Five former Minnesota Twins are on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot in 2022.
Four of them – A.J. Pierzynski, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan – were key members of the 2000s teams that won six division titles under manager Ron Gardenhire. The other – David Ortiz – is the one that got away.
Ortiz is among 22 former players on the ballot, and while it's a good bet that he's a first ballot inductee, the other four are more likely to spend a few years on the ballot before they have a realistic, if any, chance of being voted into Cooperstown.
If you're unfamiliar with what these guys did for the Twins, here's a reminder:
Joe Nathan: 4-time All-Star while closing games for the Twins from 2004-09, when he piled up 246 saves and a 1.46 ERA. He was good but got absolutely rocked in the playoffs by another guy who is on the ballot, Timberwolves minority co-owner Alex Rodriguez. Nathan finished with 377 saves in his career.
Justin Morneau: A third-round pick from Canada in 1999, Morneau was on the MLB club by 2003 and became the starting first baseman in 2005. In 2006 he hit 34 homers and won the AL MVP award. Concussions derailed his career in Minnesota, but he made a comeback with the Pirates and later won a National League batting title with the Rockies. Morneau slugged 247 homers in his career.
Torii Hunter: Known as Spiderman in center field, Hunter earned nine Gold Gloves during his 19-year career, of which he played 12 seasons for the Twins. From 1997-2007, Hunter represented the Twins in two of his five trips to the All-Star Game. Hunter slashed .277/.331/.461 with 353 home runs, 1,391 RBIs and 498 doubles during his illustrious career, which he concluded in 2015 when he slugged 22 homers at age 39 for the Twins.
A.J.Pierzynski: The left-handed hitting catcher spent the first six seasons of his 19-year MLB career in Minnesota, where he made an All-Star team and .301 with 26 homers and 193 RBI. The Twins traded him to the Giants in 2004 for Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser, and he later became an All-Star with the White Sox, hitting 118 homers over an eight-year span. He also won a World Series with the Sox in 2005.
Ortiz, of course, was released by the Twins in December 2001 and was signed by the Red Sox the next month. He immediately became a star, finishing top five in MVP voting his first five years in Boston and went on to break the Curse of the Bambino while smashing 541 homers and being voted onto 10 All-Star teams.