Sunday, August 5, 2018
Johan Santana, Twins Hall of Famer
Johan Santana was acquired by the Minnesota Twins on December 13th, 1999 in a trade with the Florida Marlins. The Marlins were asked to pick Johan in the Rule V draft from Houston in exchange for pitcher Jared Camp. Johan had been in the Astros minor league system since 1995, but was only 21 years old.
Due to the rules of the Rule V draft, Santana spent the entire 2000 season on the Twins' 25-Man roster, but was more or less hidden at the back end of the bullpen. It wasn't until 2003 that Johan was added to the Twins' rotation, and even then he was shuttled between the bullpen and the starting five. In 2004, Johan became JOHAN.
No more bullpen duty in 2004, Santana earned his first Cy Young Award, and led the AL in ERA, Strikeouts, FIP, WHIP, K/9, H/9, and ERA+. He would remain the AL WHIP leader for as long as he pitched for the Twins, leading the league every year. He would win a 2nd Cy Young award in 2006, including a Pitching version of the Triple Crown (league leader in ERA, Ks, and Wins).
As a Twin, Santana was a 3-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove to go along with his 2 Cy Young Awards. He finished his Twins career with 1,381 strikeouts in 1,308 and 2/3 innings. In his 8 seasons with the Twins, he was only asked to intentionally walk 2 batters-- Miguel Tejada in 2003 in a relief appearance, and Mike Sweeney in 2005 in the 8th Inning of 2-1 victory over the Royals. Every other batter was in serious trouble.
Even after being traded to New York, it was hard to not think of Johan as a Minnesota Twin first and foremost. At the time, there was a little bad blood - not just because he wouldn't re-sign with MN, but by stating it publicly that he wouldn't, he damaged what little leverage the Twins had in trade negotiations.
It's all forgotten now, of course, and during Santana's attempt to return to MLB, I kept hoping that A) he could return to his prior success, and B) that the Twins would try to bring him back. Yesterday, the Twins inducted him into the Twins' Hall of Fame, and fittingly it was phenom Jose Berrios on the mound for the team, blowing away Royals batters just like Johan used to.