Archive for the ‘Minnesota Twins’ Category

Lenny Faedo

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Among those Twins and former Twins celebrating birthdays this week is Howard Sinker’s favorite former short stop, Lenny Faedo.

 

Faedo was a hot prospect in his home town of Tampa, Florida. When he was 18, the Twins made him the 17th overall pick in the 1978 amateur draft. Faedo’s professional career started on a high note in the Appalachian League. The Elizabethton Twins, with Faedo’s help, won the league title in 1978, and Faedo was named to the Appalachian League All-Star team after batting .280 in 55 games. Faedo continued to progress in the organization over the next few years, long considered the Twins’ top prospect. There was even talk of moving Roy Smalley to first base or to a different team to make room for Faedo as the starting short stop for the major league club.

 

Though 1980 was a down year for Faedo – he batted just .240 for Orlando, he made his major league debut as a September call up at the end of the season. The Twins were said to be happy with his fielding, but felt he had a lot of work to do with his bat. Manager Johnny Goryl characterized Faedo as having a “Bible swing – ‘Thou shalt not pass,’” referring to Faedo’s tendency to swing at just about every pitch he saw.

 

After his first taste of the majors, it was clear to management that Faedo had not progressed as quickly as had been hoped, and the plans to trade Smalley were temporarily put on hold. Faedo became impatient with the organization, whose stance that he was the heir apparent at short stop had significantly softened after the 1980 season, including a tough stint in the Florida Instructional League that fall. Said Faedo:

 

They called me up in September and I sat on the bench for 25 days and then they put me in on artificial turf in Kansas City and I made a couple of errors, and now I can’t play.

 

George Brophy was on me during the instructional league, but there were a lot of reasons I didn’t play well, including an injury. Both Brophy and I will be better off if we didn’t talk much to each other. I know this: if they don’t think I am going to be a big league player, the Twins can release me, and I’ll sign with another organization the next day for a lot more money.

 

With talk of Roy Smalley moving to third base for the start of the 1981 season, the regular short stop job was up for grabs in the spring. Instead of having it handed to him, however, Faedo was forced into a spring competition with Johnnie Walker, another young short stop that came from the Dodgers’ organization, though with a lot less fan fare than Faedo had received. After a brief time of open competition, it was announced that Smalley would remain a short stop after all, and that the battle between Faedo, Walker, and new acquisition Chuck Baker would be for the backup job. Faedo ended up starting the season in the minors, but when Smalley went down with an injury in the late summer, Faedo found himself back with the Twins. Though he only batted .195/.209/.244 in 43 plate appearances before succumbing to his own injured heel, Faedo had impressed enough on defense to be penciled in by manager Billy Gardner as the starting short stop for the 1982 season.

 

After Roy Smalley was finally traded four games into the 1982 season, Faedo finally got his shot as a part of the Twins’ youth movement. Faedo struggled out of the gate both at the plate (.216/.293/.216 through April 22) and in the field. Before April was over Faedo had been replaced at short stop by career minor leaguer Ron Washington. At the age of 30, Washington got his first real shot at the majors and made the most of it. Though Faedo played a lot more for the balance of the season due to Washington’s injuries, the luster had certainly been lost from the former number on draft choice.

 

The Twins gave Faedo another chance as a starter at the beginning of the 1983 season. Though Washington had a clear advantage at the plate, the Twins had determined that, with his fielding deficiencies and his age, Washington would serve the team better in the utility role. The chatter around the club in the spring was the hope that a young short stop acquired in Smalley trade, Greg Gagne, had the skills to either take the job himself, or at least to push Faedo to finally reach his potential. As it turned out, Gagne wasn’t ready for the role and Faedo won the job out of spring training. There was speculation that the choice of Faedo over Washington was racially motivated. Regardless of the reasons the organization gave, Washington became the every day short stop in early May when Faedo went down with an injury that cost him the bulk of the season. He returned as a regular for the last month of 1983, the Twins hoping that he would prove that he could play the position every day.

 

Faedo returned in the spring of 1984 in what was reported as the best shape of his career. Again the Twins brought Gagne in to camp in hopes of further pushing Faedo. As had been the pattern, Gagne was sent to the minors and Faedo began the season as the every day short stop.

 

Faedo had not made any friends in the organization with his comments years earlier, and had developed a long-simmering fued with manager Billy Gardner. After a critical error in a late April game in 1984, Faedo was quoted as saying “I won’t lose any sleep over it,” enough to push the final button of Gardner, who immediately pulled Faedo from the lineup and ultimately had him removed from the organization, initially on loan to the Detroit Tigers who needed a third baseman for their AA squad in Evansville. Later in the season, the Twins loaned Faedo to the Texas Rangers for their Oklahoma City AAA affiliate. Gardner indicated later that he might have pulled some strings to land Faedo in Oklahoma City in the middle of the summer:

 

I tell you, pal, it’s hot in Oklahoma City in the summertime – hot as it can get. Oklahoma in the summer, that’s when you find out who wants to play.

 

Gardner went on to make some other pointed comments in Faedo’s direction:

 

That other word- motivation- I hear that and it makes me sick. If being in the big leagues is not all the motivation you need, pal, you’re in trouble.

 

Gardner’s words turned out to be a parting shot. At the end of the 1984 season Faedo was assigned to AAA Toledo, leaving him available in the December draft. No team drafted Faedo, but the Twins cut ties by releasing him in the spring of 1985. He did sign as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals a month later, and bounced around the minor leagues for a time, but never again saw major league action.

 

My Favorite Cards: 1988 Topps

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

It is probably not a coincidence that my interest in baseball really took off during and after the Twins’ World Series win in 1987. That was the same year that my family moved to the Twin Cities and I discovered Shinders. I had collected baseball cards in bubble gum packs before, but it was Shinders where I discovered that I could buy entire season sets if I saved my money. The first full set I purchased was the 1988 Topps set.

 

About the same time, I discovered a board game called Big League Baseball, which was basically a poor man’s version of Strat-o-matic. Dice were used to determine outcomes, but the only stats one needed to know in order to play the game was batting average and home runs. According to the game, there were six kinds of hitters: AVG <.250 with <20 HR, AVG <.250 with >20 HR, AVG between .250 and .300 with <20 HR, AVG between .250 and .300 with >20 HR, AVG > .300 with < 20 HR, and AVG > .300 with > 20 HR. Kirby Puckett fit into the last category. Pitchers were irrelevant in the game, though I chose starting pitchers anyways (and made pitching changes when appropriate).

 

The game came with cardboard racks where you placed the player cards in the order in which they were to bat. I probably made the entire circuit with the Twins, including many seven game series with the Mets (my favorite NL team at the time). Needless to say, my 1988 Topps set is well used, that is to say probably worth very little at this point due to wear and tear on the cards. Still, I’m pretty sure I got my $30 worth out of the set.

“Papa Jack”, 1981 Donruss #489

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson played for the Twins from 1979-1981 and in parts of three seasons put up a respectable line of .268/.325/.409. Jackson came to the Twins in a trade that sent him and Danny Goodwin to Minnesota for “Disco” Danny Ford. While with the Angels, Jackson saw more time at third than first, but got the unenviable task of replacing Twins’ legend, Rod Carew at first base. While impossible to match the output of Carew, Ron put up career highs in most offensive categories and played a very solid defensive first base. During the summer of 1981, Jackson was traded to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Tom Corcoran and was subsequently granted his free agency at the end of the 1981 season. “Papa Jack” joined the Angels for one more stint that ran from 1982-1984 before finishing his career playing 12 games for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

After his retirement, Jackson didn’t wander far from the game and since leaving the majors has served as a coach for many different minor and major league teams. Jackson was also part of the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association. Ron played for the Fort Myers Sun Sox and knocked around the elderly pitching at a .344 clip with 36 RBIs. For those of you not familiar with the SPBA, it played a full schedule of games in 1989 but folded only 9 games into the 1990 season.

 

I did have the opportunity to see Jackson play for the Twins when I went to see a 1979 game between the Twins and the Angels. I remember it so vividly because we had front row seats along the first base line and spent the whole game cheering Ron on as Angel base runners reached first. I can’t remember whether the Twins won the game or even if Jackson got any hits, but I do remember that Ron kept giving us slight glances and smiles as we taunted each base runner.

 

Jackson’s 1981 Donruss card was one of 23 Twins in the set that marked Donruss’ first entry into card market after the courts broke up the Topps monopoly, allowing other manufacturers to enter the market. Interestingly, Topps was the only company allowed to include gum into their packs, so in 1981 Donruss included cookies before going to puzzle pieces in 1982. The entire set was pretty bland in nature with posed shots and terrible color, but I do like the backs of the cards which included career highlights along with a season/career stat line.

My Favorite Cards: Ron Jackson, 1981 Topps

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the “TC” stirrup socks, so this card would make my personal Hall of Fame if it were just the picture on the front. That said, I like the design, particularly the cap at the bottom that gives us the team name and position. The back of the card helpfully tells us that Jackson “set a team mark with 175 D.P.’s at 1st base in 1979.” Assuming that D.P.’s stands for double plays, I am not sure if the card writers could have come up with a more meaningless fielding stat for a first baseman (perhaps putouts?). Jackson’s 1981 Donruss card tells us that he also led the league in putouts (surprise) and assists that season. For what it’s worth, 1979 was also his career high according to FRAR, though it is also the year that he played the most at first base.

Bombo, Part 2

Friday, December 14th, 2007

 

Several months ago, I wrote a short bio on Bombo Rivera. One of Rivera’s friends and his former bat boy from Puerto Rico named Roberto Mercado emailed TwinsCards owner Blake with, among other thing, the lyrics to the “Ballad of Bombo Rivera.” Roberto also provided some information that filled in some of the gaps from my original post, which was heavy on his major league experience and light on just about everything else. I decided to revist Bombo’s career with this new information.

 

 

“A chart of numbers that would put an actuary to sleep can be made to dance if you put it on one side of a card and Bombo Rivera’s picture on the other.” Bill James, 1982 Baseball Abstract
There have been many light-hitting fan favorites throughout the history of the Twins. Perhaps none was as beloved as Bombo Rivera. He may just be the team leader in all-time pop-culture references.
“We drive on to Minneapolis. We are all relaxed at the game, cheering the Twins to an easy win, chanting “Bombo! Bombo! Bombo!” each time the Twins’ right fielder Bombo Rivera is announced. He is a good young player, but not great. It is his name that intoxicates the crowd.” – from Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
Shoeless Joe, of course, is the novel upon which the movie Field of Dreams was based. In addition, Bombo was the subject of a song written by Garrison Keillor entitled “The Ballad of Bombo Rivera.”
Bombo, Bombo
Bombo Rivera
What other guys get one of
Bombo, he gets a pair-a
It takes two to tango and two to mambo
But you can do it all with just one Bombo
Bombo Rivera will carry us to victory.
To this day, most short lists of Twins players include Bombo Rivera. What was it about Bombo that made him such a memorable player that he inspired Keillor to write a ballad?
Jesus Rivera was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on August 2, 1952. Ponce also produced notable major-leaguers Roberto Alomar, Orlando Cepeda, Benito Santiago, and former Twin Pedro Munoz. Rivera grew up idolizing Roberto Clemente, and tried to pattern his own play at an early age after his hero.
At the age of seven, his youth baseball manager started calling him “Bombo”, which meant “fly ball,” and the nickname stuck. Aside from baseball, Rivera also excelled in track. He ran the 100 meters and threw shot put during his days at Ponce High School. Young Rivera’s interests weren’t solely athletic. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was well known for his musical talents, and played percussion for Ponce’s local salsa bands.
Rivera was signed by the Montreal Expos shortly after his 18th birthday in 1970. During that first season in the Expos’ system, while playing for Bradenton, Rivera and his teammates took a trip to see the major league club play. The game just happened to be against the Pirates, and Rivera finally got to see his idol Clemente play.
Rivera spent the bulk of the 1970’s working his way through the Expos’ farm system. He never had great batting numbers. His breakout season in the Expos’ organization came at AA Quebec City in 1974, where he hit .290 with 7 HR and 42 RBI. He finally got the call to Montreal the following season, where he batted just .111 (1 for 9) in five mid-April games before he was moved to AAA Memphis where he spent the rest of the season.
During the winter months Rivera continued to play baseball in the Puerto Rican league. From 1971-1977 he played for the Caguas Creoles. His best season for Caguas came in the winter of 1972-1973, when he batted .300.
In 1976, Rivera had a longer stint with Montreal, where he put up a .276/.323/.411 line in 68 games. Those late 70’s Expos teams were loaded in the outfield, with names like Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson, Del Unser, and current Twins coach Jerry White on the roster, there really wasn’t room for another outfielder in the 1977 season, so Rivera spent that year in AAA Denver where he had his best professional numbers in North America, finishing the season with a .302 average, 17 HR and 95 RBI.
From 1977-1986, Rivera played his Puerto Rican ball with the Mayaguez Indians. During the 1977-1978 season, Mayaguez won the Carribean World Series. Rivera was a key part of the team that he calls the best he ever played with in Puerto Rico. Other players on that championship team included major leaguers Ron LeFlore, Jose Morales, Willie Hernandez, Danny Darwin, and Kurt Bevacqua. Rivera was named to the series All Star team.
With all the outfielders in Montreal, Rivera was certainly expendable, and was purchased by the Minnesota Twins following the 1977 season. He immediately began to play, and was functionally the fourth outfielder for the team, batting .271/.362/.355 for 1978. His best game was a 4 for 4 effort in Kansas City on May 19th, a game in which he hit one of his three home runs of the season, and one of only 10 career home runs in the majors.
Rivera played in 112 games for the Twins in 1979, the most in his major league career. He hit .281/.324/.392, and was the starting left fielder for a good chunk of the season. Probably his best tool, his arm, was on display in 1979 when he led the team with 12 outfield assists.
Though his status as fan favorite was secure, Rivera only played in 44 games in an injury-plagued 1980 season. On April 28th, after a hot start, Rivera broke his left kneecap in a game against Seattle, and didn’t return to the lineup until mid-July. Whether it was due to the injury or not, he struggled through the rest of the season, finishing .221/.248/.363 in his final games as a Twin. He was released from the organization in spring training the following season.
Though Bombo Rivera was signed by Kansas City shortly after his release from Minnesota, he didn’t log much more playing time, adding only five major league games to his career total.
Rivera added another Caribbean championship in the 1985-1986 season. Also on that team were Bobby Bonilla, Wally Joyner, Paul O’Neill, and Harold Reynolds. It was Rivera’s last season with Mayguez. He finished his Puerto Rican baseball career with Arecibo.
His best professional season, however, came in Japan with Kintetsu in 1985 and 1986 where he hit 37 home runs over the course of the two seasons. He was released by Kintetsu in the middle of the 1986 season due to a hamstring injury. Rivera retired after the 1988-1989 season in Puerto Rico.
Bombo Rivera resurfaced briefly for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball League in 1989-1990. Today he lives in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and works for a non-profit organization that offers sports clinics to disadvantaged children free of charge. He also stays close to Puerto Rican youth baseball by umpiring.
Numbers and biographical information don’t really seem to capture the story of Bombo Rivera. He obviously had some kind of hold on Twins fans that made him a favorite over his three seasons in Minnesota.
What are some of your memories of Bombo?

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Cards: First Complete Twins Set

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

I had collected baseball cards for a while prior to 1984. I would get a pack here or there from my parents or grandparents, and had a shoe box full of cards already. What I didn’t have was a lot of Twins cards (though I did have a nice collection of Billy Sample cards – I guess that was my “Don Schwartz” – McCovey is off the table!).

 

That all changed when I got the 1984 Twins set as a give away at the Metrodome*. This was the set of cards that helped a six year old to put faces with the names. Up until that time, every Twins player was simply a name that Bob Casey read, and a small dot that wore white on the field.

 

The set itself is not all that interesting. There seems to have been three options for the players: kneeling, pitching, or swinging a bat. Kneeling seems to have been the popular choice, a decision which I heartily endorse because it shows off the stirrups (though Gary Gaetti seems to have gone with the “standing there looking at the camera” pose).

 

It is also worth noting that Lenny Faedo and Ron Washington went with the fielding pose, which was really the right choice for both.

 

*It is possible that the cards were purchased for me, I was six years old, so details may be fuzzy.

Sweet Music

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

This is the 16th post in a series detailing the 20 21 22 best pitching performances in Twins history based on Bill James’ game scores. The games are posted in chronological order.

 

Sunday October 5, 1986
HHH Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN

 

On the final day of the 1986 season, the Twins and the White Sox played what was essentially a meaningless game. Neither team had really been in contention that year, and both had at least one change of managers (the Sox when from Tony LaRussa to Doug Rader to Jim Fregosi; the Twins went from Ray Miller to a young guy named Kelly).

 

Frank Viola had already established himself as the best pitcher on the Twins’ staff. While 1986 was a down year for him, he still managed to come into the last game with a 15-13 record (despite a 4.68 ERA). Viola’s only other game against Chicago that season was a June 25th loss in which he allowed four runs over six innings pitched.

 

While Viola had pitched very well for the Twins for some time, he had not recorded a shutout in more than two years, his last being in August of 1984.

 

The first time through the White Sox lineup, Viola was perfect. By the time he took the mound in the fourth inning, he already had a 1-0 lead thanks to an unearned run scored when Greg Gagne stretched a single into a home run thanks to an error charged to the left fielder, John Cangelosi.

 

It was Cangelosi, however, who broke Viola’s perfect string when he singled to lead off the fourth inning. He didn’t get beyond second base, however, as Viola retired the next three in order.

 

In the bottom of the fourth, with the bases loaded and one out, Mark Davidson drew a walk to make the Twins’ lead 2-0. A Kirby Puckett ground out scored the third run, a tally that turned out to be the final of the game.

 

In the final five innings, the only blemishes on Viola’s game was a walk drawn by Ron Karkovice in the fifth inning, and a two-out single by Ozzie Guillen in the eighth. Viola wrapped the game up in a tidy two hours, two minutes by retiring the final four men he faced.

 

“It’s been too long since the last (shutout), but this is a nice way to end the season,” Viola said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever thrown a complete-game two-hitter. Now, I’ll go for a one-hitter and no-hitter. I’ve already got the 14, 13, 12 and 11-hitters down pat.” – quoted by Howard Sinker in the Star Tribune 10/6/1986.

 

Minnesota Twins            IP     H   R  ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA   
F Viola, W (16-13)          9     2   0   0    1   9   0   4.51   
			   BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS
			   30     -       8-10    91    - 

Box

 

After the game, the team focused on 1987.

Kelly has been asked by Twins vice president Andy MacPhail not to leave town for a few days. There are players to be evaluated and tasks to be completed that require a manager’s presence, even if Kelly may not be filling that position for more than another week or two. Interviews are expected to continue this week.

While Kelly has been told there will be a job for him in the organization, perhaps returning to his former job as third-base coach, the other coaches have no guarantees. Their job searches are about to begin, and their only realistic hope of returning to the Twins rests with Kelly’s getting the permanent job.

Blyleven returns and does it again

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

This is the 15th post in a series detailing the 20 21 22 best pitching performances in Twins history based on Bill James’ game scores. The games are posted in chronological order.

 

Friday August 1, 1986
Metrodome
Minneapols, MN

 

It took nearly a decade after Dave Goltz scored a 92 Bill James game score in 1977 for another Twin to get to 91 or better. Interestingly, it was a former Twin who had returned in 1986 that got the job done. Bert Blyleven came to the Twins in a mid-season trade in 1985. Since he left the team, he made stops in Texas, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland on his way back to Minnesota. When Blyleven left in 1976, the Twins were still playing their home games at Met Stadium. Upon his return, Blyelven and the Twins were in the middle of their third year in the Metrodome.

 

Blyleven turned 35-years-old at the beginning of the 1986 season, but he still was a very effective pitcher. After having a bit of a rough go in the early 80′s, Blyleven was again posting numbers that looked very much like a Hall of Fame resume, particularly in 1984 when he won 19 games and had a 2.87 ERA with a sixth-place Cleveland team.

 

Through July of 1986, however, Blyleven had a 9-10 record with another bad team, and had a mediocre 4.70 ERA heading into the game against Oakland on the 1st of August. In that time, Blyleven had allowed 33 opposition home runs, already a career high (his previous high was 25 allowed in 1975).

 

Blyleven was on the verge of a positive career milestone as well, coming into the game with 2,992 career strikeouts, just eight K’s away from becoming only the 10th pitcher in history to reach 3,000.

 

In that regard, Blyleven started off well, retiring the first 12 men he faced, six by strikeout. A Bruce Bochte single and a Gary Gaetti error that allowed Carney Lansford to reach to start the fifth inning didn’t phase Blyleven, who struck out the next two men he saw, including Mike Davis who became career victim number 3,000. An Alfredo Griffin ground out with the bases loaded helped Blyleven escape the fifth without allowing any runs, and the Twins put up another three in the bottom of the frame to push the score to 7-0 in the home team’s favor.

 

Blyleven wasn’t satisfied with the career milestone, however, and struck out two more A’s in each of the next two innings to run his total to 12 for the game. By the time Blyleven struck out Jose Canseco for the second out in the ninth inning, he had run his total on the day to a career-high 15 strikeouts.

 

The only blemish on the game was a familiar one for Blyleven in 1986. With nobody on base in the eighth, Alfredo Griffin lined a Blyelven pitch to right for a solo home run, one of only two hits the A’s managed in the game. It was the 34th home run allowed by Blyleven that season, who eventually would set an ML record by allowing 50 that season.

 

Minnesota Twins            IP     H   R  ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA    
B Blyleven, W (10-10)       9     2   1   1    1  15   1   4.51    
			   BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS		
			   31     -       9-3     93    - 

What might have been the most remarkable thing about Blyleven’s performance, however, was that it stole headlines from what would have been top bill any other day. Over the course of the 10-1 victory, Kirby Puckett had hit for the cycle. Puckett was the seventh (and last) Twin to accomplish the feat, and was the first to do it since 1980.

 

Box

The Twins Uniform: 1987-Present

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

The last major change to the Twins uniform came prior to the historic 1987 season. The team dropped the synthetic-looking uniform that came into vogue in the mid-1970′s in favor of the more traditional, button-down look. Gone were the powder blue road uniforms. In their place, the Twins returned to the classic road grays with the addition of pinstripes to both home and away uniforms. While the “Twins” written across the front had a slight font change from the previous year (with the word “win” underlined in “Twins”), the most drastic change came to the road jersey, where the name of the state appeared along the front for the first time, in red letters above the player’s number.

 

The writing along the front of the jersey became the only place where the color red was used so predominantly. The Twins stopped wearing red shoes, and caps and batting helmets became blue again. An “M” replaced “TC” as the logo on the cap, though the “TC” remained as a shoulder patch on the home uniform, while the new Twins logo (sadly replacing the Twins shaking hands over the river) was the patch worn on the road.

 

For those who wanted to show some team spirit on their stirrups, as Bert Blyleven liked to do, the “M” replaced the “TC” there as well.

 

The Twins, of course, won two World Championships in these uniforms. That might be the reason why very little has changed to the basic pattern in 21 years, although baseball styles have changed a great deal. In general, uniforms have trended toward the looser fitting side in the past decade, and sock styles have changed dramatically, almost eliminating the stirrup entirely. Today, a player has two major options with their socks: cover up completely, or show the socks all the way to the knees – no stirrups necessary.

 

The Twins have made some changes recently, including wearing “TC” on their caps (and the brief use of red caps on Sunday home games). Like every other team in this decade, the Twins have also experimented with alternate jerseys. Some have caught on, like the blue jerseys with red lettering that have been around since the late 90′s; while others have not, like the ill-advised vests introduced last year and worn only enough times to count on one hand.

 

Here are all of the uniforms from 1987-2006 on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame online exhibit.

 

Ron Davis…as bad as we remember?

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

The following comes from Scot’s post on August 21…

 

23 years ago…
8/22/1984: The Twins swept a pair of games at Milwaukee to take a 5.5 game lead in the AL West. Mike Smithson pitched a complete game win in the first game, and the Twins won 5-2 thanks to a three-run seventh inning that was started when Tom Brunansky hit a lead off home run. Kent Hrbek hit a pair of home runs in game two, and the Twins came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the game 4-3. Ron Davis pitched a perfect inning and a third to earn the save in the night cap.

 

The key line here is, “Ron Davis pitched a perfect inning and a third to earn the save in the night cap.” Davis always got a bad rap as a reliever so I decided to take a look at just how bad a reliever Davis was compared to other 4 relievers that make up the Twins top 5 save leaders of all-time.

 

Let’s first take a look at save opportunities, saves and blown saves. (As a Twin)

1. Rick Aguilera had 312 save opportunities , 254 saves,and 58 blown saves.

2. Joe Nathan has had 164 save opportunities , 152 saves, and 12 blown saves.

3. Eddie Guardado had 244 save opportunities, 116 saves, and 27 blown saves.

4. Ron Davis had 143 save opportunities, 108 saves, and 29 blown saves.

5. Jeff Reardon had 133 save opportunities, 104 saves, and 29 blown saves.

 

If we rank the relievers by the percentage of save opportunities that ended in blown saves, we get the following order:

1. Joe Nathan – 7.3%

2. Eddie Guardado – 11.1%

3. Rick Aguilera – 18.6%

4. Ron Davis – 20.3%

5. Jeff Reardon – 21.8%

 
Here is the list of players with the most save opportunities


Rick Aguilera	312	Ind. Games
Eddie Guardado	244 	Ind. Games
Joe Nathan	164 	Ind. Games 
Ron Davis 	143 	Ind. Games
Jeff Reardon	133 	Ind. Games 
Al Worthington 	130 	Ind. Games
Ron Perranoski	117 	Ind. Games 
LaTroy Hawkins 	114 	Ind. Games
Mike Trombley    	107 	Ind. Games 
J.C. Romero 	102 	Ind. Games 




...and the players with the most blown saves.

 

 

Rick Aguilera 58 Ind. Games 
Ron Perranoski 32 Ind. Games 
Jeff Reardon 29 Ind. Games 
Ron Davis 29 Ind. Games 
Eddie Guardado 27 Ind. Games 
Bill Campbell 27 Ind. Games 
Al Worthington 25 Ind. Games 
Mike Marshall 18 Ind. Games 
LaTroy Hawkins 18 Ind. Games 
Doug Corbett 18 Ind. Games 

 



Is Ron Davis as bad as the reputation that proceeds him? There is little to suggest that he wasn’t one of the worst closers we’ve had, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

 

Finally, I’d like to go back to the statement that started this whole thing and that was, “Ron Davis pitched a perfect inning and a third to earn the save in the night cap.” Not that pitching a perfect inning or two is the measuring stick for greatness, but I would think it probably correlates pretty closely with percentage of blown saves. By using the B-R Play Index, I was able to sort each player by save opportunities with no runs, no hits and no errors (perfect) to earn the save. Going back to the top 5 save leaders, we get this:

 

1. Joe Nathan has 81 perfect outings where he earned the save (164 opportunities): 49.4%

2. Eddie Guardado had 101 perfect outings ( 244 opportunities): 41.4%

3. Rick Aguilera had 112 perfect outings (312 opportunities): 35.9%

4. Jeff Reardon had 37 perfect outings (133 opportunities): 27.8%

5. Ron Davis had 39 perfect outings (143 opportunities): 27.2%

 

This list is almost identical to the first one…just as I suspected. Ranking closers can be difficult depending on what statistics you choose to look at, but it clear to me (based on these stats) that Ron Davis was one of the Twins most ineffective relievers to fill the coveted role as team closer.