Merry Christmas

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

from all of us to all of you

 

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How long can the Twins keep selling “the future”

According to Twins Notes in todays Star Tribune Sports section the Minnesota Twins have contacted Mike Napoli‘s agent about signing with Minnesota. Napoli would be a bench player with power who can still play first base every now and then. The big reason for signing him according to the Twins is that he would be a clubhouse leader to replace Chris Gimenez who is a free agent.

Kennys Vargas

Clubhouse leadership is a job that is earned, not bought on the free agent market. Why the Twins want to waste their money and a roster spot on a 36 year-old player that hit .193 in 485 plate appearances and struck out 163 times in Texas is beyond me. Kennys Vargas can do what they want Napoli for and he is much younger and cheaper. 

The Twins don’t need a clubhouse leader, the Twins need some pitching that can help them in 2018, signing Michael Pineda who is coming off TJ surgery and won’t pitch until 2019 does not help the team now. There have also been reports that the Twins were in on Drew Smyly before he signed with the Cubs and are nosing around Trevor Rosenthal. Both of these pitchers are coming off TJ surgery and likely won’t pitch in 2018 either. What the heck is up with that? Are we collecting injured players who can maybe pitch in 2019?

When does this organization quit talking about what they hope to have in the future and start adding pieces that can help them in 2018? The current group of players is young and talented and could use some help with their pitching staff. I know, I know, they just signed Fernando Rodney a few days to be their closer. The team still needs one or two good starters and another reliever and so far they have done nothing to help that problem. 

I am not a huge free agent fan and wouldn’t pay the bucks to sign Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta but there are a number of pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Chris Archer out there that could be had in a trade for prospects. How about we trade some futures for some pitchers that can pitch now and won’t need to be salary dumps in a few years? I am not getting any younger…

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have done a lot of talking but so far it has been just that, talk. You don’t get a “W” for talk, you need real live pitchers to get that. How much longer can the Minnesota Twins organization keep selling the future to Twins fans? The future is now Mr. Falvey and Mr. Levine, please act like it.

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Winter GM meetings another snoozer for Minnesota Twins fans

A sneak peak into the Twins war-room in the 2017 GM Winter meetings

The Winter GM meetings are almost over and the Minnesota Twins have done nothing to make me say “Wow” I didn’t think the Twins would do something like that. This years winter meeting were like most of the others that I have followed, high hopes going in and a snoozer coming out. 

With the 20th selection in the Rule 5 draft the Twins selected soon to be 27 year-old right-handed pitcher Tyler Kinley from the Miami Marlins organization. Kinley has spent five seasons with the Marlins since being picked in round 16 of the 2013 amateur draft. In 2016 Kinley split his season between AA and AAA but this past season spent his time between high A and AA so he seems to be headed backwards. Kinley has been used almost exclusively as a reliever and I assume that the Twins will do the same.  

The team did however; lose RHP Nick Burdi a Twins second round pick in 2014 when the Phillies picked him with the third pick in the Rule 5 draft and then traded him to the Pirates for international bonus space. The team also lost RHP Luke Bard to the Angels with the 17th pick in the Rule 5 draft. Bard was a Twins round 1 compensation pick 42nd overall in 2012. 

The Twins did sign RHP Michael Pineda who is coming off of TJ surgery in 2017 and will miss most or all of 2018 to a two-year $10 million deal. Pineda will turn 29 years of age in a couple of weeks and has pitched for the Mariners and Yankees and has a career record of 40-41 with a 4.05 ERA. On the plus side he has only given up 652 hits in 680 innings and he has struck out 687. But he is a year away, another one of those “he will help us in the future” signings, how about signing some players to help us this year? The Twins are coming off a good year, how about making some moves to keep the fans interested? 

WAIT, hot off the press, the Twins have apparently found their closer, MLBRumors reports that the Twins and Fernando Rodney have agreed on a deal, $4.5 million plus another $1.5 million in possible incentives. Rodney will be 41 in March and will bring his 300 career saves to Minnesota, his ninth major league team. Rodney has been an interesting closer for many years and he will bring the Fernando Rodney Experience to Target Field, hopefully the arrows will be flying. Having said that, I would rather see a starter coming to the Twins.

It is still a long time before spring training starts so there is always hope that the Twins will make some moves to help their team but unless they can sign or trade for a big time starter you have to say that Mr. Falvey and Mr. Levine have under-performed.

Will the Twins ever stop being bottom feeders?

 

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Jack Morris and Alan Trammell elected to Hall of Fame

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell

 

Former Detroit Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on yesterday completing the journey from Motown to Cooperstown. Morris, a St. Paul, Minnesota native pitched for the Minnesota Twins just one season but it was a good one. The work-horse right-hander posted 254 wins and 18 of those were wearing a Twins uniform. He also won two ALCS and two World Series games for the Twins. Although Morris will probably go into Cooperstown wearing a Detroit Tigers hat, he is probably best remembered for his famous World Series victory, a 10-inning shutout, winning 1-0 for Minnesota over Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Morris, a big-game pitcher, and Trammell, a star shortstop, were picked by a 16-man Modern Baseball Era committee that considered 10 candidates whose biggest contributions came from 1970-87. Former catcher Ted Simmons fell one vote short of election and former players’ union head Marvin Miller was five shy of the 12 required for election.

Congratulations!

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And the games keep getting longer

Baseball fans certainly got their moneys worth when they showed up at a major league ballpark to watch the Minnesota Twins play this past season. First and foremost they were able to see Paul Molitor‘s boys win 85 games and an average Twins game lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes. Four minutes longer on average than their previous longest game average of 3 hours and 7 minutes back in 2014. That is getting your moneys worth.

An average MLB game in 2017 averaged 3 hours and 5 minutes according to MLB about 4 1/2 minutes longer than a 2016 baseball game. 

Average MLB Game Time Rises to Record 3:05

In 2017 the Twins played 108 games that lasted 3 hours or more as compared to a season low of just 10 games over 3 hours back in 1981. The Twins longest game in 2017 lasted 386 minutes (6 hours and 26 minutes) and took place at Target Field back on May 28 in a 15 inning 8-6 loss to the Tampa Rays making it the second longest game in Twins history in terms of time and the longest game in terms of time in MLB in 2017. Nine Twins pitchers threw a total of 289 pitches and eight Rays pitchers threw 264 pitches. The Twins only had six extra-inning games in 2017 and only the 15 inning affair lasted 12 or more innings.

The Twins longest game in terms of time was played at Jacob’s Field on May 7, 1995 when the Twins and Indians played for six hours and 36 minutes and the Indians came out on top 10-9 on a Kenny Lofton walk-off single off Twins reliever Mark Guthrie in the bottom of the 17th inning with one out. It took nine Twins pitchers and 322 pitches to play that game.

Back in 1961 when major league baseball first moved to Minnesota, an average Twins game took 161 minutes (2 hours and 41 minutes) and just 32 of those games lasted more that three hours. That is exactly a half hour shorter for each Twins game from 1961 to 2017. Even back in 1984, Twins games averaged just 2 hours and 31 minutes and only 11 games went beyond three hours.

For additional information on the length of Minnesota Twins games in terms on time and/or innings, please visit our Length of games including longest Twins games page.

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Time travel and baseball

I was looking at my Facebook account the other day and I saw that someone had posted a picture of a couple of old cars from the 40’s and he stated that he wished that time travel existed so that he could see some of those beauties when they were in their prime.

That mention of time travel got me to thinking about it and how cool it would be to be able to travel backwards or forwards in time in relation to baseball. Assuming  that was possible, but you could only revisit the past or go into the future, what would I choose? Would I revisit the past and see some of baseball immortals in their prime or would I choose to go into the future and see what is in store for baseball 50, 100, or 200 years from now?

I guess for me that would be relatively a simple choice as I love history so I would be off to revisit the past. I have seen the entire history of the Minnesota Twins so there is nothing more for me to see there, but to be able to see and interact with players in their prime like Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Roy Campanella, Bob Feller, Dizzy Dean, Jimmy Foxx, Roger Hornsby, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner and oh so many more would be fun. What about all those great Negro League players like Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige and those great barnstorming black teams. How cool would it be to watch the 1919 World Series and learn what really happened. How great would it be to see all those players in their prime and really understand how they compare to the players of today. How about equipment and technology, what role have they played in baseball history. Would the players of today just be a shadow of themselves if they had to play with the ball, gloves and bats of yesterday? How about the reverse, would the great players of the past still be the stars of today with modern-day equipment? What impact did the difference in travel from trains to planes have on baseball? Who wanted to win more, yesterday’s players or today’s players or has that not changed at all with the big bucks being paid today.

As I said, I love history and I think if I could travel back in time I would not be too disappointed in what I saw. Traveling to the future however; might pose more of a risk, maybe baseball does not survive, how disappointing would that be. A world without baseball and spring arriving every year but with no spring training? As Twins skipper Tom Kelly would often say to someone who asked him a question that he deemed stupid, Oh My!

What if the game has been changed so much that I would no longer recognize it. What if the game gets taken over by technology to make sure there is never a bad call, how boring would that be? What if someone with a robotic arm wants to pitch, and the technology is there for him or her to throw it 150 MPH, what then? What if pitchers injuries became so frequent that live pitching was outlawed and pitching machines replaced them and pitching machine mechanics that had the skills to make these machines throw pitches never seen before and now these mechanics were now being recruited and signed for huge dollars. 

What if baseball priced itself out of existence? What if the cost of going to a game became so prohibitive that fans just quit going? Could major league baseball survive if they played their games and no fans showed up at the ballpark to watch?

What’s that sound? Oh crap, it is the alarm going off and it is time to get up. I slip out of bed and look out the window and I see that the thermometer reading just 11 degrees, snow covering the back yard and the pond is frozen over except for a small circle of open water around the aerator that keeps chugging along trying to keep the ice from taking over. The alarm keeps playing and now I hear Derek Falvey being interviewed and he says the Twins need pitching, particularly a front of the rotation type of starter and some bullpen help. Wait, I think I have heard that before from Calvin Griffith in 1961. Some things never change, all talk and no action. Who would have thought that baseball and politics have so much in common. But there is always hope, the baseball winter meetings start in a few days.

Back to my thoughts on time travel, where would you go? Visit the past or the future and why?

 

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First big league game and first major league win

Appearing in a big league game and stepping on a major league pitching mound for the first time is something you never forget. It makes no difference if you are the starter or if you enter the game in relief, you have reached the goal that has been waiting for you since you first started playing baseball in your backyard as a child.

Many a pitcher has made his major league debut with Minnesota across his chest and some have had good games and others have not been as lucky but only 20 Twins pitchers can lay claim to the fact that they earned the “win” in their first big league game. Bill  “Shorty” Pleis was the first Twins pitcher to accomplish this feat and he did so in relief.

It took more than 10 years for the Twins to have a starting pitcher start his major league career and get credited with a “W” and it was none other than Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven and as he has told us many times, the first batter he faced, Lee Maye, did indeed hit a home run off him at RFK Stadium. Bert however; maintained his composure and earned the win with seven innings of five hit ball with seven strikeouts and one walk and the Twins went on to beat the Washington Senators in a 2-1 game.

First big league game and first major league win

Bert Blyleven as a rookie in 1970

Results
Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR UER Pit Str BF
1 Bill Pleis 1961-04-16 (2) MIN BAL W 6-4 9-10, W 1.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0     4
2 Joe Bonikowski 1962-04-12 MIN KCA W 9-5 4-GF, W 5.2 3 1 1 4 3 0 0     23
3 Bert Blyleven 1970-06-05 MIN WSA W 2-1 GS-7, W 7.0 5 1 1 1 7 1 0     27
4 Hal Haydel 1970-09-07 (2) MIN MIL W 8-3 2-6, W 5.0 4 2 2 0 2 1 0     19
5 Jim Strickland 1971-05-19 MIN CAL W 12-6 3-5, W 2.1 1 0 0 0 4 0 0     8
6 Tom Johnson 1974-09-10 MIN CHW W 8-7 14-GF(15), W 2.0 2 1 0 0 1 0 1     8
7 Pete Redfern 1976-05-15 (2) MIN CAL W 15-5 GS-6, W 5.0 3 4 4 3 2 1 0     21
8 Paul Thormodsgard 1977-04-10 (2) MIN OAK W 7-1 GS-7, W 6.1 6 1 1 3 2 0 0     28
9 Jeff Holly 1977-05-01 MIN DET W 6-5 3-GF, W 7.0 2 0 0 1 6 0 0     23
10 Roger Erickson 1978-04-06 MIN SEA W 5-4 GS-7, W 6.1 5 3 3 1 4 0 0     25
11 Darrell Jackson 1978-06-16 MIN DET W 5-2 GS-8, W 7.1 7 1 1 4 7 0 0     31
12 Doug Corbett 1980-04-10 MIN OAK W 9-7 8-GF(12), W 5.0 1 0 0 0 6 0 0     16
13 Scott Erickson 1990-06-25 MIN TEX W 9-1 GS-6, W 6.0 4 1 1 2 4 0 0 94 53 25
14 Todd Ritchie 1997-04-03 MIN DET W 10-6 4-6, W 3.0 3 1 1 0 3 0 0 50 30 11
15 Eric Milton 1998-04-05 MIN KCR W 10-1 GS-6, W 6.0 6 0 0 2 1 0 0 88 60 26
16 Dave Gassner 2005-04-16 MIN CLE W 6-4 GS-6, W 6.0 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 72 48 22
17 Anthony Swarzak 2009-05-23 MIN MIL W 6-2 GS-7, W 7.0 5 0 0 2 3 0 0 98 64 27
18 Kyle Gibson 2013-06-29 MIN KCR W 6-2 GS-6, W 6.0 8 2 2 0 5 0 0 91 64 26
19 Andrew Albers 2013-08-06 MIN KCR W 7-0 GS-9, W 8.1 4 0 0 1 2 0 0 109 67 29
20 Felix Jorge 2017-07-01 (2) MIN KCR W 10-5 GS-6, W 5.0 7 3 3 1 2 1 0 85 54 21
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/25/2017.

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These guys beat up the Twins over the years

With the Minnesota Twins having 57 MLB seasons in the rear view mirror, the Houston Astros winning the World Series in 7 games, the temperatures in the mid 40’s and with no snow on the ground it is a good time to look back on and revisit the hitters that have found Twins pitching to their liking over the years. 

Today we are going to take a look at Twins opponents that have 200 or more hits against the Twins, there are 23 players who fit this criteria. 200 hits is a lot of hits. Six of the 23 hit from the left side, 13 were right-handed hitters and just four (Vizquel, Martinez, Wilson and Murray) of them were switch-hitters. Just missing out on this list were Frank Thomas with 194 hits, Al Kaline with 192 and Sal Bando with 190 hits.

200 or more hits against the Minnesota Twins

Results
Rk Player #Matching AB H
?
HR RBI SO BA OPS Tm
1 Carl Yastrzemski 297 1094 321 43 158 121 .293 .855 BOS
2 George Brett 228 869 275 23 128 74 .316 .869 KCR
3 Paul Konerko 257 926 265 50 136 139 .286 .845 CHW
4 Cal Ripken 207 788 242 26 119 87 .307 .849 BAL
5 Magglio Ordonez 195 739 240 37 145 80 .325 .906 CHW,DET
6 Wade Boggs 179 687 234 6 84 50 .341 .869 BOS,NYY,TBD
7 Bert Campaneris 232 913 229 7 54 115 .251 .633 KCA,OAK,TEX,CAL,NYY
8 Omar Vizquel 212 783 228 5 68 79 .291 .732 SEA,CLE,SFG,TEX,CHW,TOR
9 Victor Martinez 205 764 226 29 121 90 .296 .823 CLE,BOS,DET
10 Reggie Jackson 252 902 225 51 142 243 .249 .818 KCA,OAK,BAL,NYY,CAL
11 Brooks Robinson 230 861 223 20 115 91 .259 .711 BAL
12 Amos Otis 195 740 223 16 100 102 .301 .818 KCR
13 Jim Thome 196 695 218 61 156 221 .314 1.049 CLE,CHW,PHI,BAL
14 Paul Molitor 176 716 217 16 93 76 .303 .825 MIL,TOR
15 Willie Wilson 185 693 216 3 64 113 .312 .752 KCR,OAK
16 Rickey Henderson 198 721 215 23 85 90 .298 .869 OAK,NYY,TOR,ANA,SEA,BOS
17 Robin Yount 208 794 211 18 93 92 .266 .715 MIL
18 Harold Baines 213 716 209 32 127 101 .292 .851 CHW,TEX,OAK,BAL
19 Ivan Rodriguez 178 678 208 29 94 104 .307 .835 TEX,DET,NYY,HOU
20 Luis Aparicio 195 774 205 8 51 60 .265 .649 BAL,CHW,BOS
21 Miguel Cabrera 175 653 205 41 139 109 .314 .960 FLA,DET
22 Frank White 214 704 202 13 73 70 .287 .751 KCR
23 Eddie Murray 168 658 201 44 133 94 .305 .922 BAL,CLE,ANA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/29/2017.

One oddity that I noticed when looking over this data was that only two players got their 200 or more hits from one spot in the batting order. Ricky Henderson had 214 out of his 215 hits against Minnesota hitting lead-off while Carl Yastrzemski had 228 of his 321 hits out of the three-hole.

WOW! Look at the Hall of Famer’s on this list plus some of the others will be in shortly. Anyone on this list surprise you? How about players that you thought would be on the list but are not?

 

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Who should be the next Minnesota Twins closer

The Twins haven’t signed any free agents this off-season but it is only a matter of time before they do. One of the relief spots they need to fill is the closer role. The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler, their closer to the Washington Nationals this past summer for 20 year-old left-handed starter Tyler Watson and some international bonus slot cash. Watson pitched in class A ball for both the Nats and Twins.

Brandon Kintzler earned $2.925 million last year and saved 28 games in Minnesota during the four months he was a Minnesota Twin in 2017. In 2016 he saved 29 games. Although not a prototypical closer, he got the job done for the Twins for a modest price on a team in 2016 that lost 103 games. After the Twins traded Kintzler, reliever Matt Belisle received the most save opportunities and he notched 9 saves. 

Let’s take a look at the Twins last 12 seasons and see how their closers did and how much they were paid.

YEAR NAME SAVES BS SAVE %
2017 Kintzler ($2.93 M) 28 4 87.5%
2017 Belisle ($2.05 M) 9 5 64%
2016 Kintzler ($507,000) 17 3 85%
2016 Jepsen ($5.31 M) 7 4 63.6%
2015 Perkins ($4.66 M) 32 3 91.4%
2015 Jepsen ($3.03 M) 10 1 90.9%
2014 Perkins ($4.03 M) 34 7 82.9%
2013 Perkins ($2.5 M) 36 4 90%
2012 Perkins ($1.55 M) 16 4 80%
2012 Capps ($4.5 M) 14 1 93.3%
2011 Capps ($7.15M) 15 9 62.5%
2011 Nathan ($11.25 M) 14 3 82.4%
2010 Rauch ($2.9 M) 21 4 84.0%
2010 Capps ($3.5 M) 16 2 88.9%
2009 Nathan ($11.25) 47 5 98.4%
2008 Nathan ($6.0 M) 39 6 86.7%
2007 Nathan ($5.25 M) 37 4 90.2%
2006 Nathan ($3.75 M) 36 2 94.7%

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

If you look at the percentage of games closed for the top three Twins closers over the last 12 seasons you end up with a save percentage of 90.3 for Joe Nathan, 86.8 for Glen Perkins, and 86.5 for Brandon Kintzler. In 2017 the average closer had 25 saves in 29 opportunities and saved 86.7% of games they were asked to save. 

Continue reading

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Winningest pitchers at Met Stadium

Metropolitan Stadium

The Twins called Met Stadium home from 1961 through 1981 before moving into the HHH Metrodome in 1982. Today we are going to look at the starting pitchers that pitched at the Met for the Minnesota Twins and for their opponents and determine who won the most games.

The opposing pitcher that won the most games at Met Stadium pitched for the Yankees his entire career from 1964 to 1974 and it is Mel Stottlemyre. Not many people remember Mel Stottlemyre but he was what we would consider “a horse” today but his big league career ended way too early due to injury. Here is how his SABR Bio starts out:

A baseball lifer, Mel Stottlemyre burst on the scene as a midseason call-up for the New York Yankees in 1964, helping the club win its fifth consecutive pennant and starting three games in the World Series. One of the most underrated and overlooked pitchers of his generation, Stottlemyre won 149 games and averaged 272 innings per season over a nine-year stretch (1965-1973) that corresponded with the nadir of Yankees history. Only Bob Gibson (166 victories), Gaylord Perry (161), Mickey Lolich (156), and Juan Marichal (155) won more during that period; only Perry tossed more innings, and only Gibson fired more shutouts (43) than Stottlemyre’s 38. Stottlemyre was the “epitome of Yankee class and dignity,” wrote longtime New York sportswriter Phil Pepe. “[He was] a throwback to a winning tradition in those years of mediocrity.” After a torn rotator cuff ended his playing career at the age of 32 in 1974, Stottlemyre embarked on a storied career as a big-league pitching coach.

You can read the rest of his SABR Bio by going here. No opposing pitcher won more games than the 13 that Mel Stottlemyre did at the Met.

Opposing pitchers that won the most games at Met Stadium

Mel Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
The Bronx, New York 8/25/1968

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Results
Rk Player #Matching   W
?
L W-L% ERA GS IP HR Tm
1 Mel Stottlemyre 21 Ind. Games 13 5 .722 3.77 21 145.2 9 NYY
2 Wilbur Wood 32 Ind. Games 10 5 .667 2.68 16 147.2 15 CHW
3 Jim Palmer 18 Ind. Games 10 5 .667 2.97 15 115.1 10 BAL
4 Luis Tiant 22 Ind. Games 9 9 .500 4.65 20 127.2 12 CLE,BOS,NYY
5 Dave Wickersham 21 Ind. Games 9 5 .643 3.58 13 105.2 7 KCA,DET,KCR
6 Paul Splittorff 24 Ind. Games 8 7 .533 5.66 22 119.1 10 KCR
7 Clyde Wright 17 Ind. Games 8 5 .615 3.02 15 107.1 9 CAL,MIL,TEX
8 Nolan Ryan 14 Ind. Games 8 5 .615 3.27 14 118.1 5 CAL
9 Mike Cuellar 14 Ind. Games 8 6 .571 4.41 14 98.0 16 BAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/4/2017.

 

Twins pitchers that won the most games at Met Stadium

Results
Rk Player #Matching   W
?
L W-L% ERA GS IP HR
1 Jim Kaat 235 Ind. Games 93 76 .550 3.53 217 1508.0 151
2 Jim Perry 189 Ind. Games 74 35 .679 2.74 128 1020.0 83
3 Dave Goltz 124 Ind. Games 54 40 .574 3.11 106 861.2 65
4 Bert Blyleven 112 Ind. Games 49 40 .551 2.69 111 864.2 58
5 Camilo Pascual 89 Ind. Games 40 30 .571 3.39 85 624.2 62
6 Dave Boswell 89 Ind. Games 34 23 .596 3.34 69 509.0 60
7 Geoff Zahn 70 Ind. Games 26 28 .481 3.97 65 459.2 37
8 Mudcat Grant 68 Ind. Games 24 22 .522 3.61 59 409.1 50
9 Al Worthington 164 Ind. Games 23 13 .639 2.67 0 252.2 13
10 Dean Chance 48 Ind. Games 21 16 .568 2.79 44 326.0 21
11 Dick Stigman 68 Ind. Games 21 19 .525 3.54 44 345.2 57
12 Pete Redfern 73 Ind. Games 20 17 .541 4.00 49 335.0 23
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/4/2017.

 

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