Twins Daily Awards 2015: Most Valuable Player
Image courtesy of Caylor Arnold, USA TodayEach 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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