Minnesota Twins 1987 World Series Anniversary Profile: Bert Blyleven
With the celebration of the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 World Championship this weekend, it’s high time to profile the players!
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.
While not the oldest player on the team, Bert Blyleven had certainly been with the Twins the longest, having come to the Twins in the 1969 draft out of high school in California.
Blyleven threw in the minor leagues in 1969 after he was drafted, and he made just 8 appearances in the minors in 1970 before coming up to the big league club for good. Blyleven made a big splash that first season, winning 10 games, throwing 164 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, posting a 47/135 BB/K ratio.
He’d not post an ERA that high again until the very last season of the decade as he established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the major leagues with his devastating curveball. Unfortunately for Blyleven, he was often on poor teams or overshadowed on the few good teams he found himself a part of by other superstars.
Blyleven moved on to the Texas Rangers via trade in 1976. The Rangers traded Blyleven to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a 4-team trade in December of 1977. Blyleven would be a member of the 1979 “We are family” Pirates team that won the World Series. In December of 1980, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. Midseason of 1985, the Minnesota Twins acquired Blyleven back in a fairly substantial prospect deal.
Blyleven made the most starts and threw the most innings for the 1987 squad, sharing co-ace duties with Frank Viola. Blyleven’s numbers on the year weren’t exactly pretty, however, as he posted a 4.01 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and allowed 46 home runs.
What was interesting is that Blyleven ended both the first half and second half of the season on a run, as he posted rough months outside of June and September in the regular season, when he posted month ERAs of 2.83 and 2.47, respectively.
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Blyleven won two games in the American League Championship Series, though he got hit around a bit, but he kept the Twins in the game and threw 13 1/3 innings over 2 ALCS starts.
Blyleven threw much better in two World Series starts, though he ended up losing one of those games in St. Louis. He threw 13 innings and had a 2/12 BB/K over those innings with 4 earned runs allowed.
After seeing his ERA balloon to over 5 and leading the league in losses in 1988, the Twins traded Blyleven to the California Angels for a prospect package. He finished his active career with the Angels, pitching his last game in 1992 at 41 years old. The Twins signed him to a deal in January of 1993 in order to allow him to retire a Twin.
While many players find their way after their career as a coach or a manager, Blyleven found his way into the television booth as the color analyst for Minnesota Twins broadcasts starting in 1996, a position he still holds.
Next: 1987 Twins Profile: Tom Kelly
Blyleven was (finally) selected to the Hall of Fame in 2011. He was selected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in 2002. His #28 has been retired by the team as well.
Excited for the anniversary weekend?! Who should we profile next? Let us know in the comments!