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Twins Daily 2018 Awards: Pitcher of the Year

If there’s been one constant with the Minnesota Twins, it’s been the need for starting pitching. There’s been no shortage of bright spots in that department over the years, but there just never seems to be enough of it.

The 2018 season didn’t end the way the Twins would have liked, but the team’s top three starters — Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi — all turned in strong performances. All three took the ball every time their spot came up in the rotation, and all three were above average, ranking inside the top 35 in fWAR among qualified starting pitchers.
Image courtesy of © Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Of all the things that went wrong for the Twins in 2018, the organization has to especially feel good about the fact that Berrios took another step toward emerging as one of the game’s best starters.

The first thing that stick out about Berrios’ numbers are the strikeouts. He increased his K/9 rate from 8.59 in 2017 to 9.45 this season and is K% boosted from 22.6 to 25.4 in 2018. There are certain milestones that stand out for a pitcher, and reaching 200 strikeouts is certainly one of them.

“That was one of my goals before the season started,” Berrios said. “That’s when I wrote it down and I accomplished it and I’m thankful to God for that.”

That’s a landmark milestone to achieve, but the Twins believe Berrios, still only 24-years-old, can get even better.

“We all feel that he’s not done learning,” Paul Molitor said. “He’s one of those kids that’s going to embrace the year, in terms of reflection. Think about the things that worked, positivity about those things, but also how to avoid some of those stretches or some starts where things kind of got away from him.”

Berrios has no problems with those high expectations.

"I want to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” Berrios said. “I think I have the material to do that and to be the best pitcher on this team so that Minnesota can construct around me and build a winning team."

Berrios has some things to address before he reaches his goal of becoming among the game’s best. He had a hard time on the road and in day games, experienced a bit of a dip in the second half and could have been better with runners on.

Kyle Gibson had a great year himself, and was more consistent. He bested Berrios in both ERA and innings, but Jose held the advantage in FIP and paced Gibby in both WHIP (1.14 vs. 1.30) and K:BB ratio (3.31 vs. 2.27) by a wide margin.

The best news for the Twins? Their trio of top starters are all set to return in 2019 and Michael Pineda should be ready to go by Opening Day. There’s also Adalberto Mejia, Chase De Jong, Aaron Slegers and the bevy of others who debuted this season like Fernando Romero, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves and Zack Littell. Plus Lewis Thorpe, among others, is waiting in the wings and the front office will surely look to add more arms.

Will 2019 finally be the year the Twins have enough pitching? That will remain to be seen, but having Berrios motivated to get even better is a great place to start.

THE BALLOTS
Here's a look at the ballots from each of our seven voters. As you can see, this was not a unanimous decision.

Seth Stohs: 1) Gibson, 2), Berrios, 3) Rogers, 4) Rodney
Nick Nelson: 1) Berrios, 2) Gibson, 3) Rogers, 4) Odorizzi
John Bonnes: 1) Gibson, 2) Berrios, 3) Rogers, 4) Odorizzi
Tom Froemming: 1) Berrios, 2) Gibson, 3) Odoizzi, 4) Rogers
Cody Christie: 1) Berrios, 2) Gibson, 3) Odorizzi, 4) Rogers
Steve Buhr: 1) Berrios, 2) Gibson, 3) Rogers, 4) Odorizzi
Ted Schwerzler: 1) Berrios, 2) Rogers, 3) Gibson, 4) Odorizzi

POINTS

Berrios 26
Gibson 22
Rogers 13
Odorizzi 8
Rodney 1

PREVIOUS PITCHER OF THE YEAR WINNERS

2015: Kyle Gibson
2016: Ervin Santana
2017: Ervin Santana

OTHER 2018 AWARD WINNERS

Most Improved: Kyle Gibson
Rookie of the Year: Mitch Garver
Player of the Year: Coming soon

Do you agree with our committee's pick? Who would be your choice for Best Twins Pitcher and why?

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21 Comments

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108Stitches
Oct 03 2018 08:57 PM
Front office will probably give it to Belisle.
    • Oldgoat_MN, h2oface, mikelink45 and 2 others like this
I like his attitude and confidence. He's put all on notice that he wants to lead this team to the promise land. Haven't had that in a loooong time.
    • caninatl04 and Original Whizzinator like this

I just looked at Max Scherzer's age 24 season, 4.12 ERA (Berrios - 3.84), 3.87 FIP (3.90), 9.2 K/9 (9.5) 2.76 SO/W (3.31) 174 SO (202), 170 IP (192.1).Similar, if not slightly better numbers, he could, and with his work ethic, should improve throughout his career.As long as he stays healthy I think he will be good for an extended period of time.

    • Oldgoat_MN, h2oface, Danchat and 4 others like this

Excellent year for Berrios, no question he should be a mainstay at the top of rotation.

 

For those thinking "he's still not an ace!": he was Top 10 in WHIP, K/9, and IP in the AL. He was just outside the Top 10 in bWAR and ERA. He's a #1 starter on most teams in baseball.

 

Love watching him pitch. I love the fact that he not only increased his number of starts this season but also his innings per start. H/9, K/9, BB/9 have improved three years in a row. He's a pitcher on the rise and if we can improve the back end of the rotation behind him, find a consistent bullpen, and settle on a lineup that gives him the run support he deserves, next year could be delightful.

    • bluechipper, DocBauer, Cast of Thousands and 1 other like this
So, what should the FO do with him (or all three with Berrios, Gibson and Odorizzi) contract wise?

Why would you do anything with Berrios and his contract right now? Pitchers get hurt, a lot, and he's here for several more years.....it would be bad to do anything that wasn't a terrible deal for Jose.....

 

Odo? Nothing at this point. He's a fine 3 or so, probably, but they might be able to replace that with Thorpe or Romero or Mejia, maybe. Or a FA signing.

 

Gibson? I'd offer him a 3 year extension, because he's getting better as time goes on, and they need a veteran who struggled then got better, imo. But, if they don't, I wouldn't be upset or surprised.

 

Pineda hasn't been healthy for over a year, and people keep penciling him in. Mind. Boggling.

 

Berrios is the obvious choice for pitcher of the year....

    • JLease and Original Whizzinator like this

Gibson had a better year than Berrios.He just did.Doesn't mean he's a better pitcher than Berrios...doesn't mean that all of the underlying numbers will lead to the same type of results over time...just means he had a better year than Berrios in 2018.

 

Also, as a reminder...in 2018 all Twins pitchers benefited from nearly 60 starts...more than a third of the schedule...against White Sox, KC, and Detroit.Truly awful teams/lineups.And those lineups can only be getting better over the next few years.

 

For those that think Berrios's numbers stand up as 'no. 1' numbers...look at his splits for results against under/over 500 teams this year.Downright ugly numbers against the top half of the league.

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stringer bell
Oct 04 2018 10:43 AM
I don’t think Berrios is an obvious choice. Gibson pitched more innings, had a better ERA, and was far more consistent. Anecdotally, it seems to me that Gibson had more starts against the elite teams in the AL and fared well against the best. Yes, Berrios has a brighter future, but for today it was a very close call and I’d pick Gibson because of less poor starts and the ability to adjust when he came out with something short of his best stuff.

Edit: Honest I didn’t see the post above when I made my post! Nice post jkcarew.
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, h2oface and 1 other like this

So, what should the FO do with him (or all three with Berrios, Gibson and Odorizzi) contract wise?


I would do nothing contract wise for all 3. Berrios has 4 more years of control left, and 4 more years to potentially get injured.

Odorizzi is a fine back end of the rotation starter. Should be replaceable by an internal or external pitcher for a reasonable price.

Gibson will be 31 in a couple of weeks, and given his roller coaster career, I need to see it one more season to be a Gibby believer. It's not like he's going to be a $20 million AAV pitcher if he maintains his level of play next season. The Twins can afford to gamble. The premium won't be that much if he is awesome next season.

 

I don’t think Berrios is an obvious choice. Gibson pitched more innings, had a better ERA, and was far more consistent. Anecdotally, it seems to me that Gibson had more starts against the elite teams in the AL and fared well against the best. Yes, Berrios has a brighter future, but for today it was a very close call and I’d pick Gibson because of less poor starts and the ability to adjust when he came out with something short of his best stuff.

Edit: Honest I didn’t see the post above when I made my post! Nice post jkcarew.

 

Gibson pitched 4 1/3 more innings. It's a push. Gibson had a better ERA, Berrios had a better FIP. Berrios had a better K/9, BB/9, H/9, WHIP...the peripherals around Berrios are just a bit better. They had similar overall seasons and their bWAR is almost identical (fWAR thinks Berrios was significantly more valuable, but that's a different story) but I think most teams around MLB would take Berrios over Gibson and not just on age.

    • h2oface likes this

 

For those that think Berrios's numbers stand up as 'no. 1' numbers...look at his splits for results against under/over 500 teams this year.Downright ugly numbers against the top half of the league.

Took the time to look at this.Compiled manually from Baseball Reference.com...so I may have a mistake in here somewhere, but the theme was real for Berrios in 2018...

 

Berrios against better-than-500 teams (finished better than 500) in 2018...

16 starts; 88.1 IP; team record 5-11; Berrios record 2-8

ERA:5.71; WIP:1.49

 

He's 24 years old.Definitely showing signs of having a better upside than this.But, the Twins need to be thinking about improving the staff...including improving it at the top end...if they want to contend in 2019.

    • Mike Sixel and h2oface like this

 

I would do nothing contract wise for all 3. Berrios has 4 more years of control left, and 4 more years to potentially get injured.

Odorizzi is a fine back end of the rotation starter. Should be replaceable by an internal or external pitcher for a reasonable price.

Gibson will be 31 in a couple of weeks, and given his roller coaster career, I need to see it one more season to be a Gibby believer. It's not like he's going to be a $20 million AAV pitcher if he maintains his level of play next season. The Twins can afford to gamble. The premium won't be that much if he is awesome next season.

 

Also, I'd do the QO for sure if they can't agree on a number (assuming he's good again).

Here is an interesting split:

 

Gibson:
Opponent record <.500 15 GS 3.63 ERA, 1.283 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB
Opponent record >.500 17 GS 3.61 ERA, 1.319 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.1 K/BB

 

Berrios
Opponent record <.500 17 GS 2.55 ERA, 0.960 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.8 K/BB
Opponent record >.500 15 GS 5.53 ERA, 1.386 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.8 K/BB

 

Gibson's performance was very similar regardless the opponent.Berrios did not perform well against winning opponents.Matter of fact Gibson did much better than Berrios against opponents with > .500 record and started 2 more games against that level of opponents than Berrios.

 

It should be Gibson.

 

    • USAFChief, h2oface, dbminn and 3 others like this

Berrios was a good choice.Had you selected Gibson, that would also have been a good choice.Both had very good seasons.

 

Expect Berrios to take another step next year...becoming a true ACE.Those who commented above are probably right and if he has 4 years control remaining signing long-term can wait a year.Is he arbitration eligible next year?If not, the Twins should reward him with more than what they could cram down his throat.

 

If I were in the FO, I would sign Gibby to 3-4 years.That gives them 2 front line starters to build around.Add Romero, Thorpe and Graterol over the next year or year and a half and they should have the best starting rotation in a long time, one that you just might be able to win with. 

 

 

    • DocBauer and Original Whizzinator like this
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Battle ur tail off
Oct 04 2018 12:38 PM

I'd say Berrios, but Gibson had a great season also. I give it Berrios because he has more left to improve. I honestly don't see Gibson being any better than he was this past year. In fact, I'd plan on him trending down from here on out if I was running the show. 

 

Contractually, I wouldn't do anything with any of them. If Berrios makes it the next couple of years and keeps improving, go ahead and extend him then. There is too much that can go wrong to give him big money right away.

 

Gibson, we have seen him capable of being good yes, but have also seen him be pretty poor as well. Make him prove it again next year. Unless he would be willing to sign an extension that locks him up for 2019-2021 at a reasonable price, then I guess I'd listen. 

 

I just looked at Max Scherzer's age 24 season, 4.12 ERA (Berrios - 3.84), 3.87 FIP (3.90), 9.2 K/9 (9.5) 2.76 SO/W (3.31) 174 SO (202), 170 IP (192.1).Similar, if not slightly better numbers, he could, and with his work ethic, should improve throughout his career.As long as he stays healthy I think he will be good for an extended period of time.

 

Now that is encouraging! I look forward to his progression to Scherzer numbers of today, and hope he can truly become that kind of consistent ace starter. 

 

One day, our pitcher of the year might win 20 games and have a season ERA around 2.50, 250+ Ks, 225+ innings, with complimentary other stats. Call me old school, but I still like to see wins close to 20 for a pitcher of the year. All the isolated stats are great, but in the end, a team's wins is the most important stat there is.

 

    • Dozier's Glorious Hair and rdehring like this
Reading all the comments, and numbers, I really think it's a push. And that's a positive, not a negative. Even those two guys are 6 years apart, they are a quality to duo to build a rotation around. We have yet to see the best of Berrios. And Gibson a great frame, a re-build arm, (Don't dismiss that considering the careers and arm health of many other TJ "survivors"), along with a better mental approach. Personally, I think Gibson has another really good 2-3 years ahead of him. Hopefully with the Twins.

What surprises me, when I read some of the numbers and rankings, is how solid Odorizzi was. At times I really liked what I saw, and at times I was disappointed. I still like him best as a 4 or 5 SP. Hopefully, that is what he will be with Romero and Pineda around next season. (NOT dismissing Mejia or Thorpe at some point).

Mejia's wrist and Pineda's knee were tbe 2 biggest bummers for me to close the season. Mejia has some good stuff and potential and seemed like he was primed for a late run to establish himself for a 2019 run. Pineda's rehab was looking good. He needed to pitch, and it just sucks he didn't get any ML time in. His 4.05 career isn't great, but it's solid. His HR numbers are nothing to brag about. But his WHIP and SO/BB numbers are very good. If he's sound, I like him as part of 2019.

I'm actually really optimistic for the 2019 rotation even without bringing someone in. (Though I wouldn't object in the slightest to a BIG MOVE). Berrios will keep getting better and better. Gibson is a legitimate #3, IMO, who pitches like a #2 at times. Romero has the stuff to legitimately push Berrios for the top spot, as early as sometime in 2019.

I honestly don't care which of Berrios or Gibson won thjs award. Both are deserving. How long has it been since we has two guys at the top of our rotation we could feel this good about and debate which one had the better year?
    • 70charger, jimmer, Tomj14 and 1 other like this
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stringer bell
Oct 04 2018 08:40 PM

Odorizzi has to average more than 5 innings a start. His overall numbers are fine, but it weighs on the bullpen too much to go short as often as he did. If you have three or four guys that average six or more, then you can get away with an Odorizzi at #4 or #5. 

 

I would like to see the Twins stick with 12 pitchers all year and maybe juggle a little and have 11 for some period of time. That would require having guys that more often than not work into the seventh inning. I'm hopeful Pineda and Meija (or Stewart or Gonsalves) are able to go deep pretty often. 

    • ashburyjohn and DocBauer like this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 05 2018 11:13 AM

 If you have three or four guys that average six or more

Only about 20 guys did that this year, so three or four is a pretty high standard for a staff anymore.

 

But I agree that averaging a flat 5 innings per start puts Odo in a different class than the horses that a rotation needs.

Flip a coin between the two. 

 

Odorizzi has to average more than 5 innings a start. His overall numbers are fine, but it weighs on the bullpen too much to go short as often as he did. If you have three or four guys that average six or more, then you can get away with an Odorizzi at #4 or #5. 

 

I would like to see the Twins stick with 12 pitchers all year and maybe juggle a little and have 11 for some period of time. That would require having guys that more often than not work into the seventh inning. I'm hopeful Pineda and Meija (or Stewart or Gonsalves) are able to go deep pretty often. 

i Agree too many short starts, but I was surprised he was 26th in innings pitched in the AL.

The Twins had 3 pitchers in the top 26, that is above average.


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