1997 Minnesota Twins season
|1997 Minnesota Twins|
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Terry Ryan|
Midwest Sports Channel
(Bert Blyleven, Dick Bremer, Ryan Lefebvre)
830 WCCO AM |
(Herb Carneal, John Gordon)
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The 1997 Minnesota Twins will not be remembered as the strongest team the Twins ever fielded. Manager Tom Kelly's team consisted of a few solid players, but mainly past-their-prime veterans and never-to-be-established prospects. One of the few bright spots was pitcher Brad Radke's breakout season. The team finished with a 68-94 record, good enough for fourth place in the league's weakest division.
- November 4: Signed Juan Rincón as an amateur free agent.
- December 5: Signed catcher and Minnesota native Terry Steinbach as a free agent.
- December 12: Signed pitcher Bob Tewksbury as a free agent.
- December 18: Signed pitcher Greg Swindell as a free agent.
In 1996, catcher Terry Steinbach had a 35-home run, 100-RBI season with the Oakland Athletics in a contract year. Unfortunately for the Twins, he followed it up with a 12-home run, 54-RBI season with his hometown team. Scott Stahoviak played in half the games at first base but batted only .229. Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, the team's lone all-star, had a great year with the Twins, batting .291 and stealing a career-high 62 bases; he won his second Silver Slugger Award. The contrast between his season and his team's season led him to demand a trade, a demand the team obliged by sending him to the New York Yankees the following February. Ron Coomer had a competent year at third, with 13 home runs. He declined to "ride the pines" to protect a .301 batting average, and finished 1 for his last 8 to end at .298. Pat Meares hit .276, an above-average season for him. The primary outfielders – Marty Cordova, Rich Becker, and Matt Lawton – had mediocre seasons. This was disappointing, because Cordova and Becker were coming off of the best years in their careers. Designated hitter Paul Molitor had a good year, batting .305 with 89 RBI, but it did not match his stellar 1996 numbers. Veterans like Roberto Kelly and Greg Colbrunn performed reasonably well off the bench.
Brad Radke had a breakout year, going 20-10 with an ERA of 3.87. His string of twelve consecutive wins in twelve consecutive starts had only been matched twice since 1950. Bob Tewksbury and Rich Robertson spent most of the year in the starting rotation, but both had losing records. In the final two spots, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Aldred, and Frank Rodriguez respectively had 20, 15, and 15 starts. Of these three, Rodriguez was the only one with an ERA under 5. Rick Aguilera had a good year as the team's closer, earning 26 saves in not very many opportunities. Eddie Guardado, Mike Trombley, Greg Swindell, and Todd Ritchie had competent seasons in the bullpen. At the end of the season, Dan Serafini played well in six games, giving some hope for the future.
Steinbach played well at catcher, backed up by Greg Myers. Stahoviak played in 81 games at first, with Colbrunn in 64. Knoblauch won a Gold Glove at second base in a season that gave no indication of his future throwing problems. Coomer (third base) and Meares (shortstop) were average at their positions. The three outfielders played well in the field.
|Chicago White Sox||80||81||0.497||6||45–36||35–45|
|Kansas City Royals||67||94||0.416||19||33–47||34–47|
Record vs. opponents
1997 American League Records
|1997 Minnesota Twins|
- January 24: Signed first baseman Greg Colbrunn as a free agent.
- June 3: Drafted future major leaguers such as Michael Cuddyer (1st round, 9th pick), Matthew LeCroy (1st, 50th), Michael Restovich (2nd round), J. C. Romero (21st round), and Nick Punto (33rd round). (Punto did not sign with the team.)
- July 31: Relief pitcher Dave Stevens claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.
- August 14: Traded Colbrunn to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later. On October 1, the Braves sent the Twins minor leaguer Mark Lewis to complete the deal.
- August 20: Traded Roberto Kelly to the Seattle Mariners for players to be named later. On October 9, the Mariners sent the Twins Joe Mays and minor leaguer Jeromy Palki to complete the deal.
- November 18: Catcher Damian Miller and outfielder/first baseman Brent Brede lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft.
- December 11: Signed outfielder Otis Nixon as a free agent.
- December 12: Traded outfielder Rich Becker to the New York Mets for outfielder Alex Ochoa.
- December 16: Signed pitcher Mike Morgan as a free agent.
- December 23: Signed infielder and Minnesota native Brent Gates as a free agent.
- December 24: Signed pitcher Mike Nakamura as a free agent.
Starters by position
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in
- The highest paid Twin in 1997 was Knoblauch at $6,150,000, followed by Molitor at $3,500,000.
- In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB's color-line, the Twins wore uniforms of the 1909 St. Paul Colored Gophers at home against Cleveland on July 13, 1997.
Other post-season awards
- Calvin R. Griffith Award (Most Valuable Twin) – Brad Radke
- Joseph W. Haynes Award (Twins Pitcher of the Year) – Brad Radke
- Bill Boni Award (Twins Outstanding Rookie) – none
- Charles O. Johnson Award (Most Improved Twin) – Brad Radke
- Dick Siebert Award (Upper Midwest Player of the Year) – Denny Neagle
- The above awards are voted on by the Twin Cities chapter of the BBWAA
- Carl R. Pohlad Award (Outstanding Community Service) – Rick Aguilera
- Sherry Robertson Award (Twins Outstanding Farm System Player) – David Ortiz
- Greg Swindell Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
- Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007
- Player stats from www.baseball-reference.com
- Team info from www.baseball-almanac.com
- Twins history through the 1990s, from www.mlb.com
- 1997 Standings