On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins announced the recipients of the 2017 Diamond Awards in advance of the 13th annual banquet that’ll be held on Jan. 18, 2018 at The Depot in Minneapolis. The awards are voted on by the Twin Cities chapter of the BBWAA, and will be given out as part of the kick-off to TwinsFest weekend.
Last week, the Twins announced that Mitch Garver and Aaron Slegers had won the awards for Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
This week’s recipients include:
Brian Dozier – Calvin Griffith Award (Most Valuable Twin) and Bob Allison Award (Twin who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership on and off the field)
Dozier won both awards for the second season in a row. While he was unable to replicate the 42 home runs he hit in 2016, Dozier still had a fine overall season, slashing .269/.357/.496 with 34 homers, 106 runs, 93 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. The batting average was a one-point improvement from the year before and his OBP was up 17 points.
Dozier led all MLB second basemen in home runs and ranked seventh in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage and third in fWAR (4.9).
Ervin Santana – Joseph W. Haynes Award (Twins Pitcher of the Year)
Santana made 33 starts and posted a 3.28 ERA (4.46 FIP) with 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.6 walks per nine and a WHIP of 1.13. What Santana lacked in peripheral stats which drove his FIP up, he made up for with a solid average exit-velocity against. Among 280 pitchers with at least 1,000 pitches thrown this season, Santana ranked 55th with an average exit velocity against of 85.3 mph. Santana also reached 200 innings (211) for the first time since 2013 with the Kansas City Royals, and tied for a league-high with five complete games.
In fact, Santana’s five complete games were more than 27 teams had.
Trevor Hildenberger – Bill Boni Award (Twins Most Outstanding Rookie)
Hildenberger was promoted to the major leagues in late June and hit the ground running with a 3.21 ERA (3.01 FIP) in 42 innings. He fanned more than a batter per inning, walked just 1.3 batters per nine and had a terrific 58.8 percent groundball rate. All of this success came with a fastball that rarely touched 90 mph as well (88.8 mph, via Fangraphs).
Byron Buxton – Jim Kaat Award (Twins Defensive Player of the Year)
With any luck, this will be the precursor to Buxton winning the first of many Rawlings Gold Gloves in his career. Few, if any defensive players made as consistent of an impact in the outfield as Buxton did this year, as he turned in highlight-reel plays on an almost nightly basis. His offense came on strong towards the end of the season, but his defense was stellar from wire-to-wire.
Joe Mauer – Dick Siebert Award (Upper Midwest Player of the Year)
Mauer’s return to form was a fine storyline on a team full of them, as he set four-year highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage while seeing his strikeout rate drop to 13.9 percent — the lowest it had been since 2012. Among qualified MLB first basemen, Mauer was fifth in batting average and eighth in on-base percentage. Mauer also made strides as a defensive first baseman, so much so that he may be in the mix for his first Gold Glove since moving out from behind the plate following the 2013 season.
Chris Gimenez – Mike Augustin Award (Media Good Guy Award)
Gimenez had an understated impact on the field, as he hit a respectable .220/.350/.382 while getting into 77 games for the Twins this year, but he had a tremendous impact off the field as well. He immediately became a go-to quote for media members, and it was largely because he held great perspective and was willing to say what needed to be said. Gimenez was not just a quote machine to feed the churn, but was able to give frank and honest assessments of where the team was at on any given day.
Kyle Gibson – Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award
Gibson’s season was star-crossed on the mound — terrible to start, terrific to end — but his work in the community has always been stellar. According to a team release, Gibson hosted a charity fantasy football league called “Big League Impact Minnesota,” raise more than $40,000 for the Twins Community Fund and other charities and also established a community ticket program for Christian and inner-city youth groups.
Tim Laudner – Kirby Puckett Award for Twins Alumni Community Service
As the son of a stroke victim, Laudner has become a recognized voice for the cause, and will be receiving the award named after his teammate who passed away in 2006 after suffering a stroke. Laudner has supported the Stroke Association of Minnesota and also has hosted “Strike out Stroke” days at Target Field. He also has worked with South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to participate in pheasant hunting weekends for wounded armed service members and veterans, according to a team release.
Rick Stelmaszek – Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award
Stelmaszek is the longest-tenured Twins coach in team history (1981-2012) and the third-longest with any team in MLB history. Stelmaszek has battled pancreatic cancer, and threw out the first pitch at Target Field on Opening Day this season.