Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 25, Kaat’s 1966 Wins

benjaminchase
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 26: Former pitcher Jim Kaat speaks at the memorial service for Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew on May 26, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011 after a battle with esophageal cancer. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 26: Former pitcher Jim Kaat speaks at the memorial service for Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew on May 26, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011 after a battle with esophageal cancer. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins are just 25 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

Jim Kaat is arguably the best-fielding pitcher in the history of the game. He also dots both career and single-season leaderboards for the Minnesota Twins, which is where we look today. Just one season after the Twins went to their first World Series in 1965, Kaat had his best season of his Twins career in 1966, setting the standard for pitcher wins in a single season with 25.

Kaat’s 1966

Kaat had established himself as a workhorse starter already before 1966, with four seasons over 200 innings in his first five full seasons. However, he’d not had a season at the same level of 1966, and he wouldn’t again in many statistical categories.

Kaat won 283 games in his career, but he only won 20 games with the Minnesota Twins one time, and that was in 1966, when he led the American League with 25 wins.

Kaat would also lead the American League in starts, innings, and complete games, BB/9, and K/BB in 1966. His starts total led the major leagues.

Kaat went 25-13 over 41 starts, throwing 304 2/3 innings. He completed 19 of his starts with 3 shutouts. On the season, he tallied a 2.75 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 55/205 BB/K ratio. He also posted a 131 ERA+.

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Kaat did get an All-Star nod for his excellent season, but the intriguing part of his year was that due to the lack of individual league Cy Young Awards, Kaat received no award recognition for the season as Sandy Koufax was unanimously chosen as the major league’s Cy Young Award winner in 1966. The leagues would have their own awards the next season.

Kaat did finish 5th in the American League MVP voting in 1966, finishing as the only pitcher in the top 10 of votes, though it’d be hard to make a case for Kaat over the AL MVP of the season, Frank Robinson, who hit .316/.410/.637 with 49 home runs.

Kaat would never again have as many wins (next highest was 21 in 1974), more innings (303 2/3 in 1975), a lower ERA in a qualified season (2.83 in 1965), more complete games (16 in 1962), a better ERA+ (130 in 1962), or a lower WHIP (1.12 in 1968).

Next: Twins should learn from Pirates

For 25 days to spring training, we’ll remember the top season in pitching wins in Minnesota Twins team history, the 25 that Jim Kaat recorded for the 1966 Twins.

Come soon, spring!!

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