Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 2, Rolaids Relief Man Award

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CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Nathan
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Nathan /
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The Minnesota Twins are just 2 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the return of the game we love, let’s look at the #2’s place in team history.

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

With two being the number on this day of the countdown, we turn our attention to relief pitchers. Specifically to an award given to relief pitchers that no longer is being handed out. From 1976 to 2012, the Rolaids Relief Man award. It was different from other major league awards as it was determined on a points system rather than a voting system like the Cy Young and MVP awards. It was also primarily part of a marketing campaign for the heartburn relief product.

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Based on a pitchers statistics they were awarded points and whoever had the most points at the end of the season would be named Rolaids Relief Man of that season. Saves were worth three points, wins two points, and losses a negative two points. Blown saves were also a negative two points and a “tough save,” one in which the reliever entered the game with a runner in scoring position and recorded a save was worth an additional point as well. Twice at the end of a season, a Twins reliever held the most points according to these standards.

Bill Campbell was the American League inaugural Rolaids Relief Man winner in 1976. That season Campbell pitched in 78 games and finished 68 of them. He recorded 20 saves and held a record of 17 wins and 5 losses. As a reliever, he matched the number of innings many current day starters pitch with 167.2 innings and held a 3.01 ERA for the 1976 season. After 1976, Campbell moved on from the Twins to sign with the Boston Red Sox and was able to repeat as Rolaids Relief Man in 1977.

The other Twins Rolaids Relief Man was one of the best Twins relievers ever, Joe Nathan. In 2009, Nathan and Mariano Rivera became the only relievers to ever share the award in a season. With more present-day pitcher usage in play in 2009, Nathan’s stats look quite different from Campbell’s. Nathan appeared in 70 games in 2009 and finished 62 of them. He recorded 47 saves and had a record of 2-2 and pitched far fewer innings than Campbell at 68.2 innings. Nathan also recorded an ERA of 2.10 and an 11.7 K/9.

Next: Darvish to the Cubs, now what for the Twins?

As we celebrate two great seasons by two Twins relievers from the past, we also celebrate two more days until Spring Training! Real baseball is coming soon!

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