Phil Hughes allowed one run over eight innings and earned the victory in Minnesota’s 2-1 win over Arizona on Wednesday. Hughes is 16-10 in his first season with the Twins after going just 4-14 with the Yankees last season. He is the fourth pitcher in major-league history to follow a season with four-or-fewer wins with 16-plus wins the following season, having at least 25 starts in each campaign. The others to do that were Frank Mountain in 1883 (26-33 after going 4-21 in 1882), Jerry Koosman in 1979 (20-13 after going 3-15 in 1978) and Matt Keough in 1980 (16-13 after going 2-17 in 1979). Koosman did it under similar circumstances to Hughes: his three win season in 1978 came in New York (with the Mets) and then after being traded to the Twins in the offseason, he went on to win 20 games in his first season in Minnesota in 1979.
If Wednesday was Hughes’ final appearance of the season, he will have finished the year with 16 wins and only 16 walks allowed. Only three pitchers in the modern era registered as many or more wins as walks while winning at least 15 games: Christy Mathewson did it twice (25 wins, 21 walks in 1913 and 24 wins, 23 walks in 1914) and Slim Sallee (21 wins, 20 walks in 1919).
Because of the rain delay in yesterday’s game, Hughes came up a third of an inning short of notching 210 innings that would have triggered a $500K bonus. I can’t believe there is any way that the Twins would be so stupid as to not give Hughes this bonus anyway when they have him signed to a multi-year deal. Back in the day, Twins owner Calvin Griffith who was considered as cheap an owner as there was in baseball was not averse to giving a player a bonus after a particularly outstanding season. The sad sack Twins should not let a good publicity opportunity slip through the cracks. Free agents that the Twins might be interested in signing in the future are watching so don’t screw this up Minnesota Twins front office!
UPDATE – It turns out that the Twins did not screw things up here and came to a fair understanding with Phil Hughes. The team offered Phil Hughes the opportunity to pitch in relief this coming week-end in Detroit so that he could meet the 210 inning limit to collect a $500K bonus and Hughes decided to pass on the offer. I also read in the Star Tribune that according to the baseball collective bargaining agreement that the Twins can not call it “close enough” and pay Hughes the bonus. Good to see there are no hard feeling on either side.