If Ron Gardenhire had it his way, Glen Perkins would be an All-Star.
There’s no rule saying a manager can’t vote for his own player, and Gardenhire does indeed fill out a ballot. But there’s only so much one manager can do to get his player onto the All-Star team.
“He’s got my vote,” Gardenhire said of Perkins. “His numbers match up. They’re right at the top as far as closers go.”
Even though he’s pitching for a Twins team that is in fourth place in the American League Central entering the weekend, Perkins has 20 saves this year, which ranks 11th in all of baseball. He’s blown just two saves and has a WHIP of 0.79, which is lower than all 10 closers who have more saves than he does.
Perkins will certainly have some competition among American League closers when the rosters are announced Saturday. Orioles closer Jim Johnson leads the AL with 29 saves, while Mariano Rivera and former Twins closer Joe Nathan each have 28. Some of Perkins’ peripheral numbers, however, are better than that trio’s are. He’s struck out 44 batters, which is more than all three. Nathan’s WHIP of 0.80 is nearly identical, but both Johnson and Rivera have a WHIP of over 1.20.
As someone who is big into statistics and sabermetrics, Perkins doesn’t need to be told how his stats compare to other closers in the league. But he also knows it’s out of his hands.
“I think that’s everyone’s goal, along with being on a successful team,” Perkins said about the potential of being an All-Star. “But as far as personal goals, I accomplished one getting to play in the World Baseball Classic. That’d be neat. It comes down to the player vote and Jim Leyland. We’ll see what happens.”
Leyland, the Tigers skipper, will select the rest of the roster that isn’t voted on by fans. Detroit has seen Perkins plenty over the last few years, so Leyland certainly knows what Perkins is capable of.
Perkins is hoping his talent and the way he’s carried himself on the field will play into Leyland’s thought process.
“I would hope that when I go out there that him or anyone else can see I respect them and I respect the game and that I wouldn’t get under an opposing team’s skin, really,” Perkins said. “I try to just go out there and do my job and move on. I don’t think I’ve really done anything that would turn him against me.”
Perkins has no control over whether or not he’ll be an All-Star when the teams are announced Saturday. There’s another July deadline that Perkins will be watching that is also out of his hands: the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. His name has been mentioned in trade rumors leading up to the end of the month. There are plenty of teams who would love to have Perkins closing games for them down the stretch.
That includes the Twins, who don’t seem likely to deal Perkins — especially after the Minnesota native signed a three-year contract extension prior to the 2012 season. That means he’s locked up with his hometown team for several more years.
Unless, of course, they decide to deal him by July 31.
“I’m aware enough of what I’ve accomplished the last couple years that teams are of course going to want me,” Perkins said. “I don’t need to read that teams want to trade for me to believe that. But again, that’s not important. I think everyone wants to be wanted, but I know that my belief is that they want me here more than anyone else wants me.”
The Twins took Perkins, a Stillwater native and former University of Minnesota standout, with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. After struggling as a starter in 2008 and 2009 — a stint that included some head-butting between Perkins and the organization — he eventually found a niche as a left-handed arm out of the bullpen. Last season he was converted to the Twins’ closer late in the year and has thrived in that role ever since.
He’s spent eight years in the big leagues with Minnesota and resides in the state during the offseason. Having been a Twins fan and now a Twin his entire career, Perkins can’t envision himself in any other uniform.
“I don’t know what that’s like,” Perkins said. “I can’t control it so I don’t really worry about it. It is what it is. If that’s what they think is best, then they’ll do that. Obviously I’d like to stay here for a lot of reasons. It’s not something that I can worry about. I want to go out and pitch well when I get a chance. I assume that it’s going to be here and I hope that it’s here.”