Warne: Time to hand out Twins' 2013 season awards
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The slow march to a third-straight 90-loss season for the Minnesota Twins still has a handful of games left, but nothing between now and then is going to make or break any single player's standing.
And in that respect, now is a good time to hand out this writer's version of the Twins' end-of-season awards.
The only rule is that there are no rules, and interaction/criticism is accepted and encouraged below.
Tony Oliva Award (Rookie of the Year): Oswaldo Arcia
This one is pretty easy, though Ryan Pressly's season was impressive for the same reason Arcia's has been. And while Arcia's defense has been an adventure in the outfield, his bat is in rarified air for someone his age. Only four Twins hitters with substantive sample sizes (300-plus plate appearances) posted higher wOBAs (weighted-on base average, scaled to OBP) than Arcia at age 22.
Those four are Kent Hrbek, David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, and his very own hitting coach, Tom Brunansky. That's pretty elite company for Arcia. Also, keep in mind that entering this season, Arcia had fewer than 300 plate appearances above High-A. It's been a meteoric rise for the young Venezuelan, and there's no reason for it not to continue.
The numbers speak for themselves, as Dozier has hit .265/.338/.474 with 17 home runs and 30 doubles since May 27. And that isn't an arbitrary date, exactly, as Dozier points to the Twins being nearly no-hit by Anibal Sanchez that day. That lackluster effort -- 0 for 2 dropping his season line to .197/.238/.270 -- prompted Dozier to seek out hitting coach Brunansky, and the two devised new plan to improve his load time.
The results have proven wildly successful, as Dozier has been among the five-best second basemen in the American League, and has prompted the Twins to consider moving uber prospect Eddie Rosario to the outfield.
Johan Santana Award (Best Starter): Kevin Correia
Mike Pelfrey actually trumps Correia in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR), but Correia carries the lower xFIP, raw ERA, and issued fewer walks. And in the end, adjusted stats like xFIP are worthwhile in any discussion, but raw ERA has to matter somewhat when the season comes to an end. Correia also gave the Twins 30-plus more innings, and has a higher bWAR (WAR from Baseball Reference) than Pelfrey. In other words, the selection is just a matter of personal preference.
Honorable Mention(s): Deduno, Pelfrey
Juan Rincon/Berenguer Award (Best Reliever, Non-Closer division): Casey Fien
Glen Perkins wins this award in a landslide if it's entire bullpen, but in a lot of ways closers are expected to be the best reliever on the team. Perkins would probably be the team pitcher of the year, for what it's worth. Nonetheless, Fien edges out Jared Burton on the basis of being just a little bit better basically across the board (K/9, BB/9, xFIP, FIP). Fien and Perkins are both top-15 in strikeouts per 9 innings among relievers who have thrown 60-plus innings.
Honorable Mention(s): Burton, Anthony Swarzak
Matt Garza Award (Minor League Pitcher of the Year): Trevor May
On the surface, May's stats don't look all that great for a guy repeating Double-A. But in essence, May was dusted for eight earned runs in a pair of starts on polar opposites of the season (April 29, Aug. 4) and was pretty much rock solid otherwise (3.72 ERA). His 3.79 xFIP would agree. In the end, May took the ball and gave the Rock Cats starts (27), innings (151.2), and durability (22 starts of 90-plus pitches). He's starting to get the look as a No. 3-4 starter who'll eat innings but rack up strikeouts. That's pretty valuable to a team in this kind of shape.
Honorable Mention(s): Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios, Logan Darnell, Tyler Duffey, Albers
Tim Laudner Award (Minor League Hitter of the Year): Byron Buxton
As Baseball America's Minor League Player of the year, Buxton wins this running away. Just bask in Buxton's greatness -- .334/.424/.520, 49 XBH (18 triples), 55 stolen bases, 76 walks. Nothing more can even be said.
Honorable Mention(s): Miguel Sano, Chris Colabello, Pinto
Tom Kelly Award (Coach of the Year): Terry Steinbach
By pretty much all accounts across the Twins front office and field staff, Steinbach has been instrumental in working with catchers this year. It's no more evident than the nearly 30 percent increase Mauer has seen in throwing out baserunners this season (14% to 43%). And while some of that falls on pitchers getting the ball to the plate more quickly, the club has showered praise on Steinbach's preparation and teaching skills as he's instructed the catchers starting in spring training through now.
Honorable Mention(s): Tom Brunansky, Bobby Cuellar
Torii Hunter Award (Media Good Guy Award): Dozier
Any of these five guys, and even a handful more could stake a claim to the award, but something Dozier did on Tuesday night cemented his place here.
The Twins had just completed their 91st loss, and Dozier was fully dressed, packed, and ready to head home well after the game had ended and the clubhouse had opened.
A meek Twins Radio Network page stopped Dozier on the way out of the clubhouse, and not only did he willfully stop and answer her questions, but he gave thoughtful and time-consuming answers at a time when he could have simply blown past the young lady and continued onto his evening plans. This has been a recurring theme all year, as Dozier has been as accommodating and accessible as any player on the team.
Honorable Mention(s): Jamey Carroll, Duensing, Perkins, Pelfrey
Kirby Puckett Award (Team MVP): Joe Mauer
This one is bound to be unpopular, but why should it matter when Mauer misses time? This was never more evident than when Mauer won the MVP in 2009 despite not making his debut until May Day. Mauer showed improved defense, typical offensive skills, and was basically untouchable in any and all important offensive statistics. The next closest position player in fWAR was Dozier, and Mauer nearly doubled him up (5.2 --> 2.8).
Honorable Mention(s): Dozier, Perkins