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Article: Twins Daily Awards 2017: Most Valuable Player

brian dozier byron buxton ervin santana joe mauer eddie rosario
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 06:00 AM

We know that Major League Baseball keeps its definition of “valuable” as in “Most Valuable Player” intentionally vague. While many believe that it is an attempt to keep people talking about it longer, it is also simply because people define value in different ways. Some believe it should be an award simply given to the best player. Others will argue that other intangibles such as leadership and clutchness should factor in. Some believe that an MVP should be part of a playoff team. Others think that it should be a player from a team that at least contended for a playoff spot. Others don’t care about team’s success in an MVP discussion.

As it relates to a team MVP - as opposed to a team’s MVP - other factors can come into play as well. Some may be statistical. Others may be perceived leadership or a willingness to answer the tough questions from the media following a good or bad game.

Fortunately for the Twins, and their fans, in 2017 the Twins had several players that made big improvements and factor into consideration for Twins 2017 MVP. Today we announce our panel’s choice for team MVP.

Congratulations to the Twins Daily 2017 Twins Most Valuable Player, Brian Dozier!For the third straight year, the Twins Daily Twins MVP goes to their second baseman, Brian Dozier. In 2015, the Twin Cities media voted Miguel Sano team MVP while Dozier received the Twins Daily nod. In 2016, Dozier hit 42 home runs for a 103-loss team to be the easy choice for MVP.

In 2017, the choice was much more difficult because there was not a shortage of candidates.


THE OFFENSE

Offensively, Brian Dozier led the way. He was the Twins leader in many statistical categories including:

Games Player (152)
Plate Appearances (705, 108 more than the next)
Runs (106, went over the century mark for the fourth stretch season)
Hits (166)
Home Runs (34)
RBI (93)
Walks (78, including six intentional)
Hit By Pitch (8)

All of that out of the leadoff spot. He did a good job of getting on base and providing power and production.

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While we knew that it was likely that Dozier would regress from his 42-home runs season, it could be argued that his 2017 season was more impressive. It’s always more important to see that kind of production when the team is experiencing success, including such a dramatic improvement year-over-year. Dozier’s 1.51 WPA was a career-high.

Dozier also led the team in wRC+ (124) and wOBA (.361). His Offensive WAR (from FanGraphs) was 24.2. The next Twins player on the list was at 11.0. While he finished behind Byron Buxton and Ervin Santana in bWAR, Dozier led the team in fWAR at 4.9.

Dozier finished second to Miguel Sano in OPS (.853) and OPS+ (126 vs 127 for Sano). He was also second only to Byron Buxton in Stolen Bases with 16.


OTHER IMPROVEMENTS

Brian Dozier turned 30 years old in May but still found areas to improve. Over the last three seasons, Dozier has improved his ability to use the whole field. In 2015, he pulled the ball 60.2% of the time, hit the ball to center 24.2% of the time and to the opposite field just 15.6% of the time. In 2016, his opposite field percentage was about the same (15.3%), but his pull percentage dropped to 56.4% and his hits to center bumped up those 4% to 28.3% In 2017, his pull percentage dropped to 50.4%. His percentage to centerfield bumped up another 4% to 32% His Opposite field number jumped up to 17.6% While that may seem inconsequential, it was clear there were several times that he put the ball in play with two outs, punching a single past the infield shift to drive in a run. He also hit more home runs to right field.

Also, he swung at 23.4% of pitches outside the strike zone, an improvement of five to six percentage points from where he had been the previous seasons. As we saw with Eddie Rosario, that seemingly small difference can make a huge difference in production.


DEFENSE

While Dozier’s range statistics aren’t at the top of any lists, his ability to make the plays that he gets to continues to improve. He had just five errors on the entire season. His defensive WAR stats put him at league average. Combined with his offense, that is a very valuable trait.


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LEADERSHIP

When Torii Hunter retired following the 2015 season, some questioned who would take over the helm as the leader of the Twins clubhouse. Hunter himself also noted that Dozier had the qualities to be a great leader.

But leadership takes time and isn’t (or shouldn’t be) handed to anyone. It took time. But in 2017, it was clear that Brian Dozier was the leader of the Twins clubhouse. It isn't just because he is great with the media and willing to talk about good or bad.

Sure, leadership can be unquantifiable. You can’t put a number value to it, but it’s also clear that it is a very important intangible necessary on any team. In early September, Nick wrote an article on how Brian Dozier took the lead.

The Twins traded both Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline. Dozier spoke out, unafraid to say how disappointed he was, but also specifically saying that he and the team would prove a lot of people wrong. “Book it!” it what he would often say.

It’s fun to hear a player make that kind of bold statement, but Dozier backed it up. In August, he hit .319/.419/.603 (1.023). In September, he hit .298/.393/.596 (.990). That’s putting a team on your back.

But don’t discount what it means to players for him to acknowledge them in postgame interviews for doing their job. For instance, remember Dozier’s huge eighth-inning, three-run homer in Cleveland to give the Twins a lead and help drop their Magic Number to one. Before Dozier’s at bat, Niko Goodrum had pinch run at first base. On a single, Goodrum advanced to third base. Dozier allowed him to score easily with the home run, but in the postgame, he talked about how important it was for Goodrum to get to third base, making Dozier’s only job to get a ball up in the zone and drive it to the outfield.

That isn’t the first time he’s done that. He pushed teammates. He encourages them through these types of means, not to mention what he does behind clubhouse doors.

He worked hard with Jorge Polanco, his double play partner, giving him confidence when things were going well, but especially when Polanco went through a tough stretch. Dozier led the way in discussing how the Twins wouldn’t have won a lot of early-season games without the defense of Byron Buxton, even when Buxton was struggling at the plate. He backed pitchers when they had their rough stretches.

For all those reasons, Brian Dozier was the Twins 2017 MVP. It is just nice to see that being the case for a playoff team where many players had strong, productive seasons.


CANDIDATES

Byron Buxton, who was our choice for Most Improved Player in 2017, made the vote quite close. Because of his status as best defensive outfielder in baseball, his Wins Above Replacement statistics are very high. His bWAR was a team-top 5.1, just ahead of Ervin Santana and Dozier. And there is a sense that when Buxton plays well and hits at all, his abilities carry the team.

Ervin Santana, our choice for Twins Best Pitcher in 2017, gave the Twins exactly what they needed early in the season. During the season’s first two months, he was unhittable. He threw complete games and shutouts, he hardly gave up base runners, much less runs. He was a deserving All Star and won some big games down the stretch.

Joe Mauer put together his best season, by far, since his concussion in 2013. He returned to form, hitting over .300 and was among the league leaders in on-base percentage. He also played a gold-glove caliber first base.

Eddie Rosario figured out a way to swing at less pitches and in doing so, he showed how dangerous he can be as a hitter. For long periods of time, he carried the Twins offense. He had a career-high 27 home runs and some of them were very clutch.

When he was hurt in mid-August, Miguel Sano was a likely MVP candidate for the Twins due to his power and production. He also showed that he can be a very good defensive third baseman if he wants to be.


THE BALLOTS

Here's a look at the ballots from each of our nine voters. Opinions varied greatly on this one. Four players got first-place votes and seven players got votes.

Seth Stohs: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Joe Mauer, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Ervin Santana
Nick Nelson: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Miguel Sano, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Joe Mauer
Parker Hageman: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Eddie Rosario, 4) Ervin Santana, 5) Jose Berrios
John Bonnes: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Joe Mauer, 3) Brian Dozier, 4) Byron Buxton, 5) Miguel Sano
Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Joe Mauer, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Brian Dozier, 5) Eddie Rosario
Cody Christie: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Joe Mauer, 4) Miguel Sano, 5) Ervin Santana
Steve Lien: 1) Brian Dozier, 2) Byron Buxton, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Eddie Rosario, 5) Miguel Sano
Tom Froemming: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Eddie Rosario, 4) Byron Buxton, 5) Joe Mauer
Ted Schwerzler: 1) Byron Buxton, 2) Brian Dozier, 3) Ervin Santana, 4) Miguel Sano, 5) Jose Berrios


POINTS

Brian Dozier: 37
Byron Buxton: 34
Ervin Santana: 23
Joe Mauer: 16
Eddie Rosario: 13
Miguel Sano: 9
Jose Berrios: 2

Do you agree with our committee's pick? Who would be your choice for Twins Most Valuable Player and why?


PREVIOUS TWINS DAILY MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

2015: Brian Dozier
2016: Brian Dozier


2017 TWINS DAILY AWARDS

2017 Most Improved: Byron Buxton
2017 Rookie of the Year: Trevor Hildenberger
2017 Pitcher of the Year: Ervin Santana
2017 Most Valuable Player: Brian Dozier

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#2 mazeville

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 06:22 AM

Can't fully argue with it. I'd personally say Buxton is the MVP, simply because his defense almost single handedly turned the team from a bad defensive team into a good defensive team. Also, his hitting really came on this year.

 

Mauer was also a stud this year on both sides of the ball, and his defense saved an awful lot of errors over there at first. 

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#3 Carole Keller

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:53 AM

Can't fully argue with it. I'd personally say Buxton is the MVP, simply because his defense almost single handedly turned the team from a bad defensive team into a good defensive team. Also, his hitting really came on this year.

Mauer was also a stud this year on both sides of the ball, and his defense saved an awful lot of errors over there at first.

Concur. But as you said, can't really argue it, either. I couldn't really argue any choice in this category of the main contenders. It all depends on how you weight everything. And while no one category is more important than the other, imo, I still put a higher weight on defense, and this year I'd still say Buxton or Mauer were more valuable overall.
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#4 USAFChief

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:54 AM

Dozier, by quite a bit.Buxton a distant second.

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#5 ashburyjohn

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:54 AM

I don't have an exact definition of "Valuable" either, but for me it comes down to a couple of things. Who was most indispensible this year? Who would get the most interest from other GMs if you offered a trade? Either definition of valuable leads me to Buxton, with Santana a respectable second.

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#6 USAFChief

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:57 AM

 

Concur. But as you said, can't really argue it, either. I couldn't really argue any choice in this category of the main contenders. It all depends on how you weight everything. And while no one category is more important than the other, imo, I still put a higher weight on defense, and this year I'd still say Buxton or Mauer were more valuable overall.

Among other things, both Buxton and Mauer had significantly less playing time than Dozier.

 

 

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#7 Carole Keller

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:58 AM

Among other things, both Buxton and Mauer had significantly less playing time than Dozier.


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#8 Halsey Hall

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 09:05 AM

Buxton's and Mauer's defense certainly can't be overlooked.Mauer saved a ton of errors over at first base, and he hit as we know he can.I'd rate Mauer higher, but do agree on Dozier. 

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#9 stringer bell

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 09:24 AM

I agree with the selection. Twins broadcasters said that BD had a better year this year. I wouldn't go that far, but he was very good. I think his overall contribution puts him near elite, with only Altuve being clearly superior to him at his position. There is something to be said for his durability, as well. Since he became a regular st second base, he's logged far more games and plate appearances than anyone on the Twins and I don't know of anyone else in MLB that has over 2800 plate appearances in the last four years. Dozier's ability to adjust (use the whole field, chase fewer pitches) bodes well for the future.
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#10 Twinsoholic

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 09:43 AM

How did Escobar not make anyone's list? Truly overlooked contributions from Mighty Mouse--particularly when Sano went on the DL. I suspect he would be mentioned a lot for MVP if you polled the players.

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#11 ashburyjohn

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:01 AM

Among other things, both Buxton and Mauer had significantly less playing time than Dozier.

The team's results during Buxton's time out of the lineup might be an argument in his favor. :)

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#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:16 AM

 

I don't have an exact definition of "Valuable" either, but for me it comes down to a couple of things. Who was most indispensible this year? Who would get the most interest from other GMs if you offered a trade? Either definition of valuable leads me to Buxton, with Santana a respectable second.

 

I guess I would respectfully disagree with this. To me, there is a huge difference between 'value to a team' and 'trade value.' I mean, otherwise Nick Gordon might be more valuable than Brian Dozier at this stage. 

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#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:17 AM

 

Buxton's and Mauer's defense certainly can't be overlooked.Mauer saved a ton of errors over at first base, and he hit as we know he can.I'd rate Mauer higher, but do agree on Dozier. 

 

Correct... their defense certainly plays into their value... hopefully the Gold Glove voters will agree with us on Mauer and Buxton. 


#14 Tom Froemming

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:55 AM

 

How did Escobar not make anyone's list? Truly overlooked contributions from Mighty Mouse--particularly when Sano went on the DL. I suspect he would be mentioned a lot for MVP if you polled the players.

Problem is you could say the same thing for 7-8 guys this year. Who do you take out of the top 5 to put Escobar in? What does your top 5 look like?


#15 Twinsoholic

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 11:56 AM

Hi Tom,

 

Good question. The 5 players I would have (not necessarily in this order) are:

 

Rosario

Escobar

Dozier

Buxton

Mauer

 

I realize a great case can be made for Santana, but he pitches every 5th day and seemed to be more dominant in the 1st half of the season than in the second half.

 

It is a good thing that there are so many Twins players who had large impacts on the success this season.

 

If he had not been traded in late July Kintzler would no doubt be a top 5 Twins player. Perhaps the case should be made that he still should be edging out some on the lists that started this thread.

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#16 ashburyjohn

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 12:20 PM

I guess I would respectfully disagree with this. To me, there is a huge difference between 'value to a team' and 'trade value.

Yeah, you're right. I was looking for a (quasi-)analytic way to cross-check what my eye tells me, but trade value is too bound up in future value too. And I don't know how to imagine what a GM would "pay" for just one season in isolation, of Dozier versus Buxton versus everyone else, so never mind about that at all.

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#17 drjim

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 01:57 PM

 

Yeah, you're right. I was looking for a (quasi-)analytic way to cross-check what my eye tells me, but trade value is too bound up in future value too. And I don't know how to imagine what a GM would "pay" for just one season in isolation, of Dozier versus Buxton versus everyone else, so never mind about that at all.

 

Not only future value, but contract and years of control along with where they are in their career (upside, peak, downside) factor into trade value.

 

I do think the question of who had the most valuable season based on how much they are paid is very interesting, but perhaps not the question that is being answered in this award? If so, I would think Berrios was much more valuable than Santana, for example, considering Santana made 25x the salary.

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#18 Parker Hageman

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 02:11 PM

While Dozier’s range statistics aren’t at the top of any lists, his ability to make the plays that he gets to continues to improve. He had just five errors on the entire season. His defensive WAR stats put him at league average. Combined with his offense, that is a very valuable trait.

 

 

I don't think this is quite the right assessment of Dozier's defensive contributions when it comes to the statistic side of it. The part about him converting plays on the ones he gets to is accurate but I think the defensive metrics paint him in a different light.

 

I'll start by saying I do not have a complete trust in the advanced defensive metrics. Each of them have a different flaw while all of them have the flaw of sample size. That being said, when you look at them in aggregate, the picture painted is not one of a league average defender but rather a below-to-slightly below average one.

 

1. Dozier had -4 Defensive Runs Saved (one of the lowest among starting second basemen) with only Brad Miller, Neil Walker, Starlin Castro, Brandon Phillips, Scooter Gennett, Joe Panik and Daniel Murphy as starters with lower DRS.

 

2. Ultimate Zone Rating has him at -1.3 runs, or 13th among all second basemen with a minimum of 700 innings. 

 

3. His Revised Zone Rating (how many balls in the second base zone he converts into outs) was .774, 8th. 

 

4. Inside Edge metrics say he's great at the 100%-ers but OK at both the 50-90%-ers (79.3% conversion rate) and the 40-60%-ers (52.4% conversion rate). 

 

In terms of #2-#3 the amount of times Dozier shifts has an influence on where those numbers go. For instance, for RZR out-of-zone plays Dozier leads the league with 99 plays made but that doesn't take into account a defensive shift. Inside Edge's stats do which shows that he's not making those plays with his feet. 

 

I think Dozier does a lot of things right that don't get measured by these stats (makes some of the best forehand/backhand plays in the game) but, in sum, we need to accept that he's not great at getting to plays. 

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#19 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:23 PM

 

I don't think this is quite the right assessment of Dozier's defensive contributions when it comes to the statistic side of it. The part about him converting plays on the ones he gets to is accurate but I think the defensive metrics paint him in a different light.

 

I'll start by saying I do not have a complete trust in the advanced defensive metrics. Each of them have a different flaw while all of them have the flaw of sample size. That being said, when you look at them in aggregate, the picture painted is not one of a league average defender but rather a below-to-slightly below average one.

 

1. Dozier had -4 Defensive Runs Saved (one of the lowest among starting second basemen) with only Brad Miller, Neil Walker, Starlin Castro, Brandon Phillips, Scooter Gennett, Joe Panik and Daniel Murphy as starters with lower DRS.

 

2. Ultimate Zone Rating has him at -1.3 runs, or 13th among all second basemen with a minimum of 700 innings. 

 

3. His Revised Zone Rating (how many balls in the second base zone he converts into outs) was .774, 8th. 

 

4. Inside Edge metrics say he's great at the 100%-ers but OK at both the 50-90%-ers (79.3% conversion rate) and the 40-60%-ers (52.4% conversion rate). 

 

In terms of #2-#3 the amount of times Dozier shifts has an influence on where those numbers go. For instance, for RZR out-of-zone plays Dozier leads the league with 99 plays made but that doesn't take into account a defensive shift. Inside Edge's stats do which shows that he's not making those plays with his feet. 

 

I think Dozier does a lot of things right that don't get measured by these stats (makes some of the best forehand/backhand plays in the game) but, in sum, we need to accept that he's not great at getting to plays. 

 

I feel like if I would have replaced "aren't at the top of any lists" with "are average to a little bit below average," I would have saved you a lot of words.

 

I think what I was trying to say is this: "We" have often said that with Buxton's defense alone, he can be a valuable player even if he's just an average or slightly below average hitter. Likewise, with Dozier, with his offense, if he can be an average or slightly below average second baseman defensively, that's a really valuable player. 

 

And I think that's shown by both of their bWAR and fWAR numbers... and other things too, I'm sure. 


#20 Sconnie

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 08:19 PM

Leadership clearly has value in sports and in professions. Much like professions, sports struggles to try and fail at quantifying leadership.

BD has been outspoken about GM decisions in the past.

This year's comments regarding the mini-sell followed suit, however his public message this year was a little more mature. Clearly unhappy with the situation, but more focused on a "defiantly positive" outcome, rather than a feeling of being slighted.

He was more team behavior focused rather than individual emotion focused.

While still struggling with quantification, I feel like his improved leadership behaviors more than balance out his slight fielding deficiency.

Man it's great to see him grip it and rip it. 34 home run season following a 42 home run season!

Edited by Sconnie, 12 October 2017 - 08:20 PM.




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