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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.
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. 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,
hitting .298 with 13 home runs. 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. Bob Tewksbury and
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.
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H =
Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted
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.
- The lone representative of the Twins in the All-Star Game was
second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.