October 25, 2010
Robert Randall Bush | RF/LF/1B/DH | 1982-1993 | Career Stats
Selected out of the University of New Orleans by the Twins in the second round of the 1979 draft, Randy Bush struggled in his first two minor-league seasons before hitting .290 with 22 homers and 94 RBIs in 136 games at Double-A in 1981. After hitting well at Triple-A to start the 1982 season, he was called up to Minnesota and made his MLB debut against the Brewers on May 1, 1982 by pinch-hitting for catcher Sal Butera leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.
With the Twins trailing by one run Bush struck out against Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers, but he went on to hit a respectable .244/.305/.412 in 55 games as a 23-year-old rookie and never returned to the minors. A left-handed hitter, Bush quickly took on what would become a career-long role as a platoon player and bench bat. He never received 500 plate appearances during a season, but typically came to the plate 350-450 times and put up solid numbers.
His career splits are extreme to say the least, with a .255/.338/.422 line off righties compared to a .152/.250/.232 mark against southpaws, and Bush had an absurdly low total of 118 plate appearances versus lefties in a dozen major-league seasons. Had his career started in 2002, rather than 1982, Ron Gardenhire likely would've used Bush nearly every day and stubbornly watched him struggle against lefties much like he did with Jacque Jones and Jason Kubel.
Instead under managers Billy Gardner and Tom Kelly he was allowed to thrive in a role that magnified his strengths and lessened his weaknesses. The fact that he averaged fewer than 10 trips to the plate per season against lefties is remarkable considering Bush batted nearly 3,500 times overall and his strict usage shows how valuable a fairly run-of-the-mill player can be when utilized optimally.
Bush finished his career with back-to-back poor campaigns in 1992 and 1993, but posted an adjusted OPS+ of 106 through his first 10 years with the Twins. He enjoyed hitting at home in the Metrodome, where he had a .796 OPS compared to .699 on the road, and also performed better in important spots, posting a .711 OPS with the bases empty while stepping it up to .798 with runners on base and .801 with runners in scoring position.
Bush played right field most often, but also spent substantial time at left field, first base, and designated hitter. He typically batted second, fifth, or sixth in the lineup, but logged over 100 plate appearances in each of the nine spots. It's difficult to identify the best season of Bush's career because he was so consistent in terms of both performance and playing time. His best overall production likely came in 1988, when he received a career-high 466 plate appearances.
His raw numbers are modest, as Bush batted .261/.365/.434 with 14 homers, 51 RBIs, and 51 runs, but MLB as a whole slugged under .400 in 1988 and Bush had a 121 OPS+ that ranked 28th in the league. He also ranked fifth with 10 intentional walks. His most effective season was without question 1991, when at 32 years old Bush hit .303/.401/.485 for a 140 OPS+ in 192 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter and occasional starter.
Bush led the league with 13 pinch-hits that season while batting .318/.423/.500 off the bench and hit .378/.489/.622 in "close and late" situations. That also turned out to be Bush's final productive season, as he hit .214 in 1992 and then retired after batting .156 over 32 games in 1993. After retiring as a player Bush spent five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater before stepping down in 2004 and has been the Cubs' assistant general manager since 2006.
His biggest game came on May 20, 1989 when he batted cleanup and went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers and team-record eight RBIs in a 19-3 win over Texas. He also came up big in Game 2 of the 1987 World Series, yanking a key two-run double off Danny Cox and later scoring on a head-first slide that evaded Tony Pena's tag. Another memorable moment was breaking up Jim Clancy's perfect game with a ninth-inning leadoff single on September 28, 1982.
Bush's career spanned a dozen seasons and they all came in Minnesota, as he re-signed with the Twins three times. He finished with a .251/.334/.413 line in 3,480 plate appearances that doesn't look particularly impressive on the surface, but in the context of the low-scoring era Bush played in they were solid. His career OPS+ was 102 on a scale where 100 is average and he's one of seven Twins to be on both the 1987 and 1991 championship teams.
TOP 25 ALL-TIME MINNESOTA TWINS RANKS Games 1219 9th Homers 96 15th Triples 26 15th RBIs 409 16th Walks 348 18th Extra-Base Hits 276 19th Plate Appearances 3480 20th Total Bases 1257 20th Times On Base 1160 20th Runs Created 427 20th Doubles 154 21st Runs 388 23rd Isolated Power .162 23rd Hits 763 24th