Friday, March 9, 2007
Top 10 Twins Hitters of the '60s
Good Morning! Seems like every week, that TGIF phrase is more and more appropriate! (Before getting started, click here and be sure to say "Hi" for me!)
Previously, we have looked at the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. On each list, there have been several good names considering those were some pretty tough decades for the organization. Today, I want to look at the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the 1960s. The team was below .500 its first year but then was very good much of the rest of the decade.
*Note - all stats only include the 1961-1969 seasons. Statistics from the days of the Washington Senators or '70s are not included.
**Note 2 - it is really hard to find pictures of a lot of these guys, so I am going to use some old baseball cards. Each picture will be linked to the great Twins Cards website, to their individual page. Be sure to check them out!
#10 Don Mincher, 1B
Don Mincher signed with the White Sox in 1956. At the beginning of the 1969 season, he was traded from the Sox to the Washington Senators along with Earl Battey and cash for Roy Sievers. Of course, he came to Minnesota with the team in 1961. While with the Twins, he gradually got more playing time. In 1961, he got into just 35 games. The next two years, he played in just over half of the team's games. Then from 1964-1966, he played between 120 and 139 games each season. He did not hit for average (batting average was between .237 and .258), but he had very good Isolated Discipline (so solid On-Base Percentages). He would also hit between 14 and 23 homers in his years with playing time. He played 1B, but according to his numbers, he was not very good over there. In 1965, he led the league in intentional walks... for some reason! He was traded to the California Angels after the 1966 season with Pete Cimino and Jimmie Hall for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez. He would be an All-Star for them in 1967 and 1969. For the decade of the '60s for the Twins, Mincher ranks 8th in Games Played (617), 7th in On-Base Percentage (.340, despite a .244 batting average), 4th in Slugging Percentage (.479), 10th in doubles (77), 5th in Home Runs (92), 8th in RBI (270) and 10th in Runs Scored (230).
#9 Rod Carew, 2B
Rod Carew signed with the Twins in June of 1974. The Panamanian came up with the Twins at the start of the 1967 season and became that year's American League Rookie of the Year. That year, he hit .292/.341/.409 with 22 doubles, seven triples, 8 home runs and 51 RBI. The following year, he hit just .273. In 1969, he became the Rod Carew that would become a Hall of Famer. He hit .332 and hit well over .300 the rest of his career. It is strange to have a player of this caliber this far down on the list, but remember, he only spent three years in the '60s with the Twins. Of course, he was an All-Star all three of those years too. Interestingly, he played in just 137, 127 and 123 games during those seasons. Defensively, he was primarily a 2B during these years, and he was certainly a below average fielder, although he showed good range. So, for the decade of the '60s, Rod Carew ranks second in Batting Average (.299), 6th in On-Base Percentage (.346), 8th in Slugging Percentage (.408), 9th in Doubles (79), 10th in Triples (13) and seventh in Stolen Bases (36).
#8 Rich Rollins, 3B
Rich Rollins signed a contract with the Washington Senators in 1960. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 1961 at the age of 23. He played in 13 games and got 17 at bats. In 1962, however, he was an All-Star and finished 8th in league MVP voting. He was a regular with the Twins from 1962 to 1965, primarily a 3B, and stayed with the team through the 1968 season. He was then drafted by the Seattle Pilots in the 1968 Expansion Draft. For the decade of the '60s, Rollins ranks 6th in Games Played (888), 6th in At Bats (3,048), 6th in Batting Average (.272), 10th in On-Base Percentage (.333), 10th in Slugging Percentage (.394), 6th in Hits (620), 6th in Doubles (117), 5th in Triples (20), 8th in Home Runs (71), 6th in RBI (369), 5th in Runs Scored (395) and 9th in Stolen Bases (15).
#7 Cesar Tovar, IF/OF
Tovar finished 7th when I looked at the Top Twins players of the '70s as well. He is a guy who would likely rank higher if we looked at the Top Twins of the era from 1966-1975. But, we're not, so he comes in at #7 in each. The Venezuelan signed originally with the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1959. In December of 1964, he gave to the Twins from the Phillies in exchange for Gerry Arrigo. Until 1968, he was really a super utility player logging significant time at 2B, 3B, SS and the OF positions. It wasn't until 1969 that he became a more-permanent OF. Looking at the numbers, it would appear that he was not a good defensive player regardless of where he was playing. However, Tovar played nearly every day, and in 1967, he led the league with 164 games played. He finished second in the league in hitting in 1967 and 1968. For the '60s, Tovar ranked 7th in Games Played (631), 7th in At Bats (2,287), 7th in Batting Average (.271), 7th in Hits (620), 7th in Doubles (108), 4th in Triples (23), 9th in RBI (189), 3rd in Runs Scored (566) and 1st in Stolen Bases (117).
#6 Jimmie Hall, OF
Jimmie Hall only spent four years with the Twins, but they were four very good years, or at least the three were good. He came up with the Twins in 1963 and hit .260 with 33 home runs and 80 RBI. That was only good for third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He was an All-Star in 1964 and 1965 (when he also finished 13th in MVP voting). He was an average defensive CF. However, for some reason, he has really distanced himself from the Twins organization since he was traded to the Angels in the Dean Chance trade (mentioned above in the Mincher section). I can't help but wonder if he was upset about being an All-Star in 1965 yet only playing in two games in that year's World Series. You see, Hall batted left-handed and the Dodgers threw lefties Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen in five of the seven games... and I'm sure Don Drysdale was no picnic to try to hit against (Hall went 1-7 with five strikeouts). Joe Nossek played CF in the other five games. Despite the bad feelings (And if anyone knows more, please share with us), Hall was tremendous. For the '60s, Hall ranks 10th in Games Played (573), 8th in At Bats (1,885), 8th in Batting Average (.269), 9th in On-Base Percentage (.334), 3rd in Slugging Percentage (.481), 8th in Hits (507), tied for 8th in Triples (16), 4th in Home Runs (98), 7th in RBI (288), 9th in Runs Scored (282) and 8th in Stolen Bases (23).
#5 Earl Battey, C
Earl Battey began his career with the White Sox. He was a backup catcher from 1955 through 1959. Then he came to the Senators in the 1960 trade that involved Don Mincher and Roy Sievers. He then played for the Twins from 1961 through the 1967 season after which he was released. In those seven season with the Twins, he was a four time All-Star and a two time Gold Glove winner (he had also won one with the Senators in 1960). Twice, he finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting. Battey played a lot of games for a catcher in those years, frequently when hurt. I was very impressed with his walk to strikeout rates. In 1965, he walked 50 times and struck out just 23 times in 456 plate appearances. In 1966, he walked 43 times and struck out 30 times in 412 plate appearances. So, for the decade of the '60s, Battey ranked 4th in Games Played (990), 5th in At Bats (3,228), 4th in Batting Average (.277), 5th in On-Base Percentage (.354), 7th in Slugging Percentage (.412), 5th in Hits (894), 5th in Doubles (138), 6th in Home Runs (91), 4th in RBI (410), 7th in Runs Scored (346) and even tied for 10th in Stolen Bases (12).
#4 Zoilo Versalles, SS
Zoilo Versalles signed with the Washington Senators out of Cuba in 1958. After playing very limited games with the Senators in 19559 and 1960, Versalles became a regular in 1961. As we all know, he was the American League MVP in 1965. That year, he his .273/.319/.462 with a league-leading 45 doubles, league-leading 12 triples, 19 homers, 77 RBI, 126 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. 1967 was his last year with the Twins, and he hit just .200. After the season, he was traded to the Dodgers with Mudcat Grant for Johnny Roseboro, Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller. He hit just .196 for the Dodgers in 1968 and he spent the next three years with three big league teams and the minor leagues. But, in his Twins years, he was a two-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner. Although his fielding percentage was below average, he shows a great range factor. He had a couple of good years, but if you look at www.baseball-reference.com, his Most Similar Player is none other than Neifi Perez. However, for the '60s, Versalles ranks 3rd in Games Played (1,080), 3rd in At Bats (4,193), 4th in Hits (1,052), 3rd in Doubles (190), 1st in Triples (58), 7th in Home Runs (86), 5th in RBI (405), 3rd in Runs Scored (566) and 2nd in Stolen Bases (84).
#3 Bob Allison, OF
Bob Allison came up with the Senators in 1958 and stayed with the Twins throughout his career (1970). He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1958, and an All-Star. With the Twins, he was twice an All Star (1963 and 1964). His batting average was anywhere from .220-.287, but he did hit 20 or more homers in seven of his nine seasons with the Twins in the '60s. His OPS+ was over 108 each year. It was over 130 five times! Interestingly, he led the AL in OPS in 1963... at .911! He played both corner outfield positions, but he is likely best known as a LF because of the amazing catch he had sprawling out for a catch. His Most Similar player is Roger Maris. But for the decade of the '60s, Allison ranks 2nd in Games Played (1,334), 2nd in At Bats (4,355), 3rd in On-Base Percentage (.362, despite a .255 batting average), 5th in Slugging Percentage (.474), 2nd in Hits (1,110), 2nd in Doubles (192), 2nd in Triples (44), 2nd in Home Runs (225), 2nd in RBI (703), 2nd in Runs Scored (712) and 4th in Stolen Bases (70).
#2 Tony Oliva, OF
If you're a believer in Win Shares, then Allison should probably be second because for the decade, he had more than Oliva. But Oliva did his work in just six seasons (and a handful of at bats), so that gave him the edge. Oliva signed out of Cuba in 1961. He came up and went 4-9 in 1962. he went 3-7 in 1963. He then won the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year (and was 4th in MVP voting). He finished second to Versalles in 1965 in MVP voting. He finished 6th in MVP voting in 1966. He was a six time All-Star in the '60s. He hit over .300 six of eight years (including the September call-ups). He had six seasons of double-figure stolen bases. He had just one 100 RBI seasons. He won a Gold Glove in 1966, but for the most part, he had a lot of errors, despite (or maybe because of) a strong arm. Oliva stayed with the Twins through the 1976 season. He ranked as the #3 played for the Twins in the 1970s. For the '60s, he ranked 5th in Games Played (912), 4th in At Bats (3,550), 1st in Batting Average (.308), 4th in On-Base Percentage (.359), 2nd in Slugging Percentage (.500), 3rd in Hits (1,094), 1st in Doubles (213), 3rd in Triples (36), 3rd in Home Runs (132), 3rd in RBI (535), 4th in Runs Scored (546) and 2nd in Stolen Bases (84).
#1 Harmon Killebrew, IF/OF
Killebrew came up as an 18 year old in June of 1954 with the Washington Nationals. He went 4-13 (.308), which was the only time in his career he hit over .300... or even .290. He spent parts of each season through 1958 with the big club before becoming a regular in 1959. He moved to Minneapolis with the team and stayed through the 1974 season. The Hall of Famer is the easy choice for the Twins Top Hitter of the 1960s. For this, we will only be looking at the nine year period from 1961-1969. He was an All Star eight years. He played in 162 or more games three times. He hit 44 or more home runs six of the nine years. He was the AL MVP in 1969. In 1967, he finished 2nd to Triple Crown Winner Carl Yastrzemski. In 1962, he finished third behind Mickey Mantle and Bobby Richardson. He finished fourth in 1963 and 1966. He played all over the field defensively. In 1961, he spent most of his time at 1B. From 1962-1964, he was primarily in the OF. then the rest of the decade, he split time between 1B and 3B. For the decade, Killebrew played 554 games at 1B, 466 games in the OF and 315 at 3B. But hitting was what Killer thrived at. He led the league in RBI twice, in Home Runs five times. For the '60s, Killebrew ranks 1st in Games Played (1,429), 1st in At Bats (4,994), 9th in Batting Average (.267), 1st in On-Base Percentage (.387), 1st in Slugging Percentage (.546), 1st in Hits (1,331), 4th in Doubles (183), 7th in Triples (17), 1st in Home Runs (393), 1st in RBI (1,012), 1st in Runs Scored (863) and tied for 10th in Stolen Bases (12).
The '60s were a great decade for the Twins. The biggest news may have simply been coming to Minnesota. The Twins were above .500 in six of the nine seasons. The 1965 season was obviously the highlight, but another division championship occurred in 1969. They won 90 or more games in five of nine seasons. Sam Mele was the manager from 1962 to 1967. As with the '70s, there are two Hall of Famers on this list (Carew and Killebrew) and one near-HOFer (Oliva). The ten players listed all played a significant role in the early years of the Twins, but there were a couple of others that were very good as well and close to this list. For one, I didn't realize just how good of a leadoff hitter Lenny Green was. Unfortunately, he was only a starter with the Twins in 1961 and 1962, more of a role player (for some reason) in 1963 and then was traded early in the 1964 season. Also involved in that trade was Vic Power, who was very good for his two full seasons with the Twins. Rich Reese spent parts of 1964-1972 with the Twins, but was not a regular until 1968. Ted Uhlaender played in over 100 games from 1965-1969 with the Twins. He was a good On-Base guy, but had little power.
Any thoughts on the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the '70s? I came up with this list relatively quickly, so please feel free to argue and debate. Send me an e-mail or leave some Comments below.
American Idol is a crazy show! Actually, it is a great show, and last night, I think we found out that it is America that is crazy! My choice to win the whole competition, Sabrina Sloan, was not voted into the Final 12! That is so ridiculous. Instead, we will have to listen to Haley for another week! At least America was right in finally ridding the competition of Antonella Barba. Jared Cotter appeared incredibly arrogant, so I didn't mind seeing him go. He wasn't great anyway. And Sundance Head, as much as he struggled until the last two weeks, would have been a much better representative to the Final 12 that Sanjaya Malakar. Every year there are mess ups. Usually someone that should finish 4th or 5th gets cut early. But this time, the #1 singer in the competition, Sabrina Sloan, does not even get to the final 12. It's official... Blake Lewis is the official favorite to win Ameican Idol... according to SethSpeaks.
The Twins played a couple of games yesterday, splitting the squad. One team played the Cardinals, the other the Red Sox. First, the Red Sox game pitted Johan Santana against Curt Schilling. This time out, Santana went three shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out three. Matt Guerrier, Jeremy Cummings, Mike Venafro, Randy Choate and Jose Mijares continued the shutout. It was Mijares's first spring appearance since returning from Venezuela after his brother's death. Torii Hunter hit a first inning RBI double to score Joe Mauer for the game's lone run. The Twins had just two more hits the rest of the game.
In the other game, Scott Baker went to the mound. He had two poor outings to start his spring, but yesterday, he got to start against the Cardinals. He went three shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out four. Of his 35 pitches thrown, 25 were strikes (knowledge thanks to Joe Christensen!). Kevin Slowey then struck out three in his two shutout frames. He gave up two hits and walked on. Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek each threw a shutout inning. Jason Miller took the loss by allowing one run in his inning.
Former Twins Update (games of Thursday)
Grant Balfour got two outs for the Brewers. And, he gave up three hits, a walk and three runs.
AJ Pierzynski went 0-1 with a walk as the White Sox catcher.
Todd Walker played some 2B for the Padres and went 1-3.
Henry Blanco started at catcher for the Cubs and went 1-3.
Alex Romero pinch hit and went into LF for the Diamondbacks. He went 0-1. Augie Ojeda went 0-2 as the backup SS.
Chris Gomez started at 3B for the Orioles at 3B and went 0-1. Terry Tiffee replaced him and went 0-1.
Doug Mientkiewicz pinch hit for the Yankees and went 0-1.
David Ortiz was 0-3 with the Red Sox.
Joe Mays took the loss for the Dodgers. He threw two innings of relief. He gave up three hits and a walk for two runs. Joe Beimel got an inning of relief. He struck out one.
Brent Abernathy was 0-1 and played both 2B and 3B for the Phillies.
Cristian Guzman was the DH for the Nationals. He was 1-2 with a double, a run and an RBI.
Michael Ryan is putting himself in a good position for a bench job with the Pirates. he went 1-1 with an RBI.
Dustan Mohr played CF and went 0-1 for the Devil Rays.
Chad Moeller went 1-2 catching for the Reds. Javy Valentin was 0-0 with a walk.
OK, I must sleep! It's been a long, but really good week for the site! Thank you all for your readership, participation and support! Have a great weekend!
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