Who is the all time Twins' most valuable player?

I do know that this a fairly controversial question and there are probably 4-5 players who will roll off any Twins' fans' tongue in any order and the answer could be alright. On the other hand, the answer to this question is somewhat meaningless, if there was not a single thing to consider: Lifetime achievement awards by the club, such as retiring of a number (as the Twins did for Tom Kelly recently) or induction to the team's Hall of Fame (as the Twins did for Camilo Pasqual recently). So this is really mostly an exercise. And I am looking at the Minnesota years of the franchise at the moment. There are a whole bunch of ways of looking at it, but here is what I am doing:

I am looking at the single season Wins Above Replacement (Using the Baseball-Reference way to calculate) leader(s) for the Twins and making a list of them, starting with the players who led the Twins in single season WAR more times and ending with the players who led the team in single season WAR only one season. The listings within the groups are alphabetical. I am also using the following designations to clarify a few points:

* = baseball hall of fame member
italics = Twins' hall of fame member
underline = number retired by the Twins
# = active player
bold - highest WAR by a Twins' player

Here is the list:

4 Times:

#Joe Mauer: (2006: 7.0; 2008 8.7; 2009: 7.5; 2010: 5.9)

3 Times:

*Rod Carew: (1975: 8.2; 1976: 7.2; 1977: 10.9)
*Harmon Killebrew: (1961: 5.5; 1967: 7.1; 1969: 6.1)
Chuck Knoblauch: (1995: 6.5; 1996: 8,8; 1997: 6.4)
*Kirby Puckett: (1988: 7.2; 1989: 4.3; 1992: 6.7)
Brad Radke: (1997: 4.7; 1998: 5.7; 1999: 5.5)
#Johan Santana: (2004: 7.5; 2005: 6.3; 2007: 4.9)

2 Times:

Bob Allison: (1963: 7.5; 1964: 6.2)
*Bert Blyleven: (1973: 9.2; 1974: 7.2)
Doug Corbett: (1980: 5.9, 1981: 2.5)
Kent Hrbek: (1984: 5.4; 1985: 2.5)
Kevin Tapani: (1991: 2.8; 1993: 2.8)
Tony Oliva: (1966: 6.6; 1970: 7.4)

1 Time:

#Scott Baker: (2011: 3.9)
Tom Brunanksy: (1982: 5.0)
John Castino: (1983: 4.0)
Gary Gaetti: (1986: 5.3)
Greg Gagne: (1990: 2.8)
Dave Goltz: (1978: 6.1)
Jacque Jones: (2002: 4.9)
Corey Koskie: (2003: 4.7)
Jerry Koosman: (1979: 6.5)
Shane Mack: (1994: 4.0)
Joe Mays: (2001: 5.9)
Camilo Pascual: (1962: 5.7)
CĂ©sar Tovar: (1968: 4.4)
Zoilo Versalles: (1965: 7.6)
Frank Viola: (1987: 7.6)

And a couple of comments:

  • The more I look into these type of historic lists, the more I am impressed by the way Joe Mauer looks among Hall of Fame caliber past players

  • Retiring numbers and Twins' HOF elections are very subjective. Case in point: Chuck Knoblauch, whose position in this list shows that he deserves to be at least in the Twins' HOF. On the other hand the way he left, does not bode well... I wonder how the Twins' brass will view Johan Santana 5-10 years from now

I'd love your thoughts on this


How the integration barrier broke for the Twins' franchise

February is African American/Black History Month so I wanted to contribute by looking at the integration of the Twins franchise. And it did happen at the Senators' years. The Washington Senators, even though they were one of the first Major League teams to break the ethnicity barrier, in 1913 by featuring two 17 year old lefty outfielders, Merito Acosta and Jack Calvo, both born in Cuba (and the team had a long pipeline of Cuban talent, pre-Castro), was one of the last to break the color barrier and integrate. Only the New York Yankees (1955), the Philadelphia Phillies (1957), the Detroit Tigers (1958) and the Boston Red Sox (1959) integrated later than the Senators.

The first black player made his appearance on the Senators on September 6, 1954 at Griffith Stadium and he was Cuban-born Carlos Paula (Conill). Carlos Paula was born in Havana on Monday November 28, 1927. He made his debut in the US in 1952, at age 24, playing for the Decatur Commodores of the integrated and unaffiliated, class D, Mississippi-Ohio Valley League. He played as a Right Fielder in 119 of the 127 games, hit .334 and slugged .495 mainly because of 23 doubles and 16 triples; he also had 6 HRs. The next season, he started also in Decatur, hitting .265 and slugging .490 in the first 26 games. He was then traded to the Paris Indians of the unaffiliated class B Big State (mainly Texas) League. Even though the Indians were in the League basement with a 48-96 record, Paula played 97 games, hit .309 and slugged .462 with 20 doubles, 9 triples and 6 Home Runs. This caught the eye of the Senators who purchased him from the Paris Indians in the off-season. Paula started his Senators' career with their Charlotte Hornets A league (South Atlantic) affiliate. He hit .309 and slugged .495, with a league leading 13 triples (he also had 24 doubles and 14 home runs) in 153 games. This gained him a call up to the bigs in September.

His first appearance in the majors was at Griffith Stadium on both games of a double-header against the Philadelphia Athletics. He started the first game as the Left Fielder and batted 5th, between Peter Runnels and Jim Lemon. His first action on the game was when he led the bottom of the second of a 0-0 game against Arnie Portocarrero. He struck out swinging. His first action on the field was on the top of the 3rd inning when he caught a fly ball at LF hit by Spook Jacobs (The Senators' starter in that game was Johnny Schmitz.) His second plate appearance came at the bottom of that inning with Mickey Vernon on second, Paul Runnels at first and one out with the Senators leading 1-0. He hit a long out at Right Fielder Joe Taylor. His next plate appearance came in the bottom of the 4th with the Senators really making Arnie Portocarrero work, the score up 4-0, two outs and runners on the corners. Mickey Vernon on third and Peter Runnels (who was walked to face the rookie) on first. Paula pulled a balled to the Center Field gap for a double that ended Portocarerro's day and got the Senators up 6-0. Paula singled in his next plate appearance (to the Center) against Marion Fricano on the bottom of the 6th with two outs. His final at bat was at the bottom of the 9th with Roy Dietzel on first and one out. He flew out at Center. All in all he finished that game with 2 hits, a double and 2 runs batted in, in 5 plate appearances. He also led the team (other than 1st baseman Mickey Veron) with 4 put outs and was perfect on the field. The Senators won 8-1. At that point a new leaf was turned in the Twins' Franchice history. The team was finally integrated.

At the nightcap the same day, Paula also started at Left Field and batted 5th between Runnels and Lemon. Paula went hit-less in that game in 4 plate appearances and the Senators lost 2-3. He played in 7 more games that season (started 3 more at LF, played in an other there and pinch hit in the rest) and in those total nine games, he hit .167/.231/.208. His double and the 2 RBIs on his debut were his only ones of the season. He just managed 2 more singles and a couple of BBs in the other 8 games. Paula played the whole 1955 season with the Senators. He appeared in 115 games, had 374 plate appearances, and hit a very respectable .299/.332./.449 (111 OPS+) He finished the season with 105 hits, 20 doubles, 7 triples, 6 HRs, 17 BB (3 intentional) and 47 strike outs; he stole 2 bases and was cause stealing three times, grounded into 9 double plays and was hit by a pitch 2 times. He also had 4 sacrifice flies. His 1956 season was his last in the majors. He played in 33 games with the Senators, hitting .183/.250/.341 and he was optioned to their AAA club, the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. After 53 games he was sold to the Yankees' affiliate Denver Bears, also of the American Association. After 25 games with the Bears, in order to make room in the club for future All-Star Norm Siebern, the Yankees sold him to the Philies who assigned him to their AAA club, the Miami Marlins of the International League. He played just 11 games with them before he was released. His total line at the American Association in 1956 was .319/.385/.549 with 16 HRs and 58 RBI. The next season he played with the AAA Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, then a New York Giants' affiliate. In 1958 he played with the AAA Sacramento Solons (unaffiliated) of the Pacific Coast League. In 1959, he started the season with the Solons who were now the AAA club of the Milwaukee Braves and mid-season 1959 he was traded to the International League (AAA) Cincinnati Reds affiliate, Havana Sugar Kings. We all know what happened in Cuba in 1959, but Carlo Paula's situation there is not clear. He played 31 games with the Sugar Kings and next season he surfaced in Mexico, playing 88 games with the Mexico City Tigres of the Mexican League who were the League Champions. That season, 1960, his age 32 season, was the last professional baseball season for Carlos Paula.

Paula died at the age of 55 in Miami, FL on April 25, 1983.

The Washington Senators did not sign a US-born African American player until they signed Joe Black (the first African American pitcher in the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952) as a free agent on August 7, 1957.

Transactions Involving Former Twins - January edition

As the Spring Training nears, and the invitee rosters are getting filled up, signings and trades are picking up. Here is the list of former Twins' players who changed teams this off-season, by team:

Arizona Diamondbacks:

C Henry Blanco (major league; free agent, November 2011)
LHP Craig Brelsow (traded by the Oakland Athletics with Trevor Cahill for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill, December 2011)
OF Jason Kubel (major league; free agent, December 2011)

Atlanta Braves:

LHP Dusty Hughes (minor league; free agent, November 2011)

Baltimore Orioles

SS Steve Tolleson (minor league; free agent, November 2011)
C Allan de San Miguel (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
LHP Dennys Reyes (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
RHP Pat Neshek (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Boston Red Sox

IF Nick Punto (major league; free agent, December 2011)
RHP Carlos Silva (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
OF Jason Repko (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Chicago Cubs:

IF Matt Tolbert (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Cincinnati Reds:

LHP Ron Mahay (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Cleveland Indians:

RHP Kevin Slowey (traded by the Colorado Rockies for RHP Zach Putnam, January 2012)

Colorado Rockies

IF Casey Blake (major league; free agent, December 2011)
IF/OF Michael Cuddyer (major league; free agent, December 2011)
IF Brendan Harris (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
OF Brandon Roberts (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
RHP Kevin Slowey (traded by the Twins for RHP Dan Turpen, December 2011)

Houston Astros

RHP Livan Hernandez (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Los Angeles Angels:

OF Doug Deeds (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

Los Angeles Dodgers:

IF Adam Kennedy (major league; free agent, November 2011)

Kansas City Royals:
LHP Jose Mijares (major league; free agent, December 2011)

Miami Marlins:

RHP Rob Delaney (minor league; free agent, January 2012)
3B Terry Tiffee (minor league; free agent, January 2012)

New York Mets:

LHP Chuck James (minor league; free agent, December 2011)
RHP Jon Rauch (major league; free agent, December 2011)

Oakland Athletics:

OF Jason Pridie (minor league; free agent, November 2011)

Pittsburgh Pirates:

C Jose Morales (minor league; free agent, December 2011)

San Fransisco Giants

RHP Eric Hacker (minor league; free agent, December 2011)
RHP Boof Bonser (minor league; free agent, December 2011)

Seattle Mariners:

RHP Matt Fox (minor league; free agent, November 2011)
LHP Sean Henn (minor league; free agent, December 2011)
SS Luis Rodriguez (minor league; free agent, November 2011)

St. Louis Cardinals:

RHP Shooter Hunt (drafted in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft, December 2011)
LHP JC Romero (major league; free agent, December 2011)

Texas Rangers:

RHP Joe Nathan (major league; free agent, November 2011)
IF/OF Yangervis Solarte (minor league; free agent, December 2011)

Toronto Blue Jays:
RHP Sergio Santos (traded by the Chicago White Sox for Nestor Molina, December 2011)
RHP Jim Hoey (claimed off waivers, December 2011)


Random Tuesday Twins Thoughts and Tidbits

Here is this week's installment:

  • Here is an interesting though from a couple of legislators from Florida: Allow publically-funded ballparks to be used as homeless shelters off-season. Wonder how that would play at Target Field, at the U of M football Stadium and the proposed Vikings Stadium...

  • Ron Gardenhire annointed Carl Pavano as the Twins' opening day starter 2.5 months before the fact. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a classic case of premature declaration. And back to the manager of the millennium, he already has his starting OF set up before an inning of ST and before he sees how Denard Span will come around. I bet Trevor Plouffe, Rene Tosoni, Joe Benson and company feel the love.

  • The Twins retired Tom Kelly's number 10 and the announcement came when a teary-filled Kelly was n the podium as a presenter at the Diamond Awards. Interestingly, 10 was not Kelly's first choice. He wore 41 in 2 seasons as a coach and half as a manager. However in 1987, he had t,o give it up for Jeff Reardon. And the rest is history.

  • Our old friend Pat Neshek signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles yesterday. Good luck to Pat. He will join former Twins Steven Tolleson, Dennys Reyes and Allan de San Miguel who all have signed minor league contracts with the Os this off-season.

  • Carl Pavano is doing something great (and did not get much attention or any press in Twins' Territory; and it does deserve to do so.) off the field this off-season. Watch the video, it's worth it. And you will see how Pavano trains the off-season.

  • Great story about Jamey Carroll in the Strib by Joe C. Did not realize that Carroll has twins (3-year olds Cole and Mackenzie). Must be a sign.

  • Guess who wants to make it bask to the big leagues. If he can, I can and you can. Maybe.

The parting shot today has nothing to do with the Twins or baseball. It's a car and a car that will never make it in the US. It's a car named "Carol" as in Madza Carol and is the twin (it does have something to do with twins) of Suzuki Alto. It's 2WD version gets 72 mph hwy and costs about 6500 pounds in Great Britain (that's about $10K or so.) Also available with 4WD. We can eat our heart out... (Hey, I warned you that these random thoughts are not always going to be about baseball...) :