Who is the Twins Team MVP?
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsTo unpack this question, I am going to present a few names of the guys that I think are the most deserving candidates for this award, and make a case for each. Then, we will let you guys decide, in the comment section down below, who you think the Twins MVP is. Note, these players are listed in no particular order, and are not necessarily in the order of how I would vote.
The talent that Max Kepler has for the game of baseball has been obvious for years now. However, that talent never really translated to a ton of success as a big leaguer. Sure, he was a solid, league average, right-fielder, but at the end of every season, he left you wanting a little more. This year, Max Kepler has brought that little more. His 4.4 fWAR ranks first among all Twins players, and his 4.1 bWAR ranks second. Kepler also leads all Twins players with a Win Probability Added of 3.01 (per Fangraphs). This doesn’t come as a big surprise, as he was seemingly the only Twins hitter coming through in clutch situations during the middle part of the season.
Jose Berrios has been a rock star in the Twins rotation for most of the season. His little dip during the month of August is the only thing holding him out of the conversation as a top-three finisher in the AL Cy Young voting. Overall, his numbers are still excellent. Across 181 innings, Berrios has a 3.63 ERA and a 3.9 fWAR, which is a number that has been only surpassed by four other Twins pitchers in a single season since 2000 (Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, Brad Radke and Phil Hughes).
While it might be weird to have a DH in the debate for team MVP, it would be even weirder to leave Nelson Cruz’s name off this list. Cruz has been not only the best hitter in this Twins lineup, but one of the best hitters in all of major league baseball. His 1.001 OPS ranks fifth among all qualified hitters in 2019. He has also paced the way on this historic, home run-hitting ball club, with 37 round trippers of his own.
In the months leading up to the trade deadline, pretty much the only reliever who Rocco Baldelli could count on to get crucial outs late in ballgames was Taylor Rogers, which is something he has done incredibly well. Among the 160 qualified MLB relievers, Rogers’ 2.89 Win Probability Added ranks fourth. Now with a bullpen deep enough to complement Rogers, he can be saved to pitch in only the highest leverage situations to maximize his talent down the stretch.
In the first half of the season, Jorge Polanco appeared to be the runaway favorite as the Twins Team MVP. This hot start led him to getting the nod as the American League starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. Polanco’s bat, and fielding abilities have tapered off somewhat in the second half, but you can’t ignore his overall performance. Polanco leads the Twins by a comfortable margin in bWAR, at 5.5, and ranks fifth among all qualified MLB shortstops with a wRC+ of 124.
In 2019, Mitch Garver has put together an historically great season for a catcher. His 30 home runs, hit in games that he was catching, is the most by a Twins catcher in team history, and he’s done so in just 328 plate appearances across 85 games, as he has been splitting time with Jason Castro behind the plate. To give you some perspective on what kind on home run pace that is, if Garver had as many plate appearances as Mike Trout this season, and hit home runs at that same pace as he has been, Garver would have 55 home runs this season, easily leading the way in major league baseball.
While Miguel Sano hasn’t been with the Twins for the entire season, he has still put up some great numbers. Sano has also hit some of the most dramatic home runs in recent memory for the Twins organization, including last night’s grand slam to put away almost any hopes of the Cleveland Indians catching the Twins in the race for the American League Central title. Given all the struggles and criticism he went through in 2018, to bounce back like he has in 2019 is nothing short of remarkable.
As we can see, there are a bunch of players who deserve some recognition as the MVP on one of the best teams in Twins history. Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Who do you think is the MVP of the 2019 Minnesota Twins? Is there anyone you think I left off the list? If so, feel free to make a case for that player as the Twins MVP.
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