Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All-Tme Twins Team: Third Base

We complete our tour of the infield positions with the naming of the All-Time Twins' third baseman, and he is none other than "The G-Man," "Rat," or "Dr. Crank," Gary Gaetti.

Drafted by the Twins in the first round of the 1979 June Draft, Gaetti signed immediately and played three minor league seasons at advancing levels. In 1981, he had a monster year with AA Orlando, hitting .277/.354/.505 with 30 HR and 93 RBI, warranting a promotion to the Majors at the end of September. Like Kent Hrbek before him, Gaetti homered in his first MLB game, and won the job as the Twins' every day third baseman for the 1982 season.

Gaetti christened the brand-new Metrodome in style in 1982, hitting two homers on opening day and being thrown out at the plate in an attempt at an inside-the-park homer later in the game. Gaetti went on to hit .230/.280/.443 in his rookie season, knocking-out 25 HRs and batting in 84 runs on the 60-102 Twins of 1982. He improved to .245/.309/.414 in 1983, and the power numbers disappeared almost altogether in 1984, when he dropped from 21 HR in 1983 to 5 in 1984.

After an adequate 1985, Gaetti emerged as one of the AL's best third basemen in 1986. He batted a career-best (to that point) .287/.347/.518 and added 34 doubles, 34 HR, and 108 RBI. In the first championship season of 1987, the G-Man batted .257/.303/.485 with 36 doubles, 31 HR and 109 RBI. He followed-up that season with another fine 1988 (.301/.353/.551, 29 doubles, 28 HR, 88 RBI) and had clearly established himself as one of the most productive hot corner men in baseball.

After a lackluster 1990 campaign in which he hit .229/.274/.376 with 16 HR and 85 RBI, Gaetti left the Twins for the California Angels via free agency. The Twins went on to win the 1991 World Series without him, but his contributions in his 10 seasons in Minnesota were many.
  • .256/.307/.437 batting line in 1,361 games
  • 252 doubles, 201 homers, 758 RBI
  • Four Gold Gloves
  • Two All-Star Games (only ones in his 20-year career)
  • 1987 ALCS MVP
The four Gold Gloves won by Gaetti were testaments to his strong defense at third base. Gaetti had a cannon arm at the hot corner and ended up compiling a career fielding percentage of .965 when the league average over that time span was .950.

In terms of production and fielding ability, Gaetti was one of his era's strongest third basemen and is worthy of election to our All-Time team.

Also Considered: Rich Rollins; Corey Koskie

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