Originally written on The Rhino and Compass  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Think back to 1996. Names like Dave Hollins, Rich Becker and Greg Myers dotted the Minnesota lineup. I know that many of my friends think of it as the dawning of the bad times for the Twins. I know I do, and I associate some of those names (Scott Stahoviak, Pat Meares, Matt Walbeck etc) with the worst offenses the Twins have ever had.

Here is a fun fact. The 1996 Twins scored more runs (877) than any other year since they moved to Minnesota.

Paul Molitor and Chuck Knoblauch hit .341. Knobby had an OPS+ of 143 which is bananas when you think back. I knew he was good, but he was really THAT good? And Molitor was still raking at that clip at age 39? That’s something, certainly, but there’s more. Stahoviak, Marty Cordova, Becker, Roberto Kelly and Ron Coomer all had OPS+ of 100. Coomer was slugging at a .511 clip. Despite not hitting many home runs, these guys were ALWAYS on base, and always scoring runs. Looking at the roster, it’s amazing just how good the team was, especially when in comparison with my memories of the mid to late 90s Twins.

Oh, the 96 Twins went 78-84.

As sneaky good as that roster was on offense, they were just as bad, probably worse as a pitching staff. The best ERA on the entire team belonged to Mike Trombley at 3.01. Second was Dan Naulty at 3.79. The best starter was Brad Radke, and he gave up 40 home runs. Rick Aguilera was used as a starter, and he was just so bad. Breathtakingly awful for a guy that had 19 starts. He had a 5.42 ERA with not enough strikeouts with too many home runs and and walks.

What I think I am trying to get at, essentially, is that we should all be OK with the Twins maybe taking away from their offense (Denard Span, Justin Morneau, whoever) if it means fixing the woeful pitching staff going forward.

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