Posted at 12:51 PM on May 9, 2006
by David Zingler
He possess amazing athletic prowess, has a great smile, out-going personality and is a favorite of SportsCenter, but Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter is no “superstar.” Entering the 2005 season Hunter had a batting line of .267/.321/.458. He’s never hit 30 homeruns, has surpassed the 100 RBI plateau only once and has never finished in the top 10 of any major offensive category other than his 7th place finish in triples in 2000 and 8th and 9th place finishes in stolen bases in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Baseball-Reference.com lists Jacque Jones and Juan Encarnacion as the players most similar to our resident “superstar.”
Despite all of those facts, some in the media dared to compare him to Kirby Puckett after Puckett’s death in March. How can this be? How can a guy that has shown zero improvement in his approach at the plate during his career and produces average to above average offensive statistics be called a “superstar” by anyone? The obvious answer is that Hunter’s reputation is a byproduct of the highlight reel generation. We could also blame the media, who always treats the guys that give them quotes a little better. Maybe it’s just that the Twins are so desperate for an everyday player to market that they can’t wait for Joe Mauer to bloom. Who knows, but at $10.75 million this season, the Twins aren’t getting their money’s worth.
Whether you agree or not, with a $12 million team option in 2007, Hunter will likely be playing elsewhere next year, which begs the question, should they trade him now?
Wait a second. Torii's hit a homerun every 24 at bats, compared to every 35 for Kirby's career. He's stolen more bases per game than Kirby, which is even more interesting considering he doesn't get on base nearly as much as Kirby did. Both players drove in one run for every 6.6 at bats. They both walked roughly 40-50 times per year, and Torii normally strikes out 10-15 times per year more than Kirby did. Either Kirby Puckett is the worst player to join the hall of fame, or Torii Hunter would be a shoo-in for the hall of fame if only he had averaged 8 more hits per month.
I do, however, wonder why the consensus best pitcher in baseball isn't a superstar.
Yes, we should trade him now. Not in a fire sale, take whatever you can get for him type of way, but make a concerted effort to trade him and get a good return. Now would seem to be the perfect time, while he's on a hot streak and his numbers look a lot better than they did two weeks ago.
It's not that he's a bad player--he's a good player. But the Twins aren't likely to win this year or next with him or without him. Let's trade him for some young players and start rebuilding.