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Twins Daily Awards 2015: Best Rookie

Across baseball, 2015 was The Year of the Rookie. A majority of the game's highest rated prospects debuted this season, and in most cases they made that transition with notable success.

The Twins were a microcosm of this trend, graduating several of the best young players in their system and receiving numerous highly impactful rookie performances.

But while there were a few different names deserving of consideration, the choice here was pretty easy.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today
Voting Results

1. Miguel Sano: 24 points
2. Eddie Rosario: 13.5 points
3. Tyler Duffey: 6 points
4. Trevor May: 4.5 points

There were eight voters and points were awarded on a three-point scale, meaning that Sano received first-place votes from every participant (Seth Stohs, Cody Christie, Jeremy Nygaard, Steve Lein, Eric Pleiss, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman and myself).

I mean, what choice did we really have? Sano's season was not only head-and-shoulders above the rest of this year's class, it was also one of the best rookie campaigns in franchise history. Playing in 80 games following his early-July promotion from Double-A, Sano hit .269/.385/.530 with 18 home runs and 52 RBI. He became an intimidating force at the cleanup spot and completely changed the complexion of the Twins lineup during the second half of the season.

Among Twins players to make 300 or more plate appearances as a rookie, Sano's .916 OPS ties him with Tony Oliva (1964) for best all-time, beating Bobby Kielty (.890 in 2002) and Justin Morneau (.875 in 2004). He has the most home runs, walks and RBI for any Twin through 80 games.

In his first taste of the majors, Sano struck out at an exorbitant rate of 35.5 percent; the leader among qualified MLB hitters was Baltimore's Chris Davis at 31 percent. However, the young Dominican slugger made up for the whiffs by drawing tons of walks and batting .468 with a .925 slugging percentage in at-bats where he didn't strike out. The huge numbers on balls in play were driven by an AL-leading hard-hit percentage of 43.2 percent. Only Miami's Giancarlo Stanton had a higher rate, at 49.7 percent.

Sano's ability to absolute smash the baseball every time he made contact was certainly impressive, but what might have been most encouraging was the consistent quality of his at-bats as a 22-year-old getting his initial exposure to the big leagues. He ran the count full in 28 percent of his plate appearances and batted .240/.581/.700 when he did so.

That mature and advanced plate approach set Sano apart from the No. 2 finisher on this list, Eddie Rosario, whose advantages over Sano included providing substantial defensive value where Sano provided none, and playing in about three-quarters of the team's games where Sano played only half.

Rosario was a solid hitter in his own right, piling up 46 extra-base hits in 474 plate appearances, including a league-leading 15 triples. His plate discipline issues proved problematic, leading to an ugly 118-to-15 K/BB ratio and .289 on-base percentage, and ultimately his .748 OPS was only a shade above the MLB average for a left fielder (.736).

That's not exactly a bad thing. Delivering average offensive production while mixing in excellent defense and dynamic speed on the base paths made Rosario a highly valuable asset at age 23. His ability to cover ground in the outfield, contrasted against slow-footed predecessors like Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham, can hardly be overstated and he ranked second in the majors with 16 outfield assists. Opponents ran on Rosario's arm and he made them pay, repeatedly.

Rosario placed second on six of eight ballots but was edged on a couple by Tyler Duffey, who made his 10 starts count in a big way. The 24-year-old curveball connoisseur went 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA after joining the team in early August, including 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA following his rocky debut in Toronto. By the end of the season, Duffey had essentially established himself as the rotation's most trustworthy starter, firing quality starts in each of his last five turns, all of which carried significant importance.

Trevor May appeared on only a few ballots, probably because most didn't think of him as a rookie since he pitched a fair amount last year. However, May came a few innings short of the rookie cutoff in 2014 and did qualify this season. He looked good as a starter in the first half and great as a reliever in the second half. His performance should not be overlooked in this discussion.


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22 Comments

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stringer bell
Oct 06 2015 11:49 PM

Respectfully disagree with your panel. Sano was awesome at the plate, but that is only one facet of the game (albeit a large one). Rosario filled up the stat sheet over 80% of the season, as compared to 50% for Sano. I give the Rookie of the Year to Eddie Rosario.

    • NoCryingInBaseball, HitInAPinch and DRizzo like this

I didn't care for what appeared to be Arcia and Vargas falling in love with the home run and particularly the distance of the home run and I hope Sano doesn't follow that route. I thought he often swung too hard and he just doesn't have to.   36 homers and a .385 OBP for a full season. If he can do that I don't care if he strikes out every other at bat.   

Love Rosario but hope and expect that he can get his OBP up over .310.HIs minior league numbers say he probably can.

Duffey is most likely to be the guy to regress. Although he started out with a 27 ERA it was remarkable that his ERA went down with every single start but one. 3.10 would be awesome from him for a whole year. HIs curve ball appears to have more break than Bert which is saying a lot.

May is most likely to beat his numbers next year.  Great stuff and command just getting better and better.

 

    • Eephus and howieramone2 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 07 2015 07:47 AM

I really think May could be that ace we've been looking for.His peripherals indicate he can be that type of guy.I hope he doesn't get relegated to a BP role b/c of need and b/c he did well there.I hope he gets another chance to start. 

 

The more I think about it, the more I think Dave is right.Trade Gibson and Milone so that May and Duffey are starting in 2016. 

I don't see how May is not first or second. He was their best starter by statistical measures the first half then shut down reliever the second half. And he was up the whole season.
    • Danchat likes this
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weiss4twins28
Oct 07 2015 09:27 AM
Even tho Rosario was having trouble with the obp stuff, I still consider him a 5 tool play. Borderline on the power but when he gets a hold of one it soars. Sano will be a great someday and out numbered many great players HR totals for the year in just 80 games. So much promise in the org. Next year! Now that I see that we are capable of making a legit playoff push, I'm fully confident of our play next year with even more young pieces coming up later. Called that this award will go to Jose Berrios next year!
A very nice list. I think a legit argument can be made for all 4, if you only look at what they contributed this year. Frankly, if May stays in the rotation and his luck evens out, I think he wins this......but he didn't.

My favorite thing is that I think that the winner is pretty obvious and that there are four guys who probably could make a strong case. That's a good thing.

 

Next year, we're looking at Buxton, Kepler, Chargois, Burdi and more could be coming up!

    • Blackjack and howieramone2 like this
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HitInAPinch
Oct 07 2015 10:25 AM

I'm with Dante929:I didn't like what Arcia, Sano and Vargas did during SP.Neither did Molitor and that's why Rosario got called up before anyone else.

 

I also agree with Stringer Bell:Rosario play far more MLB games than Sano.

 

In the end, I think I believe I agree with the voters:I like Rosario a heck of a lot, but you can't deny Sano's impact.

    • NoCryingInBaseball likes this

 

My favorite thing is that I think that the winner is pretty obvious and that there are four guys who probably could make a strong case. That's a good thing.

 

Next year, we're looking at Buxton, Kepler, Chargois, Burdi and more could be coming up!

Buxton won't technically be eligible next year.

 

But hopefully Berrios is in contention.Polanco is close but could be blocked.Meyer is a dark horse candidate.He has the stuff to be a shut down RP'er.

Buxton ended with 129 At Bats, so he is rookie-eligible next year.

 

But yes, I should have had Berrios on that list, as well as Polanco and Meyer.

 

Respectfully disagree with your panel. Sano was awesome at the plate, but that is only one facet of the game (albeit a large one). Rosario filled up the stat sheet over 80% of the season, as compared to 50% for Sano. I give the Rookie of the Year to Eddie Rosario.

By WAR, Sano basically equalled Rosario in 2015, despite playing only half the season AND getting a positional DH penalty during that time.

 

Sano accumulated batting runs (Rbat) at basically an equal or higher rate than anyone in the league with that level of playing time not named Trout, Cabrera, Cruz, or Donaldson.

 

Plus, like the Escobar SS decision, much of Sano's lower playing time was out of his control.  If Sano had simply been called up on June 8 like Correa, that would have cut the Rosario-Sano games played gap in half.

 

I don't like to reward really small sample guys, like Brett Lawrie 2011, but I think half a season is past that threshold.

    • SwainZag likes this

 

Buxton ended with 129 At Bats, so he is rookie-eligible next year.

Yup, and like Trevor May in 2014, Buxton only spent about 20 healthy days on the active roster during the time of the 25 player limit in 2015, well short of the 45 day requirement to lose rookie status by that method.

 

http://mlb.mlb.com/m...regulations.jsp

Yeah, I think most of us don't think of May as a rookie. He had one heck of a rookie season, though. He was a pretty decent starter for the first half and a very good setup reliever in the second half.

 

He's absolutely ahead of Duffey in my book. Yes, Duffey's starts were better, but he didn't have close to as much impact as May - partly because he was only up for a month and a half.

I didn't care for what appeared to be Arcia and Vargas falling in love with the home run and particularly the distance of the home run and I hope Sano doesn't follow that route. I thought he often swung too hard and he just doesn't have to. 36 homers and a .385 OBP for a full season. If he can do that I don't care if he strikes out every other at bat.
Love Rosario but hope and expect that he can get his OBP up over .310. HIs minior league numbers say he probably can.
Duffey is most likely to be the guy to regress. Although he started out with a 27 ERA it was remarkable that his ERA went down with every single start but one. 3.10 would be awesome from him for a whole year. HIs curve ball appears to have more break than Bert which is saying a lot.
May is most likely to beat his numbers next year. Great stuff and command just getting better and better.


Some guys are just pure power hitters, Sano is one of those, Vargas could be too. Trying to change them ends up hurting you ala David Arias
    • Dantes929 likes this

 

Some guys are just pure power hitters, Sano is one of those, Vargas could be too. Trying to change them ends up hurting you ala David Arias

 

Two things: 

 

1.) Vargas is no Sano. He's just not.

 

2.) Ortiz sure bashed the Twins style, but he became the player he became because he crushed a lot of baseballs to left and left-center, off of or over, that Green Monster. 

    • Dantes929, Jham and HitInAPinch like this

 

Some guys are just pure power hitters, Sano is one of those, Vargas could be too. Trying to change them ends up hurting you ala David Arias

I have nothing against power. Sano does appear to be a pure power hitter and probably elite and I don't want to change that. I liken it to my golf game. When grooved I swing effortlessly and hit the drive 250 yards and consistently. Often I find myself swinging much harder for less and less consistency. I may hit the occasional 270 by swinging really hard but the trade off is no where near worth it.  In golf at least when I do hit 270 there is a benefit. When Arcia hits it 100 feet beyond the fence there is no additional benefit compared to hitting it 1 foot over.  I am not criticizing Sano's season here.I loved it. I want him to fall in love with the quantity of home runs not the distance. The distance will be there anyway from swinging well.

 

Two things: 

 

1.) Vargas is no Sano. He's just not.

 

2.) Ortiz sure bashed the Twins style, but he became the player he became because he crushed a lot of baseballs to left and left-center, off of or over, that Green Monster. 

1. I never implied Vargas was Sano or even close, I implied that he could be a "power hitter" due to his numbers in the minors (20-25 HR power) the fact that he is HUGE and the fact that he is only 24 so the power still can come.

 

2. That is a very interesting way to not blame the Twins for the Ortiz fiasco and to give them a pass, they were the ones who ultimately decided that Ortiz wasn't worth 1.5 million. Also Ortiz still and always had remained a huge pull hitter, just look at his spray charts. Over 80% of his home runs have been "pulled". Look at the defensive shifts against him etc.

 

Perhaps their thinking has evolved over the years, but there is no doubt at the time Ryan and Kelly both hated Ortiz's approach to the plate. (Apparently 38 HR in 715 at bats is a bad way to hit)

 

Anyways, I don't want to hijack this thread into yet another Ortiz discussion, but my point is they should let guys like Arcia "swing hard" I am of the opinion that Arcia can be a 30 HR type guy, with bad defense and a "meh" OBP, but that still brings plenty of value.

    • Jham likes this

 

I don't see how May is not first or second. He was their best starter by statistical measures the first half then shut down reliever the second half. And he was up the whole season.

Yeah I think May should be number 2,

 

By WAR, Sano basically equalled Rosario in 2015, despite playing only half the season AND getting a positional DH penalty during that time.

 

Sano accumulated batting runs (Rbat) at basically an equal or higher rate than anyone in the league with that level of playing time not named Trout, Cabrera, Cruz, or Donaldson.

 

Plus, like the Escobar SS decision, much of Sano's lower playing time was out of his control.  If Sano had simply been called up on June 8 like Correa, that would have cut the Rosario-Sano games played gap in half.

 

I don't like to reward really small sample guys, like Brett Lawrie 2011, but I think half a season is past that threshold.

Agreed, I think the impact that Sano had on the lineup was more than enough to push him past Rosario for the award.

 

With that said the fact that an argument can be made for Rosario and even May as well shows the good young core this team has moving forward.

    • Dantes929 likes this

WAR is a pretty good measurement for this kind of thing and would agree with you all...

 

Buxton ended with 129 At Bats, so he is rookie-eligible next year.

 

But yes, I should have had Berrios on that list, as well as Polanco and Meyer.

For some reason I thought that the BBWA had embraced using PA's instead of AB's so yes Buxton is eligible by one AB.Doesn't mean much in the big picture but gives prospect analysts a little more to talk about. 

Forgot May was a rookie still!

 

I agree Sano is the obvious choice. It doesn't matter he didn't play much in the field. A lot of that was because the Twins already had a good guy playing there. And Sano's impact just can't be ignored, not only because of the pure production, but because even with his outstanding contributions, the Twins offensive numbers slipped the second half of the season. Imagine were he not there?

 

Rosario is fun to watch. I love watching him play defense as well. (except for a couple head-scratchers) What he accomplished is pretty remarkable over all. I see more HR power in the future, and have stated so before. We know he can hit. I don't see him ever having an overly high OB%, but even a little more patience and experience will raise both the BA and OB. I can live with that considering all the other tools.

 

Hard to pick between May and Duffey. Frankly, I think it's more about rookie position player and rookie pitcher when you look at the impact and quality of the Twins 2015 rookie class. Duffey was phenomenal! And while it was only for a couple of months, if you look at his numbers, and breaking a couple losing streaks, he pitched very much like a #1 for the Twins in that time frame.

 

However, May had numbers to indicate he might have been the Twins best SP when he was moved to the pen, was pitching better and better, but never had the chance to finish the season out as a starter. Though his accomplishments in the pen can't be denied.

 

I don't know...Sano is the obvious choice to me and a 3 way tie for second. How is that for fair?

 

Buxton ended with 129 At Bats, so he is rookie-eligible next year.

 

But yes, I should have had Berrios on that list, as well as Polanco and Meyer.

 

Is it just me? Am I just too much of an optimist? But I have this feeling that Buxton will take all his experience and lessons from this season and apply them next spring and force his way on to the roster to begin the season. Not saying he will peak and reach his full potential from day one, but he will be markedly better and not need the AAA time that has been mentioned a lot.


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