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Where'd They Go? 1996 Minnesota Twins

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It's time for Part six of the "Where'd They Go?" series where I take a look at random teams from the last 20+ years and see where they went. I'll end up donig one for every franchise, except for the more recent expansion franchises. I asked Vern/Culloden what Twins team I should do and he suggested the 1996 Twins. I have no idea why the '96 Twins but here I go.

 

On March 28, 1996 Kirby Puckett woke up seeing a black spot on his right eye. It would turn out to be glaucoma and it would mark the end of his career. After three straight losing seasons things looked pretty bleak for the Twins with the identity of their franchise's career being over. But that season they didn't completely suck, although they were never in serious contention for a playoff birth. After a 4-3 win over the A's on September 12th they were at 74-72 but that would be be the high point of the season for them as they would drop 12 of their last 16 games, finshing six games under .500.

 

C: Greg Myers (.286/.320/.426, 9.4 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - I suppose if they had a Back-up Catcher Hall of Fame, Myers would have to be part of it. 1996 was one of only four years during his 18 year career that Myers was a team's primary starter although he only made 81 starts splitting time with Matt Walbeck and Mike Durant. Twins traded Myers in late '97 to the Braves and from there he go to San Diego, back to Atlanta, Baltimore, Oakland, and then to his original franchise Toronto. Played only a handful of games the last couple of years and his career appears to finally be over.

 

1B: Scott Stahoviak (.284/.376/.469, 18.0 VORP, 12 Win Shares) - This was Stahoviak's only year of relevance as the former first round pick only lasted another two seasons in the Majors. Played two years with the Iowa Cubs and out of baseball after 2000.

 

2B: Chuck Knoblauch (.341/.448/.517, 99.3 VORP, 32 Win Shares) - Placed 4th in my 1996 A.L. MVP redo, this would end up being Knoblauch's career year. He would sign a new five-year deal late in the season but just a year later he demanded to be traded. Before Spring Training in 1998 the Twins granted him his wish and dealt him to the Yankees for four prospects including Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton. Had a very good season offensively in 1999 in New York but the former Gold Glover winner suddenly had a case of Steve Sax disease, having extreme difficulties to making easy throws to first base. Was moved to left field his final year with the Yankees and finished his career in 2002 with Kansas City.

 

3B: Dave Hollins (.242/.364/.396, 8.1 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - Did not finish the season with the Twins as they traded him in a waiver deal to Seattle in late August for a PTBNL. Played a couple of years in Anahim after that and bounced around for cameo appearances with Toronto, Cleveland, and Philadelphia before retiring after 2002. Oh and who was the PTBNL the Twins received for Hollins? David Ortiz.

 

SS: Pat Mears (.267/.298/.391, 8.2 VORP, 8 Win Shares) - Played nine years and the only real skill he had was getting hit by pitches. Signed with the Pirates after 1998 and played there thru 2001.

 

LF: Marty Cordova (.309/.371/.478, 30.0 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - The '95 ROY, Cordova continued to show promise in '96 but his production fell of badly after that due to numerous back problems. Left the Twins after 1999 and had a forgettable year in Toronto but had a surprisingly good year in Cleveland in 2001. This small bit of success convinced the Orioles to sign him to a three-year contract which he gave them a mediocre 2002 and injuries ended his 2003 season early and took away his entire 2004 season. Invited to Spring Training by the Devil Rays in 2005, he retired one day after being signed.

 

CF: Rich Becker (.291/.372/.434, 28.0 VORP, 20 Win Shares) - By far his best year, Becker was a low AVG/high OBP guy with little power. Twins traded him after 1997 to the Mets. From there went to Baltimore, Milwaukee, Oakland, and closed out his career in the Majors with Detroit in 2000.

 

RF: Matt Lawton (.258/.339/.365, -3.6 VORP, 7 Win Shares) - With the unexpected retirement of Puckett the Twins had to have a revolving door in right field with Lawton leading the way with just 51 starts. Traded in 2001 to the Mets for Rick Reed and then traded to the Indians following the season in a seven player deal for Roberto Alomar. Signed with the Pirates before 2005, he was traded twice in less than a month midseason first to the Cubs and then to the Yankees where he'd then end up getting suspended for testing positive for steroids. Signed with the Mariners before this season and has recently been designated for assignment after complaining about lack of playing time. Shockingly no one is beating down the door to pick up the washed up outfielder.

 

DH: Paul Molitor (.341/.390/.468, 42.6 VORP, 18 Win Shares) - His first season with his hometown team this was the future HOF's last good season. He would get his 3000th career hit in September and became the first player ever to have a 200 hit season during the year he got his 3000th hit. Retired after 1998, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

 

Starting Rotation

 

Brad Radke (115 ERA+, 51.2 VORP, 14 Win Shares) - Received a lot of attention for allowing 40 homeruns but actually had a pretty good year. Has of course played his entire career in Minnesota.

 

Frank Rodriguez (102 ERA+, 28.4 VORP, 11 Win Shares) - To show how out of control offense was in 1996, Rodriguez has a 5.05 ERA but when you took park factors into account he still ends up with an ERA+ above 100, meaning his ERA was above league average. The former much hyped Red Sox prospect never developed. Twins waived him in 1999, played a couple of years in Seattle and finished his in career in Cincinnati.

 

Rich Robertson (101 ERA+, 30.1 VORP, 8 Win Shares) - Hey another "above average" 5.12 ERA here. He walked 116 and struck only 114 which is always a bad sign for future success. Out of baseball after 1999.

 

Rick Augilera (95 ERA+, 16.5 VORP, 6 Win Shars) - This was Aguilera's ill fated return to starting pitching after six years as a closer. He went back to the closer role the following season. Traded to the Cubs in 1999 for Kyle Loshe and would retire after 2000.

 

Scott Aldred (101 ERA+, 20.1 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - "Above average" 5.15 ERA, I'm not sure how he convinced M.L. teams to give him so many shots over nine years but more power to him. Last appeared in the Majors with the Phillies in 2000, hung around the minors thru 2004.

 

Closer: Dave Stevens (111 ERA+, 13.1 VORP, 6 Win Shares) - "Closer" being used usely here as Stevens had only 11 saves and the Twins as a team had only 31. Last appeared in the Majors with the Braves in 2000.

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