COMMENTARY | In the history of the Minnesota Twins, two second basemen have set the bar very high. After that, there isn't much to choose from.
In fact, if Brian Dozier continues to develop as he has as a second baseman, he will most likely be considered the third best second baseman in Twins history as early as the end of next year. He's not quite there yet, however.
This is a continuation of a series I started on the best players in Twins history. I've already looked at the best starting pitchers, catchers and first basemen in team history. These look at just the years the players were with the Twins.
3. Tim Teufel (1983-1985)
Teufel's career with the Twins was brief but productive. He lit up Class AAA in 1983 with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs, which earned him a September call-up. He hit well in a brief stint and took over second base the next season when John Castino's career was ended by a back injury.
Teufel helped a young Twins team to a surprising second-place finish in the AL West. He tied the Twins record for most home runs in a season with 14 (since broken by Dozier) and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. Teammate Kirby Puckett finished third in the voting despite Teufel being a much better overall hitter that year.
Teufel had another solid season in 1985 and then was traded along with Pat Crosby to the New York Mets for Billy Beane, Joe Klink and Bill Latham. As a Twin Teufel batted .265/.342/.409 with 27 home runs and 117 RBIs in 1,230 plate appearances.
2. Chuck Knoblauch (1991-1997)
Knoblauch skipped Class AAA to make the Twins out of spring training in 1991. He helped the Twins to win the World Series and won Rookie of the Year that season. However, he was still just a slap-hitting top-of-the-order hitter for his first three seasons.
Then, he began adding power to his game in 1994 and led the league in doubles. He had a career high of 45 doubles that season despite the season being cut short by a strike. In 1995, he reached double-digits in home runs for the first time and was awarded with his first Silver Slugger.
Then in 1996, Knoblauch had a season for the ages when he batted .341/.448/.517. According to Baseball-Reference.com's WAR metric, only Ben Zobrist in 2011 and Bret Boone in 2001 had more valuable seasons as primarily second basemen in the AL since 1961, which was the Twins' first season.
Knoblauch's power dropped off in 1997, but he still got his second Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove.
That offseason, Knoblauch was traded by his request to the New York Yankees for Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Brian Buchanon and Danny Mota. Guzman and Milton would eventually become key players when they returned to the postseason in 2002 for the first time since 1991, Knoblauch's rookie season. As a Twin, Knoblauch batted .304/.391/.416 with 276 stolen bases and 713 runs scored in 4,573 plate appearances.
1. Rod Carew (1967-1978)
For most teams, finding a second baseman with a better career than Knoblauch's would be quite difficult. But Carew's election to the Hall of Fame in 1991 and his seven batting titles as a Twin, including five as primarily a second baseman, make him an easy choice.
In his career, Carew played slightly more games at first base, but all of his days as a second baseman came with the Twins, so he played a lot more games at second base for the Twins before being traded to the California Angels prior to the 1979 season for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens.
Carew was an 18-time All-Star, including all 12 seasons with Minnesota. He was voted the starting second baseman for the All-Star team eight times.
In his last three seasons as a second baseman, 1973-1975, Carew averaged .358/.422/.470 and 204 hits. In his nine seasons as primarily a second baseman, Carew batted .328/.383/.430 in 4,948 plate appearances.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
More from this author:
- Sports & Recreation
- Tim Teufel