The Franchise 1977 (Part 1)

1977 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Gene Mauch 18th Season (2nd with Minnesota 169-154)
84 W 77 L 867 RS 776 RA 4th AL West 17.5 GB (Kansas City 102-60)
5.39 RPG (AL = 4.53) 4.38ERA (AL = 4.07)
.690 DER (11th AL)

All Stars (3) Rod Carew, Larry Hisle, Butch Wynegar

Franchise (1901-1977) 5660-6155-110; 11-21 Post Season; 11-15 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1978) 1446-1291-6; 3-10 Post Season; 3-4 WS

While the feel-good story of the 1977 Twins was Rod Carew, and the team had a winning season, there was a bit of an ugly subtext in terms of the relationship of the players to management. The Twins lost a number of free agents after the season, including standouts Larry Hisle and Lyman Bostock, continuing a trend in which Minnesota’s top players left for greener pastures at seemingly every opportunity, many of them with very public feuds with Calvin Griffith.

The team finished in fourth place and won more games than they lost in their second season with Gene Mauch as manager, but something had to give with all of the talent that was exiting.

Roster/Stats (Hitters)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1977

C Butch Wynegar .261/.344/.370 10 HR 96 OPS+ -0.1 BFW 18 WS 33 FRAR 3.6 WARP3
Wynegar got off to a great start, improving on his impressive rookie season numbers in the first half of the season. He was rewarded for his first half performance with a second consecutive trip to the All-Star Game. His performance at the plate in the second half of 1977 tailed off, however, and his final numbers in 1977 were a lot more indicative of his career path.

1st half: 81 games .290/.368/.417/.785
2nd half: 63 games .224/.313/.310/.623

1B Rod Carew .388/.449/.570 14 HR 178 OPS+ 6.5 BFW 37 WS 15 FRAR 9.4 WARP3
Though Rod Carew had been great since his debut in 1967, the 31-year-old had his signature season in 1977. His quest for the first .400 season since Ted Williams earned him a national following. It took him a few games to get going – on April 16 (after nine games) he was batting just .270/.341/.459. From that date on, however, Carew went on a tear, batting .423/.478/.642 in 60 games. On June 26, Rod Carew jersey day at the Met, he went 4-for-5 in a Twins 19-12 win over the White Sox, moving his season average over the .400 mark for the first time. Carew became the story in major league baseball in 1977, and rightfully so. He made appearances on the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated, the latter of which was a cover story in which Ted Williams expressed his hope that Carew would hit over .400. Though Carew fell below the .400 mark for good early in July, his final average topped the AL by more than 50 points. He also finished first in OBP, and second only to Jim Rice (.593) in SLG. It was no surprise that Rod Carew was voted the American League MVP following the season. (More on Carew’s season here.)

2B Bob Randall .239/.289/.294 0 HR 61 OPS+ -0.1 BFW 5 WS 9 FRAR -1.1 WARP3
Though Randall did not distinguish himself as a hitter, he was considered a very good second baseman at the time, and set a Twins record for fielding percentage at second base (.985).

SS Roy Smalley .231/.316/.315 6 HR 74 OPS+ 1.5 BFW 13 WS 49 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
The 24-year-old Smalley, in his first full season as a Minnesota Twin, was still a year away from distinguishing himself as a hitter at the shortstop position. In 1977, however, his play at shortstop more than made up for his poor performance at the plate.

3B Mike Cubbage .264/.321/.391 9 HR 94 OPS+ 0.7 BFW 11 WS 43 FRAR 4.3 WARP3
Cubbage’s numbers were down a bit at the plate from the previous season, but he combined with Smalley to make one of the best defensive left sides of the infield in baseball.

LF Larry Hisle .302/.369/.533 28 HR 144 OPS+ 2.6 BFW 24 WS 16 FRAR 5.8 WARP3
Hisle had his best season as a Twin  in 1977. Unfortunately for the Twins, his relationship with Calvin Griffith had been so damaged by low-ball contract offers that Hisle left for Milwaukee following the 1977 season. He continued his success in 1978 with his career year in Milwaukee by batting .290/.374/.533 with 34 home runs – good enough to finish third in that season’s MVP balloting. A torn rotator cuff in 1979 essentially ended Hisle’s career, allowing him to play in just 79 games over the course of his final four seasons.

CF Lyman Bostock .336/.389/.508 14 HR 144 OPS+  3.3 BFW 27 WS 17 FRAR 6.3 WARP3
Bostock was another Twin who had a career season in 1977. At the age of 26 it looked as if the sky was the limit for Bostock, who cashed in after the season with a lucrative free-agent deal with the California Angels. He got off to a poor start in 1978, and offered to return his April salary to the Angels. When the team refused he donated the money to charity. Bostock returned to form and had another very good season. On September 23, 1978, Bostock was murdered in Chicago during a visit with his uncle. He was just a few months shy of his 28th birthday.

RF Dan Ford .267/.338/.426 11 HR 108 OPS+ -0.7 BFW 12 WS 10 FRAR 1.8 WARP3
Disco Dan had another solid season and remained a fan favorite in Minnesota.

DH/1B Craig Kusick .254/.370/.433 12 HR 120 OPS+ 0.5 BFW 7 WS -2 FRAR 1.4 WARP3
1977 is considered Kusick’s best season in the majors.

DH/OF Rich Chiles .264/.323/.368 3 HR 89 OPS+ -0.7 BFW 4 WS 2 FRAR 0.3 WARP3
DH/OF Glenn Adams .338/.376/.468 6 HR 130 OPS+ 0.8 BFW 9 WS 1 FRAR 1.6 WARP3
Chiles and Adams both filled in primarily as designated hitters. They were both originally drafted bt the Houston Astros. Chiles came as a Rule V pick directly from Houston, while Adams was purchased from San Francisco. Adams’ claim to fame was driving in eight runs on Rod Carew jersey day linked above.

IF Jerry Terrell .224/.263/.266 1 HR 46 OPS+ -1.5 BFW 2 WS 21 FRAR 0.6 WARP3
Though Terrell was popular among fans and teammates, he was never able to find a regular job with the Twins. He became a free agent after the season and signed with Kansas City, where he would play the same utility role until he retired in 1980.

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