BEST TWINS PLAYER - 2005
After Santana fully recovered from off-season elbow surgery last season, he produced the kind of ridiculously dominant campaign usually associated with Hall of Famers like Koufax and Gibson. He yielded only 14 hits the entire month of July and just two earned runs in five September starts. He fanned 165 batters in 129.1 innings while compiling a 1.39 ERA the final three months of the season, winning his last 13 decisions. A unanimous choice as the American League's Cy Young Award winner and the consensus pick as the best starting pitcher in baseball, the 26-year-old left-hander was deservedly rewarded with a four-year, $40-million contract this winter, proving that even stingy Twins owner Carl Pohlad has a few brain cells left. With three dominant pitches at his disposal--fastball, slider, and change-up--Santana can still shut down opponents without his best stuff. He is the primary reason Twins fans hold out hope that their small-market club can finally take that next step into the World Series this year.