The Franchise 1982 (Part 1)

1982 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Billy Gardner 2nd Season (2nd with Minnesota 90-145)
60 W 102 L 657 RS 819 RA 7th AL West 33 GB (California 93-69)
4.06 RPG (AL = 4.48) 4.72 ERA (AL = 4.07)
.707 DER (6th AL)

All-Stars (1) Kent Hrbek

Franchise (1901-1982) 5993-6578-110; 11-21 Post Season; 11-15 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1982) 1779-1714-6; 3-10 Post Season; 3-4 WS

1982 was a year of new beginnings for the franchise. The Twins opened a new stadium, the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome. In addition to the new home, the team looked a lot different. Whether Calvin Griffith made all of the moves just to save money, or if he was making moves to allow Billy Gardner to train the young players on the job, the result was that the Twins fielded the youngest team in the major leagues.

Early on there was speculation that the Twins might challenge the 1962 Mets for the worst record in modern baseball history. The team won only three time in the month of May, and didn’t win their 20th game until the last day in June.

A funny thing happened later in the season. The rookies, who at times looked overmatched in the spring and early summer, started to hold their own. The team actually had a winning record in July. Though the 60-102 finish was the worst since the team moved to Minnesota, it looked pretty good considering the start. There seemed to be room for cautious optimism for Twins fans.

Roster/Stats (Hitters)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1982

C Tim Laudner .255/.328/.392 7 HR 95 OPS+ -1.1 BFW 7 WS 8 FRAR -0.4 WARP3
C Sal Butera .254/.347/.270 0 HR 71 OPS+ 0.0 BFW 2 WS 9 FRAR 0.0 WARP3
At the moment of the Butch Wynegar trade, Tim Laudner was batting .176 at Toledo. The baseball establishment looked to that fact as proof that the Wynegar deal was little more than a salary dump for Calvin Griffith. What was forgotten by many was that Laudner led organized baseball with 42 home runs in 1981. Launder, a product of Park Center High School who played college ball at Mizzou, was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 1979 draft. As a September call up in 1981, Laudner didn’t look like a 40-home run threat at any level. His slump extended into the beginning of the 1982 season, but he quickly proved himself as an everyday player and was named to the major league All-Rookie team at the end of the year.

1B Kent Hrbek .301/.363/.485 23 HR 128 OPS+ 1.2 BFW 18 WS 18 FRAR 3.5 WARP3
Hrbek’s hit a home run in his first major league game in August of 1981, and hit the first two home runs in Metrodome history in an exhibition game against the Phillies. He had a hot start to his first full major league season, batting .314/.404/.698 with 8 home runs and 22 RBI in 22 games in the month of April. On April 17, he began a stretch in which he hit safely in 40 of 41 games, including a career high 23 game hitting streak. The Bloomington native was named to the All-Rookie team and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Cal Ripken Jr.

2B John Castino .241/.304/.344 6 HR 76 OPS+ -1.2 BFW 8 WS 29 FRAR 0.9 WARP3
Castino underwent a spinal fusion in October of 1981 and the smart money was that he would miss the entire 1982 season. Castino insisted he would be back for opening day. As it turns out, he was off by about two weeks. He came off the disabled list on April 19. 1982 was probably his worst season, but considering the circumstances it is understandable.

SS Lenny Faedo .243/.288/.310 3 HR 63 OPS+ -1.4 BFW 4 WS 12 FRAR -0.6 WARP3
SS/2B Ron Washington .271/.291/.368 5 HR 78 OPS+ -2.8 BFW 8 WS 14 FRAR -0.4 WARP3
When Smalley was traded the Twins had every intention of filling the shortstop hole with Lenny Faedo, a Florida native who the Twins made the 16th overall pick in the 1978 draft. A sub-.200 batting average for the first two months meant the Faedo would sit and the Twins would look elsewhere for a shortstop. Enter Ron Washington, who hit well, but the team was not happy with his defense. Faedo and Washington essentially traded the job for the entire season.

3B Gary Gaetti .230/.280/.443 25 HR 93 OPS+ -1.6 BFW 11 WS 34 FRAR 1.9 WARP3
The Twins drafted Gaetti in 1979. The Illinois native could not have asked for a better start to his first full season in the major leagues. In the very first regular season game in Metrodome history, Gaetti hit two home runs and went 4-for-4. Gaetti went 10-for-17 in his first five games. After the hot start, however, Gaetti started to come down to earth. By mid-June there was talk that he would be headed back to Triple-A. Gaetti improved his strikeout-rate enough to convince a team with few options to keep him, and he chalked up his 1982 season as a learning experience, though his numbers weren’t as “embarrassing” as the .230 batting average seemed to indicate.

LF Gary Ward .289/.330/.519 28 HR 127 OPS+ 2.5 BFW 20 WS 14 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
There had been speculation prior to the season that the Twins might open 1982 with an all-white lineup. Ward was having none of it: “Don’t worry about it,” he told Reusse, “I don’t know if it will be in left or center, but I will be in the outfield.” Ward was correct. Early in the season left field was shuffled between Hatcher, Engle, and Ward, but ultimately Ward gave the Twins something they had been missing from the corner outfield position for some time: power.

CF Jim Eisenreich .303/.378/.424 9 HR 118 OPS+ 0.3 BFW 4 WS 4 FRAR 0.5 WARP3
CF Bobby Mitchell .249/.331/.313 2 HR 76 OPS+ -0.7 BFW 9 WS 28 FRAR 0.6 WARP3
Eisenreich was the opening day centerfielder for the Twins, and it looked as though the rookie was going to be a fixture in the lineup for a long time to come. After a very successful first month of the season, Eisenreich started to pull himself out of games. Observers were noticing “twitches and facial grimaces” which Eisenreich and the media simply chalked up to a case of rookie nerves. On May 4, Eisenreich pulled himself out of a game against Boston after relentless fan taunting seemed to make the twitching worse. As he left the field he complained of trouble breathing, and was removed from the game. After a few more instances, Eisenreich was placed on the disabled list. After an unsuccessful comeback attempt in late May, he and the team pulled the plug on the season as Eisenreich went to at least four doctors to find out what was wrong. With an initial diagnosis of agoraphobia, Eisenreich attempted to join the club for the 1983 season and the 1984 season, but ended up on the disabled list after just a handful of games both years. He eventually was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and made a successful comeback with the Royals in 1987, and went on to have a nice career that included a World Series championship with the Florida Marlins.

RF Tom Brunansky .272/.377/.471 20 HR 129 OPS+ 2.6 BFW 18 WS 26 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
The Twins traded Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong to the Angels in order to obtain Brunansky. At the time, Bruno had just a handful of games experience in the majors, and looked to be stuck in the Angels minor league system. While the trade was initially criticized, the Twins couldn’t have been happier with his production in 1982. Brunansky, a native of California, was also not sure about his new summer home, saying that the “Californian’s view of the midwest is that there isn’t much happening.” He liked Minnesota more than he thought, however, though he did not stick around for the winter.

DH Randy Johnson .248/.325/.419 10 HR 101 OPS+ -0.2 BFW 5 WS 0 FRAR 0.4 WARP3
OF/DH Mickey Hatcher .249/.269/.343 3 HR 65 OPS+ -1.6 BFW 1 WS 2 FRAR -1.6 WARP3
DH/OF Randy Bush
.244/.305/.412 4 HR 93 OPS+ -0.3 BFW 2 WS -1 FRAR -0.1 WARP3
The designated hitter spot was a bit of a revolving door for the Twins. Johnson was the primary DH for the first part of the season, but Hatcher and Bush got more plate appearances as the season wore on.


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