Top Ten Twins Of The 2000s Part Two
5. Justin Morneau (First Base/DH, 2003-Present)
Morneau was a burly catcher when he was drafted out of Canada by the Twins in 1999. He eventually transitioned to first base, where he supplanted fan favorite Doug Mientkiewicz in 2004.
Morneau’s best season was 2006 when he won the American League MVP with a .321 average, 34 home runs and 130 RBI. He was runner-up for AL MVP in 2008 with a .300 average, 23 home runs and 129 RBI.
A concussion halfway thorough the 2010 season knocked Morneau’s career off track, and the slugger has never fully recovered.
4. Johan Santana (2000-2008, Relief/Starting Pitcher)
Santana was acquired in the Rule 5 draft from Houston in 2000. The Rule 5 draft stipulates that a team that drafts a player must keep him on the active MLB roster for the entire season in which he is drafted, or the player must be returned to his original team.
Santana was easily the most successful Rule 5 pick in history. Sure, he struggled a bit in his first couple of seasons (2000: 2-3, 6.49 ERA; 2001: 4.74 ERA), but the Venezuelan lefty found his groove with the 2002 Twins. In that season, Santana was 8-6 with a 2.99 ERA.
He broke out in 2003 with a 12-3 record and 169 strikeouts in 158 innings while finishing seventh in Cy Young Award Voting. He won the award in 2004 with 20 wins and 265 strikeouts. After finishing third in 2005 despite leading the league in strikeouts and WHIP, he won back-to-back ‘Cys in ’06 and ’07 before being traded to the Mets.
3. Brad Radke (Starting Pitcher, 1995-2006)
Brad Radke was a lone bright spot on many terrible 1990’s Twins teams, and if this list extended back that far he might be #1. Radke was a key piece of the Twins’ turnaround in the early 90’s after signing what was then a Twins-record contract in 2000.
Radke won 82 games for the Twins from 2000-06, striking out 803 batters while walking only 206 in 1,363 innings. His career was cut short due to a shoulder problem in 2006.
2. Joe Mauer (Catcher/First Baseman/Bench Dweller, 2004-present)
Joe Mauer was taken with the first overall pick in the 2001 MLB draft despite many fans wishing the Twins would have taken USC pitcher Mark Prior.
Well, as it turns out, the Twins made the right decision without question. Prior pitched just five seasons for the Chicago Cubs before flaming out after the 2006 season.Coincidentally, 2006 was the year Mauer won the first of three batting titles as a member of the Twins.
Mauer’s ridiculous 2009 season (.365, 28 HR, 96 RBI) earned him an MVP award. After missing the entire month of April, Mauer homered off of Sidney Ponson on May 1st in his first at bat of the season.
1. Torii Hunter (Centerfield, 1998-2008)
Hunter gets the nod here because he was the glue that held the team together from the contraction scare all the way to five playoff appearances at the beginning of the decade.
He was a human highlight reel in centerfield and was a decent hitter (.271, 192 HR, 711 RBI), but his biggest contribution was perhaps as a leader in the clubhouse.