The 5 Best Bets to Win Twins MVP
Image courtesy of © Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports*THESE CALCULATIONS FOR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT (WAR) ARE FROM BASEBALL REFERENCE*
5. Nelson Cruz
King Nelly got off to a blazing start. He went 7-for-13 with three homers and two doubles during the opening series in Chicago. He hit .190 with a .499 OPS in the following six games before notching six hits in nine at-bats at home against Pittsburgh. Cruz has struggled since then but is still hitting .329/.405/.543 on the season. He’s a fine bet to win the award again in 2020.
4. Randy Dobnak
The Dobber has a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings pitched. That’s the lowest ERA among all pitchers who’ve thrown as many innings. Dobnak is producing a 66.7% groundball rate. His one-seam sinker looks deadlier than ever and opponents are hitting just .077 against his slider. Dobnak leads all Twins pitchers in WAR and ranks second on the whole team behind one explosive centerfielder.
3. Eddie Rosario
The single most amazing thing about Rosario’s season thus far is his *insane* walk rate. Rosario is walking in 10.7% of his plate appearances, more than double his career rate of 4.6%. On top of that, he’s hit six home runs, the most on the team. Rosario is 6-for-14 with two doubles and a homer with runners in scoring position, including a grand slam. Edisito’s new formula, drawing walks while still punishing mistakes, has worked to a T through 18 games.
2. Kenta Maeda
Maeda’s first four starts as a Twin were superb. He holds a 2.66 ERA in 23 ⅔ innings. He would’ve earned his fourth straight win if not for a bullpen implosion in Pittsburgh. Maeda has produced 0.5 WAR after producing 1.2 total WAR in 153 ⅔ innings for the Dodgers in 2019. Maeda would be on pace for over 3 WAR in a 162 game season. Only 38 pitchers produced 3 or more WAR in 2019. The preseason notion that Maeda could be the Twins’ best starter this year looks quite legitimate.
1. Byron Buxton
We all knew the heights the Twins could reach more or less hinged on Buxton’s availability. He’s healthy enough to play and he’s been outstanding. Buxton is hitting .298/.306/.638 (!) through 15 games. He’s produced 1.1 WAR, the third most in the American League behind only Ramon Laureano and Aaron Judge. In his last eight games, Buxton is slugging .966 and ranks sixth in the A.L. with a .638 slugging % on the season (min. 45 PA). Buxton should be officially placed on not only the Twins, but the A.L. MVP watchlist.
Marwin has been fantastic both offensively and defensively. Josh Donaldson, the Twins’ best all-around player, remains out with a calf injury. Marwin has filled in for Donaldson more than admirably. He’s hitting .304/.365/.429 in 63 plate appearances. Donaldson’s eventual return will take playing time from Marwin, ultimately diminishing his chances of winning team MVP. His exclusion from this list has nothing to do with production. He’s been outstanding.
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