It may come as a surprise to those of us who watched Greg Gagne play that he never won a Gold Glove Award, but the man wasn’t flashy–he was remarkably steady. Gagne is best known for his years with the Minnesota Twins where he was able to win two World Series championships. A terrific fielder, Greg is one of the best defensive shortstops of all-time, based on the new-fangled stat of “total zone runs,” of which he rests 11th all-time.
Originally drafted by the Yankees, Greg’s name can be added to the lengthy list of prospects who made good that the Yankees dealt for veteran pieces. The veteran piece Greg helped the Yankees obtain was switch-hitting shortstop Roy Smalley, who played several years with Gags back in Minnesota. Greg got his first look at the highest level in 1983 but didn’t stick until 1985. Although he appeared overmatched with the bat as a rookie, the Twins stuck with Gags and he rewarded them with a breakout 1986 season.
The Twins were building a strong, young team in the 1980s and by the mid ’80s, they were quickly becoming contenders. Gagne played his part as a defensive stalwart at shortstop who also had surprise power. He socked a dozen homeruns in 1986 after tallying just two as a rookie the year before. On the defensive side of things, Greg helped turn 96 double plays for the Twins.
The Twins youth movement reached its apex in 1987 when they won the American League flag. Greg socked a pair of homeruns in the ALCS and added another blast in a World Series victory over Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals. Greg clubbed a career high 14 homeruns in 1988 and he had one of his finest offensive years in ’89 when he hit 29 doubles on a .272 batting average.
Minnesota made it back to the postseason in 1991 at the time Greg was establishing himself as one of the elite defensive shortstops in the Major Leagues. That year he was second among shortstops with a .984 fielding percentage. The Twins romped their way to another World Series title as they knocked over the Atlanta Braves in one of the more exciting Fall Classics of all-time.
After the 1992 season in which the Twins fell to second place, Gagne left the team to sign with the Kansas City Royals as a free agent. Greg’s first year in Missouri was one of his finest campaigns. For the first time in his career, he was handed MVP votes as he was the backbone of the Royals defense. He led all shortstops with a .986 fielding percentage, finished second in putouts at short and third in assists. Never much of a high average hitter, Greg had a career high .280 batting average for the Royals as he finished second to Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. in hits among AL shortstops. Gagne was the only American League shortstop with a double-digit total in both homeruns and stolen bases.
During the strike shortened 1994 season, Gags legged out 23 doubles (2nd among AL shortstops). He posted a fielding percentage eight points above league average. He left the Royals after the ’95 season and signed a free agent contract with the Dodgers. In Los Angeles, Greg was able to make his way back to the postseason as he hit .273 in the 1996 Division Series loss to the Braves. Atlanta’s stellar pitchers kept the Dodgers’ bats silent as LA hit .147 as a team. Gagne played one final year with the Dodgers before calling it quits.
G 1,798/R 712/H 1,440/2B 296/3B 50/HR 111/RBI 604/SB 108/BB 367/SO 1,121/BA .254/SA .382/OBP .302