Dozier, Mauer among top Twins of '10s

December 20th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Though the Twins won division championships in 2010 and '19, it was largely a tough decade for the organization as Minnesota transitioned from the Metrodome-era core of the 2000s' American League Central championship teams to the new core that showed up in the latter half of the decade and led the organization back to a pair of playoff appearances in '17 and '19.

As looks back at the top 10 players of the last decade for each organization, it says a lot about the current direction of the Twins that four of those 10 will still figure to be members of the Twins for several years to come.

Seasons: 2004-18

What better place to begin than with the hometown kid himself? This decade didn't include Mauer's three batting titles or his best season, 2009, when he won the AL Most Valuable Player Award, but while Mauer never again reached that lofty peak, he maintained solidly average to above-average production through the end of his career to fittingly emerge as the most valuable Twins player of the decade. Yes, he struggled with concussions at the start of the decade and transitioned away from catcher, but he still collected 1,279 hits, 270 doubles and 71 homers while hitting .294/.376/.412 in the 2010s, playing to a consistently high floor in front of his hometown fans through the beautifully scripted final game of his career in 2018.

Seasons: 2012-18

A homegrown talent who blossomed into one of the game's most consistent power threats at second base, Dozier also endeared himself as a fan favorite through his leadership, energy and community engagement, and he admitted that he expected to retire as a lifelong member of the Twins. Before he was traded to the Dodgers at the 2018 Trade Deadline, Dozier was the backbone of the Twins' power for much of the decade, as he hit 20 or more homers in each of his final five seasons in Minnesota. He set an AL record for homers hit as a second baseman in '16, when he went deep 42 times -- including 40 as a second baseman -- and finished second to only Robinson Canó with 184 homers as a second baseman in the decade.

Seasons: 2015-present

The Rosario era started with a bang when he homered on the first pitch of his career -- because of course he did. With that blast to left field, the swaggering, free-swinging outfielder became the first of the Twins' new wave of hitting prospects to establish himself in the Major Leagues, and he has been one of Minnesota's more consistent power threats since. Rosario has knocked at least 150 hits with no fewer than 24 homers in each of the past three seasons, with a penchant for homers in big moments, and sometimes, on pitches most players would have no business hitting. His energy and love of interacting with fans in the bleachers has made him a fan favorite, and chants of "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" frequently rain down from the stands during important at-bats.

Seasons: 2015-present

It took Kepler several seasons to fully break out, but even before he posted career-best numbers across the board during a huge 2019 campaign, he still provided the Twins plenty of value through his consistent power, discerning eye at the plate and solid outfield defense through the first three full seasons of his career despite the tough right-field wall at Target Field. Kepler hit 17, 19 and 20 homers from 2016-18 before exploding for 36 in '19, and if his strong progression against left-handed pitching is any indication, the upcoming decade should be more fruitful than the last for the German slugger.

Seasons: 2015-18

The Twins gave Santana the largest free-agent contract in club history when they signed the right-hander to a four-year, $54 million deal before the 2015 season. His Twins tenure got off to a rocky start when he was issued an 80-game suspension in '15, but he provided unmatched consistency in the next two seasons, when he pitched to a 3.32 ERA with seven complete games -- four of them shutouts -- as he ate 392 2/3 innings and was named to the second All-Star team of his career before injuries derailed his final season in Minnesota.

6. Seasons: 2013-19

Gibson was the longest-tenured member of the Twins when he left for the Rangers following the 2019 season, and though he only realized his full potential in two seasons, the right-hander became a veteran presence in the clubhouse and an active member of the Twin Cities community. Gibson appeared to have put his struggles with inconsistency behind him in '18, when he led Twins starters in innings (196 2/3) and ERA (3.62), but his '19 was handcuffed by a season-long struggle with ulcerative colitis. Still, Gibson's consistent rotation presence through the years and three solid full seasons earned him a place on the list.

Seasons: 2015-present

The big slugger hasn't had the smoothest ride in the Major Leagues due to a combination of underperformance and injuries over the first several seasons of his career. With that said, the highs of Sanó's career have been quite high, including a third-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2015, the first All-Star honors of his career in '17 and a much-needed resurgence in '19 fueled by a slimmed-down frame. Even through the inconsistency, Sanó still averaged more than 23 homers in his first five years -- none of them complete seasons -- and could be primed for huge numbers if he can stay on the field.

Seasons: 2016-present

Berríos' highly anticipated Twins career began on a challenging note when he posted an 8.02 ERA as a 22-year-old rookie in 2016, but the ambitious right-hander has shown marked improvements in all three seasons since. In '17, he took a big step forward to a 3.89 ERA; in '18, he again lowered his ERA and struck out more than 200 batters for the first time; in '19, he made his first Opening Day start, lowered his ERA once more to 3.68 and broke the 200-inning barrier for the first time. His rapid rise and consistency earned him a spot on this list, but expect him to be much higher up on this list for the 2020s.

Seasons: 2006-17

It's tough for a reliever to provide as much value as his peers due to his limited role, but Perkins deserves recognition for his stellar five-year peak from 2011-15, when he trailed only Aroldis Chapman in WAR, per FanGraphs, among left-handed relievers. After transitioning out of a starting role, Perkins broke out with a 2.48 ERA in '11 to kick off the five-year stretch during which he made at least 60 appearances each season, posted a sub-2.60 ERA in three of those seasons and made three All-Star teams. Perkins, a native of Stillwater, Minn., closed out the '14 All-Star Game at Target Field in front of his hometown fans.

Seasons: 2012-18

We'll close out this list with the beloved Esky, who captured hearts in Minneapolis with his goofy nicknames and antics, brotherly relationship with Dozier and unabashed love for Fogo de Chão. Oh, and he was a pretty darn good player, too. Escobar provided solid value as a super-utility player with an average to above-average bat for several seasons and eventually found his power stroke, hitting 21 homers in 2017 and clubbing 15 homers and 37 doubles for the Twins in '18 before he was moved to the D-backs at the Trade Deadline.