And picking an All-Star team out of the 10 years is an artificial construct — akin to the argument that Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame because he won more games in the 1980s than anybody else.
Still, the Twins had a pretty impressive record all told in these years of multiple zeros. Here is one fan's all-decade Twins team (complete with batting order):
1) Denard Span, LF: His .305/.390/.422 in 1,087 plate appearances (and superior defense) outweighs Shannon Stewart's .294/.354/.418 in 1,523 PA.
2) Luis Castillo, 2B: What, you were expecting Luis Rivas or Nick Punto?
3) Joe Mauer, C: Sorry, A.J. Pierzynski.
4) Justin Morneau, 1B: It didn't take long for him to shove Doug Mientkiewicz aside, in real life or in this exercise.
5) Torii Hunter, CF: Time for a right-handed stick.
6) Corey Koskie, 3B: The best player of the team Ron Gardenhire inherited from Tom Kelly.
7) Jason Kubel, DH: Good and getting better. If only he hadn't wrecked that knee.
8) Michael Cuddyer, RF: Jacque Jones had more playing time, more homers, more RBIs and more runs, and when the two were on the same team, it was JJ who was the lineup fixture. So why do I take Cuddyer? Because (a) Cuddyer had the better percentages (.270/.344/.457 for Cuddyer, .279/.327/.455 for Jones); (b) Cuddyer is a legitimate RF, and Jones wasn't; (c) this lineup already has five left-handed bats and two switch hitters, and lefties ate up Jones; and (d) I always figured Gardenhire was making a mistake by not getting Cuddyer in the lineup regularly.
9) Cristian Guzman, SS: Jason Bartlett played better, but Guzy was around longer and made an All-Star team — and his arrival in 1999 marked the beginning of the revival.
RHS: Brad Radke. Probably did his best work in the 1990s, but 82-71 isn't shabby. To put 82 wins into perspective, only four RHP have won more games as a Twin (Bert Blyleven, Camilo Pascual, Jim Perry and Dave Goltz) than Radke did this decade.
LHS: Johan Santana. Who else?
Closer: Eddie Guardado? Joe Nathan? I loved Everyday Eddie, but Nathan brings better stuff.