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 Minnesota Twins > Twins Greats > Rick Aguilera
     
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Rick Aguilera
Rick Aguilera

Richard Warren Aguilera
Bats: Right,
Throws: Right
Height: 6' 5",
Weight: 205 lb.
School Brigham Young University
Born December 31, 1961 in San Gabriel, CA
Nickname: “Aggie”

Post Season: All-Star Game 1991-93; World Series Championship 1991

Biography:
Richard Warren "Rick" Aguilera was born December 31, 1961 in San Gabriel, California. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 3rd round of the 1983 amateur draft as a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs.

Rick Aguilera began his career as a third baseman and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980, but he decided to attend Brigham Young University instead. By the time the Mets drafted him in 1983, he was a pitcher. Rick saw his first major league action in June 1985 as the Mets were in a fierce division race with the Cardinals. He was particularly effective in July, going 3-0 with a 0.89 ERA, and ended the season 10-7 as the Cardinals edged out the Mets.

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Rick posted an identical record the next year as the number five starter for the division-winning Mets and went on to pitch five scoreless innings in relief against the Houston Astros in that year's NLCS. Despite a horrid 12.00 ERA in the World Series that year, he was the pitcher of record in the Mets' dramatic game 6 victory.

His best season as a starter, an 11-3 mark in 1987, was interrupted by three months on the disabled list in the middle of the year. An elbow operation kept Aguilera out for most of 1988, and David Cone took his place in the rotation. Rick did pitch seven innings of one-run relief in the 1988 NLCS, which led to the Mets to experiment with him as a reliever.

Rick Aguilera was used in relief in 1989 and, throwing harder than previously, he soon won the right-handed closer role from Roger McDowell. At the trading deadline in 1989, Rick Aguilera was one of five pitchers dealt to the Minnesota Twins for Frank Viola.

Rick Aguilera was asked to replace Jeff Reardon as a closer after the veteran left as a free-agent. Rick Aguilera saved 32 games for the last-place Twins. His 2.76 ERA was the lowest of any Minnesota pitcher with more than five appearances; in 75 innings of work, he walked just 17 batters. Even as a starter, the right-hander had displayed exceptional control; his deadliest pitch was a nasty slider, especially effective against left-handed batters. In the bullpen, Rick Aguilera came to rely mainly on a good, sinking fastball and an above-average splitter. Over the next five seasons with the Twins, Rick averaged 35 saves and just fewer than 18 walks a year.

In 1991, his relief pitching was instrumental in the Twins surprising division title, as he saved 42 games with a 2.76 ERA, a team record that would stand until Eddie Guardado broke it in 2002 with 45 saves. He went on to save three of four victories in the ALCS and the first two games of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves. In game 3, he became the first pitcher to pinch hit in a World Series game since Don Drysdale in 1965, flying out in the top of the 12th with the bases loaded and two outs before giving up the game-winning hit in the bottom of the inning. Rick Aguilera also won Game 6.

In July, he made the first of three consecutive All-Star appearances. The following season, Rick Aguilera passed Ron Davis to become the Twins' all-time save leader, finishing the season with 41.

Over the next few years, the aging Twins slipped into the AL cellar. Rick Aguilera's multi-million-dollar salary was hard to justify for a second-division club, despite another solid season from him recording 23 saves, with just seven unintentional walks in 1994. On July 6, just hours before he would have become a ten-and-five player (having spent ten years in the majors and five with the same team, Rick Aguilera would be have been able to veto any transaction) Minnesota sent him to Boston in exchange for rookie pitcher Frankie Rodriguez.

Replacing an inconsistent committee of closers, Rick earned his first save with the Red Sox the following night against his former club at the Metrodome. He finished the season with twenty saves in twenty-one opportunities, giving him 32 saves overall.

A free agent after the season, Rick Aguilera fielded lucrative offers from various contenders but chose to return to Minnesota with a three-year, $9 million contract. Faced with a dearth of reliable starters, manager Tom Kelly moved Rick back to the rotation in spring training. Rick Aguilera missed the first two weeks of the season thanks to an arm injury aggravated while lifting a suitcase; even after recovering, he found it hard to re-adjust to a starting role. He finished the year with a respectable 8-6 record but posted an unimpressive 5.42 ERA. On September 7, Rick Aguilera suffered a season-ending hamstring pull.

Concerns about his durability forced him back to the bullpen at the start of the 1997 season. He ended up serving as the team's closer for the entire season, saving 26 games. In 1998, he tacked on 38 saves despite a 4.24 ERA and mid-season rumors that he would be traded to a contender for the stretch drive. In fact, it wasn't until the following May that he was dealt -- to the Chicago Cubs, for two minor-leaguers. He spent his final two seasons with the Cubs, where he recorded his 300th save of his career. After a 29 save season in 2000, he decides to retire.

Rick Aguilera is the Twins' all time leader with 254 saves as well as being thirteenth on the all-time saves list with 318. His great pitching in the World Series and his record holding numbers make Rick Aguilera a Twin “great.”

 

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