Man o' Man, the Hall of Fame season is all around us! I see columns and posts everywhere! I even contributed a post to my own blog on Tuesday where I went through my personal fake Hall of Fame ballot. If you missed it, check it out! Today, I want to discuss an even more important and personally significant Hall of Fame: The Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.
Voting is going on as we speak, using the democratic hallmarks of Facebook and Twitter. The ballot has been live for a week or so, and I wanted to weigh in on my official picks for the Twins Hall of Fame. I have identified seven Twins I might vote for (eventually, I'm very busy of course). You aren't going to see a lot of advanced stats here. The Twins Hall of Fame is all about wonderment. It's about memories and dingers. It's about the intangibles. It's really about me not wanting to do any research for this. And really, isn't that what life is all about?
I'm only voting for players I've watched play. I'll leave Larry Hisle's campaign to my Dad, who has no clue how to use Twitter. Godspeed, Larry and Dad.
Tom Brunansky (OF, 1982-88) - Yep
Bruno's debut with the Twins was just shortly before I was born. He made it through six and a sliver seasons with the Twins before being jettisoned for a vastly inferior player with feathered hair. Now, he's back with the organization as a coach, he had an epic mustache and he was a really important part of a World Series team. He has the ninth most home runs in Twins history. I think Michael Cuddyer is a lock for the Twins HOF in the future, and Bruno was better. I think he's a worthy candidate and he gets my vote.
Dan Gladden (OF, 1987-91) - Nah
This is hard for me. He won two World Series with the Twins, scored the winning run in 1991 and I actually enjoy Dazzle as a broadcaster. The problem is that he wasn't really a very good player. He was the team's leadoff hitter, but didn't really have the skills to hit in that position in the order. He only had a .318 OBP as a Twin, lower than guys like Delmon Young, Scott Leius and Nick Punto. Gladden was actually pretty bad in both World Series seasons too. I'm not sure how exclusive the Twins want their Hall of Fame to be, but Dan Gladden doesn't really fit with the guys currently included.
Brian Harper (C, 1988-93) - Yes
Only four players in Twins history have a higher batting average than Harper (minimum 2400 plate appearances): Rod Carew, Joe Mauer, Kirby Puckett and Shane Mack (who we'll get to shortly). Rare air. Harper provided quality offense and adequate defense at one of the most important positions on the diamond. He was consistent and durable in his six seasons with the Twins. He was a very important part of a World Series winning team. I consider him underrated, although I'm sure stats guys would think he's overrated. I'm voting for him regardless.
Chuck Knoblauch (2B, 1991-97) - Oh goodness, yes.
This is a slam dunk. Knoblauch took over as the best player on the team from Kirby Puckett, and actually did so in 1994 while Puckett was still active. Knoblauch is right behind Harper for sixth on that batting average list from above. He has the most stolen bases in Twins history, the sixth most runs, the 10th most hits and the 11th most doubles. He also has the seventh highest rWAR (for hitters). Simply put, he's one of the best players in Twins history. We (as fans) have a complicated history with Knobby, but it's time to bury the hatchet. I think he will get a ridiculous ovation when he comes out for his enshrinement.
Corey Koskie (3B, 1998-2004) - Yep
Koskie probably is the most underrated player in Twins history. It's not really that fans didn't appreciate his contributions, it's that he contributed even more than we thought he did at the time. Only Mauer, Carew, Knoblauch, Harmon Killebrew, Matt Lawton (who probably should be on this ballot), Steve Braun and Mack have a higher career OBP with the Twins (min 2400 PA). He also has the tenth highest slugging percentage in Twins history (min 2400 PA too). He was a great defender early in his career and remained good until he left for Toronto. Leaving for Canada is a ding, but his career with the Twins was great.
Shane Mack (OF, 1990-94) - Oh yeah
Mack doesn't have the longevity of others on this list, but he was a fantastic player and produced better than everyone but Knoblauch when he was with the team. Using that 2400 PA sample I already have in Baseball Reference's season index, Mack is 4th in batting average, 4th in slugging, and 7th in OBP. If it weren't for the stupid players' strike, he may have stayed longer and he'd be that high in the counting stat categories as well. He was really good in Japan. Even with just five years of service, he still has the 15th highest rWAR in Twins' history (hitters only). Plus, I said this on Twitter last week, he's been AWOL from team functions for years. This might bring him back into Twins Territory. It's a human interest story AND he's deserving. Let's do this, Twins fans!
Kevin Tapani (P, 1989-95) - Eh, maybe...no
A lot of the methods I used to justify players above, could be used for Tapani. He's 9th all-time in Twins career wins, 9th in innings pitched and 12th in strikeouts. However, the Twins have some outstanding pitchers in their history and then a whole lot of unimpressive hurlers. Emphasis on hurl. Only ten pitchers have thrown 1000 or more innings for the Twins and Tapani is second-worst. Tapani wasn't a bad pitcher, but he was more of the best of a mediocre bunch than a good pitcher among other good pitchers. He was outstanding in 1991, and average or worse in every other season. I can't vote for him.
There you have it. It's very hard for me to make an informed decision about these players. I watched them growing up and I loved each of them. All I want to do is find reasons why they should be added to this important institution. I'll enjoy watching their ceremony and I might even try to go to Mack's in person. I'm not very objective, but I don't care. This Hall of Fame is for the fans, and I was a big fan of all of these players. I'll probably even vote for Gladden and Tapani, just because I can and it's fun.
Thanks for reading. Who are you voting for?