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Updated: June 25th, 2014 5:41pm
Summer List Series: The 10 most underappreciated MN sports figures

Summer List Series: The 10 most underappreciated MN sports figures

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Every Thursday through the end of the summer on Mackey & Judd (9a to 1p weekdays), we will - with help from listeners - create top 10 lists. Coming to a consensus is not easy, but the discussion is always fun.

Last week's topic was the 10 most underappreciated athletes in Minnesota history.

Jake Reed... Prior to Randy Moss arriving, the Vikings still had a pretty damn good offense - top 5, in fact, in 1994 and 1995 - and Reed played a key role, catching an average of 74 passes for 1,200 yards and six touchdowns from 1994 to 1997. The Vikings made the playoffs in three of those four seasons, yet when we think of the 90's Vikings we usually mention Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith, Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon before Reed.

Nick Punto... Punto is one of the best defense players of the last 20 years, especially when you consider how much position flexibility he has. And remember that incredible 2006 season? Punto stepped in as not-your-prototypical-third-baseman and hit .290/.352/.373 with 17 stolen bases and incredible glovework.

Brad Radke... The people who focused on the home runs Radke allowed are missing the big picture. Pitching almost entirely during the steroid era, Radke posted a 113 ERA+ (100 is league average) and averaged more than 200 innings for 12 seasons.

Randall McDaniel... Do great offensive linemen ever get enough love?

Wes Walz... One of the Wild's founding fathers and a key figure in the magical playoff run from 12 years ago. He's also a pretty good analyst for Fox Sports North these days.

Minnesota Lynx... Like, all of them. Two championships over the last three years during a stretch in which the Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves have been mostly huge disappointments. The best basketball at Target Center has been played by the Lynx for quite some time.

Shane Mack... Pop quiz: Which Twins position player was worth the most Wins Above Replacement during the 1991 championship season? If you answered Shane Mack, you are correct! In five seasons with the Twins, Mack hit .309/.375/.479 while averaging 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases, and he played very solid outfield defense.

Greg Gagne... Like Mack, Gagne often went overshadowed on good Twins teams, but his glove was among the best in baseball. And really, outside of a few decent seasons of Cristian Guzman, the Twins have been looking for a franchise shortstop ever since Gagne left in 1993.

Dennis Green... Green's tenure as Vikings coach will be remembered most for two epic failures - the 1998 NFC Championship Game and 41-donut in 2000. But from 1992 until 2001, Green's teams finished 8-8 or better in all but one season. He also won four playoff games and helped oversee some of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.

Dwane Casey... In 2006, the Timberwolves' second best player was Ricky Davis. Their third leading scorer was Mark Blount. Despite this, they somehow managed a 20-20 record after 40 games. And despite that, Casey was fired before game 41. 

By the way, remember when Ricky Davis missed a layup at his own rim on purpose in order to secure a triple double? 



Honorable mentions: 

- Brian Harper
- Adam Weber 
- Glen Mason 
- Joe Mauer 

Previous lists: 

The 10 worst front office decisions in Minnesota sports history

The 10 best hidden gem draft picks in Minnesota sports history

The 10 biggest trade, draft and free agency busts

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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