WARNE: Power Ranking the Walkup Songs of the Minnesota Twins

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The history of walkup music in MLB is a bit fuzzy. The 1993 Seattle Mariners get some credit for playing “Bad to the Bone” when Jay Buhner came to the plate, among other ditties. The 1994 Philadelphia Phillies had legendary grinder Lenny Dykstra on the roster, who messed with a few songs, but went 0-for-8 and subsequently stopped the experiment before it had time to take hold.

After all, baseball players tend to be a superstitious lot. This Jim Caple article on ESPN lays out all of those scenarios in depth, including one suggesting Pittsburgh’s organist played snake-charming music when Dave Parker batted.

His moniker at the time was Cobra.

But in recent years, walkup music has gone from novelty to necessity as each player picks out their own song or songs, sometimes randomly and other times carefully crafted and selected form their personal collections.

The Twins are no exception.

The Ratings

The system here isn’t that strict. As best as we can, we’ve taken the time listed for the player’s music to play, with sounds around it for context and to break some ties.

These are the power rankings for 2018 Twins walkup songs:

  1. “Cut a Rug” – Stalley: Mitch Garver’s walkup song

This song provides the perfect mix of brass and hip-hop and fits the bill for what Brian Dozier said is “taking a hitter to his happy place.” The opening brass gives the song a bit of a timeless feel, while the percussion that comes in shortly afterward gives it a much more modern feel.

“I kinda like that instrumental,” Garver said of the beginning of the song. “I’m big on trumpets. I think that’s an awesome sound, especially for a walkup song. I’ve had a few Jay Z songs, a few Kanye songs. That’s just the sound that I think is very powerful in the walkup department.”

“I was working out one day in the offseason, back in like November. I was going through some random songs there in the playlist, and it came out, and I said ‘This sounds pretty cool,’” Garver said. “Then I listened to it more and more, and we got down to the line and I needed a walkup song, so I figured I’d go with it until I needed it another one. Then once you hear it on the speakers, it’s a little better than imagining it, you know?”

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Return of the Mack” – Mark Morrison: Byron Buxton’s walkup song

Buxton isn’t even the first Twins player to use this song — that was Chris Colabello — but this song is a banger that dates back to April 1996 — when Buxton was just two years old. With the proper speakers, the bass coming in is terrific, and the rest of the song starts up quick enough to give the fans a little taste as well. Both this and Garver’s theme got a nine from our cracked team of music experts — read: just me — and it was really neck-and-neck to see who’d get top billing.

“My wife,” Buxton said when asked what the primary factor was behind his choice. “(The song) is kinda something that I listen to in the offseason. I’m a real funk guy. I like Parliament. Earth, Wind & Fire. Mark Morrison. That’s more my kind of music.”

Since most of these songs and artists were popular when Buxton was very young — if not prior to his birth — it was through his dad that the Twins center fielder developed his affinity for funk.

“My dad drove trucks a lot,” Buxton said. “So I’d get up with him every morning, and (Return of the Mack) was one of the songs that’d always play across the radio. I was like ‘Hey man, what’s this? What’s this?’ and he’d tell me. I didn’t think about it much in the minors; I think all through that time I had Imagine Dragons “Radioactive” and I got to Double-A, and dad was like ‘You don’t listen to funk anymore?’

“I was like ‘Man! You know what? I gotta go back!’,” he said. “At the start of Double-A, it was Parliament’s “Flashlight.” Then last year my wife said I had to switch it up. I was like ‘So what do you want me to switch it to?’ She was like ‘Why don’t you go with Return of the Mack?’ and I said ‘That’s a great song!’”

Buxton said his wife picked the song and the timing and everything. He also was unaware that Colabello had used it beforehand with the Twins.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Escapata Conmigo” – Wisin, Ozuna: Eduardo Escobar’s walkup song

Translated to English, the chorus here is saying “Escape with me,” and it also leans back on a bass-heavy rhythm that appears in a lot of songs with Hispanic origins. The first one I can recall that sounded similar was Luis Castillo’s “Rompe” by Daddy Yankee from I believe 2006.

“It’s just what I like,” Escobar said. “This is Reggaeton music. I really like Salsa, but I’d never use that for a walkup. A lot of these guys (teammates) love Reggaeton.”

Escobar also said he knows right away when he hears a song that he’ll want to use it for his walkup song. He famously used “You’re The One That I Want” from the Grease soundtrack a few years back, which may have been surprising at the time but now makes a lot more sense as his hilarious personality has taken hold in the Twins clubhouse.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “What You Know” – T.I.: Joe Mauer’s walkup song

Mauer’s had the same walkup song — save for a brief stretch with Finger Eleven’s “Paralyzer” — since many of his teammates were in elementary school. Why change a good thing? The song lacks some of the more modern aesthetics and production elements, but still sounds great when it belts out over loudspeakers and the cacophony of 30,000-plus buzzing fans. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “How Did I Get Here” – ODESZA: Max Kepler’s walkup song

This is probably where the second tier starts, and there’s a pretty wide gap between No. 4-5 when it comes to power rankings. This song by ODESZA is terrific, but sort of an unusual choice for use as a walkup tune in my view. Twins PR man Dustin Morse lauded Kepler’s music taste, though he stopped short of doing the same for his choice in walkup tunes.

Kepler used Sublime’s “Summertime (Doin’ Time)” in 2016 — his first full MLB season — and “‘93 Til Infinity” by Souls of Mischief last year, a sneaky nod to his birth year.

The right fielder didn’t really have an exact reason in mind other than an obvious one — he just really likes the song. “I like ODESZA a lot,” Kepler said. “I like electro and EDM music.” That doesn’t mean he doesn’t pick a specific part of the song, however. “I like when it drops,” Kepler said. “I mean, I wouldn’t pick a part where it’s mellow.”

Kepler also takes stock of his teammates’ music, though he’s got his favorites and ones he doesn’t care for as much. “I’m not really a big fan of country,” Kepler said.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Wild Thing” – The Troggs: Logan Morrison’s walkup song

There’s a lot going on here. Morrison said he’s been all over the map with his walkup music, no matter if he was in Miami, Seattle, Tampa or now in Minneapolis, but he figured it made too much sense to go with “Wild Thing” since he now dons No. 99 — an homage to Ricky Vaughn of “Major League” fame. Also, the wrong “Wild Thing” was played during the home opener, so he remedied that right away.

“It depends on the year,” Morrison said of his music. “I usually want something that starts off slow, gets faster and has a good jump-off point I guess you’d say. But wearing No. 99 this year is a no-brainer to do the Wild Thing.” Morrison said his songs have run the gamut in terms of genres, including Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” as well as Korn’s “Blind” and a song from Christian rock band Red called “Breathe into Me.”

He’s also used some country music, which should endear him to the Dozier corner of the clubhouse. “I used Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” for a while and when my dad passed away, I used Rodney Atkins’ “I’ve Been Watching’ You,” he said.

Morrison also echoes the idea that he doesn’t want to be pumped up when he’s walking up to the plate. “I don’t want to get fired up when I go to the plate,” Morrison said. “Just something that keeps you loose, I guess.”

Listen for yourself:

  1. “X” – Nicky Jam: Ehire Adrianza’s walkup song

One thing that Adrianza’s song brings to the table is that it starts at the perfect time in the song, and it brings a unique sound to the table. Other than that, though, there isn’t much that sets Adrianza’s song apart. It’s fine, but not a game-changer.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Up Down” – Morgan Wallen, Florida Georgia Line: Ryan LaMarre’s walkup song

I’m admittedly not a huge country fan, but this brings the traditional country twang without being too annoying. The lyrics aren’t super meaningful, but aren’t throwaway words either. It’s a replacement-level walkup tune, in my opinion.

And more importantly, LaMarre enlisted some important help. “My wife helped me with it,” he said. “I feel like there’s a fine line between me wanting to relax with music while I’m walking to the plate, while the fans want something more to get into. So I tried to find that fine line, and she helped me with it.”

LaMarre isn’t strictly a country guy, though.

“I’ve gone with rap in the past to get myself all fired up,” he said. “But I feel like the more pumped up I get, the worse I hit. So I try to be in a more mellow state of mind when I get there.”

LaMarre said he’s used Macklemore, Ini Kamoze, Young Jeezy and others when he was in that rap state of mind.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Down the Road” – C2C: Jason Castro’s walkup song

So the Twins initially posted Castro’s walkup song as “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” by Dr. Dre, a song released in 1995 as part of the soundtrack to the movie “Friday.” But Castro changed that early in the season to a song he said probably wasn’t one as well known — and one he heard during the closing credits of a TV show he was watching.

“It’s not really a popular song,” Castro said. “Actually, it was on the credits of the latest episode of Silicon Valley.” Castro said he used the phone app Shazam to figure out the name of the song, which he then found on Spotify. “I was like that’s pretty cool; I like that,” Castro said. “It’s kind of like the song I used last year. “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” is a great song, but a couple of other guys have used it as walkups, so I didn’t want to use it. I was hoping for something more original.”

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Whatever It Takes” – Imagine Dragons: Robbie Grossman’s walkup song

It’s certainly possible this won’t be a popular opinion, but it feels like if you’ve heard one Imagine Dragons song, you’ve heard them all. Twins PR guru Dustin Morse picked Grossman’s song last year — “Believer” from the same artist — and he told Morse that the song had some hits in it.

Grossman doesn’t care at all about walkup music, but does retain final approval rights while Morse cooks up a handful of different tunes for him to listen to. Morse correctly predicted that “Believer” would become one of the songs of the summer in 2017, so Grossman trusted his taste again this year.

It certainly might be a fair song for the proper demographic, but I gave it a four. It just doesn’t resonate with me and isn’t my cup of tea.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “That’s Alright With Me” – Kip Moore: Brian Dozier’s walkup song

It’d be easy for me to say I’m not really a country music fan, but that’d be denying my roots. I grew up Country Music Television (CMT) on in the background going back as far as I can remember, and while I’m not at all a devotee to the genre anymore, I can respect when someone lays down a good western song.

I can also see why this takes Dozier to his happy place, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Listen for yourself:

  1.  “Raputin” – El Alfa, Liro Shaq, La Manta, La Sabiduria: Miguel Sano’s walkup song

I don’t really understand the appeal here, as it’s just the word “raputin” being repeated over and over again at first and doesn’t really have much of a standout feature. The beat underneath is pretty good, but this just doesn’t do much for me.

Listen for yourself:

  1. “Chambea” – Bad Bunny: Eddie Rosario’s walkup song

This one just doesn’t resonate with me at all. It comes in at a part of the song that just doesn’t have much of a footing — like a big buildup or anything — and doesn’t have much to set it apart in terms of beat or anything. I mean, Ric Flair is part of the official music video, but that’s not enough to get this song out of the cellar.

Listen for yourself:

A couple pitchers also offered what they’d use if they got the chance to hit:

Reliever Trevor Hildenberger — “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes

“I’ve actually used it as a walkup before,” Hildenberger said. He also added that this wasn’t a decision he’s taken lightly — he’s thought about this extensively.

Reliever Taylor Rogers — “Made in America” by Toby Keith.

His reasoning? “I’m ‘merican. What else is there?”

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