April 20, 2011

Top 40 Minnesota Twins: #19 Dave Goltz

David Allan Goltz | SP | 1972-1979 | Career Stats

Pelican Rapids born and Rothsay raised, Dave Goltz was a 1967 fifth-round pick who became the first native Minnesotan drafted by the Twins to reach the majors with them. After going 38-18 with a 2.69 ERA in 460 minor-league innings, Goltz made his major-league debut on July 18, 1972, tossing 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Ray Corbin against the Yankees. He soon moved into the starting rotation and posted a 2.67 ERA in 91 innings as a 23-year-old rookie.

Goltz began his second season pitching out of the bullpen before sliding back into the rotation late in the year, finishing with a disappointing 5.25 ERA in 106 total innings. Following the poor sophomore performance Goltz was demoted back to the minors in 1974, but was quickly called back up after going 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in four starts at Triple-A. Goltz joined the rotation full time at that point, going 10-10 with a 3.25 ERA in 174 innings

In his fourth season Goltz established himself as a durable innings eater, logging 243 innings while going 14-14 with a 3.67 ERA. He turned in a nearly identical year in 1976, going 14-14 with a 3.36 ERA in 249 innings to become the only pitcher in MLB history with double-digit wins and an exactly .500 record in three straight seasons (10-10, 14-14, 14-14). More statistical oddity than anything else, the streak nonetheless snapped in a big way the next season.

Known for being a slow starter, Goltz had a 4-16 career record in March and April, compared to 109-91 in all other months. That trend was never more evident than in 1977, when he was 0-2 in five April starts and 20-9 with a 3.30 ERA for the remainder of the year. He was remarkably consistent once on track, winning four games in each of the first four months and three games in September, before grabbing his 20th win with a complete-game victory on October 2.

Goltz completed 19 of his 39 starts in 1977, including one-hitting Boston on August 23, tossing 303 innings to rank second in the league behind only Jim Palmer. He tied Palmer and Dennis Leonard for the league lead with 20 wins, but finished just sixth in the Cy Young voting thanks to his eighth-ranked ERA (3.36) and modest strikeout total (186). A 6-foot-4 right-hander with a heavy sinker-slider combo, Goltz relied more on inducing ground balls than missing bats.

He managed just 887 strikeouts in 1,638 innings with the Twins for basically a league-average rate, but Goltz did a fantastic job keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. In fact, when compared to the average rates no pitcher in Twins history allowed homers less often than Goltz, who served up 119 in total or one per 14 innings. For comparison Camilo Pascual, who ranks one spot lower on this list, coughed up 123 homers in nearly 400 fewer innings.

When he threw 303 innings in 1977--a total that's been topped just twice in team history--29 different pitchers served up more long balls. Goltz was even better at suppressing homers in 1978, giving up one every 18 innings, but got off to another slow start and then fractured his ribs during an on-field scuffle in an April 22 game with the Angels in which he didn't even pitch. Goltz started just once in May, but went 14-7 with a 2.27 ERA after returning in June.

With free agency looming following the 1979 season, Goltz got the Opening Day assignment for the third straight year. He beat the A's, throwing the first 8.1 of what would 250.2 innings that ranked seventh in the league. However, he allowed a league-high 282 hits on the way to a 14-13 record and 4.16 ERA, and then left the Twins by agreeing to free-agent deal with the Dodgers that was worth a then-massive $3 million over six seasons.

Goltz uncharacteristically got off to a good start in Los Angeles, hurling back-to-back shutouts of the rival Giants in April of 1980, but then fell apart. He finished 7-11 with a 4.31 ERA overall, went 2-7 with a 4.09 ERA while being yanked from the rotation in 1981, and was cut a month into 1982. Goltz signed with the Angels and pitched relatively well as a long reliever, but shut it down for good with a torn rotator cuff after beginning the next year 0-6 with a 6.22 ERA.

Goltz's lack of strikeouts meant he wasn't flashy, he had just one truly Cy Young-caliber year, and the Twins hovered within five games of .500 in all but one of his eight years in Minnesota. All of that's why he's seemingly an overlooked part of team history and why you'd stump a lot of fans asking them for the pitcher who ranks sixth in Twins history in wins, innings, and starts behind the "Big Five" of Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, Brad Radke, and Frank Viola.

Complete Games         80     3rd
Shutouts               11     5th
Starts                215     6th
Innings              1638     6th
Batters Faced        6887     6th
Wins                   96     6th
Quality Starts        129     6th
Home Run Rate        0.65     6th
Strikeouts            887     8th
Winning Percentage   .543    15th
ERA                  3.48    17th
Adjusted ERA+         112    18th
Appearances           247    19th
Opponents' SLG       .377    19th
Opponents' OPS       .695    20th
Walk Rate            2.71    25th