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:
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.