C Matt Walbeck -0.1 WAR
C Matt Merullo -0.2 WAR
It wasn’t difficult for Walbeck to improve on his 1994 numbers. He improved greatly (from 37 OPS+ to 61 OPS+) but still managed to be one of the worst-hitting regular players in the league. Matt Merullo was Carlton Fisk’s back up in Chicago in the early part of the 90’s, and became Scott Erickson’s personal catcher for much of the 1995 season.
1B Scott Stohoviak 0.2 WAR
1B Dan Mastellar -0.9 WAR
1B Dave McCarty -0.2 WAR
Kent Hrbek left some big shoes to fill, and the organization didn’t have much to fill them with at first base in 1995. The hope was that 1991 1st round draft pick McCarty would pan out, but after struggling early in the season he was traded to Cincinnati where he played a few weeks in the minor leagues before being traded to San Francisco.
2B Chuck Knoblauch 6.7 WAR
Against the backdrop of a terrible team, Chuck Knoblauch quietly had his breakout season at the age of 26. It was hands down his best season so far, and is likely only surpassed by his 1996 numbers in Knoblauch’s career. Yet, when covered in the media, Knoblauch was either the subject of trade rumors, or asked to comment on where he thought Kirby Puckett would play in 1996.
SS Pat Meares 2.8 WAR
SS Jeff Reboulet 2.6 WAR
Both of these players had career years with the Twins in 1995, Meares at age 26, Reboulet at 31.
3B Scott Leius 0.4 WAR
Leuis had his greatest success as a Twin when he was platooned with Mike Pagliarulo in 1991. Throughout his six seasons with the Twins, Leius was consistent in that he didn’t hit right-handed pitching well, but was very good against lefties.
LF Marty Cordova 3.3 WAR
Cordova followed up his ROY season with an impressive sophomore effort. Unfortunately for the Twins he wouldn’t see success like this again until he was in an Indians uniform in 2001.
CF Rich Becker -0.7 WAR
Becker played a handful of games the previous two seasons, but got his first shot as a regular in 1995 after Alex Cole broke his leg early in the season. His first full season was pretty bad.
RF Kirby Puckett 3.1 WAR
Puckett was still the face of the Twins at the age of 34 and had another very good season. His announcement that he would be fulfill his two option years with the Twins was expected, and only slightly shared the spotlight with the broken jaw that Puckett had suffered from a Dennis Martinez fastball at the end of the season. All signs pointed to another productive season from the team’s star in 1996. As it turned out, that Martinez pitch was the last regular season pitch that Puckett would see.
Even though his career was cut short, Kirby Puckett was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2001. He died in 2006 at the age of 45. There were a lot of post-playing career issues that tend to tarnish Puckett’s reputation, but on the field he was the star player on a team that won two World Series, and one of the most enjoyable players for a fan to watch.
DH Pedro Munoz -0.1 WAR