Sports Illustrated name the 1987 Twins the weakest World Series winner. Forbes named their worst World Series champion and it also happened to be the 1987 Twins. This article from the Hardball Times does some intense simulations and the 1987 Twins did not fair very well. The Twins had many weaknesses in 1987 and starting pitching was certainly one of them.
Two other teams will start their quest for World Series glory tonight, the Cardinals and the Rangers. Each of these teams has shown a glaring weakness in their run through the Division Series and the League Championship Series. St. Louis and Texas have lacked solid starting pitching on their road to the Fall Classic.
Could these squads pass the 1987 Twins for worst starting rotation to win the World Series?
The regular season can show some indication of what is to come in the playoffs. The 1987 Twins had one very good pitcher, an aging veteran, and not much else. The Rangers moved one of their best starters, Alexi Ogando, to the bullpen for the postseason and their ace, CJ Wilson, has looked shaky to say the least. The Cardinals have ridden the back of Chris Carpenter and it is hard to know what to expect from the rest of their starting staff.
Regular Season Comparison (Entire Pitching Staff)
1987 Twins: 4.63 ERA, 1.422 WHIP, 9.2 H/9, 210 HR, 990 K
2011 Cardinals: 3.74 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 136 HR, 1098 K
2011 Rangers: 3.79 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 8.3 H/9 170 HR, 1179 K
The playoffs are an entirely new season for each of the teams involved. It is a fresh start and for pitching staff's who struggled during parts of the regular season, it can be a rebirth. In 1987, the Twins did not have to survive a Division Series round of the playoffs. So let's take a look at the statistics from the League Championship Series.
LCS Comparison (Entire Pitching Staff)
1987 Twins: 4.50 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8.2 H/9
2011 Cardinals: 4.25 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.66 H/9
2011 Rangers: 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.2 H/9
LCS Comparison (Starting Rotation)
1987 Twins: 5.79 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 9.3 H/9
2011 Cardinals: 7.03 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 13.3 H/9
2011 Rangers: 6.67 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 11.4 H/9
With these starting rotations, it is amazing to think any of these teams would be able to represent their respective league in the World Series. Baseball is a crazy game and each of these clubs made it through the playoffs to capture their league's pennant.
The Twins went on to only use three starters for their entire run through to the World Series Championship. This could hide some of their flaws from the regular season. In the end, Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven would put together enough quality innings to lead the Twins to their first World Series crown.
World Series (Starting Rotation)
1987 Twins: 3.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.5 H/9
Frank Viola: (2-1), 3.72 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 16 K
Bert Blyleven: (1-1), 2.77 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 12 K
Les Straker (0-0), 4.00 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 6 K
The Cardinals or Rangers are going to need their starting pitchers to have a better performance in the coming series. One of these teams has to take home the title and in the annals of history there will not be an asterisk next to their name because of their starting rotation. The 1987 Twins showed that a team can struggle with their pitching and find a way to end up with the title of World Series Champion.
And in the end, that is all anyone will ever remember...