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Twins Daily Awards 2015: Most Valuable Player

After handing out the 2015 Twins Daily Award for Most Improved (Aaron Hicks), Best Rookie (Miguel Sano) and Best Pitcher (Kyle Gibson), today we focus on the 2015 Minnesota Twins Most Valuable Player.

Each year, it seems, there is some controversy on what the definition of “Valuable” is in baseball terms. Is it simply the best player? Is there a Leadership function to it? How about a clutch factor? How do you compare a guy who played nearly every game to a guy who was tremendous but missed half of the season?

That was the decision our eight Twins Daily voters had to consider. The first half (and full season) of Brian Dozier had to be compared to the second half of Miguel Sano. There were other solid candidates as well which is why this ballot had the most variety in its vote.
Image courtesy of Caylor Arnold, USA Today
Each voter ranked their Twins MVP choices one through five. A first-place vote was worth five points. A second-place vote was worth four points. And so on.

THE RESULTS (ballots will be shown in the comments below)

Brian Dozier – 38 (6 first-place votes)
Miguel Sano – 30 (2 first-place votes)
Trevor Plouffe - 15
Eduardo Escobar – 12
Torii Hunter/Kyle Gibson – 8
Aaron Hicks – 4
Joe Mauer – 3
Glen Perkins/Eddie Rosario – 1


Our voters clearly found value in the players who spent the full season with the Minnesota Twins over Sano’s dominant second half.

Brian Dozier led the Twins in several categories including Home Runs (28), runs scored (101) and Wins Above Replacement (3.5). Overall, a second half slump put his season-ending numbers at .236/.307/.444 (.751) with 39 doubles, four triples and 28 home runs.

When the Twins were at their best (ten games over .500 at the All Star break), it was Brian Dozier who was leading the way. Through July 19th (his first 91 games), Dozier was hitting .260/.331/.520 (.850). He was also going back and forth with Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson for the MLB lead in extra base hits.

Despite the incredible numbers, Brian Dozier was not initially named to the American League All Star roster. He was part of the final vote, but finished second in that voting. However, soon after that was announced, Dozier was named an injury replacement and was on the All Star team. He got one at bat in the Midsummer Classic and homered to dead center off of Pirates closer Mark Melancon.

The #VoteDozier campaign and the fan support is something that he won’t forget. Dozier said, “How everything transpired leading up to the All Star game was amazing to see and kind of surreal experience for me to see all of the support from fans. I do not play for any personal achievements, but it was a great honor to be selected to represent the Twins in Cincy. I had a lot of fun.”

Though he struggled in the second half, the Twins continued to stay in contention and finished above .500 for the first time since 2010. It was the first time that Dozier has been on a contending, winning Twins team.

“For the first time in my career, I felt the feeling of what it’s like to contend for the playoffs, and that feeling is night and day compared to previous years. It hasn’t always been fun coming to the yard years prior, but I am being honest when I say I couldn’t wait to get to the field and win a big league baseball game. The game, the concentration level, the energy, the excitement all changes when you’re in contention and that was fun to see.”

Some of that fun involved teaming with Torii Hunter. While Hunter was unquestionably the team leader in 2015, Dozier’s name is always brought up when it comes to who will lead the team when Hunter is gone. It is a role that Dozier embraces.

“I have always embraced leadership roles from when I was younger until now, in every sport I played. First, in order to lead, you must learn how to follow, and this year was a good indicator of that alongside Torii. You have to trust your teammates and coaching staff in order to lead, and by doing that requires a lot, like doing the little things right, respecting the game, playing the game with hear and passion.”

Regarding Hunter, Dozier added, “Torii taught me a lot on the field, and a lot off the field as well. A lot I can’t share – secrets – but overall, I picked his brain about numerous things on and off the field in order to embrace more leadership skills for the future.”

Dozier’s second-half struggles were well documented. In his last 66 games, he posted a .619 OPS. Late in the season, he broke Bobby Darwin’s 43-year-old Minnesota Twins strikeout record. He took it in stride though, not caring at all about his own numbers, only about the Twins results.

“I hate when people evaluate one’s season into halves or months or whatever. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Some days you feel better than others, which is typical for most of us.”

However, between his presence at the top of the lineup and his solid defense (1.3 UZR, .990 fielding percentage), Paul Molitor just continued to put him at the top of the order.

“To have the confidence from Mollie to run myself out there on a daily basis means a lot. There are a lot of times when I may not feel good physically, mentally or whatever, but I guarantee that I’m going to give you everything I’ve got for nine innings whether the results are good or bad. I also believe others on our team can say the same about themselves, and I believe that is why a lot of us this year meshed together well. We know how hard the game is and results are sometimes bad for long stretches, but if we gave each other everything every night, then that’s the respect from teammates you receive by playing every day.”

Dozier was great in the first half, carrying the Twins to the second-base record in the league. He had the extra base hits. He had the defense. He even had the clutch hits. The most memorable came on July 10th. The Twins came into the bottom of the ninth down by five runs to Detroit. The scratched across a couple of runs. Dozier came to the plate with the team down 6-5 with two outs and Joakim Soria on the mound. He launched a ball well into the bleachers in left field to give the Twins an 8-6 win. It was his second walkoff home run of that week.

That was the high point of the season for the Twins which says a lot in a season full of great moments and a lot of wins.

Dozier said, “2015 was a unique season. We made major strides in our organization to get things going back in the winning direction.”

However, he and his teammates are not satisfied. “I will never say it was a successful season though. We came up short of our goal, and it never feels good when you set to reach something and come up short. However, we did make strides and believe we are on the brink of something really special for many years to come in this organization. Always stay hungry for more in this game and never be satisfied. We can always get better in many different ways, and we will.”

Dozier said he’ll start working out in December and then slowly get back into baseball activities. For now, he’s got a couple of other things on his mind. “My only focus now is limiting out on ducks every weekend and putting meat in the freezer, and to try and fix the slice in my golf game.”

Congratulations to Brian Dozier, Twins Daily’s selection for 2015 Twins Most Valuable Player.

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16 Comments

Here are the ballots:

 

Seth: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Plouffe, 3.) Sano, 4.) Escobar, 5.) Hunter

Nick: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Sano, 3.) Escobar, 4.) Gibson, 5.) Plouffe

Parker: 1.) Sano, 2.) Dozier, 3.) Gibson, 4.) Mauer, 5.) Perkins

John: 1.) Sano, 2.) Dozier, 3.) Hunter, 4.) Gibson, 5.) Mauer

Jeremy: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Hunter, 3.) Sano, 4.) Plouffe, 5.) Escobar

Cody: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Plouffe, 3.) Sano, 4.) Escobar, 5.) Gibson

Steve: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Plouffe, 3.) Sano, 4.) Escobar, 5.) Hicks

Eric: 1.) Dozier, 2.) Sano, 3.) Hicks, 4.) Escobar, 5.) Rosario

    • glunn likes this
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stringer bell
Oct 09 2015 05:04 AM

I agree with this. IMHO, Dozier should have been the team MVP for the last three years. That said, it is unlikely that he'll be the team MVP again with the duo of Buxton and Sano likely to dominate the award for the next decade.

 

There is a lot to admire about Brian Dozier, and it is more than his hair. He made adjustments to become an outstanding player and it appears he will have to continue to adjust if he wants to remain in that class.

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HitInAPinch
Oct 09 2015 06:22 AM

Yeah, I don't know.If I were voting for Twins MVP, I'd ask for a mulligan.I like Dozier, but he just doesn't meet my standards for an MVP type player:great performance for an entire season.Yup, mulligan and see you next year! ;-)

Dozier all the way for me. Look at the XBH and the solid defense at 2B. Not sure who on the roster is even close last year in terms of value.
    • ChiTownTwinsFan and USAFChief like this

Maybe, instead of working on his slice, Dozier should temper his lust for pulling fastballs that are 6" off the plate outside.

I think that the interesting part of this team is that they had stretches where they were carried by 5 different players playing out of their mind baseball for a period of time.  Early on it was Torii, then Dozier carried them for the better part of 2-3 months, he went a little cold and Hicks (of all people) was on fire for a month, then Sano took over, followed by a strong finish by Eddie Escobar.  Mauer had a couple of hot streaks mixed in there and Trevor was probably our most steady player all year.  

The same could be said for the pitching.  There were a lot of different pitchers who had great stretches.

I would love it if this team could find a way to turn those great stretches into maintained success in 2016!

    • glunn and DocBauer like this
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Cap'n Piranha
Oct 09 2015 11:03 AM

I can't in good conscience call a guy who spent 44% of the season slashing .210/.280/.359 for a 73 wRC+, the MVP.

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puckstopper1
Oct 09 2015 11:13 AM

I agree with a couple of the posters that calling Gibson the most valuable pitcher and Dozier the most valuable player is kind of "the best of the worst" award. That said, the team itself performed much better as a whole.  Here's hoping that what the Twins have in place (coaching staff, core roster, etc.) continues to improve and next season if we see "real" MVPs (pitcher and player) performances, that will directly result in more wins!

 

“I hate when people evaluate one’s season into halves or months or whatever. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Some days you feel better than others, which is typical for most of us.”

I bet Dozier didn't say this at midseason, when people's evaluation of his first half performance landed him in the all-star game.  :)

Let's hope we can have a full season MVP next year - that would make quite a difference. 

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stringer bell
Oct 09 2015 04:23 PM

 

I bet Dozier didn't say this at midseason, when people's evaluation of his first half performance landed him in the all-star game. :)

At midseason, Dozier had been an extra-base machine for over two years. He fell off big-time after the break, but he deserved to be an All-Star this season FWIW.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan likes this

Somehow these awards make the Twins seem a lot farther from a championship than I felt before.

 

Partly that's watching the playoffs. Games are being won there by truly dominant pitching performances. Who would provide that for the Twins? Who will next year?

 

Having a winning record is nice. Not having black holes in the lineup or the rotation anymore is really, really nice. Being competetive and in the playoff hunt is great, too. But realistically, do you see this team being competive in the playoffs if they did make it?

 

I can see the offense coming together enough to play with anybody. Especially if Dozier makes some adjustments, Hicks doesn't fade again, and Buxton figures out how to hit a curveball. But who would match up with the other team's ace? Or the other team's number two? You might get to a guy like Keuchel or Price now and then, but not consistently through three rounds. Sometimes you've got to be the one to shut the other team down.

 

I just don't feel like this team is one opponents would fear in they playoffs. The last time I heard that was when we still had Liriano and Santana. I remember a friend who is a Yankee fan (not his fault, he was born there) wanting nothing to do with them in a five game series. But I think the Yanks would LOVE to have faced the Twins this year.

 

Not saying they can't become champions. They just have a ways to go.

 

Their rotation and lineup are mostly set for next year. So how are they going to make the next leap?

Some people are never happy :-(
I took great joy in watching this team improve over the course of this year. I was able to attend Buxton's debut. See why Sano was a heralded prospect since he was 16! Dozier MVP, absolutely. My goal for next year is a couple of arms to make their MLB debut in stunning fashion.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 11 2015 07:27 PM

They were a 90 loss team last year. They made big strides and got a winning record this year. This year's team was not yet ready to win a championship.

 

I don't see any contradiction among these thoughts, nor a lack of appreciation for the progress we saw this year nor a lack of enjoyment of the brand of ball when it was good.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

I would have liked to have seen Duffey get a couple 5th place votes.

 

Somehow these awards make the Twins seem a lot farther from a championship than I felt before.

 

...

The fact that Hunter was in the top five made me feel this way as well.


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