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With a career that ended in the same place it began, Torii Hunter would certainly wear a Twins cap into the Hall of Fame, if he would have just been a little better during his major league tenure. In honor of his retirement, and to look back at his long, successful career, let's relive the 19 years of BP Annual comments about him, as he grew from toolsy prospect who might put it together to that guy who made that catch in the All-Star Game that one time (among other things).

Year Comment
2015 He'll tell you age is only a number. Unfortunately, so is FRAA, and in Hunter's case, both numbers pass the eye test. The good news is that it's 2015, and baseball invented the designated hitter with situations like Hunter's in mind. The bad news is that it's Minnesota and Kennys Vargas is here. Hunter still strikes the ball well and has enough bat speed to launch a curve 400 feet. His presence in both the lineup and clubhouse is the type that could be the missing piece for a young contender, which, even aside from the position issue, makes him a weird fit for a Twins team that won't contend for anything other than respectability.
2014 Hunter was unquestionably a plus player for the Tigers, but the distribution of his value—primarily as a singles and doubles hitter in the no. 2 spot—wasn’t quite what they expected (or perhaps wanted). He was expected to boost a sagging defense, yet graded out as a severe negative both by advanced metrics and by the traditional rods-and-cones method of analysis. Poor routes, uninspired throws and uncharacteristic gaffes marred the 52-time Gold Glover’s season in right field. It is hard to believe he lost that much going from 36 to 37 years old, but decline isn’t always gradual or predictable in a player's late 30s. Encouragingly, he did maintain the batting average everyone said he couldn’t, while also reversing a three-year downturn in isolated power.
2013 It was pretty easy to mock the Angels for vastly overpaying for Hunter—even he admitted he would have signed for much less. But Hunter’s 30s were kind to investors, and judging by TAv he gave the Angels four of the five best offensive seasons of his career. Hunter’s excellent 2012 campaign has some factors that make us skeptical of a repeat, especially at age 37. The fact of the matter is that he needn’t hold himself to such a high standard, nor should he assume the Tigers will either, as he comes in to replace the 30th-ranked right-field production by OPS and UZR. Even a return to his 2011 production with steady, league-average defense would be leaps and bounds above what the Tigers got out of their 2012 group.
2012 On his birthday in July, Hunter tweeted this: "I'm 36 years young and i don't need Viagra yet! LOL…" LOL indeed, except that Hunter was hitting .239/.310/.379 and if he couldn't get those rate stats (innuendo alert) up, it was going to be a miserable final season and a half of his five-year, $90 million contract. The next day, he struck out three times, but he homered the day after that and didn't slow down: .295/.373/.502 in 64 post-birthday games. Hunter has been worth 15 WARP in the four years of the contract, a cost of about $4.8 million per win. That's a respectable return on its own. Plus there are 24 guys in his locker room who are grateful that Hunter answers every obnoxious post-loss media question so they don't have to. As silly as the contract seemed when it was signed, there's nobody on the Angels, or who cheers for the Angels, who really regrets it. Hunter has to survive one more season—with or without a Viagra boost—to keep it that way.
2011 Hunter managed to stave off significant decline for another season, compensating for slight drop-offs on both sides of the ball by avoiding an extended absence like the five-week DL stint he suffered in 2009. His games played and plate appearances approached career highs, and his triple-slash stats hovered at or above their career rates, always a positive indicator for a player in his mid-30s. As a percentage basestealer, Hunter has rarely been much better than break-even, but this year he just plain broke, succeeding in only nine of his 21 attempts; that costly performance accounted for the bulk of Hunter’s -5.4 BRR, the fifth-worst mark in MLB. The five-year, $90 million deal that Tony Reagins handed Hunter after the 2007 season wasn’t well-received (except by Hunter), but three-fifths of the way through, the center fielder has more or less earned his paychecks. Advancing age may change that equation, but Hunter has already done enough to vault his contract out of Gary Matthews territory.
2010 When Hunter was available, he was effective, setting career highs in batting average, OBP, and EqA while posting his highest slugging percentage since 2002. Alas, he lost five weeks to an groin injury, and hit just .289/.341/.422 with a 41/13 K/UBB ratio upon returning in mid-August. Helped by his strongest defensive showing in years, he still wound up with his highest WARP total since 2001, but even so, it's arguable it justified his $17.5 million salary. Worse, he's still got three years on that deal at similarly steep pre-recession rates as he settles into his mid-30s. For all of his considerable charm, he's likely to develop into one of the game's most overpaid players. Ouch.
2009 If you think that Torii Hunter wasn't worth $16 million last year, you're right, but don't say we didn't warn you, as PECOTA pegged both his on-base and slugging percentages within four points. We're not boasting; it wasn't a huge reach, rather one right in line with Hunter's career rates. The Angels overpaid based on a career year, and they'll get to keep overpaying, as they're on the hook for a total of $36 million for Hunter's age-35 and -36 seasons. We don't want to sound too negative here; Hunter is a good hitter, a wonderful defender, and has clubhouse worth that we can't measure—but that doesn't excuse the Angels for signing a bad contract.
2008 Hunter is a fun player to watch. He seems to love the game and wants to be involved in getting African-American kids to love it, too. He's just not a good gamble at $18 million a season for the next five years, which is what the Angels will be paying him. He's losing speed and range, and a two-year spike in batting average has masked the decline of his plate discipline. Should Hunter regress to his career .271, and he should, it will leave the Angels with another .320 OBP in the middle of their lineup, and Hunter does not have the power to support that. All the good-guyness in the world won't make paying $18 million to a .260/.310/.425 left fielder any fun in 2011.
2007 The Twins picked up Hunter`s 2007 option for $12 million, and, between the explosion of free agent compensation and the absence of a replacement in the system who could come even close to replacing him, it was a good move. Hunter established a career high in home runs last year, and is still a good center fielder, though a bit overrated. He`s also been around long enough to provide leadership in a very young lineup. If Hunter has another good year, it will almost certainly mark the end of his Minnesota tenure, because he will have finally priced himself out of the Twins` budget.
2006 Hunter is the team`s unrecognized star, and as much as he isn`t losing anything at the plate to age, the Twins can`t endure losing him for an extended period of time in an outfield otherwise bereft of real power. His range is a plus, but the bonus feature that Hunter gives the Twins is an arm better than most in center. It`s an asset not only in the Metrodome, a turf park where triples are a hazard, but in the similarly spacious stadia of division rivals such as Comerica Park and Kauffman Stadium. If he can play a full season, he`s the type of player who might hit 30 bombs without all of the unfortunate side effects that come with playing someone like Batista.
2005 Sort of a latter-day Chet Lemon, in that he's short of being a great player, but he's a damned good one, and one that PECOTA sees as having some upside in the near future. Hunter will continue to age gracefully for another couple of seasons, but after that, the future could be Grissom-as-Brewer grim.
2004 Seeing a trend in terms of the Twins' front office signing guys immediately after their best year? Hunter will receive $25 million-plus over the next three years for a deal he signed after his 2002 career year. He's got some holes in his swing, but he did step forward a bit in plate discipline this year, and he plays an acrobatic and effective center field. The golden age of defensive centerfielders were currently in is absolutely a blast. If you're not chasing down the video of players like Hunter, Cameron, and Carlos Beltran every day, you should be.
2003 If the 2002 season was a coming-out party for the Twins, Hunter was the face most quickly identified with that success. He isn’t really the AL’s Andruw Jones, but he’s a superb player nonetheless, sort of like a more athletic version of Tony Armas with better defense. The difficult question is deciding whether or not to give him a multiyear deal. He didn’t really hit well on the road and he faded down the stretch, contributing to concerns that what you see is all you’ll get. There’s a real danger that he’ll have a Grissomish slide into adequacy, just as Marquis Grissom had by his 30th birthday.
2002 The AL's slightly older and even more maddening version of Andruw Jones. Hunter is a superlative defensive center fielder with a long, powerful swing. He yanks Twins fans' chains as if he's Bud Selig's smarter cousin: an amazing catch and throw to save a run, followed by two high-leverage at-bats in which he gets himself out by swinging at balls a foot out of Eric Gregg's strike zone. Patience at the plate is a virtue for more reasons than drawing walks; just keeping an at-bat alive gives you another shot at a cookie. Hunter did become notably more patient as the season went on (13 walks in the first 2/3 of the season, 16 in the final third) and is working to shake his old platoon role. He is exactly the sort of player who could really break out given more playing time and a new coach. He has absurdly great range going back against his glove side on fly balls.
2001 Torii Hunter spent two months in Salt Lake as a midseason reminder that more is expected of him than a homerless .207/.243/.300 start. Kelly could go either way with him. On one hand, Hunter irritates Kelly with his need for instruction. On the other hand, he’s a serious fly-catcher with a great arm. Because of his glove, he'll have value no matter how the Twins sort out their power shortage. This year will determine whether Hunter will end up like Ryan Thompson or Rondell White. If he gets a full year and hits anything like this projection, choose the White path.
2000 He could end up having a career like Gerald Williams’s because he has similar strengths–great defense, good arm, hammers left-handers–and weaknesses–no plate discipline, mostly harmless against right-handers. The combination of skills makes him a good complementary player to Jacque Jones, and gives the Twins a good situation in center field until Bobby Kielty is ready. Tom Kelly took Hunter to task for missing hit-and-run signs–to the point where he was hauled onto the field in the wee hours after a game in August to practice reading them.
1999 Name sounds like the star of a movie Dave Pease might rent… "I Know Who You Did Last Summer"… "Starring Torii Hunter as Herself"…. When not acting as the setup for cheap jokes, Hunter likes to show people around beautiful downtown New Britain, a place he knows inside out after spending 2 1/2 years there. Hunter's a good defensive outfielder with a strong arm, and should be the starting center fielder for the Twins this year. He's not a great player; if everything broke right for him he could be Devon White… who, if you think about it, could co-star with Torii in…
1998 Last year we praised Hunter while noting that we advise being suspicious of tools players. Now you know why. Hunter went backwards in virtually every important category in his second year in Double-A. Players do occasionally learn to hit, but it’s not particularly common.
1997 Hunter is an excellent defensive outfielder with a superb throwing arm who hasn’t figured out the hitting part of his job description yet. As the Twins’ first-round pick in ’93, he’ll be given every opportunity to learn. Although there are reasons to be suspicious of “tools” players getting chances to learn how to hit (since they usually don’t), Hunter is extremely young, and has been hitting in pitcher’s leagues.