Monday, December 29, 2014


I became a big Allan Anderson fan in the late 1980s, probably because he was such an unlikely star.  Although he was a second-round draft pick in 1982, he never did anything to set the minor leagues on fire.  When he debuted with the Twins in 1986, he was a soft-tossing lefty who looked overwhelmed against big league hitters.  In fact, he was pretty atrocious in both the majors and minors for most of 1986 and 1987.

Following the 1987 World Series (Anderson was not a part of the post-season roster), Anderson was removed from the Twins' 40 man roster.  Every other team in baseball had a shot at him, and they all passed.  After a nice start to the 1988 season at Triple-A Portland, Anderson was added to the Twins' rotation at the end of April.  He pitched surprisingly well for through mid-June -- good enough to keep his spot in the rotation anyway.  Superstar teammate Frank Viola was dominating the AL, on his way to 24 wins and the Cy Young Award.  Anderson quietly mirrored Viola's steady control and usurped future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven as the Twins' #2 starter.

The defending champion Twins were in a tight pennant race with the Oakland A's all summer long.  With pinpoint control, Anderson was one of the biggest reasons why the Twins were able to remain in contention into September.  While his mentor Viola ran away with the Cy Young award, Anderson closed the season with a three-hit shutout against the A's to lock up the AL ERA title.

In 1989, the wheels fell off for the Twins.  Viola got off to a rough start and was eventually traded to the New York Mets.  With Blyleven and Viola both gone, Anderson was suddenly thrust into the ace role.  He responded with a career-high 17 wins, though his ERA jumped over a full run, to 3.80.

He had a remarkable two-year run, but Anderson came crashing back to Earth in 1990, with a 7-18 record and 4.53 ERA.  Things got even worse in 1991.  While the Twins were on their way to another World Series title, Anderson lost his rotation spot during the summer and was, once again, left off the post-season roster.  He would never again appear in the majors.

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