The Franchise 1980 (Part 1)

1980 Minnesota Twins

Managers: Gene Mauch 21st Season (5th with Minnesota 378-394)
Johnny Goryl 1st Season (1st with Minnesota 23-13)
77 W 84 L 670 RS 724 RA 3rd AL West 19.5 GB (Kansas City 97-65)
4.16 RPG (AL = 4.50) 3.93 ERA (AL = 4.04)
.692 DER (14th AL)

All Stars (1) Ken Landreaux

Franchise (1901-1980) 5892-6408-110; 11-21 Post Season; 11-15 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1980) 1678-1544-6; 3-10 Post Season; 3-4 WS

1980 could best be described as a debacle for the Twins. While just about every player improved from 1978 to 1979, the opposite occurred from 1979 to 1980. The team went from an above average offense to well below average with essentially the same lineup.

Gene Mauch, who was known for his love of managing, had just about enough. In a late June game, after leaving a struggling Pete Redfern in a game longer than most observers thought was appropriate, Mauch explained to SI that if he had brought Redfern into the dugout he probably would have strangled him. It got so bad that Mauch resigned as manager when the Twins were 54-71.

Here is what I wrote about his replacement at TwinsCards:

When Gene Mauch resigned in the middle of the 1980 season, the Twins named Johnny Goryl as his successor. Goryl was a utility player for the Cubs from 1957-1959, and for the Twins from 1962-1964. His best season as a player came in 1963 when, in 64 games, he batted .287/.353/.540 with nine home runs. Despite those numbers he only appeared in 58 games in 1964, his final major league season. Goryl stuck around the organization as a minor league player and eventually a minor league manager until he was named interim manager of the Twins. When he took over, the team was in sixth place. A 23-13 finish under Goryl vaulted the Twins to a third place finish…

The finish, of course, ended up being a mirage and it was clear that the Twins were in for a long term rebuilding effort.

Roster/Stats (Hitters)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1980

C Butch Wynegar .255/.339/.335 5 HR 81 OPS+ 0.9 BFW 13 WS 41 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
By age 24 Wynegar had settled in to a role for the Twins, that being a below-average hitting but very good defensive catcher.

1B Ron Jackson .265/.316/.391 5 HR 87 OPS+ -1.2 BFW 7 WS 10 FRAR -0.5 WARP3
After a very good showing at the plate in 1979, Jackson had his worst full season as a major leaguer. After 54 games as the Twins’ starting first baseman in 1981, he was traded to Detroit.

2B Rob Wilfong .248/.308/.368 8 HR 79 OPS+ -0.2 BFW 11 WS 11 FRAR -0.6 WARP3
Wilfong set an AL record for fielding percentage as a second baseman in 1980 with a .995 average over the course of the season.

SS Roy Smalley .278/.359/.405 12 HR 103 OPS+ 4.2 BFW 19 WS 32 FRAR 3.5 WARP3
Smalley continued to be one of the best fielding shortstops in the league. Like the rest of his team, however, his production at the plate tailed off from his 1979 numbers.

3B John Castino .302/.336/.430 13 HR 102 OPS+ 2.0 BFW 18 WS 23 FRAR 2.0 WARP3
Castino was the rare player in the 1980 Twins lineup that improved upon his performance in 1979.

LF Rick Sofield .247/.287/.374 9 HR 74 OPS+ -2.1 BFW 8 WS 13 FRAR -0.8 WARP3
Sofield was the 13th overall pick by the Twins in the 1975 amateur draft. He had been offered a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Michigan, but turned it down to join the Twins’ system. The Wyoming native hit .301/.381/.355 in 35 games in 1979, which was enough to earn him the starting left field role for the Twins in 1980. After a .176/.234/.196 start in 1981, Rick attempted to get back into college football at the University of South Carolina, but was ruled ineligible. Instead, he became an assistant baseball coach for the Gamecocks.

CF Ken Landreaux .334/.417/.751 7 HR 99 OPS+ -1.9 BFW 13 WS 0 FRAR -0.5 WARP3
On April 23, 1980, Ken Landreaux broke up a no-hitter by hitting a double off of Bruce Kison with one out in the ninth inning of a 17-0 loss. The hit turned out to be even more important in that it started the longest hitting streak in the American League since 1949. From April 23 to May 31, Ken Landreaux hit in 31 consecutive games. He batted .380/.433/.481 over that span. Unfortunately, Landreaux’s individual success over that hitting streak did not translate to team success. The Twins won just 12 of the games. Landreaux’s streak earned him the spot as the lone Twins representative in the All Star Game despite mediocre numbers the rest of the season.

RF Hosken Powell .262/.312/.355 6 HR 77 OPS+ -1.8 BFW 9 WS 27 FRAR 0.9 WARP3
Powell had 14 of the Twins 62 stolen bases. He was caught just three times making him one of the few legitimate threats on a team that was dead last in the AL in stolen bases.

DH Jose Morales .303/.361/.490 8 HR 124 OPS+ 0.5 BFW 7 WS 0 FRAR 1.2 WARP3
DH Glenn Adams .286/.320/.412 6 HR 94 OPS+ -0.8 BFW 4 WS -1 FRAR -0.2 WARP3
The 35-year-old Morales might have been the best bat on the team in 1980. He became a free agent after the season and signed with Baltimore. He retired after the 1984 season. In three seasons as a platoon DH for the Twins, Morales batted .297/.350/.414 with a 106 OPS+.

IF Pete Mackanin .266/.296/.361 4 HR 74 OPS+ 0.0 BFW 7 WS 11 FRAR -0.5 WARP3
IF Mike Cubbage .246/.301/.361 8 HR 76 OPS+ -0.6 BFW 6 WS 7 FRAR -0.8 WARP3
OF Dave Edwards .250/.294/.335 2 HR 67 OPS+ -1.1 BFW 3 WS 5 FRAR -0.8 WARP3
With the way the Twins hit in 1980, if any of their bench players had proved any capability of hitting major league pitching they would have gotten a shot at starting. As it stood, the starters had every chance to right the ship.


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One Response to The Franchise 1980 (Part 1)

  1. Arne says:

    A while ago I came by an interesting bit about why Mauch resigned in the middle of the season. He said, “I wasn’t contributing enough. Those players obviously needed help and I wasn’t giving it to them.”

    I made a longer post about Mauch (http://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/gene-mauch-resigning-as-manager-of-the-twins-in-1980/), but I was struck by him voluntarily giving up a contract that was good through 1981.

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