The Franchise 1975 (Part 1)

Ed: because of the length of these I am going to split them up over two posts – the first will highlight the hitters, the second will be for the pitchers.

1975 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Frank Quilici 4th Season (4th with Minnesota 280-287-1)
76 W 83 L 724 RS 736 RA 4th AL West 20.5 GB (Oakland 98-64)
4.55 RPG (AL = 4.30) 4.05 ERA (AL = 3.78)
.700 DER (6th AL)

All Stars (1) Rod Carew

Franchise (1901-1975) 5491-6001-110; 11-21 Post Season; 11-15 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1975) 1277-1137-6; 3-10 Post Season; 3-4 WS

While the Twins were still in the midst of a slow transition process from the great teams of the later 1960’s, hopes were still high for improvement entering the 1975 season. Calvin Griffith and Frank Quilici both felt that the lineup and pitching staff would both be greatly improved over the team’s 82-80 showing of the year before.

For the third straight season, however, the Twins turned in a mediocre performance. By the time the All Star break rolled around, the team was 10 games below the .500 mark and well out of the AL West race.

The second half of the season was filled with speculation about Frank Quilici’s future as manager. Though Griffith said he would not make a final decision until the final out of the final game, he set the odds that Quilici would be back at “50-50” – certainly not a ringing endorsement for the youngest manager in baseball.

To Griffith, at least, even more concerning than the record itself was the poor attendance the Twins were drawing. For the second straight season the Twins finished dead last in attendance among American League teams, averaging just over 8,000 fans per game in both 1974 and 1975. It all added up for a case against Quilici, who became the sixth Twins manager fired by Griffith in the team’s 15 years in Minnesota.

Roster/Stats (Hitters)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1975

C Glenn Borgmann .207/.303/.278 2 HR -0.9 BFW 8 WS 25 FRAR 2.5 WARP3
With a young Butch Wynegar waiting for a chance in the minor leagues, this would be Borgmann’s last season as a regular with the Twins. He stuck with the team as a backup catcher until he became a free agent after the 1979 season. Borgmann signed with Chicago and finished his career with 32 games played for the White Sox in 1980.

1B Johnny Briggs .231/.371/.360 7 HR 0.9 BFW 9 WS 10 FRAR 2.9 WARP3
1B Craig Kusick .237/.346/.404 6 HR 0.0 BFW 4 WS 2 FRAR 1.3 WARP3
1B Tom Kelly .181/.262/.244 1 HR -1.2 BFW 1 WS 3 FRAR -0.2 WARP3
Kusick started the season at first base for the Twins, but his performance was such that the team went looking for options elsewhere. On June 14 the Twins sent OF Bobby Darwin to Milwaukee in exchange for veteran Johnny Briggs. Briggs had been in the majors since 1964 and had spent most of his time with the Philadelphia Phillies. His best days were behind him, but Briggs was an improvement over what the Twins had prior to the trade. In all, the Twins tried seven different players at first base, including 24-year-old Tom Kelly, who saw his only major league action as a player in 1975.

2B Rod Carew .359/.421/.497 14 HR 6.7 BFW 30 WS 30 FRAR 11.1 WARP3
Carew, at the age of 29, had his best season yet in 1975. Despite his success, Carew still played in realitve obscurity. He was often overlooked nationally due to his team’s home in flyover country and his less than gaudy home run totals. While he might not have been appreciated on the national stage, at least Carew was starting to earn respect from his own organization. He was named team captain in the middle of the summer, indicating that his manager felt he was more of a team leader than he had been in the past. There had been talk prior to the season of moving Carew to first base, but that was quickly nixed by Calvin Griffith who was disturbed by the number of errors Carew had made at second the year before.

SS Danny Thompson .270/.302/.355 5 HR -0.6 BFW 5 WS 9 FRAR 1.5 WARP3
Though Thompson spent most of the season as the starting short stop for the Twins, there were several indications that he was not the team’s long-term solution at that spot. Thompson played through rumors that the Twins were trying to get rid of him, either by trade or outright release. Many felt that his disease was affecting his on field performance, particularly in the field. Thompson made 24 errors in 1975, and even joked that he would name his autobiography E-6.

3B Eric Soderholm .286/.365/.415 11 HR 2.5 BFW 14 WS 25 FRAR 6.0 WARP3
When asked how he turned his career around after a slow start, Soderholm credited his aerobic program. Starting in the spring of 1975, he ran at least five miles in the mornings before hitting the field, and would run an amount determined by his performance after games and practices. Soderholm claimed that when he is in better shape, he was able to set and achieve more ambitous goals on the field. He was going along pretty well when an off-the-field injury, a fall into a manhole on his new lakefront property in late August, sidelined him for the rest of the season. While he suffered cracked ribs in the fall, it was his perpetually ailing knee that kept him out for the 1976 season. The Twins released him after the 1976 season. Soderholm was picked up by the White Sox and had a career year in 1977. He stuck around the majors until 1980.

UT Jerry Terrell .286/.324/.345 1 HR 0.0 BFW 7 WS 18 FRAR 3.0 WARP3
Terrell struggles in spring training meant that the Minnesota native would start the season at triple-A Tacoma. He was so loved by the fans, however, that a petition began circulating the state calling for Calvin Griffith to return the utility man to the major league roster. Griffith, ever the businessman, offered to accept the terms of the petition if each signee would purchase a ticket for the home opener. Though that never happened, Terrell’s performance brought him back to the majors by the beginning of June.

LF Steve Braun .302/.389/428 11 HR 1.2 BFW 17 WS 17 FRAR 6.3 WARP3
The musical chairs that the Twins played to get Braun into the lineup was a testament to his value as a hitter. The original plan out of spring training was to platoon Braun at first base. After a few weeks of that, Braun was moved to an already crowded outfield. Though he wasn’t considered a very good left fielder, having his bat in the lineup was important enough to Quilici that Braun got the bulk of the starts over Larry Hisle.

CF Dan Ford .280/.333/.434 15 HR -0.8 BFW 12 WS 10 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
23-year-old “Disco” Dan Ford was originally drafted by Oakland in the 1970 draft. Though he showed major league promise, he was unable to break into an outfield that already featured Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, and Bill North. The Twins acquired Ford at the end of the 1974 season in exchange for seldom-used 1B Pat Bourque (who had been acquired from Oakland just a few months prior). Ford wasn’t immediately placed into the starting lineup, but an early season injury-bug hit the Twins outfield and gave Ford the opportunity to play every day. Ford’s signature play early in the season was the stolen base, though he went about it in an unconventional way. He had a knack for getting picked off of first base, so he taught himself how to run to second in such a way as to make it difficult for the first baseman to make the throw. He had at least three such stolen bases in his first month as a regular.

RF Lyman Bostock .282/.331/.366 0 HR -1.2 BFW 8 WS 9 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Bostock’s rookie season was interrupted early when the second-generation ballplayer (his father, Lyman Sr., played in the Negro Leagues) collided with the outfield wall and broke his ankle on April 20. At the time he was batting .219/.324/.219. Bostock didn’t return to the lineup until the end of June, but earned his way back as a regular and batted .323/.368/.426 after the All Star break.

OF Larry Hisle .314/.376/.494 11 HR 1.2 BFW 11 WS 6 FRAR 3.9 WARP3
American League pitchers likely breathed a sigh of relief when Larry Hisle began having elbow problems at the end of June. His performance was starting to make Twins fans talk about him as the next Harmon Killebrew. Unfortunately for Hisle, his elbow required surgery and he missed almost three months.

DH Tony Oliva .270/.344/.378 13 HR -0.1 BFW 9 WS 0 FRAR 2.2 WARP3
There was some speculation in the spring that Oliva’s knees wouldn’t hold out enough for him to even be a regular designated hitter, but that turned out to be a bit exaggerated. This was Oliva’s final full season with the Twins.

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