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  • Twins Daily Awards 2017: Best Pitcher


    Nick Nelson

    We had some tough choices to make in our Twins Daily Awards polling for Most Improved and Rookie of the Year. The decision for Best Pitcher was... considerably easier.

     

    Ervin Santana unsurprisingly swept the ballots with arguably the best campaign by a Twins starter since that other Santana guy left town.

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today

    The last time we saw Big Erv take the mound this year, it wasn't pretty. He was an erratic mess at Yankee Stadium in the AL Wild Card Game, instantly coughing up Minnesota's first-inning lead and exiting after two frames.

     

    But the Twins never would have reached that unexpected point without Santana's steady work atop the rotation all summer. Not a chance. He was far-and-away the team's most valuable and effective pitcher. Only Jose Berrios came close, and while he earned every second-place vote in our ballots, the much-improved young righty was a very distant second by any measure.

     

    Santana's 3.28 ERA was not only the best in the rotation this year, edging Berrios by more than half a run, but the best mark by a qualifying Twins starter since Johan's 2.77 in 2006.

     

    On a staff that desperately needed innings from starters to protect an iffy bullpen, Santana threw 211 innings – most since Carl Pavano's 222 in 2011, and 50 more than 2017 runner-up Kyle Gibson.

     

    Santana's five complete games and three shutouts both led baseball – in fact, only one team (Cleveland) had more complete games and none had more shutouts.

     

    Santana's WHIP (1.13) and BAA (.225) were the lowest of his career, and both ranked fifth among AL starters. He posted his best walk rate since 2008, finishing on a strong note with just four walks over 35 innings in September.

     

    It was a masterful age-34 season for Santana, who has proven to be a resoundingly successful free agent signing, perhaps the best in franchise history. Defying the conventional effects of age, Erv has only gotten better as his contract has progressed and he's entered his mid-30s. As long as he can continue to stay healthy while commanding his solid fastball and excellent slider, he should be ready to bring it again next year.

     

    Hopefully a young starter like Berrios or Adalberto Mejia – or a newcomer acquired this offseason – will be able to give Santana a run for his money in this category, however.

     

    THE BALLOTS

     

    Here's a look at the ballots from each of our nine voters. There was zero disagreement over the top two choices, and Twins Daily's Rookie of the Year winner was very well represented despite throwing only 42 innings.

     

    Seth Stohs: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Trevor Hildenberger, 4) Taylor Rogers

    Nick Nelson: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Trevor Hildenberger, 4) Kyle Gibson

    Parker Hageman: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Bartolo Colon, 4) Brandon Kintzler

    John Bonnes: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Brandon Kintzler, 4) Trevor Hildenberger

    Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Taylor Rogers, 4) Brandon Kintzler

    Cody Christie: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Brandon Kintzler, 4) Taylor Rogers

    Steve Lien: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Trevor Hildenberger, 4) Brandon Kintzler

    Tom Froemming: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Adalberto Mejia, 4) Kyle Gibson

    Ted Schwerzler: 1) Ervin Santana, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Trevor Hildenberger, 4) Matt Belisle

     

    POINTS

     

    Ervin Santana: 36

    Jose Berrios: 27

    Trevor Hildenberger: 9

    Brandon Kintzler: 7

    Taylor Rogers: 4

    Kyle Gibson: 2

    Bartolo Colon: 2

    Adalberto Mejia: 2

    Matt Belisle: 1

     

    Do you agree with our committee's pick? Who would be your choice for Best Twins Pitcher and why?

     

     

    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: Thursday


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    Can't argue with the best pitcher of the year in 2017. That said, I had high hopes coming into this year for Trevor May, as well as Gibson, to be able to help in the rotation. Gibson was really good (better than Santana to some extent) for the August and September push. Hopefully the rotation as a whole is better 2018 ongoing.

     

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    "Easy" based on old school measures like the ones mentioned, but based on others it was close.

     

    fWAR: Santana 2.9, Berrios 2.8

    FIP: Berrios 3.84, Santana 4.46
    K%: Berrios 22.6%, Santana 19.3%
    K-BB%: Berrios 21.1%, Santana 12.3%

     

    And you can fairly easily see Santana's drivers for decreased WHIP and ERA:

     

    BABIP: Santana .245, Berrios .289
    LOB%: Santana 79.5%, Berrios .70.8%

     

    Santana was most valuable to the Twins, but slightly so based of fWAR, and Berrios pitched better than Santana this season, just not as much as Santana did.

    Edited by Thrylos
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    This is a fascinating year.  I agree with all three of the selections so far and have a hard time thinking that there was any controversy in any of them.  Lots of good stories, but the choices seem obvious.  

     

    MVP looks like the controversy only because no one can really define what an MVP is.

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    I don't think that a guy with a 4.46 FIP, 4.77 xFIP, really was the best pitcher on the team. His BABIP was 37 points lower than his career average, 40 points lower than the previous couple of years. For the first month or two, it was something crazy like .200. I'd say this was mostly good luck and outfield defense. He was lucky with his LOB%, too--the highest rate of his career, and in the rotation, at 79.5%.

     

    Berrios was the best pitcher in the rotation. Hildenberger has a case if we want to consider relievers.

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    I'm old school enough to think IP really matters a lot for a SP over the course of a regular season. 65+ is a massive enough difference to easily overcome the slightly better rate stats of Berrios. Easy choice.

    Of course, we’ll never know what might have been different about Berrios’ season if he had started the year at the MLB level instead of being “punished” in the words of some and sent to AAA for participating in a MLB endorsed, indeed MLB CREATED, event.

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    "Easy" based on old school measures like the ones mentioned, but based on others it was close.

     

    fWAR: Santana 2.9, Berrios 2.8

    FIP: Berrios 3.84, Santana 4.46
    K%: Berrios 22.6%, Santana 19.3%
    K-BB%: Berrios 21.1%, Santana 12.3%

     

    And you can fairly easily see Santana's drivers for decreased WHIP and ERA:

     

    BABIP: Santana .245, Berrios .289
    LOB%: Santana 79.5%, Berrios .70.8%

     

    Santana was most valuable to the Twins, but slightly so based of fWAR, and Berrios pitched better than Santana this season, just not as much as Santana did.

     

    IMO, outcomes matter when judging what did happen.....not using stats about what might have happened differently or are likely to happen next year. And, innings pitched matters a lot when looking at overall value provided to the team. 

     

    What happened is how you measure the past, not what might have happened differently. And what happened was that Santana produced better outcomes, whether thru luck or ability or both. And yes, he was their most valuable pitcher by far.

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    Of course, we’ll never know what might have been different about Berrios’ season if he had started the year at the MLB level instead of being “punished” in the words of some and sent to AAA for participating in a MLB endorsed, indeed MLB CREATED, event.

     

    I don't really buy that was the reason he was sent down, though it probably made it more difficult to jump other players ahead of him.

     

    If Berrios wanted to start the season in the majors he should have pitched better in 2016.

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    I don't really buy that was the reason he was sent down, though it probably made it more difficult to jump other players ahead of him.

     

    If Berrios wanted to start the season in the majors he should have pitched better in 2016.

     

    And yet, he was magically ready just a day or so after we were told he wasn't ready yet......because others were bad. He should have been in the rotation from day 1, IMO.

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    I don't really buy that was the reason he was sent down, though it probably made it more difficult to jump other players ahead of him.

     

    If Berrios wanted to start the season in the majors he should have pitched better in 2016.

    I’m pretty sure there were quotes from Molitor or maybe Falvey or Levine at the time saying that he was sent down because he wasn’t sufficiently stretched out because of being in the WBC. I know Berrios said he had no regrets about going, which certainly suggests he was told he was sent down for that reason.

     

    Maybe that was true. But Hector Santiago was on the same team as Berrios and didn’t pitch much either. He started out the season spectacularly.

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    And yet, he was magically ready just a day or so after we were told he wasn't ready yet......because others were bad. He should have been in the rotation from day 1, IMO.

     

    Seemed like his season played out pretty well, so hard to argue too much with how they handled him. He was ready to roll when the opening presented itself.

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    I’m pretty sure there were quotes from Molitor or maybe Falvey or Levine at the time saying that he was sent down because he wasn’t sufficiently stretched out because of being in the WBC. I know Berrios said he had no regrets about going, which certainly suggests he was told he was sent down for that reason.

    Maybe that was true. But Hector Santiago was on the same team as Berrios and didn’t pitch much either. He started out the season spectacularly.

     

    I never really believed any of that. But I do believe he didn't have enough reps in the spring to make up for his terrible 2016 and jump the guys in front of him.

     

    It was especially beneficial because the backend of the rotation pitched somewhat irregularly at the beginning of the season due to weather and days off. It gave Berrios a chance to stay on a regular turn in the minors, get a good start to his season, and hit the ground running when called up. Smart development.

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