Minnesota Twins: The Top 5 Relief Pitchers in Franchise History
By Otto Johnson
No. 5: Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Guardado
Years with the Minnesota Twins: 1993-2003, 2008 (12 Seasons)
Key Stats with the Minnesota Twins: 648 G, 704 IP, 37-48 W-L, 4.53 ERA, 116 SV, 610-270 K-BB, 9.5 WAR, Two Time All-Star, One Top-25 MVP Finish
Eddie Guardado‘s stat line isn’t as impressive as Glen Perkins, as he has a higher ERA, less saves, less All-Star appearances, and more losses, in way more innings. Glen Perkins also was a hometown hero, who was a star for the Minnesota Gophers, while Guardado was just a 21st round pick from some California high school.
None of that would matter though, as Twins fans grew to love Guardado. Everyday Eddie, as he became known, pitched 648 games for the Minnesota Twins, second-most in team history. Guardado only got better as he got older, going from a below-average starter, to solid reliever, to All-Star closer.
Guardado’s best season for the Twins came in 2002, when he led the league in saves at the age of 31. Guardado earned 45 saves over the course of the season before he earned a save and pitched the final inning of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, winning the Twins the series.
Over his Twins career, Guardado saved 116 games, third most in team history (his 187 career saves rank him 59th all-time), but Guardado’s overall stat line isn’t that great. However, his impact on the team and the franchise was, and that’s why he earns this number five spot.
No. 4: Minnesota Twins’ Jeff Reardon
Years with the Minnesota Twins: 1987-1989 (3 Seasons)
Key Stats with the Minnesota Twins: 191 G, 226 IP, 15-16 W-L, 3.70 ERA, 104 SV, 185-55 K-BB, 4.2 WAR, One Time All-Star, Two Top-25 MVP Finishes, One Top-10 Cy Young Finish, 1987 World Series
Jeff Reardon was only with the Twins for three seasons, but those three seasons were some of the best in team history. Reardon was a star, finishing in the Top-25 of MVP voting and finishing in the Top-10 Cy Young Award voting.
Reardon saved 104 games, the sixth most in team history, in just three years. His three-year save totals: 31, 42, 31, an insane amount. His most contribution to the team was the 1987 season, where he saved 31 games in the regular season and then three more over the postseason including in Game 7 to help the Twins win the 1987 World Series.
Jeff Reardon had a stellar 3.70 ERA over his time and averaged an excellent 1.4 WAR per season. His 185-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio was excellent, but his best contribution came during the team’s run to their first World Series title. That season alone pushes him to the fourth spot on this list.