Over the past week, I have been counting down the top 25 professional athletes in Minnesota. Here is part 3 featuring players ranked 11-15.
15. Jeff Teague | Timberwolves | PG | @Teague0
Another one of the big moves the Timberwolves made this summer was signing Jeff Teague to a 3-year contract after trading away Ricky Rubio. Teague has filled in nicely for Rubio as the team facilitator, as he is sixth in the NBA with 7.3 assists per game. Teague has also provided a big upgrade to the T-Wolves offense by scoring the ball as well, as Teague effective field-goal percentage sits at 50.9%, up from the 41.5% Rubio averaged in his time in Minnesota. The Timberwolves received some good new this week after Teague was diagnosed with just a Grade 1 MCL Sprain, after going down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the win against Denver.
14. Linval Joseph | Vikings | DT
On every good defense there is a guy that must put in all the dirty work so other guys can come in and make plays. For the Vikings this guy is Linval Joseph. Linval consistently draws double-teams from the opposing offensive-line, which frees up the Vikings linebackers to go downhill and stop the run game. This has helped lead the Vikings second-ranked run defense that allows just 87 rush yards per game in 2017. It is safe to say that Linval is on the list of Vikings players that were snubbed for a Pro Bowl selection this year.
13. Miguel Sano | Twins | 3B | @SanoMiguel
I guess I’ll start by mentioning the elephant in the room about the assault allegation that was made against Miguel Sano this past week. I don’t want to speculate about the incident, as it is not my place to do so, and it is not the purpose of these power rankings. With that being said, lets take a look at what Sano has done for the Twins on the field. In his three seasons with the Twins, Sano has brought a legitimate middle of the order presence that the Twins had been lacking in recent years. Sano’s 92.4 mph average exit velocity ranked fourth in MLB in 2017. Sano’s time as a third baseman might be limited as he continues to age, and might fit in long term as a designated-hitter.
12. Eric Staal | Wild | F
Since joining the Wild before the start of the 2016-2017 season, Eric Staal has lead the Wild with 98 points, which ranks 25th in the NHL over that time. With all the injury issues that Zach Parise has dealt with over the last two seasons, Staal has filled in well as a veteran leader for the young Wild forwards. Staal has given Bruce Boudreau stability in the lineup, as he has not missed a game in his time with the Wild.
11. Byron Buxton | Twins | CF
If this list was the most exciting Minnesota athletes to watch, Buxton might very well be at the top. Buxton makes this list for one big reason, he has established himself as the premier defensive outfielder in baseball. Last season, Buxton lead all MLB outfielders with 25 Outs Above Average. He also took home the hardware to back that up this season by winning not only the American League Center Field Gold-Glove Award, but he also took home the American League Platinum-Glove Award for best all around defensive player in the American League. Buxton also contributed offensively as well after a resurgent second half, hitting .298/.342/.541 with 11 HR after the break. Buxton was also a nightmare on the base paths going 29 for 30 on stolen base attempts.