Mentioned in the same breath with Craig Biggio and Roberto Alomar as the best second basemen of the 1990s, Knoblauch looked like a guy headed to Cooperstown until he flamed out in New York. A star with the Twins, he was dealt to the Yankees for a shoebox of prospects, most notably Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton, but couldn’t sustain his Minnesota magic.
Knoblauch, a first round pick by the Twins in ’89, joined the parent club in 1991 and won the Rookie of the Year Award. The scrappy little second baseman led the Twins to a World Series title over Bobby Cox’s Braves with a .308 Fall Classic batting average. The sky looked the limit for Chuck after a ROTY Award and World Series ring as a yearling. Even better as a sophomore, Knobby and Alomar were the only two AL second basemen to score over 100 runs in 1992.
After a down year in ’93, Chuck was named to the AL All-Star team in 1994 when he led the league in doubles. But he was just getting warmed up. He exploded in 1995 with a .333 batting average. Chuck paced AL second basemen in batting average, stolen bases and runs scored. He and Craig Biggio were the only two Major League second basemen to score over 100 runs.
Even better in 1996, Knoblauch ratcheted up his batting average to a career high of .341 and legged out an AL best 14 triples. The little second baseman scored 140 runs, second in the AL. He would post six 100 runs scored seasons in his career. But when his numbers dipped in 1997, the Twins astutely traded Knoblauch to the Yankees for four prospects. A three-time .300 hitter for the Twins, Chuck would never reach .300 in the Bronx.
In his first year with the Yankees, Chuck scored 117 runs (fifth in the AL) and helped the Yankees reach the World Series. He hit .375 in a World Series sweep of the Padres. In his four years with the Yankees, Chuck would make a World Series appearance every year. He reached new heights in the power department in 1999 when he stroked 18 long balls, but his batting average was a respectable .292–not the .340 he established in Minnesota.
Due to an injury in 2000, Chuck was used as a DH in October. The injury was to his elbow and thus had an effect on his throwing motion. When Chuck suffered greatly afield in 2001, the press attributed his struggles to the oppressive Bronx spotlight and not the injury. No longer could Knobby throw the ball from his station at second base to the first baseman. To keep him in the lineup, skipper Joe Torre moved him to left field but when he carried his fielding woes into the batter’s box, his career was essentially over. Chuck played for the Royals in 2002, but only managed an un-Knoblauch like .210 batting average.
G 1,632/R 1,132/H 1,839/2B 322/3B 64/HR 98/RBI 615/SB 407/BB 804/SO 730/BA .289/SA .406/OBP .378