Thursday, April 26, 2007
Top 10 Twins Pitchers of the '90s
It has been almost three weeks since we last did this, but I am back today with another Top Ten list for you to
(hopefully) enjoy! Previously,
looked at the Top 10 Twins Hitters of the decades (1960s, 1970s,
1990s. In terms of pitchers, we have now
Top 10 Pitchers of the 1960s,
the 1970s, and the
1980s. Today, we
will take a look at the Top 10 Twins Pitchers of the 1990s. Although the
list of names will likely be more recognizable, the list isn't all that
impressive. OK, I will be honest. This is not a good list after about
the top four. As a matter of fact, I had to go against my thinking that
a pitcher needed to be around for at least a year. I have two pitchers
on this list who only pitched for one season with the Twins. It was
either that, or include Frankie Rodriguez, Pat Mahomes or
Rich Robertson or pitchers like that. There are several
relievers again as, especially in the second half of the decade, they
were much more important. Hopefully these
names bring back some
good memories for some of you. If nothing else, it
is never a bad idea to learn a little of our favorite team's history,
even the negative.
So, let's get to it.
*Note - all stats only include the 1990-1999 seasons.
**Note 2 - it is really hard to find pictures of a lot of these guys, so I am going to use some old baseball cards. Each picture will be linked to the great Twins Cards website, to their individual page. Be sure to check them out!
#10 Eddie Guardado, LHP
Eddie Guardado was the 21st round pick of the Twins back in 1990 out of Stockton, California. He became one of the Twins better pitching prospects and on June 13, 1993, he made his big league debut. Of course, at that time, he was a starter. He made 16 starts in 1993 and was 3-8 with a 6.18 ERA. In 1994 he spent more time in the minors. He made four starts and was 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA. The transition to the bullpen occurred more in 1995. He made five more starts and 46 bullpen appearances. In the decade of the '90s, he didn't have an ERA under 3.91. His ERA was over 4.50 four times and over 5.00 twice. It was in 1996 when the moniker 'Everyday Eddie' was earned. He pitched in 83 games for the Twins. The next three years he pitched in 69, 79 and 63 games. He averaged more than a strikeout an inning in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Remember that he was not the Twins closer until the middle of 2001.
For the '90s, Guardado ranked 2nd in Games (368), 4th in Games Finished (74), 7th in Innings Pitched (436.1), tied for 10th in Wins (18), 6th in Losses (34), 5th in Saves (9), 6th in strikeouts (356) and 3rd in strikeouts per nine innings (7.34).
Guardado is currently on the 60 Day Disabled List of the Cincinnati Reds after he had Tommy John surgery last fall.
#9 Mark Guthrie, LHP
Mark Guthrie was the Twins 7th round pick in 1987 out of the baseball powerhouse at Louisiana State University. He quickly rose through the system and made his big league debut on July 25th, 1989. He was another guy who was given a shot to be a starter. He made 21 starts in 1990 (and went 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA), 12 starts in 1991, and during the season, he was moved to the bullpen. He pitched in two games in the ALCS and recorded a Win. He pitched in four games in the World Series and went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA (in just four innings). He had his best season as a Twins pitcher in 1992 when he had a 2.88 ERA. He struck out 76 batters in 75 innings. However, it was downhill from there. In 1993, he had a 4.71 ERA. In 1994, it jumped to 6.14. In 1995, he had a 4.46 ERA and was traded along with Kevin Tapani to the Dodgers for Ron Coomer and three other players. He continued pitching with varying success through the 2003 season. A funny quote from Guthrie came in 2001 when he signed with the Oakland A's, whose GM, Billy Beane, was a former teammate of Guthrie's. When asked if Bean had been any good as a player, he gave little response saying only, "It might hurt my negotiating position."
For the decade of the '90s, Guthrie ranks 4th in Games Pitched (227), 6th in Games Finished (50), 8th in Innings Pitched (432.1), 6th in Wins (27), 5th in Win Percentage (.540), 6th in Saves (8), 6th in ERA (4.14), 7th in strikeouts (350), 4th in strikeouts per nine innings (7.29) and 10th in Walks per nine innings (3.19).
8 Mike Trombley, RHP
Mike Trombley was the Twins 14th round pick in 1989 out of Duke. He made his big league debut on August 19, 1992. Like so many others, he was tried as a starter and in general, it just didn't work. He was up and down from the minors to the Twins and from starting to relieving. It wasn't until 1997 when he really became a fixture and a trusted member of the Twins bullpen. He pitched 67, 77 and 75 games those years. His best season statistically was 1996 when he went 5-1 with six saves and a 3.01 ERA. His Adjusted ERA (ERA+) was 171. In 1999, he recorded 24 saves, most after Rick Aguilera was traded.
For the 1990s, Trombley ranks 3rd in Games (360), 2nd in Games Finished (129), 4th in Innings Pitched (641.2), 5th in Wins (30), 7th in Losses (33), 9th in Win Percentage (.476), 2nd in Saves (34), 9th in ERA (4.46), 5th in strikeouts (525) and 2nd in strikeouts per nine innings (7.36).
Mike Trombley is retired and living in the Ft. Myers area. He has taken up a couple of hobbies. First, he won the Dodge Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He is a youth coach in the FM area. He has also set up a website called AskUsSports.com where he invites youth coaches and others to e-mail in questions and he will take the time to respond.
#7 John Smiley, LHP
The first of two One-Year pitchers to appear on this list, John Smiley and his success is frequently forgotten in Twins history. After winning the World Series in 1991 with the Twins, Jack Morris left for greener pastures and the Twins wanted to try to replace him. So, in March of 1992, they sent top prospects Denny Neagle and Midre Cummings to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for John Smiley. The lefty was coming off of a season with the Pirates in which he went 20-8 with a 3.08 ERA in 207.2 innings. Smiley came in and had an excellent season. He made 34 starts and ate up 241 innings, a career-high. He went 16-9 with a 3.21 ERA. 16 wins ranked 10th in the AL, so did the 3.21 ERA. He struck out 163 hitters and walked 65. His WHIP of 1.12 ranked third. He had five complete games and two shutouts. Smiley then left the Twins as a free agent following the season and signed a big contract with the Cincinnati Reds. He never had seasons comparable to his 1991 and 1992 seasons again. 1997 was his final season in the big leagues.
So, for the decade, Smiley ranks 2nd in Win Percentage (.640), 9th in compete games (5), tied for 5th in shutouts (2), 1st in ERA (3.21), 7th in strikeouts per nine innings (6.09), 7th in walks per nine innings (2.43) and 2nd in home runs per nine innings (0.63). My initial thought is that because he only pitched for the Twins for one season, he shouldn't really be included in some of these categories. But, because the 1990s was a big decade for relievers, many of them did not have much more than Smiley's 241 innings anyway, so I did include them.
#6 Jack Morris, RHP
The other one year pitcher included on this list is Jack Morris. I am sure that some will think that what he did in his one year should move him well up this list. Maybe you're right, but I also think longevity is an important factor. Of course, Twins fans remember Morris's amazing 10 inning shutout in the 7th game of the 1991 World Series. Personally, I think it is one of the greatest pitching performances of all time. But Morris had a very strong 1991 regular season as well, and is frequently credited for working with the likes of Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson. Morris made 35 starts and threw 246.2 innings. He struck out 163 and walked 92. He went 18-12 with a 3.43 ERA. He was an All Star and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He threw complete games and two shutouts. In a career in which he went 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA and three World Champions, his defining moment came in Game 7. He was the World Series MVP as he went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. He moved on and pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993, and the Cleveland Indians in 1994.
But, for the '90s, he ranks tied for 10th in Wins (18), 3rd in Win Percentage (.600), 4th in Complete Games, tied for 5th in Shutouts (2), 2nd in ERA (3.43), 9th in strikeouts per nine innings (5.95) and 3rd in home runs per nine innings (0.66).
As you know, Jack Morris is now a part of the Twins radio broadcasts at times throughout the Twins season. But did you remember that in 1996, Morris tried a comeback with the St. Paul Saints. He spent the first half of the season with the team, and led the league in ERA, before he quit.
#5 Carl Willis, RHP
Carl Willis is really quite the underdog story. He was the 23rd round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1983. He quickly moved up and made his debut with the Tigers. He was quickly traded to the Reds and was part of their bullpen for little parts of 1985 and 1986. Then he was in the minors in 1987. Then he got limited time with the White Sox in 1988. Then a couple more years in the minors. In December of 1990, Willis signed with the Twins. He became a vital part of the Twins bullpen right away that year and for the next three seasons. In 1991, he pitched 89 innings in 40 games. He went 8-3 with a 2.63 ERA. He had a WHIP of 1.07 and an Adjusted ERA of 162. He was then 7-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 1992. In 79.3 Innings (in 59 games), he had a 1.06 WHIP. Then in 1993, he went 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA. He threw 58 innings in 53 games. Then in 1994, the strike year, he went 2-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 59.3 innings and didn't pitch with the Twins again. He was constantly under scrutiny for his actions on the mound. He would touch his cap, the back of his hair, the tip of his bill and more between pitches and then throw some pitches with incredible movement. He was never caught with anything illegal.
For the decade, Willis ranked 5th in Games (204), 5th in Games Finished (63), 9th in Wins (20), 1st in Win Percentage (.667), 4th in Saves (11), 4th in ERA (3.65), 10th in strikeouts per nine innings (5.63), 4th in walks per nine innings (2.01) and 1st in home runs per nine innings (0.50).
"The Big Train" is now the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians.
#4 Scott Erickson, RHP
Scott Erickson was the Twins fourth round pick in 1989 out of the University of Arizona. He signed on June 25th, 1989, and on June 25th, 1990, he made his big league debut for the Twins. He went six innings and gave up just one run to earn his first win. Known for his black shoes, black socks and painted black glove, Erickson used a sinker to get a lot of ground balls. That year, he went 8-4 with a 2.70 ERA (ERA+ of 145). In 113 innings, he struck out just 53 batters and walked 51. In 1991, he went 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA (ERA+ 134).In 204 innings, he struck out 108 and walked 71 batters. That year, he finished second to the Red Sox Roger Clemens in the AL Cy Young voting. In 1992, he went 13-12 with a 3.40 ERA (ERA+ 120). But that is when something happened. Erickson was one of the league's better starting pitchers those first three years, but it was all downhill from there. In his first three years, he was 41-24 with a 3.20 ERA. From 1993 through his trade to the Orioles in July of 1995 (for Scott Klingenbeck and Kimera Bartee), he was just 20-36 with a 5.42 ERA). He had just two errors those first three years, and he had eight errors the next three years. I guess the one highlight he did have during that time was on April 27th, 1994, when he threw a no hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Metrodome. Since then, Erickson has shown flashes of what he showed those first three years, but he has fought a lot of injuries. He missed all of 2001 and 2003. He spent time with the Mets and Rangers is 2004. He tried to comeback with the Dodgers in 2005. Last year, he spent a little time with the Yankees, but that didn't go so well either, so I assume that he is done. Of course, retirement (which includes spending more time at home with Lisa Guerrero) isn't such a bad thing either.
For the '90s, Erickson ranks 8th in Games (155), 3rd in Games Started (153), 3rd in Innings Pitched (979.1), 3rd in Wins (61), 3rd in Losses (60), 6th in Win Percentage (.504), 3rd in Complete Games (14), 1st in Shutouts (7), 7th in ERA (4.22) and 4th in home runs per nine innings (0.76).
#3 Brad Radke, RHP
Brad Radke was the Twins 8th round pick in 1991 out of high school. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 1995. He became an All Star in 1996. In 1997, at the age of 24, Radke went 20-10 with a 3.87 ERA. He made 35 starts and in 239.2 innings, he struck out 174 and walked just 48. The 20 wins led the league and finished third in Cy Young voting. Remember that he also won 12 straight decisions during that time. In 1999, he went just 12-14. However, his 3.75 ERA was fourth in the league. League average ERA was 5.07. Of course, others will note that he led the league in home runs allowed in 1996 (32) and 1996 (40). However, in the '90s, he finished in the Top 5 in fewest walks per nine innings. For his career, Radke went 148-139 with a 4.22 ERA (league average over that time was 4.75). 10 of his 12 seasons he won at least 10 games. He had an above average league ERA 10 of his 12 seasons. Three times, his ERA+ was over 120. Nine times he made over 31 starts and over 200 innings. Radke retired after the 2006 season and will likely do a lot of fishing. He threw out the opening day first pitch. According to Baseball America, his #1 most comparable player is Kevin Tapani and #5 is Scott Erickson.
For the decade, Radke ranks 7th in Games (164), 2nd in Games Started (163), 2nd in Innings Pitched (1,085), 2nd in Wins (66), 1st in Losses (68), 7th in Win Percentage (.493), 2nd in Complete Games (18), 4th in Shutouts (3), 8th in ERA (4.30), 2nd in Strikeouts (664) and 3rd in walks per nine innings (1.98).
#2 Kevin Tapani, RHP
So many people were upset with the Twins when they traded Frank Viola to the New York Mets in 1989. Viola had just won the Cy Young Award in 1988 and all the Twins could get was a reliever and a bunch of pitchers they had not heard of. Well, like all drafts and trades involving prospects, the true 'winner' many times can not be determined until years down the road. Taking a look at the Top 2 Twins pitchers of the '90s, and you will likely agree that trading the #1 pitcher of the '80s was a pretty good thing.
Kevin Tapani had made only a few starts with the Mets at the time of the trade. In 1990, he finished fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting because of a 12-8 record. And then he had two excellent seasons. In 1991, he went 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA. His 244 innings pitched was fifth in the league. He had just 135 strikeouts, but he also had just 40 walks. He had a WHIP of just 1.09. He also was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the World Series. In 1992, he went 16-11 with a 3.97 ERA. In 220 innings, he struck out 138 batters and walked just 48. In 1993, he had a league average ERA, but finished with just a 12-15 record in his 35 starts. He finished in the top four in the league in walks per nine innings in 1991-1993. He was also 11-7 in 24 starts in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He made 20 starts for the Twins in 1995 before he was traded at the trade deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with Mark Guthrie, for Ron Coomer, Jose Parra, Greg Hansell and Chris Latham. Tapani's #1 most comparable pitcher is Todd Stottlemyre, but his #2 is Brad Radke.
For the 1990s, Tapani ranks 6th in Games (176), 1st in Games Started (175), 1st in Innings Pitched (1,138.2), 1st in Wins (73), 2nd in Losses (61), 4th in Win Percentage (.545), 1st in Complete Games (19), 2nd in Shutouts (6), 5th in ERA (4.06), 1st in strikeouts (703), 2nd in walks per nine innings (1.95) and 6th in home runs per nine innings (0.85).
Tapani retired after the 2001 season and makes his home in the Twin Cities area and is very active. The Twins tried to talk him into playing for them the following year, but Tapani was ready to retire. Shortly, he will be entering the Upper Peninsula (Michigan) Sports Hall of Fame. In part, it is because of his big league career, but it is also for his high school baseball career at Escanaba. Also, in 1981, he was the quarterback of the Class A state champion football team.
#1 Rick Aguilera, RHP
Aguilera came to the Twins along with Tapani for Frank Viola. Aguilera had been with the Mets since 1986 and was a storyline in the '86 World Series. When he came over in 1989, he wanted to return to being a starter, and he got that chance the rest of that season. However, Jeff Reardon left and the Twins asked Aguilera to become the team's closer, and he did. And, by looking at this ranking, it is fair to say that he did it well, and he did it for a long time. Aggy was an All Star in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Four times he was in the Top 3 in the league in Saves. He was in the top six seven times. He had six seasons with 30 or more saves. He recorded three saves in three appearances in the 1991 ALCS. He pitched in four games during the 1991 World Series and went 1-1 with two saves. He even got a pinch hit at bat. In his time with the Twins, he averaged 35 saves and just 18 walks per season. Known for a great slider and a devastating split-finger, he also had incredible control.
Midway through the decade, the Twins traded Aguilera to the Boston Red Sox. The deal happened on July 6th, just hours before he would have become a 10/5 guy and would have had the right to veto any trade attempts. The Twins received Frankie Rodriguez for him. Aguilera then returned to the Twins as a free agent after the season. He wanted to return to starting, and the Twins needed starting pitching help, so he did. His season did not start right away because of an arm injury that he had because of lifting a suitcase wrong. He made 19 starts and went 8-6. However, he had just a 5.42 ERA. His season ended a little bit early when he tore his hamstring. The following year, he returned to the closer's role. Then in May of 1999, Aguilera was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.
For the decade, Aguilera ranks 1st in Games (479), Games Finished (434), 4th in Wins (37), 5th in Losses (42), 10th in Win Percentage (.468), 1st in Saves (254), 3rd in ERA (3.54), 3rd in strikeouts (529), 1st in strikeouts per nine innings (7.70), 6th in walks per nine innings (2.36) and tied for 9th in home runs per nine innings (1.05).
The 1990s started with a team that finished last in the American League. In 1991, they won the World Series. They were very good in 1993, and really fell off after that. The last five years of the decade were dreadful. So, as you can see in the above list, the quality pitchers and pitching performances came in those first three or four years. Aguilera was excellent for much of the decade. Radke remained consistent for a dozen years. Tapani was solid for five years with the Twins. Erickson's career started out great. They had two one year guys dominate for their year... both in the early '90s. And then the bottom of this list was pretty weak. Guardado became very good once the decade/millennium rolled over. Other names that appear on some of these Top 10 rankings for the decade include Frankie Rodriguez, Rich Robertson, Dave Stevens, LaTroy Hawkins (again, before his good seasons), Bob Tewksbury, Pat Mahomes and even Willie Banks and David West.
Any thoughts on the Top 10 Twins Pitchers of the '90s? Please feel free to argue and debate. Send me an e-mail or leave some Comments below.
Twins and their Minor League Updates
Here are the Twins updates from last night, including game reports
of their minor league affiliates.
Wednesday - Twins 3, Royals 4 – Sidney Ponson didn’t pitch horribly again, probably a little bit too well to be yanked from the rotation, not well enough to actually be good. In six innings, he gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks. The problem for Ponson, as it has been for he and Boof Bonser to this point, is that home run ball. He gave up two run shots to both Mike Sweeney in the first and David DeJesus in the 4th. Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek combined for three scoreless relief innings. That would have allowed the Twins bats a little time to make a comeback, but they didn’t. Hitting against the likes of Odalis Perez, Brandon Duckworth, David Riske and Jimmy Gobble, the Twins managed just three runs. Joakim Soria came in for the Save, his third of the year. Torii Hunter went 2-3 and he answered Sweeney’s first inning homer with a solo home run of his own. He also had his 13th double. Alexi Casilla was 2-4 with his fourth stolen base.
Part of the problem can be attributed to the 3-4-5 hitters who combined to go 0-10 in the game. Of course, even in an O-fer, Joe Mauer was on base 50% of the time (0-2 with two walks). Justin Morneau is swinging like he did at this time last year, so that’s not good, although I’m not worried. Really, the least of the Twins worries are the 3-4-5 hitters.
So, we shall see. Did Ponson do enough to warrant another start? Probably. If not, who gets the call. I actually agree with Aaron Gleeman on this one.
Today, the Twins and Royals end their two game series with a 12:10 game at the Dome. It will be Boof Bonser against Zach Greinke. This is the strangest scheduling that I have seen in recent years. I mean, we got these same matchups last Friday and Saturday. I get annoyed when the same
Now, I am actually in the cities right now, but not able to watch the games, so if anyone that was at the game or watched the game would like to report on anything you saw or think, please feel free to e-mail me (LINK) and/or leave plenty of Comments below.
Wednesday - Red Wings, Pawtucket – Rained out.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats , Portland – Postponed by rain.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 5, Clearwater 4– The Miracle jumped out to a 5-2 lead through four innings and the bullpen held on for a 5-4 win over Clearwater. Alexander Smit started and lasted just four innings. The lefty gave up three runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out three. Angel Garcia gave up an unearned run in his two innings of relief. Frank Mata got the win with two perfect innings of relief, and Eduardo Morlan recorded his third save of the season with a two-strikeout ninth. Erik Lis again led the offense. On this day, he went 3-4 with a walk. He hit two doubles and has eight on the year. Steven Tolleson went 2-4 with a walk while Dwayne White went 2-5.
Wednesday - Snappers – No Game Scheduled.
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Erik Lis, Ft. Myers Miracle
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Frank Mata, Ft. Myers Miracle
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. With these late West Coast games coming up, I'd better go to bed! Have a great day!|
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