Sunday, November 29, 2009

All-Time Twins Team: Shortstop

We're back at it! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving holiday.

As we move across the diamond, we stop at the shortstop position and welcome to our lineup the smoothest-fielding player ever to man that position for the Twins in their 50 years, Greg Gagne.

Originally a fifth-round draft choice of the New York Yankees in 1979, Gagne was acquired by the Twins early in the 1982 season in a trade involving future teammate Roy Smalley. Gagne was dispatched to the minor leagues, and debuted in 1983. He was up for good in 1985 and was the team's regular shortstop the next season. By the time the Twins were winning World Series championships in 1987 and 1991, Gagne was entrenched in the middle of the Twins' infield.

Never much of a hitter (.249/.292/.385 for his Twins' career), Gagne's value came once he got on base and, most importantly, in the field. For his career, Gagne was a .972 fielder at shortstop (league average over that time was .970) and had one of the strongest arms in the American League. He was also one of the fastest Twins and was able to track down a lot of balls which would have scooted by other players. Although he never received any of the normal accolades for his fielding prowess (i.e. Gold Gloves, which were willed to Cal Ripken, Jr. in the 1980s), Gagne's value to the team was very clear. Aaron Gleeman's analysis of Gagne's career does a much better job of explaining his intrinsic value than I could ever hope.

Gagne's intangible value to the Twins in 1987 and 1991 certainly warrant a place on the diamond on the All-Time team.

Also considered: Zoilo Versailles; Roy Smalley; Cristian Guzman

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