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NOTEBOOK: Diamond Awards Winners, Managerial Finalists and Prospect Grades


Brandon Warne

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This is an excerpt of an article that appears in full here at Zone Coverage.

 

The Minnesota Twins announced their 2018 Diamond Award winners late last week. The Diamond Awards are presented every year on the eve of TwinsFest at a banquet held at Target Field, and the upcoming presentation will be the 14th time they've been handed out.

 

Here are the awards, as voted on by the Twin Cities chapter of the BBWAA:

 

Calvin R. Griffith Award (Most Valuable Player): Eddie Rosario

 

Rosario built off a strong 2017 season by having a particularly good start to 2018 before the end of his season was waylaid by shoulder and quad issues. After hitting .290/.328/.507 in 2017, Rosario hit .311/.353/.537 in the first half before slumping to just .240/.262/.361 in the second half.

 

Joseph W. Haynes Award (Pitcher of the Year): Jose Berrios

 

Even with a bit of a late-season fade -- 4.74 August ERA, 4.40 in September -- Berrios took another step toward establishing himself as the cornerstone of the Twins rotation. Berrios posted a 3.84 ERA, a slight improvement on 2017's 3.89, but added a strikeout per nine innings, kept his walk rate stable and dropped his WHIP while being selected to his first All-Star team.

 

Despite all these accolades, the workaholic righty will still open 2019 just 24 years old, with still more room to grow.

 

Bill Boni Award (Most Outstanding Rookie): Jake Cave

 

Cave was acquired by the Twins in Spring Training for minor-league pitcher Luis Gil, and after a slow start at Triple-A Rochester came up and provided some thunder to an offense desperate for it. With players like Brian Dozier and pretty much everyone other than Rosario and Eduardo Escobar off to slow starts, Cave provided a nice shot in the arm with 13 homers in just 309 plate appearances with a slash line of .269/.316/.481.

The jury is out on if he can handle a full-season worth of playing time -- added defensive value or plate discipline would make him a slam-dunk everyday player -- but after seeing the Twins give reps to replacement outfielders like Jordan Schafer, Logan Schafer and Clete Thomas in recent years, Cave's emergence was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dreadful season.

 

Jim Kaat Award (Defensive Player of the Year): Max Kepler

 

It certainly bolstered his case when Byron Buxton went down more or less for the season in late May, but Kepler did a nice job in right field for a team that otherwise didn't have a ton of defensive stability.

Defense can be hard to nail down from a value standpoint, but new defensive metrics released by Statcast called "Directional Outs Above Average" attempts to quantify how good a player is at going in each direction an outfielder can move.

 

By that measure, Kepler was 12th among outfielders with a plus-10 rating and had a zero or positive mark in each of the six directions listed.

 

Dick Siebert Award (Upper Midwest Player of the Year), Bob Allison Award (Heart, Hustle, Etc.): Joe Mauer

 

The Siebert Award is often up for discussion among writers since it's more geographically-specific rather than Twins-specific. Non-Twins names who are also frequently mentioned are Jeremy Hellickson (Des Moines native), Tony Watson (Sioux City, Iowa) and a few others, but in this case, Mauer was kind of the easy pick with how the season ended and how it became clear he was at least seriously considering retirement. Not that the Siebert Award is some kind of magical send-off, but it's a nice honor for a player who has meant a heck of a lot to the baseball in the area.

As for the Allison Award, it's hard to imagine giving it to anyone else after this season.

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