For many years now the Minnesota Twins organization has always looked unfavorably at pitchers that issue too many bases on balls. If you eliminate 2011 and 2012 the Twins have been in the top three teams in the American League in fewest walks allowed since 1996. During that same time frame the Twins have led the American League in strikeouts just once and that was in 2006.
But today we are going to look at the other end of the spectrum, we are going to see what Twins pitchers wouldn’t exactly be considered control artists. The pitchers that would be regulars in former Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson‘s doghouse. It is surprising to me to see how many “good” pitchers there are on this list of most walks allowed in a single season by a Twins pitcher. Check out the records of some of these pitchers, two pitchers on this list won 20 games while issuing 90 or more walks during the season. Two pitchers on this list had more walks then they had strikeouts. Three pitchers made this list twice.
I can’t help but be amazed by the season that Rich Robertson had in 1996. But first let’s take a look at that team, the first year after Kirby Puckett‘s career came to an abrupt end. Tom Kelly‘s 1996 team finished fourth with a 78-84 record. The starting staff that season under pitching coach Dick Such was made up of Brad Radke, Frankie Rodriguez, Rich Robertson, Scott Aldred, and Rick Aguilera. Current Twins skipper Paul Molitor should remember that season, he was the teams DH that year and he hit .341 and had 113 RBI.
Robertson who the Twins picked up on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates in November 1994 was a left-hander who pitched for Minnesota from 1995-1997 and won a job in the Twins starting rotation in 1996 after having started a total of four games in his brief big league career. In 1996 at the age of 27 he started 31 games for the Twins and posted a 7-17 record with a 5.12 ERA. In his 186+ innings pitched he struck out 114 batters and walked 116 and yet he had three shutouts which tied him for the American league lead. He is the only Twins pitcher to ever lead the American League in walks allowed in a single season.
Twins pitchers with 90 or more walks allowed in a single season
The Jekyll & Hyde Hughes
This past season California native and former New York Yankee first round pick (2004) Phil Hughes, 28, pitching for a team that finished 70-92 had a 16-10 record and an amazing and record-breaking 11.63 SO/W ratio. That comes out to 16 bases on balls issues in 209.1 innings with 186 KO’s. Another Hughes who was also from California, Jim, pitched for Minnesota from 1974-1977 and in 1975 at the age of 25 he had a 16-14 record with a 3.82 ERA for a 76-83 team. Jim, a Twins 33rd round pick in 1969 walked 127 and struck out 130 batters for a 1.02 SO/W ratio in 249.2 innings.
Strangely enough both of these right-handed pitchers won 16 games for their sub .500 teams. Phil had record-breaking control and finished the 2014 season with one complete game and Jim with not so much control had 12 complete games in 1975. Jim won a total of 25 games in his brief four-year big league career and Phil has 72 wins and counting on his resume.
Bottom line? I guess a pitcher can win at the big league level no matter what his SO/W ratio is and once again it just goes to show that it isn’t all about the numbers. But it is interesting never the less.