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
1989: Bert Blyleven of the Minnesota Twins stands in the dugout during a game in the 1989 season. (Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2. 1972 staff – Bert Blyleven, Dick Woodson, Jim Perry, Ray Corbin,
Jim Kaat, Dave Goltz

Interestingly, every single one of these staffs other than our #2 overall staff pitched for a team that won at least 89 games and finished 2nd or better in their division. In spite of three Hall of Fame players (Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Blyleven), two that deserve enshrinement or are “bubble” guys for the Hall (Tony Oliva, Kaat), and a pair of guys who were excellent in their era, guys who were viable award-caliber players in multiple seasons of their careers (Cesar Tovar, Perry), the 1972 team won just 77 games and finished a fairly distant third in the American League West, 15 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics.

The 1972 season was really the final season of Blyleven’s ramp up into his peak seasons, as his 1973 season was arguably his best year. Blyleven was still just 21 in 1972, but he was the unquestioned ace of the Twins by this point, making 39 appearances, 38 of them starts, completing 11 games and throwing 287 1/3 innings, with a 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 69/228 BB/K.

Jim Perry had another season of consistency for the Twins at 36 years old, making 35 starts, and throwing 217 2/3 innings, with a 3.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 60/85 BB/K. The Twins would trade Perry to the Indians after the 1972 season.

What makes the 1972 staff so special is that only six guys made starts for the team, but all six were excellent. Kaat struggled through injury to make only 15 starts, but he tossed a 2.06 ERA with a 20/64 BB/K over 113 1/3 innings in those starts.

Woodson struggled with control, walking 101 batters in his 251 2/3 innings, with a 2.72 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, striking out 150 hitters. Ray Corbin (2.62 ERA, 161 2/3 innings) and Dave Goltz (2.67 ERA, 91 innings) gave the Twins a pair of 23 year-old starters with excellent performances to round out the staff, certainly the deepest in Twins history.

While on a front three aspect, the 1972 staff falls a bit short, the depth of the staff allows it to be the Twins all-time leader in ERA (2.80) and tied for the team lead in opponents’ OPS+ (87).