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Minnesota Twins 2024 Anniversaries (Pt. 2 of 4): 1974

The definition of mediocrity

Minnesota Twins Rod Carew... Set Number: X18730 TK1 R5 F4

Part 1: 1964

There were plenty of interesting events transpiring in the pop culture of 1974. The Fonz began punching jukeboxes on your television set, Blazing Saddles & The Godfather II were up on the big screen, and Woodward & Bernstein were causing President Nixon to resign. In the sports realm, Hank Aaron passed the Babe for the most all-time home runs and Muhammad Ali upset George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

Hank Aaron Sitting with Harmon Killebrew
1,328 home runs on a single bench

Your 1974 Twins? The buzzkill in the room, representing the definition of mediocrity.

50th Anniversary: 1974

With a record of 82-80-1 and a Pythagorean W/L estimate of 81-81, Frank Quilici’s ‘74 Twins were—to quote the late Dennis Green—”who we thought they were”. One good month (July: 18-12), one bad month (June: 12-19) and everything else even-steven.

Remember the core of sluggers from the ‘64 unit? A lot of them were still around a decade later—but mightily compromised. This would be the final season of Harmon Killebrew (382 PA, 13 HR, .222 BA, 90 OPS+) in a Twins uniform, while Tony Oliva (494 PA, 13 HR, .285 BA, 109 OPS+) was the post-knee injury version. In fact, only Bobby Darwin would eclipse the 25 homer threshold—a stark contrast to the slugging Sixties.

MLB Photos Archive
Harmon’s last stand
Photo by Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images

Truth be told, only Rod Carew (690 PA, 218 H, 38 SB, .364 BA, 150 OPS+) & Larry Hisle (576 PA, 19 HR, 12 SB, .286 BA, 131 OPS+) produced solid lumber logs. Otherwise, it was a “bunch of old names you’ve probably forgotten about” assemblage of Steve Brye, Steve Braun, Eric Soderholm, Craig Kusick, & Glenn Borgman.

The pitching staff featured a solid trio up front—Bert Blyleven (17-17, 281 IP, 2.66 ERA, 142 ERA+), Joe Decker (16-14, 248.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 115 ERA+), & Dave Goltz (10-10, 174.1 IP, 3.25 ERA, 116 ERA+)—and a lights-out Bill Campbell (120.1 IP, 2.62 ERA, 19 SV, 145 ERA+) in the pen. But that was about it from the hurler habitat.

Joe Decker
Decker’s career-best campaign

What did it all add up to? A surprisingly stout 3rd place finish in a weak AL West—8 GB the eventual World Series champion Oakland Athletics (tell that to your grandkids—they’ll think you’ve gone senile).

Despite a solid 48-32 home mark, the ‘74 Twins drew just 662,401 fans—dead last in AL cash drawers. By this point, the sparks of the 1965 World Series and the ‘69/’70 playoff squads were little more than ashes in the ember bed.

Harmon Killebrew In Auto Raising Hat
More goodbyes than greatness in ‘74