The Franchise 2002 (Part 1)

July 24, 2014

2002 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Ron Gardenhire 1st season (1st with Minnesota 94-67)
94 W 67 L 768 RS 712 RA 1st AL Central 13.5 GA (Chicago 81-81)
4.77 RPG (AL = 4.81) 4.12 ERA (AL = 4.46)
.703 DER (4th AL)

All Stars (3) Eddie Guardado, Torii Hunter, AJ Pierzynski

Franchise (1901-2002) 7510-8227-111; 31-35 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-2002) 3296-3363-7; 23-24 Post Season; 11-10 WS

Although contraction had run into some significant legal walls, particularly in Minnesota, there was still some buzz that it might be on the table as the 2002 season opened.

While Selig’s plan loomed over the Twins like a storm cloud, it wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of Twins fans who finally got  a taste of a winning team in 2001. The Twins only figured to be better in 2002, and that’s exactly what happened.

It is difficult to envision a small market team with more promise than this version of the Twins. Perhaps the biggest testament to this team is the career successes of its individual players, most of which occurred after the 2002 season. The roster had future stars (Hunter, Ortiz, Santana), and a load of future All-Stars and players who would play key roles on championship teams (sadly, with other teams). Additionally, the team had both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer playing in the minor leagues at the time.

In some ways they lived up to the promise of 2002, bringing winning baseball to Minnesota for the bulk of the decade. Still, those Twins teams were never the best in the American League (maybe in 2006…) and they benefited a great deal from playing in a weak Central Division. In 2002, however, the playoff failures had not happened yet and it was a great time to be a Twins fan.


The Franchise 2001 (Pitchers)

July 20, 2014

SP Joe Mays 6.7 WAR
At age 25 everything came together for Joe Mays. In 2000, opposing batters got on base at a .364 rate and had an OPS of .825. In 2001 Mays allowed opposing batters just .289 OBP and .653 OPS. Interestingly, his strikeout rate, which was not high for MLB standards, went down in 2001. Instead, Mays got outs by the famous “pitching to contact” mantra that the Twins preached heavily in the decade (his walk rate fell as well). Opposing players put about the same number of balls in play against Mays as they had the previous season, but BABIP indicates that Mays improved from .327 to .246, in part due to a 10% drop in his line drive rate. Some of that likely was due to better command, but some of it was due to luck as well. In summary, Mays was not a dominant pitcher, but everything came together for him in 2001. In retrospect, it really isn’t a surprise that he came back down to earth in subsequent seasons.

SP Brad Radke 4.5 WAR
This was the 6th consecutive very good season for Radke. While he had always been a very good control pitcher, he maintained a major league high 1.0 BB/9 rate throughout the 2001 season. Aside from that, the only major difference between 2001 and previous seasons is that, for the first time in his career, Radke had a winning team to pitch for.

SP Eric Milton 3.6 WAR
Eric Milton starred in a couple of games that served to announce the Twins presence as a contender. The first was on April 15, when he struck out 10 in 7 innings of work, including the first four batters he faced, to help the Twins complete a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox and improve their record to 9-2. The second came on May 8, when he shutout the powerful Yankees, allowing just four hits.

SP Kyle Lohse -0.1 WAR
SP JC Romero -0.6 WAR
SP Rick Reed -0.1 WAR
The Twins had three very good starters at the top of the rotation, but spent the bulk of the season searching for a solid #4 and #5. At the beginning of the season Mark Redman looked to be a solid fourth starter, but injury derailed him and he was ultimately traded to address the closer problem. Lohse and Romero each got long looks as starting pitchers, and Kelly also had Adam Johnson, Brad Thomas, and Johan Santana start some games as well. With little success, the Twins turned to the trade market and acquired Rick Reed from the Mets. Reed had an undistinguished major league career with several teams from 1988-1995. He briefly came to spring training as a replacement player in 1995. Despite some pushback from other players when the strike ended, Reed began to make some noise with the New York Mets, earning a couple of trips to the All Star game, including in 2001. His performance down the stretch wasn’t very good for the Twins, however.

CL LaTroy Hawkins -0.7 WAR
Based on his strong performance out of the bullpen in 2000, Hawkins earned the job as the team’s closer in 2001. Simply put, as closer he was a mess. Despite finishing the year with 28 saves, Hawkins sported an ugly 5.96 ERA. While he was never really a strong control pitcher, his BB rate ballooned from a career rate of about 3.5 per 9 IP to 6.8 in 2001. He lost the closer role when the team traded for Todd Jones in August, though ultimately it was Eddie Guardado who took over. In short, 2001 was forgettable for Hawkins, and the team and fans were left wondering if he was finished as a major league caliber pitcher.

RP Eddie Guardado 1.3 WAR
Guardado had another very strong season, so much so that he was installed as the team’s closer at the end of the season. It went so well that Guardado would start the 2002 season as the team’s full time closer.

RP Hector Carrasco 0.3 WAR
RP Bob Wells 0.0 WAR
RP Travis Miller -0.1 WAR
In all the excitement of 2001, there was one area where the team seemed to take a few steps back. Carrasco, Wells, and Miller had quietly been the nucleus of the team’s area of strength from 1998-2000: the bullpen. In 2001 the bullpen was no longer the team’s strength, not just due to the high profile struggles of the team’s closer. These three all struggled to maintain the form of the previous seasons. Aside from a handful of innings for Wells and Miller in 2002, none of these three would pitch for the Twins again.


The Franchise 2001 (Position Players)

July 17, 2014

C AJ Pierzynski 1.8 WAR
C Tom Prince 0.7 WAR
Though he had stints with the team in each of the previous three seasons, 2001 was technically AJ Pierzynski’s rookie season. The 24-year-old solidified himself as the team’s catcher of the future by performing well enough in 2001. The Twins brought in 36-year-old journeyman back up catcher Tom Prince to back up Pierzynski. Prince’s first major league action came in 1987, the year that Tom Kelly won a World Series as a rookie manager.

1B Doug Mientkiewicz 2.8 WAR
In his second full major league season it looked as though Doug Mientkiewicz was on his way. He was mostly known for his defense at first base. Advanced fielding statistics don’t necessarily bear out his defensive reputation (in 2001 he was a 0 Total Zone Rating), and given that first base is to the far left of the defensive spectrum his value as a fielder was definitely overblown. By the same token, he was underrated as a hitter, particularly in 2001 and 2003, when he posted 123 and 122 OPS+ respectively. He was a different kind of first basemen in an era were most were still the hulking power hitters, but Mientkiewicz produced by getting on base on a .387 clip and sprinkling in some power as well (15 home runs – a number that stands as his career high).

2B Luis Rivas 0.0 WAR
The Twins signed Luis Rivas as a free agent out of Venezuela in 1995 when he was only 16. For all of the hopes the Twins had placed on Rivas to hold down second base for the future, he was not very good in his debut as a 21 year old. In fairness to the organization, it is likely the plan was to have Jay Canizaro play second for 2001 while Rivas continued to get minor league experience, but injury erased Canizaro as a possibility, so the team went with the rookie. The company line was that he was a good fielder, but the reality was that he was a -14 defender in 2001.

SS Cristian Guzman 4.8 WAR
Guzman earned a reputation as one of the most exciting players in baseball when he led the league with 20 triples in 2000. While his number was down in 2001 (14 triples – still AL leader), he was an all-around better player and gave the Twins and their fans hope that he would be very good for a long time. In addition to improved offense, Guzman was a +8 shortstop in 2001. All told, his performance earned him an All Star appearance and MVP consideration at the end of the season (he finished 16th in the voting).

3B Corey Koskie 6.3 WAR
Writing about Corey Koskie is getting to feel like a broken record. Another season in which he was the team’s most valuable offensive player. Add to that the fact that he was a +16 player at third base in 2001, and it is difficult to understand why he did not get more recognition at the time, and why he continues to be overlooked as one of the best players of the new millennium Twins. Historically, he is lost among the Morneaus and Mauers, but of his contemporaries, Koskie did not get as much attention as Hunter, Guzman, Pierynski, and Mientkiewicz. Yet he was more valuable to the team than all of them.

LF Jacque Jones 1.3 WAR
Jones vs. RHP (461 PA) .288/.349/.445/.794; 14 HR
Jones vs. LHP (59 PA) .182/.224/.200/.424; 0 HR
In his second full season in the Twins outfield, Jones difficulty with lefties did not seem to be going away. It was noticed by Tom Kelly, who started Jacque in just 5 games against left-handed starting pitchers.

CF Torii Hunter 4.7 WAR
Hunter’s reputation for center field defense exploded in 2001, and for good reason. He was a +20 fielder in 2001, up from -4 the year before. He won the first of his nine consecutive gold gloves in 2001, despite the fact that he never would again even approach the success he had in the field in 2001.

RF Matt Lawton 2.2 WAR
Terry Ryan broke up the short-lived soul patrol when he dealt Lawton to the Mets for veteran starter Rick Reed at the trade deadline. It was truly a case of selling high. Lawton was in the midst of what looked to be his best season since 1998, possibly even better. He struggled against National League pitching for the rest of the season, however, and though he had some decent seasons before retiring in 2006, never again played as well as he did for the first few months of the 2001 season. In his absence, the Twins covered right field by committee, using Brian Buchanan (0.7 WAR), Dustan Mohr (0.1 WAR), and Bobby Kielty (0.1 WAR).

DH David Ortiz 0.3 WAR
Ortiz was batting .311/.386/.611/.997 with 6 HR when he broke his wrist in Kansas City on May 4. When he returned towards the end of July, he showed flashes of that same success, but was unable to consistently keep those numbers up. He ended the season in a slump, finishing with a .234/.324/.475/.799 slash line.

UT Denny Hocking 0.2 WAR
After a spike in offense in 2000, Hocking returned to his career norms, which weren’t very good. He was valuable in the Twins’ eyes for the fact that he could play every position save catcher and pitcher.


1985 All Star Game

July 14, 2014

1985 All Star Game

asg.gif
56th All-Star Game
Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN

The Pre-Game

The buzz surrounding the 56th All-Star game was dominated by the disparity between the leagues, specifically in home runs. The AL lineup collected a total of 118 in the first half of 1985, while the NL’s eight starting position players only had 69 home runs.

The question was not if the AL would knock some out of the “homer dome”, it was simply a matter of how many.

The senior circuit, however, had dominated the mid-summer classic. Since 1962, the NL had posted a 20-2 record. The junior circuit won roughly once a decade, first in 1971, and two years earlier in 1983.

The hosts were represented by the league minimum one player: Tom Brunansky (.265/.359/.508 19 HR). Also on the AL roster was former Twins pitcher, now with the Indians, Bert Blyleven, and St. Paul natives Paul Molitor (MIL) and Dave Winfield (NYY).

NL Lineup
1. Tony Gwynn SD LF .302/.342/.419 4 HR
2. Tom Herr STL 2B .332/.397/.441 3 HR
3. Steve Garvey SD 1B .261/.284/.426 13 HR
4. Dale Murphy ATL CF .290/.383/.558 22 HR
5. Darryl Strawberry NYM RF .229/.356/.438 8 HR
6. Graig Nettles SD 3B .250/.392/.405 8 HR
7. Terry Kennedy SD C .286/.302/.397 7 HR
8. Ozzie Smith STL SS .283/.346/.383 4 HR
9. LaMarr Hoyt SD P 12-4 2.93 ERA

AL Lineup
1. Rickey Henderson NYY CF .357/.441/.552 11 HR
2. Lou Whitaker DET 2B .309/.393/.495 15 HR
3. George Brett KC 3B .358/.456/.580 12 HR
4. Eddie Murray BAL 1B .274/.353/.465 13 HR
5. Cal Ripken BAL SS .282/.342/.472 15 HR
6. Dave Winfield NYY RF .297/.340/.461 12 HR
7. Jim Rice BOS LF .274/.326/.453 17 HR
8. Carlton Fisk CHW C .238/.320/.528 23 HR
9. Jack Morris DET P 10-6 3.04 ERA

The Game

National League Continues Domination, 6-1

by Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS, July 16-The American League arguably has superior players in seven out of eight positions. But the National League could have fielded a neighborhood softball team behing the brilliant pitching it got tonight, and the result might have been the same.

Five National League pitchers allowed only five hits and one run-an unearned one at that-to shut down the American League, 6-1, before 54,960 in the 56th All-Star Game in the Metrodome.

Full Boxscore

MVP
hoyt.gif
LaMarr Hoyt SD 3 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 W 0 K

Scoring (from Retrosheet)

AMERICAN LEAGUE 1ST: Henderson singled to center; Whitaker made
an out to right; Henderson stole second [Henderson to third
(error by Kennedy)]; Brett lined out on a sacrifice fly to left
[Henderson scored (unearned)]; Murray popped to shortstop; 1 R,
1 H, 1 E, 0 LOB.  National League 0, American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 2ND: Murphy made an out to shortstop; Strawberry
singled to left; Strawberry stole second; Nettles made an out to
left; Kennedy singled to center [Strawberry scored]; Smith
popped to third;over the shoulder catch; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E,
1 LOB.  National League 1, American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 3RD: Hoyt struck out; Cruz grounded out (first
to pitcher); Herr doubled to left; Garvey singled to center
[Herr scored]; Murphy doubled [Garvey to third]; Strawberry
walked; KEY REPLACED MORRIS (PITCHING); Nettles popped to third
in foul territory; 1 R, 3 H, 0 E, 3 LOB.  National League 2,
American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 5TH: Garvey grounded out (shortstop to first);
Murphy struck out; Strawberry was hit by a pitch; hit on the
leg; Wallach doubled [Strawberry to third]; Virgil singled
to left [Strawberry scored, Wallach scored, Virgil out at second
(pitcher to second)]; Rice's throw got past Fisk; 2 R, 2
H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  National League 4, American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 9TH: MOLITOR CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING CF);
BOGGS REPLACED MOORE (PLAYING 3B); PETRY REPLACED BRADLEY
(PITCHING); Sandberg walked; RAINES BATTED FOR CRUZ; Raines
walked [Sandberg to second]; Pena struck out; Clark walked
[Sandberg to third, Raines to second]; HERNANDEZ REPLACED PETRY
(PITCHING); McGee doubled [Sandberg scored, Raines scored, Clark
to third]; Parker struck out; Wallach was walked intentionally;
WILSON BATTED FOR REARDON; Wilson struck out; 2 R, 1 H, 0 E, 3
LOB.  National League 6, American League 1.

Top WPA
1. Nolan Ryan NL 0.18
2. Ozzie Virgil NL 0.16
3. 3 Tied at 0.07 – Terry Kennedy NL, Steve Garvey NL, Jimmy Key NL

Worst WPA
1. Jack Morris AL -0.13
2, Bert Blyleven AL -0.11
2. Craig Nettles AL -0.11

The Post-Game

The 1985 All-Star game was the first and last held at the Metrodome. It is also the last one held in the Twin Cities. It has been a 29 year wait.

1985 also marked the end of the National League’s dominance. Since that game, the American League has put up a 20-7-1 record in the All-Star Game.

Bert Blyleven pitched two innings (4th and 5th) and gave up two runs. He would be back in the Metrodome less than a month later. On August 1, Blyleven was acquired by the Twins in a trade. He would go on to pitch three full season with the Twins, including the World Series year of 1987.

The Pioneer Press has a link to video of the entire game (including Vin Scully’s play-by-play) in an article by Kevin Cusick:

– The game featured more former Twins (Bert Blyleven, Graig Nettles, Gary Ward) than 1985 Twins (Tom Brunansky). As for future Twins, this game had a six-pack (Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, Dave Winfield, Tom Herr, Jeff Reardon and Blyleven).

– Pete Rose became the only player to appear in both Minnesota all-star games, going hitless as he did at the Met in 1965. It’s not known, though, whether he won big by betting on the National League.

– Vin Scully did play-by-play for NBC, nearly two decades after calling Sandy Koufax’s shutout of the Twins in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series at the Met. While the golden voice hadn’t changed, his golden “hair” certainly had.

 

Originally published in 2006. Just a few edits in 2014.


The Franchise 2001 (Part 1)

July 10, 2014

2001 Minnesota Twins

Manager Tom Kelly 16th season (16th with Minnesota 1140-1244)
85 W 77 L 771 RS 766 RA 2nd AL Central 6.0 GB (Cleveland 91-71)
4.676 RPG (AL = 4.86) 4.51 ERA (AL = 4.47)
.698 DER (4th AL)

All Stars (3) Cristian Guzman, Joe Mays, Eric Milton

Franchise (1901-2001) 7416-8160-111; 27-29 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-2001) 3202-3296-7; 19-18 Post Season; 11-10 WS

2001 marked the beginning of the “Get to Know ‘Em” campaign that corresponded with the franchise’s revival as an American League contender. The group of young, talented players came together enough to record the first winning season for the Twins since 1992.

While the team faded down the stretch, there was a lot on the field to get excited about. Corey Koskie had established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball. Torii Hunter began to wow with athletic plays in the outfield. The team had a solid, young pitching rotation. The Twins looked like they could be contenders for a long time to come.

The success was close to being undercut by off-the-field happenings at the conclusion of the season. It was announced shortly after the 2001 World Series that the owners had approved a plan to contract two teams prior to the 2003 season. It wasn’t long before it leaked that the Twins were one of the two teams on the chopping block. A winter of court action followed. Ultimately, contraction was thwarted, at least in part, by the team’s lease to play in the Metrodome. The stadium that had been the source of so many of the team’s threats to leave Minnesota played a major role in keeping the team from being downsized by major league baseball.

The year of competitive baseball’s return to the Twin Cities also marked the last year of Tom Kelly’s career as Twins manager. He started as a World Series champion in 1987, and was there to oversee the first stages of the franchise’s return to winning in 2001. The threat of contraction may have played a role in Kelly’s retirement at the age of 51, but he also cited personal burnout as a major reason for his departure. In 16 seasons with the Twins, Kelly won 1,140 games and two World Series rings.

 


The All Franchise Team (1991-2000)

July 3, 2014

C Brian Harper 1991-1993 .307/.343/.426/.769 109 OPS+ 6.7 WAR
As in the previous decade, Harper might have been overshadowed because his career was split between two arbitrary decade markers. The Twins got some surprising production out of Terry Steinbach late in the decade, but the last three years of Harper’s Twins career was better.

1B Kent Hrbek 1991-1994 .260/.361/.442/.803 116 OPS+ 0 WAR
These were the decline years for Hrbek and still, excluding his final season, he was productive for the Twins. From 1995 to the end of the decade, the Twins searched in vain to fill Hrbek’s “spot” at first base, which may be the best tribute to T-Rex.

2B Chuck Knoblauch 1991-1997 .304/.391/.416/.807 114 OPS+ 37.9 WAR
The MVP of the decade and one of the best players in franchise history.

SS Pat Meares 1993-1998 .265/.301/.381/.682 76 OPS+ 6.0 WAR
Meares gets this sport over two seasons of Gagne at the beginning of the decade and two seasons of Guzman at the end. Meares was a consistent performer and provided decent offensive production considering his solid defense up the middle.

3B Corey Koskie 1998-2000 .298/.388/.495/.833 109 OPS+ 5.1 WAR
Third base was a bit of a revolving door for the Twins until Koskie locked down the job late in the decade. He was probably the team’s best hitter in 1999 and 2000 but did not get much recognition. His defensive reputation as a rookie was poor, but he worked hard and became a very good defensive third baseman as well.

LF Shane Mack 1991-1994 .306/.372/.483/.855 130 OPS+ 17.2 WAR
Mack played right field for the World Series team but was moved primarily to left the following season. The Twins got five prime seasons from Mack, who was not the same player when he returned from Japan.

CF Kirby Puckett 1991-1995 .315/.363/.492/.856 127 OPS+ 19.4 WAR
Was primarily a right fielder in his last couple of seasons, but played more center field in the decade. Puckett, like Hrbek, was in his autumn years. Unlike Hrbek, he was productive right the the end, though the end came more suddenly for Puckett.

RF Matt Lawton 1995-2000 .274/.377/.426/.803 105 OPS+ 9.1 WAR
Lawton took over for Puckett in right field. Though he was up and down, he had some very good seasons and held down the position for the last half of the decade.

DH Chili Davis 1991-1992 .282/.385/.476/.862 136 OPS+ 5.3 WAR
Davis started a revolving door of veteran designated hitters including Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor. Only played with the team for two seasons, but was a huge power threat in the middle of the lineup in a decade in which the team had very few of them.

SP Brad Radke 1995-2000 4.32 ERA 4.39 FIP 1.290 WHIP 114 ERA+ 27.7 WAR
Radke was a very good pitcher for a very bad team for a very long time. The good news for him is that the team’s fortunes would turn for the better in the next decade.

SP Kevin Tapani 1991-1995* 4.12 ERA 3.74 FIP 1.287 WHIP 106 ERA+ 15.6 WAR
Tapani’s name often gets forgotten among the World Series rotation because of Jack Morris and Scott Erickson, but he was not only a better pitcher for the Twins after 1991, he might have been the best pitcher on that team.

SP Scott Erickson 1991-1995* 4.34 ERA 4.14 FIP 1.425 WHIP 102 ERA+ 12.6 WAR
Erickson was a but maddening to follow with some very high highs and low lows throughout the early 90′s.

SP Eric Milton 1998-2000 4.96 ERA 4.61 FIP 1.325 WHIP 101 ERA+ 9.7 WAR
Milton came to the Twins in the Knoblauch trade and had three solid seasons to kick off his career.

CL Rick Aguilera 1991-1999* 3.59 ERA 3.80 FIP 1.183 WHIP 130 ERA+ 12.5 WAR
Held down the closer role for the vast majority of the decade. Aggie was considered one of the best closers in the game for a period.

RP Carl Willis 1991-1995 3.65 ERA 3.08 FIP 1.268 WHIP 120 ERA+ 3.8 WAR
The veteran had his best seasons with the Twins and was a throwback in how versatile he was.

RP Eddie Guardado 1993-2000 5.06 ERA 4.84 FIP 1.456 WHIP 96 ERA+ 4.5 WAR
Guardado makes this list more due to longevity than quality, but towards the end of the decade he improved and was a very good pitcher, foreshadowing his success as a closer in the early 2000′s.

*Stats aside from WAR include partial seasons with other teams.


The Franchise 2000 (Pitchers)

July 1, 2014

SP Brad Radke 6.2 WAR
Radke had an eye-popping 16 losses in 2000, but by now most people realized that his record was a function of the poor team he played for. The contract he signed in early July was worth about $9 million per season for the next four years. Since it was estimated that Radke could have made $10-12 million on the open market in the offseason, Radke earned a lot of goodwill from fans for taking the “hometown” discount. More importantly for the organization, it was a signing that wouldn’t have happened a few years earlier, and seemed to signal that the team saw winning just around the corner.

SP Eric Milton 3.5 WAR
Milton again had a solid season, even improving his already low walk rate from 1999 (2.7 per nine innings to 2.0).

SP Joe Mays 2.2 WAR
Mays didn’t earn his first win of the season until May 7, but that was a complete game, five-hit shut out of the Detroit Tigers. It turned out to be a flash of brilliance in an otherwise mediocre season for Mays, who did not find the form that looked so promising in 1999.

SP Mark Redman 3.4 WAR
Redman was the 13th overall pick in the 1995 draft. He had a cup of coffee with the Twins in 1999, but 2000 is considered his rookie year. He was inserted into the starting rotation in May, and the results were immediate. He won three of his first five starts and seemed to earn himself a spot in the rotation for some time to come. After he left the team a year later, however, manager Tom Kelly criticized his work ethic.

SP Sean Bergman -1.6 WAR
SP JC Romero -0.6 WAR
30-year-old journeyman pitcher Sean Bergman was claimed off of waivers by the Twins during the offseason. They hoped to insert him into the starting rotation for some depth and a veteran presence. That experiment ended when the Twins released him in late June after a terrible couple of months that ended with an ERA of 9.66. Bergman hung on in the minor leagues but did not appear in the majors again. Romero essentially took over for Bergman but didn’t perform much better.

CL LaTroy Hawkins 3.0 WAR
It might be a coincidence, but the same year the LaTroy Hawkins official fan club was founded, the Twins determined to try Hawkins in the bullpen full time. The experiment seemed to be a success after year one. By the end of 2000, he was the team’s closer, sporting a 153 ERA+.

RP Bob Wells 2.5 WAR
Wells had seven losses without a win, but in all other areas his 2000 season was as successful if not more than his 1999 season, including a 5.07 k/bb ration. Over the course of those two seasons, Wells established himself as one of the better relievers in the league.

RP Hector Carrasco 1.2 WAR
Carrasco was traded to the Red Sox for Lew Ford on September 9, but became a free agent after the season and rejoined the Twins for 2001.

RP Travis Miller 1.2 WAR
Miller continued to be a very good left-handed option for the Twins, whose bullpen was very strong for the second straight season.

RP Eddie Guardado 1.8 WAR
At the age of 29, Guardado made huge strides and had his best career season. His success is a bit of a mystery based on the numbers. His rate stats were not any better than his career average, and in some areas looked worse – particularly home run rate. His FIP was 5.66. Somehow, Guardado set a career mark in ERA+ with 132.

RP Johan Santana 0.1 WAR
The Twins grabbed Johan Santana from the Florida Marlins who took him in the 1999 rule 5 draft. Accordingly, the Twins had to keep the 21-year-old on the roster for the entire season. Santana took his lumps but showed flashes of the pitcher who would become the league’s best by the middle of the decade.


The Franchise 2000 (Position Players)

June 29, 2014

C Matt LeCroy -1.1 WAR
C AJ Pierzynski 0.6 WAR
It seems at though the organization wanted to give LeCroy every chance to be the starting catcher. The 24-year-old had power potential that was unique in an organization that had largely not participated in the power surge of the late 1990′s. LeCroy had a miserable 56 games, ending with a .174/.254/.323/.577 line. LeCroy was sent back to the minors by the middle of June, but the Twins had problems finding a successful catcher the rest of the season. Marcus Jensen and Chad Moeller both got some time. In Mid-August, Tom Kelly turned to AJ Pierzysnki, who had enough success that he finished out the regular season and remained the team’s starting catcher well into the 2000′s.

1B Ron Coomer -0.2 WAR
Coomer became a free agent after the season. The Twins had hoped that he would show some major league power, but after six seasons with the Twins he never hit more than 16 home runs in the majors. Coomer played for the Cubs, Yankees, and Dodgers in 2001-2003, and was finished his major league career at the age of 36.

2B Jay Canizaro 0.0 WAR
The Twins felt they needed a bridge at second for a year to move away from Todd Walker, who the organization thought needed a change of scenery, to Luis Rivas, who was considered the second baseman of the future. Jay Canizaro, who had made his major league debut in 1996 with the Giants but had been largely a minor league player since, signed as a free agent with the Twins in the offseason. His solid play, particularly on defense, created some rumors that perhaps Rivas would not be the starter by 2001. His offensive numbers tailed off as the season wore on, and injury prevented him from playing in 2001 and pushing Rivas’ debut back. Canizaro appeared in 38 games in 2002, but did not see any more major league action. He is probably most remembered for his role in the Barry Bonds story.

SS Cristian Guzman 1.2 WAR
20 triples put Guzman in some rare company. While major league history is full of 20+ triple season (19 triples in a season puts you in 113th place on the all time single-season triples list), most of them are from the dead-ball era or before. Guzman was only the 5th player since 1945 to hit 20 more more in a season (Willie Mays, George Brett, Willie Wilson, and Lance Johnson were the others).

3B Corey Koskie 2.8 WAR
The rap on Koskie when he first came up with the Twins was that he had a shaky glove at third base. Over the course of a few years, Koskie worked, reportedly in the snow in Minnesota, at his defense until it became a strength of his. He also became a consistent major league hitter, but never seemed to get the recognition, including in 2000 when he was the team’s best hitter. In acknowledgements of this fact, adjectives like a “quiet” .300 hitter were used. The Twins organization seemed to want more power from Koskie, and his name was more often mentioned for disappointing power than for the positives that Koskie was bringing to the team.

LF Jacque Jones 1.3 WAR
A year after challenging Hunter for the center field job, Jones settled in as the team’s regular left fielder in his second season in the major leagues. The shift down the defensive spectrum made his offensive numbers less valuable, but he was still the team’s power hitter with 19 home runs in 2000.

CF Torii Hunter 0.2 WAR
Hunter struggled early and spent June and July in the minors after posting a .207/.243/.300/.543 line through the first two months of the season. Many speculated that Hunter’s struggles were related to his relationship with manager Tom Kelly, which was somewhat strained. Whatever the reason, at Salt Lake City he found his swing and started hitting again, and by the end of the season he was at a more respectable .280/.318/.408/.726 line. Hunter already was developing a reputation as a very good center fielder, but he was a -6 run defender in 2000.

RF Matt Lawton 2.3 WAR
After a poor showing in 1999, Lawton returned to the Twins and declared that his eye socket had fully healed. It seemed he was right because Lawton had another good season in 2000. After the season, Terry Ryan attempted to squash trade rumors, saying that he did not envision Lawton being traded away.

DH David Ortiz 0.7 WAR
DH Butch Huskey -1.0 WAR
Butch Huskey was brought in on s minor league deal in the hopes that the Twins would get some veteran power. That did not pan out, and Huskey would not see more major league action after 2000. 24-year-old David Ortiz hit 10 home runs, which was disappointing, but got on base at a .364 rate, which made him the OBP leader among the regular players.

UT Denny Hocking 1.0 WAR
His age 30 season was, by the numbers, the best of Hocking’s career.


Interactive – Please Don’t Call Them Twinkies

June 24, 2014

First, a link to the song by Craig Finn and The Baseball Project.

Lyrics:

In 1965, I wasn’t quite alive yet
But I’m told they gave the MVP to Zoilo Versalles
Oliva hit the singles and Harmon hit the homers
Mudcat Grant won 20 games and they didn’t play in a dome yet

The Dodgers came to Bloomington to play for the World Series
The Twins took the first two, you can even ask Vin Scully
But Sandy Koufax proved to be a bit too much to crack
And the Twins went down in seven but they vowed that they’d be back

From Nicollet to Hennepin, from St. Paul to St. Cloud
The Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
And we don’t buy our titles so there are summers where we stink
But these are grown men, these are heroes
Please don’t call them Twinkies

In the fall of 87, I was pretty much in heaven
I got my license and a girlfriend and the Twins had won the pennant
I prayed more in the Dome than I ever did at church
Kirby Puckett had the smile, Kent Hrbek had the smirk

First we tamed the Tigers, then we were dealt the Cards
And they came to the Twin Cities to try to make sense of our park
It was loud and it was close and it went to seven games
But the Twins took home the title and that sweet music played

From Edina to Duluth, from the south side to downtown
The Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
So, hey, let’s make some noise, come on, wave those Homer Hankies
These are grown men, well, these are heroes
Please don’t call them Twinkies

In 1991, the Twins were once again on top
We faced Atlanta in the Series and they thought that they were hot
I’ve never seen nothing so lame as that Fondahawk chop
But we were up against the ropes when Kirby called his shot

And as he ran around the bases, smiling, pumping fists
We all knew that he had won it, though it was only just game six
And the next night, Jack Morris came and made his hometown proud
You should watch it in slow motion, Ron Gant was clearly out

From Mankato up to Brainerd, from Burnsville to Bemidji
Now we’re playing outdoor baseball and that’s the way it should be
Raise a toast to Kirby Puckett, raise another to Tom Kelly
These are Minnesota Twins, so let’s not call them Twinkies

We’ve got Justin, we’ve got Joe, that’s enough reason to party
We don’t buy our titles and we’ve still won two World Series
Grab yourself a 3.2 beer, raise a toast to Gardy
These are the Minnesota Twins, so please don’t call them Twinkies
Please don’t call them Twinkies, please don’t call them Twinkies


The Franchise 2000

June 22, 2014

2000 Minnesota Twins

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Manager Tom Kelly 15th season (15th with Minnesota 1055-1167)
69 W 93 L 748 RS 880 RA 5th AL Central 36.0 GB (Chicago 95-67)
4.62 RPG (AL = 5.30) 5.14 ERA (AL = 4.91)
.671 DER (13th AL)

All Stars (1) Matt Lawton

Franchise (1901-2000) 7331-8083-111; 27-29 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-2000) 3117-3219-7; 19-18 Post Season; 11-10 WS

The 40th season of Minnesota Twins baseball was also the 8th consecutive losing season for the team. In a lot of ways, 2000 was a carbon copy of 1999. The team’s offense struggled in an era of big offense. The pitching staff, however, was solid including another very good but quiet season from the bullpen.

Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Average by position is the perfect illustration of the 2000 season. The Twins were -6.9 overall. The pitching staff was 8.7 wins above average, second in the league, including a league-best 4.2 from the bullpen. The batters, however, were a league-worst -15.6 wins above average. Every position on the field was in the negative range except for third base (Corey Koskie).

There were some offensive highlights. Aside from Koskie establishing himself as the team’s most reliable hitter, Matt Lawton had a very good season. Cristian Guzman hit 20 triples, a number made even more impressive by the fact that Guzman had more triples than any Twins player had home runs (Jacque Jones led the team with 19).

The biggest news of the 2000 season was the team locking down Brad Radke with a 4-year, $36 million contract right before the trade deadline. After years of watching the best players leave, Twins fans were perhaps getting the first tangible signal that the team was ready to win in the near future. It was difficult to see in 2000, but winning was right around the corner.


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