Introducing… Rick Aguilera

Aggie began his career as a starting pitcher for the Cocaine Cowboys… or the New York Mets of the mid 1980s.  Later dealt to the Minnesota Twins he became one of the top closers in the game.  A three-time All-Star as a fireman, Rick currently rests 15th in career saves.  The product of Brigham Young had two seasons with 40 or more saves and finished his career with a lifetime strikeout-to-walk ratio close to 3-to-1.

As a rookie with the 1985 Mets, Rick won ten games in just 19 starts.  In the rotation again in 1986, the Mets captured the AL East and went to the postseason.  The club had a fine rotation and Aggie was used out of the bullpen during the postseason.  He pitched five brilliant innings of relief against the Astros in the NLCS but wasn’t as effective against the Red Sox in the World Series.  However, Aggie was credited with the win in the infamous Game Six. 

With guys like Gooden, Darling, Fernandez and Cone around, Aguilera was always upstaged.  He was serviceable in 1987 but after a dismal season in 1988 the Mets shifted him to the bullpen to begin the 1989 season.  Rick fanned 80 batters in 69 innings as he found a new home in the pen but at the trade deadline he was sent to the Twins with three other pitchers for All-Star Frank Viola.  Although he was exceptional for the Mets as a relief arm before the deadline the Twins placed him in their rotation.  However, in 1990, Minnesota converted him to a closer and his days as a starter were seemingly over.  In his first year as a closer he nailed down 32 saves in 1990.

Beginning in 1991, Aggie began a three-year string of All-Star appearances.  The right-handed closer saved 42 games for the ’91 Twins and averaged a stingy 5.7 hits allowed per nine innings of work.  Minnesota made it back to the postseason that year and Rick saved three games in the ALCS and added two more in the World Series.  The Twins won the title and Aggie earned a World Series ring in both leagues before he turned 30.  When he turned 30, Rick posted his second 40+ save season in ’92 by nailing down 41 games–2nd in the American League. 

Aguilera saved 34 games for the Twins in 1993–his final All-Star season.  The player’s strike came at the right time for Rick.  He was struggling through his worst season in 1994 when the game closed its doors.  When play resumed, Rick was back to his old self.  He had a 2.52 ERA for the Twins in 1995 but the team was changing direction, focusing on youth, and they dealt him to the Red Sox for failed uber-prospect Frankie Rodriguez.  Rick saved 20 games for Boston the rest of the way and showed impeccable control by walking all of seven batters in over 30 innings.  But Minnesota was still in Aggie’s heart and he returned to the Twins for the ’96 season.

Minnesota made a foolish move by converting Rick back to the rotation.  He hadn’t started a game since 1989 and his ERA swelled to 5.42 as a starter in ’96.  It was back to putting out fires instead of starting them in 1997 when he saved 26 games.  In 1998 Rick saved 38 games and fanned 3.8 batters for everyone he walked.  Minnesota was still eyeing youth at this time and they traded Rick to the Cubs for prospect Kyle Lohse in May.  He spent his last two years at Wrigley Field.  He stepped away from the game after saving 29 games for the 2000 Cubs.

THE NUMBERS

W 86/L 81/PCT .515/ERA 3.57/G 732/SV 318/IP 1,291/H 1,233/BB 351/SO 1,030

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