Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Terry Felton

Last week, I kicked off an entertaining series to look at some of the players that performed at their worst while wearing a Twins uniform. In recent memory, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Jason Marquis come to mind as the poster boys for futility in Minnesota but there have been plenty of other names throughout the history of the franchise.

My first player profile in the series was Butch Huskey. I didn't really have a reason for starting with Huskey but his story provided a good narrative for the post and he didn't really perform up to par after the Twins signed him. There are plenty of players that are worse than him but it was a good starting point.

In the winter cold of the deep offseason, it can be entertaining to look back at the club's history. In the next few weeks, I will discuss some of the worst players to ever wear a Twins uniform. I won't try to rank these players because that could be quite the daunting task and it is wide open to interpretation. These will be simple profiles on some of the worst players in team history.

In my post abour Mr. Huskey, I asked for some suggestions about who should be next in the series. I got plenty of good responses but decided to look into the career of Terry Felton.
Felton joined the Twins organization as a second round pick out of high school in the 1976 amateur draft. He would be sent to the rookie leagues for rest of that summer. On his way to the big leagues, he would post ERA marks in the mid-threes to the low-fours. As a 21-year old, he would make his debut in September with the big league club.

His first taste of the big leagues would be brief as he was only asked to pitch in one game for a couple innings. The next year (1980) he made the team's rotation out of spring training but things went south from there. He had a quality start in his first outing by allowing three runs over seven innings. In his next start, he threw over five innings and still gave up three runs. The next three starts would be terrible as he allowed eight earned runs and never pitched more than 3.2 innings. In two of those last three starts, he pitched an inning or less. The Twins would keep him in Triple-A for the rest of the year.

The starting pitcher role wasn't exactly working out for Felton and the club decided to go in a different direction with him. He would spilt time during the 1981 season as a relief pitcher and as starter in the minor leagues. Things didn't exactly transition smoothly as he posted a ERA over 4.00 in 131 innings pitched at Triple-A. The organization still gave him a taste of the big leagues in September and he proceeded to give up six runs in 1.1 inning on the mound.

In 1982, Felton would be given plenty of opportunities to succeed at the big league level. He spent the entire year with the Twins and he ended up pitching 117.1 innings for the club. Most of this time was out of the bullpen but he was given the chance to start six games. He ended the year with a 4.99 ERA, a 1.49 WHIP, and a horrendous 0-13 record. Opponents only hit .230 against him but they managed to get on base 35% of the time.

During one stretch from the end of June to the end of July, he threw 13.2 innings and had a 7.90 ERA. This included a 0-4 record, two blown saves, and another save that he happened to get because he pitched over three innings in a blowout. He gave up five home runs in this stretch but never more than one in an outing. It was tough for Mr. Felton to find success and the team had seen enough of him at the big league level.

Felton would never make it back to the big leagues. He spent the entire 1983 campaign in the minor league system for the Twins by posting a 5.24 ERA and a 3-10 record over 115.0 innings. The Twins would part ways with him after that season and he latched on with the Dodgers system. They let him play in a handful of games at the Double-A level but it was rough going and the team decided to go in a different direction.

Looking back on his career, it's tough not to look at the way the Twins switched him back and forth from being a starter to shoving him in the bullpen. Some players don't adjust well switching between these two roles. Felton ended his professional career without a major league win and a 5.53 ERA with a 1.518 WHIP. He combined for a career WAR of -2.1 across his four seasons of big league experience.

Since the Twins took Felton in a high round of the draft, the team wanted to try and get the most they could out of him. Unfortunately, Felton's best just wasn't very good...

What other players should be featured in this series? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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