10 Things the Minnesota Twins Have on the New York Yankees

July 27, 2011

We know it’s definitely not their head-to-head win-loss record, the number of World Series titles, or the recent performance in the playoffs. But we already knew that the Yankees dominate the Twins in those categories. Here are 10 things you might not have realized….10 ways the Twins have bested the Yankees throughout history:


#1 The Twins Have Won More Batting Titles

The Twins have won 14 batting titles, not counting 4 won when the franchise was called the Senators.

The Twins won 8 of the 10 awarded between 1969 and 1978. With names like Carew, Puckett, Oliva, and Mauer, era after era, the Twins have bested the Yankees for this award. The Yankees have won 9 batting titles, boasting names like Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, DiMaggio and Mattingly. The last Yankee batting title belongs to Bernie Williams, who hit .339 in 1998. Twins Catcher Joe Mauer has won three batting titles since then and hit .365 in 2009.


#2 Carl Pavano

Starting pitcher Carl Pavano spent 4 seasons with the Yankees, won 9 games and was paid $38 million. He started 26 games threw 145 innings with a flat ERA of 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.455. He was hated by the New York fans (and according to some sources, a few of the players too) and was a complete bust. One of the worst signings ever.


But Pavano found his way to the Twins, grew a moustache, became a reliable workhorse and sparked his own T-shirt line. In less than 3 seasons with the Twins (and as of this writing) Pavano has started 60 games, thrown over 400 innings, won 27 games with an ERA around 4.00 and it’s only cost the Twins about $15 million dollars. More than double the production, at less than half the cost.


#3 The Twins Have a Better Stadium

An ESPN survey ranked Target Field the #1 fan experience in professional sports beating out 121 sports franchises for the title (including MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA). And since EPSN said it, that makes it fact. Yankee Stadium didn’t make it to the top 10. Do you disagree, having been to both stadiums? Well, the Twins stadium is newer, by one year, and that’s undisputed.


#4 The Twins Signed Joe Mauer

And the Yankees didn’t. After Mauer inked a deal for $23 million for 8 years, partisan Yankee fans said the Yankees didn’t want him anyway. But go back and read the blogs around the time the deal was being speculated. Mauer’s contract was going to be the next Yankees-Red Sox war. The Yankees hoped Mauer could fill the catcher position for the soon-to-be-retired Jorge Posada. In denial? Then why does a Google search of the phrase “Mauer is going to look great in pinstripes!” return 345,000 results?


#5 No Stigma of Steroids

The Mitchell Report, an independent investigation into the illegal use of steroids in Major League Baseball listed 24 Yankees as users of performance enhancing drugs, including all star names like Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, álex Rodríguez and Gary Sheffield. This is not something that gets swept under the rug, it has followed the Yankees and tainted their recent legacy. A-Rod and Pettitte both admitted to using steroids, which was the right choice, because Roger Clemens is currently on trial for lying about his drug use. As long as people like Clemens are in the news the steroid era won’t die.


Number of Minnesota Twins on the Mitchell Report: 4. Three of them (Chuck Knoblauch, Dan Naulty and Rondell White) also played for the Yankees. The lone non-Yankee Twin on the Mitchell Report was Chad Allen, who played in Minnesota from 1999-2001 and how hard have the Twins been fighting to protect his legacy?


#6 Twins Have Managers that Last

Sure, Yankee management stabilized under Joe Torre (who managed for 11 years) but in the last 30 years the Yankees have had 16 managers, including Billy Martin 3 times and Lou Pinella twice! Taking Torre out of the equation and that’s nearly one manager every year. The Twins in comparison have had 4 managers in the last 30 years, and only 2 since 1986: Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire.


#7 Chuck Knoblauch

I know, this is a touchy subject for some but let’s admit that Knoblauch’s best years were with the Twins. Knoblauch won AL Rookie of the Year in 1991 (with the Twins), was a four-time All Star (all with the Twins), won two silver slugger awards (both with the Twins), a gold glove (with the Twins), and four World Series rings (the first was with the 1991 Twins). Knoblauch’s other 3 World Series rings came with the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Yankees, after Knoblauch ditched the Twins and became hated throughout all of Minnesota,


The Twins had Knoblauch before he forgot how to throw from 2nd to 1st. Before he got into legal trouble, doing whatever he did. With the Twins Knoblauch batted .304 with an OPS of .807. With the Yankees it dropped to .272 and .768. As a gold glove infielder for the Twins Knoblauch made 66 errors in 4734 chances, a fielding percentage of .987. In half the time with the Yankees that included a discomforting move to the outfield Knoblauch committed 64 errors in only 2091 chances, a fielding percentage of .969.


Then there’s that whole steroids thing.


#8 Lower Expectations

The New York Yankees are expected to win the World Series every single year. If they don’t at least make it to the World Series, their season is discarded as a failure, no matter how many regular season games, they win, no matter how many records they set, no matter what. With a payroll over $200 million, it’s all or nothing for the Bronx Bombers.


In 2006, the Yankees won 97 games and the AL East by 10 games, drew over 4 million fans and made the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season. But after losing the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers, Steinbrenner issued a statement that included the following nugget: “Rest assured, we will work immediately to right this sad failure…”


Without a World Series appearance, 97 wins, a division title and 4+ million fans is nothing but a sad failure. That’s pretty sad.


On the other hand, the Twins are never expected to win the World Series. They aren’t even expected to make it to the World Series. Winning 94 games and a division title in 2010 was looked on fondly as a successful year (even if they were swept out of the first round of the playoffs…yeah, yeah, yeah, we know…). They still get to hang a flag in their new stadium and sell hats and T-shirts with a championship logo. It’s not the Series but they’ll take it. And lower expectations will make that next World Series appearance so much sweeter.


#9 A Handful of Franchise Records Go to the Twins

Statistics hounds and some diligent cherry picking through the record books will uncover several places where the Twins’ franchise has bested the Yankees’. Here are a few nuggets:


  • Most doubles: the 2002 Twins hold the Twins’ team record with 348. The Yankees’ team record is 327, in 2006.
  • Most hits in a season by one player: Rod Carew’s 239 hits in 1977 are the most by any Twin ever. The Yankees are one short, with Don Mattingly’s 238 in 1986.
  • Most strikeouts in a season by a pitcher: Johan Santana K’ed 265 batters in 2004. Ron Guidry holds the Yankee record with 248 in 1978.


There are plenty more but you’ll have to dig for them. Have fun!


#10 Jason Kubel Hit a Grand Slam off Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium

Sorry, but I had to throw that one in. It was just an awesome moment for the Twins, the only grand slam Rivera has given up at Yankee Stadium as closer, and I only needed one more to get to #10. Watch it here.


Mark McGinty is the author of The Cigar Maker. His work has appeared in Cigar City Magazine, Maybourne Magazine, La Gaceta. Contact him at mmcginty_32@yahoo.com.