The Franchise 1983 (Part 1)

1983 Minnesota Twins

Manager: Billy Gardner 3rd Season (3rd with Minnesota 160-237)
70 W 92 L 709 RS 822 RA T5th AL West 29 GB (Chicago 99-63)
4.38 RPG (AL = 4.48) 4.66 ERA (AL = 4.06)
.691 DER (11th AL)

All-Stars (1) Gary Ward

Franchise (1901-1983) 6063-6670-110; 11-21 Post Season; 11-15 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-1983) 1849-1806-6; 3-10 Post Season; 3-4 WS

The 1983 Minnesota Twins were just kind of there. They didn’t reach the depths of futility that the 1982 squad had, but the improvement was not enough to generate a lot of excitement among the fan base. For the most part, ’83 was about giving the sophomore players one more year of experience playing together, and in that regard it was successful.

There was, however, a somewhat ominous tone to the season. Griffith has managed to get attendance-related provisions into his Metrodome lease, and it looked as though the attendance would be poor enough for the team to move in the next couple of years. The buzz was that the Tampa area looked to be the future home of the Minnesota Twins.

Roster/Stats (Hitters)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1983

C Dave Engle .305/.350/.449 8 HR 116 OPS+ -0.2 BFW 12 WS 3 FRAR 0.6 WARP3
C Tim Laudner .185/.250/.345 6 HR 60 OPS+ -0.9 BFW 2 WS 5 FRAR -1.1 WARP3
Dave Engle switched from the outfield to catcher in 1983 and beat Tim Laudner out in spring training to become the team’s everyday catcher. When Tim Laudner was catching, Engle was often the designated hitter.

1B Kent Hrbek .297/.366/.489 16 HR 130 OPS+ 1.2 BFW 19 WS 11 FRAR 2.4 WARP3
Hrbek’s second full season looked a lot like his first, proving that there was no rookie fluke involved.

2B John Castino .277/.348/.403 11 HR 103 OPS+ 2.0 BFW 21 WS 29 FRAR 2.8 WARP3
When the Twins broke camp after spring training, John Castino was the only player who was on the roster at teh start of the 1980 season. Another year removed from back surgery, he looked like the same player that won the AL Rookie of the Year Award a few years back. Because of his veteran status, and the fact that he was up for a big contract at the end of the year, trade rumors followed Castino throughout the season. Calvin Griffith, citing pressure from local newspapermen, signed Castino to a long-term deal at the end of the season. The move backfired for the Twins. Castino’s back problems flared up again and his career was basically over. The Twins released him after the 1985 season. Prior to his release, Castino was somewhat prophetic. He predicted the team was headed for a championship in a few years and expressed disappointment that he would not be a part of it.

SS Ron Washington .246/.296/.325 4 HR 69 OPS+ -1.6 BFW 4 WS 8 FRAR -1.1 WARP3
SS Lenny Faedo .277/.291/.335 1 HR 70 OPS+ -1.9 BFW 2 WS 1 FRAR -1.1 WARP3
The shortstop position was a giant question mark during spring training, and remained so throughout the year. Washington and Faedo got most of the playing time, but neither of them were able to impress Gardner or Griffith enough to land the job on a permanent basis. Faedo played a few games with the Twins in 1984, but was released in the spring of 1985. Washington stuck around as a utility player.

3B Gary Gaetti .245/.309/.414 21 HR 95 OPS+ 0.3 BFW 17 WS 31 FRAR 2.0 WARP3
Gaetti always liked to say that he didn’t care much about batting average. After wins, the most important statistic to him was home runs. He proved that again in 1983, though he had not yet reached his power potential.

LF Gary Ward .278/.326/.440 19 HR 106 OPS+ 1.6 BFW 17 WS 22 FRAR 1.8 WARP3
On August 30, Gary Ward was hit in the face with a Dan Petry pitch. The blow fractured his nose in five places and the rest of his face was badly swollen and bleeding. Just a week later, Ward was back in the lineup with new protective head gear, described by Patrick Reusse as a “Darth Vader mask.” He went 4-for-4 and amazed just about everybody by showing no ill effects from the incident. Despite the fact that Ward was probably the team’s MVP in 1983, he was traded to the Texas Rangers in December for Mike Smithson and Ron Butcher. Ward reacted with shock and a few charged comments:

“The way I see it, they don’t want any black players over there that play every day. What else can I think?”

Howard Fox responded to Ward’s comments:

“I’m sorry he ever mentioned anything like that because he was never being treated any other way than any other player. I was sorry to see him get traded because I like him as a person. But we had to improve our pitching and, because of his age, Gary was the logical player to trade.”

Ward played three seasons with the Rangers before joining the Yankees. He was about an average player over the years.

CF Darrell Brown .272/.297/.304 0 HR 64 OPS+ -2.1 BFW 3 WS -2 FRAR -2.4 WARP3
CF Bobby Mitchell .230/.354/.303 1 HR 81 OPS+ -0.6 BFW 3 WS -2 FRAR -0.9 WARP3
Aside from shortstop, the most unsettled position was centerfield. The Twins acquired Brown as a free agent from Oakland, and Mitchell had been the regular centerfielder in 1982. The hope was that Jim Eisenreich would return and play regularly, but he continued to have problems with what was later identified as Tourette Syndrome.

RF Tom Brunansky .227/.308/.445 28 HR 102 OPS+ 0.5 BFW 15 WS 23 FRAR 1.9 WARP3
Similar to Hrbek and Gaetti, 1983 was another year of experience for Brunansky. His numbers didn’t look significantly different from 1982. What is interesting is how positively his fielding looked in the early years. He actually played 38 games in centerfield.

DH Randy Bush .249/.323/.418 11 HR 100 OPS+ -0.4 BFW 8 WS 0 FRAR 0.0 WARP3
Bush was the primary designated hitter against right-handed pitching. When a lefty was on the mound, the Twins rotated Hatcher and Engle.

UT Mickey Hatcher .317/.342/.445 9 HR 112 OPS+ 0.7 BFW 11 WS 14 FRAR 2.1 WARP3
Thought he had a very strong season at the plate, Mickey Hatcher did not earn an every day job. His first position was first base, which was occupied by Hrbek. He also could play third, but that was Gaetti’s position. Hatcher also had experience at the corner outfield positions, but those were occupied by Ward and Brunansky. That left Hatcher as a sort of super-utility player and designated hitter.

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