Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rolling With Mahomes

You probably have heard a lot more lately about the son of Pat Mahomes, reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes II. My own fandom is much more familiar with the senior Mahomes, specifically the years he spent in Minnesota with the Twins. According to the back of this card, his favorite actor was Julia Roberts. Bet you didn't know that!

Pat Mahomes was the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year in 1991. He was the team's 6th round pick in 1988, after playing Baseball, Football, and Basketball in High School. He was primarily a position player in High School, which will come into play later. He only pitched because other players were injured / unavailable, but he was hitting the low 90s with his fastball, so Twins' scouts took notice of his arm.

Mahomes made steady progress in the minor leagues, getting to AAA by the age of 20. Heading into 1992, he was the #25 overall prospect in baseball. Control was an issue at the major league level for Mahomes, as was the launchpad environment of the Metrodome. Over his early career as a starter, his road stats typically were better than his home stats. It wasn't exactly Coors Field, but the Dome was a comfortable place to hit.

His MLB debut came in April of 1992. He was part of the team's starting rotation out of Spring Training, beating out Bert Blyleven, who would opt to retire following one last attempt at a major league roster. In his debut appearance, he had a Quality Start - he pitched 6 innings, gave up 3 runs, walked 5 batters, and had a pair of strikeouts. He would get a no-decision, with the Twins ultimately losing the game 4-3 to Texas Rangers. All three runs came on a Juan Gonzalez homer in the first inning, after which he locked in and shut the potent Ranger offense down.  In his first season, he'd allow runs in all of his starts, and spent June July and August back in AAA to work on his control.

As a starter, Mahomes would shuttle between AAA and the big leagues, with the Twins willing to be patient with his development, however not so much to allow him to have those growing pains in the big leagues. He would come up to the bigs, have some flashes of success, then at (what seemed to me as a kid) the slightest sign of trouble, he'd be shipped back to AAA Portland. He was one of my favorite players on the team, sticking his tongue out while he pitched. Mahomes started pitching as a senior in high school, and here he was at 21, 22, 23 pitching in the big leagues. The Twins would try something different in 1995 with Mahomes, moving him into the bullpen, where the early returns were promising. In 40 relief appearances, the batting average against him was about 100 points lower than in his 7 starts that year, and his K to Walk rate was improved as well.

Mahomes would be traded away to the Red Sox after in August of the 1996 season for Brian Looney. Looney would never make an appearance for the Twins, so I call that a bad deal! Mahomes' years with the Twins did not have the most impressive stats, but I was a big fan. I am glad his son is having some success as well.

After leaving the Twins, Mahomes pitched until 2003 in the big leagues, as well as a 2 year stint in Japan for the Yokohama Bay Stars. In '98, the Bay Stars would finish in first place. The pitching staff had former/future big leaguers Tomo Ohka, Kaz Sasaki, and Takashi Saito in addition to Mahomes.  His best MLB season was with the '99 Mets, helping the team make a run into the playoffs. He would also be on the team in '00 for the World Series appearance against the Yankees. He had a streak of MLB victories that spanned from June of 1996 to May 2000, including an 8-0 record in 1999.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's cool that there's been a little more interest in his cards. I'm sure that Leaf Signature autograph was sitting in dollar bins two years ago. Now they sell between $5 and $10 on eBay.