We break down the Minnesota Twins’ toughest pitching records that may never be broken from both the Twins and Senators years.
The Minnesota Twins have had so many great pitchers and hitters over the franchise’s 120 years. These greats have set some pretty impressive records, but records are meant to be broken. Pitching records are thought of as harder to break, so there are several seen as unbreakable.
We wanted to see which would be the hardest to break. Walter Johnson pitched his way to an incredible career, setting almost every pitching record in team history, most of which are unbroken. Because of his dominance, no one comes close to his numbers.
Johnson is the greatest pitcher in baseball history, so his name pops up on three out of five spots on this list, but we did find two other records that will be pretty hard to break. With that in mind, we take a look at five franchise pitching records that will be pretty hard to break.
No. 5: Career Winning Percentage by a Minnesota Twins Pitcher: .679
Who holds the record: Johan Santana
Technically Hall of Famer Stan Coveleski also had a .679 win percentage over his three seasons with the Senators, but he only pitched three seasons with the team and just gets over the 500 innings pitched mark (He had 500.2 IP with the Senators), so we give Johan Santana sole credit here.
The two-time Cy Young winner’s mark of .679 with the Twins would rank 10th best all-time (ahead of Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson) if he had never joined the New York Mets, but instead he ranks 37th with .6406, which is still really good.
To help picture how safely Santana has this locked up, the next closest active Twin is Jose Berrios who has a winning percentage of .558. Berrios would have to win his next 30 straight decisions to top that mark. Yikes.
No. 4: Games Finished by a Minnesota Twins Pitcher: 434
Who holds the record: Rick Aguilera
To finish a game, a pitcher has to record the final out in the ninth inning. In the old days of baseball, most times starters didn’t finish their games. In modern baseball, starters never do. Shane Bieber and Lucas Giolito tied for the league lead with three. This means relievers usually finish the game off.
Relievers usually finish the game, but which reliever depends on the situation. Closers come in for saves or high leverage situations, but don’t pitch in most MLB games. This makes Rick Aguilera and his record of 434 games so much more incredible.
The next closest player on the list is Joe Nathan with 394, but no other player has more than 258. The active Twin with the most games finished is Taylor Rogers with 57. The average closer finishes about 39 games a year. At that rate, it would take almost ten years of closing to top Aguilera. I think it’s safe to say Aguilera has this one for a while.
No. 3: Minnesota Twins Records for Complete Games, Shutouts, Strikeouts, Innings Pitched, and ERA
Who holds the records: Walter Johnson
We’re breaking the mold a bit, to include five of Johnson’s records into one. Johnson’s marks of Complete Games (531), Shutouts (110), Strikeouts (3,509), Innings Pitched (5914.1), and ERA (2.17) are all untouchable by modern standards of baseball. Why are they slotted in at third then? Because two of his other records are even more incredible. For now we’ll break down these.
Johnson’s complete game and shutout numbers put him fifth and first all-time respectively while his mark of 5,914 innings sit him third all-time. As we already broke down earlier, the MLB has moved away from allowing pitchers to complete games and load management and shifting rosters make sure that these records will stand forever.
His 3,509 strikeouts, good for ninth all-time, and 2.17 ERA, twelfth all-time, would need a pitcher to pitch at an INCREDIBLE level for a long time, making these two records unlikely, but not as impossible to break.
No. 2: Most Wins and Losses by a Minnesota Twins Pitcher
Who holds these records: Johnson
Similar to the last ranking of records, these records are incredible, but even harder to top. Johnson had a record of 417-279, both records for the franchise. To put them into perspective, no Twins pitcher ever is within 220 wins or 120 losses.
In order to top Johnson’s record for wins, a pitcher would have to win 20 games IN TWENTY DIFFERENT SEASONS and then win EIGHTEEN MORE. ALL IN ONLY A TWINS UNIFORM. For reference, since the year 2000, only 32 pitchers have won twenty games. Wow.
As for the losses, a pitcher would have to lose 20 games in fourteen seasons. If a player loses more than 20 games more than twice, they will be gone from whatever team they play for. But despite both incredible feats, they still aren’t the most unbreakable record.
No. 1: Highest War by a Minnesota Twins Pitcher: 151.9
Who holds this record: Johnson
Johnson’s total career war of 164.5 (he earned a WAR of 13.2 as a hitter as well), placing him behind Babe Ruth as the second greatest mark ever. Not just by a pitcher, but of ANYONE. His mark of 151.9 sets him second behind Cy Young for pitchers. Roger Clemens, the third place pitcher is 13 points behind him.
But let’s focus on just Twins for a second, because that’s the record we’re talking about. Bert Blyleven is second in team history with a WAR of 49.1. Blyleven pitched eleven years for the Minnesota Twins have to pitch TWENTY-THREE more years with the Twins at that rate to pass Johnson. Oops.
The bottom line is, Johnson has created several unbreakable records for the Twins to spend decades chasing, but we’ll see who can top them.