Which President was Best for the Twins?


A new year is almost upon us, and if you live in the United States, you probably already know that it’s an election year (if you don’t already know that, then you REALLY need to brush up on your high school Political Science classes). I generally don’t approve of mixing politics and baseball; it is my firm belief that Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Communists, and people who completely hate politics should all be allowed to root for the Twins without letting political arguments interfere.

But I’m also kind of a history buff and a stat nerd, and I like researching meaningless baseball statistical trends. After hearing a news report about one of the 15 million Republican Presidential debates we’ve had this year, I started wondering things like “do the Twins win more under Republican or Democratic administrations?” and “which presidents have been the best or the worst for the Twins?”

So I present my detailed analysis of the Twins won-loss records under every presidential administration. Note: my analysis is completely non-partisan, and I do not endorse any candidate or party with it. Further note: if anyone actually bases his/her vote on something trivial like baseball, I fear for the future our our country!

PresidentPartyTwins WinsTwins LossesWinning Pct.
John F. KennedyD252231.522
Lyndon B. JohnsonD440370.543
Richard NixonR481433.526
Gerald FordR189178.515
Jimmy CarterD316330.489
Ronald ReaganR576667.463
George H.W. BushR339309.523
Bill ClintonD528699.430
George W. BushR707590.545
Barack ObamaD244243.501
TOTAL5D, 5R4,0724,050.501

The Twins moved to Minnesota the same year that JFK was inaugurated, so that’s where my chart starts. For extra credit, someone else can dig up the numbers of how the Washington Senators did during, say, the Taft Administration, but I was too lazy to go back that far. After a rough start in 1961, the Twins put together a pair of 91 win seasons before Kennedy was tragically killed in November of ’63.

Lyndon Johnson’s tenure was very successful for our team, and it included the team’s first World Series appearance in 1965. The Nixon era got off to a great start with playoff appearances in 1969 and 1970, but the Twins fizzled in the early 70’s. 1974 was the only time the Presidency changed hands during a baseball season. On August 8th, 1974, just after the Twins finished a thrilling 3-2, 14 inning win over the Royals, Nixon announced his resignation. The next day, after Gerald Ford took over, the Twins beat Baltimore 6-2.

Jimmy Carter gets a lot of criticism for his handling of the Iran hostage crisis, but he also has the dubious distinction of being the first president under whom the Twins had a losing record. The team suffered a general malaise in the late 70’s; Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva left in the middle of the decade, and Rod Carew departed in the middle of the Carter presidency. The record under Reagan was even worse. In his eight years in office, the Twins only had a winning record twice. It was Morning in America (or at least Minnesota) in 1987, though, when the Twins won the World Series.  The second title came during the first Bush Administration, which was a pretty good time for the Twins, but a bad time for Presidents eating broccoli.

The most recent presidencies include the worst and best ones for the Twins. The team stumbled badly under Bill Clinton, but it was reborn as a contender the year George W. Bush took office. The Obama presidency got off to a great start with two playoff years and a combined .557 record through 2010, but then disaster occurred in 2011. As a result, the Twins are just a single game over .500 during the current administration.

Add it all up, and the Twins are 2,292-2,177 when Republicans are in the White House, for a winning percentage of .513. Under Democratic presidents, the Twins are 1,780-1,873 (.487). The most successful presidency was the Republican George W. Bush with a .545 win rate, followed closely by Democrat Lyndon Johnson at .543. Bill Clinton’s time in office was the worst for the Twins by far at .430. The Reagan years almost matched Clinton before the successful seasons of 1987 and 1988. Whatever happens in the 2012 election, we have at least one more year of a Democratic administration for the Twins to try and even the numbers. Unfortunately for the Dems, even if the Twins go 162-0 next year, their winning percentage will still trail the Reps at .509. Unfortunately for the Twins, they might struggle to win even half that many games next year.

So what does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing. Actually, what it means is that I spend too much time looking stuff up on Baseball-Reference.com.  Other than that, I am pretty sure that the Minnesota Twins will not be one of the major issues in Campaign 2012. Whether Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich, President Obama, or anyone else takes the oath of office in 2013, you can rest assured that I’ll still be criticizing the Twins for their starting pitching choices.