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  1. Winning in the MLB is difficult. It is even more difficult when you have a lesser budget than the rest of the league. This discrepancy is beautifully highlighted in Moneyball when Brad Pitt is talking with his scouts. “There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game,” said Pitt. When the Twins last won the World Series in 1991, the Total MLB Payroll was just over $630 million. In 2021, the Total MLB Payroll was just south of $4 billion. This is an increase of over 500%. In 1991, the highest paid player in the league was Darryl Strawberry with a salary of $3.8 million (based on the ESPN film Doc & Darryl, he needed every penny). In 2021, the highest paid player was Mike Trout with a salary of over $37 million, an increase of over 870% from the highest paid player in 1991. So what if we found how salaries from Twins teams since 1961 translated to salaries today? More interestingly, what if we found the translated salaries and built a 26-man roster of the greatest players in Twins history but kept the translated budget under $130 million? I know WAR is a very basic advanced stat, but in my opinion is the best way to view a player’s total production between all phases of the game. Top executives in Major League Baseball agree, recently proposing arbitration salaries to be based off of players’ FanGraphs WAR calculation. With this being said, I looked at the Twins top 100 seasons for position players in terms of WAR, and I did the same thing with pitchers. I wanted to create an optimal roster while staying under the $130 million budget. My next step was to find each of these players’ salaries relative to the 2021 value. I did this by creating a “salary multiplier” for each season. I did this by using the formula below. Salary Multiplier = (2021 MLB Payroll) / (MLB Payroll of n Year) For example, if we wanted to find the multiplier for the 1991 season, we would take 2021’s payroll of $3.97 billion and divide it by the 1991 payroll of $630 million. We would get a multiplier of about 6.3, meaning we would multiply any salary in the year 1991 by 6.3. To find the payrolls of each season, I used information from The Baseball Cube, average salary data from Edmund Edmonds's research, player information from Baseball Reference, and for years I could not find, I estimated the payrolls by using Census Data on the average American salary after figuring out that the average MLB salary is usually right around 2.5 times as large as the average American salary. To find the player salaries, I used Baseball Reference’s information under each player’s salaries tab. If you look at Kirby Puckett’s 1991 salary, you would think $3.17 million is a bargain to be paid for a World Series hero. But using the multiplier, you would find that his salary in 1991 would be equal to about $20 million in 2021. To find a player’s 2021 translated salary, you simply use the formula below. 2021 Translated Salary = (Multiplier) x (Player’s Nominal Salary) Now we have to see how the player performed under the contract. To find this value, I used this fancy formula: Contract Efficiency = (WAR) / (2021 Translated Salary in Millions) To find Puckett’s contract performance in 1991, you would take his WAR of 4.3 and divide it by 19.9 to get a WAR/$M of 0.216, which is good but not even close to the value produced under some of these contracts. Taking the 77 top pitchers I could find salary data for, I constructed the figure below. It shows the relationship between equivalent 2021 salary and WAR. When creating our team, we want players with their data points on the bottom right part of this graph. This means that they will have a high WAR for a relatively low salary. The players’ names lie to the right of their data points. The five names I highlighted will be the starting rotation for this team, and below the figure I will be highlighting each of those players and telling you why they are a great fit for this championship team. SP1: 1973 Bert Blyleven - $4.37M translated salary, 9.8 WAR Most people think of him as a Twins broadcaster, but Bert Blyleven was a truly special pitcher with an elite curveball. After all, he is a Hall-of-Famer. Blyleven was surgical in 1973. Among all starting pitcher seasons with more than three WAR in Twins history, he had the best FIP (2.32), the fifth best ERA+ (156), the most innings (325!!!), and the second most strikeouts (258). He also posted an insane 9.8 WAR. In 1973, Blyleven’s age 22 season, he had a salary of $33,000. This translates to just under $4.4 million in 2021, meaning he was worth 2.24 WAR per million dollars. In 2021, the standard number to pay per WAR is $8 million, or 0.125 WAR per million dollars. Blyleven vastly outperformed his contract and recorded the best season by any pitcher in Twins history. SP2: 2004 Johan Santana - $3.06M translated salary, 8.7 WAR With one of the best changeups in baseball history, Johan Santana was nearly unhittable in the mid-2000’s and he should be in the Hall of Fame. In his first Cy Young season, 2004, Johan was phenomenal. He had an ERA+ of 182, a 30% strikeout rate, held opponents to a .565 OPS, and posted a FIP of 2.92. He also recorded 8.7 WAR In 2004, Santana’s age 25 season, he had a salary of $1.6 million. This translates to a salary just north of $3 million in 2021, giving him a WAR/$M of 2.84. Santana clearly outperformed his contract. In following years, Santana would continue to prove why he was one of the best pitchers in the league at a young age. He received a large salary boost soon after, making $13 million ($20.8M translated) in 2007. The Twins haven’t had a dominant starting pitcher since Johan and it will be hard to find a pitcher that successful. And come on, this changeup steals souls. SP3: 1987 Frank Viola - $10.8M translated salary, 8.1 WAR A devastating changeup is becoming the norm for this rotation. With a fastball in the mid to upper 80s (a power pitch in the 80’s…), Frank Viola needed a dominant off-speed pitch to truly perform to the best of his abilities. Reliever Jeff Reardon marveled at the changeup. “Frank will throw nine in a row, and they still won’t touch it,” said Reardon. Viola truly unlocked the changeup in 1987. In 1987, he posted an ERA+ of 159, a FIP of 3.66, only 2.36 BB/9, 8.1 WAR, and won the first World Series MVP award in Twins history. In that historic season, Viola earned a salary of $830,000. In 2021, this salary would be equivalent to about $10.8 million. He was worth 0.75 WAR/$M, significantly less than Blyleven and Santana, but still exceeded expectations and was a postseason hero. Additionally, he would significantly increase the team drip with his mustache. SP4: 1979 Jerry Koosman - $6.38M translated salary, 7.2 WAR Another World Series champ joins the team! Jerry Koosman was a fierce competitor on the mound who was beloved by his teammates. Koosman won the 1969 World Series with the Miracle Mets. The Minnesota-Morris legend featured a 90+ MPH fastball and a good slider to complement it. In 1979, Koosman won 20 games, had a 130 ERA+, a 3.46 FIP, and posted 7.2 WAR. These numbers are not remarkable but they are still very good, especially for our #4 starter. In his age-36 season, Koosman earned a salary of $150,000. In 2021, this salary would be worth $6.38 million. He had 1.13 WAR for every million dollars he would have made in 2021. This is great value for just 5% of our $130 million budget. Koosman is a good veteran addition to a staff with youngsters Blyleven and Santana. Plus, it helps to have a pitcher who recorded the final out of a World Series. SP5: 1991 Kevin Tapani - $1.24M translated salary, 6.8 WAR World Series champions seems to be the theme so far, and Kevin Tapani adds one to the total. The 1991 Game 2 winning pitcher was an efficient finesse pitcher, often working deep into games and refusing to issue free passes to opposing teams. In his third season, Tapani had one of the best seasons in franchise history. He posted a miniscule walk rate of only 4.1%, had a 143 ERA+, a 1.09 WHIP, and threw 244 innings on the way to a 16-9 record. In 1991, Tapani earned a salary of $197,500 which is equivalent to about $1.24 million in 2021. For every million dollars he would’ve made, he earned 5.47 WAR. This is the most efficient contract on the starting rotation. Tapani would be an outstanding fifth starter who can go deep into games and give the bullpen some much needed rest. Also, he was a big part of the infamous Kent Hrbek and Ron Gant play. Conclusion This dream team has some great starting pitching with many proven winners. For these five star pitchers, the Twins would only be paying $25.8 million total. However, although extremely important, starting pitching isn’t the only aspect of a team. Over the next week or so, I will be introducing the position players and relief pitchers of this dream team. Stay tuned to find out who else made the cut. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  2. This discrepancy is beautifully highlighted in Moneyball when Brad Pitt is talking with his scouts. “There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game,” said Pitt. When the Twins last won the World Series in 1991, the Total MLB Payroll was just over $630 million. In 2021, the Total MLB Payroll was just south of $4 billion. This is an increase of over 500%. In 1991, the highest paid player in the league was Darryl Strawberry with a salary of $3.8 million (based on the ESPN film Doc & Darryl, he needed every penny). In 2021, the highest paid player was Mike Trout with a salary of over $37 million, an increase of over 870% from the highest paid player in 1991. So what if we found how salaries from Twins teams since 1961 translated to salaries today? More interestingly, what if we found the translated salaries and built a 26-man roster of the greatest players in Twins history but kept the translated budget under $130 million? I know WAR is a very basic advanced stat, but in my opinion is the best way to view a player’s total production between all phases of the game. Top executives in Major League Baseball agree, recently proposing arbitration salaries to be based off of players’ FanGraphs WAR calculation. With this being said, I looked at the Twins top 100 seasons for position players in terms of WAR, and I did the same thing with pitchers. I wanted to create an optimal roster while staying under the $130 million budget. My next step was to find each of these players’ salaries relative to the 2021 value. I did this by creating a “salary multiplier” for each season. I did this by using the formula below. Salary Multiplier = (2021 MLB Payroll) / (MLB Payroll of n Year) For example, if we wanted to find the multiplier for the 1991 season, we would take 2021’s payroll of $3.97 billion and divide it by the 1991 payroll of $630 million. We would get a multiplier of about 6.3, meaning we would multiply any salary in the year 1991 by 6.3. To find the payrolls of each season, I used information from The Baseball Cube, average salary data from Edmund Edmonds's research, player information from Baseball Reference, and for years I could not find, I estimated the payrolls by using Census Data on the average American salary after figuring out that the average MLB salary is usually right around 2.5 times as large as the average American salary. To find the player salaries, I used Baseball Reference’s information under each player’s salaries tab. If you look at Kirby Puckett’s 1991 salary, you would think $3.17 million is a bargain to be paid for a World Series hero. But using the multiplier, you would find that his salary in 1991 would be equal to about $20 million in 2021. To find a player’s 2021 translated salary, you simply use the formula below. 2021 Translated Salary = (Multiplier) x (Player’s Nominal Salary) Now we have to see how the player performed under the contract. To find this value, I used this fancy formula: Contract Efficiency = (WAR) / (2021 Translated Salary in Millions) To find Puckett’s contract performance in 1991, you would take his WAR of 4.3 and divide it by 19.9 to get a WAR/$M of 0.216, which is good but not even close to the value produced under some of these contracts. Taking the 77 top pitchers I could find salary data for, I constructed the figure below. It shows the relationship between equivalent 2021 salary and WAR. When creating our team, we want players with their data points on the bottom right part of this graph. This means that they will have a high WAR for a relatively low salary. The players’ names lie to the right of their data points. The five names I highlighted will be the starting rotation for this team, and below the figure I will be highlighting each of those players and telling you why they are a great fit for this championship team. SP1: 1973 Bert Blyleven - $4.37M translated salary, 9.8 WAR Most people think of him as a Twins broadcaster, but Bert Blyleven was a truly special pitcher with an elite curveball. After all, he is a Hall-of-Famer. Blyleven was surgical in 1973. Among all starting pitcher seasons with more than three WAR in Twins history, he had the best FIP (2.32), the fifth best ERA+ (156), the most innings (325!!!), and the second most strikeouts (258). He also posted an insane 9.8 WAR. In 1973, Blyleven’s age 22 season, he had a salary of $33,000. This translates to just under $4.4 million in 2021, meaning he was worth 2.24 WAR per million dollars. In 2021, the standard number to pay per WAR is $8 million, or 0.125 WAR per million dollars. Blyleven vastly outperformed his contract and recorded the best season by any pitcher in Twins history. SP2: 2004 Johan Santana - $3.06M translated salary, 8.7 WAR With one of the best changeups in baseball history, Johan Santana was nearly unhittable in the mid-2000’s and he should be in the Hall of Fame. In his first Cy Young season, 2004, Johan was phenomenal. He had an ERA+ of 182, a 30% strikeout rate, held opponents to a .565 OPS, and posted a FIP of 2.92. He also recorded 8.7 WAR In 2004, Santana’s age 25 season, he had a salary of $1.6 million. This translates to a salary just north of $3 million in 2021, giving him a WAR/$M of 2.84. Santana clearly outperformed his contract. In following years, Santana would continue to prove why he was one of the best pitchers in the league at a young age. He received a large salary boost soon after, making $13 million ($20.8M translated) in 2007. The Twins haven’t had a dominant starting pitcher since Johan and it will be hard to find a pitcher that successful. And come on, this changeup steals souls. SP3: 1987 Frank Viola - $10.8M translated salary, 8.1 WAR A devastating changeup is becoming the norm for this rotation. With a fastball in the mid to upper 80s (a power pitch in the 80’s…), Frank Viola needed a dominant off-speed pitch to truly perform to the best of his abilities. Reliever Jeff Reardon marveled at the changeup. “Frank will throw nine in a row, and they still won’t touch it,” said Reardon. Viola truly unlocked the changeup in 1987. In 1987, he posted an ERA+ of 159, a FIP of 3.66, only 2.36 BB/9, 8.1 WAR, and won the first World Series MVP award in Twins history. In that historic season, Viola earned a salary of $830,000. In 2021, this salary would be equivalent to about $10.8 million. He was worth 0.75 WAR/$M, significantly less than Blyleven and Santana, but still exceeded expectations and was a postseason hero. Additionally, he would significantly increase the team drip with his mustache. SP4: 1979 Jerry Koosman - $6.38M translated salary, 7.2 WAR Another World Series champ joins the team! Jerry Koosman was a fierce competitor on the mound who was beloved by his teammates. Koosman won the 1969 World Series with the Miracle Mets. The Minnesota-Morris legend featured a 90+ MPH fastball and a good slider to complement it. In 1979, Koosman won 20 games, had a 130 ERA+, a 3.46 FIP, and posted 7.2 WAR. These numbers are not remarkable but they are still very good, especially for our #4 starter. In his age-36 season, Koosman earned a salary of $150,000. In 2021, this salary would be worth $6.38 million. He had 1.13 WAR for every million dollars he would have made in 2021. This is great value for just 5% of our $130 million budget. Koosman is a good veteran addition to a staff with youngsters Blyleven and Santana. Plus, it helps to have a pitcher who recorded the final out of a World Series. SP5: 1991 Kevin Tapani - $1.24M translated salary, 6.8 WAR World Series champions seems to be the theme so far, and Kevin Tapani adds one to the total. The 1991 Game 2 winning pitcher was an efficient finesse pitcher, often working deep into games and refusing to issue free passes to opposing teams. In his third season, Tapani had one of the best seasons in franchise history. He posted a miniscule walk rate of only 4.1%, had a 143 ERA+, a 1.09 WHIP, and threw 244 innings on the way to a 16-9 record. In 1991, Tapani earned a salary of $197,500 which is equivalent to about $1.24 million in 2021. For every million dollars he would’ve made, he earned 5.47 WAR. This is the most efficient contract on the starting rotation. Tapani would be an outstanding fifth starter who can go deep into games and give the bullpen some much needed rest. Also, he was a big part of the infamous Kent Hrbek and Ron Gant play. Conclusion This dream team has some great starting pitching with many proven winners. For these five star pitchers, the Twins would only be paying $25.8 million total. However, although extremely important, starting pitching isn’t the only aspect of a team. Over the next week or so, I will be introducing the position players and relief pitchers of this dream team. Stay tuned to find out who else made the cut. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  3. 1991. Whitney Houston, jean shorts, and the Minnesota Twins pitching staff. In the eyes of many Twins fans, the pinnacle of Twins pitching may have coincided with the franchise’s most recent World Series Championship. The ‘91 had the full package. While Jack Morris will always be remembered for his Game seven heroics, the team may not have made it there if not for stellar seasons by fellow starters Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani, and rock-solid Rick Aguilera in the bullpen. The world was not yet plagued by the bane of existence in 1991; that wasn’t until 1997. On the bright side, I spent more time in college watching 1991 game reruns than I did doing homework (my apologies to the Concordia College WIFI operators). Let’s take a look at some of the key components of the 1991 pitching staff, how they contributed, and who was perhaps the most valuable? Kevin Tapani Tapani was an absolute workhorse for the Twins in the 1991 season, pitching 244 innings in 34 starts; the most of his career. Coming off a successful campaign in 1990 where he finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Tapani stormed through 1991 with a 16-9 record and team-leading 2.99 ERA. Tapini finished the season 7th in Cy Young voting, just three spots behind teammate Jack Morris and five behind Scott Erickson. The Des Moines native (and now Minnesota resident) didn’t necessarily pitch his best baseball in the 1991 postseason. In the ALCS against Toronto, Tapani went 0-1, starting games’ two and five. Tapani lasted 6 1/3 innings in game two, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks in a 5-2 Blue Jays win. The series decider wasn’t much different for Tapani, who gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings. The Twins rebounded and won game five 8-5 thanks to three run innings in the sixth and eighth frames. Tapani reset in game two of the World Series, mounting a stellar eight inning performance that knocked off Tom Glavine’s Braves by a score of 3-2. He wasn’t as lucky in game five. After a scoreless three innings the Braves teed off on Tapani, putting up a four-hole and taking him out of the game. While Tapani’s postseason numbers didn’t reflect his gem of a regular season, it’s important to remember that 1991 was only his second full season in the league! All in all, not too bad of a campaign for a young buck. Scott Erickson Kevin Tapani wasn’t the only young star on the Twins ‘91 rotation. A young man by the name of Scott Erickson mounted a career season in 1991 just one year after breaking into the Major Leagues. A 1989 Twins draft pick out of the University of Arizona, Erickson rocketed through the minors and made his MLB debut after just 27 minor league starts. At just 23 years old in ‘91, Erickson led the league with 20 wins and finished the season with All-Star honors and was runner-up in the Cy Young race only to Roger Clemens. In a season where he started 32 games, the young righty crafted a 20-8 record with a 3.18 ERA. Similar to Tapani, Erickson’s 1991 postseason didn’t necessarily correlate with his electric regular season. Erickson started game three of the 1991 ACLS against Toronto, receiving a no-decision in a four inning outing where he gave up two runs on two hits. Minnesota won that game in 10 innings. Erickson’s World Series starts were both competitive, as the Long Beach, CA native earned no decisions in game three and game six. Erickson was in line for a game six win after pitching a solid six innings, giving up only two runs on five hits. Yet after a Mark Lemke single, Erickson was removed in the seventh. Later on in the inning Ron Gant singled off of Twins reliever Carl Willis to tie the game and rid Erickson of a win. While Erickson’s leash may have been shorter than Morris and Tapani’s, the young star rose to the occasion and pitched well enough to put his team in a position to win two of the three playoff games that he started. Erickson went on to have a long career with multiple teams. There’s no doubt that the highlight of it was his outstanding performance in the 1991 regular season. Rick Aguilera There’s a short list of Minnesota Twins relievers that have been as dominant as Rick Aguilera was for the ‘91 Twins. Finishing the year tied for fourth most saves in the league with 42, Rick was a 1991 All-Star who finished 18th in the American League for MVP voting. Wait, MVP? That’s right. The San Gabriel, CA native was the lead vote receiver for relievers and the only pitchers he finished behind were Roger Clemens (10th and Cy Young), Jack Morris (13th), and Scott Erickson (17th). Pitchers don’t win the MVP and the thought of a reliever even being in the top 20 is rare. Aguilera was special. Similar to Morris, Aguilera’s most valuable asset to the ‘91 Twins was his postseason dominance. In the ALCS he was nearly perfect, racking up three saves and giving up only one hit. Aguilera continued his dominance in games one and two of the World Series, racking up two more saves. His only falter of the postseason came in game three when he faced the heart of the Braves lineup in the bottom of the 12th. After giving up a single and stolen base to David Justice, Mark Lemke singled to left to score Justice and walk off the Braves. Aguilera would cancel out his one loss on the postseason a few days later in game six thanks to a stellar 11th inning and a guy named Kirby Puckett. Aggie may not have gotten the hype of Morris, Puckett, or Hrbek. Yet his success on the bump late in games played a crucial role in the Twins putting together a stellar season. Jack Morris While John Scott Morris’ time in Minnesota was brief, his 1991 game seven performance cemented his legacy in Twins and baseball history for an eternity. It’s important to remember that while his name is associated with the postseason, the guy had a pretty damn good 1991 regular season, leading the team with 163 strikeouts to top off an All-Star season that landed him fourth in Cy Young voting. Morris’ most valuable asset may have been his consistency in the 1991 postseason. In a rotation filled with young stars and a lack of solidity at the bottom, Morris was a seasoned veteran. It showed. In five postseason starts Morris was a stellar 4-0 with a 4.05 ERA in the ALCS and 1.17 ERA in the Fall Classic. The only start he didn’t win still consisted of a six inning outing in game three of the World Series where the vet gave up one run on six hits. 1991 wasn’t Jack Morris’ best season; but it would be difficult to not call it his most iconic. The hometown kid comes back to his own backyard to guide a young pitching staff to a title, capped off with the master himself sealing the deal. It doesn’t get much better. So, what’s the order? They’re all valuable in unique ways but if I had to order them based on the value they provide to the Twins winning a World Series, I’d do this: 4. Scott Erickson (Although he arguably had the best season) 3. Kevin Tapani 2. Rick Aguilera 1. Jack Morris Think I completely missed the ball on this one and that I’m some young punk who doesn’t know what a World Championship team looks like? Drop a comment below! [link to image license]
  4. Chris Bosh, LeBron and D-Wade? More like Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani and Jack Morris. The 1991 Twins pitching staff showed up in arguably the greatest World Series in the history of baseball. And while it was a team effort, who was the best? Let’s dig in.1991. Whitney Houston, jean shorts, and the Minnesota Twins pitching staff. In the eyes of many Twins fans, the pinnacle of Twins pitching may have coincided with the franchise’s most recent World Series Championship. The ‘91 had the full package. While Jack Morris will always be remembered for his Game seven heroics, the team may not have made it there if not for stellar seasons by fellow starters Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani, and rock-solid Rick Aguilera in the bullpen. The world was not yet plagued by the bane of existence in 1991; that wasn’t until 1997. On the bright side, I spent more time in college watching 1991 game reruns than I did doing homework (my apologies to the Concordia College WIFI operators). Let’s take a look at some of the key components of the 1991 pitching staff, how they contributed, and who was perhaps the most valuable? Kevin Tapani Tapani was an absolute workhorse for the Twins in the 1991 season, pitching 244 innings in 34 starts; the most of his career. Coming off a successful campaign in 1990 where he finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Tapani stormed through 1991 with a 16-9 record and team-leading 2.99 ERA. Tapini finished the season 7th in Cy Young voting, just three spots behind teammate Jack Morris and five behind Scott Erickson. The Des Moines native (and now Minnesota resident) didn’t necessarily pitch his best baseball in the 1991 postseason. In the ALCS against Toronto, Tapani went 0-1, starting games’ two and five. Tapani lasted 6 1/3 innings in game two, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks in a 5-2 Blue Jays win. The series decider wasn’t much different for Tapani, who gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings. The Twins rebounded and won game five 8-5 thanks to three run innings in the sixth and eighth frames. Tapani reset in game two of the World Series, mounting a stellar eight inning performance that knocked off Tom Glavine’s Braves by a score of 3-2. He wasn’t as lucky in game five. After a scoreless three innings the Braves teed off on Tapani, putting up a four-hole and taking him out of the game. While Tapani’s postseason numbers didn’t reflect his gem of a regular season, it’s important to remember that 1991 was only his second full season in the league! All in all, not too bad of a campaign for a young buck. Scott Erickson Kevin Tapani wasn’t the only young star on the Twins ‘91 rotation. A young man by the name of Scott Erickson mounted a career season in 1991 just one year after breaking into the Major Leagues. A 1989 Twins draft pick out of the University of Arizona, Erickson rocketed through the minors and made his MLB debut after just 27 minor league starts. At just 23 years old in ‘91, Erickson led the league with 20 wins and finished the season with All-Star honors and was runner-up in the Cy Young race only to Roger Clemens. In a season where he started 32 games, the young righty crafted a 20-8 record with a 3.18 ERA. Similar to Tapani, Erickson’s 1991 postseason didn’t necessarily correlate with his electric regular season. Erickson started game three of the 1991 ACLS against Toronto, receiving a no-decision in a four inning outing where he gave up two runs on two hits. Minnesota won that game in 10 innings. Erickson’s World Series starts were both competitive, as the Long Beach, CA native earned no decisions in game three and game six. Erickson was in line for a game six win after pitching a solid six innings, giving up only two runs on five hits. Yet after a Mark Lemke single, Erickson was removed in the seventh. Later on in the inning Ron Gant singled off of Twins reliever Carl Willis to tie the game and rid Erickson of a win. While Erickson’s leash may have been shorter than Morris and Tapani’s, the young star rose to the occasion and pitched well enough to put his team in a position to win two of the three playoff games that he started. Erickson went on to have a long career with multiple teams. There’s no doubt that the highlight of it was his outstanding performance in the 1991 regular season. Rick Aguilera There’s a short list of Minnesota Twins relievers that have been as dominant as Rick Aguilera was for the ‘91 Twins. Finishing the year tied for fourth most saves in the league with 42, Rick was a 1991 All-Star who finished 18th in the American League for MVP voting. Wait, MVP? That’s right. The San Gabriel, CA native was the lead vote receiver for relievers and the only pitchers he finished behind were Roger Clemens (10th and Cy Young), Jack Morris (13th), and Scott Erickson (17th). Pitchers don’t win the MVP and the thought of a reliever even being in the top 20 is rare. Aguilera was special. Similar to Morris, Aguilera’s most valuable asset to the ‘91 Twins was his postseason dominance. In the ALCS he was nearly perfect, racking up three saves and giving up only one hit. Aguilera continued his dominance in games one and two of the World Series, racking up two more saves. His only falter of the postseason came in game three when he faced the heart of the Braves lineup in the bottom of the 12th. After giving up a single and stolen base to David Justice, Mark Lemke singled to left to score Justice and walk off the Braves. Aguilera would cancel out his one loss on the postseason a few days later in game six thanks to a stellar 11th inning and a guy named Kirby Puckett. Aggie may not have gotten the hype of Morris, Puckett, or Hrbek. Yet his success on the bump late in games played a crucial role in the Twins putting together a stellar season. Jack Morris While John Scott Morris’ time in Minnesota was brief, his 1991 game seven performance cemented his legacy in Twins and baseball history for an eternity. It’s important to remember that while his name is associated with the postseason, the guy had a pretty damn good 1991 regular season, leading the team with 163 strikeouts to top off an All-Star season that landed him fourth in Cy Young voting. Morris’ most valuable asset may have been his consistency in the 1991 postseason. In a rotation filled with young stars and a lack of solidity at the bottom, Morris was a seasoned veteran. It showed. In five postseason starts Morris was a stellar 4-0 with a 4.05 ERA in the ALCS and 1.17 ERA in the Fall Classic. The only start he didn’t win still consisted of a six inning outing in game three of the World Series where the vet gave up one run on six hits. 1991 wasn’t Jack Morris’ best season; but it would be difficult to not call it his most iconic. The hometown kid comes back to his own backyard to guide a young pitching staff to a title, capped off with the master himself sealing the deal. It doesn’t get much better. So, what’s the order? They’re all valuable in unique ways but if I had to order them based on the value they provide to the Twins winning a World Series, I’d do this: 4. Scott Erickson (Although he arguably had the best season) 3. Kevin Tapani 2. Rick Aguilera 1. Jack Morris Think I completely missed the ball on this one and that I’m some young punk who doesn’t know what a World Championship team looks like? Drop a comment below! [link to image license] Click here to view the article
  5. Today we continue our stroll down Twins memory lane by looking at the pitchers in the All-Decade Team for the Twins. There are a couple of Twins Hall of Famers on this list. The decade began in last place, then jumped to a title, and after that, there were some lean years, but even those teams had some very nice players.The 1990 Twins finished in last place in the American League, but some young pitchers, both starters and in the bullpen, were working some valuable innings and then took off in that magical 1991 season. And even during the years that the Twins were really struggling, some pitchers were getting some quality innings that they carried into the new century. While a couple of one-season Twins could have made this list and given it more clout, the other names make for more conversation. So, enjoy this list and then discuss in the comments below. SP - Brad Radke (1995-1999) 164 games, 163 starts, 66-68 with 4.30 ERA in 1,085 innings. 664 K. 239 BB. Radke was the team’s eighth-round draft pick out of high school in 1991. He made his debut early in the 1995 season and pitched 181 innings. The next six seasons, he topped 213 innings each season. The first two years, he led the league in home runs allowed (“Real as Radke”). But in 1997, he broke out and went 20-10 for a Twins team that won just 68 games. In June, July and into August that year, he had a stretch in which he won 12 straight starts. He finished third in Cy Young voting that year. While his 4.30 ERA over this time frame doesn’t sound great, it was 14% better than average during that era. SP - Kevin Tapani (1990-1995) 176 games, 175 starts, 73-61 with 4.06 ERA in 1,138 2/3 innings. 703 K. 247 BB. Tapani came to the Twins late in the 1989 season in the Frank Viola trade and became a mainstay in the Twins rotation through the first half of the 1990s. In 1990, he went 12-8 and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. He went 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 244 innings in helping the Twins to their 1991 World Series championship. He won 16 more games in 1992 despite an ERA of 3.97. He was traded to the Dodgers late in the 1995 season and pitched in the big leagues through the 2001 season. SP - Scott Erickson (1990-1995) 155 games, 153 starts, 61-60 with 4.22 ERA in 979 1/3 innings. 527 K. 367 BB. Erickson was the Twins fourth-round pick in 1989 out of the University of Arizona. He made his MLB debut just a year later and went 8-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 113 innings for the 1990 Twins. He led the league with 20 wins and posted a 3.18 ERA in 204 innings for the 1991 Twins, finishing second in Cy Young voting. He was a solid 13-12 in 1992. But as the Twins went down hill, Erickson’s performance went downhill (or vice versa). He lost a league-leading 19 games with a 5.19 ERA in 1993, got worse in 1994 and was traded midway through the 1995 season. He fought injuries the rest of his career, but he certainly always showed the kind of stuff to keep getting opportunities. SP - Bob Tewksbury (1997-98) 52 games, 51 starts, 15-26 with 4.49 ERA in 317 innings. 152 K. 51 BB. When Tewksbury joined the Twins before the 1997 season, he already was a veteran of 11 MLB seasons. He had been an All-Star with the Cardinals in 1992. He provided the Twins with some consistency and veteran presence. Simply, he didn’t walk many, struck out very few and took the ball. His ERA over those two seasons was 5% better than average. SP - Eric Milton (1998-1999) 66 games, 66 starts, 15-25 with 5.01 ERA in 378 2/3 innings. 270 K. 133 BB. Milton came to the Twins from the Yankees before the 1998 season in the Chuck Knoblauch trade. He had been a first-round pick by the pinstripes. He surprised many when he made the Twins Opening Day roster right away in 1998. After going 8-14 with a 5.64 ERA as a rookie, Milton went 7-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 206 1/3 innings his sophomore season. That ERA was 13% better than league average. While he wasn’t great, Milton provided some glimpses at what he could be. In late July, he threw a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Angels. And, you may remember his September start against the Angels on a Saturday morning in which he no-hit the Angels with 13 strikeouts. In keeping consistent with previous decades, I did not include any players who were only with the team for one season in the decade. In the 1970s, that meant that Jerry Koosman didn’t make the list. In the 1990s, Jack Morris’s 1991 and John Smiley’s 1992 seasons certainly warrant mention. RP - Rick Aguilera (1990-1999) 479 games, 19 starts, 37-42 with 254 saves and a 3.54 ERA in 618 1/3 innings. 529 K. 162 BB. “Aggy” spent parts of five seasons with the New York Mets, even winning a World Series title in 1986. He was traded to the Twins in the 1989 Frank Viola deal. While he was very clear about wanting to be a starter, his work as a closer was terrific and led to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. He posted sub-3.00 ERAs each season from 1990 through 1992. He was an All-Star in 1991, 1992 and 1993 for the Twins. He was a huge part of the 1991 championship. Late in 1995, he was traded to the Red Sox, but he chose to come back to the Twins for the 1996 season, again as a starter. In 1997, he was back in the closer role which he kept until a trade to the Cubs late in the 1999 season. He had over 30 saves in six seasons for the Twins. His 254 Twins saves was a franchise high until it was surpassed by Joe Nathan. RP - Mike Trombley (1992-1999) 360 games, 36 starts, 30-33 with 34 saves and a 4.46 ERA in 641 2/3 innings. 525 K. 243 BB. Trombley was the Twins 14th-round pick in 1989 out of Duke. He made his debut in August of 1992. He had some opportunities to start, but his best work came out of the Twins bullpen. His best season came in 1996 when he went 5-1 with a 3.01 ERA and six saves in 68 2/3 innings. He also recorded 24 of his Twins saves during the 1999 season. Once he shifted full-time to the bullpen in 1996, he became very good, very consistent. Over those four seasons, his 3.87 ERA was 26% better than the league average ERA. RP - Greg Swindell (1997-1998) 117 games, 1 start, 10-7 with 3 saves and a 3.61 ERA in 182 innings. 120 K. 43 BB. Like Tewksbury, Swindell had a lot of big-league service time when the Twins signed him before the 1997 season. He had been an All-Star as a starter in Cleveland, and pitched for several teams. He had recently shifted to the bullpen. In 1997, he worked 115 2/3 innings over 65 games for the Twins, all but one out of the bullpen. He went 7-5 with a 3.58 ERA. He then pitched another 52 games (and 66 1/3 innings) for the Twins before being traded to the Red Sox late in the 1998 season. While it was only about 1.7 seasons with the Twins, his 3.61 ERA was 30% better than league average at that time. RP - Mark Guthrie (1990-1995) 227 games, 35 starts, 27-23 with 8 saves and a 4.14 ERA in 432 1/3 innings. 350 K. 153 BB. Guthrie had been the Twins seventh-ound pick in 1987 out of LSU. He made his debut with the Twins in 1989. In 1990, he was still used primarily as a starter. But it wasn’t too long into the 1991 season that Guthrie was moved to the Twins bullpen and he did a really nice job the rest of the season and he was important for the 1991 World Series championship team. 1992 was his best season. In 54 games and 75 innings, he went 2-3 with five saves and a 2.88 ERA. He missed time in 1993 and struggled in 1994 and 1995 when he was traded to the Dodgers where he became very good again. Fun Fact: The Twins used their 40th-round pick in the 2014 draft on high school shortstop Dalton Guthrie. He went unsigned, went to Florida and became the Phillies sixth-round pick in 2017. He spent 2019 with High-A Clearwater. RP - Carl Willis (1991-1995) 204 games, 0 starts, 20-10 with 11 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 286 1/3 innings. 179 K. 64 BB. Carl Willis, aka The Big Train, had quite the circuitous route to the Twins, but once he got there, he played a large role in some terrific Twins teams. He made his MLB debut in 1984 with the Tigers and then spent parts of 1984 through 1986 with the Reds. He pitched six games and 12 innings for the White Sox in 1988. Then he didn’t see the big leagues until 1991. The Twins signed him as a 30-year-old before the 1991 season. By late April, the Twins called him up for long relief. By May 8th, he was back in the big leagues for good. Maybe it was his ticks, touching his cap a bunch and other idiosyncrasies, but whatever, it worked. He gained Tom Kelly’s confidence and was used a lot. He went 8-3 with a 2.64 ERA for the 1991 Twins and then pitched in seven games during the postseason, helping the team to the World Series championship. In 1992, he went 7-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA and five saves in 1993. He struggled after that for a couple of seasons, but his work in the early-90s was quite impressive. He’s also become a well-respected pitching coach since then. So there you have it, some memorable names, some great moments, many ups and downs, but a fun decade to sift through and remember. What are your thoughts? Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers) Click here to view the article
  6. The 1990 Twins finished in last place in the American League, but some young pitchers, both starters and in the bullpen, were working some valuable innings and then took off in that magical 1991 season. And even during the years that the Twins were really struggling, some pitchers were getting some quality innings that they carried into the new century. While a couple of one-season Twins could have made this list and given it more clout, the other names make for more conversation. So, enjoy this list and then discuss in the comments below. SP - Brad Radke (1995-1999) 164 games, 163 starts, 66-68 with 4.30 ERA in 1,085 innings. 664 K. 239 BB. Radke was the team’s eighth-round draft pick out of high school in 1991. He made his debut early in the 1995 season and pitched 181 innings. The next six seasons, he topped 213 innings each season. The first two years, he led the league in home runs allowed (“Real as Radke”). But in 1997, he broke out and went 20-10 for a Twins team that won just 68 games. In June, July and into August that year, he had a stretch in which he won 12 straight starts. He finished third in Cy Young voting that year. While his 4.30 ERA over this time frame doesn’t sound great, it was 14% better than average during that era. SP - Kevin Tapani (1990-1995) 176 games, 175 starts, 73-61 with 4.06 ERA in 1,138 2/3 innings. 703 K. 247 BB. Tapani came to the Twins late in the 1989 season in the Frank Viola trade and became a mainstay in the Twins rotation through the first half of the 1990s. In 1990, he went 12-8 and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. He went 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 244 innings in helping the Twins to their 1991 World Series championship. He won 16 more games in 1992 despite an ERA of 3.97. He was traded to the Dodgers late in the 1995 season and pitched in the big leagues through the 2001 season. SP - Scott Erickson (1990-1995) 155 games, 153 starts, 61-60 with 4.22 ERA in 979 1/3 innings. 527 K. 367 BB. Erickson was the Twins fourth-round pick in 1989 out of the University of Arizona. He made his MLB debut just a year later and went 8-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 113 innings for the 1990 Twins. He led the league with 20 wins and posted a 3.18 ERA in 204 innings for the 1991 Twins, finishing second in Cy Young voting. He was a solid 13-12 in 1992. But as the Twins went down hill, Erickson’s performance went downhill (or vice versa). He lost a league-leading 19 games with a 5.19 ERA in 1993, got worse in 1994 and was traded midway through the 1995 season. He fought injuries the rest of his career, but he certainly always showed the kind of stuff to keep getting opportunities. SP - Bob Tewksbury (1997-98) 52 games, 51 starts, 15-26 with 4.49 ERA in 317 innings. 152 K. 51 BB. When Tewksbury joined the Twins before the 1997 season, he already was a veteran of 11 MLB seasons. He had been an All-Star with the Cardinals in 1992. He provided the Twins with some consistency and veteran presence. Simply, he didn’t walk many, struck out very few and took the ball. His ERA over those two seasons was 5% better than average. SP - Eric Milton (1998-1999) 66 games, 66 starts, 15-25 with 5.01 ERA in 378 2/3 innings. 270 K. 133 BB. Milton came to the Twins from the Yankees before the 1998 season in the Chuck Knoblauch trade. He had been a first-round pick by the pinstripes. He surprised many when he made the Twins Opening Day roster right away in 1998. After going 8-14 with a 5.64 ERA as a rookie, Milton went 7-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 206 1/3 innings his sophomore season. That ERA was 13% better than league average. While he wasn’t great, Milton provided some glimpses at what he could be. In late July, he threw a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Angels. And, you may remember his September start against the Angels on a Saturday morning in which he no-hit the Angels with 13 strikeouts. In keeping consistent with previous decades, I did not include any players who were only with the team for one season in the decade. In the 1970s, that meant that Jerry Koosman didn’t make the list. In the 1990s, Jack Morris’s 1991 and John Smiley’s 1992 seasons certainly warrant mention. RP - Rick Aguilera (1990-1999) 479 games, 19 starts, 37-42 with 254 saves and a 3.54 ERA in 618 1/3 innings. 529 K. 162 BB. “Aggy” spent parts of five seasons with the New York Mets, even winning a World Series title in 1986. He was traded to the Twins in the 1989 Frank Viola deal. While he was very clear about wanting to be a starter, his work as a closer was terrific and led to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. He posted sub-3.00 ERAs each season from 1990 through 1992. He was an All-Star in 1991, 1992 and 1993 for the Twins. He was a huge part of the 1991 championship. Late in 1995, he was traded to the Red Sox, but he chose to come back to the Twins for the 1996 season, again as a starter. In 1997, he was back in the closer role which he kept until a trade to the Cubs late in the 1999 season. He had over 30 saves in six seasons for the Twins. His 254 Twins saves was a franchise high until it was surpassed by Joe Nathan. RP - Mike Trombley (1992-1999) 360 games, 36 starts, 30-33 with 34 saves and a 4.46 ERA in 641 2/3 innings. 525 K. 243 BB. Trombley was the Twins 14th-round pick in 1989 out of Duke. He made his debut in August of 1992. He had some opportunities to start, but his best work came out of the Twins bullpen. His best season came in 1996 when he went 5-1 with a 3.01 ERA and six saves in 68 2/3 innings. He also recorded 24 of his Twins saves during the 1999 season. Once he shifted full-time to the bullpen in 1996, he became very good, very consistent. Over those four seasons, his 3.87 ERA was 26% better than the league average ERA. RP - Greg Swindell (1997-1998) 117 games, 1 start, 10-7 with 3 saves and a 3.61 ERA in 182 innings. 120 K. 43 BB. Like Tewksbury, Swindell had a lot of big-league service time when the Twins signed him before the 1997 season. He had been an All-Star as a starter in Cleveland, and pitched for several teams. He had recently shifted to the bullpen. In 1997, he worked 115 2/3 innings over 65 games for the Twins, all but one out of the bullpen. He went 7-5 with a 3.58 ERA. He then pitched another 52 games (and 66 1/3 innings) for the Twins before being traded to the Red Sox late in the 1998 season. While it was only about 1.7 seasons with the Twins, his 3.61 ERA was 30% better than league average at that time. RP - Mark Guthrie (1990-1995) 227 games, 35 starts, 27-23 with 8 saves and a 4.14 ERA in 432 1/3 innings. 350 K. 153 BB. Guthrie had been the Twins seventh-ound pick in 1987 out of LSU. He made his debut with the Twins in 1989. In 1990, he was still used primarily as a starter. But it wasn’t too long into the 1991 season that Guthrie was moved to the Twins bullpen and he did a really nice job the rest of the season and he was important for the 1991 World Series championship team. 1992 was his best season. In 54 games and 75 innings, he went 2-3 with five saves and a 2.88 ERA. He missed time in 1993 and struggled in 1994 and 1995 when he was traded to the Dodgers where he became very good again. Fun Fact: The Twins used their 40th-round pick in the 2014 draft on high school shortstop Dalton Guthrie. He went unsigned, went to Florida and became the Phillies sixth-round pick in 2017. He spent 2019 with High-A Clearwater. RP - Carl Willis (1991-1995) 204 games, 0 starts, 20-10 with 11 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 286 1/3 innings. 179 K. 64 BB. Carl Willis, aka The Big Train, had quite the circuitous route to the Twins, but once he got there, he played a large role in some terrific Twins teams. He made his MLB debut in 1984 with the Tigers and then spent parts of 1984 through 1986 with the Reds. He pitched six games and 12 innings for the White Sox in 1988. Then he didn’t see the big leagues until 1991. The Twins signed him as a 30-year-old before the 1991 season. By late April, the Twins called him up for long relief. By May 8th, he was back in the big leagues for good. Maybe it was his ticks, touching his cap a bunch and other idiosyncrasies, but whatever, it worked. He gained Tom Kelly’s confidence and was used a lot. He went 8-3 with a 2.64 ERA for the 1991 Twins and then pitched in seven games during the postseason, helping the team to the World Series championship. In 1992, he went 7-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA and five saves in 1993. He struggled after that for a couple of seasons, but his work in the early-90s was quite impressive. He’s also become a well-respected pitching coach since then. So there you have it, some memorable names, some great moments, many ups and downs, but a fun decade to sift through and remember. What are your thoughts? Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers)
  7. “The crowd was crazy,” said 2019 starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. “I played in Tampa Bay, so this was pretty much the polar opposite of that. Not that it bothered me. What bothered me was Herbie. You have to tip your hat to him.” Hrbek had plenty of opportunities to tip his own hat to the 55,426 full-throated fans, most notably after a third inning grand slam put the 1991 Twins up 8-0. “Right place, right time,” laughed Hrbek. Getting Hrbek into the right place at the right time involved juggling the lineup. With Dan Gladden out tonight with an undisclosed leg injury, Kelly shifted some players around – and raised some eyebrows. Kent Hrbek batting second instead of his traditional cleanup spot? What is this? 2020? “We might know a few things in 1991,” smirked Kelly. Like maybe he wanted his best left-handed hitter getting to face the right-handed Odorizzi a few extra times? “Maybe that,” deadpanned Kelly. “Herbie can swing the bat. He can hit anywhere in the lineup.” Last night it could not have worked better. By the time the third inning had ended, Hrbek had three hits, two home runs, six RBI and had scored three runs. He had the first hit of the game - a single - in the first inning and came around to score on a Chili Davis single. In the second inning he blasted a line drive over the left field wall that also brought home Mike Pagliarulo and stretched the lead to 4-0. The big blow came in the third inning. Odorizzi, who struggled with his control the entire night, started the inning by walking Brian Harper and Gene Larkin. After striking out Greg Gagne, he also walked Pagliarulo, loading the bases. That ended his night. Still, the 2019 Twins nearly escaped. Ryne Harper was brought in to face the top of the order and struck out Chuck Knoblauch on three pitches. That brought up the second spot in the order….and Hrbek? “No, I don’t remember ever hitting second, or at least not starting a game there,” Hrbek said when asked about his spot in the order. “Maybe as a pinch-hitter?” But he was there last night, with the bases loaded, two outs, and a chance to turn this first game of the series into a laugher. Turn he did, on a 1-1 pitch, lifting a majestic fly ball over the baggy in right-center field. The party in the Metrodome stands began. It was a little different in the 2019 Twins dugout. “I have never heard sound like that in my life,” said Odorizzi. While he said the crowd noise didn’t bother him, Odorizzi never did get on track. He didn’t give up the backbreaking second home run, but he kept setting the table with walks while falling behind in the count. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and walked six. He also gave up five hits while striking out two. The first seven runs of the game were charged to him. The early fireworks paved the way for, and overshadowed, a gem by 1991 starting pitcher Keven Tapani. Tapani nearly pitched a complete-game shutout. After striking out the first two batters in the ninth inning, a ground ball to second base should’ve ended his night. But Hrbek dropped a throw from Knoblauch, allowing Jorge Polanco to reach. Luis Arraez followed that with a double, bringing Tapani to 101 pitches and ending his night before the final out. "We'll need to turn to him again soon," said Kelly. David West came in and got the final out, but only after giving up a three-run bomb to Nelson Cruz that provided a little balm to an otherwise shell-shocked 2019 Twins squad. They’ll attempt to rebound tomorrow night with their ace Jose Berrios on the mound. But the 1991 Twins will have their own ace, Jack Morris, attempt to put them up 2-0 before they travel across downtown to Target Field for Game 3. You can find the boxscore and pitch-by-pitch results for Game One attached below. If you would like to learn more about Out of the Park 21, please click on this link. If you would like to try it, you can also download it for 10% off the regular price using the code TWINSDAILY. MLB Box Score, Minnesota 2019 Twins at Minnesota 1991 Twins Game 1.pdf Minnesota 2019 Twins @ Minnesota 1991 Twins Game Log Game 1.pdf
  8. This week, with the help of Out of the Park, we’ve simulated the 91/19 World Series, a seven-game battle between the 1991 Twins and the 2019 Twins. Kent Hrbek, placed in an unfamiliar spot, drove home seven in a 16-3 rout of the 2019 Bomba Squad, leading the 1991 Twins to a 1-0 series lead in the 91/19 World Series. A surprising lineup decision paid off early, turning the Metrodome into a nearly four-hour long party.“The crowd was crazy,” said 2019 starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. “I played in Tampa Bay, so this was pretty much the polar opposite of that. Not that it bothered me. What bothered me was Herbie. You have to tip your hat to him.” Hrbek had plenty of opportunities to tip his own hat to the 55,426 full-throated fans, most notably after a third inning grand slam put the 1991 Twins up 8-0. “Right place, right time,” laughed Hrbek. Getting Hrbek into the right place at the right time involved juggling the lineup. With Dan Gladden out tonight with an undisclosed leg injury, Kelly shifted some players around – and raised some eyebrows. Kent Hrbek batting second instead of his traditional cleanup spot? What is this? 2020? “We might know a few things in 1991,” smirked Kelly. Like maybe he wanted his best left-handed hitter getting to face the right-handed Odorizzi a few extra times? “Maybe that,” deadpanned Kelly. “Herbie can swing the bat. He can hit anywhere in the lineup.” Last night it could not have worked better. By the time the third inning had ended, Hrbek had three hits, two home runs, six RBI and had scored three runs. He had the first hit of the game - a single - in the first inning and came around to score on a Chili Davis single. In the second inning he blasted a line drive over the left field wall that also brought home Mike Pagliarulo and stretched the lead to 4-0. The big blow came in the third inning. Odorizzi, who struggled with his control the entire night, started the inning by walking Brian Harper and Gene Larkin. After striking out Greg Gagne, he also walked Pagliarulo, loading the bases. That ended his night. Still, the 2019 Twins nearly escaped. Ryne Harper was brought in to face the top of the order and struck out Chuck Knoblauch on three pitches. That brought up the second spot in the order….and Hrbek? “No, I don’t remember ever hitting second, or at least not starting a game there,” Hrbek said when asked about his spot in the order. “Maybe as a pinch-hitter?” But he was there last night, with the bases loaded, two outs, and a chance to turn this first game of the series into a laugher. Turn he did, on a 1-1 pitch, lifting a majestic fly ball over the baggy in right-center field. The party in the Metrodome stands began. It was a little different in the 2019 Twins dugout. “I have never heard sound like that in my life,” said Odorizzi. While he said the crowd noise didn’t bother him, Odorizzi never did get on track. He didn’t give up the backbreaking second home run, but he kept setting the table with walks while falling behind in the count. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and walked six. He also gave up five hits while striking out two. The first seven runs of the game were charged to him. The early fireworks paved the way for, and overshadowed, a gem by 1991 starting pitcher Keven Tapani. Tapani nearly pitched a complete-game shutout. After striking out the first two batters in the ninth inning, a ground ball to second base should’ve ended his night. But Hrbek dropped a throw from Knoblauch, allowing Jorge Polanco to reach. Luis Arraez followed that with a double, bringing Tapani to 101 pitches and ending his night before the final out. "We'll need to turn to him again soon," said Kelly. David West came in and got the final out, but only after giving up a three-run bomb to Nelson Cruz that provided a little balm to an otherwise shell-shocked 2019 Twins squad. They’ll attempt to rebound tomorrow night with their ace Jose Berrios on the mound. But the 1991 Twins will have their own ace, Jack Morris, attempt to put them up 2-0 before they travel across downtown to Target Field for Game 3. You can find the boxscore and pitch-by-pitch results for Game One attached below. If you would like to learn more about Out of the Park 21, please click on this link. If you would like to try it, you can also download it for 10% off the regular price using the code TWINSDAILY. Download attachment: MLB Box Score, Minnesota 2019 Twins at Minnesota 1991 Twins Game 1.pdf Download attachment: Minnesota 2019 Twins @ Minnesota 1991 Twins Game Log Game 1.pdf Click here to view the article
  9. Mahomes was taken in the sixth round of the 1988 MLB Draft out of Lindale High School in Texas. He was one of 10 players from that round to make it to the big leagues. Out of the players Minnesota took in the ’88 Draft, Mahomes was the lone draftee to play more than 75 games at the big-league level. First round pick Johnny Ard (20th overall) never made it past Double-A in the Twins system. He made his professional debut in the Appalachian League where he was over three years younger than the competition. In 13 starts (78.0 IP), he had a 3.69 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP with a 93 to 51 strikeout to walk ratio. Over the next two seasons, he moved through both Low-A and High-A with a combined ERA south of 3.30. He also continued to strikeout close to a batter an inning. As the Twins were on the way to the 1991 World Series, Mahomes was dominating at Double- and Triple-A. In his age-20 season, he had a 2.32 ERA and struck out 177 in 171 innings. He was nearly six years younger than the competition in the PCL. After the season, Baseball America would name him the 25th best prospect in baseball. Around this time in his career is when we get an interesting interaction between Mahomes and future Hall of Famer Jack Morris. In an interview, Mahomes shared this story. “I remember one time that year asking Jack Morris how he threw his split-finger fastball. He said, ‘Get away from me, you little MF. You’ll be trying to take my job next year.’ “ Mahomes would split the next two seasons between Triple-A and the big-league level. He made his MLB debut on April 12, 1992 at the Metrodome. He was the sixth youngest player to play in the big leagues that season. In the first inning, he allowed a three-run home run to Juan Gonzalez with two outs. From there he settled in and pitched through six innings without giving up another run. Minnesota would tie the game in the seventh before Bob Kipper allowed the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth. The 1994 season would mark his only full season where he was used exclusively as a starter. He finished 9-5 with a 4.73 ERA. His nine wins were second on the team behind Kevin Tapani. Only four other players on the squad had a higher WAR than him (Chuck Knoblach, Shane Mack, Kirby Puckett, and Kevin Tapani). Over the next two seasons, he would start to transition to a bullpen role with the Twins. In August 1996, he was traded to the Red Sox for a player to be named later. Boston sent Brian Looney to Minnesota to complete the trade and Mahomes would be released by Boston the following June. Mahomes became a journeyman pitcher from that point on in his career. He would pitch in Japan for parts of the 1997 and 1998 seasons before signing with the Mets. In 1999, he pitched in four playoff games for the Mets before they eventually lost to the Braves in the NLCS. He’d play for an eye-popping 11 more organizations in his career including big-league time with the Rangers, Cubs, and Pirates. Mahomes continued pitching for multiple independent league clubs through his age-38 season. It’s clear to see the younger Mahomes might be finding more success in his chosen professional playing career. However, the young quarterback got some of his dad’s athleticism. The Vikings didn’t make the playoffs and you might be looking for a new team to root for this weekend. Why not cheer on Mahomes?
  10. February 18 Happy 54th Birthday, Kevin Tapani It’s the birthday of Twins all-time great Kevin Tapani, born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1964. He grew up on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he quarterbacked the Escanaba Eskymos to the Class 1A state championship as a senior in 1981. Escanaba didn’t have a high school baseball team, just a Legion team that played about 15 games in June and July. Tapani walked on at Central Michigan University where he pitched from 1983 to ’86, going 23-8 as the team won three consecutive Mid-American Conference titles. He pitched a no-hitter vs. Eastern Michigan on April 22, 1986. Tapani was selected by the Athletics in the second round of the 1986 draft. He went to the Mets as part of a three-team, eight-player trade on December 11, 1987. He was called up when Doc Gooden went down with an injury, and made his major league debut on July 4, 1989 at age 25, relieving Bob Ojeda with two out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the first. He balked home a run before throwing his first major league pitch. He recovered, however, pitching 4 ⅓ innings and allowing just the one run on two hits and three walks. He put the ball in play off Houston’s Mike Scott in his first big league at-bat, lining out deep down the right field line according to Baseball Reference’s game log. The Twins acquired Tapani on July 31, 1989 as part of perhaps the greatest trade in team history when they sent 1987 World Series MVP and ‘88 AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Rick Aguilera, Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later). Tapani won 75 games for the Twins between 1989 and 1995. He had double digit wins of each of his five full seasons in Minnesota. Tapani had his best season as a Twin in 1991, going 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA, 3.49 FIP (thank you, Mike Pagliarulo and Greg Gagne), 1.086 WHIP, and averaged five strikeouts and 1.5 walks per nine innings. He actually led the ‘91 team with a 6.8 WAR (as calculated by Baseball Reference). May 15, 1991 at the Dome, however, was not one of his better games, as the Brewers’ Paul Molitor tripled on his first pitch of the game and proceeded to go 5-for-5, hitting for the cycle. He outdueled Tom Glavine in Game 2 of the 1991 World Series, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks over eight innings. Scott Leius’s solo homer gave the Twins the lead in the bottom of the eighth, and Rick Aguilera slammed the door in the top of the ninth. He lost to Glavine in Game 5 in Atlanta, leaving after giving up four runs in the fourth. The loss put the Twins on the brink of elimination heading home for Game 6. We all know how that story ends. On July 31, 1995, six years to the day after he came to Minnesota in the Viola trade, Tapani and Mark Guthrie were traded to the Dodgers for four players including Ron Coomer. He went on to pitch for the White Sox in 1996, and the Cubs from 1997 to 2001. He won 19 games for the Cubs in 1998, and hit his first major league home run off his former Twins teammate Denny Neagle. He hit another homer in 2000. Tapani still lives in the Twin Cities. He recently spent several seasons as a baseball coach at Providence Academy in Plymouth. February 19, 1876 Birthdate of “Home Run” Joe Marshall It’s the birthdate of “Home Run” Joe Marshall, born 142 years ago in Audubon, MN. Marshall broke into professional baseball in the Red River Valley League in 1897. Despite his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame, Marshall was one of the preeminent minor league sluggers of the Deadball Era. He led all of organized baseball with 25 (officially) or 26 home runs for the San Francisco Pirates in 1903. The Boston Americans’ Buck Freeman, by comparison, led the major leagues that season with just eight round-trippers. Despite his success at lower levels, Marshall performed poorly in two brief major league stints, first in 1903 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and again in 1906 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Terry Bohn wrote about Marshall for the SABR BioProject (click here). And CLICK HERE for some interesting blog posts by Jeff Bozovsky, author of Divorcees, Barmaids, and Cranks: The 1897 Red River Valley League. February 19, 1912 Birthdate of Dick Siebert It’s the birthdate of Richard “Dick” Siebert, born 106 years ago in Fall River, MA. In the summer of 1923 the Sieberts moved to Cass Lake, MN where Dick’s dad pastored Immanuel Lutheran Church. In 1926 the family moved to St. Paul where the elder Siebert had accepted a teaching position at Concordia College. Dick graduated from Concordia Academy High School in 1928. Dick Siebert played in six games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932, and two games in 1936. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 1936 Rule 5 Draft, and purchased by the Cardinals prior to the 1937 season. In May 1938 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics where he finally saw regular playing time from 1938 to 1945. In 1941, a good season for offense, he hit .334 with a career-high 79 RBI. He was an American League All-Star in 1943. In total he played in 1,035 major league games across parts of 11 seasons, hitting .282 with 32 home runs. Siebert is best known in Minnesota, of course, for coaching the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from 1948 to 1978, winning three NCAA championships (1956, ‘60 and ‘64), and 12 Big Ten titles, with only three sub-.500 seasons. Dick Siebert passed away on December 9, 1978. He was just 66 years old. The U of M renamed its ballpark “Siebert Field” on April 21, 1979. Rich Arpi wrote a thorough essay on Siebert for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotans in Baseball. That book can be found on Amazon, but Arpi's essay is available through the SABR BioProject (click here). February 19, 1985 Twins Acquire Smalley, Again The Twins trade first baseman Randy Johnson and outfielder Ron Scheer to the White Sox for infielder Roy Smalley. Randy Johnson, who originally came up with Chicago in 1980, had last played in the majors with Minnesota in 1982. He would not make it back to the show. Ron Scheer would never make it past Double-A. The Twins had originally acquired Smalley in the 1976 trade that sent Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to the Texas Rangers. Smalley’s first stint with the Twins was highlighted by his 1979 All-Star campaign. On April 10, 1982 he was traded along with St. Cloud State alumnus and proprietor of Serum’s Good Time Emporium in Anoka, Gary Serum, to the New York Yankees for pitchers Ron Davis, Paul Boris, and a minor league infielder named Greg Gagne. In July 1984, the Yankees offloaded Smalley to the White Sox in exchange for players to be named later, one of whom wound up being Doug Drabek, who after just one season the Yankees shipped off to Pittsburgh where he won the 1990 NL Cy Young Award. One of the highlights of Smalley’s second stint with the Twins—other than winning the 1987 World Series, of course—was becoming the first player in Twins history to homer from both sides of the plate on May 30, 1986. Four players have done so since: Chili Davis (October 2, 1992), Ryan Doumit (July 22, 2012), Kennys Vargas (August 11, 2016), and Jorge Polanco (August 29, 2017). Here’s a fun story that Roy Smalley related to me on Twitter: “It just so happened that right after Doumit did it Chili was in town with the A's and I was there for FSN. We took a great picture together . . . We also each signed three baseballs with the dates we hit the HR's -- one for each of us -- which I'm proud to have. Only three Twins to have done it.” This, of course, was before Vargas and Polanco joined the club. Roy Smalley retired following the Twins’ 1987 World Series Championship season. February 20, 1987 Twins Acquire Al Newman The Twins trade minor league pitcher Mike Shade to the Montreal Expos for infielder Al Newman. Shade would never make it to the majors. Newmie, meanwhile, played an important role on the Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series Championship teams. Newman played in 110 games for the ‘87 Twins, starting 75, splitting time pretty evenly between second base and shortstop. It is interesting to note, though, that Al Newman started two games that season as the Twins’ designated hitter. Newman played in 118 games for the ‘91 Twins, starting 56, once again mostly splitting time between second and short, with four starts at third, one in left, and one as first baseman. Newman is one of eight players to play for both the ‘87 and ‘91 Twins, and one of seven to play in both World Series. Allan Anderson did not play in either Series. Anderson—who posted the lowest ERA in the American League in 1988 and won 33 games between 1988 and ‘89—was just getting his feet wet in 1986 and ‘87, and was on his way out in ‘91. The other six Twins to play in both World Series are Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Greg Gagne, Gene Larkin, and Randy Bush. Newman became a free agent following the 1991 season. He signed with the Reds, was released in April, and ultimately wound up playing with the Texas Rangers in 1992, his final season. It just so happened that Texas was in town on April 11, 1992 when the Twins got their rings. February 21 Happy 71st Birthday, Charley Walters It’s the birthday of 1965 Edison High School graduate Charley Walters, born in Minneapolis in 1947. The Twins signed Walters out of their annual open tryout at Met Stadium in 1965. He went 7-2 with a 1.94 ERA for the 1967 Northern League Champion St. Cloud Rox. Walters broke camp with the Twins in 1969, and pitched 6.2 innings over six games between April 11 and May 14. He did not allow a run in his first five outings. He allowed four, however, in his sixth and final major league appearance. Walters has been a sportswriter for the Pioneer Press since way before Al Gore invented the internet. If anyone knows the exact year he started writing for the Pioneer Press, please let me know. Stew Thornley wrote about Walters for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotan in Baseball (click here). February 23 Happy 43rd Birthday, Dave Maurer It’s the birthday of 1993 Apple Valley graduate Dave Maurer, born in Minneapolis in 1975. The Padres drafted Maurer in the 11th round of the 1997 Amateur Draft. He made his major league debut on July 22, 2000 at age 25. He pitched 14.2 innings over 14 games that season, picking up his only big league win on September 22 in Los Angeles. He made only three appearances for the Padres in 2001. After brief stints in the Reds and Athletics organizations, Maurer made it back to the majors with Cleveland late in the 2002 season, pitching in two games, both against the Minnesota Twins. He took his only major league loss at the Metrodome on September 25, giving up a twelfth-inning walk-off home run to David Ortiz. Maurer made three appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. They did not go well. In total, Maurer appeared in 22 major league games, pitching 22.1 innings over parts of four seasons. February 24 Happy 78th Birthday, Wayne Hattaway It’s the birthday of longtime Twins organization equipment manager, trainer, and clubhouse attendant Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway, born in Alabama in 1940 (I assume in Mobile). Wayne got his first job in baseball in 1952 at age 12, serving as bat boy for his hometown Mobile Bears. He worked as the Bears’ equipment manager from 1956 to 1962. He became part of the Twins organization in 1963, when the Dallas Rangers became a Twins Triple-A affiliate (for one season only). Below is my best attempt at piecing together his long Twins career: 1962-1963: Dallas Rangers (Triple-A) equipment manager 1964-1971: Charlotte Hornets (Double-A) 1972-1973: Lynchburg Hillcats (Class A) equipment manager 1974: Reno Silver Sox (Class A) equipment manager 1975-1985: Orlando Twins (Double-A) trainer 1986-?: Orlando Twins/Sun Rays equipment manager 2002-Present: Minnesota Twins clubhouse attendant/assistantI understand that Hattaway is still around as a pre-game clubhouse assistant for most home games. Remarkably, the 1985 All-Star game at the Metrodome was the first major league game that he attended in his life! It was his 23rd season in the Twins organization. He came close in 1969, Hattaway told the Orlando Sentinel in 1985 (click here). Farm director George Brophy told Hattaway that if the Twins beat the Orioles in the ALCS, they would fly him to Minnesota for the World Series. Unfortunately Baltimore swept Minnesota in three games that year and again in 1970. Ron Gardenhire brought Hattaway up to the big league club when he became manager in 2002. Hattaway was known for maintaining a loose atmosphere in the clubhouse. One of his favorite techniques, apparently, was making fun of players. In the midst of a bad slump, he said to Torii Hunter “you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat.” Stew Thornley shared another good line that Hattaway used on a Twins player after a bad game: “hey, don’t worry about it. We don’t blame you. We blame the scout who signed you.” A source shared a locker room observation of the Big Fella, but this is a family-friendly website. I just today came across this really cool looking piece including an audio interview with Hattaway on John Swol's TwinsTrivia.com (click here). Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  11. May 15 Happy 36th Birthday, Justin Morneau! It’s the birthday of 2006 American League Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau, born in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1981. The Twins drafted the 6’4” Canadian in the 3rd round in 1999, behind B.J. Garbe and Rob Bowen, neither of whom made it to the majors. Morneau hit cleanup in his MLB debut on June 10, 2003, hitting a two-strike line drive single to center in his first at-bat, and going 2-for-4 on the day. He hit 19 home runs in just 74 major league games in 2004, and another 22 with Rochester. In 2006, just his second full season in the majors, Morneau hit .321 with 34 HRs and 130 RBI en route to being voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Morneau was hitting .345 midway through 2010 when he suffered a season-ending concussion sliding into second. Though Twins fans saw glimpses over the next three seasons, Morneau never fully returned to All-Star form before being traded to the pennant-chasing Pirates in August, 2013. May 15, 1960 Moryn Secures Cardwell's No-Hitter 1944 St. Paul Harding High School graduate and Cubs left fielder Walt Moryn made a great shoestring catch for the final out of Don Cardwell’s no-hitter. May 15, 1969 Cesar Tovar Breaks Up No-Hitter With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Baltimore’s Dave McNally pitching a no-hitter, Cesar Tovar singled to left-center. Rod Carew then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play as McNally completed the one-hit shutout for a 5-0 Orioles win. This was the first of two times that Tovar would break up a no-hitter in the ninth inning during the 1969 season. Tovar is tied with Eddie Milner for the major league record of breaking up five no-hitters in his career. Tovar broke up four no-hitters as a Twin, and another as a Ranger when he broke up Catfish Hunter’s no-hit bid in 1975. May 15, 1991 Paul Molitor Hits for the Cycle vs. the Twins 1974 Cretin High School graduate Paul Molitor tripled on Kevin Tapani's first pitch of the game at the Metrodome. He promptly put the Brewers up 1-0 on a Jim Gantner groundout. Molitor singled in the third, doubled in the fifth, and, leading off the seventh, homered off of Tapani to complete the cycle. Reliever Steve Bedrosian finally retired Molitor in the ninth. The Brewers won the ballgame 4-2. The Twins, meanwhile, would manage to salvage the season. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
  12. Here is the Twins Almanac for the week of February 12-18. Former Twins pitchers Kevin Tapani and Cole De Vries celebrate birthdays this week, as well as a pair of big leaguers who played their high school ball in Minnesota, Don Arlich and Brian Denman. And it was this week in 1973 that the Twins revealed 27-year-old infielder Danny Thompson's leukemia diagnosis. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/denman_zpseevl08jd.jpg February 12 Happy 61st Birthday to Brian Denman It’s the birthday of 1974 Richfield High School graduate and University of Minnesota alumnus Brian Denman, born in Minneapolis in 1956. Denman was drafted by Boston in the first round of the 1978 January secondary phase. Denman was a hot prospect in the Red Sox organization, winning 30 games in his first two minor league seasons, and 51 between 1978 and ‘82. His numbers, however, were significantly stronger at Double-A than Triple-A. Denman made his major league debut on August 2, 1982. He would make nine starts for the Red Sox during his only big league season, going 3-4 with a 4.78 ERA. The highlight of his call-up was a complete game shutout vs. Dave Righetti at Yankee Stadium. In addition to being one heckuva baseball player at Richfield, Denman was a standout member of the Spartans’ 1972 state champion and '73 and '74 state runner-up basketball teams. These days Denman makes his home in Buffalo, NY. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/devries_zps6amzpj56.jpg February 12 Happy 32nd Birthday to Cole De Vries It’s the birthday of 2003 Eden Prairie graduate, University of Minnesota alumnus and former Twins pitcher Cole De Vries, born in St. Louis Park in 1985. De Vries played three seasons for the Gophers before signing with the Twins as an amateur free agent in 2006. He made his major league debut starting against the White Sox in Chicago on May 24, 2012, allowing six runs on six hits and a walk over five innings, earning the loss. It was a rude welcome to the show as A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios each took him deep. Mauer and Morneau homered for the Twins in the 11-8 loss. De Vries pitched in 17 games for the Twins in 2012, starting 16 of them, compiling a 5-5 record with a 4.11 ERA. He earned his first and second major league wins in his third and fourth starts, but would not win again until reeling off three consecutive victories in his final three starts of the season. De Vries struggled in four September appearances in 2013. He was granted free agency following the season and did not sign with another team. De Vries still lives in Eden Prairie. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/Arlich_Don_zpsb9ehudvq.jpg February 15 Happy 74th Birthday to St. Paul North Grad Don Arlich It’s the birthday of 1961 St. Paul North High School graduate and former Houston Astros pitcher Don Arlich, born in Wayne, Michigan in 1943. Arlich went 15-0 for the State Champion North High Polars as a senior in 1961. One of his teammates at St. Paul North was Twins curator Clyde Doepner. Arlich signed with Houston out of high school. He made one start for the Astros on October 2, 1965, the second to last game of the season. He made seven relief appearances in 1966. He stuck it out in the minors until 1969, playing his final two and a half seasons in the Braves’ organization. Arlich had lived in Cottage Grove for quite a few years, but I believe he may now live in St. Paul. Perhaps you know? http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20170204_130339_zpsv9clndgk.jpg February 16, 1973 Twins Announce Danny Thompson’s Leukemia Diagnosis The Twins announce that 27-year-old infielder Danny Thompson has been diagnosed with chronic granulocytic leukemia. Doctors say that the disease is in an early stage, and should not affect Thompson for about five years. The Twins drafted Thompson out of Oklahoma State in 1968 in the first round of the June Secondary Phase. He made his MLB debut on June 25, 1970 and never went back down to the farm. Thompson was involved in contentious contract negotiations with old man Griffith in ‘76. Calvin Griffith refused to give the infielder a fair price, insisting that no other team would even offer someone with cancer a contract at all. So on June 1, 1976 he was packaged with Bert Blyleven and shipped to Texas in exchange for Roy Smalley, Mike Cubbage, and pitchers Bill Singer and Jim Gideon. Thompson struggled in Texas. He passed away at the Mayo Clinic on December 10, 1976, just 69 games after playing his final major league game. He was 29 years old. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/tapani.91t_zpsht4opcbb.jpg February 18 Happy 53rd Birthday to Kevin Tapani It’s the birthday of Kevin Tapani, born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1964. Tapani won 75 games for the Twins between 1989 and 1995. He had double digit wins of each of his five full seasons in Minnesota. To put that in perspective, Tyler Duffey led the 2016 Twins with 9 wins. Tapani had his best season in 1991, going 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA. He actually led the World Series Champion Twins in WAR with 6.8 (as calculated by Baseball Reference). May 15, 1991 was not one of his best games as the Brewers’ Paul Molitor went 5-for-5 off of Tapani at the Dome, hitting for the cycle. Tapani was involved in two July 31st trades. He originally came to the Twins on July 31, 1989 with Rick Aguilera, David West, Tim Drummond and Jack Savage in exchange for ‘87 World Series MVP Frank Viola. On July 31, 1995, Tapani and Mark Guthrie were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for four players including Ron Coomer. Kevin Tapani makes his home in Wayzata, MN. Wish him a happy birthday if you see him. 1991 WAR (as calculated by Baseball Reference) Kevin Tapani 6.8 Shane Mack 5.0 Scott Erickson 4.5 Jack Morris 4.3 Kirby Puckett 4.3 Chili Davis 3.3 Chuck Knoblauch 2.8 Kent Hrbek 2.7 Mike Pagliarulo 2.7 Greg Gagne 2.5 Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
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