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Who is the Twins Team MVP?

2019 has been a bit of a Hollywood season for the Minnesota Twins. After finishing 2018 with a record below .500, and losing a player who has been the franchise’s cornerstone for the last 15 years, Joe Mauer, expectations were tempered heading into the season. Then, from almost the moment the season got underway, it was obvious that this Twins team was something special. However, unlike many great teams, the Twins don’t really have a clear-cut guy who is leading the charge for them night in and night out, but rather they feast on the fact that they can get production from seemingly anywhere. So, that begs the question, who is the Twins MVP for 2019?
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
To 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.

Max Kepler

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

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).

Nelson Cruz

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.

Taylor Rogers

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.

Jorge Polanco

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.

Mitch Garver

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.

Miguel Sano

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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51 Comments

Romo gave us hope and the bullpen’s improvement seems to have coincided with his arrival.

Kepler and Polanco for offense and defense.

Cruz for nickname, offense, and leadership.

Kepler gets the nod for 5 straight homers off Bauer, sending him packing to the NL. Sweet Schadenfreude to last years.
    • SQUIRREL likes this

Cruz.

 

I think his presence has done a lot to help people like Sano figure it out.

    • brvama, SF Twins Fan, DannySD and 3 others like this
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MMMordabito
Sep 15 2019 08:59 AM
Kepler gets my vote.
    • Twins33 and Juddcbrown like this

Cruz.
 
I think his presence has done a lot to help people like Sano figure it out.


Agreed. I think Romo did the same thing with the bullpen. Maybe his infectious positivity?
    • Blake and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Luis Arraez deserves mention too. The man can hit, and he made his presence known just as the bats were cooling off.

Hmm, in reading through the comments, perhaps it's been a team effort, which means the entire team should be an MVP?

 

Ehire hit the game winning home run against Verlander.

 

Sano's slam was huge.

 

Perez shutting out Houston was huge.

 

The last start by Berrios was huge.

 

Cruz getting the Twins within striking distance last night was huge.

 

Rogers figuring it out was huge.

 

May figuring it out was huge.

 

Duffy figuring it out was huge.

 

Then, the FO bringing up Arraez, which was completely unexpected was huge.

 

Baldelli's "protect the players and even keel" seems to have been huge.

 

The Twins staying in the race, while losing a bunch of key players at the same time, says a lot.

 

This team has had so many memorable moments all year, trying to single out one thing and player that stands out is hard.

 

Yes, I mentioned Cruz, but, rightly so, the addition of Romo was mentioned.

 

I remain cautiously optimistic the Twins win the division.

 

Crud, I just wrote a game thread opener I should have saved. :)

    • Dantes929, Oldgoat_MN and woolywoolhouse like this

I would not include Berrios. Duffey and Arraez deserve to be mentioned.

I'm going to wait til game 162. There have been a lot of heros. If we go 9-5 it will be a 100 win season. Nice tidy number.

 

Sano--yes his large k-count is frustrating to fans who watch everyday, for sure. And we talk about it, complain about it...BUT in baseball, its often not 'how many, but when'. You can go 1-5 with 4 k's, but if the 'one' is a game winning HR in the 9th, you can forget the k's, right? If a guy's biggest hits, even if they are infrequent, all seem to be game deciders, how valuable is he? Ans: Very.

 

Which is why often 'conventional stats' don't tell the complete story. Last year Red Wings 'best' hitter wasVasquez. Everyone not really following the team thought he was so good....yet most of his hits and HR's came after the Wings were out of contention. When they still were, he hit around .150.

 

Props to Sano yesterday. A huge hit. And a meaningful one.

Definitely hard to choose which is a great sign. I would Rogers, Garver then Kepler. Rogers came through in the first half when our bullpen was atrocious and bought time to get it fixed

Kepler. 

    • Twins33 likes this
This is hard, but it sure is Not a pitcher...I think Cruz because he seems to be the leader of this team (sorry Rocco). I still think Eddie is our best outfielder. And I will give Max best looking trophy.

If the season ended now I think I would choose Nelson Cruz. I'm not in the clubhouse but if I had to guess I think he's the straw that stirs the drink. He's been a monster with the bat and has been unfazed dealing with pennant pressure and injury and it positively affects everyone else. The man comes to play.

 

Probably some "he's the new guy and we didn't play this well before" bias here. Maybe pull a "Chili Davis" (free agent signed to play DH in 1991 and have a huge year) and Twins go to the World Series.

 

Miguel Sano for MLB Comeback Player of the Year.

    • Doctor Wu, DannySD, Aerodeliria and 2 others like this

I would tend to rank it Kepler, Rogers, Cruz, Polanco but come on. With the article and all the comments I don't see Odorizzi's name once?Better ERA, W-L, FIP, ERA+ than Berrios. Innings per start is his only flaw.Huge 7 innings shutout against Verlander and the Astros. Huge win against Cleveland for our only win in the last series with them.Twins won 8 of his last 9 starts at a time when Berrios was struggling, Gibson was sick, Perez was inconsistent and Pineda was being suspended.I think I put him at #5 with an inclination to put him higher still. 

    • SQUIRREL, Oldgoat_MN and SF Twins Fan like this
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ToddlerHarmon
Sep 15 2019 01:03 PM
I don't know, but it is gratifying that the top two WAR performers were both signed to cheap, long-term contracts this winter right before breaking into all-star production levels.

Gratifying for future competitiveness by itself, but also gratifying as evidence of the front office's skills in identifying talent.
    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
Kepler
Kep

Individual honors on a team that prides itself on its selfless team spirit?

 

I assume the winner would not accept the award!

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
Polanco.
    • Brian450 likes this
Polanco, Cruz, or Rogers...how’s that for narrowing it down?
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 15 2019 04:57 PM

This is hard... I guess that's a good thing.

 

I lean towards Garver and Polanco, given they are both playing premium D positions where offense tends to be depressed, and they are destroying those roles offensively while doing decent defensively. Big draw back on Garver is that he doesn't play enough... though to be fair, I don't understand why he hasn't gotten time at 1B during Cron's various DL stints.

    • Brian450 likes this
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LeatherAntenna
Sep 15 2019 05:34 PM
Kepler, without a doubt has blossomed into something special. I see next year another jump into elite MLB company.
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Tom Froemming
Sep 15 2019 05:46 PM

Not a slam dunk, but I'd go Max.

Kepler, not only because of his offense, but also that he had to change positions defensively as well and has done a great job!
    • IndianaTwin and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Polanco for me.

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IndianaTwin
Sep 15 2019 07:58 PM

Kepler, not only because of his offense, but also that he had to change positions defensively as well and has done a great job!


That’s exactly where I was going. With Buxton’s injury, he had to switch positions and didn’t slow down offensively.

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