C AJ Pierzynski 4.5 WAR
2003 Was Pierzynski’s best season with the Twins. It was also his last. His 115 OPS+ was a career high up to that point, and he has only exceeded that mark once, in his outlier year of 2012 with the White Sox. Based on WAR, the every day catcher was the most valuable offensive asset on the team in 2003. He was expendable, however, mainly due to the fact that the Twins had local hero Joe Mauer waiting in the wings to start at catcher in 2004. There were also some whispers from the team that perhaps AJ’s reputation as a talker was wearing thin with some members of the team’s management, but for the most part it seemed like an amicable parting when Pierzynski was traded to the Giants as part of the Francisco Liriano deal. Pierzynski had a terrible season in San Francisco and did not endear himself to that clubhouse, so initially it looked like he might be done, and the trade that brought Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser to Minnesota was a one-sided bonanza for the Twins. Pierzynski resurrected his career in Chicago however, and was a key member of the 2005 World Series champions. Controversy has seemed to follow AJ, but overall he has put together a pretty nice career for himself. His numbers in five seasons with the Twins: .301/.341/.447/.788 105 OPS+ 9.4 WAR
1B Doug Mientkiewicz 4.2 WAR
After taking a slight step back in 2002, Dougy Baseball had success to match his very good 2001 season. Unlike in his Gold Glove season when many advanced metrics rated him just average to slightly above at first base, he was legitimately rated high in most defensive categories, making this his most valuable season in a Twins uniform. Much like Pierzynski became a trade piece because Mauer was ready to go, the development of Justin Morneau meant that Doug’s days as the regular first baseman were numbered.
2B Luis Rivas -1.2 WAR
This was another awful season for Luis Rivas. One of the biggest question marks for people who followed the Twins in the early 2000’s was how Rivas continued to have a job at second base. Not only that, but 56 times during the year he started batting second in the order.
SS Cristian Guzman 1.2 WAR
Guzman continued to struggle to regain the form that made him an All Star in 2001. He did regain the AL triples title with 14 after only hitting six in 2002.
3B Corey Koskie 4.2 WAR
This is Koskie’s third consecutive season with 4+ WAR. Over the course of those three seasons, Koskie had a slash line of .278/.374/.464/.837 (120 OPS+) and was a +33 defender at third base.
LF/RF Jacque Jones 1.4 WAR
LF Shannon Stewart 2.6 WAR
RF Dustan Mohr 0.3 WAR
RF Bobby Kielty 1.1 WAR
When the Shannon Stewart deal was made, Jones moved from his familiar left field position to right field to make room for Stewart, who was more comfortable in left field. While he improved slightly in his splits versus left-handed pitching, Jones still struggled, but continued to get plate appearances against lefties. Shannon Stewart is largely credited as the spark that ignited the team’s surge to its second consecutive division title. It is interesting to note, however, that Stewart’s numbers against right-handed pitchers were about on par with Bobby Kielty’s. His biggest contribution to the team was the fact that he replaced the right-handed half of the “Dusty Kielmohr” platoon and OPS’ed .892 against left-handed pitching.
CF Torii Hunter 3.8 WAR
Hunter struggled at the plate in comparison to his performance in 2002, but won his third consecutive Gold Glove.
DH Matt LeCroy 1.2 WAR
Technically LeCroy was a backup catcher, and he did appear in 22 games as a catcher in 2003, but struggled to stop opponents from stealing bases – he threw out only four of 18 runners. He found his way into the lineup mostly as a DH, however, because he had home run power that the rest of the team lacked.