The Franchise 1962

1962 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Sam Mele 2nd Season (2nd with Minnesota 138-125-2)
91 W 71 L 1 T 798 RS 713 RA 2nd AL 5.0 GB (New York 96-66)
4.90 RPG (AL = 4.44) 3.89 ERA (AL = 3.97)
.708 DER (6th AL)

All Stars (4) Earl Battey, Jim Kaat*, Camilo Pascual, Rich Rollins
All but Kaat played in both games. Kaat was only on the roster for the second game.

Franchise (1901-1962) 4375-5025-106; 8-11 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1962) 161-161-2

After a rocky start in Minnesota, everything seemed to come together for the Twins in 1962. The infield was completely retooled with a combination of young talent (Rollins, Versalles, and Allen) and a veteran acquisition (Power) that seemed to make for the perfect mix. Camilo Pascual finally had a win-loss record to show for his outstanding pitching, and Jim Kaat came into his own from the left side of the mound. All of this while Harmon Killebrew came through, despite the fact that most of his performance in 1962 was considered disappointing at the time.

Though the Twins were able to completely reverse their record from the first season in Minnesota, they spent the entire season looking up at the New York Yankees. With the Bronx Bombers seemingly aging, there were a lot of reasons for Minnesota fans to be optimistic about the coming years for the Twins.

Bold = Player new to WAS/MIN in 1962

C Earl Battey .280/.348/.393 11 HR 1.9 BFW 19 WS 33 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
Ever since he was hit in the face with a pitch by Cleveland’s Bobby Locke in July of 1961, Earl Battey had been wearing a protective helmet that had an extended earflap to protect his cheek. Battey said that he felt as though he was hitting from “behind a horse’s blinder.” Trainer George Lentz continuously made improvements to Battey’s helmet, and Battey didn’t mind because, though down a bit from his 1961 season, he continued to be one of the top hitting catchers in baseball.

1B Vic Power .290/.316/.421 16 HR 0.2 BFW 15 WS 14 FRAR 3.0 WARP3
The Cleveland Indians had a rough spring in 1962, and it seemed as though manager Mel McGaha was determined to make Vic Power the fall guy in the newspapers. All of the negative talk from the organization created rumors that the 34-year-old first baseman best known for his fielding prowess was on the trading block. Those rumors came to fruition when Power was packaged with Dick Stigman in the deal that sent Pedro Ramos from Minnesota to Cleveland. Manager Mele was high on the trade (The Sporting News):

I’ve never seen him miss a throw or drop a pop fly. He’ll be able to save us a lot of runs. He plays a deep first base so our pitchers will have to be on their toes to cover the bag on grounders hit to the right side of the infield.

Vic can help us with the bat, too. He can hit and run, come up with the occasional homer and do everything expected of a major leaguer at the plate.

Generally speaking, the praise for Power and his veteran presence from the organization went on throughout his three seasons with Minnesota. Because the Twins had power elsewhere, Power’s shortage in that category compared to other first basemen did not particularly hurt the team. While by all accounts he was very sure handed, it seems that most of his range at first by this time in his career was probably a result of his deep positioning (and looking at his career numbers that seems to be the case throughout).

2B Bernie Allen .269/.338/.403 12 HR 0.1 BFW 19 WS 26 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
Calvin Griffith had identified the biggest problem with the 1961 season was the defense, so he set out to improve that by bringing up a couple of young prospects to play key infield positions. Bernie Allen, who had been best known previously as the quarterback of the Purdue football team, signed as an amateur free agent in 1961. After a short season in Charlotte, Allen earned his spot on the 1962 team with an impressive spring performance. He played well enough in 1962 to finish third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, but unfortunately for Allen and the Twins, his rookie season would be his best in Minnesota.

SS Zoilo Versalles .241/.287/.373 17 HR 2.6 BFW 16 WS 56 FRAR 5.5 WARP3
Versalles’ reputation as an enigma began to emerge in 1962. At the age of 21, it seemed, Versalles made the difficult plays at short stop look easy, but just as often would boot a ball on what should have been a routine play. Though he was already considered one of the top three all-around short stops in baseball by many scouts, he had found his way into the organization’s doghouse with his “inconsistent play” that was not helped at all by the fact that he left the team for a month in 1961 due to homesickness. Throughout the 1962 season, the organization touted the improved infield play by citing the other three regular members, despite the fact that Versalles looks to have been the most valuable by most defensive metrics.

3B Rich Rollins .298/.374/.428 16 HR 0.5 BFW 23 WS 6 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
Rollins was another new addition to the so called “Incubator Infield,” and it seemed that not a single article was written about him that didn’t mention his red hair (TSN referred to him as the “red-haired rage of the American League). Rollins got off to a hot start in 1962, knocking at least one hit in each of his first 12 games. After play on June 18, 65 games into the season, Rollins was batting .360/.433/.553 with nine home runs. Though he fell off a bit after that point in the season, it would be difficult to label Rollins’ rookie season as anything other than a success. Though he likely would have been a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year, Rollins was not eligible despite the fact that he had only appeared in 13 games in 1961 because he was actually on the roster for 108 days.

LF Harmon Killebrew .243/.366/.545 48 HR 1.3 BFW 24 WS -6 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
This marks Killebrew’s transition to the outfield that basically lasted three seasons. A month into the experiment, TSN gave him a ringing endorsement as an outfielder, saying that he only “butchered” two plays in the field, and neither of them cost his team a win.

The big story of Killebrew’s season according to the papers was his early “slump”. Through 80 games, Killer hit .223/.374/.470 with 17 home runs. In the final 81 games, he hit .259/.360/.607 with 31 home runs. The fact that Killebrew briefly earned the nickname “Harmless Harmon” and had fans writing to him with hitting advice early in the season indicates a.) how high the bar had been set, and b.) how important batting average was considered in 1962. Killebrew did rack up a career high 142 strikeouts in the season, though Calvin Griffith squashed trade rumors and dismissed the high strikeout total as a result of Killebrew’s difficulty adjusting to his new defensive position (interestingly, Griffith never said that he’d take 142 strikeouts any time in exchange for Killebrew’s power numbers, though it is hardly surprising).

CF Lenny Green .271/.367/.402 14 HR 0.7 BFW 23 WS 26 FRAR 5.8 WARP3
Somewhat overlooked, Lenny Green very quietly had another solid season for the Twins. Green reached base in all but three of the team’s first 59 games, and remained in the lineup even against left-handed pitchers, against whom he held his own with a .254/.391/.282 line versus .274/.363/.418 against right-handed pitching.

RF Bob Allison .266/.370/.511 29 HR 1.7 BFW 23 WS 6 FRAR 6.3 WARP3
In a late April game in Baltimore, Allison collided with the outfield fence and bruised his ribs. Eight games later he was finally convinced that they weren’t going to get any better if he kept playing, so he took 11 dyas off before returning to the lineup. Allison was plagued by other injuries as well, including an arm problem that forced him to bluff his way through the final eight weeks of the season in the outfield; but Allsion still managed to play most of the season and to put together his best offensive season to date. On July 18, both Allison and Killebrew hit grand slams in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians, making the Twins the first team in the 20th century to hit two grand slams in the same inning.

OF Bill Tuttle .211/.317/.285 1 HR -1.3 BFW 2 WS 0 FRAR -0.2 WARP3
Tuttle was a journeyman player, but he was used to playing. After serving only as a defensive replacement for most of the month of April, he made his objections known to manager Mele. He finally cracked the starting lineup on April 29 after Allison’s rib injury, and spent about two weeks as the every day right fielder. Tuttle started off with a hot bat, but cooled down very quickly and settled back into his backup role upon Allison’s return. As a result of his lack of playing time, Tuttle asked for a trade at the end of the season. The Twins weren’t able to work anything out, and Tuttle finished his career by spending the first two months of 1963 on the bench in Minnesota.

1B Don Mincher .240/.406/.488 9 HR 0.5 BFW 6 WS 1 FRAR 1.3 WARP3
Mincher was set to start at first base out of spring training, but neither Griffith nor Mele were comfortable with the 24-year-old playing every day, prompting the trade for Vic Power. Still, Mincher showed glimpses of power in his brief playing time in 1962, and would get more playing time a year later.

SP Camilo Pascual 20-11 3.32 ERA 1.15 WHIP 3.7 PW 23 WS 8.8 WARP3
When asked about the difference in his approach in 1962, Pascual said that he “didn’t show all of his stuff” over the first few innings anymore. In the past, he said, he would get a lot of early strikeouts but would wear out in the later innings of games. In 1962, according to Pascual, he learned to save his best pitches for crucial moments in games. The result was a small drop in the number of strikeouts (about one less per nine innings) with roughly the same results in every other pitching metric save one: wins; a stat for which Pascual said he would gladly trade in all of the other numbers. For the first time in his career, Pascual was able to pitch for a winning team, and the results showed with a 20-11 record. Number 20 came on a 1-0 victory over Baltimore in his last start of the season.

SP Jim Kaat 18-14 3.14 ERA 1.18 WHIP 3.8 PW 22 WS 9.0 WARP3
Kaat got off to a slow start in 1962, sporting a 1-4 record with a 6.08 ERA after his first six starts. He righted the ship quickly, however, and came out on the winning end on his next seven consecutive decisions. Kaat blamed his slow start on the fact that he spent most of spring training attempting to work on adding a slider, something that he said caused his other pitches to suffer. Kaat’s sophomore season as a regular pitcher ended up being very successful, a fact most attributed to the fact that he cut down on his walks. Interestingly, one of Kaat’s best games of the season came right in the middle of his early season woes, a 5-0 shut out win over the Angels in which Kaat struck out 10.

SP Jack Kralick 12-11 3.86 ERA 1.24 WHIP 0.7 PW 13 WS 4.3 WARP3
For better or worse, Jack Kralick’s signature moment came on August 26 against the Kansas City A’s. Kralick’s no hitter that day, the first for the franchise since 1931, is likely remembered as a bit of a fluke but the truth is that Kralick was in the midst of a four-year stretch from 1961 to 1964 in which he put up very good numbers. He did not have the gaudy win-loss totals of Kaat and Pascual, but his ERA+ came in above league average in each of the four seasons. The emergence of Kaat as a left-handed force made Kralick expendable, and the southpaw was traded to Cleveland early in the 1963 season for Jim Perry in a deal that was considered an even swap with both clubs desiring a pitcher of the opposite hand.

SP/RP Dick Stigman 12-5 3.66 ERA 1.30 WHIP 0.5 PW 11 WS 3.9 WARP3
Stigman was the other player that came from Cleveland along with Vic Power in exchange for Pedro Ramos. Considered aloof throughout his career, Stigman was actually a very valuable member of the Twins in 1962 and 1963. He spent the first half of the season pitching out of the bullpen, but moved into the rotation in the middle of July. Stigman attempted to match Kralick’s no-hitter on September 5 when he carried a no-no into the sixth inning against the Senators. With two outs, John Kennedy kicked off his major league career by homering to break up the no-hitter and ignite a seven-run rally that brought Washington all the way back from 7-0 to a tie ballgame. The Twins did score twice in the 11th to earn the victory.

SP/RP Joe Bonikowski 5-7 4.09 ERA 1.33 WHIP 0.3 PW 6 WS 2.4 WARP3
The 21-year-old filled in as part of the starting rotation when injuries made it necessary, but he primarily worked out of the bullpen. He was probably the most consistent reliever for the Twins in 1962. Regardless, “Bongo” did not make the team out of spring training in 1963 and never returned to the major leagues.

RP Ray Moore 8-3 4.73 ERA 1.31 WHIP -0.7 PW 6 WS 2.0 WARP3
Moore, at age 36, played his last full season in 1962. Somehow he managed to have a decent career as a relief pitcher despite the fact that his walk rate was very close to his strikeout rate (4.7 BB/9; 5.6 K/9 career).

RP Lee Stange 4-3 4.45 ERA 1.44 WHIP -0.5 PW 4 WS 0.9 WARP3
Though the Twins had been grooming Stange for a relief role, he also briefly answered the call as a starting pitcher in 1962. His results as a starting pitcher were not great, and he spent most of the season filling a relief role.

1962 World Series
The Yankees hit 199 home runs during the regular season, but managed only three against the San Francisco Giants seven games of the World Series. It ended up being enough, and the Yankees won what would be their last World Series championship until 1977, a huge drought for the franchise who won half of the World Series played in the 40 years between 1923 and 1962.


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