Posted at 4:54 PM on February 2, 2008
by David Zingler
On December 13, 1999 the Twins sent minor league pitcher Jared Camp to Florida for an obscure 20-year-old, left-handed pitcher that Marlins had just selected from the Houston Astros in the arcane Rule V draft. The last place Twins hid the raw hurler in their bullpen for most of the 2000 season – he finished with an bloated 6.49 ERA in 86 innings (including 5 starts). The youngster showed promise, but nobody – and I mean, nobody – could have known what lie ahead for the Venezuelan.
That pitcher of course, is former Twin Johan Santana. While most of us have spent the past few days panning the limited bounty the Twins received for the universally labeled “Best Pitcher in Baseball”, I am going to focus on the greatness we were all lucky enough to witness over the past five seasons.
Since he joined the team’s rotation in 2003, no pitcher won more games (82), struck out more batters (1,152) and had a lower ERA (2.91) than Santana. That’s the pitcher’s equivalent of the Triple Crown. Let that sink in for a second…the Triple Crown…Santana was everything you could ask for – he was durable (had a 123-start streak in which he pitched five innings or more), quietly went about his business and could field his position; winning a Gold Glove in 2007.
Although he wasn’t in Minnesota long enough to amass the career totals needed to rewrite the franchise record book, Johan Santana was the best pitcher to ever wear a Twins uniform. Period. I hope you enjoyed him while he was here.
David! Never? Ever? You might be letting your emotions get the best of you.
Santana won 20 games once. He gave up 33 homers last year. His adjusted ERA puts him behind four active major league pitchers. He's won a grand total of ONE playoff game of the four in which he's started.
Last year he went 0-5 with a 4.39 ERA against the one team the Twins needed to beat to contend for the division (Cleveland).
Don't get me wrong. Santana is a great pitcher. He has set a high bar for future Twins pitchers. But NEVER?
BTW, there's every bit the possibility that the Twins got the best years out of Santana, and then even Johan Santana will have a hard time matching Johan Santana.