Friday, February 8, 2013

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Ron Davis

Over the last couple of weeks, I have looked back at some of the worst players to ever suit up in a Twins uniform. There have been some poor players to wear these colors and it can be fun to look back on their careers. Some of these men went on to have successful careers in baseball or even outside of the baseball world.

Here is a rundown of all of the players that have been covered so far in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series" with links back to the original articles:
Today's addition to the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series" had been an All-Star the year before the Twins traded for him. His trade helped to bring a critical piece to Minnesota for their title runs but he ran into some rough patches along the way.

Mr. Ron Davis, welcome to the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series."

Davis was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 1976 amateur draft. His professional career would start at the Low-A level where he had some rocky seasons. He would start 17 games in his first season and throw 12 complete games. After he got a couple of minor league seasons under his belt, he was sent to the Yankee organization where he would start to make his mark.

The Yankees saw the future for Davis as being a relief pitcher. He would never start a game in their organization and he would become one of the best set-up men. When Rich "Goose" Gossage got hurt, the Yankees had to turn to Davis as their closer. He won 14 games out of the bullpen in 1979 and he finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting.

Over the next three seasons, the duo of Gossage and Davis would be formidable in late inning situations. Davis was one of the first pitchers to be used exclusively as a set-up man leading up to the closer. During this stretch, Davis averaged almost 100 innings a season with a 2.86 ERA. He was 25-years old and he looked to have a bright future in front of him.

On April 10, 1982, the Twins and the Yankees would work out a deal that would bring Davis to Minnesota. The Twins sent shortstop Roy Smalley to New York in exchange for Davis, Greg Gagne, and Paul Boris. For the Twins, Boris would only get a taste of the big leagues. Gagne would become a vital part of the team's two championships.

The Twins would shift Davis from set-up man to closer and this switch came with some disastrous results. In his first season with the club, he pitched over 100 innings with 22 saves. Unfortunately, he had a 4.43 ERA and he had five blown saves. He was often asked to pitch more than one inning but it was still rough going after the numbers he put up in New York.

Davis would improve for the 1983 season by lowering his ERA to 3.34 and the team cut back on some of his workload. He wasn't asked to pitch as many multiple inning situations and he only blew two saves. This was a step in the right direction but it was still far from great.

The 1984 season would be a record breaking season for Davis and not in a good way. He would tie the record for most blown saves in a single season with 14. No closer since that year has blown that many saves in a single campaign. He would end that year with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Ouch!

Minnesota continued to use Davis as the closer but this didn't last forever. Some terrible outings in 1986 forced the team to take away his closer duties. There were wild pitches, walks, home runs, and too many headaches for the coaches to handle. He would be sent to the Cubs in a mid-season deal to end his Twins tenure.

For his Twins career, Davis finished with a 19-40 record and a 4.51 ERA. He racked up 108 saves, which ranks fourth in club history. Davis would finish in the top five for saves in the AL in three of his five seasons with the team. Over 381.1 innings, Twins fans suffered through a 1.49 WHIP and plenty of blown saves. He tallied a -0.2 WAR in his five years with the club including a -2.1 WAR in 1986.

Davis wouldn't record another save after he left the Twins organization. He would make appearances with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants with his last big league appearance coming in 1988. The Giants and Yankees would keep him at Triple-A in '89-'90 but he never made it back to the top.

The son of Davis, Ike, has emerged as a regular with the New York Mets. He was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft and it only took him a couple of years to make it to the big leagues. Last season, he clobbered 32 home runs but he only hit .227/.308/.462 with 141 strikeouts.

As far as the worst Twins players of all-time, the elder Davis doesn't exactly rank at the top of the list. He had some positive moments along the way. Even with his high ranking on the all-time saves list for the club, Twins fans will always associate his name with ineffective relief pitching.

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