• Former Rule 5 pick is most underrated player in Minnesota Twins history

    This morning at 9:00 a.m. the annual Rule 5 draft will begin. First will be the Major League portion. It will be followed by the minor league portion. The Twins have had some successes in each. The nabbed 3B Brian Buscher from the Giants in the minor league portion. In the major league portion, they have added names like Gary Wayne, who was a solid lefty reliever for the Minnesota Twins for a few seasons, including 1991. The most recent success was Scott Diamond.

    Today, I want to write about one of the most underrated players in Minnesota Twins history. In my opinion, this player is the best player that the Twins have selected in the Rule 5 draft.

    The initial assumption many will make is that I am referring to Johan Santana. However, I donít believe that he is at all underrated in Twins history. He also was not a player that the Twins selected in the Rule 5 draft.

    Admittedly, it may be semantics, but in that 1999 Rule 5 draft, the Marlins took Santana. The Twins used the 2nd pick to select RHP Jared Camp. The teams had previously agreed to a deal in which they would make those picks and then swap them, with money being exchanged as well.

    In my opinion, the best player that the Twins have drafted themselves in the Rule 5 draft came to the organization on December 4, 1989.

    Shane Mack was the first round pick of the San Diego Padres in 1984 after a great career at UCLA. His pro career began in the 1985 season because he played for Team USA in the 1984 Olympics. He debuted with the Padres in May of 1987 and hit .239/.299/.361 (.660) in 105 games (267 plate appearances). In 1988, he played in just 56 games for the Padres and hit .244/.336/.269 (.605) with three doubles. 1989, he played in just 24 games for the Padres AAA team, and hit just .225/.344/.325 (.669) in that time.

    Although he had that first round pedigree, and the major college background, Mack was a bust to that point in his career. The Padres exposed him to the Rule 5 draft.

    The Twins scouting personnel saw something in Mack that told them that he still had a chance to be a solid big league player. Maybe it was that they just saw a great athlete who needed a change of scenery. Whatever the reason, they selected him in that 1989 Rule 5 draft, and he came to big league camp in 1990. There is little risk in making a Rule 5 selection. Itís just $50,000 to make a pick, and if the player is returned, it is for $25,000. Or, in the case of Diamond, a trade can be worked out. According to Twins Trivia, the Twins have made 17 selections since 1986, and only two of those players remained on the Twins roster the entire season after being taken (Mack in 1989 and Wayne in 1988).

    The Twins were a last place team in 1990, so the 26-year-old Mack got plenty of opportunity. In fact, he played in 125 games. He earned the playing time. He hit .326/.392/.460 (.852) with 10 doubles, four triples, eight homers and 44 RBI. He also stole 13 bases.

    In 143 games in 1991, Mack hit .310/.363/.529 (.893) with 27 doubles, eight triples, 18 homers and 74 RBI. He added 13 more stolen bases and helped the Twins to their 1991 World Series championship.

    He played in 156 games in 1992. He hit .315/.394/.467 (.860) with 31 doubles, six triples, 16 homers and 75 RBI. He stole 26 bases that season.

    He had a down season in 1993. In 128 games, he hit .276/.335/.412 (.746) with 30 doubles, four triples, 10 homers and 61 RBI. He stole 15 bases.

    His final season with the Twins came in 1995. He played in just 81 games, but he hit .333/.402/.564 (.966) with 21 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and 61 RBI.

    In those five seasons with the Twins, Mackís OPS+ numbers were 133, 140, 139, 100, and 147. In 633 games, he hit .309/.375/.479 (.854). He hit 119 doubles, 24 triples, 67 home runs, and 315 RBI. He also stole 71 bases. His OPS+ was 130.

    He became a free agent following the 1994 season. He spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons in Japan, playing for the Yomiuri Giants. He came back to the States and in 1997 and 1998, he played a total of 129 games for the Red Sox, Aís, and Royals.

    When the Twins Hall of Fame ballot came out last month, Mackís name was on it for the first time. It is inexplicable why a player who did that well for the Twins for a five-year stretch was only put on the ballot this year. Looking at the site results, based on number of tweets, we see Dan Gladden with 47 tweets while Shane Mack has just four tweets. Remember Mackís 130 OPS+ in his five seasons with the Twins? Gladdenís OPS+ in his first season with the Twins was 90. Other front-runners include Corey Koskie, who deserves it at some point, but he has a 116 OPS+ in seven seasons. Chuck Knoblauch, who absolutely should be in the Twins Hall of Fame, had a 114 OPS+ in his seven seasons with the Twins. Of course, we shouldnít make much of anything thatís voted by fans. Other deserving Twins Hall of Fame candidates, Dave Goltz (0) and Brian Harper (4) are not racking up twitter mentions either.

    That it took so long for Mack to even be recognized on that ballot is one indication of just how underrated Shane Mack is in Twins history. During those five years, he was one of the top five outfielders in all of baseball. Did we appreciate at the time that the Twins had both Mack and Kirby Puckett roaming the outfield?

    Shane Mack and Johan Santana are a couple of cases of the best case scenario of what can happen for a team using a Rule 5 draft pick. Scott Diamondís 2012 season is certainly encouraging. If a team can find a player who performs to the level that LHP Gary Wayne did for the Twins for four seasons, that is a major success.

    At Twins Daily today, we will be sure to highlight who the Twins select in the Rule 5 drafts, Major League and Minor League portions. Weíll also look back at any players that the Twins should happen to lose.
    This article was originally published in blog: Former Rule 5 pick is most underrated player in Minnesota Twins history started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Mack played long before the influx of bloggers and social media and during his time, the local media was ruled by team lap dogs that would never speak ill of the organization. I always wondered why Mack's tenure with the Twins was cut short and why another MLB team didn't pick him up after a tremendous run. Injuries rarely stopped teams from offering a player as productive as he was another chance. Does anyone know anything about him personally?

      I always wondered if he was a jerk that burned his bridges. I would like to think not because he was one of my favorites but I realize that if he was a clubhouse cancer, Sid likely would have never wrote it for all of us to see.
    1. JCinNWMN's Avatar
      JCinNWMN -
      I registered for the site this morning just to say Amen! Shane Mack was one of my favorites. Mack and Puckett in the same outfield was awesome for those few years.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I don't believe Mack was any kind of clubhouse cancer. He may of been sort of a high maintainence kind of guy. I remember a comment by Tom Kelly or perhaps it was some other Twins offical. When Mack signed with the Japanese team, it was suggested Mack better take the Twins hitting coach with him if he expected to have any success after he left the Twins.

      I also agree that he was very good with the Twins. He could hit and was actually good enough defensively to be part of the reason Puckett moved to right field.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      "Other deserving Twins Hall of Fame candidates, Dave Goltz (0) and Brian Harper (4) are not racking up twitter mentions either."

      I saw maybe a half-dozen games at the old Met, and by far the most memorable was a 1-hitter by Goltz vs. the Red Sox. (Solid single to left by Jim Rice, I think it was in the top of hte 7th.) He was a very good pticher and I hated to see him leave as a FA, but that was near the low point of the Griffith ownership.

      The worst game I went to (although not the least memorable) was also a Goltz start - it was supposed to be the first game of a twi-night double-header, but it was finally called in the 6th inning after 3 long rain delays. The Twins lost 5-1 and it was such a miserable night that it was seared into my memory. I went and found the box score for it - Aug 1st 1975 - and it reminded me of a few other things about the game.
      Wilbur Wood was the winning pitcher (the fascination with knuckleballers was pretty close to its peak then, thanks to Ball Four). Tony O was still playing and had an OPS of .848 despite barely being able to walk. (Not that we kne what OPS was back then.)
      And this play (from Baseball reference): Baserunner Out Advancing; Nyman out at 1B/1B. The Twins pulled the hidden ball trick, the only time I've seen it work at the MLB level. Retrosheet had a better description: "Jerry Terrell caught Nyls Nyman with a variation of the hidden ball trick; after two throws to 1B by the pitcher, Terrell faked his throw back to the mound the third time; Nyman moved off bag too quickly; White Sox Coach Alex Monchak ejected by 1B umpire Bill Kunkel" I thought the game might have been played under protest as well, but I couldn't find any mention of it.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I loved Shane Mack.
    1. boney's Avatar
      boney -
      Glad to read this. Shane Mack is one of my all time favorite Twins.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      THanks for the feedback everyone... I was kind of proud of this story, and it's kind of been pushed to the background today with some fairly big stories. Ha!
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