April 11, 2014

Link-O-Rama

Delmon Young hitting a 50-hop ground ball past a diving Derek Jeter is what the 2014 baseball season is all about

Bartolo Colon jiggling his gut is my spirit animal.

• If you've ever wanted a customized nickname from Ron Gardenhire, this is your lucky day.

• Someone please hire Randball's Stu to write for a living. He suddenly needs a job and is Minnesota's funniest writer.

• The lesson here is to not trust anyone who doesn't like Kendrick Lamar.

• My analysis of the Twins trading for Eduardo Nunez was mostly underwhelming.

• I love how seriously Jay Boller took his analysis of the Twins' walk-up songs.

• Dang. The Ultimate Warrior died.

• I've been using Uber a lot lately and it's amazingly easy/pleasant compared to cabs. If you use this promo code you get $20 off a ride and I get $20 too, which allows me to drink Jack Daniels all across this great state of ours. Give it a shot. Why not?

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode kicked off our third season on KFAN, with a new producer and the usual live radio show plus podcast portion.

• I've been getting really into "Workaholics" lately and Waymond is my favorite character:

Great acting is all about subtle nuance.

• I'm planning to make this an ongoing project with expanded reviews, pictures, and lots of other stuff, so for now this is just a very preliminary version of my Uptown Bar Power Rankings.

• Speaking of which, I'm very sad to see Rye Deli suddenly close up shop. It was home to many of my mediocre first dates and even hosted "Gleeman and The Geek" on multiple occasions. RIP.

• We've talked about it so much that Parker Hageman of Twins Daily is now trying to convince me to buy this bar.

• On a related note, Hageman wrote an interesting article about Chris Colabello that's definitely worth checking out.

• Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is absolutely ridiculous.

• As a Jack Daniels devotee I enjoyed Kara Nesvig's tribute to whiskey-based romancing.

• This week I went to the Kmart on Lake Street for the first time and it was one of the saddest experiences of my entire life, so I'm not sure how I feel about this development.

Paul Goldschmidt owns Tim Lincecum.

• America's best, most important television couple.

• I'm pretty sick of Maggie LaMaack at this point, but she interviewed yet another tweeter I very much enjoy following in Talia Wischmann.

• Royals rookie Yordano Ventura threw a 103-mph pitch.

• If you're wondering whether Hank Aaron is the "True Home Run King" read this.

• Based on Molly Fitzpatrick's article about dating labels, I'd like to someday be known by: 1) "My plus-one." 2) "My arm candy." 3) "The Bae."

Taco Cat delivery service is the type of thing that makes me proud to have moved to Uptown.

• Friend of AG.com and former "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Jack Moore has a Kickstarter-driven project at the Beacon Reader, which is the type of thing baseball fans should support.

Jason Isbell chatting with Marc Maron was basically my idea of podcasting perfection. And they even recorded the episode in Minnesota.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Hairy twins"
- "Ricky Rubio tattoo"
- "Can I eat baked chicken wings after late-night workout?"
- "Did Brock Lesnar play for the Minnesota Twins?"
- "Greg Gagne net worth"
- "Minnesota Twins players with beards"
- "Can you break your ear cartilage?"
- "Kevin Slowey shirtless"
- "I'm a teen and I want to work at Pizza Hut"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "So Special" by Lil Wayne and John Legend:


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January 17, 2014

Link-O-Rama

• Link-O-Rama favorite Dayn Perry went in search of Paul Molitor at his most handsome and what he found changed his life forever.

• I may never forgive myself for missing Sid Hartman's estate sale.

• I saw "Inside Llewyn Davis" and liked it enough to re-rank my favorite Coen Brothers movies.

• On a related note: Twitter is amazing and I'm horrible.

• In addition to being a great stand-up comedian Kyle Kinane spits truth about beards.

• I took a "what city should you actually live in?" quiz on Buzzfeed and got London, but honestly that's probably a little too far from Stella's.

• I was a "Baseball Stars" kid, but this is still fun news for anyone who grew up in the 1990s.

Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, and Jason Alexander got the band back together.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked about the Twins' spring training invite list, planned my upcoming move to New Zealand, and witnessed a first date in progress.

• It turns out that Robert Downey Jr. can really sing:

(Or at least can really sing kind of like Sting.)

Chris Brown of Grantland wrote a really good, in-depth article about how Pete Carroll and the Seahawks built the best defense in football.

• It's obvious from his eyes that the Cubs' new mascot has seen a lot of pain.

• I would watch CNN more if this was a regular thing for Randi Kaye.

Eric Decker has really come a long way since his days at the University of Minnesota.

• There's a new "concept store" opening in Hopkins "seeking individuals with existing knowledge of craft beer and/or whiskey." I'm happy to have a fallback plan in case NBCSports.com fires me.

• One of the most rewarding aspects of writing a super-personal birthday post about my life was hearing from people who've struggled with similar issues, including this well-written version.

• Who wore it better: Yours Truly or Bill Murray?

• Yeah, but still.

• As an egg-thrower from way back, Justin Bieber's current situation amuses me.

• Old friend Delmon Young signed a minor-league deal with Baltimore, where he could replace old friend Danny Valencia as the Orioles' platoon designated hitter versus left-handers.

• How did Possum Plows follow up her life-changing video from last week?

I like it. You know, for a song that isn't dedicated to me.

• I was pleased to see Bruce Springsteen give a nice shoutout to Jason Isbell.

Jeff Dubay was fired by 1500-ESPN in what the station called a cost-cutting move.

• Sisyphus Brewing is opening a taproom that features comedy and podcasting. Not a bad idea.

• Your weekly reminder that Aubrey Plaza is perfect.

• I really enjoyed the first episode of "True Detective" on HBO and you know there's some serious acting involved when these two can convincingly play police detectives.

• One of my favorite comedians, Morgan Murphy, has a new stand-up special on Netflix.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com Jon Marthaler for getting engaged to a lovely woman with iffy standards. I believe this means he owes $100,000 to John Bonnes now. Is that how it works?

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Clarence Clemons wanted to date Robin Quivers"
- "Nigella Lawson lookalike porn."
- "Son loses 150 pounds without telling family"
- "Lost weight using Lean Cuisines"
- "Chelsea players carrying brooms"
- "Drew Butera girlfriend"
- "Kate Mara with Boston Terriers"
- "Are the Coen brothers Jewish?"
- "Who has a crush on Aaron Gleeman?"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Cory Chisel and Adriel Danae singing a live cover version of "Rosie" by Tom Waits:

August 7, 2013

2013 SABR Convention Recap

independencehall

Last year's Society for American Baseball Research convention was in Minnesota, but while a home game for my annual baseball-and-booze fest might sound appealing it fell a little bit short of my past convention experiences. I go to SABR conventions as an excuse to see my longtime friends from Baseball Primer (now Baseball Think Factory) and my slightly-less-longtime friends from previous conventions, but I also go to see new ballparks and close down bars in different cities.

Last week's trip to Philadelphia for this year's convention hit all the right notes and solidified why I've now attended 10 consecutive conventions since nervously going for the first time in Cincinnati as a 21-year-old in 2004. Within minutes of checking into the downtown Marriott on Wednesday afternoon I was in the hotel bar sitting next to two friends--Joe Dimino and Matt Rauseo--whom I met in Cincinnati after "meeting" on Baseball Primer years earlier.

And within seconds we picked up where we always leave off, drinking too much, talking baseball too loudly, and goofing on each other ... well, it's probably the right amount. I imagine it's like a high school reunion, except with people you actually look forward to seeing. Over the course of a decade many of us have spent 40 days of our lives together basically acting like idiots. It's my favorite week of the year.

i love spreadsheets

(Dial models the perfect wardrobe for a SABR convention.)

We were soon joined by BTF regulars Chris Dial, Anthony Giacalone, and Mike Webber, each of whom I met at the 2004 convention and each of whom rank among my favorite people. After multiple beers we added a few more to the group, including former Hardball Times writer Larry Mahnken, Baseball-Reference.com god Sean Forman, Penn Relays director Dave Johnson, and Minnesota blogger turned Philadelphian Stephen Silver, whom I met locally way back in 2003.

For dinner we decided on The Farmer's Cabinet, a hipster-y, saloon-style restaurant/bar heavy on craft beer, locally sourced food, and waiters with ironic mustaches. We devoured a bunch of good meat and wine before heading to Moriarty's Pub, where (I learned later) my "Gleeman and The Geek" co-host John Bonnes and his Philadelphian wife once hosted their groom's dinner. Much like I imagine the Bonnes crew did that day, we tried to drink the place out of Guinness.

Moriarty's Pub has a narrow, long setup and our group was cramped around the bar, mostly standing. An attractive 20-something woman who appeared to be on a date got up from one of the two seats we weren't occupying, turned to me, and said forcefully: "No, you can't have that seat. I'm just going to take a piss." I replied something along the lines of "oh, okay, no problem" to which she responded with an arm punch: "Don't lie, I saw you eying it!"

phillies game new seats1

(My view at the Phillies-Braves game Friday night.)

She was right, of course, and that early interaction was representative of my experience with Philadelphians in general during the five-day trip. Aggressive, sometimes hostile, and almost always ultimately friendly and fun. With the added bonus of a very weird, distinct accent that made both men and women sound like mechanics who'd just climbed out from under a car with oil stains on their jumpsuit. It's city full of Jon Wurster doing his Philly Boy Roy character.

We left Moriarty's at 2:00 a.m. and stumbled back to the Marriott as Dimino made sure everyone within a five-block radius knew he'd be interested in consuming a cheesesteak. Once we got inside the hotel we found a small group of SABR members doing baseball trivia in the lobby, which extended the evening by an hour and led to the trivia organizer repeatedly suggesting to Dimino that he should "maybe think before you speak" as the answer attempts got sillier and sillier.

dinics

(Shot from one of the longest and quickest-moving lines I've ever been in.)

I woke up bright and early the next afternoon, just in time for lunch with Forman, Dimino, Webber, Rauseo, and Fan Graphs writer David Temple at Reading Terminal Market, which is a cross between a farmer's market and the world's greatest food court. I ended up eating lunch there three days in a row, including back-to-back trips to the jam-packed DiNic's for the roast pork sandwich that was named the best sandwich in the country by the Travel Channel.

player panel2

(The crowd for Thursday afternoon's Phillies player panel.)

While eating we brainstormed how to fix the usually boring Home Run Derby by adding a contest for inside-the-park homers starring speedsters like Ben Revere and Billy Hamilton, which is the sort of topic that lasts 30 seconds in most groups and 30 minutes at a SABR convention. Back at the hotel I went to a Phillies player panel featuring Brad Lidge, Gary Matthews, and Dickie Noles, which Lidge stole with funny, interesting stories while Matthews wore a cool hat.

sabr player panelgroup

(From left to right: Lidge, Matthews, Matthews' hat, Noles.)

Liz Roscher of The Good Phight hosted a meet-up at The Fieldhouse, where the crowd included Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus, Bill Parker and Mike Bates of SB Nation, and a bunch of Phillies fans who didn't believe me when I tried to pass myself off as Bill Baer from Crashburn Alley (and HardballTalk). After lots of Yuengling about 10 of us headed to a hole-in-the-wall called Giwa for Korean barbecue, which was so good that I'm now in search of Minnesota equivalents.

drinking and giwa

(Staying hydrated with BYOB while waiting for the food at Giwa.)

Stuffed with rice and meat, we waddled to McGillin's Olde Ale House, which is the oldest Irish bar in Philadelphia and was a great spot until open-mic night started and a guy with an acoustic guitar took the stage. That was our signal to exit and we went back to The Fieldhouse ... where the original group was now doing karaoke. You haven't lived until you've heard Bates sing "I Touch Myself" and then once you do hear it you're no longer into living.

bates karaokestar

(Bates singing "I Touch Myself" while in a Denard Span shirsey.)

I switched from beer to Jack and Coke, which became my primary drink of the convention in part because the caffeine kept me up all night without the benefit of my usual late-afternoon nap. And also because, you know, whiskey. Having downed a sufficient number of those I exited the karaoke fest and staggered back to the hotel lobby, where I found living legend Carson Cistulli and Temple in the middle of recording an episode of Fan Graphs Audio and decided to crash it.

cistulli and temple

(Cistulli and Temple engaging in what is commonly referred to as Podcast Gold.)

From there I went back to The Fieldhouse for a third time, drank them out of Jack Daniels (they ran out, seriously), and closed the place down while joined by the usual crew plus two "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners who happened to be in Philadelphia. And then a handful of us retreated to Dial's room until 4:00 a.m. or so for more drinking and some very loud arguing about Dave Kingman, collusion, 500 homers, and the Hall of Fame. You know, standard stuff.

sabr room drinking1

(Our bar once the actual bar kicked us out.)

I emerged from my coma at noon the next day and hit up DiNic's again for another sandwich with Rauseo, Giacalone, Dimino, and Dimino's buddy Clayton. After lunch we went to a Mitchell and Ness store with an incredible selection of vintage jerseys and a sound system pumping old-school hip hop. It was basically my favorite place on earth. With the afternoon killed, we took the subway to Citizen's Bank Park to see the Phillies-Braves game as part of SABR's group outing.

sabr subway

(How many SABR members does it take to ride the subway to a baseball game?)

SABR's section was 418 and my seat was in literally the third-to-last row in the entire ballpark, so before the first pitch was thrown some of us walked around the ballpark and ended up watching the entire game from the 100 level standing in the open concourse behind Delmon Young in right field. Young went 3-for-4 with a homer that landed about 15 feet away from me and we also saw Curt Schilling inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.

phillies ballpark2

(The seats I was supposed to sit in for the Phillies-Braves game.)

Big names like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and Dick Allen were in attendance, John Kruk introduced Schilling for what was a shockingly brief speech, and Darren Daulton got a standing ovation from the crowd one week after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 51. Oh, and one random guy noticed my "Thome Is My Homey" shirt and introduced himself by simply saying: "F-ing Thome, right?!" Right.

phillies game sabr1

(My actual "seat" between a White Sox fan and the world's smallest human.)

Riding the subway back I sat next to a guy singing "It's Getting Hot In Here" at the top of his lungs and then my group of idiots got lost underground in what seemed like the opening scene of a "Judgment Night" sequel. After trying a few locked doors, I gave up and said: "Guys, we can make a life here." Once we escaped the group expanded to include Cistulli, Temple, and other luminaries, who closed down the hotel bar after a staffer told us he needed to vacuum the place.

lobbybar3

(Temple giving my camera a dirty look in the otherwise emptied-out hotel bar.)

Not satisfied Dial, Dimino, Rauseo, Temple, Johnson, and longtime SABR buddy Mike McCullough took the festivities to my room, where hotel security knocked on the door at 3:00. We scrambled to hide like cockroaches while one of us answered the door with a promise to keep quiet and then essentially resumed screaming about flipping the lineup with relief pitchers and the value of Tiger Woods' life compared to my life until 4:30 a.m. Amazingly, security never returned.

sabr room drinking2

(Our bar once the actual bar kicked us out, the sequel.)

Up again at the crack of noon, I decided that making a longer, less-drunken appearance on Fan Graphs Audio might be fun and put out the Twitter bat-signal for Cistulli:

cistulli bat-signal

That's how things work in the high-stakes world of podcasting. We recorded an 84-minute episode that contained approximately 84 seconds of baseball talk, leaving a solid 82 minutes for our now-standard topics of comedy, mortality, religion, and the flaws of family members. Cistulli is one of my favorite people, online and in person, and as a devoted listener of his podcast it's always a lot of fun to be a guest. If you like me even a little bit, you should definitely listen.

pointathipster

("Witness, would you please point to the man who allowed Gleeman on his podcast twice?")

For our final night in Philadelphia a group of 10 walked to China Town for dinner at Sang Kee Peking Duck House, where the authentic Chinese food was balanced nicely by a big-screen television showing a replay of Wrestlemania. Back at the hotel our evening was made infinitely more entertaining by being joined in the lobby bar by a wedding party featuring a great-looking bride and a dozen great-looking bridesmaids.

btf chapter meeting1

(Baseball Think Factory's annual midnight chapter meeting.)

It was like watching one of those wild-life shows, except in this case the predators had absolutely no ability to catch their preferred prey. At one point a few of us spotted a guy from the wedding party schlubby enough to potentially pass for a SABR member talking up perhaps the least-attractive woman in the room. After their conversation she proceeded to follow him around while we offered running color commentary like a baseball broadcast. This went on for an hour.

socks and me tweeting2

(Just a picture of me sitting on the floor of a hotel room, tweeting alongside Dial's socks.)

Unlike the previous night, when we got kicked out at 2:00 a.m. in favor of vacuuming, the combination of a SABR convention final night and a raucous wedding party ensured no hotel employees would be encouraging us to leave. When the bar had to stop serving at 1:30 a.m. our waitress came up with a good plan involving multiple buckets of beer on ice, which fueled our silliness for quite a while longer (and led to a gorgeous $301 bar bill).

sabr bar bill1

(This is what a smart waitress thinking on her feet looks like.)

With a 9:00 a.m. train ride to the airport looming I called it quits around 3:00 a.m., officially putting an end to my 10th consecutive SABR convention. Nothing has really changed since that first convention in 2004. I still hang around with most of the same knuckleheads, plus some newer knuckleheads we've added to the group over the years, although there's a little stronger sense of "aren't we a little too old to be doing this?" permeating everything these days. But damn is it fun.

sabr43 badge

Next year's convention is in Houston and there's no way I'd miss it.

For more on my SABR convention experience, including what my voice sounded like after arriving home Sunday, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

June 19, 2013

Who are the best young hitters in Twins history?

best young hitters

Oswaldo Arcia has thrived as a 22-year-old rookie, Aaron Hicks has struggled as a 23-year-old rookie, and Twins fans are counting down the days until stud prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton arrive in Minnesota. All of which got me thinking about the best young hitters in Twins history, so I looked up the most productive seasons for each age based on OPS. No teenage hitter has even gotten regular playing time for the Twins, so let's start with 20-year-olds ...


AGE 20              YEAR      PA      OPS
Butch Wynegar       1976     622     .719

Butch Wynegar is the only hitter in Twins history to see regular action at age 20 and he logged 622 plate appearances, started 133 games at catcher, threw out 35 percent of steal attempts, and made the All-Star team while hitting .260/.356/.363 with more walks (79) than strikeouts (63) in a pitcher-friendly era. Adjusting for the time it was a Joe Mauer-esque year, which is why he was such a phenom and why, despite a solid 13-year career, he was ultimately a disappointment.

Bert Blyleven actually has the second-most plate appearances by a 20-year-old in Twins history with 100, because he was an amazing young pitcher who debuted before the designated hitter. In fact, he also has the most plate appearances by a 19-year-old in Twins history with 58. Through age 20 he hit .135 in 158 trips to the plate ... and tossed 442 innings with a 2.95 ERA. Blyleven ended up with 514 career plate appearances and hit .131 with a 193-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Among position players Luis Rivas has the second-most plate appearances by a 20-year-old in Twins history with 64. In the early days of this blog the Twins rushing Rivas to the majors and repeatedly handing him a starting job based almost solely on his age was a frequent source of frustration. He debuted at 20 and got the sixth-most plate appearances in team history through age 24--Wynegar got the most by a wide margin--but Rivas basically never improved.


AGE 21              YEAR      PA      OPS
Tom Brunansky       1982     545     .848
Rod Carew           1967     561     .750
Butch Wynegar       1977     617     .715
Zoilo Versalles     1961     542     .704
Luis Rivas          2001     619     .682
Cristian Guzman     1999     456     .543

Those are the only six 21-year-olds in Twins history to log at least 300 plate appearances. Tom Brunansky actually began that 1982 season at Triple-A in the Angels organization and was hitting just .205/.317/.330 in 25 games there when they traded him to the Twins in mid-May along with Mike Walters for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong. He was immediately handed a starting job and hit .272/.377/.471 with 20 homers, 30 doubles, and 71 walks in 127 games.

Rod Carew was also no slouch at 21, hitting .292/.341/.409 in one of the lowest-scoring eras in baseball history. Seriously, in 1967 the American League as a whole hit .236 with a .303 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage. If you adjust Carew's raw numbers to today's offensive environment he hit around .315/.360/.475, which is amazing from a 21-year-old second baseman and explains how he missed being the unanimous Rookie of the Year winner by one vote.

Wynegar cracks the list again and Rivas shows up too, along with shortstops Zoilo Versalles and Cristian Guzman. In six decades of Twins history only two regulars have been above-average hitters at 21, which is something to remember when Sano and Buxton show up. Mauer doesn't make the age-21 list because a knee injury cut short his rookie season, but he hit .308/.369/.570 in 122 plate appearances for what would be the top OPS by a wide margin.


AGE 22              YEAR      PA      OPS
Kent Hrbek          1982     591     .848
David Ortiz         1998     326     .817
Joe Mauer           2005     554     .783
Oswaldo Arcia       2013     133     .759
Tom Brunansky       1983     611     .753

I've included Arcia on the age-22 list despite his not having enough plate appearances to qualify yet because he's actually what got me thinking about this topic in the first place. Arcia has fared well enough in the early going that I wondered how his production compares to other 22-year-old Twins, discovering that he's in some pretty nice company with Kent Hrbek, David Ortiz, Mauer, and Brunansky.

In all a total of 12 different Twins have gotten at least 300 plate appearances at age 22 and Hrbek leads the way by hitting .301/.363/.485 with 23 homers in 140 games as a rookie in 1981. The worst OPS in the group of 22-year-olds belongs to Wynegar, who fell to .229/.307/.308 in his third season after being an All-Star at 20 and 21. Rivas, Guzman, Versalles, Carew, and Carlos Gomez also posted a sub-.700 OPS at 22.


AGE 23              YEAR      PA      OPS
Joe Mauer           2006     608     .936
Justin Morneau      2004     312     .875
Kent Hrbek          1983     582     .855
Rod Carew           1969     504     .853
Cristian Guzman     2001     527     .811

Four of the truly elite hitters in Twins history ... and Guzman. He'd been terrible in his first two seasons with the Twins, but in 2001 he hit .308/.346/.507 with seven homers, 22 doubles, and an incredible 13 triples in the first half to make the All-Star team. And then just as everyone was getting excited about a switch-hitting 23-year-old shortstop emerging as a star Guzman hurt his shoulder, missed much of the second half, and resumed being a terrible hitter.

Mauer hit .347/.429/.507 in 140 games at age 23, becoming the first catcher in AL history to win a batting title. He likely should have finished either first or second in the MVP voting, but instead placed sixth while teammate Justin Morneau won the award based largely on racking up RBIs with Mauer on base in front of him. Two years earlier Morneau posted the second-best OPS by a 23-year-old in Twins history, hitting .271/.340/.536 in 74 games after a midseason call-up.

Carew, like Mauer, won his first batting title at age 23, hitting .332/.386/.467 in 1969 to boost his OPS by 200 points compared to 1968, which happened to be one of the lowest-scoring seasons in baseball history and the final season before MLB lowered the pitching mound. In all 28 different Twins have gotten at least 300 plate appearances at age 23 and 13 failed to crack a .700 OPS, including Torii Hunter and Roy Smalley.

Hicks hasn't reached 300 plate appearances yet, but his current .575 OPS at age 23 would rank third-worst ahead of only David McCarty (.542) and Danny Thompson (.482). Greg Gagne (.596) and Rich Becker (.599) also aren't very far ahead of Hicks and two guys who preceded him in center field, Gomez and Ben Revere, posted an OPS under .625 at 23. Next season Arcia will try to become the sixth Twins hitter to crack an .800 OPS at 23.


AGE 24              YEAR      PA      OPS
Kent Hrbek          1984     635     .906
Delmon Young        2010     613     .826
Denard Span         2008     411     .819
David Ortiz         2000     478     .810
Joe Mauer           2007     471     .808

Hrbek has the best OPS for 22-year-olds, the third-best OPS for 23-year-olds, and the best OPS for 24-year-olds. In his age-24 season listed above he hit .311/.383/.522 with 27 homers in 149 games, finishing runner-up in the MVP voting behind Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez despite not even making the All-Star team. Hrbek never finished in the top 15 in MVP voting before or after that season, although he had plenty of other productive years.

Delmon Young appeared to have a breakout season in 2010, hitting .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers and 46 doubles in 153 games at age 24 to convince a lot of people he was finally living up to the hype he received as a prospect. He finished 10th in the MVP balloting because some voters overlooked his terrible defense and focused on his high RBI total, but in three seasons since then he's hit just .263/.297/.404.

Ortiz has the second-best OPS for 22-year-olds and the fourth-best OPS for 24-year-olds, so while no one could have predicted that he'd become one of the elite hitters in baseball after leaving the Twins there was certainly plenty of promise shown at a young age. In all Ortiz hit .266/.348/.461 in 455 games for the Twins through age 25. In team history only Mauer, Hrbek, Morneau, and Rich Rollins had more plate appearances and a higher OPS than Ortiz through age 25.

By age 24 plenty of hitters are regulars in the majors and a total of 38 different Twins hitters got at least 300 plate appearances as 24-year-olds. Kirby Puckett ranks 34th out of 38 with a .655 OPS, hitting .296/.320/.336 with zero homers in 128 games as a rookie. Carew would hold the top spot among 24-year-olds with a .930 OPS in 1970, but a knee injury ended his season after 51 games with a .366 batting average.


AGE 25              YEAR      PA      OPS
Harmon Killebrew    1961     656    1.012
Justin Morneau      2006     661     .934
Tony Oliva          1964     719     .916
Bobby Kielty        2002     348     .890
Joe Mauer           2008     633     .864

Harmon Killebrew couldn't crack any of these lists before age 25 because the team didn't move to Minnesota until then. In his first Twins season Killebrew hit .288/.405/.606 with 46 homers and 107 walks. Five decades later he's still the only Twins hitter to top a .950 OPS by age 25. Tony Oliva also cracks these lists for the first time at 25 because it was his rookie season. He led the AL in batting average, runs, doubles, and total bases, winning Rookie of the Year.

Morneau's aforementioned MVP-winning 2006 season came at age 25, as he hit .321/.375/.556 with 34 homers and 37 doubles in 159 games. Morneau has the second-best OPS for 23-year-olds and 25-year-olds, but hit just .239/.304/.437 in between as a 24-year-old. Mauer cracks the top five in OPS for ages 22, 23, 24, and 25. And he likely would've had the top OPS for 21-year-olds too if not for the knee injury.

Bobby Kielty is the odd man out on the age-25 list, which reminds me that I've never been more wrong about a player. He was a switch-hitting outfielder with power and plate discipline, and as you can see Kielty put up big numbers at an early age. When the Twins traded Kielty to the Blue Jays for Shannon Stewart in 2006 he was a 26-year-old .269/.375/.444 hitter. I thought they'd made a terrible mistake. And then Kielty hit .246/.333/.389 after the trade, flaming out at 30.


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May 24, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• News story lead sentence of the week: "In one instance, a bar in New Jersey mixed rubbing alcohol with caramel food coloring and served it as scotch."

• Behold, the dumbest PR pitch I've ever gotten. And that's saying something.

• If you've always wanted to hear a compilation of Alonzo Mourning being mentioned in rap songs this is your lucky day. Also, almost every lyric was "Mourning like Alonzo."

According to the guy who invented the GIF it's pronounced "jif" rather than "gif." I will, however, continue saying "jif or gif, whichever way you say it" every time I speak the word.

• One thing I know for certain about GIFs? They were made for Delmon Young.

Never forget: "Brian Dozier is going to be the next big thing for the Twins."

• I take a similar approach to dating, but thankfully a Honda Fit doesn't cause much damage.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked a lot about Kyle Gibson and Chris Colabello, and then John Bonnes got creeped out by my choice of romantic music.

• On a related note, I've been spending way too much time thinking of intro/outro songs for the radio show. They need to have a strong opening riff and first 30-45 seconds and be free of curse words, which rules out a ton of good ones. Here's my preliminary list, in alphabetical order.

• I've been wondering what my old pal and former FSN sideline reporter Robby Incmikoski is up to in his new gig with the Pirates and based on this video he's doing a lot of dry cleaning:

They were nice enough to provide him with a shower too, at least.

• I'm in search of a new role model after this devastating news, but we'll always have Super Stan.

• White Sox left-hander Chris Sale is a great pitcher, but as a lifelong fatso reading about how he eats like a pig and can't put on any weight makes me instinctively want to hate him forever.

Paul Allen warned that he had "a big surprise" planned for my weekly Thursday appearance on his show and it turned out to be my mom, three grade school friends, and a former "date" telling stories for a "This Is Your Life"-style segment. Here's photographic evidence of the story my mom told.

• And to think, I used to be considered the young baseball blogger as a 19-year-old.

• Hard as it is to believe, the Twins' rotation has actually been worse than last year's mess.

• I got a similar welcome to the NBC Sports office, except with cartons of Chinese food.

• Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara feels strongly about getting a high-five from Shane Victorino.

• Try to imagine one of the Minnesota newspapers running a story like this about a Twins player.

• Sabermetrics in urban planning? Sure, why not.

• Old friend Francisco Liriano is off to a great start with the Pirates.

• As someone forever nostalgic about 1990s music Target Field's just-announced July concert is intriguing, but I'm boycotting until Mase gets involved.

• This is easily the angriest I've ever been about anything.

Nick Offerman playing Alison Brie's father in a movie is going to break the internet and "The Kings Of Summer" looks pretty good too:

Lots of other funny people in the cast too.

Jen Kirkman, who's always a great podcast guest, has started her own podcast.

Question of the Week over at HardballTalk: If you could have a lengthy but mediocre MLB career would you choose to be a fifth starter (like Kevin Correia or Bruce Chen), a middle reliever (like Brandon Lyon or Chad Qualls), or a platoon hitter (like Reed Johnson or Jonny Gomes)? I gave my answer in the comments section.

Pamela Adlon, who voiced Bobby Hill on "King Of The Hill" and was in both of Louis C.K.'s television shows, was predictably a great/crazy guest on "WTF" with Marc Maron.

• Congratulations to Link-O-Rama regular Dana Wessel for his new gig with KTWIN-96.3, which adds a great producer and the best hair in Minnesota radio.

• In terms of Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidates, can this count as a first date?

• Positive customer service experiences are so rare that I feel like sharing one. Some keys on my year-old Macbook stopped working, so I took it to the Apple Store in Ridgedale Mall. It's my first non-PC and so naturally I was expecting the worst, but everyone there was incredibly helpful and friendly. And despite a 3-5 day repair timetable I got the Macbook back within 48 hours after the parts arrived and had a nice chat about the Twins with a Mac Genius who reads AG.com.

(If you're curious: He wants Aaron Hicks sent down, thinks the payroll is too low, and was sad to learn that I don't get to hang out with Dan Cole over at KFAN.)

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Can glass carry 150 pounds?"
- "Crush on Moira Kelly"
- "Kyle Kinane weight"
- "Have been lazy for 29 years"
- "Hardcore porn on Netflix"
- "Ryan Doumit shirtless"
- "Haralabos Voulgaris shirtless"
- "Al Newman clarinet"
- "What's the real news on Glen Perkins?"
- "How old is LaVelle E. Neal?"
- "How long on an elliptical to burn a beer?"
- "Similarities between Lindsay Lohan and Mila Kunis"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is a live version of "No Surrender" by Bruce Springsteen:


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