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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

Kepler
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twinsnorth49
Sep 15 2019 10:22 PM
Keplanco.......followed by Crugers.
    • Otwins and Sconnie like this
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mickeymental
Sep 16 2019 12:03 AM

fun team, lots to like. but they woulda been sunk without rogers.

    • VATwinsFan likes this
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VivaBomboRivera!
Sep 16 2019 02:04 AM

Keeping my powder dry on this one until after the Division is clinched.

 

Until then, I invite the Twins Daily community to consider a related question.

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TheRealCupOfJoe
Sep 16 2019 06:16 AM

Max Kepler.Then Garver, then Cruz.

First half would have been Polanco. He and Kepler have been the most healthy and are both having great seasons. Cruz has missed too many games but he's still in the running. It's such a well-rounded team.

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Halsey Hall
Sep 16 2019 11:45 AM

It's a tough one.I'd go with Kepler, Cruz or Rogers.

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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Sep 16 2019 12:02 PM
Odd that Odorizzi was only mentioned in comments once and not at all of the article. And Eddie was only mentioned in passing in the comments and not in the article. I'm not saying either one of those guys are the MVP but they are certainly worthy of mention.
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flatlanddad
Sep 16 2019 12:28 PM

What about Buxton? I don't have time to look up the stats, but it seems that the team did the best in terms of W-L when he has been in the lineup. They've been able to hold on without him, but I'm betting the record with him out of the lineup is not as good as when he was in it.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 16 2019 12:48 PM

Kep for offense, defense. Cruz for being the heart and soul of this team. Second place in the "heart and soul" category is Gonzales.Third place for H & S category is La Tortuga for always hustling and keeping everyone loose. Falvey and Levine for assembling this group. Rocco for being in charge on the field. This has been a fun team to watch and to cheer for.

What about Buxton? I don't have time to look up the stats, but it seems that the team did the best in terms of W-L when he has been in the lineup. They've been able to hold on without him, but I'm betting the record with him out of the lineup is not as good as when he was in it.

It was a fun stat, and I ran with it as much as anyone, but it depends too much on a small sample of games relative to the full season, for my taste.

Odd that Odorizzi was only mentioned in comments once and not at all of the article. And Eddie was only mentioned in passing in the comments and not in the article. I'm not saying either one of those guys are the MVP but they are certainly worthy of mention.


Eddie Rosario has only an ever so slightly above league average OPS. And that league average includes catchers and shortstops and center fielders. I like Rosario, but I don't feel like his play is worthy of mention for team MVP.

 

What about Buxton? I don't have time to look up the stats, but it seems that the team did the best in terms of W-L when he has been in the lineup. They've been able to hold on without him, but I'm betting the record with him out of the lineup is not as good as when he was in it.

How can a guy who played in about half the games this year warrant any consideration?

 

It was a fun stat, and I ran with it as much as anyone, but it depends too much on a small sample of games relative to the full season, for my taste.

 

Take his last five appearances.The Twins won all five games, but he was only a late inning defensive replacement and had no impact whatsoever.Until we get anecdotal and actually point out instances where he saved runs in tight games and changed the outcome I find those numbers dubious

    • ashbury likes this

 

How can a guy who played in about half the games this year warrant any consideration?

Then we can count out Garver, probably Cruz, and Sano along with Buxton. None of which got a full season of playing time. That pretty much leaves Kepler the logical choice, with Polanco a close 2nd.

    • Juddcbrown likes this
I gave to go with Kepler in a very narrow win over Cruz. I do so because his numbers have been amazing, consistent and he has been clutch. Not to mention excellent defense, which included a primary position switch due to Buxton's injury

If Cruz had missed just a little less time, I probably would have gone with him even without playing a position just because I think he's made such a difference in the clubhouse, in the dugout and the lineup.

Take his last five appearances.The Twins won all five games, but he was only a late inning defensive replacement and had no impact whatsoever.Until we get anecdotal and actually point out instances where he saved runs in tight games and changed the outcome I find those numbers dubious

You can look at his game log on baseball-reference.com, and sort his games by which innings played, and the pattern for his full games is quite favorable. That makes it fun. It doesn't make it meaningful.

 

"A small statistical sample, as with flattery, is like cologne water, to be smelt, not swallowed." -- Josh Billings, sabrmetrician in the 19th century :)

 

I mean, just to be clear, we're in agreement, just saying it slightly differently.

Shocking no one, MAX! is my choice.

Kepler #1, Polanco #2, from there I'm not sure. 

You can look at his game log on baseball-reference.com, and sort his games by which innings played, and the pattern for his full games is quite favorable. That makes it fun. It doesn't make it meaningful.
 
"A small statistical sample, as with flattery, is like cologne water, to be smelt, not swallowed." -- Josh Billings, sabrmetrician in the 19th century :)
 
I mean, just to be clear, we're in agreement, just saying it slightly differently.


Yes, and I have done the sorts with his fielding stats. The most putouts he made in a game was nine and that was the game where he was injured and we lost anyway. It should also be noted he had 73 complete games this year and in 20 of them he made one putout or less. That's the thing with outfield defense. A player often doesn't get the opportunity to show their stuff, meanwhile he's taking four at bats in those games.

Defense matters but it can't matter as much as the offensive aspect of the game given the number of chances a player has defensively compared to offensively. In the field you aren't assured the opportunity to make plays but you will get your at bats

I really want to give it to Garver. His WAR per game is Troutian. Ruthian even! It's ridiculous.

 

And the Twins would be so screwed without him, giving Castro more starts than he should shoulder at this point, along with a bushel of starts to whoever is fourth on the depth chart at catcher this season, as Astudillo missed a big chunk due to injury, all the catcher reps.

 

Garver is likely a 4-5 win swing based on this roster. Berrios is probably the only other player that can come close to that kind of swing vs the next man up.

 

So I am going Garver. The best player per game has also been the most valuable.

Kepler.

It's one of those years in which the Twins MVY is the Twins Roster as a whole. Everyone has had their moments, everyone has been pretty consistent and played as a team. Even the now forgotten jettisoned bullpen arms (Magill, Parker, Morin) have been a part of the Twins getting to where they got. Talk about a TEAM EFFORT!

    • Brian450 likes this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 16 2019 10:02 PM

Cruz.

 

Although he's only the DH, other teams really do hate him coming up and his influence on Sano cannot be ignored. ("Are we having fun yet?") He seems to have this calming presence about him. You just know that it'll be a little bit better tomorrow so don't let it get to you.

 

Besides, he makes everyone better. The guy is 39 and he's going to drive in 100 runs and finish with an OPS of +.900 and hit above .290. (At the moment .299 vs. RHP and .298 vs LHP.) He seems to rarely sink into long slumps, and he just looks like a professional.

Polanco - for these reasons:He's been durable, dependable and no denying his improved defense... followed closely by Kepler (who looks to be on the cusp of superstardom), Garver (how many big hits has he given us?) and Cruz (great for leadership ala Don Baylor, but wow, this man gives us a PRESENCE in the lineup!). 


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