Thanks for all the feedback on my initial post thinking about the Twins Hall of Fame. Several of you commented with good suggestions for some future members as well as how the Twins might look at the legacy of the Washington Senators in the own Hall of Fame. I plan on writing up a few of these suggestions and looking at their cases for induction in the Twins Hall of Fame as well as pondering some of my own ideas. But I want to interrupt that plan today to look at the case for Glen Perkins as a member of the Twins Hall. I assume you all know by now that the homegrown lefty made his retirement official today. The main TwinsDaily page re-pinned an excellent post by Nick Nelson from last fall that talked about Perkins' entire legacy and made the case for his immediate induction in a hypothetical Twins Daily Hall of Fame. But what about the less-hypothetical Twins Hall of Fame? I want to look at Perkins' case from a more purely numbers standpoint, a bit different than what Nick did - mostly because I cannot do what Nick did.
First, let's look at Perkins' value according to Baseball-Reference WAR (Wins Above Replacement):
The first thing we notice numerically is the evidence of what Nelson calls "the reinvention." Perkins began his Twins career as a starter, and quite a promising one at that. He made 26 starts as a 25-year old in 2008 and threw 151 innings. But the toll on his arm was taken and Perkins had to reinvent himself as a short-inning reliever. And boy, did he!
After some time in the minors and on extended DL stints, Perkins returned to the team full-time as a setup man in 2011 and then took over the closer duties for 2012-2015. It was in those years that he put up his best value for the Twins according to Baseball-Reference WAR, with 2 seasons of 2.1 each. The first was in that 2011 season where he was a GREAT set-up man and in 2013. 2.1 WAR is a good season but not a great season. For a reference point, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each put up 2.1 for the 2017 Twins. The closest pitcher in 2017 was Jose Berrios with 1.7. Perkins' career WAR of 8.6 would make him the lowest number among Twins Hall of Famers. Zoilo Versalles (12.5) and Eddie Guardado (13.3) would be the closest comrades.
But let's look at some other numbers. Glen Perkins, with 120, sits in third place all-time for the Twins in saves, behind Joe Nathan's 260 and Rick Aguilera's 254 and just ahead of Guardado's 116. And yes, saves are mostly about opportunity and are mostly an outmoded stat in terms of assessing a player's value. But it's not nothing. It's not nothing that Perkins was there for the Twins at important moments for four straight years. Combine that with the fact that he was voted an All-Star three straight times, including being a representative (along with Kurt Suzuki) for the 2014 game at Target Field and you get a sense of Perkins' importance to the franchise.
And there is one more set of numbers I want to examine. ERA- is a statistic that compares a pitcher's individual ERA to the league average that season. League average is set at 100 and anything under than 100 is better than average, and you can get a sense of percentage points better by the number. Let's look at Perkins' ERA- numbers. In those good years (2011-2015) when he was striking out better than a batter per inning, Perkins put up very good ERA- numbers.
According to Fangraphs, Perkins' ERA- numbers in those years were 60, 62, 57, 94, and 81. That's right. For five straight years, his ERA was better than the league average, with a best year of 2013 where his ERA was 43% better than league average.
So will Perkins find his way into the Twins Hall of Fame? His basic numbers are a bit low. But at the end of the day, I'd vote him in. For me it's about the fact that he did all of this as a Minnesota Twin. There is something to a guy who spends his entire career with the franchise. He was drafted in the first round by the Twins, he came up through the Twins system, he reinvented himself as an elite reliever as a Twin and he retired a Twin. For me, he's a Twins Hall of Famer. Maybe there are others who will go in ahead of him, but I hope to see him there someday.