| Tom Kelly|
WCCO-TV, Fox Sports North
| 2006 Major League Baseball, 2002 Major League Baseball, 2009 Major League Baseball, 2010 Major League Baseball, 1996 New York Yankees|
Prior to the spring training, the 1996 Minnesota Twins were projected to be a contending team. The team's chances significantly worsened on March 28, 1996. Kirby Puckett, the team's franchise player, had been tattooing the Grapefruit League (spring training) for a .360 average, but that morning woke up without vision in his right eye. He was eventually diagnosed with glaucoma. Several surgeries over the next few months could not restore vision in the eye. Puckett announced his retirement from baseball on July 12. After beginning the season under the melancholy cloud of the Puckett situation, Manager Tom Kelly's team finished the year with a 78-84 record, which put it in fourth place in the American League Central Division.
October 9: Luis Rivas was signed as an amateur free agent by the Twins.
December 5: Paul Molitor was signed as a free agent by the Twins.
January 29: Signed Roberto Kelly as a free agent.
On April 24, the Twins crushed the Detroit Tigers 24-11. The total of runs—both the Twins' 24 and the game's total of 35—were new highs in Twins history for a nine-inning game.
Only second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was selected from the Twins for the All-Star Game at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia. Entering in the eighth inning as a reserve, he singled. His was just one of seven American League hits in the National League's 6-0 victory.
On July 25 at the Metrodome, seven Twins hit eight doubles to set a new mark. The Twins drubbed the Boston Red Sox 16-6.
By season's end, several other offensive records had been set: Chuck Knoblauch scored 140 times, besting Rod Carew's previous club high of 128. Chip Hale had nineteen pinch hits on the year. New season highs were set for most runs scored (877) and most runs allowed (900). In addition, new club season highs were set in most hits (1663), most RBI (812), most doubles (332) and highest team batting average (.288).
1996 Minnesota Twins season Wikipedia
Individual players on the team did excel. Paul Molitor had a standout year in his first year back with his hometown team, playing as the regular designated hitter and winning a Silver Slugger Award at that position. He played in all but one game and hit .341 with 113 RBI and a league-best 225 hits. On September 16 in Kansas City, he collected his 3,000th hit, a triple off of José Rosado. He is the only player to obtain his 3,000th hit via a triple. Along with Molitor, Chuck Knoblauch also hit .341. Among the hits were 35 doubles. He also stole 45 bases. Marty Cordova had a respectable year, driving in 111 runs.
The pitching did not match the offense. Brad Radke, Frank Rodriguez, and Rich Robertson (the three R's) all spent the whole season in the starting rotation and had losing records. The team's experiment moving Rick Aguilera from the closer's role to the starting rotation was not a successful one, as he started only 19 games. Scott Aldred also started seventeen games for the team. Radke had the lowest ERA among the starters at 4.46. The rest were over five. Dave Stevens got the most saves at 11, but he was not an effective closer. Mike Trombley and Dan Naulty had effective seasons out of the bullpen, but nobody else had an ERA under five. Epitomizing the pitching woes, Mike Milchin had an ERA of 8.31 but the team still let him pitch in 26 games.
The only truly regular starters in the field were Knoblauch at second base, Pat Meares at shortstop, and Cordova in left field. In a less-than-encouraging sign for the team's postseason prospects, Scott Stahoviak saw a majority of the time at first base. Dave Hollins played 116 games at third, with Jeff Reboulet and Todd Walker also seeing time. Greg Myers and Matt Walbeck platooned at catcher. Rich Becker had the unenviable task of replacing Puckett in center field and played 121 games there. Right field was a mish-mash, with Matt Lawton playing 60 games at the position, Roberto Kelly 54, Denny Hocking 33, and Ron Coomer 23.May 28: Selected Scott Aldred off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
June 4: In the 1996 amateur draft, the Twins drafted future major leaguers such as Jacque Jones (2nd round), Chad Allen (4th round), and Chad Moeller (7th round). The Twins botched the signing of first baseman Travis Lee, whom they signed in the first round with the second overall pick. Lee exploited a never-before used clause that allows a draft pick to become a free agent if a team doesn't make an offer within 15 days of the draft. After the Twins failed to do this, Lee left for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who gave him a $10 million signing bonus. The Twins had the last laugh, however, as Lee has proven to be a below-average hitter who has bounced from team to team.
August 29: Traded Dave Hollins to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later. On September 30, the Mariners sent David Ortiz to the Twins to complete the trade.
September 13, 1996: David Ortiz was sent by the Seattle Mariners to the Minnesota Twins to complete an earlier deal made on August 29, 1996. The Seattle Mariners sent a player to be named later to the Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins.
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted inThe lone representative of the Twins in the All-Star Game was second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.
The highest paid Twin in 1996 was Chuck Knoblauch at $4,670,000; followed by Rick Aguilera at $3,500,000.
Calvin R. Griffith Award (Most Valuable Twin) – Chuck Knoblauch
Joseph W. Haynes Award (Twins Pitcher of the Year) – Frank Rodriguez
Bill Boni Award (Twins Outstanding Rookie) – Ron Coomer
Charles O. Johnson Award (Most Improved Twin) – Rich Becker
Dick Siebert Award (Upper Midwest Player of the Year) – Paul Molitor
The above awards are voted on by the Twin Cities chapter of the BBWAA
Carl R. Pohlad Award (Outstanding Community Service) – Paul Molitor
Sherry Robertson Award (Twins Outstanding Farm System Player) – Todd Walker
Outfielder Kirby Puckett won the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.