Yep, there is a poll at the bottom of this post. I will leave it open for a week, then post the results. Please vote early and often once.
Brad Radke was drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of the 1991 draft, and never pitched for another team. He made his major league debut on April 29, 1995 and never looked back, posting a 4.22 ERA, 113 ERA+, 4.24 FIP, 3.30 K/BB ratio and 46.2 fWAR over 12 seasons. He was a bit homer prone, with a career 1.2 HR/9 rate and twice leading the league in home runs allowed. Bradke was most famous for his impeccable control, giving up just 445 walks over 2, 451 innings, once leading the league in both walk rate (1.0 BB/9) and K/BB ratio (5.27) in 2001.
He had one of his best seasons in 1997, when he lead the league in starts (35) and posted the second best ERA+ (120), fWAR (5.5), and the third-best ERA of his career (3.87). What makes this season remarkable, however, is that he won 20 games. OK, that in and of itself isn’t that remarkable; wins aren’t all that useful of a statistic for evaluating pitching performances and Bradke’s 20 wins were tied with Randy Johnson for second most in the league. Actually, five starters won at least 17 games that year (0ne of which was the perfectly average Jamie Moyer), so reaching 20 in and of itself wasn’t that big of a deal. No, what makes those 20 wins particularly remarkable is that the Twins as a team only won 68 games that year. The bullpen, other than Greg Swindell and closer Rick Aguilera, was putrid: with a 4.06 ERA, 90 ERA+, 7.52 K/9, 2.55 K/BB ratio, a combined 5.2 rWAR. Bradke didn’t get much in the way of run support, either: the offense was thoroughly mediocre, averaging just 4,77 runs per game (the league average was 4.93).
There is some talk of retiring the number 22, and I gotta say, I’m fully on board with this proposal. Of course, Bradke was my favorite pitcher as a kid (I am not the Erin sponsoring his bbref page, though), and he’s still among my favorite Twins to this day, so it’s not like my opinion is objective or anything. However, there is little doubt that Bradke ranks among the best pitchers in franchise history (well, it’s not exactly a storied history). His 41.1 rWAR is third among Twins’ pitchers (behind only Walter Johnson’s 122.7 and Bert Blyleven’s 45.7), and tenth among all players in franchise history. Unlike, say Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris, he never pitched the team to the World Series, but he was instrumental in helping them reach the 2002 ALCS. He also helped them clinch four division titles before retiring after the 2006 season.
The case for retiring his number isn’t a slam-dunk, however. Bradke might be one of the best pitchers in franchise history, but that doesn’t mean he’s one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He’s in the franchise Hall of Fame, but he certainly won’t be getting in to Cooperstown. His numbers just aren’t that good. And there are many who feel that only players inducted into baseball’s HOF deserve to have their numbers retired, otherwise it sort of cheapens the honor. The Twins have only retired five numbers (besides the mandatory #42) and three of those players are in the HOF: Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew. Of the two others, one played a huge role in clinching two World Series titles (Kent Hrbek), while the other is a borderline HOF case with strong ties to the franchise and the community (Tony Oliva).
That’s where the poll comes in. What do you think, dear reader? Should the Twins retire Brad Radke’s number?
Should the Twins retire Brad Radke's number
- Yes, but not before Bert Blyleven's number is retired (58%, 23 Votes)
- No, that honor should be for HOFers only (23%, 9 Votes)
- Yes, he deserves it (15%, 6 Votes)
- Undecided (4%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 40
Erin is a contributing writer for Twinkie Talk. You can email her at erinm725 [at] gmail [dot] com.