With the 2017 Hall of Fame Class announced Wednesday night, it's time to look ahead to next year. Players must be retired for six seasons to be on the ballot, and there is also a Veterans Committee that elects from the Golden Era every three years. Here are the top former Twins that are eligible next year either for the first time on the regular ballot or through the Veterans Committee.

Johan Santana

Johan was a dominant force in Major League Baseball, a focus on numerous weekly baseball programs in the mid-2000s. In his 12 seasons before he last injury, he pitched to a 3.20 ERA and a .641 win percentage. Santana tossed the most strikeouts in the league 3 seasons in a row and stuck out 200+ five years in a row. Two Cy Young Awards in three years only begins to tell the story. Looking at advanced stats, Johan led the AL in pitcher's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) 2004-2006, and led the league overall in WAR in 2006 (Let's not forget we ha the MVP, batting champ, and Cy Young winner that year). He led the league 4 seasons in a row in Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP), and his strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks 25th all-time. A Gold Glove award and a no-hitter also cap off a career he hopes is not over. Johan was so good that a current Twins pitcher had to change his first name from Johan to Ervin. That Twins strikeout record game I remember listening to on KFIL in my room.

Jim Thome

He broke our hearts in Game 163 in 2008, when he provided the White Sox the only offense of the game with his solo homer off Nick Blackburn. A couple years later, though, Thome and his power helped ring in the new stadium. There was the flagpole-hitting homer in 2010, but one milestone shows he belongs in the Hall. Jim hit his 600th home run as a Minnesota Twins DH in 2011, and it was his second homer of that game to finally get him over the mark. The big guy finished his career with 612 round-trippers, 1699 RBI,  was walked the 7th-most of any player, posted a career .402 on-base percentage, and finished with a .956 OPS. One thing he couldn't do though ... he stole 19 bases while getting caught stealing 20 times.

Jim Kaat

Jim "Kitty" Kaat finished his 25-year career (15 seasons with the Twins franchise)  with 283 wins. In 4530.1 innings, Kaat pitched to a 3.45 ERA while racking up 2461 strikeouts. Though the strikeout numbers aren't huge, he helped himself on defense to the tune of 262 career putouts as a pitcher (33rd) and an astounding 16 Gold Gloves. The durability he provided included pitching 31 shutouts and ending his career ranked 25th in innings pitched. In the last vote from the Golden Era Committee, Kaat finished with 10 votes and will need to pick up two more to gain entrance into the Hall next year. In the 1965 World Series, three of the pitching matchups were Kaat vs. Sandy Koufax.

Tony Oliva

We've talked about this before. Only playing 11 seasons over over 100 games in his 15 Major League seasons really hurts Tony O's Hall case. But he came out swinging in his career. In 1964, he was selected as an All-Star, won AL Rookie of the Year honors, led the league in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, and won the batting title! In 1965, he led the league in hits again and won the batting title for the second time in his first two full seasons! That doesn't happen to any old slouch. Oliva went on to lead the AL in hits 3 more times, doubles 3 more times, led the league in slugging in 1971, and won another batting title in 1971. Tony O finished second in MVP voting twice. In just 1676 games, the Cuban recorded 1917 hits and hit 220 home runs, including the first ever hit by a designated hitter in 1973. One wonders what might have been had he stayed healthy longer.

Other former Twins eligible next year:

Livan Hernandez. Hernandez won a World Series with the 1997 Florida Marlins, winning the NLCS and World Series MVPs. In his lone 2008 season with Minnesota, Livan went 10-8 with a 5.48 before he was let go.

Orlando Hudson was the second baseman on the 2010 AL Central division champion Twins. I most remember Hudson for marveling at Jim Thome's home runs. Orlando was an All-Star twice and won four Gold Gloves before arriving in Minnesota. Hudson's range factor was tops in the AL in his lone Twins season.

Do you think any of the young Twins will be Hall worthy one day?


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