Born in the Panama Canal Zone but reared in New York, Carew signed an amateur deal with the Twins in 1964 and spent just three minor league seasons proving to the Twins that he was quite a hitter (.302 career batting average in 945 games). Making the jump to the Majors from the Class A Carolina League in 1967, Carew stepped right in and certainly did not look out of place. Carew batted .292/.341/.409 with 22 doubles, 7 triples, 8 HR, and 51 RBI in route to an All-Star appearance and Rookie of the Year honors. It was his first of 18 consecutive All-Star Games, and he played in the "Midsummer Classic" all twelve years spent in a Twins' uniform.
After a bit of a slump in 1968, Carew rebounded with a tremendous 1969. Under an aggressive manager in Billy Martin, the Twins unleashed Carew and utilized his speed. Of his 19 stolen bases that season, Carew stole home a staggering seven times. At the plate, he won his first batting title and hit .332/.386/.467 for the season.
As the decade turned to the 1970s, Rod Carew became the best hitter in baseball. He hit over .300 each year, won batting titles in six of the ten seasons (four straight from 1972 to 1975; consecutively in 1977 and 1978), and had a season for the ages in 1977.
Flirting with the .400 mark all season long, Carew hit .388/.449/.570 with 38 doubles, 16 triples, 14 HR, and 100 RBI. He scored 128 runs and had 239 hits. His batting average, on-base percentage, runs, hits, and triples each lead the AL, and he captured AL MVP honors. He followed-up his magical 1977 with a great 1978 (.333/.411/.441 and another batting title), but was traded after the season to the California Angels. He spent seven years in Anaheim, collecting his 3,000th hit against the Twins in 1985, before retiring after that season. His years as a productive hitter had passed, certainly as a corner infielder, as he was primarily a first baseman beginning in 1975.
The offensive accomplishments in Minnesota are many:
- .334/.393/.448 batting line
- Seven batting titles
- 12 All-Star Game appearances
- 1967 AL Rookie of the Year
- 1977 AL MVP
- Hall of Fame inductee as a Twin in 1991
Also considered: John Castino; Chuck Knoblauch