The Minnesota Twins won the 1991 World Series after finishing in last place the year…

Jim Caple The Minnesota Twins won the 1991 World Series after finishing in last place the year before.


Can the Mariners make the playoffs after finishing in last place in 2019 and eight total times in the past 18 seasons? Hard to say but it has happened before with some teams. After all, the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves were the first teams to make it to the World Series in 1991 after each finished in last place the previous season.

The Twins had held onto some of their best players such as future Hall of Fame outfielder Kirby Puckett and first baseman Kent Hrbek who were in their 30s. Their excellent general manager Andy MacPhail also signed good free agents, including designated hitter Chili Davis, who was 31, and former Tigers pitcher Jack Morris, who turned 36 that year. Both were excellent. Davis hit 29 home runs and drove in 93 runs that season while Morris went 18-12 with a 3.43 ERA. Morris, now in the Hall of Fame, also won two World Series games with a 1.17 ERA that year, including Game 7 when he pitched a complete game with 10 shutout innings and won 1-0.

General manager Jerry Dipoto has gotten rid of most of the Mariners’ best players as they get older, as do many teams now. Which is not always a good idea since some players stay very good as they grow older, although many others do decline after age 30.

There were some good young players on those Twins and Atlanta teams as well, such as Twins rookie second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, pitchers Scott Erickson (who won 20 games) and Kevin Tapani. Atlanta also had very good pitchers in their 20s such as Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery (who was just 21), as well as outfielders David Justice and Ron Gant.

So young players do play a key role. Thus, maybe the Mariners young, developing players will help them get better and eventually reach the World Series. Although some older players can make an important difference as well. After all, those players over 30 played a huge role in the Twins World Series championship. And Edgar Martinez was an All-Star with the Mariners at age 40 while Jamie Moyer won 21 games at age 40 for Seattle. And he pitched until he was 49!

A few other teams have gone from last place to the World Series – the 1993 Phillies, the 1998 Padres, the 2008 Rays and the 2013 Red Sox (who had also won the World Series twice in the past 10 years). So it’s possible the Mariners could do so, too, though it seems very unlikely this season. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, maybe the Mariners should sign or trade for some older – as long as they are still good – players. And have Dipoto hold onto their older players who are doing well. It definitely worked for the Twins who would not have won that World Series had they not had the 36-year-old Jack Morris pitching for them.