Best Players in Twins History: 1960
Last week, I looked at who the top players for the Twins were prior to moving to Minnesota for the 1961 season. Today I'll look at who the top players were for the decade that saw the Twins have six top five finishes, going to the World Series in 1965 when they lost to the Los Angeles Dodger 4-3, and losing in the ALCS in 1969. On to the players that starts with arguable the greatest Twin of all-time.
"Killer," as he was affectionately called, had his career take off when the Senators moved to the Twin Cities, and had his best years during the 1960s. Over the nine year span in Minnesota, the pride of Payette, Idaho, average season consisted of a .267/.387/.546/.933 slash line, with 39 home runs, 101 runs batted in and 97 walks.
Known for his power, Killebrew hit 393 of his 574 career home runs over that span and drove in 1013 runs. He was made eight of his 11 all-star games over that span and garnered MVP votes eight times with, garnering top five finishes five times culminating in his MVP year in 1969.
His best season came in 1969 when Killebrew led the league in home runs, RBI, walks, and on-base percentage. On the year Killebrew hit .276/.427/.584/1.011 with 49 home runs, 140 RBI, and 145 walks.
Killebrew was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.
The Pinar del Rio, Cuba native, Oliva served as a Twins starting outfielder from 1964-1972. Oliva got two tastes of the big leagues in 1962 and 1963 playing a combined 16 games, but his borderline Hall of Fame career started in 1964. In '64 Oliva was named Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the MVP race, as he led the league in runs (109), hits (217), doubles (43) and average (.323) as he also hit 32 home runs and drove in 94.
That turned out to be his best season but he still produced at a high level after that. From 64-69, Oliva averaged a slash line of .308/.358/.500/.858 while hitting 22 home runs, 35 doubles and driving in 88 runs while scoring 90.
Jim Kaat, another borderline Hall of Famer, was the best, and most consistent, starter for the Twins during the decade. Over his career, Kaat had 283 wins and during his time with the Twins he got 179 of those wins, with 141 coming from 1961-69. Kaat's biggest calling card over the years was his defensive ability winning 16 Gold Gloves, and 12 straight from 1961-1973.
On average over that 9 season span, Kaat went 16-13 with an ERA of 3.22 a FIP of 3.25, and a WHIP of 1.214. Kaat threw 2173.2 innings throwing 102 complete games, including 16 shutouts, while striking out 1410 batters and only walking 530.
Kaat's best season over that span came in 1966 when he went 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA and 205 strikeouts while pitching a league leading 304.2 innings thanks to 19 complete games, also tops in the league, with three shutouts.
The final two members on this list could have gone in any order. I chose Bob Allison ahead of Zoilo Versalles because Allison had higher impact WAR numbers over his career than Versalles.
Bob Allison is another non-hall of famer on this list, but he played his entire career with the Twins/Senators with his peak coming from 1959-1965. In 1959, Allison won the Rookie of the Year when the team was still in Washington.
His peak in Minnesota took place from 1961-1965. Allison averaged a slash line of .261/.372/.499/.871 with 30 home runs 92 RBIs, 22 doubles, 5 triples.
His best season came in 1964, when Allison finished 23rd in MVP voting, lower than the year before when he finished 15th, but every single slash line number was higher hitting, .287/.404/.553/.957 and hit 32 home runs with 86 RBI and 27 doubles.
After that the 1965 season, Allison went down hill quickly. He was able to produce power numbers in 1967-1968 when he hit 20 plus home runs each season but his final two years he was limited to only 81 games than 47 games before retiring.
The final member of the list was the Twins starting shortstop from 1961-1967. Hailing from La Habana, Cuba, Versalles biggest accomplishment was winning the MVP in 1965.
Over his peak with the Twins he averaged, .261/.307/.404/.711 as his slash line. Although he didn't produce big home run power he had tons of extra base hits averaging 29 doubles, eight triples, and 13 home runs with 13 stolen bases over those six seasons.
Versalles led the league in triples three years in a row from 1963-1965 and in doubles in 1965 when he won MVP. In his MVP year, Versalles' slash line .273/.319/.462/.781, with his second highest home run total with 19, and as mentioned earlier led the league in triples and doubles with 12 and 45. He also led the league in runs scored with 126, with 27 stolen bases to go along with winning the Gold Glove at shortstop.
Coming next will be the best Twins of the 1970s starting with a member from the 3000 hit club.