With the celebration of the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 World Championship this year, we continue to profile the players!
The Minnesota Twins are working toward another playoff appearance after a long layoff, something that they did in 1987 before they
After being integral to bringing in the starting shortstop for the 1987 team, a former Twins shortstop came back to primarily play DH for the 87 team.
Smalley was originally the #1 draft pick of the Texas Rangers in the January phase of the 1974 draft back when MLB had a draft in January and July after a college career with the University of Southern California. He reached the majors quickly, playing 78 games for the Rangers in 1975.
In 1976, The Twins acquired Smalley as part of the package of 4 players that the Twins received as they traded away pitcher Bert Blyleven. He took over shortstop for the Minnesota Twins after the trade, hitting .271 with a .353 on base percentage.
The Minnesota Twins saw Smalley develop into one of the strongest-hitting shortstops in the league, hitting 55 home runs between 1978-1980. In 1982, the Twins traded Smalley to the Yankees for a package of players that included future closer Ron Davis and future shortstop Greg Gagne.
After time with the Yankees and the White Sox, the Twins re-acquired Smalley just ahead of spring training in 1985. He split 1985 between DH and SS before spending the majority of 1986 and 1987 at DH.
Smalley was the primary designated hitter for the 1987 team, playing in 110 games, hitting .275/.352/.411 with 16 doubles, a triple, 8 home runs, and 2 stolen bases. However, Smalley simply wore down as the season went on as he battled injuries. He gave way to Don Baylor down the stretch, but he did have 4 plate appearances in the 1987 World Series, going 1-2 with a double and walking twice.
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Smalley was done after 1987 as a player in the major leagues, ending a long career of baseball. Smalley grew up with a father who was a major leaguer and his uncle was Gene Mauch, the long-time manager. Smalley is part of a group that can answer a trivia question of players that won both a college World Series and major league World Series.
Over his career, Smalley hit .257/.345/.395 with 163 home runs. He was selected to the 1979 All-Star game, a season when he finished 10th in the league in bWAR. Known for his power offensively, Smalley was exceptional defensively, but due to tallying high numbers of errors, he was assumed a lesser fielder, but he also consistently led the league in assists and putouts because he had an exceptional range and reached balls that most never would have had a chance at.
Smalley was elected to the USC Hall of Fame in 2007 and the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. He works with the Twins now doing analysis during Twins games for Fox Sports North.