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Torii Hunter

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Torii Kedar Hunter (Template:PronEng), born July 18, 1975 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. Hunter has shown his athletic ability, having taken away many home runs throughout his 11 year baseball career for the Minnesota Twins. ESPN commentators have called Hunter a "daily web gem," referring to ESPN's nightly highlight reel. He has won seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his defensive prowess.

He currently resides during the off-season in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburb of Prosper, Texas. He is a cousin of former MLB outfielder Choo Freeman.[1] Despite the same spelling, Hunter was not named after torii, the gates to a Japanese Shinto shrine. Hunter himself says jokingly, "I think, when my mom filled out the paperwork after I was born, she accidentally put two 'I's."[2]

Professional careerEdit

Minnesota TwinsEdit

Torii Hunter was selected as the Twins' first-round pick in 1993 out of high school, and made his first appearance with the Twins as a pinch runner in Baltimore on August 22, 1997. It was not until 1999 that Hunter began starting regularly, playing in 135 games for the Twins. He finished with only one error in 292 chances in the outfield.

Hunter exploded onto the scene in the beginning of April in 2000, but his batting average dropped to .207 by the end of May. Hunter was subsequently sent down to Triple-A to work on his mechanics at the plate; however with Hunter's new approach at the plate, he caught fire in the month of June, capping it with a two-home run, seven-RBI game and being named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week and Player of the Month. After a 16-game hitting streak, four consecutive games with home runs and three grand slams, Hunter was recalled by the Twins on July 28. Hunter was named both Best Defensive Outfielder and Most Exciting Player in Pacific Coast League by Baseball America for 2000.

In 2001, Hunter led the Twins in at bats, home runs and outfield assists (with 14 - tied for second best in the league), and was second in RBI and total bases, leading the Twins to their first winning season since 1992. Hunter led all major league center fielders in range factor (3.29), and was named Best Defensive Outfielder in the American League by Baseball America. He also won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2001.

In 2002, Hunter began to post near MVP numbers, and was a serious contender for the award a good portion of the year. In the month of April, he went 39-105 (a .371 clip) with nine home runs and 20 RBI, winning American League Player of the Month honors.

Hunter was selected by the fans to his first All-Star Game, in Milwaukee, becoming the first Twin since Kirby Puckett in 1995 to start an All-Star game in center field. One of the biggest moments came in the first inning, when, with two outs, Barry Bonds sent what appeared to be a towering home run to right-center field. Hunter, who had built a reputation for his outfield thievery in the American League, showed off his talents - jumped and caught the ball in a stunning spectacle. He was playfully lifted by Bonds en route to the dugout: a show of respect for Hunter's defensive play.

After the game, when asked about the play, Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa dubbed him "Spider-Man".

Although there were no awards given at the All-Star game, because the game ended in a tie, the memorable catch was later awarded as the Best Defensive Play of the Year by the fans.

On July 18, after being hit by a pitch, Hunter threw back the baseball directly at Cleveland pitcher Danys Baez and was suspended by the league for three games.

However, Hunter, along with an improved team and solid bullpen pitching, led a resurgence in the latter half of the season which powered the Twins to win the American League Central Division. The team would advance to the ALCS, where they would lose to the Anaheim Angels 4 games to 1. The Angels went on to win their first World Series Championship.

Despite losing in the ALCS, it was still a very good year for the ballclub, and by far the best year for Hunter. He led the club in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases, and was tied for the lead in games and doubles. Hunter won the team's Calvin R. Griffith Award as Most Valuable Twin for 2002. He ended the season a respectable sixth in the MVP voting, and also earned his second Gold Glove in center field. Hunter was additionally voted baseball's Best Defensive Player Award for 2002 by the fans.

Hunter struggled offensively in 2003. Although he played in a career high 154 games, he often struggled at the plate, achieving an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .763 and a batting average of just .250, .039 lower than in 2002. He stole just six bases, while being thrown out 7 times, easily the worst ratio of his career. His defense was still strong enough to win his third straight Gold Glove for his play in center field.

Hunter missed much of the 2005 season after breaking his ankle and tearing ligaments when he attempted to scale the right field wall in Fenway Park on July 29. Despite playing essentially only half a season, Hunter was awarded his fifth consecutive Gold Glove.

On Mother's Day, May 14, 2006, Hunter was one of more than 50 hitters who brandished a pink bat to benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation.

On the last day of the regular season, Hunter hit his career-high 31st home run, helping the Twins to their fourth division title in five years.

On October 10, The Twins notified Hunter that they had picked up his $12 million option for the 2007 season, keeping him from becoming a free agent.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimEdit

After turning down a three-year, $45 million deal in August of 2007 from the Twins, Hunter went on to sign the largest contract offered to him. [3] On November 21, he signed a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim worth $90 million. He replaced Gary Matthews Jr. as the everyday center fielder.[4]

ControversyEdit

During the end of the 2006 season, the Kansas City Royals swept the Detroit Tigers to push the Twins to the AL Central title. Afterwards, Hunter promised champagne to the Royals as a sign of gratitude. He purchased four $500 bottles of Dom Perignon and sent them to the Royals' locker room before the start of a game between the clubs. Giving a gift to a member of a team in exchange for beating another team violates MLB rules - specifically, MLB Rule 21-b. Neither Hunter nor Twins general manager Terry Ryan were aware of the rule before the exchange. The Royals organization returned the champagne.[5]

On June 6, in reaction to comments by Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield concerning the future of African-Americans in baseball, Hunter suggested on a Fox Sports Radio show that the proliferation of Latino players in Major League Baseball restricted opportunities for black players, stating that "Ten years from now, you'll see no blacks at all" in the Major Leagues.[6]

Detroit TigersEdit

On November 14, 2012, Hunter agreed to a 2-year deal worth $26 million.

HighlightsEdit

Hunter began the 2007 season with one of the fastest starts to a season in his career, featuring a 23-game hitting streak starting in mid-April and ending on May 10. However, Hunter insists that he does not care about individual stats or streaks, he only cares about winning games.[7]

Hunter hit three grand slams in 2007: April 17 in Seattle, May 18 in Milwaukee, and August 15 again in Seattle.

Hunter was selected as an All-Star for the 2007 All-Star game in San Francisco, California, making it in on the players ballot. Hunter declined to sign a three-year $45 million deal with Minnesota in August. On October 27, Hunter won the Players Choice Award for Marvin Miller Man of the Year.[8] On October 29, Hunter filed for free agency. [9]

On November 6, it was announced that Hunter had been awarded his seventh consecutive Gold Glove Award. Hunter then received the award in the opening series against the Minnesota Twins, his former team.

Career statistics Edit

Season Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
1997 MIN 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
1998 MIN 6 17 0 4 1 0 0 2 2 6 0 1 .235 .316 .294 .610
1999 MIN 135 384 52 98 17 2 9 35 26 72 10 6 .255 .309 .380 .689
2000 MIN 99 336 44 94 14 7 5 44 18 68 4 3 .280 .318 .408 .726
2001 MIN 148 564 82 147 32 5 27 92 29 125 9 6 .261 .306 .479 .785
2002 MIN 148 561 89 162 37 4 29 94 35 118 23 8 .289 .334 .524 .858
2003 MIN 154 581 83 145 31 4 26 102 50 106 6 7 .250 .312 .451 .763
2004 MIN 138 520 79 141 37 0 23 81 40 101 21 7 .271 .330 .475 .805
2005 MIN 98 372 63 100 24 1 14 56 34 65 23 7 .269 .337 .452 .789
2006 MIN 147 557 86 155 21 2 31 98 45 108 12 6 .278 .336 .490 .826
2007 MIN 160 600 94 172 45 1 28 107 40 101 18 9 .287 .334 .505 .839
Total* 1234 4492 672 1218 259 26 192 711 319 870 126 60 .271 .324 .469 .793
*Statistics through end of 2007 season.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Eric Chavez
American League Player of the Month
April 2002
Succeeded by:
Jason Giambi
Preceded by:
Albert Pujols
Players Choice Marvin Miller Man of the Year
2007
Succeeded by:
Incumbent

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