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  • Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Ron Davis

    Today's addition to the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series" had been an All-Star the year before the Twins traded for him. His trade helped to bring a critical piece to Minnesota for their title runs but he ran into some rough patches along the way.

    Mr. Ron Davis, welcome to the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series."
    ~~~

    Over the last couple of weeks, I have looked back at some of the worst players to ever suit up in a Twins uniform. There have been some poor players to wear these colors and it can be fun to look back on their careers. Some of these men went on to have successful careers in baseball or even outside of the baseball world.

    Here is a rundown of all of the players that have been covered so far in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series" with links back to the original articles:



    ~~~


    Davis was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 1976 amateur draft. After he got a couple of minor league seasons under his belt, he was sent to the Yankee organization where he started to make his mark.

    The Yankees saw Davis as a relief pitcher. He never started a game in their organization and he became one of their best set-up men. When Rich "Goose" Gossage got hurt, the Yankees turned to Davis as their closer. He won 14 games out of the bullpen in 1979 and he finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting.

    Over the next three seasons, the duo of Gossage and Davis were formidable in late inning situations. Davis was one of the first pitchers to be used exclusively as a set-up man leading up to the closer. During this stretch, Davis averaged almost 100 innings a season with a 2.86 ERA. He was 25 years old and had a bright future in front of him.

    On April 10, 1982, the Twins and the Yankees worked out a deal that brought Davis to Minnesota. The Twins sent shortstop Roy Smalley to New York in exchange for Davis, Greg Gagne, and Paul Boris. For the Twins, Boris would only get a taste of the big leagues. Gagne would become a vital part of the team ‘s two championships.

    The Twins shifted Davis from set-up man to closer and this switch came with some disastrous results. In his first season with the club, he pitched over 100 innings with 22 saves. Unfortunately, he had a 4.43 ERA and he had five blown saves. He was often asked to pitch more than one inning but it was still rough going after the numbers he put up in New York.

    In 1983, Davis improved, lowering his ERA to 3.34 as the team cut back on his workload. He wasn't asked to pitch as many multiple inning situations and he only blew two saves. This was a step in the right direction.

    The 1984 season was a record breaking season for Davis and not in a good way. He tied the record for most blown saves in a single season with 14. No closer since that year has blown that many saves in a single campaign. He ended that year with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP, as well as a couple of blown saves that cost the Twins a possible playoff berth. Ouch!

    But Minnesota continued to use Davis as the closer. It wasn't until some terrible outings in 1986 that the team to took away his closer duties. There were wild pitches, walks, home runs, and too many headaches for the coaches to handle. He was sent to the Cubs in a mid-season deal to end his Twins tenure.

    For his Twins career, Davis finished with a 19-40 record and a 4.51 ERA. He racked up 108 saves, which ranks fourth in club history. His proponents might note that Davis finished in the top five for saves in the AL in three of his five seasons with the team. But his detractors point to a 1.49 WHIP and 26 blown saves. He tallied a -0.2 WAR in his five years with the club including a -2.1 WAR in 1986.

    Davis didn't record another save after he left the Twins organization. He made appearances with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants with his last big league appearance coming in 1988. The Giants and Yankees kept him at Triple-A in '89-'90 but he never made it back to the top.

    Davis' son, Ike, has emerged as a regular with the New York Mets. He was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft and it only took him a couple of years to make it to the big leagues. Last season, he clobbered 32 home runs but he only hit .227/.308/.462 with 141 strikeouts.

    As far as the worst Twins players of all-time, the elder Davis doesn't exactly rank at the top of the list. He had some positive moments along the way. Even with his high ranking on the all-time saves list for the club, Twins fans will always associate his name with ineffective relief pitching.
    This article was originally published in blog: Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Ron Davis started by Cody Christie
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      As far as the worst Twins players of all-time, the elder Davis doesn't exactly rank at the top of the list.
      Actually, he does. He's #1 on the list of anyone who watched this team in the 80s and it's not particularly close. If you want a statistic that begins to show his effect on the fan base, check out his win probability scores while he was here: -.5, 1.8, -3.5, .1, -2.7. Basically one passable year and two real clunkers. The fan base never trusted him after 1984 - and it wasn't like they didn't try to boost him up. Google "I believe in R.D t-shirts" sometime.

      Word has it that when he was traded, the Twins had a party on the plane. Not because he wasn't a good guy. But he just had the smell of defeat around him. The fans, and apparently even the team, was just waiting for games to be blown for two solid years. That's no way to compete. ♠
    1. East Coast Twin's Avatar
      East Coast Twin -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Actually, he does. He's #1 on the list of anyone who watched this team in the 80s and it's not particularly close. If you want a statistic that begins to show his effect on the fan base, check out his win probability scores while he was here: -.5, 1.8, -3.5, .1, -2.7. Basically one passable year and two real clunkers. The fan base never trusted him after 1984 - and it wasn't like they didn't try to boost him up. Google "I believe in R.D t-shirts" sometime.

      Word has it that when he was traded, the Twins had a party on the plane. Not because he wasn't a good guy. But he just had the smell of defeat around him. The fans, and apparently even the team, was just waiting for games to be blown for two solid years. That's no way to compete. ♠

      Definitely #1 on the list of anybody who followed the '84 team. The most annoying part was when he would explain that he didn't pitch that poorly after blowing another save opportunity. He probably cost the team the division title that year.

      I read somewhere that Davis would constantly sing "Jimmy Crack Corn," even on the way to pitcher's mound and in the locker room after blowing another save. When the players found out that Davis had been traded to the Cubs, Kirby Puckett led the team in a rendition of "Jimmy Crack Corn."
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      #1 in my book, not even close. When I discovered the Twins in 1985 as a 6 year old, I could and would speak knowledgably and glowingly about every single Twins player...except Ron Davis. His is the only Twins baseball card I ever used to turn my bike into a "motercycle."
    1. JeffB's Avatar
      JeffB -
      I was 10 years old in 1985 and remember calling RD "The Meatball King" for giving up so many HRs apparently. 1984 (epic collapse) was my first year following the Twins closely...so painful.
    1. Neil's Avatar
      Neil -
      Quote Originally Posted by East Coast Twin View Post
      Definitely #1 on the list of anybody who followed the '84 team. The most annoying part was when he would explain that he didn't pitch that poorly after blowing another save opportunity. He probably cost the team the division title that year.

      I read somewhere that Davis would constantly sing "Jimmy Crack Corn," even on the way to pitcher's mound and in the locker room after blowing another save. When the players found out that Davis had been traded to the Cubs, Kirby Puckett led the team in a rendition of "Jimmy Crack Corn."
      I'd never heard this story. That's beyond hilarious.
    1. Neil's Avatar
      Neil -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Actually, he does. He's #1 on the list of anyone who watched this team in the 80s and it's not particularly close. If you want a statistic that begins to show his effect on the fan base, check out his win probability scores while he was here: -.5, 1.8, -3.5, .1, -2.7. Basically one passable year and two real clunkers. The fan base never trusted him after 1984 - and it wasn't like they didn't try to boost him up. Google "I believe in R.D t-shirts" sometime.

      Word has it that when he was traded, the Twins had a party on the plane. Not because he wasn't a good guy. But he just had the smell of defeat around him. The fans, and apparently even the team, was just waiting for games to be blown for two solid years. That's no way to compete. ♠
      I'd love to see the I Believe in R.D. shirt, but I came up empty on my Google search. Link?
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Being a "worst Twin" still means they are 100 times better baseball players than anyone commenting on these blogs!!
      If there are any former major leaguers commenting I apologize.
    1. Longdistancetwins's Avatar
      Longdistancetwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffB View Post
      I was 10 years old in 1985 and remember calling RD "The Meatball King" for giving up so many HRs apparently. 1984 (epic collapse) was my first year following the Twins closely...so painful.
      Your loyalty is admirable, you folks, who survived the 1984 meltdown to become and remain Twins fans.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Longdistancetwins View Post
      Your loyalty is admirable, you folks, who survived the 1984 meltdown to become and remain Twins fans.
      September 28, 1984 Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians Play by Play and Box Score - Baseball-Reference.com "It's hard to throw to first with both hands around your neck."
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      I have no idea how to define "worst", since it's a truism that you have to be pretty good to lose 20 games in a season and blowing 14 saves has to be in about the same category. But it's hard to dispute that Ron Davis led the majors in Uffda Moments for fans and teammates alike. Some of those blown saves were really heart-wrenching, and they would happen over and over in the bad years.

      Probably tears in the locker room are more common than is reported, but still when word got out that Davis had wept after a particularly hard loss, his reputation went even lower than before.

      The article leaves out just how bad it got in 1986: his ERA was above 9! Nine! Not simply two runs in two innings - no, he appeared in 38 games for the Twins before the trade. In fact, I remember marveling at the time that Andy MacPhail was able to get anything at all for him in exchange - George Frazier was the only one of the three they got to be at all serviceable, and an ERA of nearly 5 in the world series year of 1987 was nothing to crow about, but Frazier contributed, and that might have been MacPhail's greatest feat as GM. The day Davis left was the classic "great trade! who'd they get?".

      All in all, I feel sorry for the guy - he wore his heart on his sleeve a lot of the time, and I don't remember it being a case of constant excuse-making. It's hard to imagine doing your job while being booed by the home fans just for coming into the game. I don't know what else to call him except one of the worst, and yet I feel dirty in doing so. I somehow hadn't caught on about his son being Ike the ballplayer, and it makes me glad that things could have turned out well like that, even if Ike seems to share his dad's ability to get the home fans a little riled at his performance at times.
    1. East Coast Twin's Avatar
      East Coast Twin -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Uggh. Even after all these years. Uggh.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      saying RD is the worst is like saying Michael Cuddyer was the worst defensive 2B. He was put in a spot that he couldnt handle, but wasnt replaced or put in a spot that he could've handled better....shown by his success in NY due to how bad the Twins were.
      Now, player who caused the most heartaches.........oh yeah!!!!
      Any list without Drew Butera isnt a list....sorry!!!
    1. luke829's Avatar
      luke829 -
      Quote Originally Posted by East Coast Twin View Post
      Uggh. Even after all these years. Uggh.
      Twins fans didn't call him "Boom Boom" for nothing (all aplogies to Boom Boom our Twins Daily poster)
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      I hope RD is happy and lives a long and prosperous life.

      He is the only player I can say this about, "If he had never been a Twin, my life would have been better."

      Ouch. I recognize that is harsh, but Aaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!
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