The Minnesota Twins have had some excellent pitchers in their history,
yet one of the best in franchise history continues to remain underappreciated
When looking at the Minnesota Twins history for today, it pops up that 20 years ago today, in 1997, Twins right-hander Brad Radke became just the 3rd pitcher since 1950 to win 12 consecutive decisions en route to a 20-win season for Radke.
Radke was born in Eau Caire, Wisconsin, but he graduated from high school in Florida, drafted by the Twins in the 8th round in 1991. He worked his way through the minor league system, throwing an impressive 186 1/3 innings in the minor leagues in 1994, very feasibly getting a call up to the big league club if there would not have been a strike.
Radke quickly established himself as the staff ace for the Twins, leading the team in starts and innings in 1996 in his first full season with the team. He was the team’s ace during some very lean times for the team. His 20-win season in 1997 was for a 68-win team. In fact, it wasn’t until Radke had already thrown 6 seasons for the Twins before he was on a team with a .500 or better record.
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Many Minnesota Twins fans that saw Radke pitch don’t even realize where he rates in the history of the franchise.
Among pitchers who have pitched for the Twins, here are his ranks all-time in the franchise’s history:
- bWAR: 2nd (45.6)
- Wins: 3rd (148)
- Games Started: 2nd (377)
- Innings Pitched: 3rd (2,451)
- Strikeouts: 3rd (1,467)
- Win Probability Added: 4th (12.3)
As you can see, Radke ranks among the top starters all-time in Minnesota Twins franchise history, yet I would wager that if you asked a fan, many could quickly recall Blyleven, Johan Santana, Frank Viola, Jim Kaat, and might even throw out some of the older pitchers like Camilo Pascual, Mudcat Grant, Dean Chance, or Jim Perry or toss out recent pitchers with a shorter shelf life, like Scott Erickson or Francisco Liriano, but it seems like no one ever brings up Brad Radke. They absolutely should.
The Twins have 8 retired numbers (#3 – Harmon Killebrew, #6 – Tony Oliva, #10 – Tom Kelly, #14 – Kent Hrbek, #28 Bert Blyleven, #29 Rod Carew, #34 Kirby Puckett, #42 Jackie Robinson). Brad Radke is certainly the most accomplished member of the 30 members of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame that has not had his number retired. While putting #22 in the rafters would require Miguel Sano to find another jersey number, I think the Twins would find a way to make that work, and they should for a guy who led for so long on a team without much else!