Tag: Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter Retires: Latest Comments and Reaction

After 19 seasons, Torii Hunter has decided to call it quits on his MLB career. The 40-year-old outfielder announced Monday he will officially retire.   

Hunter spent the past year with the Minnesota Twins, with whom he debuted in 1997 and played his first 11 years in the majors. He spoke with the Star Tribune‘s La Velle E. Neal III about his decision to walk away from the game:

I’m sad because it’s all I’ve known for half of my life. This great game of baseball has done so much for me. I have learned a lot of lessons. They say baseball is life and life is baseball, and I used baseball and applied it to my life. So I got through a lot of hardships and a lot of hard times and I learned from them and I made adjustments, which you have to do in the game of baseball as well as the game of life. So baseball taught me a lot. But mentally, I think it’s time. I still love the game, but time has taken a toll on me mentally and physically.

Twins manager Paul Molitor commented on Hunter’s decision via a text message, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minnesota: 

In 139 games this past season, Hunter hit 22 home runs and had 81 runs batted in, both of which were second on the team. As Hardball Talk’s Aaron Gleeman noted, the power numbers belie what was an otherwise poor offensive campaign from Hunter:

Of course, the numbers don’t illustrate his full impact on the team, particularly on the Twins’ young outfielders, 26-year-old Aaron Hicks and 21-year-old Byron Buxton.

“He’s applying a lot of things that we talked about. He’s applying it to his career,” Hunter said of Hicks, per MLB.com’s Betsy Helfand. “He’s playing the game the right way, having great at-bats. I always thought he had a pretty good eye but he’s starting to be a little more aggressive in those counts where you need to be aggressive, two balls no strikes, 3-1 count.”

In March, Buxton discussed how he was looking to Hunter for guidance.

“I’ve told him, ‘Give me any advice. If you see something wrong, tell me and I’ll make an adjustment,'” the promising outfielder said, per Fox Sports North’s Tyler Mason. “That’s what he’s doing. I’m just trying to make an adjustment to improve my game and put it in my game to make myself better.”

Although Hunter’s second stint in Minnesota was short-lived, it could have a long-term impact as Buxton and Hicks progress on the field.

Hunter also spoke Monday about how pleased he was to conclude his playing days with the Twins, per Neal III:

It meant the world to me. This is where it all started. Molly [Paul Molitor] was the manager. It was the perfect scenario to come back and finish my career with the Twins, possibly get to the postseason. The perfect scenario would be to win the World Series with those guys this year. We fell short, but we did have a winning season and there were a lot of positives that came out.

Now that he’s officially done as a player, the strength of Hunter’s Hall of Fame credentials will inevitably be discussed. He is a five-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and a nine-time Gold Glove winner.

While those accolades are impressive, Baseball-Reference.com put Hunter among a class of very good but not great players in terms of similarity score:

Among those players listed above, only Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer. Carlos Beltran should also get there once he retires, but it’s a mostly nondescript group.

In addition, Jay Jaffe’s JAWS metric, which attempts to measure a player’s case for the Hall of Fame, lists Hunter as the 31st-best center fielder in MLB history.

Seven players ranked below Hunter are enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, but all of the players were of different eras. Three played around the turn of the 20th century, and the other four were active through the 1930s and/or 1940s; Hall of Fame voting has changed quite a bit over the generations.

In a previous era, when advanced statistics didn’t have such a prominent role in evaluating a player’s career, Hunter might have done enough to get into the Hall of Fame. Today, however, the chances he attains baseball’s highest individual honor are slim.

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2016 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Underrated Stars

The Major League Baseball offseason can be as dramatic as the postseason—at least in most years, though this October is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory—providing thrills and heartache for fans and teams in their quests to build championship rosters.

This winter, all eyes will be on marquee names like Toronto Blue Jays ace David Price and New York Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes, but only a select group of teams will be able to get in on the bidding for those players. The more interesting dynamic at play involves what will happen in the second- and third-tier markets.

Those players aren’t going to draw the same attention but will serve valuable functions for teams that have a strong nucleus in place and need to make a tweak here or there to get over the hump. 

For instance, no one would have expected Kendrys Morales to hit 20-plus home runs with over 100 RBI in the middle of the Kansas City Royals lineup when the team signed him last year, yet there he is, doing just that. 

Such under-the-radar deals can make all the difference when the postseason rolls around, so here are some of the latest rumblings about unheralded free agents and where they could end up before 2016’s spring training begins.


John Lackey to Switch Sides in Rivalry?

The St. Louis Cardinals’ season ended in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with John Lackey on the mound as the starting pitcher.

Perhaps the script for Lackey will reverse next season. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Cubs could pursue the veteran right-hander this winter.

“It is not out of the realm of possibility that Lackey could wind up with the Cubs next season as a free agent, according to one major league source,” Cafardo noted. “It was Theo Epstein who signed him as a free agent in Boston. Lackey is also a close friend of Jon Lester, who will push Epstein in that direction.”

Lackey played this season under one of the most team-friendly salaries in history. When he originally signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2010, there was a provision in the deal that meant his salary for the final season (2015) would be the major league minimum, worth roughly $500,000. 

The 36-year-old responded by having his best season since he was a Cy Young contender with the Los Angeles Angels, posting a career-low 2.77 ERA and throwing over 200 innings for the first time since 2010. His 3.6 wins above replacement were his most since 2007, according to FanGraphs

Adding a veteran starter of Lackey’s ability behind the dynamic one-two punch of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester would make the already formidable Cubs more lethal in 2016, though Lackey is not likely to replicate his numbers from this season, as his 3.57 fielding-independent ERA suggests some regression will come.

Yet even factoring in regression, Lackey is a more reliable option than Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel in the No. 3 spot.

Plus, the Cubs wouldn’t have to break the bank to sign Lackey, since he’s at a point where a three-year deal might be too much for some teams. That works to Chicago’s benefit, because by the time Lackey’s contract ends, young stars like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber will be on the verge of earning big raises through arbitration.

It will be shocking if Lackey doesn’t have a robust market this winter, but the Cubs do have a compelling presentation to make.

Prediction: Lackey signs with Cubs.


Freese High on Angels’ Wish List

David Freese will be one of the most interesting free-agent test cases of the upcoming offseason. The former All-Star has been an above-average hitter in two seasons with the Angels but also missed 69 games during that span.

Injuries have been a problem for Freese, who has played more than 140 games only once since 2010, though that isn’t deterring the Angels from keeping a close eye on the 32-year-old, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

“When Freese returned, their lineup deepened and their record improved,” Gonzalez noted. “It was no coincidence, which is why the Angels are expected to strongly consider bringing Freese back this offseasoneven though they have two promising young players waiting, and even though they’ll have other holes to fill in their lineup.”

Freese also told Gonzalez that his hope is to remain with the Angels, while admitting both sides will have to explore the situation in greater detail over the winter.

“I think they understand that [I want to return],” Freese said. “With that said, a lot of things have to happen on both sides. It’s a new experience for me. We’ll see what happens when the World Series is over and go from there.”

The Angels, like Freese, will be a fascinating study in the offseason. They have an owner in Arte Moreno who will spend money, at times foolishly, in hopes of winning a championship. New general manager Billy Eppler has to establish his own identity while working within the system, especially since Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia are close.

Being able to spend money in smart ways—Albert Pujols still has power, but a 35-year-old first baseman with a .307 on-base percentage who is still owed $165 million through 2021 doesn’t look good—will determine how successful the Angels are moving forward.

Freese was the third-best Angels hitter by OPS+ (109) last season. Like Pujols, he doesn’t get on base at a high rate, but he does provide enough pop (41 extra-base hits, .420 slugging percentage) to warrant a modest two-year deal.

Since the Angels don’t seem likely to undertake even a short-term rebuild, they have to stick with veteran performers on whom they can depend. Freese falls into that category, even if he’s not the impact hitter the Angels hoped they had acquired from St. Louis two years ago. 

Prediction: Freese re-signs with Angels.


Torii Hunter’s Extended Return

When the Minnesota Twins brought Torii Hunter back last winter, it seemed odd that a young, rebuilding franchise would want a 39-year-old outfielder on its roster. 

Then the Twins went out and won 83 games, with a lot of those young players and Hunter working in unison to make it happen.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, people in the Twins organization hope to bring Hunter back in 2016.

“Twins people loved the job Torii Hunter did in the clubhouse and are expected to try to bring him back for another year,” Heyman wrote. “Hunter’s influence seems undeniable.”

This is one of those cases in which words like “leadership” and “clubhouse guy” will come up. Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe talked about Hunter’s skills off the field in July with Dave Campbell of the Associated Press.

“The mentality that he brings in, that we’ve kind of embraced, of that short memory, forgetting about yesterday, forgetting about the game that happened an hour ago, that’s something that’s really helped us,” Plouffe said. “That’s kind of been the difference in the team from the years past.”

While those intangibles may hold some type of value, Hunter wasn’t good on the field last season:

Another issue is that the Twins aren’t lacking for outfielders. Eddie Rosario struggled this season with a .289 on-base percentage but is just 24 years old with the potential to get better. Aaron Hicks finally showed flashes of being a capable big leaguer. Max Kepler and Byron Buxton should get a lot of at-bats in 2016, and Miguel Sano, who played mostly as a designated hitter in 2015, is capable of playing right field. 

At Hunter’s age (now 40), his performance isn’t likely to get any better than it was this season, which is a problem, given how talented the young nucleus around him is and what it could be next season. 

The notion of clubhouse chemistry became a hot topic late in the season, with USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale speaking to various players and front-office personnel around baseball about its importance. 

“People that don’t understand what team chemistry means don’t work in baseball,’’ Price told Nightengale. “It makes me mad, because obviously they don’t know how important it is. Ask the Giants. Ask the Royals. Ask the Cardinals.”

No one denies that good relationships between players and coaches help over the course of a season that starts in February and ends in October, but the Giants, Royals and Cardinals are loaded with talent. 

Hunter, at this point in his career, serves no purpose for the Twins on the field. Yet it seems the front office believes in his behind-the-scenes skills so much that it would be a surprise if he doesn’t play one more season.

Prediction: Hunter re-signs with Twins.


Stats via Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Should the Detroit Tigers Bring Back Torii Hunter?

Leadership is an undervalued quality these days.

Just ask the Detroit Tigers.

It’s been a tumultuous season for a club that was expected to compete for a World Series Championship this year.

There are several reasons behind the team’s downfall: a shoddy bullpen, key injuries, little depth and a poorly constructed starting rotation.

Perhaps the biggest loss was a player the organization allowed to walk away last winter.

Torii Hunter.

Sure, he couldn’t have fixed the bullpen’s 4.52 earned run average or the rotation’s 4.80 ERA, both of which rank No. 27 overall in baseball, according to ESPN.com.

Yet he could’ve helped solve the lingering issues that took place off the field.

Essentially, the front office chose to re-sign Victor Martinez over Hunter. After finishing second in the MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .335 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs, the Tigers rewarded Martinez with a four-year, $68 million deal.

Former general manager Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press last November that there wasn’t room for both Martinez and Hunter on the 2015 squad: 

I called and said it just didn‘t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together. Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.

Hunter opted to sign a one-year, $10.5 million deal to return to the Minnesota Twins, the organization that drafted him in the first round of the 1993 draft.

At the time of the signing, Hunter told Mike Berardino and Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press that he expected the Twins to win immediately.

“It’s just the right fit,” Hunter said. “This is home. It’s time for me to come home—to be fruitful and also to win.”

Initially, the thought of Minnesota winning in 2015 was met with laughter. The organization had lost more than 90 games in each of the past four seasons.

The club has a ton of young talent, but competing in the American League Central Division seemed a couple of years away.

After being outscored 22-1, which resulted in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers to open the season, playoff aspirations didn’t seem a reality for the young club. The team bounced back and currently has a 78-74 record and sits 1.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.

Even if the Twins don’t reach the postseason, this year should be considered a tremendous success.

Manager Paul Molitor told Phil Miller of the StarTribune that Hunter’s veteran leadership is a huge reason behind Minnesota’s turnaround.

“You need guys who can lend a veil of experience, a veteran’s wisdom to your clubhouse, and Torii does all that,” Molitor said. “At the same time, he’s been able to lighten the mood when it’s necessary. … Guys respect him.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers will miss the postseason for the first time since 2010.

And they’ve had issues in the clubhouse. 

For instance, Jose Iglesias and James McCann exchanged words in the dugout during a game in early August. It appeared the rookie catcher was calling out Iglesias for a lack of effort on a key play. The words led to Iglesias shoving McCann before teammates separated the two. Afterward, Iglesias told the Associated Press that he wasn’t sorry for his actions.

“I just go by instincts, and my instincts tell me to do that,” Iglesias said. “I’m OK with it.

“I think I have a chance to make each and every play when I’m at short. There’s no doubt about it; I just try to come here and do my job. I don’t tell anybody how to play your position, so I just go out there and do my best.”

In mid-September, Victor Martinez called out fans for booing the team and told Chris McCosky of the Detroit News this season should serve as a lesson for fans.

“This is definitely a season that will teach a lesson to a lot of people,” he said. “Starting with this clubhouse, a lot of players and a lot of people in the front office. And, believe it or not, it will teach a lesson to the fans, too.”

Martinez went on to talk about the home crowd booing the Tigers in the 2014 playoffs when they returned to Detroit down 2-0 to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS.

“I remember,” he said. “You want to have your team in the playoffs, definitely. The fans want to win, everybody wants to win. But nobody wants to win more than we do. When we play at home, we want them behind us.

“Last year was tough. We came home down 2-0 and the fans were really hard. Now they won’t be angry. There’s no October baseball. That’s why I say this season will be a lesson to a lot of people.”

Finally, the organization announced it was sending relief pitcher Bruce Rondon home due to “effort issues” earlier this week.

“Bruce Rondon, because of his effort level, has been sent home,” Tigers head coach Brad Ausmus told McCosky. “And other than saying that [general manager] Al Avila and myself completely agreed on it, there will be no other details or comment.”

It’s clear that Rondon’s antics were irritating teammates. Fellow reliever Alex Wilson told McCosky that Rondon quit on the team.

“It’s kind of an unwritten rule, you never quit on your teammates and when you quit on yourself, you kind of quit on your teammates,” Wilson said. “From a clubhouse standpoint, it’s probably better to let him go on home and try to figure things out a little bit.”

It’s hard to remember a situation in recent years with this many incidents inside Detroit’s clubhouse.

This raises the question: Would this type of behavior occur if Hunter were still a member of the Tigers?

At least one current player doesn’t believe so. Nick Castellanos told Matt Dery of Detroit Sports 105.1 that Hunter would have taken care of Rondon‘s situation before anyone got wind of it:

I think it wouldn’t have escalated as it did. I feel like as soon as Torii somewhat disagreed with it, he would’ve made sure he took care of the problem immediately. That’s why you can’t put a value number on clubhouse leadership because it’s so important. Torii’s presence in the clubhouse is more valuable than his play on the field almost.

Even Ausmus recently told ESPN.com that the team missed Hunter’s leadership.

“It’s hard to quantify it. I think Torii was huge last year in the clubhouse. I think we do miss it somewhat,” Ausmus said.

On the field, Hunter is still a solid player. At 40 years old, his defense is a liability, but he can still play an important role in the lineup.

In two seasons with Detroit, Hunter hit .295 and averaged 17 home runs and 83.5 RBIs. His average has taken a large hit in Minnesota (.245), but he’s hit 22 home runs and 76 RBIs this year.

Will the Tigers bring the soon-to-be free agent back? It’s doubtful. Yet it’s ridiculous that Detroit’s clubhouse has become such a mess in less than a year since Hunter’s departure.


The team has to bring in veteran leadership this offseason.

It begins with the coaching staff. The team will likely pursue an experienced manager such as Ron Gardenhire to guide this group.

With so many holes to fill, bringing back Hunter for a year makes sense. The move would shift J.D. Martinez back to right field, but it would allow the organization to focus its major spending on the rotation and bullpen rather than jumping in a bidding war for a top-flight outfielder.

Fixing the chaos in the clubhouse should be the No. 1 priority going forward.

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Torii Hunter Suspended 2 Games, Fined for Outburst at Umpire

Torii Hunter certainly got his money’s worth as he argued a call and was subsequently ejected during the Minnesota Twins‘ 7-2 defeat to the Kansas Royals on Wednesday night. Now, it’s really going to cost him.

Major League Baseball announced Friday that Hunter will be suspended for two games in addition to having to pay a fine, the amount of which wasn’t revealed.

MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reported that Hunter will not appeal his suspension and will be active Tuesday vs. the Cardinals. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press showed Minnesota’s lineup without Hunter:

Many baseball fans have already seen replays of Hunter’s meltdown. Disagreeing with a called third strike by umpire Mark Ripperger, the 39-year-old proceeded to throw his shin guard, elbow protector, batting gloves and jersey onto the field of play:

After the game, Hunter explained what set him off:

Although the whole situation was rather innocuous, it was inevitable that MLB would levy some sort of punishment, be it a suspension, fine or combination of the two.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden wondered, however, why Hunter got two games, while Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t receive any additional reprimand. McClendon was animated, to say the least, as he argued with umpires following an ejection earlier in the month:

Dropping the appeal will allow Hunter to get back on the field as soon as possible which will only benefit the Twins as they continue their quest for a postseason berth.

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Torii Hunter to Twins: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

After much deliberation, outfielder Torii Hunter will play in his 19th MLB season next year after signing a free-agent deal with the Twins. 

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Hunter is heading to Minnesota once again:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided the financial details: 

The 39-year-old veteran spent the past two seasons with the Detroit Tigers after stints as a member of the Twins and Los Angeles Angels. Despite another strong statistical campaign in 2014, it was unclear if Hunter would play in 2015.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the five-time All-Star seriously considered hanging it up:

Hunter sounded anything but sure of himself after the Tigers were eliminated by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series. While he expressed interest in returning to the Tigers, his desire to sign with another team was open to interpretation, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.

“If the Tigers want me back, we will work that out hopefully,” Hunter said. “Other than that, I’m still thinking about my situation.”

Despite the uncertainty, James Schmehl of MLive.com insisted that Hunter would continue playing in pursuit of an elusive World Series championship:

He was ultimately correct, and perhaps it shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering the fact that Hunter is still a useful player. With a batting average of .286, 17 home runs and 83 RBI, the outfielder Gold Glove winner was a consistent and productive presence near the top of Detroit’s lineup in 2014.

Hunter is no longer a threat for 25 homers or 100 RBI, but he hasn’t been too far off that pace over the past few seasons. The only noticeable decline in his game has been his defense.

He was once an elite defender in center field, having won nine straight Gold Gloves, but Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk points out that Hunter is now well below average defensively as a right fielder:

That tends to happen as players get older, since they inevitably lose some of their range, and Hunter is no exception. He is so solid at the plate, though, that the willingness to take the good with the bad is understandable.

While contending teams like the Tigers inevitably showed some interest in Hunter, they weren’t the only ones. The Twins looked into bringing Hunter back to Minnesota, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis:

Hunter is viewed as a major asset in terms of leadership, so there really isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t benefit from his presence in one way or another.

It essentially came down to whether Hunter wanted to step away or continue playing. He ultimately chose the latter, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep performing at a high level as he closes in on 40.

Every player hits a wall statistically at some point, but Hunter has yet to show any signs of that happening.

He still has plenty left in the tank, and one can only assume that he will empty it in order to reach his goal of becoming a champion.


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MLB Free Agents 2014: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Key Stars

Key players have already signed new contracts this winter, setting the standard for how the rest of the offseason is going to unfold.

MLB free agency, much like any other sport’s free agency, is driven heavily by the depth of the market. Competition for stars will drive their prices up, as will how many other options there are at each position in free agency. That’s why you see guys like Russell Martin, a good (but not great) catcher, getting a contract worth $82 million.

Given how early the offseason is, there are still plenty of players left looking for a big contract. There will inevitably be competition for the top players’ services. How far will their prices be driven up?

Read below to see the latest rumors and predictions for which teams will win the bidding wars on a few key stars.


Jon Lester

Every team in the bigs could use Jon Lester. Even the World Series champions could benefit from adding him to their staff, and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that the team has shown interest:

Adding Lester to a rotation already including Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain and possibly Tim Lincecum would again make the Giants favorites in the National League. The lefty will be 31 in January and is coming off arguably his best season in the league.

He posted a 2.46 ERA (2.80 FIP) and a ERA- of 63—well above the league average of 100, via FanGraphs. Lester pitched well in the offensively potent American League East and American League West, meaning a move to the offensively inept National League West could make him even better.

The competition for Lester is fierce. The Boston Red Sox still can’t be ruled out despite their recent spending spree, while the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and possibly even the New York Yankees can make a play for the ace.

The Yankees have been reluctant to spend at this point, but Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe described the team’s strategy when going after top talents: “[Brian] Cashman is one of the best at not showing his hand. He will downplay every possible move the Yankees should or could make, and when it comes down to doing it, the Yankees pounce swiftly.”

That makes the Bombers a true threat.

It’s really a toss-up as to where Lester will play in 2015 and beyond. Any number of teams are equipped to take on his impending salary. This is truly a situation where a dark-horse team could emerge, but it’s tough to not go with a team with a track record of spending big-time dollars on big-time players.

Prediction: Yankees


Melky Cabrera

It’s surprising to think that Melky Cabrera is one of the more underrated players available this winter. He has bounced around a lot in his past four seasons, but that shouldn’t change the view of the type of player he is.

The Baltimore Orioles are in need of a right fielder. That could still be Nick Markakis, who is a free agent, but MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that Cabrera is the Plan B: “I’ve heard from multiple people that he’s a ‘fallback option’ for the Orioles if they can’t re-sign Nick Markakis.”

Baltimore’s interest in Cabrera is likely as an on-base type of player, as the Orioles have struggled to get on base at a consistent clip in recent years—something not conducive to scoring a ton of runs for a team with immense power.

Kubatko notes that their past five OBPs have been .316, .316, .311, .313 and .311. Cabrera can help out in that regard.

Any number of teams should be in on the 30-year-old switch-hitter. His old team, the Toronto Blue Jays, could be maxed out after signing Russell Martin, so that presumably knocks them out of the hunt.

Cabrera is the type of player who could help a lot of teams, making his destination a bit of a question mark. Being a “fallback option” in Baltimore doesn’t exactly scream confidence in a deal working out between the two sides.

It’ll be a dark-horse team that scoops him up—one with major questions in the outfield.

Prediction: Chicago White Sox


Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter is lobbying for what will likely be the final contract of his career. The 39-year-old outfielder can still play ball, and the Minnesota Twins are looking to get him back in the Twin Cities to end his career, reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com:

LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune echoed Wolfson:

Hunter began his career in Minnesota and played there from 1997 to 2007. He was a fan favorite because of his stellar defense and timely power, so a reunion would certainly reignite the fans. 

Wolfson and Neal aren’t the only ones who have spoken about a reunion. Hunter himself told Charley Walters of TwinCities.com that he would like to come back to where it all started:

(Twins general manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure.

I would come over to win. All that stuff everybody talks about, ‘a great guy in the clubhouse,’ that’s extra — that’s not No. 1. The No. 1 thing is look at my numbers. They’re still the same, one of the most consistent hitters in baseball over my career.

Hunter probably doesn’t have more than two years left in the tank, even if he has been the staple of consistency since he left the Twins prior to the 2008 season. Regardless, his connection with new manager Paul Molitor will play a big role in making something happen.

A respected veteran at the tail end of his career, Hunter would make a ton of people happy by returning.

Prediction: Twins


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Torii Hunter Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Outfielder

Outfielder Torii Hunter was a key to the Detroit Tigers’ run to yet another American League Central title. After yet another solid season, Hunter’s name is now generating buzz around the MLB this offseason. 

Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reported the latest on Hunter:

… one player the Twins have already expressed interest in is outfielder Torii Hunter, per a source.

Teams were allowed to reach out to agents last week, but contractual terms can’t be discussed until late Monday night/Tuesday.

The Twins have made a few calls, including to Hunter’s representatives.


Word has it that Hunter has thought previously about finishing his career where it began — he was the Twins’ first round pick in 1993. 

Hunter’s best years might be behind him, but the veteran has still contributed at a high level over the last several seasons. The 39-year-old has a .295 average, 34 home runs and 167 RBI over the last two years with the Tigers.

When Detroit’s season came to an end, Hunter spent time watching his sons play college football, but still pondered his return to baseball. Hunter spoke about returning during the 2015 season, via Chris Iott of MLive.com:

I really want to play with the Tigers, but if not I understand … There’s definitely a good chance I will play again though. …

Playing for a contender is very important to me, but taking a lesser role will be hard for me when my core numbers are pretty good, not just for a guy that’s 39 years old but also for a 22-year-old player.

Along with his bat, Hunter’s glove is typically a huge reason for his success. He struggled during the first few months of the season in Detroit last year, but stepped up when the team needed him down the stretch.

During his career, Hunter has won nine gold glove awards, but hasn’t taken one since 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press passed along his thoughts on Hunter’s value for a team:

His outfield range has significantly diminished from his Gold Glove days but Hunter largely made the plays that needed to be made. …

He is lauded for his professionalism on the field and leadership off the field but could be stuck in a situation where the Tigers could not guarantee the playing time nor paycheck necessary for Hunter to consider another year in Detroit the right situation.

Wherever he lands, Hunter brings both talent and a wealth of leadership ability. Though he has never made it to a World Series, Hunter has played 48 postseason games with a .274 average in 208 plate appearances.

It’s not clear which team Hunter will play for during the 2015 campaign, but he wants to sign with a contender. Having never won a title, he would be 40 years old by the time the playoffs roll around next season.

Still able to contribute even at his advanced age, look for Hunter to excel again next year. Whether he lands with the Tigers, Twins or another franchise, Hunter might be a piece to help push a team over the top.


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Justin Verlander Dares Torii Hunter to Kiss an Alligator

There are times in life when one must stare fear in the face and give it a big fat kiss.

This was one of those times for Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter. Justin Verlander dared his teammate to pucker up and lay one on the gator, and Hunter came through in the clutch. However, Hunter captioned the photo “#stillfearit,” so there remains a healthy respect for the animal. 

By the look on Verlander’s face, there is no better way to break up the monotony of spring training.

[MLB Fan Cave, h/t Torii Hunter’s Instagram]

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Detroit Tigers and Torii Hunter: A Perfect Match on the Road to a Title

The Detroit Tigers brought outfielder Torii Hunter on board for the 2013 season for two reasons: To help stabilize the top of the batting order to set up Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and give a veteran voice in the clubhouse.

If April is any indication of what Hunter brings to the table at the plate, then the mission has been accomplished.

One of three Detroit regulars to hit over .300 in April, Hunter has indeed bridged leadoff hitter Austin Jackson to the heart of the lineup by hitting a very impressive .375 in the first month of the season. Scoring 17 runs himself, he has nine extra-base hits over his first 22 games.

The home run production is on the wane—hitting only one so far—but with the big boppers behind him, the Tigers need him to be reaching base, not swinging for the fences.

Seeing the ball perhaps better than he ever has, Hunter could improve on last year’s career-high average of .313 with the Los Angeles Angels.

There is always a smile on his face and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity Detroit gave him on his quest to win a World Series ring. That infectious personality has to be rubbing off on those around him.

His base-stealing days are over—he hasn’t even attempted a stolen base this year yet—and he will likely strike out more than 100 times this season, but his fast start is one of the big reasons why the Tigers find themselves at the end of April in first place in the American League Central.

One of the bigger keys to his success has been avoiding grounding into double plays.

That process started last year with the Angels, as the number dropped from a career-high of 24 in 2011 to 15. This year, he has hit into only one.

The nine-time Gold Glove outfielder has played 21 of his 22 games in right, starting 18. His two assists put him on pace for a third-straight year of double-digits, and he has yet to commit an error.

Hunter took a $6 million pay cut to chase after his first title. For both the Tigers and himself, that sacrifice of dollars for a championship run could pay off in spades come October.

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Detroit Tigers: Why Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder Will Continue Their Torrid Pace

Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have been tearing the cover off the ball so far this baseball season, and they don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

The Detroit Tigers‘ 2-3-4 hitters are leading the team in batting average in their same respective lineup order to help the struggling Tigers keep their heads above water.

For most of the first month of the season, the Tigers’ top three hitters led boasted the best batting average and on-base percentage in the American League.

Detroit has struggled over the past week, losing its last four games to fall to fourth in AL team batting average, but the Tigers’ stars are doing their jobs.

Here is why the Tigers’ three best hitters will continue their torrid pace for the rest of the season:

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