Wednesday, October 01, 2008

#24 Minnesota Twins Team Card

65twins by you.
Okay, I took a mini-vacation but now I'm back and I have plenty of new old cards to talk about. One reason for this bounty is a trade that I completed in September with fellow blogger Brandon, the mastermind behind Phillies 4 Me. His other blog is Trade Me a Better Card, which has been more or less dormant for the past year but has a fantastic idea behind it: in the tradition of One Red Paper Clip, Brandon trades "up", receiving better and better items until he (hopefully) ends up with a Honus Wagner T206. It's a fantastic idea, and thanks to a recent trade, he's now got some really amazing bait to dangle. Go check it out; that blog was the early inspiration for my undertakings here.
Anyway, Brandon and I worked out a deal in which I sent him a few mid-90's Phillies cards and some 1960s and 1970s Phils that I'd grabbed off of eBay. In return, Brandon contributed twelve cards to my 1965 Topps set. Most of them are Phillies, as you might imagine, but we kick things off with another team card, the first American League squad I've gotten to write up. Manager Sam Mele's 1964 Twins slipped to 79-83 after back-to-back ninety-win seasons and sunk to sixth place, a full twenty games behind the pennant-winning Yankees. However, Minnesota cumulatively outscored their opponents by 59 runs (737-678), which would mathematically project to an 87-75 record. Their 40-41 record at Metropolitan Stadium indicates that they might have longed for the home field advantage of the Metrodome, which wouldn't open until 1982.

The Twinkies benefited from some sweet swinging (boy, that was hokey), as second baseman Bernie Allen was the only regular member of the lineup to post a sub-average adjusted OPS. Four position players were All-Stars: first baseman Bob Allison (.287, 32 HR, 86 RBI) and the entire outfield of Harmon Killebrew (49 HR, 111 RBI), Jimmie Hall (.282-25-75), and Rookie of the Year Tony Oliva (.323-32-94). With all of that power, the team placed first in the American League in home runs, slugging percentage, and runs scored, second in triples and walks, and third in doubles. They also had the individual leaders in most offensive categories, highlighted by Oliva's top marks in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases, Killebrew's home run crown, and Rich Rollins and Zoilo Versalles' shared triples title.

With such a potent offense, you'd assume that Minnesota's pitching would have been pretty lousy to drag them down to a sub-.500 record. Actually, it was fair-to-middlin'. 15-game-winner Camilio Pascual and his 3.30 ERA took a trip to the All-Star Game, and he was complemented by a young Jim Kaat (17-11, 3.22 in his fourth full season). Kaat also won the third of sixteen straight Gold Glove Awards. A mid-June trade with Cleveland brought a third dependable arm to the Twins' rotation: Jim "Mudcat" Grant, who won 11 and posted a team-best 2.82 ERA. The standouts in the bullpen were veterans Al Worthington (5 wins, 14 saves, 1.37 ERA) and Johnny Klippstein (1.97 ERA). The staff as a whole led the league with 47 complete games, but their 3.58 ERA was fifth out of nine teams and they were undone by the 181 home runs they allowed (only the woeful Athletics, with 220, served up more).

Of course, 1964's disappointment turned into 1965's triumph, as the Twins blew away the A.L. with 102 wins before narrowly losing to Sandy Koufax and 24 other guys in a seven-game World Series. But that's a story for another day, now isn't it?
65twinsb by you.

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