Bold = Player new to Minnesota in 1992
SP John Smiley 16-9 3.21 ERA 126 ERA+ 1.12 WHIP 3.23 FIP 2.3 PW 18 WS 4.7 WAR
When it became clear that Jack Morris was going to sign with Toronto, the Twins signaled a seriousness about contending again in 1992 by making a trade for John Smiley. It was noted that Smiley, with his price tag large enough prior to free agency at the end of 1992, was not the kind of player the team usually went after. Andy MacPhail felt that the window was closing, however, and sent Midre Cummings and Denny Neagle to Pittsburgh for what essentially became a one-year rental. Smiley pitched well for the Twins, but in the long run it was probably a good decision not to give him a large payday at the end of the season.
SP Kevin Tapani 16-11 3.97 ERA 102 ERA+ 1.25 WHIP 3.26 FIP 0.4 PW 12 WS 2.1 WAR
SP Scott Erickson 13-12 3.40 ERA 119 ERA+ 1.32 WHIP 4.22 FIP 1.9 PW 14 WS 3.7 WAR
Tapani and Erickson are an instructive case in terms of the effect of win-loss record on perception of pitchers. In 1991, Tapani was probably a better pitcher, certainly towards the end of the season. Erickson, however, got much more attention both locally an nationally due, in part, to his hot streak in early summer (rightfully so) and the fact that he reached the magic number of 20 wins (not as strong a reason). The roles reversed somewhat in 1992. By some measures, Erickson had more success than Tapani, but ended up just one win over .500; Tapani wasn’t as good as he had been a year before, but began to get a lot more attention as a very good starting pitcher.
SP Bill Krueger 10-6 4.30 ERA 94 ERA+ 1.31 WHIP 4.08 FIP -0.4 PW 8 WS 1.0 WAR
Krueger was 34-years-old and a veteran of nine major league seasons with four different teams by the time he came to Minnesota. The journeyman lasted until August 31 with the Twins before being traded to Montreal.
SP Willie Banks 4-4 5.70 ERA 71 ERA+ 1.65 WHIP 4.49 FIP -1.1 PW 1 WS -0.7 WAR
The Twins made pitcher Willie Banks the third overall pick in the 1987 draft. He made a few appearances down the stretch in 1991, but 1992 was supposed to be his first shot as a regular in the major leagues. Injuries and poor performance derailed those plans. Among the unique aspects of Banks’ trouble was the finding that the muscles in his right (pitching) arm were much weaker than those in his left arm. For some reason Banks had used his left hand for everything but pitching.
SP Pat Mahomes 3-4 5.04 ERA 80 ERA+ 1.58 WHIP 4.05 FIP -0.6 PW 2 WS -0.1 WAR
The Twins drafted Mahomes in the sixth round of the 1988 draft. He earned a starting job out of spring training but was replaced by early June.
CL Rick Aguilera 2-6 2.84 ERA 143 ERA+ 1.16 WHIP 3.40 FIP 1.3 PW 11 WS 0.8 WAR
On August 24, The Sporting News published a blurb questioning the practice of using the save stat as a measurement for reliever effectiveness. It zeroed in on Aguilera’s save totals – second best in baseball at the time – but added that he had blown six saves and that he only had saves in 66% of games in which he entered with just a one run lead. The point of the article whose author is not acknowledged seemed to be indirect praise for Dennis Eckersley, who, one would infer, did not blow any saves (he only blew three in 1992 – by far his best season in that regard – but Eck did blow 8 the year before and 10 the year after…). It is true that 1992 was Aggie’s worst season since becoming a regular closer, but he was still well above average for the position.
RP Carl Willis 7-3 2.72 ERA 149 ERA+ 1.06 WHIP 2.72 FIP 1.4 PW 8 WS 1.6 WAR
RP Tom Edens 6-3 2.83 ERA 143 ERA+ 1.32 WHIP 2.95 FIP 1.2 PW 8 WS 1.5 WAR
RP Mark Guthrie 2-3 2.88 ERA 141 ERA+ 1.09 WHIP 2.89 FIP 0.7 PW 8 WS 1.2 WAR
RP Gary Wayne 3-3 2.63 ERA 155 ERA+ 1.35 WHIP 3.49 FIP 0.8 PW 4 WS 0.8 WAR
One of the unsung reasons the 1992 Twins were as good as they were was the bullpen. In front of Aguilera, who was still one of the best closers in baseball, the Twins had at least four reliable relievers who were well above league average. In essence, the 1992 Twins were able to shorten games. The team lost Edens in the expansion draft to the Marlins, and traded Wayne to the Rockies – but Willis and Guthrie remained for the 1993 season.