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Best Twins Team of 2000's

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With all of the doom and gloom surrounding Justin Morneau's quotes this morning, I thought we could go back to happier time when the Twins were perennial Central Division Champs. I'll examine the '02, '03, '04, '06, '09 and '10 Division Champion teams everyday over the next week to determine which team was the best of the bunch. Today let's start by taking a look at the '02 Twins.

2002: The year it all started. Coming out of a strong 2001 campaign that saw them finish 2nd to the Cleveland Indians, the Twins had a young team ready to take the next step. The team was carried by a pitching staff that was lead by Rick Reed of all people after string of injuries to starters Joe Mays, Eric Milton and Brad Radke. Fifth starter Kyle Lohse had his best year as a starter for the Twins and Johan Santana, after starting the year in the bullpen, came on to start 14 games and established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. The lineup consisted of mostly homegrown stars such as Torii Hunter, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie and AJ Pierzynski.

This young team was built around defense, pitching and what was later known in these parts as playing "small ball". The 2002 team had three all-stars that in Eddie Guardado making it in his first year as a closer, AJ Pierzynski and Torii Hunter. These young Twins started the season out winning heating up along with the summer going 45-36 at the midway point and enjoyng a 5 game lead in the division. They ended the season with a sweep of the the Chicago White Sox finishing up the season 94-67 and easily won the Central by 13.5 games. leading up to their first playoff series since winning the World Series in 1991.

The Twins took on the American League West Champion Oakland A's, winning the series in dramatic 5 game fashion. A series clinching Home Run by AJ Pierzynski followed by his now famous bat flip and "Booya!" sent the Twins onto the ALCS to face the Anaheim Angels. Unfortunately the Twins ran into the magic of the Rally Monkey and Power of Adam Kennedy and lost the series 4-1 after winning the first game, getting a gem of an outing from Joe Mays. Even though they lost this series the team would later prove this wasn't a fluke season and would go on to win the division five of the next eight season.

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