Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More parallels with the 1987 Twins

A few weeks ago I milked a Monday print column out of the notion that there are parallels between this year's Twins team and the World Series champs of 30 years ago.

As the survivors of the 1987 Twins were feted at Target Field last weekend I thought of a few more pitching parallels. Realizing that we can take this comparison too far:

Adalberto Mejia is this year's Les Straker, only left-handed. Rookie who emerged as the team's third-best starter, not enough innings to qualify for the ERA title (Straker threw 154 in '87, Mejia is one out shy of 75 innings right now). Straker posted an ERA+ of 104 in '87; Mejia's is currently 109.

Kyle Gibson equates to Mike Smithson. Tall right-hander who relies on a sinking fastball. Gibson led the 2015 Twins, who were in the playoff chase until the final weekend, in innings pitched, and Smithson threw more than 250 innings for the 1984 Twins, who were in the playoff chase until the final weekend. Smithson opened the '87 season as the third starter but was in and out of the rotation; the same has been true of Gibson this year.

Bartolo Colon is ... well, there are actually two realistic possibilities. Joe Niekro was, in 1987, a 42-year-old one-pitch pitcher in his 21st year in the majors; the Twins, his seventh club, acquired him in June. Niekro won 221 games in his career, five of them for Minnesota (four in '87, one in '1988). Colon is a 44-year-old one-pitch guy on his 10th club in 20 years and is credited with 235 wins.

The other possible comp is Steve Carlton, more for his status as a legend. Carlton was in 1987 already a 300-game winner. Like Niekro, he was 42; the Twins were his sixth team. Like Colon, he arrived in Minnesota in July. He didn't pitch a lot.

Carlton was a no-doubter Hall of Famer; Niekro, despite a distinguished career, never had a shot at the Hall. Colon is somewhere in the middle, and Niekro is the better 1987 comp if Colon remains in the rotation for the rest of the year, or even through August.

1 comment:

  1. Ed, are you ready to put Dozier and Santana and Rosario and Kintzler on the market and see who bites for what?