Minnesota Twins: best starting pitching staff in team history

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 11: Former pitchers Bert Blyleven (L) and Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins present Francisco Liriano
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 11: Former pitchers Bert Blyleven (L) and Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins present Francisco Liriano /
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Minnesota Twins
26 May 1993: An official confers with pitcher Kevin Tapani of the Minnesota Twins during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. /

5. 1991 staff – Jack Morris, Kevin Tapani, Scott Erickson, Alan Anderson, David West

While the 1991 team won the World Series in arguably the greatest World Series that’s been played, the pitching staff as a whole really was a cast of guys who had average to even poor seasons on the mound. The ace of game 7, Morris, was the third starter by a significant amount in regular season results, and outside of the top 3, the rotation really struggled.

As far as the comparisons to other great staffs, the 1991 staff is tied with the 1992 staff and 1965 staff with an exactly league average opponents’ OPS allowed by the starting staff, as each of the 3 teams had an exactly 100 OPS+ allowed. However, the 1991 staff sets apart due to the front three being much better than league average and pulling up the rest, whereas both of those squads were more of an average team all around. In fact, the front 3 produced the third-most bWAR of any front 3 in Twins pitching staff history.

Leading that staff in the regular season (and the 1991 team’s regular season bWAR leader) was Kevin Tapani. The 27 year-old was one of three pitchers from the 1989 trade of Frank Viola that played key roles in the 1991 team with closer Rick Aguilera and West being the other two. Tapani went 16-9 on the season with a team-leading 2.99 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Tapani was never a strikeout master, but he really kept guys off base to keep damage limited, throwing 244 innings with a 40/135 BB/K ratio.

Morris was the veteran that was brought in. Though Twins fans remember fondly his performance in game 7, his 1991 season was really the third-best among the starters in that season, as he threw 246 2/3 innings with an 18-12 record, a 3.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and a 92/163 BB/K ratio.

Erickson was the revelation on the season. He won 20 games, going 20-8, tossing 204 innings with a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 71/108 BB/K ratio. His high walk rate would come to bite the team in the playoffs, but he spun excellent starts all season long, leading the team in shutouts with three.

Lefties Alan Anderson and David West rounded out the final two spots in the rotation, though lefty Mark Guthrie also made 12 starts on the season. Paul Abbott, Tom Edens, Denny Neagle, and Willie Banks also made starts on the season.

The starting staff combined for a 3.77 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, striking out 5.2 per 9 innings.