Thursday, September 29, 2011

Handing out Twins season ending awards

The Twins ended their season last night and the only thing left to decide was whether the team would reach the 100-loss mark for the season. A tremendous pitching performance from Carl Pavano and a late inning hits from Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe preventing the team from reaching their 100th loss.

It is hard to imagine how far the Twins have fallen from this point last season. At the end of 2010, the Twins looked like one of the top teams in the American League and the organization was still basking in the glow of Target Field's first season. A year later, the Twins have the worst record in the American League and Target Field does not seem to fill up quite as easy any more.

This could be the most disappointing season in Twins history but there were players that did help the team at different points during the year. At the onset of the season, I picked out my preseason award picks for various categories across the team. Those picks did not go as planned and during the All Star break, I picked the mid-season award winners for the club.

Each of the awards is named after a player that epitomized excellence with the team in their specific area. Here are the final award winners for the 2011 season:

Harmon Killebrew Most Valuable Player: Michael Cuddyer, RF; 1B; 2B; P
Stat Summary: .284/.346/.459, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 29 DBL
During the first half of the season, it looked like Denard Span or Jason Kubel could be on their way to being the team MVP. Injuries forced those thoughts to become a thing of the past. Cuddyer came to the forefront as the best player on a very bad team. His consistency at the plate and defensive versatility made him irreplaceable on the 2011 version of the Twins. 

Cuddyer represented the team at the All-Star Game in Phoenix this July and he has been a leader on the team for the entire season. There are only two players, Cuddyer and Danny Valencia, that will finish the season with enough plate appearances to qualify for listing on the leader boards of the American League. That being said, Cuddyer finished as the team leader in almost every offensive category. This includes batting average, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and hits.

The offseason could see Cuddyer move on to a team other than the Minnesota Twins for the first time in his career. For now, he should be recognized for the season he had as the Killebrew MVP of the team.

Johan Santana Pitcher of the Year: Carl Pavano, RHP
Stat Summary: (9-13), 4.30 ERA, 222.0 IP, 102 K, 3 CG, 1.36 WHIP
It seems as if there should be no winner of this award for the way the starting pitchers performed in 2011. At the midpoint of the year, Scott Baker looked well on his way to an excellent season and he was even mentioned as a possible All-Star candidate. Like the players mentioned above in the MVP balloting, Baker was hit with the injury bug and missed a large chunk of the season.

On Opening Day, Pavano was the team's starter and he is the only starting pitcher to make it through the season without an injury concern. He has been a horse for the team and Mr. Pavano was the team leader in quality starts. He is the only pitcher that will pitch over 200 innings on the season and he leads the qualifying starters in ERA. The problem is that only he and Brian Duensing qualify for the ERA title.

There was a lot of bad defensive play behind Pavano that make his numbers look much worse than they should. He was brought back to be the veteran presence in a starting rotation that was very successful last season. Hopefully that success returns for 2012.

Rick Aguilera Relief Pitcher of the Year: Glen Perkins, LHP
Stat Summary: (4-4), 2.48 ERA, 2 Saves, 1.23 WHIP
There were many question marks surrounding the Twins bullpen at the start of 2011. The team had lost some important cogs from the previous year and the Twins needed some new arms to step-up and fill the appropriate roles on the team. Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes left the team for greener pastures and the Twins looked to fill their bullpen from within.

Perkins was the one player that stepped up and consistently was asked to get some big outs in the late innings of the game. He leads the team in holds this year and he was even asked to get a couple saves during the middle part of the year. His value has been shown in the fact that he leads all relievers in wins above replacement.

Because of his performance in 2011, the Twins could look to Perkins to play an even more in 2012. He seemed to have more velocity on his fast ball and this made his other pitches even harder to handle. The lefty had some squabbles with the Twins in the past but all that stuff was put behind him as he excelled for the Twins this year.

Rod Carew Rookie of the Year: Ben Revere, CF; LF
Stat Summary: .267/.310/.309, 30 RBI, 56 R, 34 SB, 9 DBL
Injuries lead the Twins to make multiple call-ups of young players this season and many rookies were given a chance to shine on the stage of the major leagues. The Twins first year player list includes the likes of Kyle Waldrop, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dinkelman, Joe Benson, Rene Tosoni, Lester Oliveros, Liam Hendriks, Scott Diamond, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Some players have struggled with the transition to the  the big league level and others have found minimal success. 

Revere joined the Twins in May to an outfield that had already run into some injury concerns. He did not  exactly light it up at the plate but Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire was hesitant to send him back to the minor leagues at the end of May. His return to Rochester was short lived and his call-up at the beginning of June would be permanent. During the late weeks of the season, Revere passed Luis Rivas for the most steals by a Twins rookie.

A hot streak to end the season has moved Revere's offensive numbers to a more respectable level. There are still parts of his game that could improve but the odds are good that Revere has played himself into the 2012 Opening Day outfield for the Minnesota Twins.

LEAVE A COMMENT. Who do you think should have won each award?


Giles Ferrell said...

I'd make a case for Scott baker for pitcher of the year. He was the best, when his elbow permitted him to pitch.

NoDak Twins Fan said...

Baker was hands down the best pitcher on the team in the first portion of the season but his injury makes it hard to fully value him on the season. I went with Pavano for the value he provided over the course of the year (basically innings pitched, quality starts, etc.).