Twins Daily Awards 2017: Most Valuable Player
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyFor the third straight year, the Twins Daily Twins MVP goes to their second baseman, Brian Dozier. In 2015, the Twin Cities media voted Miguel Sano team MVP while Dozier received the Twins Daily nod. In 2016, Dozier hit 42 home runs for a 103-loss team to be the easy choice for MVP.
In 2017, the choice was much more difficult because there was not a shortage of candidates.
Offensively, Brian Dozier led the way. He was the Twins leader in many statistical categories including:
Games Player (152)
Plate Appearances (705, 108 more than the next)
Runs (106, went over the century mark for the fourth stretch season)
Home Runs (34)
Walks (78, including six intentional)
Hit By Pitch (8)
All of that out of the leadoff spot. He did a good job of getting on base and providing power and production.
While we knew that it was likely that Dozier would regress from his 42-home runs season, it could be argued that his 2017 season was more impressive. It’s always more important to see that kind of production when the team is experiencing success, including such a dramatic improvement year-over-year. Dozier’s 1.51 WPA was a career-high.
Dozier also led the team in wRC+ (124) and wOBA (.361). His Offensive WAR (from FanGraphs) was 24.2. The next Twins player on the list was at 11.0. While he finished behind Byron Buxton and Ervin Santana in bWAR, Dozier led the team in fWAR at 4.9.
Dozier finished second to Miguel Sano in OPS (.853) and OPS+ (126 vs 127 for Sano). He was also second only to Byron Buxton in Stolen Bases with 16.
Brian Dozier turned 30 years old in May but still found areas to improve. Over the last three seasons, Dozier has improved his ability to use the whole field. In 2015, he pulled the ball 60.2% of the time, hit the ball to center 24.2% of the time and to the opposite field just 15.6% of the time. In 2016, his opposite field percentage was about the same (15.3%), but his pull percentage dropped to 56.4% and his hits to center bumped up those 4% to 28.3% In 2017, his pull percentage dropped to 50.4%. His percentage to centerfield bumped up another 4% to 32% His Opposite field number jumped up to 17.6% While that may seem inconsequential, it was clear there were several times that he put the ball in play with two outs, punching a single past the infield shift to drive in a run. He also hit more home runs to right field.
Also, he swung at 23.4% of pitches outside the strike zone, an improvement of five to six percentage points from where he had been the previous seasons. As we saw with Eddie Rosario, that seemingly small difference can make a huge difference in production.
While Dozier’s range statistics aren’t at the top of any lists, his ability to make the plays that he gets to continues to improve. He had just five errors on the entire season. His defensive WAR stats put him at league average. Combined with his offense, that is a very valuable trait.
When Torii Hunter retired following the 2015 season, some questioned who would take over the helm as the leader of the Twins clubhouse. Hunter himself also noted that Dozier had the qualities to be a great leader.
But leadership takes time and isn’t (or shouldn’t be) handed to anyone. It took time. But in 2017, it was clear that Brian Dozier was the leader of the Twins clubhouse. It isn't just because he is great with the media and willing to talk about good or bad.
Sure, leadership can be unquantifiable. You can’t put a number value to it, but it’s also clear that it is a very important intangible necessary on any team. In early September, Nick wrote an article on how Brian Dozier took the lead.
The Twins traded both Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline. Dozier spoke out, unafraid to say how disappointed he was, but also specifically saying that he and the team would prove a lot of people wrong. “Book it!” it what he would often say.
It’s fun to hear a player make that kind of bold statement, but Dozier backed it up. In August, he hit .319/.419/.603 (1.023). In September, he hit .298/.393/.596 (.990). That’s putting a team on your back.
But don’t discount what it means to players for him to acknowledge them in postgame interviews for doing their job. For instance, remember Dozier’s huge eighth-inning, three-run homer in Cleveland to give the Twins a lead and help drop their Magic Number to one. Before Dozier’s at bat, Niko Goodrum had pinch run at first base. On a single, Goodrum advanced to third base. Dozier allowed him to score easily with the home run, but in the postgame, he talked about how important it was for Goodrum to get to third base, making Dozier’s only job to get a ball up in the zone and drive it to the outfield.
That isn’t the first time he’s done that. He pushed teammates. He encourages them through these types of means, not to mention what he does behind clubhouse doors.
He worked hard with Jorge Polanco, his double play partner, giving him confidence when things were going well, but especially when Polanco went through a tough stretch. Dozier led the way in discussing how the Twins wouldn’t have won a lot of early-season games without the defense of Byron Buxton, even when Buxton was struggling at the plate. He backed pitchers when they had their rough stretches.
For all those reasons, Brian Dozier was the Twins 2017 MVP. It is just nice to see that being the case for a playoff team where many players had strong, productive seasons.
Byron Buxton, who was our choice for Most Improved Player in 2017, made the vote quite close. Because of his status as best defensive outfielder in baseball, his Wins Above Replacement statistics are very high. His bWAR was a team-top 5.1, just ahead of Ervin Santana and Dozier. And there is a sense that when Buxton plays well and hits at all, his abilities carry the team.
Ervin Santana, our choice for Twins Best Pitcher in 2017, gave the Twins exactly what they needed early in the season. During the season’s first two months, he was unhittable. He threw complete games and shutouts, he hardly gave up base runners, much less runs. He was a deserving All Star and won some big games down the stretch.
Joe Mauer put together his best season, by far, since his concussion in 2013. He returned to form, hitting over .300 and was among the league leaders in on-base percentage. He also played a gold-glove caliber first base.
Eddie Rosario figured out a way to swing at less pitches and in doing so, he showed how dangerous he can be as a hitter. For long periods of time, he carried the Twins offense. He had a career-high 27 home runs and some of them were very clutch.
When he was hurt in mid-August, Miguel Sano was a likely MVP candidate for the Twins due to his power and production. He also showed that he can be a very good defensive third baseman if he wants to be.
Here's a look at the ballots from each of our nine voters. Opinions varied greatly on this one. Four players got first-place votes and seven players got votes.
Seth Stohs: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Joe Mauer, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Ervin Santana
Nick Nelson: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Miguel Sano, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Joe Mauer
Parker Hageman: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Eddie Rosario, 4) Ervin Santana, 5) Jose Berrios
John Bonnes: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Joe Mauer, 3) Brian Dozier, 4) Byron Buxton, 5) Miguel Sano
Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Joe Mauer, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Brian Dozier, 5) Eddie Rosario
Cody Christie: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Joe Mauer, 4) Miguel Sano, 5) Ervin Santana
Steve Lien: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Miguel Sano
Tom Froemming: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Eddie Rosario, 4) Byron Buxton, 5) Joe Mauer
Ted Schwerzler: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Miguel Sano, 5) Jose Berrios
Brian Dozier: 37
Byron Buxton: 34
Ervin Santana: 23
Joe Mauer: 16
Eddie Rosario: 13
Miguel Sano: 9
Jose Berrios: 2
Do you agree with our committee's pick? Who would be your choice for Twins Most Valuable Player and why?
PREVIOUS TWINS DAILY MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
2015: Brian Dozier
2016: Brian Dozier
2017 TWINS DAILY AWARDS
2017 Most Improved: Byron Buxton
2017 Rookie of the Year: Trevor Hildenberger
2017 Pitcher of the Year: Ervin Santana
2017 Most Valuable Player: Brian Dozier
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