Just a warning off the top: This post is almost 6000 words, or 11.5 single spaced pages size 12 font. It's a lot. I apologize right now.
Hey, remember me? I did two of these back in 2014 and 2015, and between my job, school, another job, and just generally being too uninspired, I didn't do these in 2016 and 2017 (though, I might do a retrospective for 2017 because the Twins were ACTUALLY fun). Doesn't matter, I'm back with the now-named Semi-Annual That Will Hopefully Return To Annual Starting Now Annual Twins Awards! Hopefully this brings a little bit of brightness to your otherwise dark off season.
Gotta start with the usual Managerial Awards. Starting with Paul, and including special guest, Rocco Baldelli.
4 - Manager Paul Molitor (78-84) Manager of the Year Award - After a career 305-343, and a roller coaster managerial career as the Twins Skipper, Molitor's tenure came to an end. The Minnesota native did lead the Twins to a trio of 2nd place finishes in the
incredibly stacked somewhat tough, let's call it lacking, AL Central, but the front office tandem did not think he was worth retaining. He's already been replaced by Rocco Baldelli, which is just a super fun name to type.
5 - Rocco Baldelli (0-0) New Manager Award - Rocco was hired shortly after I started typing this up. He's only 37 years old, and manned mostly centerfield, but spent time all over the outfield in his short career. Baldelli shined brightly when he was able to play, but several injuries, and a disorder called channelopathy which didn't allow his muscles to recover at a normal rate, forced him into early retirement. Now, he becomes Thadrick Falvine's choice to lead the Twins into a new era of statistical analysis driven baseball.
Now, let's get into the position players. As happens with a not good team, there's a lot of turn over on the roster, and we have a record FIFTY FIVE awards to give out between hitters and pitchers. Yikes. Not a good way to return to this type of post, but since I required myself to do every jersey'd player in the past, I'm gonna do it. Now this DOES mean that some of the Awards will either be less enthusiastic, less thought out, or both. But that's pretty much going to be the for the guys who appeared in not many games. I'll do my best to cover the guys that we all care about.
And obviously, we're going in numerical order.
Buckle up kids, it's gonna be a ride.
2 - 2B Brian Dozier (104 games, .227 BA, 16 HR, 52 RBI) So Long Award - Dozier's exciting tenure with the team came to an end without much fanfare. He wasn't hitting for average, but never really did. He wasn't hitting for power, which was all he was really worth at the plate in the end. His glove was still flashy, and he netted us 50 games of Logan Forsythe, but otherwise, he departed into the sunset. He was always one of my favorite players, and I wish him well in his career away from Minnesota.
5 - 3B/SS (2B) Eduardo Escobar (97 games, .274 BA, 37 doubles*, 63 RBI) Gonna Break a Record! Award - The lone remaining Eduardo on the team was mashing doubles left and right for the first part of the season. He led the team, despite only playing in 97 games before being shipped to Arizona for a trio of minor leaguers, including one with a great name: Ernie De La Trinidad. Escobar was on pace for awhile to cruise to a new single season doubles record, but as all "on pace" conversations go, he fell off and ended up in second place in baseball with 48.
Escobar did provide quality time on the left side of the infield for Minnesota, and signed on for three more years in Arizona before the end of the world series. It's good to see a solid utility guy like Escobar getting a good, guaranteed contract.
7 - 1B/DH (C/RF) Joe Mauer (127 games, .282 BA, 1 pitch at catcher) I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING Award, Retired Number Award - The first player I am giving two awards to. It's gotta be Joe. Oh, Joe. You beautiful creature. Whatever you did in your 2018 season does not matter. You made one more spectacular appearance in your old catcher gear, catching a pitch from Matt Belisle. YOU CAUGHT A PITCH, JOE! While you've had some seasons to forget in your twilight, we have not deserved you as a human being. No player will ever wear number 7 for this franchise again, and you will forever be welcome into my home for a glass of milk. Well played, Mauer.
11 - SS Jorge Polanco (77 games, .288 BA, 13 errors*) Drugs Are Bad, Mmmkay? Award - Polanco started the season out on an 80 game suspension. He came back and hit fairly well, tied for the team lead in batting average for players with 100 or more plate appearances (I'll talk about Willians in a moment, you calm down). Not only did he prevent himself from playing in the post season this year, but he also kinda sucked on defense, leading the team with 13 errors. That's right. The guy who sat out half of the year led the team in errors. Nice.
15 - C Jason Castro (19 games, .143 BA, 5.5 months on the DL) Worst Knees Award - The reason we hired this guy was to catch balls real good. And he did! Until he didn't. Castro decided not playing was better than playing. His defensive numbers were crazy good in his 19 games, though that was overshadowed by his five and a half month stint on the DL ended only by the Red Sox crushing LA in the World Series. Please come back, Jason.
16 - SS/3B (1B/2B/LF) Ehire Adrianza (114 games, .251 BA, 9 errors) Kinda Forgot You Were On The Major League Roster Award - Adrianza, like Escobar, covered a lot of time on the left side of the infield, only playing a smattering of 1B, 2B, and LF. But I'm gonna be honest, I completely forgot Ehire existed until I compiled this list. He played 81 games start to finish, and that's half, but I found myself thinking "Wait, really? He played over 100 games?". I guess that's what a .251 average and meh defense will do.
20 - LF (RF/CF/3B) Eddie Rosario (138 games, .288 BA*, 24 HR*, 77 RBI*, 8 SB*) Twins MVP Award - Eddie led the team, or was tied for the lead in all the traditional categories; Batting Average, homeruns, RBI, steals, runs, and hits, and made top 5 appearances in doubles and triples.
He also led all left fielders in errors. Not Twins left fielders. All of them. In baseball.
Eddie has had a pretty effective bat in the last two years, and doesn't hit free agency until after the 2021 season, so he projects as the team's starting left fielder for another 3 seasons. He's a solid bat that sits in the middle third of the lineup, a consistency the Twins did not have much of this year.
22 - 3B/1B (DH) Miguel Sano (71 games, .199 BA, 115K*) Oh....Oh No... Award - Speaking of seasons to forget, Sano is one of two Twins that qualify for that. We'll talk about Byron in a couple of numbers, but nothing says "bad season" like being optioned to SINGLE A. Maybe it's the rod in his leg, or maybe it's the extra weight being put on the rod in his leg, but Sano was dreadful at the plate. Always strikeout prone, he led the team in strikeouts in JUST 71 GAMES. Impressive feat, to maintain his three season streak of leading the team in strikeouts. Which he's done.
For me, this is a turning point in his career. He's got to prove he's worth the hype, and it's now or never.
23 - C (1B/DH/P) Mitch Garver (102 games, .268 BA, 18% CS, 9 Passed Balls, 0.00 ERA) A Catcher Award - Mitch Garver was slated at the Twins backup catcher this season. So naturally, he was basically the starting catcher all year after Castro broke himself. Garver is not exactly what you would call "good" at catching. He only caught 18% of base stealers, which is not a big number. He also allowed 9 passed balls. BUT, he did lead the team with a 0.00 ERA, so that's a plus.
24 - 2B (LF) Logan Forsythe (50 games, .258 BA, 24 BB) Not Brian Dozier Award - Forsythe was pretty good when he first showed off, but because of the law of averages, he cooled off. He WAS 11th on the team in walks, above 2 guys who played more games than him, but having better walk numbers Adrianza and Cave isn't exactly a reason to win awards. But, this is my game, and everyone gets awards.
24 - CF (LF/RF/P) Ryan LaMarre (43 games, .263 BA, 0 Triples, 0 homers, 5 doubles) Division Rival Award - LaMarre is a dirty traitor. He wears that disgusting White Sox uniform now. I'm not sad he was the worse of the two #24s this year. With his 43 games and 21 singles. He did add 6 more doubles and actually hit some home runs with Chicago, but who cares, he's a dirty traitor.
25 - CF Byron Buxton (28 games, .156 BA, 5-5 Steals, several headaches) Forgettable Season Award - Wowzers. Thadrek Falvine straight up admitted to messing with Buxton's service clock. It's not like Byron playing in the majors was worth watching, especially with his constant migraines and inability to get hits. But, of course, there was his always-stellar defense and ability to tear up the basepaths. Buxton, like Sano, is going to have to make a move, one way or another. Hopefully he can regain his late season form from 2017, and become the No. 2 overall pick the Twins hoped he would be.
26 - RF/CF/LF (1B) Max Kepler (156 games*, .224, 71 BB*, 20 HR) Max was a bit polarizing this year. He increased his walks, decreased his strikeouts, increased his homers, basically matched his hits and doubles, and played in a career high 156 games. Hit batting average tanked, though. I've said this about 3 other players already, but Max is at a point where his game needs to bump it up a little. The potential is there, now he needs to realize it.
31 - DH/1B Tyler Austin (35 games, .236 BA, 9 HR) Same Number Award - Tyler Austin was traded to Minnesota for Lance Lynn, who also wore 31. His power numbers have been evident for awhile, but even in a small sample in the great North, he posted a career high slugging percentage. His K Rate also dropped after his move from the Evil Empire (TM). He might be a potential platoon option at 1B and DH next season, if Thadrick thinks the power is real enough.
36 - RF/LF/DH Robbie Grossman (129 games, .273 BA, 5 HR) More Like NotGross Award - Grossman has appeared at more games at DH for Minnesota than any other position in the last two years. He hasn't exactly excelled in a position that's generally supposed to be a powerful bat, notching single digit homeruns in back-to-back years. He did draw the second most walks on the team, a lower number than last year, and his strikeout numbers are up from last year (only 4 in 10 extra games). He's been a solid lower-third bat for the Twins, a reasonable threat from both sides of the plate, and under contract for 3 more years.
40 - 2B/SS/3B (1B) Gregorio Petit (26 games, .246 BA) Coolest Name award - Gregorio signed on as a MiLB free agent this off season. The 33 year old has generally been a good infield utility man, and did the same thing for Minnesota, spending time at all 4 spots. I also really like the name Gregorio, so way to go Gregorio's parent(s) and/or guardian(s).
45 - RF (3B/2B/SS) Taylor Motter (9 games, .053 BA, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1-1 Steal) Number 1 Award - Motter was acquired from the Mariners via the waiver wire, and the only impressive thing about him was his hair. Those long locks flew around the outfield and a bit on the infield, but he was inevitably released when his bat failed to do anything but miss the ball.
He gets the number 1 award because his baseball-reference page has a lot of 1's on it for this season. Ta da, I'm very original.
46 - C (1B/3B/P) Chris Gimenez (13 games, .276 BA, pitched AGAIN) 5IP last year, 2IP (1 in Chicago, 1 in Minnesota) Welcome Back award - Gimenez signed this off season with the Cubs, and did things. We don't care about THOSE appearances though, as the only thing that matters is the inevitable heat death of the universe and the Twins. Gimenez returned Minnesota form and pitched for us again. He was definitely not as good as last year, but that's sample size for you. He also had more strikeouts this year (1) than last (0).
Like the Tyler Austin/Lance Lynn Swap, Gimenez wore the same number as the guy for whom he was traded.
This was my favorite award to give out. I love reunions.
46 - C Bobby Wilson (47 games, .178 BA, 8.94 RF/G, really good catcher) Home Run Drought award - I was at the game where Bobby Wilson hit his first homerun since 2016 against the Cardinals. He became the backup catcher after Garver moved into the starting role, and the Twins refused to use Our Son (TM). Bobby was good for defense and not much else.
51 - LF/RF/CF Johnny Field (21 games, .250 BA) Definitely Not An Alien award -
JF: Yeah, I'm totally a professional baseball player.
Stranger: That's awesome! What's your name?
JF: *gulp* Uh....Johnny....Field....?
60 - CF/RF/LF Jake Cave (91 games, .269 BA, 102 K) Bright Light At The End award - Jake was really fun to watch this year. His defense was good, his bat was decent, he did strike out a lot, but that's a rookie for you. Let's get this kid a real jersey number and get him started as our fourth outfield when Byron comes back.
64 - C/3B (DH/2B/LF/CF/P) Willians Astudillo (29 games, .355 BA, 3 K, 2BB) Prodigal Son Award - Here it is. The moment you've been waiting for. Willians Astudillo. The greatest utility man ever to put on a Twins uniform, appearing at a team high 7 positions, with a majors high contact rate for players with 90+ plate appearances. Our Son (TM) doesn't strike out (much), doesn't walk (a lot), and doesn't hit homers (often). He's the perfect anti-three-true-outcome player, and has committed zero errors playing center field. M. V. P. M. V. P.
66 - C Juan Graterol (3 games, .143 BA, pretty good catcher) All Hands Award - Graterol was, defensively speaking, really good. Graterol was, offensively speaking, not. Not really a lot to say here, he was a September guy who played a whopping 19 innings at catcher, and held a bat 8 times. Yet here I am, 50 words in.
99 - 1B/DH (LF) Logan Morrison (95 games, .186 BA) Teddy Bear Award - Morrison was the signing I looked forward to the most this winter. He mashed 38 dingers in 2017, somewhat quietly, on his way to free agency. And he decided to pretty loudly suck. He was pretty squishy this year, spending a lot of time dealing with a bum hip. He's since been cut loose, having his option declined. Logie-Bear was a very good nickname though.
Oh, okay. So that was a lot of players. Good thing we only have pitchers left. There's only 31 of them (not counting the four position players).
But hey, the good news is that the Twins pitchers combined for ZERO balks this season. That's zero free bases for arbitrary guidelines for what a balk is or isn't. We also had THREE qualified starters (1 inning pitched per team game, or 162 innings) in Gibson, Berrios, and Odorizzi. The last trio of qualified Twins starters was the 2010 group of Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker. Those are some throwback names.
Let's dive back in, shall we? I've classified pitchers as starters if they made 50% or more of their appearances as a starter, or a reliever if they made 49% or fewer starts. All of the pitchers' stats follow a similar pattern. Win-Loss Record, Era, Games played/ Games started, and then some other stuff if it seemed important. So that's what the slash numbers are. Numerical order, LET'S GO!
12 - SP Jake Odorizzi (7-10, 4.49 ERA, 32/32*, 164.1 IP, 162 K) Best Trade Award - While Odo took a step back from his numbers last year, he did throw more innings, and upped his strikeout rate. He also made his 32 starts (threeway tie for the lead), and threw over 150 innings for the fourth time in five years. We acquired him for two seasons in exchange for a low minors infielder with no power, so it currently looks like a good deal on our part. Tampa decided to shed payroll, and Minnesota gladly took on $6.3 million to actually get a starter who has made 28 or more starts in each of the last five seasons. That's the consistency the starting rotation has needed in recent years, and he delivered. Definitely the best trade acquisition in the offseason.
17 - SP Jose Berrios (12*-11, 3.84 ERA, (3.90 FIP) 32/32*, 192.1 IP, 202 K*, 13 HBP*) Workhorse Award - Berrios quickly became one of my favorite players when he made his debut. His stuff was nasty, and he threw hard. His first full season in 2017 showed he had a little work to do, despite a great win-loss record, and he took a step towards being an Ace. He lowered his era, threw almost 200 innings, and struck out over 200 batters, the first Twin to do so since Liriano in 2010 (that was a fun year, huh?). Berrios led the team in wins, starts (three way tie), strikeouts, and hit by pitches.
He's on the upward trend, and it's going to be really fun to see what he can do for the next four years in a Twins jersey.
21 - RP Tyler Duffey (2-2, 7.20 ERA, 19/1, 25 IP) Trying His Best Award - This is Tyler's fourth year making an appearance for the Twins. He followed the tradition set forth by several other recent Twins, being really good in his first, partial season, and then cratering. He has not un-cratered himself, either. His career thus far has produced a whopping -0.9 WAR, but in his defense, his 2018 was worth -0.8, so he wasn't quite that bad in his first three campaigns. I really have nothing else for Duffey except hoping he can go back to his...2017? Where his ERA was only 4.94? Crap.
31 - SP Lance Lynn (7-8, 5.10 ERA, 20/20, 102.1 IP, 100 K) You Did A Thing Award - Lance Lynn was suppose to be the innings eater of staff that we signed this off season to a One Year, Make Good deal. He did eat some innings, and didn't miss a start, but he also wasn't good, and got shipped the Yankees, where he...also wasn't good. We got Tyler Austin, also #31, as mentioned above, so he gave us a little glimmer of hope.
When it's all said and done, he definitely did a thing.
32 - RP Oliver Drake (0-0, 2.21 ERA, 19/0, 20.1 IP, ERA+ 200, 5 Teams) Traveler Award - Soap Opera character, Oliver Drake, played for five different teams this year. He started in Milwaukee, then was purchased by Cleveland, then selected off waivers by the Angels, then headed north of the border to Toronto via waivers, again, before finally landing barely south of that same border in Minnesota via, you guessed it, waivers. His travels were great, and he really only played well for Minnesota. He was second on the team in ERA+, posting that solid 2.21 ERA that earned him a...claim off waivers by Tampa on November 1, marking his 6th team in one calendar year, even if he doesn't put on a Rays uniform until next season.
32 - RP Zach Duke (3-4, 3.62 ERA, 45/0, 37.1 IP, 0 HR) Keep It Down Award - I was happy about the Duke signing. He had been a solid guy in St. Louis, and looked to be a good lefty pair with Rogers. He gave up zero homers for the Twins, a trend which he did not continue upon his trade to Seattle, ending the season with a dreadful ONE homerun allowed. He had a solid season, regardless.
35 - SP Michael Pineda (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0/0, 0 IP) - Tommy John Award - Pineda signed what is becoming a more common type of contract, a two year deal after Tommy John while he recovers on the first year and has an incentive laden second year. His first year done, and a history of being a nasty pitcher (and using pine tar that one time),
38 - RP Matt Belisle (1-1, 9.13 ERA, 25/0, 23.2 IP, 48 ERA+) BFF Award - Belisle had a pretty good season for Minnesota in 2017, departing for Cleveland in the offseason. He did not continue that trend, instead deciding to suck. Bold career choice, Matt.
He gets to take home this award for being hand-picked by Joe Mauer to throw the final pitch in the illustrious career of the Home Town Kid (tm).
39 - RP Trevor Hildenberger (4*-6*, 5.42 ERA, 73*/0, 73 IP**, 7/11 SV, 1 Funky Delivery) Sidewinder Award - Trevor Hildenberger is another favorite of mine. I do have a soft spot for side armers, especially the first I watched regularly, Pat Neshek (who coincidentally wears #93 now, the opposite of Hildenberger). Trevor led all relievers in appearances, innings, wins, and tied for losses. Another 2017 guy who stepped back in 2018, Hildenberger has established himself as a reliable bullpen workhorse will step in early, late, or anywhere in between. I definitely hope to see more of him in the coming years, and hopefully his funky delivery can drop his numbers back to looking like last year.
43 - RP Addison Reed (1-6*, 4.50 ERA, 55/0, 56 IP) Best Free Agent Award - There weren't many options for this one, and I think you could make an argument for Duke or Rodney in this spot, I already have awards for them. 4.50 isn't great for a reliever with the bulk that Reed had, but the former White Sox and Diamondbacks closer was a veteran that the young bullpen needed, and unlike the aforementioned Duke and Rodney, Reed was around all season. He was also the only one of the three to sign a multiyear deal. Reed will be just 30 years old, which seems really young. I kept thinking he was Duke's age (35), but he made his debut at 22 in 2011, becoming a bullpen fixture in 2012. 2018 was his worst season by the numbers since his first full year, so he'll be looking to finish better in his contract season.
44 - SP Kyle Gibson (10-13*, 3.62 ERA*, 32/32*, 196.2 IP*, 179 K) Walter Johnson Award - Since Cy Young never played in Minnesota (neither did Walter, but shut up), We shall award the team's best pitcher the Walter Johnson Award. While Berrios makes a case, Gibson led the rotation in ERA, Innings, starts (three way tie), ERA+, and HR/9. Gibson turned into the guy the Twins were hoping he would when they drafted him. While most teams would consider him a mid-rotation arm, he was a defacto co-ace with Berrios, giving the Twins a strong 1-2 punch they haven't had in a while.
45 - Phil Hughes (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 7/2, 12 IP) Contract Award - Hughes got a nice extension after his career year in 2014, and he definitely didn't live up to it. This season he came close, as every one of his stats but hits allowed was in the single digits (9 runs, 9 ER, 4 HR, 5 BB, 8K), so it's kinda weird that he got dealt to another team, but whatever.
49 - SP Adalberto Mejia (2-0, 2.01 ERA, 5/4, 22.1 IP, 220 ERA+*) Overperformer Award - Mejia was the return for Eduardo "Lost Helmet" Nunez back in July 2016. He was trotted out as a starter 21 times in the Wild Card year for a 4-7, 4.50 season. He only spent a small amount of time in the majors this season, but his numbers were much better. While his peripherals show him as lucky with his 2.01 ERA (his FIP was 4.06), his ERA+ of 220 led the team, meaning he was 120% better than league average. let's not talk about small samples, I'm being positive about something.
50 - SP Aaron Slegers (1-1, 5.27 ERA, 4/2, 13.2 IP, 6'10"*) Super Tall Award - Slegers led the team at 6'10", a full 4 inches over the next tallest player to make an appearance. Michael Pineda technically is 6'7", but he didn't play, so he doesn't count.
52 - RP Zack Littell (0-2, 6.20 ERA, 8/2, 20.1 IP, 22 years old) Youngster Award - Zack Littell is only 22 years old, making him the youngest guy on the team this year. He was so close to getting the same number of innings as his age, which would have been fun. He was actually tied for the closest, being 5 outs shorts. Next closest were;
Gonsalves (23, +5 outs)
Busenitz (27, -5 outs)
Duffey (27, -6 outs)
Duke (35, +7 outs)
Rodney (41, +8 outs)
Mejia (25, -8 outs)
May (28, -8 outs)
That's actually a lot more than I realized while I was compiling them, but they're all within 10 outs, so that can be the list.
Zack's numbers weren't spectacular, as evidenced by his 6.20 ERA, but he's young and can barely get into a bar legally, so he's bound to have some growing pains. Good for him for getting to the majors at such a young age.
53 - RP David Hale (0-0, 12.00 ERA, 1/0, 3 IP) Participation Award - Hey David. You get some words written about you for making a single appearance. Good job, man.
53 - SP Kohl Stewart (2-1, 3.68 ERA, 8/4, 36.2 IP, 4th Overall pick '13) High Pick Award - Kohl was drafted 4th overall the year after Buxton was taken 2nd. These were the highest picks since Mauer in 2001, and both have now broken through to the majors, Stewart with much less fanfare. He produced some solid early numbers through his first 36 innings, including a sub-4.00 ERA. He made the jump straight from Double A, and threw a combined 108.2 innings. His career high is 143.2 back in 2016, so he's not far removed from a good workload for a starting pitcher in today's game. The Twins rotation depth is beginning to look a lot like the Dodgers, just without that incredibly strong front end. Stewart has the potential to be another solid middle piece.
54 - SP Ervin Santana (0-1, 8.03 ERA, 5/5, 24.2 IP, 13.5 Million) Disappointing Ending Award, Disappointing Beginning Award - Ervin gets two awards. He started his Twins career with a suspension for drugs, and ended it being a dumpster fire after surgery. His option was declined, and his dreads are no longer something we have to dread seeing on the mound. He was a solid rotation piece when he was healthy, but his surgery and setback after last season left a sour taste. Fare thee well, Johan Santana 2.
55 - RP Taylor Rogers (1-2, 2.63 ERA, 72/0, 68.1 IP, .95 WHIP*, 4.69 K:BB*) Reliever of the Year award, Actual Twin award - Rogers has established himself as one of the Twins best relievers in the last couple of seasons. He's reached career highs in innings, games, strikeouts, and K/9. He hit career lows in Homers allowed, walks, ERA, HBP, and BB/9.
We all know of his existence, so the Twins just need to take Taylor's TWIN BROTHER, Tyler, away from the Giants so we can all live the dream. Let it happen, please.
56 - RP Fernando Rodney (3-2, 3.09 ERA, 46/0, 43.2 IP, 25/31 SVs*, 41 years old*) Closer Award, Heart Attack Award - This award seems pretty obvious, so that's why he got two. He was the closer, and despite his early season struggles, he finally locked it in. Early on, I would have a mini heart attack whenever he came in, loading the bases before striking out two guys to end the game. My friend would send me a youtube link to the Abba song "Fernando" every time he came into a game, so that's a thing that happened. Obviously, he led the team in saves before getting shipped to Oakland where he got zero saves. He led the team in years alive, too.
57 - RP Ryan Pressly (1-1, 3.40 ERA, 51/0, 47.2 IP, 13K/9*, Lotsa Revs) Reliever of the Year Award - Pressly gets this award for the simple fact that the defending world champions liked him enough to trade for him. He made 51 appearances before the end of July when he was traded for a couple minor leaguers, and ended up leading the AL with 77 appearances at the end of the year. He led the Twins with 13 K/9, and has been at the top of the leaderboards for years in spin rate. He's one of those weird relievers that throws two kinds of breaking balls, a curve and a slider, making him all the more dangerous. Happy Trails, Ryan. You were good to us.
58 - RP Gabriel Moya (3-1, 4.71 35/6, 36.1 IP) Kinda Forgot About You Award - Moya made six starts and 29 relief appearances. He was the 8th most used reliever in innings, and appearances for Minnesota, so that's something. I struggled with this award, because I forgot he existed. Woops.
59 - SP Stephen Gonsalves (2-2, 6.57 ERA, 7/4, 24.2 IP) Stutter Award - I mispronounce Gonsalves so often, that I just generally refer to him as Stephen when I speak his name. I had been anticipating the debuts of Stephen and Fernando Romero for a couple of seasons now, so this was a good season for me. Stephen didn't dazzle, but he's just getting his feet wet. I have expectations for next season, and they are probably too high. Woops.
61 - SP Chase De Jong (1-1, 3.57 ERA, 4/4, 17.2 IP) Opener Award - Chase De Jong made 4 starts, averaging a bit over 4 innings each. While not your "classic" opener (which I guess is a weird thing to say about a thing that was popularized this year), he basically filled that role, facing the opposing time once through, and then the top half of the order, and giving way to the bullpen. He's probably going to fill a similar role going forward.
61 - RP Tyler Kinley (0-0, 24.30 ERA, 4/0, 3.1 IP) Cup of Coffee Award - Kinley was a Rule 5 pick who pitched to 23 guys, 13 of which made it on base. Not great, Bob. So we shipped him back to Miami, and now here we are, no Kinley. That's fine.
62 - RP Andrew Vasquez (1-0, 5.40 ERA, 9/0, 5 IP) LOOGY Award - This one is pretty easy. A lefty pitcher who threw 9 games, and a total of 5 innings? Vazquez performed in the dying LOOGY role, and did it...alright. With the more bullpen-heavy focus of every team, the LOOGY is a dying breed, and Vasquez is going to have to learn how to get righties out if he's hoping to stick around in the majors.
65 - RP Trevor May (4-1, 3.20 ERA, 24/1, 25.1 IP 3/3 SV) Bookend Award - May bounced back from Tommy John surgery in a great way, compiling a 3.20 ERA in 25 innings. He showcased his ability at the backend of games, saving 3 games, and returned, technically, to the starting role as an opener, something the Twins are toying with more after the success of Tampa Bay. May is even one of those guys that can be stretched out a little bit, throwing two or even three innings as an opener. It would be nice to see him return to the starting rotation where he wants to be, but at this point, it seems unlikely.
67 - RP Alan Busenitz (4-1, 7.82 ERA, 23/0, 25.1 IP) Where'd You Go award - Busenitz was stellar in 2017, tossing 31.2 innings with a sub-2.00 ERA. On the plus side, his strikeout rat went up almost three per nine innings, but his walk rate and WHIP almost doubled. Obviously, relievers are super volatile, and only a select few can be guaranteed to be consistently good, but I was excited about Busenitz being a part of the future. He definitely isn't as a bad as he was this year, but it would be nice to see him put up a mid-3.00 ERA performance.
68 - RP Matt Magill (3-3, 3.81 ERA, 40/0, 56.2 IP) Pretty Good Award - Magill was a late January signing that came with no excitement. And he...actually showed up. He put up career highs in the important stuff, and threw multiple innings in some games. He even got his first career win, which is kinda cool. He struck out almost one batter per inning (56 in 56.2), so that number could go up, but otherwise, he was a solid middle reliever this year.
77 - SP Fernando Romero (3-3, 4.69 ERA, 11/11, 55.2 IP) Future of the Team award - The second of our two Fernando's R, Romero made 11 starts. He had a 4.69 ERA, and his peripherals have him about there this year. He was rated about 7% worse than league average, but that seems like a good start for a rookie. He racked up 7.3 K/9, another strong mark for a new guy. He's one of those guys who made some really solid starts, and looks to be a future cog in the rotation.
There it is. Way too many words about things that don't matter with award names that also don't matter. I hope next year, the Twins are just a better team so I can do fewer names, but it's always fun to try to come up with award names (actually the hardest part. I got most of the paragraphs done before I named the awards).
I started these the day after the World Series, so it took almost 3 weeks to complete. It's almost 6000 words, so if you didn't even read them all, that's absolutely fair. These have been well received in the past, and I just love sharing a love of this baseball team with you all.
All 54 players to wear a Twins jersey, one who spent all season on the DL, the manager, and the guy who will be the manager next season.
The season was fun, but disappointing. A lot of ups, a lot of downs. A lot of tears.
Most importantly: This is Twins Territory.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com
All jersey numbers courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com