Sunday, January 20, 2013

#294 Dave Engle - Minnesota Twins

Dave Engle is breaking out of the batters box after maybe hitting a fly ball.  I never noticed the "Twin Cities" logo on the stirrup socks before.  This is Engle's seconds Topps card.
Player:  Dave Engle was highly regarded prospect when he was drafted by the Angels in the 2nd round in 1978.  After a short season in the Angels' minors he was traded to the Twins in the Rod Carew trade.  A catcher at USC he was tried at thirdbase in the minors before he moved to the outfield.  He made the Twins roster in '81 after proving himself in the minors by hitting .300+ in two of three seasons.  He hit .258/.295/.407 in a semi-regular role in rightfield and was 5th in AL Rookie of the Year voting. 
Engle was expected to improve in '82 but regressed to a .226 average in 186 at bats.  With him struggling with fly balls in the Metrodome and not hitting like a corner outfielder they sent him to the instructional league to re-acquaint himself with the catcher position.  He responded with his best season in '83 hitting .305/.350/.449 with 8 HR in 408 plate appearances.    
The 1984 season started off well for Engle batting .310/.343/.408 in the first half.  He was rewarded by being selected to the AL All-Star squad but did not play.  Engle was plagued by several problems in the second half.  First of all he stopped hitting with runners on base driving in just four runs.  Second after a return throw to the mound clipped the L-screen, deflected and broke the batting practice pitcher's nose he developed a throwing problem.  This caused him to lob the ball on his return throws to the mound and when runners began taking advantage, it seemed to effect his overall game.  Third he injured his wrist and played just six games after August 30.  The second half swoon dropped his average to .266. 
The wrist problem lingered into the '85 season with Engle not returning to regular duty until late June.  The Twins used Engle a DH, pinch-hitter, and back up catcher and he showed a bit more power slugging .448 in 195 trips to the plate.  Minnesota traded Engle after the season to Detroit for Chris Pittaro and Alejandro Sanchez.  The Tigers tried Engle at first base but a hamstring injury caused him to lose the month of May.  When the Tigers acquired Mike Heath in August, Engle was released with a .256 average in 86 at bats.
Engle signed with Montreal in '87 and spent the next two years as little used reserve.  He batted .226 in '87 and was hitting .216 when he was cut loose on 7/14/88.  He signed with the Brewers thenext year but fared no better.  When they tried sending to him to AAA he refused the assignment and was released.  He kicked around the minors for a little while longer before retiring in '91. 

Flipside:  Engle's biggest hit of the '82 season was probably a pinch-hit double on 8/18.  Trailing 4-2 with two outs in the ninth he laced a double off Baltimore's Tippy Martinez.  The hit drove in two and tied the game which the Twins won the next inning. 

Oddball:  Engle's dad Roy was a high school teammate of Ted Williams and ran the Splendid Splinter's baseball camp from 1960 to 1973. 
Dave and Twins teammate Tom Brunansky are brothers-in-law having married sisters Cindy and Collen Schumann

History:  Great things were expected of Engle but he retired with only 3.3 WAR in nine seasons.  He had trouble staying healthy and really didn't have a position.  His career line .262/.311/.388 would be decent OK for a catcher but his defense was lacking behind the plate.  Conversely he didn't have enough power to DH or hold a job at first base regularly.

No comments:

Post a Comment