Best Twins Players Of All Time: Top 5 Legendary Minnesota Athletes, According To Sports Fans

Minnesota is known for its natural beauty, abundance of lakes, and unbearably cold weather. It’s so cold in Minnesota that professional sports teams such as the Vikings and Twins have decided to play their home games inside a comfortable dome. Don’t let that fool you, though, these teams are tough, and the fans in Minnesota pack those stadiums full on gameday. Twins fans are some of the most passionate fans of Major League Baseball (MLB), and the organization has given them plenty to cheer for over the years. Fans love to debate, and the arguments rage on – who are the best Twins players of all time?  

Before we dive into the list of the best Minnesota Twins players, let’s look at the ways fans are willing to watch their favorite baseball teams. A survey of 2,000 sports fans found that the average fan is willing to travel over five hours and spend big bucks just to watch their favorite team play a game in person. The study found that the average sports fan would be willing to travel a whopping five hours and 48 minutes plus spend $762 on tickets just to watch their favorite team play live. Furthermore, over 30 percent of respondents said they’re willing to plan a vacation around watching their team play. 

If that’s not enough proof that sports fans are serious about their teams, another study found that two-thirds of sports fans are superstitious on game days. A survey of 2,400 sports fans found that a staggering 62 percent of respondents have blamed themselves for a loss while 38 percent of respondents feel someone in their family is bad luck. Of those fans, 84 percent have gone as far as to ask that person to leave the room while the game is on TV. That’s some serious fandom, folks. 

So, which Twins players are considered to be among the greats? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 baseball and sports-oriented websites to bring you a consensus list of the best Twins players of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed Twins players from across these sites. Think we missed one of your favorite players? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

The List: Best Twins Players Ever, According to Baseball Experts

1. Kirby Puckett (1984-1995)

The top spot on the list of the best Twins players of all time belongs to legendary Twins center fielder, Kirby Puckett. The Twins have had some amazing players come through the organization, but it is still hard to argue against Kirby Puckett as the best.

“Puckett only played 12 seasons, but he packed an amazing amount of accomplishments into a career where he played exclusively with the Twins. A 10-time All-Star, Puckett won six Silver Slugger Awards, five Gold Gloves and a batting title in 1989. Puckett won the ALCS MVP in 1991, the same year that he and the Twins would win their second World Series title in five seasons. Puckett’s No. 34 was retired by the Twins in 1997, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001,” writes Audacy

Kirby Puckett was undoubtedly the face of Minnesota Twins baseball throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Unfortunately, Puckett’s career was cut short due to eye problems. 

“He was the heart and soul of both the 1987 and 1991 World Series Championship teams. A 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger award winner, and six-time Gold Glove winner. Nine times during his career did he receive votes for the AL MVP award and he was third in the voting for the 1984 AL Rookie of the Year award. Puckett was a .318 career hitter with 2304 hits, 207 home runs, and 1085 runs batted in. In 1996 Puckett’s career was cut short when he woke up one day unable to see out of his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma and after three surgeries were unable to restore the vision he subsequently retired. Upon his retirement he became the Twins executive vice president of the team,” writes Bleacher Report

For a lot of fans, the top spot is a decision between Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, and the legendary Harmon Killebrew. Although Killebrew played longer and has more impressive stats, Puckett was the star player for two World Series championship teams. Kirby Puckett owned the late ‘80s and early ’90s, and the leaping grab he made during game six of the 1991 World Series is one of the most memorable plays in Twins franchise history. 

“The toss-up between Killebrew and Puckett could be a generational thing. If you watched Killebrew mash bombs at Metropolitan Stadium, it’s completely understandable if he’s No. 1 on your list. But Puckett’s legacy was defined by a pair of World Series titles and his Game 6 performance in the 1991 fall classic. With a leaping grab and a walk-off home run that’s one of the biggest moments in baseball history, Puckett was the Twins’ star throughout the late 80s and 90s,” furthers Sports Illustrated

2. Harmon Killebrew (1961-1974)

Speaking of Harmon Killebrew, the second spot on the list of the best Twins players of all time belongs to the hard-hitting legend, Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew was a monster at the plate, and he’s an original Minnesota Twin, having played the team’s inaugural season

“Right-handed swinging Harmon Killebrew is still to this day considered one of the absolute best power hitters in the history of the game, and for two decades the Twins organization was lucky to call him one of their own. The Payette, ID native began his career with the Washington Senators in 1954 and moved with the franchise to Minnesota in ’61, and just continually mashed baseballs everywhere he went. In 2,329 games with the franchise, Killebrew slashed .258/.378/.514 with 559 home runs, 1,540 RBI, and 277 doubles. He led the American League in homers an astounding six times and drove in more runs than anybody else on three occasions,” explains Yardbarker

Harmon Killebrew has some impressive hitting stats, but his power was unmatched. In 1967, Killebrew hit a home run over 500 feet, which was so far that the maintenance crew at the old Metropolitan Stadium painted the spot orange and marked it. 

“As one of the players that came over in the move from Washington, Killebrew was the first noticeable player in Twins history. With a bat that crushed 559 of his 573 career home runs in a Twins uniform, Killebrew was an intimidating presence in the middle of the Minnesota lineup. That power was put on display at Metropolitan Stadium where a Killebrew blast in 1967 traveled 522 feet… Killebrew was part of the 1965 American League Championship series, the 1969 American League MVP and was a key mentor for many of the players that came after him. His No. 3 was the first number retired by the Twins and as a Hall of Famer, he deserves to be high on this list,” adds Sports Illustrated

“Killebrew’s Twins made it to the postseason three times, including the 1965 World Series, which they lost to the Dodgers in seven games. Harmon hit .286 with a .444 OBP in the series with a home run and two RBI. The other two appearances came after the creation of the ALCS, each consisting of sweeps at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 and 1970. Killebrew’s bat began to slow as he aged, and the Twins released him in January 1975. The club retired his #3 that May, even though he was still playing his final season with the Royals. In 1984, the BBWAA elected Killebrew to the Hall of Fame, making him the first player to join the hall donning a Twins cap,” notes Pitcher List

3. Rod Carew (1967-1978)

The third spot on the list of the best Twins players of all time belongs to none other than Rod Carew. Fans could argue between Puckett, Killebrew, and Rod Carew as being the best player in Twins franchise history, and none of them would be wrong. Carew is widely considered one of the best second basemen and one of the best contact hitters in MLB history.  

“Left-handed swinging Rod Carew spent the first 12 seasons of his 19-year Major League career in Minnesota and put together a resume that makes him easily the most accomplished Minnesota Twin ever. In 1,635 games with the organization, Carew slashed .334/.393/.448 with 469 extra-base hits, 733 RBI, and 271 stolen bases. He represented the Twins in the all-star game in all 12 of his years with the club, led the league in hits three times, and won an unbelievable seven batting titles. Carew was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967, the AL MVP in 1977, and was consistently a nightmare for opposing pitchers for the entirety of his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, four years after Minnesota officially took his number 29 out of circulation,” writes Yardbarker

Carew did not play his entire career in Minnesota, but he was an All-Star every season he was a Twins player. Rod Carew won a staggering seven batting titles over the course of his illustrious Twins career, and he’s the all-time franchise batting average leader. 

“Carew won the AL Rookie of the Year Award as a Twin in 1967, the first of 12 seasons in Minnesota. One of the greatest contact hitters in MLB history, Carew won seven batting titles while with the Twins. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is that he was an All-Star in all 12 seasons he spent in Minnesota, and the first 18 seasons of his illustrious career. The 1977 AL MVP is the all-time Twins leader in batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.393). Carew dons a Twins cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and his No. 29 is retired by the franchise,” adds Audacy

Carew’s accomplishments don’t stop there as the legendary second baseman was always in the MVP conversation. Over the years, Carew received MVP votes a whopping seven times not including the year he won. 

“Rod Carew spent 12 of his 19 seasons playing Major League Baseball wearing a Twins uniform. He was a 12 time All-Star in Minnesota, as well as the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967 and the AL MVP in 1977. He received votes for the AL MVP award seven other times during his tenure in Minnesota. He was a career .334 hitter during his 12 seasons with the Twins. Carew holds the franchise record for batting average and hits in a single-season. In 1987 the Minnesota Twins retired his number and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991,” furthers Bleacher Report

4. Joe Mauer (2004-2018)

Catching his way into the fourth spot on the list of the best Twins players in history is the living legend, Joe Mauer, who is absolutely beloved by Twins fans, and his contributions to the game and the franchise have not gone unnoticed. 

Joe Mauer in his Twins uniform
Joe Mauer in 2017 (34025539223)” by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

“At the height of his powers, Mauer was both the top defensive catcher in baseball and the best pure hitter in the sport. In a 15-year career spent entirely with the Twins, Mauer was a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time winner of the AL batting title. In 2009, Mauer was voted the AL MVP. Mauer’s No. 7 is retired by the Twins, and he’ll appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2024,” notes Audacy

Joe Mauer was the best catcher in the American League (AL) for several years. Mauer was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, so as you can imagine, Twins fans instantly loved Joe Mauer and they were more than happy to support him from the start. 

“The Twins selected local kid Joe Mauer first overall in the 2001 draft, and in short order he’d become one of the most accomplished players in club history. During his prime Mauer was easily the best catcher in baseball, and Minnesota was thrilled to have him in their uniform for the entirety of his 15-year Major League career. In 1,858 big league games Mauer slashed .306/.388/.439 with 501 extra-base hits and 923 RBI. He was named the MVP of the American League in 2009, won three batting titles, earned entry to six all-star games, won three Gold Gloves, and took home three Silver Sluggers. He doubled more than 30 times in eight seasons, led the league in OBP twice, and OPS once. To this day Mauer is considered royalty in Minnesota, and the team understandably retired his number 7 in 2019,” adds Yardbarker

Mauer was a great player for a long time. Mauer was not only the best catcher in the AL but he was the best hitter. Mauer won four batting titles over the course of his career, and he’s widely regarded as one of the best Twins players of all time. 

“While Hrbek was the first local product to star for the Twins, Mauer would take it to a new level nearly 20 years later. As the face of the franchise in the 2000s, Mauer was the most popular Twin since Kirby Puckett, but there was more to his game. Mauer was the first catcher to win the American League batting title and tripled down with titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009. The last of those titles came as part of an MVP season where Mauer hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBI,” notes Sports Illustrated

5. Tony Oliva (1962-1976)

Rounding out the list of the best Twins players of all time is legendary Twins hitter, Tony Oliva. Oliva is a Twins player through and through, having played for the team for 15 years. 

“Tony Oliva spent his entire 15 year career in Minnesota. He was an eight-time All-Star, won one Gold Glove award, AL Rookie of the Year in 1964 and received votes for the AL MVP eight times. Oliva was a career .304 hitter for the Twins and holds the franchise record for total bases in a single-season. His number was retired by the Twins in 1991, and he serves as a hitting coach for the Twins during spring training,” explains Bleacher Report

Oliva won Rookie of the Year in 1964 and never looked back. During the course of his accomplished career, Oliva won three batting titles, was a perennial All-Star, and was consistently in the mix for MVP. 

“Oliva captured the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1964, the first of eight consecutive All-Star seasons. Oliva won three batting titles in a 15-year career spent exclusively with the Twins, and finished runner-up in AL MVP voting in both 1965 and 1970. Oliva was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022, and his No. 6 is retired by the Twins,” adds Audacy

Tony Oliva was born and raised playing baseball in Cuba with his official position as right field, but he was used primarily as a designated hitter. Oliva was trained by his father in Cuba before a Twins scout noticed him and brought him to the United States at a young age. Oliva became a Twins player in 1961 but didn’t debut with the team until 1964 and the rest is history. 

“Oliva was the first homegrown player to star for the Twins and started his career off with a bang as the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year where he won the batting title at .323 and added 32 home runs and 94 RBI. That season kicked off a string of consistency for Oliva, garnering MVP votes each year from 1964 to 1971 including two runner-up finishes. With a .304 average and 220 home runs, it’s a great question as to why ‘Tony O’ is not in the Hall of Fame,” notes Sports Illustrated

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