Minnesota Twins Opening Day History

April 6, 2012

The Twins have now lost three straight opening days, but have won the division two of those three years. The moral of the story: opening day only matters until the start of game two of the season. So here is the meaningless list of opening day results and starters for the Twins.

To further press the meaningless: the Twins have only faced Baltimore twice before on opening day, in 1967 and in 2007. They are 1-1 against the Orioles on opening day, so do with that information what you will.

Date – Result – Starting Pitcher

4/11/1961 W @ NYY 6-0 Pedro Ramos
4/10/1962 L @ KCA 2-4 Jack Kralick
4/9/1963 L vs CLE 4-5 Mudcat Grant
4/14/1964 W @ CLE 7-6 Camilo Pascual
4/12/1965 W vs NYY 5-4 (11 innings) Jim Kaat
4/12/1966 W vs KCA 2-1 Mudcat Grant (2)
4/11/1967 L @ BAL 3-6 Jim Kaat (2)
4/10/1968 W @ WAS 2-0 Dean Chance
4/8/1969 L @ KCR 3-4 (12 innings) Tom Hall
4/7/1970 W @ CHW 12-0 Jim Perry
4/6/1971 L vs MIL 2-7 Jim Perry (2)
4/15/1972 L @ OAK 3-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/6/1973 W @ OAK 8-3 Bert Blyleven
4/5/1974 W @ KCR 6-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/8/1975 W @ TEX 11-4 Bert Blyleven (2)
4/9/1976 L @ TEX 1-2 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven (3)
4/9/1977 L @ OAK 4-7 Dave Goltz
4/5/1978 L @ SEA 2-3 Dave Goltz (2)
4/6/1979 W @ OAK 5-3 Dave Goltz (3)
4/10/1980 W @ OAK 9-7 (12 innings) Jerry Koosman
4/9/1981 L vs OAK 1-5 Jerry Koosman (2)
4/6/1982 L vs SEA 7-11 Pete Redfern
4/5/1983 L vs DET 3-11 Brad Havens
4/3/1984 L vs DET 1-8 Albert Williams
4/9/1985 W @ CAL 6-2 Frank Viola
4/8/1986 W @ OAK 3-2 Frank Viola (2)
4/7/1987 W vs OAK 5-4 (10 innings) Bert Blyleven (4)
4/5/1988 L @ NYY 0-8 Frank Viola (3)
4/4/1989 L vs NYY 2-4 Frank Viola (4)
4/9/1990 L @ OAK 3-8 Allan Anderson
4/9/1991 L @ OAK 2-7 Jack Morris
4/6/1992 W @ MIL 4-2 Scott Erickson
4/6/1993 W vs CHW 10-5 Kevin Tapani
4/5/1994 L vs CAL 2-8 Kevin Tapani (2)
4/26/1995 L @ BOS 0-9 Scott Erickson (2)
4/1/1996 W vs DET 8-6 Brad Radke
4/1/1997 W vs DET 7-5 Brad Radke (2)
4/1/1998 L @ TOR 2-3 Bob Tewksbury
4/6/1999 W vs TOR 6-1 Brad Radke (3)
4/3/2000 L vs TB 0-7 Brad Radke (4)
4/3/2001 W @ DET 3-2 Brad Radke (5)
4/1/2002 W @ KC 8-6 Brad Radke (6)
3/31/2003 W @ DET 3-1 Brad Radke (7)
4/5/2004 W vs CLE 7-4 (11 innings) Brad Radke (8)
4/4/2005 L @ SEA 1-5 Brad Radke (9)
4/4/2006 L @ TOR 3-6 Johan Santana
4/2/2007 W vs BAL 7-4 Johan Santana (2)
3/31/2008 W vs LAA 3-2 Livan Hernandez
4/6/2009 L vs SEA 1-6 Francisco Liriano
4/5/2010 L @ LAA 3-6 Scott Baker
4/1/2011 L @ TOR 3-13 Carl Pavano

Overall Record on Opening Day: 25-26


A Dubious List

November 3, 2010

This Giants used to be third on this list, now they are at the bottom – meaning the Twins move up one more slot as a generation clings to its 1987 and 1991 memories.

Team – Year of Last World Series Win (or founding if no WS wins)

1. Chicago Cubs – 1908

2. Cleveland Indians – 1948

3. Texas Rangers – none (1961)

4. Houston Astros – none (1962)

5(t). Milwaukee Brewers – none (1969)

5(t). San Diego Padres – none (1969)

5(t). Washington Nationals – none (1969)

8. Seattle Mariners – 1977

9. Pittsburgh Pirates – 1979

10. Baltimore Orioles – 1983

11. Detroit Tigers – 1984

12. Kansas City Royals – 1985

13. New York Mets – 1986

14. Los Angeles Dodgers – 1988

15. Oakland A’s – 1989

16. Cincinnati Reds – 1990

17. Minnesota Twins – 1991

18(t). Colorado Rockies – none (1993)

18(t). Toronto Blue Jays – 1993

20. Atlanta Braves – 1995

Some thoughts:

-The expansion class of 1969 (Padres, Expos-Nationals, Pilots-Brewers, Royals) is 1-for-4 in terms of World Series wins with only the Royals having won it all (1985).

-No team won more than a single title in the years between 1978 (Yankees) and 1990 (Reds). 8 of those 13 World Series winners have not won a championship since. ADDED: Wrong. The Dodgers won in both 1981 and 1988. So only one team repeated in that time period, and 7 of 12 have not won a championship since.

-I was 13 years old when my team last won a World Series. A Cubs fan who was 13 the last time they won a World Series would now be 115 years old, and Indians fan would be 75 years old. Will the Twins win one before I am 115, or even 75? I hope so.


All-Franchise Team: 1981-1990

August 20, 2010

C Brian Harper 6.0 WAR (1988-1990) – It is tempting to write Tim Laudner’s name in this spot. His entire career came during this decade, and he was the catcher for the 1987 World Series team. While Laudner logged more time with the Twins in the decade, it is easy to forget just how good Harper was in his first couple of seasons with the Twins. Not largely remembered as a great defensive catcher, the rationale the team gave when he took over for Laudner for good in 1989 was because he was a better catcher.

1B Kent Hrbek 29.9 WAR (1981-1990) – As much of a no-brainer as there is. The team’s starting first baseman in 1981 was Danny Goodwin. The next non-Hrbek regular first baseman for the Twins was Scott Stahoviak in 1995.

2B John Castino 7.7 WAR (1981-1983) – The position was pretty much a revolving door most of the decade, but Castino was one of the few “stars” on the Twins during the lean years of the early 1980′s.

SS Greg Gagne 12.1 WAR (1983-1990) – Gagne was so steady for the Twins at shortstop. While he didn’t provide the offense the team had hoped for, he played excellent defense up the middle for the bulk of the decade.

3B Gary Gaetti 23.8 WAR (1981-1990) – Another no-brainer. Played 1,361 games for the Twins, all in this decade.

LF Gary Ward 8.5 WAR (1981-1983) – The conventional wisdom would probably put Dan Gladden here. While largely credited as the catalyst for the 1987 World Series team, Gladden’s numbers don’t even approach Ward – Gladden posted just 3.5 WAR from 1987-1990.

CF Kirby Puckett 27.9 WAR (1984-1990) – Other candidates for center field include Darrell Brown and Mickey Hatcher. Enough said.

RF Tom Brunansky 14.6 WAR (1982-1988) – He was not the same player after the Twins traded him away, but it’s not like they got much in return.

DH Roy Smalley 2.2 WAR (1981-1982, 1985 – 1987) – Smalley’s inclusion on this list is more of an indictment on the team’s luck with designated hitters in the decade. Randy Bush might have been a better choice, but he played much more in the outfield than at DH in the decade. Perhaps Bush should be the pinch-hitter on the all-decade team.

SP Frank Viola 24.5 WAR (1982-1989) – Easily the best Twins pitcher of the decade. Led the team to one World Series, and his trade was the key to the pitching foundation of a second.

SP Bert Blyleven 9.3 WAR (1985-1988) – While Blyleven was not the same pitcher in his second stint with the Twins, he still provided some valuable innings.

SP Allan Anderson 7.9 WAR (1986-1990) – For two years Anderson looked like he might be the pitcher of the future for the Twins.

RP Jeff Reardon 4.3 WAR (1987-1989) – While I think Reardon tends to be overrated a bit, he doesn’t have a lot of competition for best closer of the decade- a fact that no doubt lends itself to Twins fans seeing him in a better light.

RP Juan Berenguer 5.0 WAR (1987-1990) – Whether as a starter, long reliever, set-up man, closer, or music video star, you could make a case that Juan Berenguer was one of the most valuable of the Twins pitchers for the latter part of the decade.


Minnesota Twins Opening Day History

April 5, 2010

Opening Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I think the Angels are doing everybody a disservice by playing a night game on the West Coast, but even that won’t dampen my spirits. Here is my annual list of Twins Opening Days. This will be the first time since 2006 that the team opens on the road, but I suspect road openers will be the rule with few exceptions moving forward.

Date – Result – Starting Pitcher

4/11/1961 W @ NYY 6-0 Pedro Ramos
4/10/1962 L @ KCA 2-4 Jack Kralick
4/9/1963 L vs CLE 4-5 Mudcat Grant
4/14/1964 W @ CLE 7-6 Camilo Pascual
4/12/1965 W vs NYY 5-4 (11 innings) Jim Kaat
4/12/1966 W vs KCA 2-1 Mudcat Grant (2)
4/11/1967 L @ BAL 3-6 Jim Kaat (2)
4/10/1968 W @ WAS 2-0 Dean Chance
4/8/1969 L @ KCR 3-4 (12 innings) Tom Hall
4/7/1970 W @ CHW 12-0 Jim Perry
4/6/1971 L vs MIL 2-7 Jim Perry (2)
4/15/1972 L @ OAK 3-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/6/1973 W @ OAK 8-3 Bert Blyleven
4/5/1974 W @ KCR 6-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/8/1975 W @ TEX 11-4 Bert Blyleven (2)
4/9/1976 L @ TEX 1-2 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven (3)
4/9/1977 L @ OAK 4-7 Dave Goltz
4/5/1978 L @ SEA 2-3 Dave Goltz (2)
4/6/1979 W @ OAK 5-3 Dave Goltz (3)
4/10/1980 W @ OAK 9-7 (12 innings) Jerry Koosman
4/9/1981 L vs OAK 1-5 Jerry Koosman (2)
4/6/1982 L vs SEA 7-11 Pete Redfern
4/5/1983 L vs DET 3-11 Brad Havens
4/3/1984 L vs DET 1-8 Albert Williams
4/9/1985 W @ CAL 6-2 Frank Viola
4/8/1986 W @ OAK 3-2 Frank Viola (2)
4/7/1987 W vs OAK 5-4 (10 innings) Bert Blyleven (4)
4/5/1988 L @ NYY 0-8 Frank Viola (3)
4/4/1989 L vs NYY 2-4 Frank Viola (4)
4/9/1990 L @ OAK 3-8 Allan Anderson
4/9/1991 L @ OAK 2-7 Jack Morris
4/6/1992 W @ MIL 4-2 Scott Erickson
4/6/1993 W vs CHW 10-5 Kevin Tapani
4/5/1994 L vs CAL 2-8 Kevin Tapani (2)
4/26/1995 L @ BOS 0-9 Scott Erickson (2)
4/1/1996 W vs DET 8-6 Brad Radke
4/1/1997 W vs DET 7-5 Brad Radke (2)
4/1/1998 L @ TOR 2-3 Bob Tewksbury
4/6/1999 W vs TOR 6-1 Brad Radke (3)
4/3/2000 L vs TB 0-7 Brad Radke (4)
4/3/2001 W @ DET 3-2 Brad Radke (5)
4/1/2002 W @ KC 8-6 Brad Radke (6)
3/31/2003 W @ DET 3-1 Brad Radke (7)
4/5/2004 W vs CLE 7-4 (11 innings) Brad Radke (8)
4/4/2005 L @ SEA 1-5 Brad Radke (9)
4/4/2006 L @ TOR 3-6 Johan Santana
4/2/2007 W vs BAL 7-4 Johan Santana (2)
3/31/2008 W vs LAA 3-2 Livan Hernandez
4/6/2009 L vs SEA 1-6 Francisco Liriano

Overall Record on Opening Day: 25-24

Tonight: Scott Baker vs Jered Weaver


Greatest Twins Quotes

March 15, 2010

Torii Hunter made some more news with his mouth last week. Even though he is no longer a Twin, it got me thinking of some other notable Twins’ quotes. Here are some of the top quotes in franchise history. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

“You can’t hit what you can’t see” -Walter Johnson

“I get a kick out of watching a team defense me. A player moves two steps in one direction and I hit it two steps in the other direction. It goes right by his glove and I laugh.” -Rod Carew

“It’s hard to field the ball when you have both hands around your throat.” -Gary Gaetti, after committing an error that helped the Twins blow a 10-run lead in the midst of the 1984 pennant race.

“If I feel like King King, I’ll throw like King King.” -Jack Morris prior to the 1991 World Series.

“I wrote this speech thinking this was going to be it. It’s not it. You guys went and screwed up my whole speech. We’ve got to come back here on Tuesday and drink some more beer.” -Kent Hrbek after what was supposed to be the last regular season game at the Metrodome.

“We’re gonna do this f@$(ing thing over again. I just f&%(ed it up.” -Bert Blyleven

“Please stop throwing things! This is an important game. Now quit this!” -Bob Casey, on the P.A., chiding Twins fans for throwing things at Chuck Knoblauch

“You name it, I’ve got it. Some players have to be 100 percent (to play), but I don’t.” – Torii Hunter


All-Franchise Team: 1971-1980

March 5, 2010

C Butch Wynegar (1976-1980)
While Wynegar never improved on his hitting after his rookie season, he was a steady performer behind the plate for the Twins.

1B Craig Kusick (1973-1979)
The reality is that Rod Carew could probably hold both the first base and second base slot for the 1970′s Twins – I put him at sec0nd base because he played there more. Behind Carew, the field wasn’t very deep. Kusick had the best numbers as a hitter of the rest, but he compiled most of them as a DH. Still, I think he edges out Ron Jackson for this spot.

2B Rod Carew (1971-1978)
Easy choice – one of the best Twins ever.

SS Roy Smalley (1976-1980)
People my age, whose memories of Smalley are from his second stint with the Twins, are often surprised to discover just how good he was in the 1970′s.

3B Steve Braun (1971-1976)
Braun played just about every position for the Twins but finds a home on this team at third base, where he saw most of his action with the Twins.

LF Larry Hisle (1973-1977)
Hisle was good for his entire Twins career, but his final season as a Twin really stands out.

CF Lyman Bostock (1975-1977)
Had he not been killed at the age of 27 in 1978, Bostock might be a household name.

RF Dan Ford (1975-1978)
Disco Dan was a fan favorite at the Met, and a solid player.

DH Tony Oliva (1971-1976)
The tail end of Oliva’s career came in the 1970′s, but Twins fans were fortunate that the designated hitter rule extended his career by a couple of seasons.

SP Bert Blyleven (1971-1976)
Should be in the Hall of Fame already, probably will be next year.

SP Dave Goltz (1972-1979)
The Pelican Rapids, MN native became the first native Minnesotan originally signed by the Twins to make it the major league roster. He won 96 games with the Twins, all in the 1970′s, and is 17th on the franchise all-time ERA+ list with 112.

SP Jim Kaat (1971-1973)
Kaat finished his Twins career with a few up and down seasons, but was still one of the top performers on the team.

CL Mike Marshall (1978-1980)
Marshall’s ’78 and ’79 seasons were among the best seasons for a closer in Twins history. In 1980 he gave way to Doug Corbett, who also had a great seasons closing for the Twins.


Constructing a team from the best seasons in Twins history

October 21, 2009

Still trying to get over the Twins quick exit from the playoffs, I am clearly seeking solace in an attempt to place Joe Mauer’s historic season in context.

It got me thinking about the best single seasons in Twins history, so I decided to put together a lineup. The no brainers were the one’s discussed in the previous post on Mauer’s season: Mauer 2009 at catcher, Carew 1977 at first base, Killebrew 1969 at third base, Knoblauch 1996 at second base, and Puckett 1988 at center field.

Rounding out the team turned out to be a fairly easy task as well, with only a couple of positions that require any kind of debate. The closest was at shortstop, where Roy Smalley’s 1979 and Zoilo’s 1965 seem just about interchangeable. I went with Zorro, perhaps swayed by the national recognition he received and based on arguments made on his behalf over the last several seasons. Smalley might be my first bench player.

Left field was a bit of a challenge, but ultimately my desire to keep two of the same player off the team (Killebrew 1964) and to keep some kind of defense in the field (Hisle 1977) put Shane Mack in place.

Designated hitter does not have a terribly proud place in this team’s history, and I was surprised to find that Kubel’s numbers rank favorably against any DH in Twins history. The other two that could have been included were CHili Davis 1991 and Paul Molitor 1996.

C Joe Mauer 2009

1B Rod Carew 1977

2B Chuck Knoblauch 1996

SS Zoilo Versalles 1965

3B Harmon Killebrew 1969

LF Shane Mack 1992

CF Kirby Puckett 1988

RF Tony Oliva 1964

DH Jason Kubel 2009

I’ll take that team.


Top Single-Season Batting Among Catchers: 2009 Update

October 7, 2009

since 1900

1. mauer2.jpgJoe Mauer 2009 .365

2. piazza.jpgMike Piazza LA 1997 .362
3. dickey.jpgBill Dickey NYY 1936 .362*
4. cochrane.jpgMickey Cochrane PHA 1930 .357
5. davis.jpgSpud Davis PHN 1933 .349
6. Mickey Cochrane PHA 1931 .349
7. Joe Mauer MIN 2006 .347
8. Mike Piazza LA 1995 .346
9. lombardi.jpgErnie Lombardi CIN 1938 .342
10. hartnett.jpgGabby Hartnett CHC 1930 .339

*Bill Dickey was a few plate appearances  short of qualifying for the batting title in 1936 (3.1 PA’s per team game required; Dickey = 3.06 PA’s per game)


Top 10 Lists

September 24, 2009

Let the Metrodome nostalgia begin.

Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times started the week with “The 10 greatest games in Metrodome history.” The top two are probably no-brainers, but plenty of room to debate on the list.

Jaffe’s list places a high premium on drama and game quality, so you won’t find the September 27, 1987 game in which the Twins clinched a tie for their first division title in almost two decades.

The only glaring omission in my opinion is Johan Santana’s 17-K game against the Rangers in 2007. I might also include this game from 1991 which included a late comeback against a dominant closer in the thick of a pennant race. (I should note that I attended both of these games and still have the scorecards, so they are on top of my somewhat-biased list).

Brian Pietzrak has put together another similar list over at examiner.com (here is part two). This one seems to place less weight on game quality (#10 is the 11-7 loss the Twins took in the Metrodome opener), and includes the 1987 game referenced above.

Of course, the Twins continue their top 100 Metrodome Moments, which includes some of the more ridiculous moments in Metrodome history (roof collapsing, dome-rule double, etc).


Franchise All Time OBP

June 10, 2009

Fun with baseball-reference.com:

OBP – Player – Years w/franchise

1. .405 Joe Mauer 2004-2009
2. .393 Rod Carew 1967-1978
3. .393 Buddy Myer 1925-1927; 1929-1941
4. .392 John Stone 1934-1938
5. .391 Chuck Knoblauch 1991-1997
6. .389 Eddie Yost 1944; 1946-1958
7. .387 Joe Cronin 1928-1934
8. .386 Goose Goslin 1921-1930; 1933; 1938
9. .382 Muddy Ruel 1923-1930
10. .379 Matt Lawton 1995-2001

The top two were pretty easy to guess. I was surprised to find that Harmon Killebrew was not in the top 10 (he checks in at 12 with a .378 OBP). Among the names I didn’t expect to see on this list were John Stone and Matt Lawton. The only other active player in the top 50 is Justin Morneau – #38 with .353 OBP.


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