Monday, January 26, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: John Pacella

Welcome back to one of the most popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan, the Worst Twins of All-Time. There have already been eight profiles of some players that played their worst while wearing a Twins uniform. Luckily most of the players went on to have careers beyond their time in Minnesota. 

Today's edition to the series pitch less than 52 innings for the team but he was bad enough in that time to make the list. Welcome to the dubious club, John Pacella.

Pacella was drafted in the fourth round of the 1974 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He'd played his high school ball at two different schools in New York and he grew up on Long Island. His hometown team had taken a chance on him.

He'd become known for his unusual pitching delivery that sometimes caused him to lose his cap after a pitch.From 1974-1979, he pitched at every level in the Mets farm system. He was younger than the average age of the other pitchers in each stop along the way. By age 20, he was pitching at Triple-A with a 7-5 record and an ERA under 4.00.

His first taste of the big leagues came in 1977 as a September call-up. He pitched in three games and didn't allow an earned run while striking out one and walking two. The Mets would lose all three games he pitched in and he didn't make it back to the majors until 1979.

Pacella's only full season in the big leagues came in 1980. He started the season in the bullpen before being moved into the starting rotation in June. Over 84 innings he had a 5.14 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP while striking out 68 and walking 59. His 7.3 SO/9 rate was the highest mark of his career.

In the following off-season, Pacella would change teams twice as part of two different deals. The Mets sent him along with Jose Moreno to the Padres for Randy Jones, the 1976 Cy Young Award winner. He'd never play for San Diego as they would send him to the other New York organization as part of a six-player deal the next spring. His 10 innings in the Bronx were uneventful as he allowed eight earned runs and nine walks.

On May 12, 1982 Pacella was sent from the Yankees with Pete Filson, Larry Milbourne, and cash to the Minnesota Twins for Roger Erickson and Butch Wynegar. His 21 games with the Twins were the second most he'd pitched in any season. Unfortunately, he allowed 48 runs (42 ER) across 51.2 innings for a robust 7.32 ERA. His SO/9 rate dipped to 3.5 and he walked 17 more batters than he struck out.

Even with the small sample size of 51.2 innings, FanGraphs WAR ranking have Pacella (-1.6 WAR) as the second worst pitcher in team history. Baseball Reference thinks even less of his time in Minnesota as they say he was worth a -1.9 WAR. According to runs better than average (RAA), he was 25 runs worse than an average player. Runs better than replacement level (RAR) says that he was worth -20 runs compared to a replacement level player.

Pacella's time in Minnesota would be over at year's end. He was dealt to the Texas Rangers for Len Whitehouse and they would release him in April of the next year. That July he signed with the Baltimore Orioles and he pitched in six game with them before being released. He'd make it back to the big leagues one more time in 1986 as a member of the Tigers. In five games, he allowed five earned runs.

Over the next couple seasons, he tried to make it back to the majors with a variety of teams. However, he ended up stuck at Triple-A and he moved on after the 1988 season. Later he managed independent teams in the Frontier League before joining the staff at a baseball training facility called "Big League Baseball School."

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