When the Minnesota Twins used the No. 20 overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft on Pine Bluff High School's Torii Hunter, they made one of the best decisions in franchise history.
Hunter would spend the first nine full seasons of a decorated career with the Twins, clubbing 192 home runs, making two All-Star Game appearances and winning seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards between 1999 and 2007.
The first trip that Hunter made to the midsummer classic came in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee. In what would turn out to be arguably the most controversial MLB All-Star Game ever, Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of a first-inning home run:
Hunter would depart Minnesota for a five-year/$90 million with the Los Angeles Angels ahead of the 2008 season. While he would eventually return to the Twins in 2015 for the final season of his career, the seven seasons that he spent with the Angels and Detroit Tigers in between stints in Minnesota likely prevented him from cracking this list.
The Twins relocated from Washington D.C. in 1961, and Hunter is part of a list of excellent players who just missed out on this list that also includes Joe Nathan, Chuck Knoblauch, Brad Radke, Justin Morneau, Frank Viola, Gary Gaetti, Dave Goltz and Corey Koskie.
Here are the nine greatest players in Twins history:
9. Kent Hrbek (1981-1994)
Best Season as a Twin: 1984 - .311/.383/.522 with 27 home runs, 107 RBIs, 65 walks, .906 OPS, 145 OPS+ and a 5.6 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .283/.367/.481 with 293 home runs, 1,086 RBIs, 838 walks, .848 OPS, 128 OPS+ and 37.6 WAR
Hrbek made just one All-Star team in his 14-year career, which came in 1982, the same year he finished runner-up to Cal Ripken Jr. in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Still, he was one of the most steady players in franchise history, homering 20 or more times in 10 separate seasons. Hrbek finished second in AL MVP Award voting in 1984, and his 293 career home runs are second most since the franchise relocated to Minnesota. "Herbie" had his No. 14 retired by the Twins in 1995.
8. Tony Oliva (1962-1976)
Best Season as a Twin: 1970 - .325/.364/.514 with 23 home runs, 107 RBIs, 38 walks, .878 OPS, 137 OPS+ and 6.3 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .304/.353/.476 with 220 home runs, 947 RBIs, 448 walks, 1,917 hits, .830 OPS, 131 OPS+ and 40.7 WAR
Oliva captured the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1964, the first of eight consecutive All-Star seasons. Oliva won three batting titles in a 15-year career spent exclusively with the Twins, and finished runner-up in AL MVP voting in both 1965 and 1970. Oliva was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022, and his No. 6 is retired by the Twins.
7. Jim Kaat (1961-1973)
Best Season as a Twin: 1966 - 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA, 131 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 1.070 WHIP, 205 strikeouts, 19 complete games and a 6.4 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: 189-152 with a 3.28 ERA, 114 ERA+, 3.28 FIP, 1.215 WHIP, 1,731 strikeouts, 126 complete games and 53.8 WAR
"Kitty" spent the first two seasons of his career as a member of the Washington Senators, but really became a star when the franchise relocated to Minnesota. Kaat proved to be one of the most steady starting pitchers the game has ever seen, posting a 3.34 ERA in 13 seasons with the Twins. Greg Maddux is the only pitcher in MLB history who has won more Gold Gloves than Kaat, who won 12 of his 16 Gold Glove Awards as a Twin. Kaat's No. 36 is retired by the Twins, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
6. Johan Santana (2000-2007)
Best Season as a Twin: 2004 - 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA, 182 ERA+, 2.92 FIP, 0.921 WHIP, 265 strikeouts, one complete game and a 6.8 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA, 141 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.094 WHIP, 1,381 strikeouts, six complete games and 31.7 WAR
Injuries would derail a Hall of Fame-caliber career, but Santana was unquestionably an all-time great at his peak. Between 2003 and 2007, Santana finished in the top seven in AL Cy Young Award voting every season, capturing the award in both 2004 and 2006. Santana led the junior circuit in wins (19), ERA (2.77) and strikeouts (245) -- among other categories -- in 2006, earning the pitching Triple Crown. Since 2000, the only other pitchers to win the pitching Triple Crown are Randy Johnson, Jake Peavy, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Shane Bieber.
5. Bert Blyleven (1970-1976; 1985-1988)
Best Season as a Twin: 1973 - 20-17 with a 2.52 ERA, 156 ERA+, 2.32 FIP, 1.117 WHIP, 258 strikeouts, 25 complete games and a 10.8 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: 149-138 with a a 3.28 ERA, 119 ERA+, 3.15 FIP, 1.186 WHIP, 2,035 strikeouts, 141 complete games and 55.1 WAR
Blyleven, quite simply, is the greatest pitcher to ever wear a Twins uniform. Since relocating from D.C. in 1961, Blyleven is the franchise leader in complete games (141), complete-game shutouts (29) and WAR among pitchers (55.3). Byleven's No. 28 is retired by the Twins, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.
4. Joe Mauer (2004-2018)
Best Season as a Twin: 2009 - .365/.444/.587 with 28 home runs, 96 RBIs, 76 walks, 1.031 OPS, 171 OPS+ and an 8.4 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .306/.388/.439 with 143 home runs, 923 RBIs, 939 walks, 2,123 hits, .827 OPS, 124 OPS+ and 52.5 WAR
At the height of his powers, Mauer was both the top defensive catcher in baseball and the best pure hitter in the sport. In a 15-year career spent entirely with the Twins, Mauer was a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time winner of the AL batting title. In 2009, Mauer was voted the AL MVP. Mauer's No. 7 is retired by the Twins, and he'll appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2024.
3. Rod Carew (1967-1978)
Best Season as a Twin: 1977 - .388/.449/.570 with 14 home runs, 100 RBIs, 69 walks, 1.019 OPS, 178 OPS+ and 8.6 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .334/.393/.448 with 74 home runs, 733 RBIs, 613 walks, 2,085 hits, .841 OPS, 137 OPS+ and 56.9 WAR
Carew won the AL Rookie of the Year Award as a Twin in 1967, the first of 12 seasons in Minnesota. One of the greatest contact hitters in MLB history, Carew won seven batting titles while with the Twins. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is that he was an All-Star in all 12 seasons he spent in Minnesota, and the first 18 seasons of his illustrious career. The 1977 AL MVP is the all-time Twins leader in batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.393). Carew dons a Twins cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and his No. 29 is retired by the franchise.
2. Kirby Puckett (1984-1995)
Best Season as a Twin: 1988 - .356/.375/.545 with 24 home runs, 121 RBIs, 23 walks, .920 OPS, 153 OPS+ and a 7.1 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .318/.360/.477 with 207 home runs, 1,085 RBIs, 450 walks, 2,304 hits, .837 OPS, 124 OPS+ and 44.9 WAR
Puckett only played 12 seasons, but he packed an amazing amount of accomplishments into a career where he played exclusively with the Twins. A 10-time All-Star, Puckett won six Silver Slugger Awards, five Gold Gloves and a batting title in 1989. Puckett won the ALCS MVP in 1991, the same year that he and the Twins would win their second World Series title in five seasons. Puckett's No. 34 was retired by the Twins in 1997, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
1. Harmon Killebrew (1961-1974)
Best Season as a Twin: 1969 - .276/.427/.584 with 49 home runs, 140 RBIs, 145 walks, 1.001 OPS, 177 OPS+ and a 7.1 WAR
Career Stats as a Twin: .260/.383/.518 with 475 home runs, 1,325 RBIs, 1,321 walks, 1,713 hits, .901 OPS, 148 OPS+ and 59.3 WAR
Killebrew spent 21 total years with the Senators/Twins franchise, 14 of which came after they moved to Minnesota. Even if you just count his statistics as a Twin, Killebrew is the greatest offensive player in franchise history, as he leads all Minnesota players with 475 home runs, 1,325 RBIs, 1,321 walks and 59.3 WAR. Killebrew's No. 3 is retired by the Twins, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame thanks in large part to his "monumental home run and RBI success" in 1984.