The team here at SP started this list last year, but in classic SP style we never quite finished. With how bad the Twins are doing this year, it seems like it was kismit that we’d wait until now to publish. Without further ado…enjoy.
With last year being the Minnesota Twins 50th season the Twins organization had created a list of the 50 Greatest Twins. In response the Strib’s Michael Rand tried to come up with the 50 Worst Twins of all time. Through responses to his blog he collected a measley 42 names: “We didn’t want to stretch to get to 50, so we stopped at 42.”
Stretch? It shouldn’t be a stretch to find 50 terrible twins. It just means you didn’t try hard enough. In an effort to rectify that poor performance the top-notch staff here at Simpleprop are ready to step up to the challenge and give you your 50 Worst Twins of All-Time!
Some ground rules. Since we’re all in our 30s we chose to limit players to those we have seen or are at least familiar with. As Wade A mentioned during our deliberations, “I’m sure Eddie Bane sucked, but I have no proof.” We will create this list via a draft, with Wade A getting the first pick, Alex going second, and wadE going third. We’ll reveal our list in reverse draft order.
So without further ado, here are the 50 Worst Twins of All-Time* (* – “All-Time” meaning since 1980 or so)
Mr. Irrelevant. Steve Holm
49. David West
48. Boof Bonser
47. Mike Fetters
46. David Ortiz
45. J.T. Bruett
44. Joe Roa
43. J.D. Durbin
42. Craig Monroe
41. Houston Jimenez
40. Phil Nevin
39. Alexi Casilla
38. Jose Parra
37. Deolis Guerra
36. Carmelo Castillo
35. Tippy Martinez
34. Rich Becker
33. Chris Latham
32. Midre Cummings
31. Tom Nieto
30. Sal Butera
29. Drew Butera
28. Joe Niekro
27. Sean Bergman
26. Scott Ulger
25. Steve Carlton
24. Alex Ochoa
23. Joe Mays
21. Gregg Olson
20. Carlos Pulido
19. Tony Batista
18. Kevin Maas
17. Ron Davis
16. Alex Cole
15. Bret Boone
14. Adam Johnson
13. Juan Castro
12. Matt Walbeck, 1994-1996. His wikipedia page says it all: Although his professional career-started off very well-he hit .314 in 51 games in 1987-he would eventually level out and become an average hitter. He was not much of a power hitter, nor did he consistently hit for a high average.
Walbeck was part of a horrific string of catchers between Brian Harper and A.J. Pierzynski. His OPS+ during his Twins tenure was 47 and his WAR was -1.7, meaning if a replacement level play had played his position during his time with the Twins, they most likely would have won two more games with all things being equal.
Also worth noting: Of all catchers with at least 2000 plate appearances from 1990-2009, he had the worst career OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage).
11. Luis Rivas, 2000-2005. 2000 plate appearances at .262/.307/.383 (and that’s slightly *better* than his career line) is plenty reason enough to make this list. Granted, there probably wasn’t anyone better in the system, and there were other free agent needs, but Rivas was more or less just handed a job for five years without having to back it up with, you know, actual production.
Side note: I have what I suspect is a one-of-a-kind piece of Luis Rivas memorabilia. An official red Twins jersey with his name and number stitched on. For those of you who know the history of the Dairy Queen jerseys, they were only worn twice, in 1997 (so it’s unlikely it was ever officially produced). Someone must have thought enough of Rivas to have one of these jerseys custom made… then thought better of it and sold it for cheap on Ebay.
10. Bernardo Brito, 1992-1995. To say that the Twins’ outfielders lacked power in the early 1990s would be a grave understatement. The average number of home runs for the Twins’ starting outfielders between ’91 and ’94? 13, 15, 15, and 13. (Although 1994’s totals were hampered by both a shortened season and Alex Cole.) I remember talk of a young, power-hitting phenom who was tearing up the Pacific Coast League, though– one Bernardo Brito.
The reasons for optimism were Brito’s home run totals between ’89 and ’94: 22, 25, 27, 26, 20, and 29. The reasons for pessimism were his strikeout totals during that same stretch: 111, 102, 110, 124, 65, and 120. In Tom Kelly’s discipline-is-king clubhouse, Brito would have to prove that he could keep his bat on his shoulder just as much as swinging it once he got to the majors. The results? Not great. In 73 major-league at-bats, Brito walked once, whiffed 27 times, and was scuttled between the Twins and AAA four times before finally being released in 1995.
At least, fifteen years later, the Twins have realized that losing a bit of plate discipline is acceptable in order to keep a power hitter or two on the roster. (They’ve realized that, right?)
9. Denny Hocking, 1993-2003. Hocking epitomizes what is the achilles heel of the Minnesota Twins… their affinity for light hitting utility players who play in over 100 games per season. There is a place on every team for these players, but it’s not playing in the majority of games over the course of a season, and certainly not playing DH! Hocking played all non-battery positions in a season 5 times. He was thought to be a better fielder than he was, and was as bad at the plate as his numbers indicate (.252/.310/.351). This combination of versatility and futility is something the Twins can’t help but gravitate towards (see also: Punto, Nick). The only positive thing I can say about the 11 unimpressive season’s that Hocking gave the Twins is that it costs less than $4 million; which happens to be less than 1 year of Nick Punto.
8. Scott Aldred, 1997. Aldred’s 1997 season, to me, epitomizes the Twins’ starting pitching of the mid-90s. Claimed off of waivers from the Tigers in 96, Aldred finished the season with passable numbers, a winning record (6-5), and just enough glimpses of hope that you thought he could be a decent middle-of-the-rotation starter. Well, for the mid-90s Twins anyway. Then he goes out in 97 and throws up a 7.68 ERA and 1.68 WHIP while going 2-10. At least Johan Santana eventually came along to take the PTSD away from seeing jersey #57 take the hill.
7. Sidney Ponson, 2007. Poor primary and secondary numbers? Out-of-shape, even by a pitcher’s standards? Multiple DUI arrests? Jailed in his home country for punching a judge on a beach on Christmas Day? “Don’t mind if we do,” said the Twins front office in 2007, signing Aruban (a reuben? yum) right-hander Ponson to a minor-league contract. Sloppy Sidney lasted only seven starts for the Twins, going 2-5 with an ERA of 6.93 and a WHIP barely shy of 2.000. Released just six weeks into the season, Ponson represents the worst investment of $1,000,000 of Pohlad cash not involving the name “Punto.”
6. David McCarty, 1993-1995. McCarty was drafted in the first round by the Twins, 3rd overall, in 1991. Other
notables from the first round picked after McCarty: Dmitry Young (4th), Manny Ramirez (13th), Cliff Floyd (14th), and Shawn Green (16th). Assumed to be the first heir apparent to Hrbek’s spot at 1st base McCarty wowed the Twins in his first year with a line of: .214/.257/.286 and an OPS+ of 46. During his time with the Twins he had a WAR of -3.6. Which means during his 2.5 seasons with the club he cost them nearly 4 games compared to a replacement player. The McCarty era ended in mid-2005 when he was traded to the Reds for John Courtright (who pitched exactly 1 inning in his entire career, for the Reds…).
5. Jeff Reboulet, 1993-1996. The first in a long and celebrated line of Twins Futility Infielders. The FI gets around 200 ABs a year but only bats in the .250 range. Plays multiple positions ‘well’, and to hear the manager tell it, this skill is essential to ‘give some guys a day off here and there’. Fine, perhaps, but would it be too much to ask this player to be just a teeny bit better when he is in the lineup? Jeff Reboulet, in his five years with the Twins: 1000ABs, .248 average, and played all eight fielding positions. Check, check, and check.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the #2 most similar player to Reboulet listed at baseball-reference.com: Nick Punto.
4. Pat Mahomes, 1992-1995. Nobody represents the ineptitude of the Twins’ pitching in the early- to mid-nineties like Pitchout Pat. There was a palpable sense of dread whenever he took the mound, as everyone– fans, players– knew that the team’s chance of winning was slim. Mahomes lost 28 games (while winning 18) for Minnesota in three-plus years before he was traded to the Red Sox for something called Brian Looney. Looney never logged an inning for the Twins; we would have been better off if Mahomes had had the same fate. I think he’s the reason Tom Kelly got shingles.
My main memory of Mahomes is of him taking his hat off and wiping the sweat off of his forehead with his arm. He was frequently in situations that caused lots of perspiration. I should also, apparently, remember him pitching from the stretch position a lot, as his WHIP (walks + hits / innings pitched, meaning the average number of baserunners allowed per inning) for the Twins was 1.617. The average WHIP is roughly 1.380. Averaging 1.6 runners on base per inning is very, very bad, particularly in a game where the point is to keep runners off of the basepaths.
After Boston, Mahomes bounced around to the Mets, Rangers, and Cubs, before his last year with Pittsburgh in 2003. Amazingly, he compiled an 8-0 record with a 3.68 ERA for New York in 1999. The only reasonable assumption is that he made a deal with the devil for his performance that season.
3. Rondell White, 2006-2007. Signed in December to 2005 to a 2 year $5 million contract. White was coming off a .313/.348/.489 season with Detroit… and a surgically repaired dislocated shoulder.
The former All-Star started off horribly with the Twins and was sent down to Triple-A on a what was called a “rehab assignment”. After a rash of outfield injuries White got more playing time in the 2nd half and “bounced back” to post a line of .246/.276/.365. In an interview after the 2006 season Rondell gave himself a first-half grade of F+ and a second half grade of B+, with an overall grade of D. And this was his *good* year with the Twins
2007 was even worse for White. Only getting into 38 games and putting up a .174/.235/.321 and an OPS+ of 48 (FYI: 100 is “average”). 2007 was White’s last year in the majors (at age 35), and I’m guessing his name showing up in the Mitchell Report didn’t help.
Great use of $5 million by the Twins!
2. Butch Huskey, 2000. Signed for a seemingly reasonable half-mil, but part of a fleet of ailed ‘professional’ DHs that the Twins have rolled out in the past decade. Past success (a few 20 home run seasons) failed to be reproduced, as Huskey batted .223 with 5 HRs in around 200 at-bats before the Twins traded him and Todd Walker to the Rockies for Todd Sears and a bucketful of cash. Naturally, Huskey proceeded to bat .348 for the Rox.
Huskey did provide one famous Metrodome moment. Of course, it came the year before, when he was a Seattle Mariner:
1. Tommy Herr, 1988. To me, picking the worst Twin was easy. Tom Herr came over to the Twins in April of 1988 from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right-fielder Tom Brunansky, replacing the decent-glove/no-hit Steve Lombardozzi at second base. To call Herr’s performance meager (.263/.349/326) would be generous; it’s more the intangibles that made him so bad.
First, there was a certain “breaking up the band” sensation about this trade; the team broke up the core of its 1987 championship team by sending Bruno to, of all teams, the Cards, whom the Twins beat in the World Series the previous October. Second, there was the chemistry factor: conjecture states that Herr convinced third-baseman Gary Gaetti to become a born-again Christian soon after joining the team. No problems with that on its surface, but Gaetti apparently withdrew from his previous rituals with teammates, leaving Kent Hrbek and Dan Gladden and others in their post-game, beer- and profanity-laden celebrations. Finally, this one is personal for me, in that Lombardozzi was my favorite player at the time. Bringing in Herr– from the hated Cardinals, no less– so that Lombo couldsit on the bench only made this trade worse for me. I remember watching a game in June of ’88 where Lombardozzi started for Herr, and ended up hitting an inside-the-park homerun in his place; I jumped and yelled and did all sorts of other things that weren’t socially appropriate for an 11-year-old (thankfully I was an only child).
Twins management learned from their mistakes, although clearly not much, by flipping Herr for the equally horrible Shane Rawley after only 304 at-bats in a Twins uniform.