Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
12/13/1988: The MLB transactions for the Minnesota Twins had one line: The Twins signed free agent catcher Brian Harper to an one year contract worth $90,000. The Twins were the sixth franchise for Harper who was drafted by the California Angels in the 4th round of the 1977 MLB June Amateur Draft, traded to the Pirates and then the Cardinals who released him on April Fool's 1986, and then signed and released by the Tigers and A's in single year assignments.
Harper was an intriguing guy. He hit .353/.403/.653 as a 28 year old in AAA Portland before the Twins brought him up to finish the season with the big club, hitting .295/.344/.428 with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts in 184 plate appearances. Harper became the Twins starting catcher in 1989 and held that post until 1993. His tenure with the Twins included an otherworldly .381/.435/.476 slash line in 26 World Series plate appearances in 1991, the best World Series ever.
Fast forward about 30 years: November 25, 2017: The Twins sign 26 year old Willians Astrudillo as a minor league free agent. After a stint in AAA, like Harper, Astrudillo made it to the bigs, where there were a lot of accolades, regarding his low walking and strikeout percentage, and about his lack of being a "three outcome guy". Astudillo's line last season ended up being .355/.371/.516 with a 2.1 BB% and a 3.1 K%. In 1991 Brian Harper ended the season with a 3.0 BB % and a 4.7 K%. Both were about his career average for the Twins.
After 1993 strike Harper moved on and ended up his career with a .295/.329/.419 major league line with a 3.9 BB% and a 5.6 K%. Both Harper and Astudillo have had questions about their defensive ability, and like Astudillo Harper had to play other positions (OF, 1B and 3B) before he was established.
Harper was an integral part of the Twins 1991 team. Might be the time to let Astudillo be the "Harp" for these Twins...