1987 Minnesota Twins World Series Anniversary Profile: Frank Viola


With the celebration of the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 World Championship this weekend, it’s high time to profile the players, starting with the young ace lefty in the rotation

This weekend, the Minnesota Twins will be honoring the 1987 World Series championship team. As we get ready for that weekend, we at Puckett’s Pond want to highlight some of the best players and moments from that season.

We’ll start today with one of the best nicknames on the 1987 team, Frank “Sweet Music” Viola


Frank Viola was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 1981 draft out of St. Johns University in New York. Viola went straight to AA Orlando in his draft season after signing and still threw 97 innings for Orlando with a 3.43 ERA.

Viola opened 1982 with the Twins’ AAA affiliate at the time in Toledo, but after just 8 starts there, he moved up to the big league club. He found sledding difficult in both 1982 and 1983 as he established himself with ERAs of 5.21 and 5.49 in his first two years with the big club.

In 1984, Viola led the Twins back to .500 as the team’s rotation leader, hurling his first of 5 250 innings seasons in his career. He posted a 3.21 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and even finished 6th in the Cy Young Award voting.

From 1984-1988, Viola would be the anchor of the Twins rotation, winning 93 games over the 5 seasons, averaging 252 innings per season with a 3.46 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. His best season as a Twin was actually the year after the World Series, in 1988, when he went 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA and won the Cy Young Award.

1987 Performances

Viola was known in his career for being a guy who warmed up with the weather, getting better as the summer wore on, and that was seen in 1987, as he opened the year with an April and May that had him sitting with a 4.03 ERA, running a streak from April 23rd to June 6th where he allowed multiple runs in each start.

However, true to form, Viola heated up by the end of June, and from June 26th through August 16th, he went at least 7 innings in every start as the Twins surged ahead in the middle of their season, with a 1.97 ERA over 87 innings in that span.

While Viola did not pitch at his peak in the playoffs, he kept the team in every game, and the Twins offense was able to pound out a victory in all but one of his starts, taking the ball in games 1, 4, and 7 of the World Series against the Cardinals.

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As happens with players, Viola got older and more expensive, and after the big 1988 season, the Twins chose to capitalize on his value in 1989 at the trade deadline, sending him to the New York Mets for a trade package that would eventually include Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummond, Kevin Tapani, David West, and Jack Savage. Aguilera, Tapani, and, to a lesser degree, West would go on to be part of the 1991 Twins championship team with Tapani and Aguilera in key roles in the pitching staff.

Viola had another 20-win season in 1990 with the Mets and was an All-Star with the team in 1990 and 1991, but after the 1991 season he signed with the Boston Red Sox, and his stuff was never quite the same quality in Boston. He pitched for a few more years, but the innings had taken a toll on his arm, and he was out of the major leagues after a few more teams and a few more seasons in 1996.

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Viola will definitely go down as one of the memorable Twins pitchers of all time, and he still ranks 5th among players in the Twins franchise (if you exclude the Senators) in wins, 5th in innings, and 5th in bWAR.