What Current Minnesota Twin Would Have Helped Win the 1965 World Series?
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsAs 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.
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.
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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