Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 57, Johan Santana


The Minnesota Twins were just 57 days away from opening day in Baltimore on February 1st. As we near that day, we will tap into Twins history related to each number as we get closer!

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 opening day on March 29th in Baltimore.

There have been a number of pitchers who have received awards in Minnesota Twins history. None has been more recognized while wearing a Twins uniform than the guy with #57 on his back, Johan Santana.

Santana’s Twins career

Santana was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Houston Astros in 1995. He didn’t debut until 1997, but because of his 1995 contract, he was eligible for the rule 5 draft after the 1999 season, and though he hadn’t pitched above low-A, the Marlins selected him and then traded him to the Twins.

Santana spent the 2000 season with the Twins due to Rule 5 regulations, struggling to a 6.49 ERA over 86 innings. He only threw in 15 games in 2001. After 11 games in 2002, he moved up to the big league club, with 27 games, 14 of them starts, throwing 108 1/3 innings with a 2.99 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 49/137 BB/K.

That performance should have caught attention, but it took his next season to do such, when he went 12-3 in a split role in 2003, throwing in 45 games, 18 of them starts, tossing 158 1/3 innings, with a 3.07 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 47/169 BB/K ratio.

From 2004-2007, Santana was easily the best pitcher in the American League by a significant distance, and in the major leagues as well. He led the majors in wins, was 0.01 off the lead in ERA, led in WHIP, and had 139 more strikeouts than the next closest competitor. In the AL, Santana had 10 more wins, 271 more strikeouts, 25 1/3 more innings, a 0.50 lower ERA, and a 0.27 lower WHIP than any other pitcher in the game.

He finished his Minnesota Twins career with 93 wins, a 3.22 ERA over 1,308 2/3 innings pitched, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 364/1,381 BB/K ratio. Once he was in the rotation, he was dynamite in the playoffs, with a 2.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and an 8/26 BB/K over 27 2/3 innings.

Post-Twins career

The Twins traded Santana to the New York Mets for four players in February of 2008. He made a big impression in his first year in the National League, leading the league in ERA (2.53) and innings while also striking out 206 batters, but he lost out on the Cy Young Award to Tim Lincecum (and was 3rd behind a big year from Brandon Webb as well).

The injury bug first bit Santana in 2009 with the Mets, as he was only able to make 25 starts and throw 166 2/3 innings. He was able to throw 199 innings in 2010, but still did not make 30 starts.

Santana missed all of 2011 before returning in 2012. He was getting his feet under him when he had one of the most historic moments in the history of the Mets organization, throwing the team’s first no-hitter in its history.

He threw 134 pitches in that game, and later in the month, he threw three straight games where he threw 100 pitches, only one of those games going past 6 innings thrown. After that stretch, he imploded, allowing at least 6 runs in 5 starts in a row before being shut down in mid-August after extra rest didn’t help his performance. He never made it back on the mound in the major leagues.

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Career accolades

Johan started three straight All-Star games with the Twins and made one more All-Star game with the Mets. Santana won 2 Cy Young Awards, and he really should have won a third. He finished in the top 5 in CY voting 5 times in his career.

Johan won the pitching triple crown (leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA) in 2006. He was in the top 10 in MVP voting twice in his career and led all pitchers in bWAR 3 times in his career.

While Johan did not receive enough votes to remain on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot after the 2018 ballot, he will be inducted to the Minnesota Twins team Hall of Fame this year.

Next: Who will be next in Twins team HOF?

As we get closer to opening day, we remember #57 by remembering the most recognized pitcher in Twins history, Johan Santana.

We look forward to that first day of the season against Baltimore!