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What Current Minnesota Twin Would Have Helped Win the 1965 World Series?

The 1965 Minnesota Twins fell just short of taking home the World Series trophy. What current Twin would have pushed that team over the top to take down Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
As we all know, the Minnesota Twins fell just short of winning the 1965 World Series. The final nail in the coffin on their season was at the hands of a remarkable performance by Dodger’s starter Sandy Koufax as he pitched a 10-strikeout shutout. It was no small feat to be able to silence a potent Twins lineup the way he did that day.

We all are hoping that the 2020 Twins team will be every part as competitive as the 1965 club if they ever get the opportunity to take the field. With that in mind (and a big thanks to Cody Christie for the idea), what current Twin would have been able to help out the ‘65 Twins the most and possibly get them past the Dodgers to win the World Series?

Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers

I am putting these two together simply because I find it the hardest to move pitchers between eras. What was asked of starting and relief pitchers is so different today than in the 60s. At the same time, any contending club can always use an extra arm or two.

What is hard is Berrios isn’t likely making it as a starter in the 60s. His inning load just isn’t there. At the same time he isn’t being groomed and asked to do that today so it is hard to say that he would be incapable of doing so if he grew up in that era. Rogers on the other hand likely would fit well in ‘65 as he is capable of going multiple innings if needed. Just give him a day in between appearances, please.

Luis Arraez

From a positional standpoint, Arraez would give the ‘65 Twins quite the offensive upgrade at second base. One of the reasons Zoillo Versalles won the MVP that year was because of just how void of offense the middle infield was across the league. And the Twins were no exception at second.

Jerry Kindall got the bulk of time at second slashing .196/.274/.289. Frank Quilici on the other hand got most of the run during the World Series and slashed .208/.289/.255. So moving Arraez and his .334/.399/.439 from 2019 or even his ZIPS of .309/.370/.403 would have boosted the lineup that much more. The real question may be if his defense would have convinced Sam Mele to let him in the lineup at all.

Byron Buxton

If I have to choose one player, a healthy Buxton is it. It is on one hand hard to pick him just because Jimmie Hall did a very good job for the team that year. He hit .285/.347/.464 and added 20 home runs. As I type this I almost want to highlight this all and hit delete. The thing is a healthy Buxton can obtain those numbers offensively. Also, Mele did opt to platoon Hall when it came to the World Series with Joe Nossek

Plus you add Buxton’s defense in center between Tony Oliva and Bob Allison. And while the ‘65 pitching staff was pretty good it wasn’t all-world. We have seen how Buxton’s defense can push a pitching staff just that extra little notch and help them look that much better. If healthy of course.

What about Koufax?

Approaching this question, I did wonder for a moment if the question “who improves the team” should be focused on the entirety of the season or on that World Series specifically. The ‘65 Twins had no problem getting to the World Series, they just couldn’t win it. While the Twins took one game with Koufax as the starter it still feels like it was Sandy and his elite curveball that stood in the Twins way.

Now Arraez fared pretty well against curveballs with a .258 average and .257 .wOBA. My pick Buxton in 2019 had only 17 at-bats where he went after a curveball but hit .412 with a .530 wOBA. If we go back to 2017 he comes down but hit a respectable .273 average and .360 wOBA.

If I cheat just slightly and go away from “current Twin” to “2019 Twin” the guy that may have been able to push the ‘65 Twins over the top played a position of need for the '65 team and in 2019 hit for a .263 average, a .385 wOBA, with four home runs in 38 at-bats against curveballs. That guy is second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

At the same time, many of those curveballs likely didn’t sniff the quality of Koufax’s curve. So I will stick with Buxton as my top pick with those others being my next up. What current Twin would you select to push the ‘65 squad over the top?

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16 Comments

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stringer bell
May 26 2020 10:13 AM

How about Polanco to play second base? Second base was clearly the weakest position on the '65 Twins. If Versalles plays every day at short, playing Polanco at second for 150 games or so would improve the team immensely.

    • glunn, Nate Palmer and Longdistancetwins like this

Tough one. I prefer to start from the real outcomes in the WS, and see where a contribution could have made a difference. The Twins won 3 games, none of them particularly close, so I'll put them in the bank and then hope that whatever change I make doesn't harm them.

 

In their 4 losses, they got shut out 3 times, and lost 7-2 in the other game. Let me emphasize that - goose eggs in 3 out of the 4 games we need to reverse. The number of hits in the four losses were 5, 5, 4, and 3 - or by baserunners it's 7, 7, 5, 6 - so it's not like they were "one hit away" a bunch of times. The closest game was 2-0, the clincher pitched by Koufax - two runs seems like a mountain to climb, in that scenario.

 

It really seems close to hopeless, to cherry-pick a way to win. My best hope is a couple of home runs with someone on base - an additional single here or there by Arraez doesn't move the needle. So I think I bring in Sano to play third base, moving Harmon back to first, and sitting Mincher who had a bad Series.

 

Second choice would be Berrios to replace a starter, but all 3 starters were already good, and that LA offense was very underrated due to their home park stats, so holding them to the output that actually occurred was a good result. Maybe you get a classic 0-0 duel in game 7 with Berrios plus relievers, and some kind of walk-off magic happens in the 22nd inning after Koufax finally sits his butt down.

 

Most other times I'd love Buxton roaming CF, but as the games played out, it's not clear to me how he would have been the difference maker that happened to be needed.

 

Nelson Cruz as the crafty hitter who might have a chance to take Koufax deep is another possibility, if we thought he wouldn't give away runs at first base.

 

Sano, and pray. That's my strategy, heavy on the second part.

    • glunn and DocBauer like this
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SkyBlueWaters
May 26 2020 01:06 PM

We needed more offense against Osteen or Drysdale (once each) or Koufax (twice. Yeah, good luck with that).

 

As far as upgrades, I like the idea of either Arraez or Polanco at second. Neither has hit lefties great, however, so Koufax would have remained tough.

 

I like Bob Allison, great Twin, but he didn't have a good series, going 2 for 16 (.125), with a pair of walks, raising his OBP to .222. He homered and doubled, but more hits would have been nice.

 

Maybe adding Max Kepler to the outfield might have added some offense. 

 

Beyond that, hoping Buxton's defense and speed might have shut down the Dodgers and added some disruption on the basepaths (take that, Maury Wills) could have been fun to watch.

 

 

    • glunn likes this
I'm with Ash on this one. 3 shutouts with few hits involved screams the need for a difference maker. Sano could have been that guy.
    • glunn likes this
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strumdatjaguar
May 26 2020 02:30 PM

Have we forgotten that Josh Donaldson is a member of the Minnesota Twins???

    • ashbury, glunn, notoriousgod71 and 3 others like this

Have we forgotten that Josh Donaldson is a member of the Minnesota Twins???

42x8t4.jpg

 

:)
 

    • glunn likes this
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Halsey Hall
May 26 2020 03:30 PM

There is not a player who could have helped win the 7th game against Koufax.I'd take Arraez for the series though to change the outcome. 

    • glunn likes this
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IndianaTwin
May 26 2020 03:33 PM

"What is hard is Berrios isn’t likely making it as a starter in the 60s. His inning load just isn’t there."

 

 

Perry threw 167.2 innings and Pascual 156.0 in 1965. Berrios threw 200.1 this year. 

 

Pascual had 1.1 WAR on the year and started in the series. Berrios would be a significant upgrade over 1965 Pascual and wouldn't have required Grant and Kaat pitching on two days rest in the series.

 

Kaat lasted three innings on two days rest in the seventh game after going 2.1 on three days in the fifth game. For context, during the season, he'd averaged 7.8 innings on four days rest, only 6.1 innings on three days rest, and 5.0 innings on his four starts on two days rest. (Caveat: The latter includes him pitching just 2 innings in the final game of the season. Given that they won by 7 games, that may have been a tuneup. Even so, he averaged less than 6 innings in the other four starts. 

 

All in all, Grant, Kaat, Berrios, Grant, Kaat, Berrios, Grant would have been a better arrangement than Grant, Kaat, Pascual, Grant, Kaat, Grant, Kaat. 

 

 

 

 

    • glunn likes this
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IndianaTwin
May 26 2020 03:33 PM

If we're looking at series stats alone, having Garver over Battey's .120 average would have made the offense a little saucier.

    • ashbury, glunn and DocBauer like this

Have we forgotten that Josh Donaldson is a member of the Minnesota Twins???


You are 100% correct. Don't know where my head was. Make my vote Sano or Donaldson. Either would have the big power and probably OB to make a difference and let Killer play 1B. Donaldson, with head reattached to body, is probably the correct selection.

*I did have a little accident over the weekend that involved my forehead meeting concrete, so I have that as an excuse. :)
    • glunn likes this
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notoriousgod71
May 26 2020 06:48 PM

Rocco. I really would have liked to have seen Dick Stigman brought into the 5th inning with the game on the line.

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Nate Palmer
May 26 2020 07:59 PM

 

"What is hard is Berrios isn’t likely making it as a starter in the 60s. His inning load just isn’t there."

 

 

Perry threw 167.2 innings and Pascual 156.0 in 1965. Berrios threw 200.1 this year. 

 

Pascual had 1.1 WAR on the year and started in the series. Berrios would be a significant upgrade over 1965 Pascual and wouldn't have required Grant and Kaat pitching on two days rest in the series.

 

Kaat lasted three innings on two days rest in the seventh game after going 2.1 on three days in the fifth game. For context, during the season, he'd averaged 7.8 innings on four days rest, only 6.1 innings on three days rest, and 5.0 innings on his four starts on two days rest. (Caveat: The latter includes him pitching just 2 innings in the final game of the season. Given that they won by 7 games, that may have been a tuneup. Even so, he averaged less than 6 innings in the other four starts. 

 

All in all, Grant, Kaat, Berrios, Grant, Kaat, Berrios, Grant would have been a better arrangement than Grant, Kaat, Pascual, Grant, Kaat, Grant, Kaat. 

Good point. I was thinking of the fact that Pascual was hurt and did not pitch for a good chunk of '65 which would have ramped up his innings. This is one of those hard parts of not being there to watch things unfold and Perry's usage could make my statement worthless. 

    • glunn likes this
If you look at how the series played out, the only ‘one guy’ scenario would be a right-handed batter in game seven...it’s the only game the Twins lost that was really within range of winning with a reasonable one-man performance...unless you want to assume that a pitcher throws a shutout or near shutout at Dodger stadium. Joe Nossek batted second in game 7. Earl Battey batted 5th, behind Killebrew, who reached base twice against Koufax. I’d go with Donaldson or Garver or Sano batting behind Killebrew and coming up with a dinger and a double...that could have done it. If they had DH’s in 1965, the answer to this question would have been Cruz.
    • ashbury and glunn like this

Kind of silly. We know the Twins lost so if you could replace any single Twin of 65 with any Twin of 2019 you would do it. We know Oliva and Allison hit below .200 so if you could replace them with Cave or the Turtle you would do it. Not saying that would have changed the outcomes but any player is capable of playing great over a 7 game series and we know for a fact that the Twins lost that series while having Cave or the Turtle would still be a question mark..If your only choice to make a change was Nick Punto for Harmon Killebrew in 65 you do it. .Let me illustrate my point in reverse.Before the Twins won the Series in 1987 there would be a very large number of moves that you would want to make to improve that team.But we know they did win the series so if you had the choice to go back and replace Lombo with Lou Whitaker, Straker with Clemens, Randy Bush with Robin Yount andJoe Niekro with Dwight Gooden would you do it? The team would be exponentially better but you would be crazy to make those moves because that would change everything possibly including the outcome.  

    • Joey P likes this

 

Kind of silly. We know the Twins lost so if you could replace any single Twin of 65 with any Twin of 2019 you would do it. We know Oliva and Allison hit below .200 so if you could replace them with Cave or the Turtle you would do it. Not saying that would have changed the outcomes but any player is capable of playing great over a 7 game series and we know for a fact that the Twins lost that series while having Cave or the Turtle would still be a question mark..If your only choice to make a change was Nick Punto for Harmon Killebrew in 65 you do it. .Let me illustrate my point in reverse.Before the Twins won the Series in 1987 there would be a very large number of moves that you would want to make to improve that team.But we know they did win the series so if you had the choice to go back and replace Lombo with Lou Whitaker, Straker with Clemens, Randy Bush with Robin Yount andJoe Niekro with Dwight Gooden would you do it? The team would be exponentially better but you would be crazy to make those moves because that would change everything possibly including the outcome.  

Gonna stick my neck out and guess that American Civil War alternate histories don't interest you either. :)
 

    • Dantes929 and DocBauer like this

 

Gonna stick my neck out and guess that American Civil War alternate histories don't interest you either. :)
 

Hah!Not quite equal.The South pressing on to DC that first battle may well have changed everything. Speculating on how one of today's players could have affected the 65 team flies in the face of what I love about the game. 65 team was capable of beating the Dodgers. The umpire calling a ball instead of a strike on a borderline pitch might have changed the outcome.Adding an all star to replace a mediocre player increases odds a little but history has lots of Billy Martin, Bucky Dent, Gene Larkin type coming up big. I liked my point about the 87 team. You could put Mike Trout into the middle of that lineup and it would be awesome but it also would have changed everything. The results of the South marching to DC is a little more predictable. 

    • ashbury likes this