Forgotten Seasons of the Past By Minnesota Twins Players

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 14: Lew Ford /
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SP: Jim Merritt, 1967

Stats: 13-7, 227 2/3 IP, 2.53 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 30/161 BB/K
Actually traded for another in this post (Cardenas), Merritt was selected away from the Dodgers in the winter draft that no longer exists in the 1962 winter offseason. He worked his way to the major leagues by 1965 as a swingman. He really was very good in both ’67 and ’68, but he was better in ’67, breaking into the starting rotation and completing 11 games, 4 of them shutouts, and he was able to keep free passes to a minimum. Merritt would struggle to keep the same level of run prevention in the National League, but he was part of the 1970 team that made the World Series for the Reds, winning 20 games in the regular season, winning a game in the NLCS against the Pirates, but being hit hard in his only World Series start against the eventual champion Orioles team, giving up 4 runs in 1 2/3 innings.

SP: Dave Goltz, 1978

Stats: 15-10, 220 1/3 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 67/116 BB/K
A Minnesota native, Goltz was drafted out of Rothsay High School in the 5th round of the 1967 draft. By 1972, he’d worked his way up to the major leagues as a big, sturdy right-hander who could throw a ton of innings without big time “stuff” on the mound. For a five-year span from 1975-1979, Goltz averaged 34 starts and 253 innings pitched as a workhorse in the rotation. Interestingly, 1978 was the season Goltz missed the most time on the mound, but he was probably at his sharpest when on the mound, posting a career-best ERA. Goltz was mostly a league-average pitcher in ERA, but he had one big year in 1978 where he was an elite arm.

SP: Allan Anderson, 1988

Stats: 16-9, 202 1/3 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 37/83 BB/K
A young lefty that the Minnesota Twins spent a 2nd round draft pick on in 1982, Anderson was by no means unknown to the organization, who considered him one of their top “prospects” (a term not really used at the time) when he reached the major leagues in 1986. He couldn’t crack the 1987 rotation, but he won a job in spring and ran with it all season, having his best year of his career, leading the American League in ERA. However, he just happened to be pitching behind the AL Cy Young Award winner that season in Frank Viola, who would win 24 games and finish just .19 behind Anderson in 3rd place in the AL in ERA. Sharing the mound with an elite lefty like Viola left Anderson’s big year fairly unnoticed, not even garnering a vote in the AL Cy Young award voting.

SP: John Smiley, 1992

Stats: 16-9, 241 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 64/123 BB/K
The Twins paid a fairly steep price to acquire Smiley, trading away top outfield prospect Midre Cummings and top pitching prospect Denny Neagle to the Pirates to get Smiley after he’d gone 20-8 for the 1991 Pirates, helping the team to the NLCS. However, Smiley joined a rotation that already had Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson from the 1991 World Series team, and Smiley was brought in to replace World Series hero Jack Morris, something nearly impossible to do, no matter how well he performed. He threw a career high in innings, and had the best bWAR of his entire career. He left after the ’92 season in free agency, further allowing his legacy to be forgettable in the minds of Twins fans.

SP: Joe Mays, 2001

Stats: 17-13, 233 2/3 IP, 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 64/123 BB/K
Part of a trade that sent away a platoon outfielder for the 1997 Twins in Roberto Kelly, Mays was expected, like his fellow trade return in that deal, Jeromy Palki, to likely top out as a minor league arm, with a light chance that he was a replacement arm for a year or two. Instead, the Twins got a guy who made 193 appearances and 146 starts with the Twins, but he never recovered fully after elbow surgery in 2004. Though he was an All-Star in 2001, many Twins forget the season as they had two established starters in Brad Radke and Eric Milton ahead of Mays in the rotation, so he was not seen as a leader in the rotation.

Next: Forgotten Relievers