C Brian Harper 6.0 WAR (1988-1990) – It is tempting to write Tim Laudner’s name in this spot. His entire career came during this decade, and he was the catcher for the 1987 World Series team. While Laudner logged more time with the Twins in the decade, it is easy to forget just how good Harper was in his first couple of seasons with the Twins. Not largely remembered as a great defensive catcher, the rationale the team gave when he took over for Laudner for good in 1989 was because he was a better catcher.
1B Kent Hrbek 29.9 WAR (1981-1990) – As much of a no-brainer as there is. The team’s starting first baseman in 1981 was Danny Goodwin. The next non-Hrbek regular first baseman for the Twins was Scott Stahoviak in 1995.
2B John Castino 7.7 WAR (1981-1983) – The position was pretty much a revolving door most of the decade, but Castino was one of the few “stars” on the Twins during the lean years of the early 1980’s.
SS Greg Gagne 12.1 WAR (1983-1990) – Gagne was so steady for the Twins at shortstop. While he didn’t provide the offense the team had hoped for, he played excellent defense up the middle for the bulk of the decade.
3B Gary Gaetti 23.8 WAR (1981-1990) – Another no-brainer. Played 1,361 games for the Twins, all in this decade.
LF Gary Ward 8.5 WAR (1981-1983) – The conventional wisdom would probably put Dan Gladden here. While largely credited as the catalyst for the 1987 World Series team, Gladden’s numbers don’t even approach Ward – Gladden posted just 3.5 WAR from 1987-1990.
CF Kirby Puckett 27.9 WAR (1984-1990) – Other candidates for center field include Darrell Brown and Mickey Hatcher. Enough said.
RF Tom Brunansky 14.6 WAR (1982-1988) – He was not the same player after the Twins traded him away, but it’s not like they got much in return.
DH Roy Smalley 2.2 WAR (1981-1982, 1985 – 1987) – Smalley’s inclusion on this list is more of an indictment on the team’s luck with designated hitters in the decade. Randy Bush might have been a better choice, but he played much more in the outfield than at DH in the decade. Perhaps Bush should be the pinch-hitter on the all-decade team.
SP Frank Viola 24.5 WAR (1982-1989) – Easily the best Twins pitcher of the decade. Led the team to one World Series, and his trade was the key to the pitching foundation of a second.
SP Bert Blyleven 9.3 WAR (1985-1988) – While Blyleven was not the same pitcher in his second stint with the Twins, he still provided some valuable innings.
SP Allan Anderson 7.9 WAR (1986-1990) – For two years Anderson looked like he might be the pitcher of the future for the Twins.
RP Jeff Reardon 4.3 WAR (1987-1989) – While I think Reardon tends to be overrated a bit, he doesn’t have a lot of competition for best closer of the decade- a fact that no doubt lends itself to Twins fans seeing him in a better light.
RP Juan Berenguer 5.0 WAR (1987-1990) – Whether as a starter, long reliever, set-up man, closer, or music video star, you could make a case that Juan Berenguer was one of the most valuable of the Twins pitchers for the latter part of the decade.