October 6, 2014

WAR in the Gardenhire Era

Ron Gardenhire, Rick Anderson

Now that Ron Gardenhire's tenure as Twins manager is over, here are the team's Wins Above Replacement leaders during the 13-season Gardenhire era of 2002-2014:

Joe Mauer          46.3
Johan Santana      35.1
Justin Morneau     23.5
Torii Hunter       21.7
Joe Nathan         18.4
Denard Span        17.2
Scott Baker        16.0
Brad Radke         13.4
Michael Cuddyer    12.4
Corey Koskie       10.7

Gardenhire definitely had plenty of star-level talent to work with, including a pair of MVP winners and a multi-time Cy Young winner all in the middle of their primes. For long stretches Joe Mauer was the best catcher in baseball, Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball, Joe Nathan was the second-best reliever in baseball, Justin Morneau was an elite power hitter, and Torii Hunter was an elite center fielder.

Within those numbers, here are the Twins' highest single-season WAR totals from 2002-2014:

                   YEAR     WAR
Johan Santana      2004     8.6
Joe Mauer          2009     7.8
Johan Santana      2006     7.4
Johan Santana      2005     7.2
Joe Mauer          2010     5.9
Joe Mauer          2006     5.8
Brad Radke         2004     5.8
Joe Mauer          2008     5.6
Jacque Jones       2002     5.4
Joe Mauer          2013     5.3

I'm still angry that Santana was robbed of three straight Cy Young awards because voters weren't yet over their obsession with win-loss records in 2005.

Oh, and here are the Twins' lowest overall WAR totals from 2002-2014:

Tsuyoshi Nishioka  -2.4
Liam Hendriks      -2.2
Rondell White      -1.5
Joe Mays           -1.4
Chris Herrmann     -1.3
Drew Butera        -1.2
Vance Worley       -1.2
P.J. Walters       -1.2
Trevor May         -1.2
Jason Marquis      -1.1

Joe Mays and Luis Rivas have the lowest WAR totals among Twins who logged at least 1,000 plate appearances or 1,000 batters faced under Gardenhire.


  1. You forgot Scott Baker in your WAR rankings. That bumps Punto off the list.

    Comment by Matt #3 — October 6, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  2. I am surprised Nick Punto wasn’t on the list

    Comment by MDK — October 6, 2014 @ 10:34 am

  3. That was probably tongue-in-cheek but Punto was actually pretty good with the glove and walked a little bit. His bat didn’t play well in an MLB lineup everyday most years, even at a premium position, and he was overpaid, but he wasn’t a disaster.

    Delmon Young was a guy that came to my mind, I think he actually had a -1.1 year which would put him in a tie at the bottom of that list.

    Comment by Kavan — October 6, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

  4. When newspapers make corrections, they note that the correction has been made, rather than erasing all evidence of the error. Just FYI.

    Comment by Deleted Comment — October 6, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

  5. It is true that Gardy had plenty of star-level talent to work with, as the first list shows. The second list, meanwhile, shows that supporting cast was often quite weak. Most of the low-WAR guys are homegrown talent. It’s no great sin to fill the roster cheaply from within, although you could criticize Gardy et al for not moving on more quickly from the guys that played below replacement level. More damning in my mind is the presence of relatively big free agent money on that second list, in the form of Nishioka, White, and Marquis. The Twins didn’t exactly break the bank on these guys, but what if the team had done better in the free agent market when they had that high-WAR core?

    Let’s hope that when the next home-grown core comes to maturity, the front office can give our new manager a better supporting cast to work with. It could make all the difference.

    Comment by GagneWithASpoon — October 7, 2014 @ 9:56 am

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