Minnesota Twins fans have an unusual luxury that they have not enjoyed in quite some time. Instead of sweating it out until the final week or final day of the season as to whether the Twins would get into the playoffs, Twins fans can sit back and enjoy some quiet time of reflection on the season.
In looking back at the season, one question that fans are going to argue and debate over their favorite beverage in the next few days is who was the most valuable player for the Minnesota Twins this year.
You can go with a pitcher or an everyday player and a compelling case can be made for your favorite player.
There is no easy answer to the question.
Several players put up good numbers worthy of most valuable player consideration. However, no one player put up ridiculous numbers that makes the conversation pointless and no one player for the Minnesota Twins was consistent throughout the year.
Below are the nine Twins that are most worthy for consideration as the Most Valuable Player for Minnesota.
Cuddyer is batting .272, with 14 homeruns and 77 RBIs on the season. Cuddyer’s numbers are not eye-popping but if there has been a Twins player that has been consistent throughout the year it would have to be Cuddyer. The real value Cuddyer has brought to the Twins is his flexibility and enthusiasm to play multiple positions throughout the season. Cuddyer has played first base, second base, third base, right field and center field. "He's a warrior," Denard Span said. "He epitomizes the Twins way. He just amazes me how night in and night out he's ready to play, and he has the same energy level."
The former American League Most Valuable Player appeared in the first half of the season to be ready to add another MVP trophy to his mantel. Morneau was simply on fire before the all-star break with a .345 average, 18 homers, 56 RBIs, an on-base average of .437 and a slugging percentage of .618. Justin almost single-handedly kept the Twins in the race during the first half of the season. Unfortunately, Morneau has not been able to play since July 7 because he has been suffering concussion type symptoms.
The Big Man in the middle has provided the long ball threat that Twins needed to fill with Justin Morneau being unable to go during the second half of the season. Thome’s titanic blats have drawn favorable comparisons to Harmon Killebrew who he passed on baseball’s all-time homerun list this summer. In just 271 at-bats, Thome has 25 homeruns and 59 RBIs. Jim has on-base average of .412 and a slugging percentage of .631. In September when it was time to finish the White Sox, Thome stepped up his game batting .357 while hitting 7 homeruns and knocking in 14 RBIs.
Thome has also provided the classic veteran leadership that rubs off favorably on the young guys in a clubhouse. Rookie Danny Valencia said of Thome that “he's always prepared. I've never been around a guy who takes his job so seriously. I try to do what he does, because he's been successful, and still is successful at what he's doing."
Slowey currently stands with a 13-6 record with a 4.18 earned run average. Some will undoubtedly point to his slow start to the season and the fact he has given up 20 homeruns in 153 innings that he is not worthy but Slowey deserves some consideration for his control and what he has down the stretch of the season. The most amazing statistic for Slowey is that he has 115 strikeouts to only 29 walks for a team leading strike out to walk ratio of 3.96. Kevin is simply not going to give out free passes and beat himself. Since the All-Star game, Slowey is 5-1 with a 3.38 earned run average. Slowey also improved upon his strikeout to walk ratio in the second half of the season; he has 47 strikeouts against only 10 walks since the All-Star game.
Many Twins fans felt that acquiring Young was a mistake and that the Twins should rectify the situation by trading Delmon as soon as possible for an arm that bolster the pitching staff. Fortunately, the front office didn’t listen because Young put the Twins on his broad shoulders and carried the team during the month of July this year. While some Twins fans will point to Delmon’s defense in the outfield as precluding him from being considered as the Twins most valuable player his numbers and importance to the team in July can’t be denied. July was a critical month for the Twins as they lost Morneau and it would have been easy for the team to curl up in the fetal position without the big slugging first baseman. No need, Delmon to the rescue. In July, Young had 12 doubles, a triple, six homeruns, and knocked in 30 runs. Young even had a stolen base. Delmon also had a .434 batting average and a slugging percentage .736 in the month. On the year, Delmon’s numbers are 18 homeruns, 105 runs batted in and a .299 batting average.
If there has been a workhorse for the Twins pitching staff it would have to be Carl Pavano. Pavano’s ability to take the ball and go deep into games was very valuable to the team in that he gave the team an opportunity to rest the arms in the bullpen every fifth day consistently throughout the season. Pavano has already pitched 210 innings in the season and tossed seven complete games. In comparison, Twins starters Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Nick Blackburn between them only have two complete games. In June and July, Pavano was nearly unhittable. In June, Pavano limited opponents to a .186 batting average; and in July, Pavano limited opponents to a .235 batting average. On the year, Pavano is 17-11 with an earned run average of 3.60.
What is the secret weapon to Pavano’s success this year? Pavano’s success has to be tied to the decision to go with his Mario Brothers’ mustache.
Duensing would be the lovable dark horse candidate to be the most valuable player on the team. Duensing started the season in the bullpen and performed admirably in short relief with a 2-1 record, an earned run average of 1.62 and limiting opponents to only a .187 batting average. When the Twins starters faltered during the days of summer, Duensing stepped up and took the ball and became a dominant starting pitcher. Since the All-Star break, Duensing has been 8-1 in 11 starts with a complete game, compiled an earned run average of 2.48 while keep the opposition to a batting average of just .268. The only drawback to Duensing’s claim to the MVP award is that he has only pitched 119 innings on the season.
It is difficult not to pencil in Mauer’s name as the Twins Most Valuable Player Award every year given that he will likely be on the short list for the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the rest of this decade. Mauer’s numbers on the year are solid in that he is second in the league in batting with a .331 average, nine homeruns and 74 runs batted in. Mauer “struggled” before the all-star break as he hit just .293. Since the All-Star break, Mauer has a .383 batting average, a .459 on base percentage, and a .541 slugging percentage. Mauer has also been Mr. Clutch for the Twins this year. With runners in scoring position with two outs, Mauer is batting .391 with two homeruns and 24 runs batted in; further, his on-base percentage is .525 and his slugging percentage is .609 in those situations. If Mauer had another five homeruns and 20 runs batted in on the season, the only question would be which player is the second most valuable player on the Twins.
Francisco Liriano – Team MVP
Yes, the knock on Liriano having a slow start to the season is legitimate. However, when Francisco has been on his game he has been downright nasty and filthy as his team leading strike out total of 191 attests. On the season, Liriano is a very solid 14-8 with an ERA of 3.44. Since the All-Star break when the Twins made their big push to separate themselves from the Tigers and White Sox, Liriano has been crazy good with an 8-1 record and an ERA of 2.48. Francisco has given Twins opponents little to hit in the second half holding opponents to just a .235 batting average. The most impressive statistic for Liriano is that how rarely he gives the teams with the big bats an opportunity to change the game with a homerun, Franscisco has given up only five homeruns on the season. In comparison, Duensing in 70 fewer innings has given up six more homeruns; Slowey and Pavano who have roughly pitched the same amount of innings have both given up more than 20 homeruns.
Liriano simply gives the Twins the best chance to win and has been rewarded by Manager Ron Gardenhire as the starting pitcher in the playoffs. Why not also reward Liriano by awarding him the Minnesota Twins Most Valuable Player?