Twins Daily 2018 Awards: Rookie of the Year
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsGarver won the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2017 and the Twins organization also honored him with the same award. He has been a hitter throughout his time in the minor leagues and his game calling ability has continued to improve. Jason Castro’s injury allowed him to take on a more regular role as the team’s backstop.
“It was a different role than I thought it was going to be, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Garver said. “Big growing experience, learning experience. From where I was last year to where I am now is a world of difference as far as confidence, understand(ing) the game and the speed of this level and that feeling of belonging.”
In April, Garver got the season started off on the right foot. He batted .281/.324/.531 with four extra-base hits through his first 12 games. May was his worst month as he struggled to a .544 OPS with more strikeouts (15) than hits (12). From there, something clicked and Garver became on the team’s most consistent hitters.
After hitting .249/.332/.367 in the first half, Garver improved in every category in the second half. He hit .295/.343/.481 with 32 RBI and 16 extra-base hits in the second half. Among Twins players, only Jorge Polanco had more RBI in the second half. Garver was also able to put up these numbers while catching the most games on the team.
Garver’s second half wasn’t just one of the best on the Twins. It was very comparable to other MLB catchers. His RBI total ranks his third in baseball behind Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina. His slugging percentage also ranks him third behind Perez and Yasmani Grandal. His weighted runs created (wRC+) was also third among catchers as he trailed Grandal and Omar Narvaez.
One of the biggest changes for Garver was the mentalityy that he belongs at the big-league level. “It’s not really physical, it’s just knowing you can play at this level. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “From where I was last year -which I knew I could play at this level but I had to see myself do it - that’s the biggest difference.”
Even as a right-handed batter, he did most of his damage against right-handed pitching. His OPS was 183 points higher against righties and he got on base over 35% of the time. His strikeout to walk ratio looked better against lefties since he faced them in fewer at-bats. In 107 plate appearances, he posted an 18 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio versus southpaws.
When former Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked to evaluate Garver’s rookie season, he said he saw plenty of positive signs this year but there are also areas where Garver continues to improve.
“It’s a positive, and really a pretty easy positive,” Molitor said. “We monitor the catching progress day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and we’ve seen areas that numbers are showing up in a better way. I think that he knows that he has to get better in some capacities involving everything from pitching calling to framing and all those things.”
“Offensively, I thought he was he was a little tentative early in the year,” Molitor added. “As his aggressiveness came, situational, finding out there’s a lot of hits over there in right field with his swing. Production, he was sitting in the low-teens in RBIs for a long time as I can recall. He’s had a nice spurt here where he started finding a way to not only get hits, but meaningful hits. I think that’s helped him and where his future might go and the role he’ll play moving forward. With Jason coming back, we’re going to have to evaluate where we’re at and see how that combination potentially works together.”
Congrats to the Twins Daily Rookie of the Year, Mitch “Garv Sauce” Garver!
Jake Cave only played in 90 games for the Twins and still finished eighth on the team in bWAR. He was outstanding in the month of July as he hit .314/.338/.500 with nine extra-base hits in 70 at-bats. Over the season’s final two months, he had 19 extra-base hits including nine home runs. He’s done all of this while getting on base almost 32% of the time.
Fernando Romero made his much anticipated debut in 2018 and there were flashes of the kind of pitcher the organization hopes he can be. He made 11 starts for the club from May-July but he would reach his innings limit with the Red Wings and wasn’t called up for September. In his second start, he shut out the Cardinals over six innings and added nine strikeouts. His longest start came in Seattle when he pitched seven innings. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out seven.
Here’s a look at the ballots from our seven voters.
Nick Nelson: 1) Mitch Garver, 2) Jake Cave, 3) Fernando Romero
Seth Stohs: 1) Mitch Garver, 2) Jake Cave, 3) Fernando Romero
John Bonnes: 1) Mitch Garver, 2) Jake Cave, 3) Fernando Romero
Tom Froemming: 1) Mitch Garver, 2) Jake Cave, 3) Fernando Romero
Cody Christie: 1) Mitch Garver, 2) Jake Cave, 3) Fernando Romero
Steve Lein: 1) Jake Cave, 2) Mitch Garver, 3) Fernando Romero
Ted Schwerzler: 1) Jake Cave, 2) Mitch Garver, 3) Fernando Romero
Mitch Garver: 19
Jake Cave: 16
Fernando Romero: 7
How would your ballot look? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Previous Twins Daily Rookie Winners
2015: Miguel Sano
2016: Max Kepler
2017: Trevor Hildenberger
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