Handing Out Minnesota's First Half Awards
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsAll WAR totals listed in the headings are courtesy of FanGraphs. Looking at Baseball Reference’s WAR totals would probably result in similar results as listed below, but likely would have been more definitive for the winning players.
Most Valuable Player
Candidates: Jorge Polanco (2.9 WAR), Max Kepler (2.8), Jose Berrios (2.7), Byron Buxton (2.5), Jake Odorizzi (2.2)
On Tuesday night, Jorge Polanco will represent the Twins as the AL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. His maturation on both sides of the ball has been critical to Minnesota’s first half success. Max Kepler is an interesting name because he has come on strong in recent weeks. If he continues trending upward, both he and Polanco could be in the AL MVP conversation.
Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi will join Polanco in Cleveland. For Berrios, it will be his second straight appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic. Both pitchers have been integral in the Twins avoiding long losing streaks. Byron Buxton seems to be putting things together. Everyone knows about his defensive skills, but he’s also been able to add some pop to his bat. Buxton might be on top of this list if he’d been healthy for the entire first half.
MVP: Jorge Polanco
Pitcher of the Year
Candidates: Jose Berrios (2.7 WAR), Jake Odorizzi (2.2), Martin Perez (2.0), Taylor Rogers (1.2)
At different points in the first half, Minnesota’s top three starting pitchers all looked like Cy Young candidates. Most fans knew what to expect from Jose Berrios as he was coming off an All-Star season. Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez have both exceeded expectations. Odorizzi has currently collected as much fWAR as Justin Verlander and that puts him just outside the AL top 10. Perez has come back to the norm after a tremendous stretch to start the year.
Berrios could have a shot at the Cy Young with a strong second half. Pitchers like Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, and Charlie Morton aren’t exactly household names when it comes to Cy Young voting. Berrios is leading the pitching staff of one of baseball’s best teams and he could help drive a playoff run.
Pitcher of the Year: Jose Berrios
Reliever of the Year
Candidates: Taylor Rogers (1.2 WAR), Ryne Harper (0.6), Trevor May (0.4)
This award isn’t much of a race at this point. Taylor Rogers has been a savior for a paper-thin bullpen. Rogers is on pace to have one of Minnesota’s all-time best relief seasons. He’s also doing this when being asked to pitch in a non-traditional closer role. If Minnesota is going on a long playoff run, Rogers will be a key piece to getting big late inning outs. It’s clear rookie manager Rocco Baldelli has full trust in Rogers and that’s the way it should be for a contending team.
Reliever of the Year: Taylor Rogers
Rookie of the Year
Candidates: Luis Arraez (1.0 WAR), Ryne Harper (0.6 WAR)
For a team in the thick of a playoff hunt, this is a two-man race. Besides Taylor Rogers, Ryne Harper has been a godsend to Minnesota’s bullpen. He made the Twins claimed a roster spot out of spring training and he has never looked back. Twins Daily readers named him the Sire of Fort Myers and he has lived up to that title. He has been contributing to the team for the entire season and that certainly adds value.
There’s no doubt about Luis Arraez and his hit tool. Many of the other facets of his game were in question. In nearly 100 plate appearances, he is hitting .393/.453/.524 with a 10.5 BB% and an 8.4 K%. As a 22-year old, he has shown an advanced approach at the plate and it’s certainly looking like he needs to part of Minnesota’s long-term plans. Harper has been critical, but Arraez has been more than valuable as a replacement player.
Rookie of the Year: Luis Arraez
Who would you vote for in regards to the awards listed above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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