35 Years of Twins Shortstops

socaltwinsfan wrote the following about Twins shortstops at the WGOM earlier in the week:

Looking at OPS+, it was no surprise to see it has been rare that the Twins have had an average or better hitter at shortstop (OPS+ of 100 or more). In fact, since Smalley was traded to the Yankees at the start of the 1982 season, the Twins have had one starting shortstop with an OPS+ in triple digits just once: Cristian Guzman in his amazing 2001 season, or rather half a season, since he completely collapsed in the second half after being an All-Star.

In fact, the Twins have had nine triple-digit OPS+ seasons from a starting shortstop just nine times in their history, and Smalley had five of them. The other four were Versalles twice and Leo Cardenas twice.  Hardy has a 99 OPS+ over the last three seasons, so he has a good chance to make it 10.

As an aside, I suppose this is akin to beating a dead horse, but Jason Bartlett’s OPS+ last year was 129.

The year before, in which he garnered MVP votes, Bartlett’s OPS+ was only 83. His two years as the main shortstop for the Twins were sandwiched by Juan Castro in 2005 and Nick Punto in 2008 and 2009. Prior to that the Twins had the Cristian Guzman years (1999-2004), the Pat Meares years (1993-1998), and the Greg Gagne years (1985-1992). Not a Hall of Fame List by any stretch, but not a terrible group filling the shortstop from 1985-2004. In fact, Early 2001 Cristian Guzman was the most exciting baseball player I have ever seen play live, and probably a major reason that I reinvested my interest in the Twins after a few years of apathy.

Houston Jiminez may be one of the main reasons that the 1984 Twins fell out of contention, what with his 32 OPS+ in 317 plate appearances.

Before Jiminez was Ron Washington (1982-1983) and Roy Smalley (1976-1981). I would be remiss, of course, if I didn’t mention Lenny Faedo, who backed up the shortstop position for much of the early 1980’s.

Shortstop has not been a great source of offensive production for the Twins, but as socaltwinsfan points out, it really hasn’t traditionally been for any team – and the Twins were essentially league average at shortstop production over the course of their 49 year history in Minnesota (Twins short stops may, however, lead all shortstops in number of appearances batting second in the lineup).

That the Twins seem poised to get some production at the plate from a shortstop is the source of much excitement for their 50th season.


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