Career Profile: Kent Hrbek

Kent Hrbek and Harmon Killebrew formerly of the Minnesota Twins have Twins' mascot T.C. point out a few features of the new ballpark prior to an exhibition game at Target Field on April 2, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

One of the things I am going to do this year is convert some of the more interesting Prospect Retros into Career Profiles. I have a more systematic way to do this now, and am making greater use of things like WAR compared to the past. Also, there are a lot more members of the website now than there were four or five years ago, so for many of you this is fresh stuff. As I work through the older Retros, they will show up in the Career Profiles Archive over on the left-hand side.

You can find a revised Career Profile for Kent Hrbek below the fold.

 

Kent Hrbek was drafted in the 17th round in 1978, out of high school in Minneapolis. A Twins fan as a kid, he could see the lights of Metropolitan Stadium from his bedroom window. He was a very successful local high school player, but wasn't considered a hot prospect. He played just 17 games in rookie ball in 1979, hitting .203 with a .288 SLG for Elizabethton. The sample was too small to be meaningful, but given his draft status he'd rate as barely a Grade C prospect. . .just a guy who might develop someday but didn't have a lot of expectations.

Moved up to the Midwest League in 1980, he hit .267/.365/.442 with 19 homers, 61 walks, and just 54 strikeouts in 419 at-bats. The combination of power, walks, and a strong contact rate was impressive, and he was also developing a reputation as a good fielder. Nowadays, I'd likely rate a similar player as a Grade C+ or B- prospect, with a "sleeper" notation if I wrote a book comment for him.

The sleeper woke up in 1981, hitting .379/.452/.630 with 27 homers, 111 RBI, 59 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 462 at-bats for Visalia in the California League. . .stunning performance. He hit .239/.301/.358 in 24 games for the Twins late in the year, but given that he was jumping directly from Class A at age 21, he held his own. The Twins went with a full-bore youth movement in 1982 and Hrbek was the centerpiece, hitting .301/.363/.485 with 23 homers in 140 games. He finished second in the ROY voting to Ripken.

His best year was probably 1984, when he hit .311/.383/.522 with 27 homers and 107 RBI, coming in second in the MVP voting. He also had a strong season for the 1987 World Champtions, hitting .285/.389/.545 with 34 homers. Injuries and excess weight eventually dragged his defense down, but Hrbek was an excellent gloveman early in his career in addition to being a fine hitter.

His final career numbers: .282/.367/.481, with 838 walks against just 798 strikeouts in 6192 at-bats. His numbers don't look that great compared to the high octane offenses of the post 1994 strike years, but within the context of his time he was a very effective hitter, with an OPS + of 127 for his career.

Was this predictable based on his minor league record? He never played Double-A or Triple-A, making reliable MLE comparisons problematic, so all we really have to go on are the Midwest League and California League numbers. They show him as a hitter with above average power, strong plate discipline, and a very low strikeout rate for a power hitter. And that's exactly what he became.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Most Similar Players to Kent Hrbek: Greg Luzinski (highest Sim Score but I don't like this comp), Ted Kluszewski, Eric Karros, Vic Wertz (perfect comp), Derrek Lee, Tim Salmon, Roy Sievers, Joe Adcock, Ryan Klesko, and David Justice.

WAR values: Total WAR 42.0. Peak values: 6.0 (1984), 4.8 (1988), 4.1 (1989), 4.0 (1987), and 3.8 (1982)

Minor League Offensive Profile: Moderate walk, low strikeout type hitter.

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