The Franchise 1991 (Part 2)

Roster/Stats (Pitchers)
Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1991

SP Jack Morris 18-12 3.43 ERA 125 ERA+ 1.29 WHIP 3.66 FIP 2.3 PW 18 WS 4.1 WAR
The Twins lost one new-look free agent in Gary Gaetti, but took advantage of the availability of another in Jack Morris. The St. Paul native was 36-years-old by the time he took the mound for his home team after 14 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Morris’ fresh start in Minnesota may have been the reason for his resurgence as a pitcher, he had one of the best seasons of his career, certainly his best in five years. His biggest value, however, might have been the fact that he took pressure off of Minnesota’s young pitching staff. His true value to the team showed in the post season, where Morris posted a 4-0 record in five starts for the Twins, including a very memorable 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the World Series. After the season, Morris signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays, where he went on to win another World Series ring. Despite a short time with the Twins, Morris is considered one of the greats in team history, thanks in large part to that one October game.

SP Kevin Tapani 16-9 2.99 ERA 143 ERA+ 1.09 WHIP 3.49 FIP 3.5 PW 21 WS 6.0 WAR
While Jack Morris and Scott Erickson grabbed all the headlines, Kevin Tapani slipped somewhat under the radar in 1991. Interestingly, the numbers suggest he was the team’s best pitcher. The 27-year-old improved in just about every statistical category from his rookie season with the Twins. Perhaps Tapani doesn’t get the credit he deserves due to his mediocre postseason performance.

SP Scott Erickson 20-8 3.18 ERA 135 ERA+ 1.27 WHIP 3.76 FIP 3.1 PW 18 WS 4.2 WAR
For a couple of months in early summer Scott Erickson was the best pitcher in baseball. Though he lost his first two decision of the season because his team was shut out, Erickson went on a roll after that. From April 21 to June 24, Erickson did not lose a game. He won 12 consecutive decisions with an ERA of 1.24, allowed opposing batters to hit just .198/.257/.269 all while lasting at least into the seventh inning in each start. It wasn’t a coincidence that Erickson’s streak was parallel with the team’s winning streak. Erickson became almost as popular for his style, wearing all black socks with polished black shoes and an icy stare into the batter. Injury might have derailed his dominance, but Erickson was still one of the league’s best pitchers at the end of the season. When asked who Erickson most reminded him of, Jack Morris told a reporter “Cy Young.”

SP Allan Anderson 5-11 4.96 ERA 86 ERA+ 1.41 WHIP 5.47 FIP -1.1 PW 3 WS -0.1 WAR
Just a few years removed from being the team’s best pitcher, Anderson was given his final opportunity in 1991. Anderson spent some time in August with triple-A Portland, and was not included on the postseason roster. He became a free agent after the season and spent the next two years playing in the minor leagues for various American League organizations, but did not return to the majors.

SP David West 4-4 4.54 ERA 94 ERA+ 1.32 WHIP 4.99 FIP -0.1 PW 3 WS 0.6 WAR
After spending the entire 1990 season with the major league club, David West started 1991 in the minors. He was called up for his season debut on July 4 in part because of Anderson’s struggles and in part due to injuries. He was primarily a starter but came out of the bullpen as well. He pitched well in limited play in the post season, but was credited with the win after pitching three scoreless innings in the clinching Game 5 of the ALCS.

SP/RP Mark Guthrie 7-5 4.32 ERA 99 ERA+ 1.60 WHIP 4.13 FIP -0.1 PW 5 WS 0.5 WAR
Guthrie spent all of May and June as a regular in the starting rotation, but Tom Kelly liked using him more as a reliever, particularly to get left-handed hitters out late in games.

CL Rick Aguilera 4-5 2.35 ERA 183 ERA+ 1.07 WHIP 3.00 FIP 2.9 PW 15 WS 2.5 WAR
It is easy to forget that just two years prior to 1991 Rick Aguilera was a solid but unspectacular starting pitcher. By the time the 1991 season started, he was considered one of the best closers in the game. He might have been number one on the list had his best seasons not come during Dennis Eckersley’s prime. While his role was more specialized than the ace relievers just five years before, Tom Kelly was not afraid to use Aggie for more than one inning at a time. He pitched multiple innings in about a third of his appearances, including a couple of three-inning games.

RP Carl Willis 8-3 2.63 ERA 163 ERA+ 1.07 WHIP 2.92 FIP 1.7 PW 10 WS 1.5 WAR
Carl Willis was one of those unlikely sources of production for the Minnesota Twins in 1991. By the time he came to the Twins, Willis was a 30-year-old career minor leaguer. In 63 major league appearances for three different teams between 1984 and 1988, he was 2-6 with 5.90 ERA (67 ERA+). His main problem over that span was control – he walked 51 batters in 103.2 innings pitched. He was able to find the plate in 1991 – allowing just 19 walks in 89 innings pitched. Despite being primarily a junk ball pitcher, Willis earned the nickname “Big Train” from teammate Kevin Tapani, who explained that the journeyman was good at “tooting his own horn.”

RP Steve Bedrosian 5-3 4.42 ERA 97 ERA+ 1.36 WHIP 5.04 FIP -0.2 PW 5 WS -0.1 WAR
The answer to the trivia question “name only Cy Young Award winner on the 1991 Twins,” Steve Bedrosian came to the Twins in an offseason trade for a PTBNL. For the first time since he was a starter in 1985, the 33-year-old was not the primary closer for his team. Bedrosian performed well in the set up roll, giving the Twins some big innings during the pennant race. Bedrosian briefly retired following the season because of circulation problems in his throwing arm, but returned in 1993 to finish his career with the Atlanta Braves.

RP Terry Leach 1-2 3.61 ERA 119 ERA+ 1.43 WHIP 3.11 FIP 0.3 PW 4 WS 0.6 WAR
The submariner was once again one of the team’s most reliable relievers. Unlike 1990, however, in 1991 Leach had some help in the bullpen. Leach became a free agent at the end of the season and ultimately signed with the White Sox, where he would finish his career.

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