 1970
15 Cecil Travis 27.1 1933 1947
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2012.

So…the top 4 guys are all Hall of Famers, as are Goose Goslin and Joe Cronin. All Tony Oliva did was win 3 batting titles. And then you have two guys in Kent Hrbek and Joe Mauer who are huge fan favorites and spent numerous years as the popular face of the franchise.

No shortage of choices here…

Here are the pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Walter Johnson 144.7 1907 1927
2 Bert Blyleven 46.3 1970 1988
3 Brad Radke 42.6 1995 2006
4 Johan Santana 34.0 2000 2007
5 Camilo Pascual 30.8 1954 1966
6 Jim Kaat 27.2 1959 1973
7 Frank Viola 25.0 1982 1989
8 Jim Perry 24.2 1963 1972
9 Firpo Marberry 23.5 1923 1936
10 Dave Goltz 22.5 1972 1979
11 Dutch Leonard 21.7 1938 1946
12 Joe Nathan 17.8 2004 2011
13 Kevin Tapani 17.8 1989 1995
14 Jim Shaw 17.5 1913 1921
15 Tom Zachary 16.5 1919 1928
16 Pedro Ramos 16.5 1955 1961
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2012.

So we had all these great choices for batters, and then there’s Walter Johnson, who cannot possibly be left off anybody’s ballot. Then there’s HOFer (yay!) Blyleven, Radke (the face of the franchise in between Hrbek and Mauer), Cy Young winner and 1987 post-season hero Frank Viola…it goes on and on.

Beyond these guys, there are others to consider as well: longtime manager Tom Kelly, plus two guys who produced a ton during the 1987 run: Dan Gladden and Tom Brunansky. In the 1925 World Series, Joe Harris had 3 HR and 6 RBI in 7 games. And then there’s Jack Morris, who pitched probably the most famous World Series game in the minds of fans aged 30 to 50.

Lots of folks to choose from here…please pick 4.

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