Monday, March 5, 2007
Top 10 Twins Hitters of the '70s
Good Monday Morning everyone! Welcome back to the work week! In case you missed it, I posted several thoughts throughout the weekend. Game thoughts from the Friday night game, the Saturday afternoon game, the Sunday afternoon game and some other random thoughts.
Previously, we have looked at the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the 1980s and 1990s. On each list, there were some good names considering that it was a couple of tough decades for the organization (with a World Series championship in each). Today, I want to look at the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the 1970s. The team was very good in 1970 and 1971, but then there was a drastic fall-off which seemed to directly correlate with the Tony Oliva injury and Harmon Killebrew's decline. There was one player who stood out above the rest though! So, let's get to the list. Hopefully this will be a fun list for the young people, and for those able to remember these names, hopefully it is a fun reminder!
*Note - all stats only include the 1970-1979 seasons. Statistics from the '60s or '80s 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 Bobby Darwin, OF
Bobby Darwin made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Angels at the age of 19 in 1962. He got one at bat. His next big league appearance came in 1969 with the LA Dodgers when he played in six games but did not get an at bat. His next big league appearance gave him 20 at bats in 11 games in 1971. Following that 1971 season, Darwin was traded to the Twins in exchange for Paul Powell. He played in at least 145 games for the Twins the next three season. He hit 22, 18 and 25 home runs in those seasons. He also struck out 145, 137 and 127 times in those seasons. In June of 1975 (11 days before my birth), he was traded to the Brewers for Johnny Briggs. He played for three more teams as a role player. For the '70s, Darwin's Twins rankings are seventh in Slugging Percentage (.417), tied for 10th with 11 triples, fourth in home run (70), and 6th in RBI (282).
#9 Lyman Bostock, OF
The Lyman Bostock story has been well chronicled. He came up with the Twins in 1975 and had three solid seasons with the team. He became a free agent and signed a big deal with the California Angels. In late September of 1978, he was in Gary, Indiana, where he was shot and killed. In his three years with the Twins, he showed great improvement. In his second season, he hit .323. In 1977, he hit .336/.389/.508 with 36 doubles, 12 triples, 14 homers and 90 RBI. He was also a better than average defensive OF. For the '70s, Bostock ranks 2nd in batting average (.318), 4th in On-Base Percentage (.366), tied for 4th in Slugging Percentage (.446), 9th in doubles (78), 2nd in triples (26), 10th in Runs Scored (231) and 8th in Stolen Bases (30).
#8 Dan Ford, OF
Ford made his big league debut with the Twins in 1975 at the age of 23 and spent the next four years with the team. He came to the Twins organization in a trade with the Oakland A's with Dennis Myers. The A's received Pat Bourque. With the Twins, Ford was solid and consistent. In the four years, he hit between .267 and .280. He hit between 11 and 20 homers, and he had more than 59 RBI each year. He was traded to the Angels following the 1978 season, and the Twins got Ron Jackson and Danny Goodwin in return. For the decade, Ford ranks 9th in Games Played (570), 9th in At Bats (1,999), 8th in Batting Average (.272), 6th in Slugging Percentage (.435), 7th in Hits (543), 4th in doubles (106), 3rd in triples (25), 5th in Home Runs (57), 5th in RBI (287), 6th in Runs Scored (303) and 6th in Stolen Bases (36).
#7 Cesar Tovar, OF
Tovar came up with the Twins in 1965 and stayed with the team until he was traded to the Phillies after the 1972 season. The Twins received Ken Sanders, Ken Reynolds and Joe Lis for him. For the '70s, however, he played in just three seasons which is why is is this far down on the list. Although he is known for playing a bunch of positions, in the '70s, he was primarily an OF. In 1970, he hit .300/.356/.442 with 36 doubles, 13 triples, 10 homers and 30 stolen bases. He walked 52 times and struck out 47 times. He led the league in doubles and triples. (He finished 18th in MVP voting) In 1971, he led the league with 204 hits. In 1972, he led the league by being hit by 14 pitches. For the decade of the '70s, Tovar ranks 10th in At Bats (1,855), 4th in Batting Average (.293), 6th in On-Base Percentage (.348), 6th in Hits (544), 7th in doubles (85), 5th in triples (24), 7th in Runs (300) and 3rd in stolen bases (69).
#6 Roy Smalley, SS
Smalley came to the Twins organization in June of 1976 from the Rangers with Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon, Bill Singer and Cash. The Rangers received Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson. Smalley was Twins manager Gene Mauch's nephew. He immediately moved in as the team's starting SS at the age of 23. That year (1976), he led the league with 24 sacrifice bunts. In his four seasons with the Twins in the '70s, he actually hit over .270 three times. Although not as big as Cal Ripken, Smalley provided power from the SS position before it was expected. In 1978 and 1979, he hit 19 and 24 home runs, respectively. He was an All Star both years. He was a good defensive SS. His numbers indicate that he had an average fielding percentage, but that he had a very good range factor. For the '70s, Smalley ranks 8th in Games Played (573), 5th in At Bats (2,175), 7th in On-Base Percentage (.346), 5th in Hits (567), 6th in doubles (96), tied for 7th in triples (14), 7th in Home Runs (51), 8th in RBI (264) and 5th in Runs Scored (313).
#5 Harmon Killebrew, 1B/DH
Doesn't it just seem wrong that "Killer" would be ranked 5th on any Twins list? Well, this is where I remind you that we are only talking about his numbers through the decade of the 1970s, so his numbers in the '60s do not factor in. Killebrew started the decade very well. He was 3rd in the 1970 AL MVP voting. That year, he hit .271/.411/.546 with 41 homers and 113 RBI. In 1971, he dropped to .254 with 28 homers and 119 RBI. In 1972, the numbers fell to .231 with 26 homers and 74 RBI. He played in just 69 games in 1973 and 122 games in 1974. He was an All-Star in 1970 and 1971 still. He led the league in RBI in 1971. Early in the decade, he played 3B and 1B, but then did a lot of DHing after that. Sadly, Killebrew was released after the 1974 season. He signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1975 and hit just .199 in 106 games. For the Twins in the '70s, Killebrew ranks 5th in Games Played (634), 6th in At Bats (2,041), 3rd in On-Base Percentage (.373 despite a .247 batting average), 3rd in Slugging Percentage (.451), 10th in Hits (504), 1st in Home Runs (113), 4th in RBI (392) and 8th in Runs Scored (267).
#4 Steve Braun, OF
This is one that is probably fairly controversial, I know. How can a light-hitting OF rank ahead of Killebrew? Well, despite the fact that in his six seasons (1971-1976) with the Twins, he never played more than 136 games, he really did a lot to show his worth. He hit between .280 and .302 each year. His OPS+ was between 107 and 135 in that time. He walked 356 times while striking out just 285 times. He was the Twins 10th round pick in 1966. Following the 1976 season, Braun was lost in the Expansion Draft to the Seattle Mariners. He played in 139 games for the M's in 1977, then was traded. He spent another eight seasons in the big leagues, but he was a pinch hitter and only had more than 100 at bats in a season one more time. He won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1982. But, for the decade of the '70s, Braun ranks 3rd in Games Played (751), 4th in At Bats (2,429), 6th in Batting Average (.284), 2nd in On-Base Percentage (.376), 4th in Hits (689), 5th in doubles (103), tied for 7th in triples (14), 7th in RBI (273), 3rd in Runs Scored (333) and 7th in stolen bases (32).
#3 Tony Oliva, OF/DH
Tony Oliva played with the Twins from 1962-1976. He was an MVP-caliber player from 1964-1971. He played in just 10 games in 1972 because of his knee injury, and when he came back, he was a solid DH, but his best years were behind him. He was an All-Star in 1970 and 1971. In 1970, he finished 2nd in the MVP vote to Boog Powell of the Orioles. That year, he hit .325/.364/.514 with 36 doubles, 7 triples, 23 home runs and 107 RBI. He led the league in doubles and hits (204). He then led the league in Batting Average in 1971 at .337. Defensively, we always hear about his great arm. Well, in 1970, he had 12 errors in RF. In 1971, he had another seven errors. For the '70s, here is where Antonio Oliva Lopez Hernandes Javique Oliva ranks: 2nd in Games Played (764), 2nd in At Bats (2,751), 3rd in Batting Average (.299), 8th in On-Base Percentage (.345), 4th in Slugging Percentage (.446), 2nd in Hits (823), 2nd in doubles (116), 8th in triples (12), 2nd in Home Runs (88), 2nd in RBI (412) and 4th in Runs Scored (325).
#2 Larry Hisle, OF
Hisle came to the Twins after the 1972 season with John Cumberland for Wayne Granger. He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting in 1969 while with the Phillies, but struggled the next two years and spent the 1972 season in the minors. He then spent 1973 through 1977 with the Twins. He gradually got better and better and was an All-Star in 1977. That year, he hit .302 with 28 homers and 119 RBI. He also stole 21 bases. He was a good power/speed guy. But after the 1977 season, he became too expensively (likely) and signed a free agent deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. He finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting in 1979 and was an All-Star, but from 1980-1983, he didn't play more than 27 games in any season. For the decade of the '70s, Hisle ranked 4th in Games Played (662), 3rd in At Bats (2,437), 5th in Batting Average (.286), 5th in On-Base Percentage (.354), 2nd in Slugging Percentage (.457), 3rd in Hits (697), 3rd in Doubles (109), 4th in Triples (23), 3rd in Home Runs (87), 3rd in RBI (409), 2nd in Runs Scored (369) and 2nd in Stolen Bases (92).
#1 Rod Carew, 2B/1B
In arguably the easiest decision I will have to make all year, the Twins Top Hitter of the 1970s is Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Carew came up with the Twins in 1967 and stayed with the team through the 1978 season. In February of 1979, he was traded to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens. So, in the decade of the '70s, Carew spent nine seasons with the Twins. he was an All-Star nine times. He had five Top 10 MVP finishes, and in 1977, he won the AL MVP Award. That year, he hit .388 with 14 homers and 100 RBI. He also was the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award that year. He hit over .300 all nine years and won six batting titles (and four On-Base Percentage titles). He hit over .350 five times! He had over 200 hits four times. He stole 40 or more bases twice. He played 2B from through the 1975 season when he moved to 1B. For the decade of the '70s, Carew ranks 1st in Games Played (1,248), 1st in At Bats (4,802), 1st in Batting Average (.345), 1st in On-Base Percentage (.407), 1st in Slugging Percentage (.460), 1st in Hits (1,657), 1st in Doubles (226), 1st in Triples (77), tied for 5th in Home Runs (57), 1st in RBI (584), 1st in Runs Scored (759) and 1st in Stolen Bases (235). Not a bad career!
The '70s began with a Twins team led by veterans like Killebrew, Oliva and Tovar. Carew had a couple of years under his belt. But after 1972, things were just not good for the Twins at all. These rankings try to look at both overall numbers and then peak years performance. On this list, however, are two Hall of Famers and a borderline Hall of Famer. There were a couple of very underrated players that you may have forgotten.
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.
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